If Gear Were A Bit More Like iPods

I love iPods.  I own 4.  Well, technically 2.  But I have 2 iPhones (one the original generation, one a 3g), so they count as iPods as well, right?

It’s extremely interesting sitting in a crowded airport terminal watching everyone.  They fidget with this and that, electronic device after electronic device, but the most common thing is iPods.  Almost everyone has one.  And they are all DIFFERENT.  Different cases, different decals, even different models all make your iPod a personal item.

My very first iPod has a decal on it that makes it look like Wile-E Coyote.  My shuffle, which I foolishly left out in the car on a summer day, had a pen explode over it.  It still works very well, it just has ink stains on it.  My current 3g iPhone never had a proper case.  Its screen is pristine, but the black plastic on the back is riddled with a thousand tiny scratches.  My original iPhone has a decal on it showing off Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas.  It hides a deep gouge in the aluminum case from when I dropped it at a local parade (armed forces day).

Even more interesting is how these iPod owners act.  Just watch them!  They will try and sneak a peek at one another’s iPod screens, but secretively!  It’s like a taboo to be caught looking at what a fellow iPod connoisseur is listening to.  When one person catches you looking at their screen, they will shoot a dirty look at you, and shift uncomfortably, as if it were as bad as catching a guy in the urinal next to you looking over that horrendously small privacy wall (is wall even an appropriate term, wall?  It’s more like a panel.) oogling your…   Well, you get the point.  And maybe that is rightfully so.  Music has been described as being a “window into one’s soul” so it is appropriate that one might want to cover it up while artwork of what they are listening to flashes across the screen.

It is strange though, because on the off chance that someone actually recognizes what you are listening to, it often sparks up a conversation.  “Oh, hey, you like Tchaikovsky?  I prefer Mozart!”  I have met a couple of friends this way, connecting through shared musical experiences.

“God, I would have loved to have seen them in concert…”

“But I did!  I got to see them when they were in California for Ozzfest’s 10th anniversary!  Best show ever, especially when Sharon Osborne started throwing eggs into their piano and kicked them off stage!”

(Bonus points to the first person who comes up with that concert reference)

One of the biggest complaints against gear in Burning Crusade was the whole mismatch problem.  And boy did Firespirit ever have that problem.  It looked like I was the 80 year old eccentric old man at the edge of town that all the neighborhood kids were afraid of going to ring the doorbell at halloween.  Orange rubber boots, pink cloak, pink hammer, fluorescent glowing crystal shoulders…  The list goes on and on.  You can always tell a toon coming fresh from outlands.  All they need is the red rubber nose that you squeeze to go “HONK.”

Lich King did a much better job of gear models.  Everything looked…  Nice.  And not clownish.  Everything matched, for the most part.  Tier sets didn’t look really out of place (ok, with the exception of the NAXX shoulders, those darn things could poke anyone’s eyes out).  But for the most part you could get an upgrade, equip it, and not look silly.

But that brought another problem.  Everyone looks… the same.  The next time you are in Dalaran, just standing, waiting for your raid, or heroic que to pop, take a look around.  Who has full Tier 9?  How about 10?  You cant really tell because so much of the gear shares the same models.  Even leveling gear looks remarkably well placed with the top tier of gear.

I bring this up, because the dev’s canned overcloaking.  If you don’t know what that is, well, the original intent for the reward from OP:Gnomer and Echo Isles was to have the item change your cloak’s appearance (but not stats) to the look of the current reward cloak.  It was purely cosmetic.  But the dev’s canned it.  They say it went too far across the line of gear customization.  Umm…  Wait.  What?  Basically, they canned an idea that the community has been asking for, for AGES.

And why is this such a big deal?  Well, simply put, because it really, really, really hurts the ability of PvPers to make the snap decision about how they are going to engage the enemy.  Well, that is my theory anyway.  Of course blizz won’t confirm or deny anything.

But think about it.  There are a limited number of models in game.   PvP’ers have to make instant snap judgements on how to engage their enemies, and one of the ways they do it is through gear.  I can tell what a fully decked out Shammy or Pally looks like.  But if we start goofing with that, change what gear looks like, it gives CAMOUFLAGE.  Yup.  The army has been doing it for YEARS!

But is that a bad thing?  I mean, we have gearscore and Gladius!, and all of these other addons that give us that information at a snap.  Do we have to have visual models to help us figure out how geared out a toon is at a snap?

Ehh…  I could go both ways on that.  But the PvE raider in me (which is a larger part of me) is just dying to customize my gear.  The gear I have is my signature.  It says I know what the hell I am doing.  I don’t want to look like Pally #324095 minus one helm (ALWAYS turn of the helm graphic… No good helms in WoW, Bleh!).

How could we customize our gear?  Reforging is one way.  No, not the stat reforging that is coming in game very soon.  No I am talking about true blue reforging.  Taking an item and reworking it.

Lets say I have the Tier 8 shoulders (which I absolutely abhor, they look like flaming trashcans).  I want to change their look.  I could take them to a metallurgist and have them reworked.  I like the T10 model much better.   It would take some doing, but a real crafter could change the appearance of the item.

What I am getting at here, is that real blacksmiths, real leatherworkers, real tailors can all change the look of current objects.  Add this, remove, this, trim this, polish that, bend that, hammer the CRAP out of that…  Etc…  Why can’t our in game counterparts do this as well?  Heck, I could even see the possibility of linking it to a daily token system (like the cooking daily or the JC daily), where you turn in so many tokens to gain the ability to reforge an item, any item, into the “model” of another?

What do you think?  Should we have the ability to reforge items and recraft them at will so we are able to customize our toon?  Or do we have to preserve the appearance of gear for the sole sake of indicators of power, or do we allow our toons to become a bit more like our iPods – an extension of ourselves, each customizable to our whims – as unique as the person playing at the keyboard behind them?

3 Responses to “If Gear Were A Bit More Like iPods”
  1. Trixey says:

    I’ve been an avid WoW player for many years but on one of my (necessary) breaks from the game I picked up a little game called Aion. All other aspects of the game are unimportant to your post save one, Aion lets you do just that. You can remodel any item to another image. It destroys the other item in the process but *shrug*. And people love it! I’ve often wondered why Blizz hasn’t done this with WoW. They’re always placing gold dumps into the game (silly rings and mammoths that cost 10k? why?). What better gold dump is there than asthetics? Constantly changing your look depending on your style or mood.

    • Firespirit says:

      I thought Aion had that! But I wasn’t sure. I didnt actually play the game. I watched a buddy of mine play it, one day, and I really didn’t have the drive to play it after that.

      And I agree wholly on the money sink idea. If it were not a token system, it could very well be a money thing. Imagine non tier models selling for 1k a piece, and tier models upwards of 25k.

      Or, if they don’t want players to have such power over their models, add an NPC to do it. 100g per remodel is a fairly decent gold sink, dont you think?

  2. coup says:

    i think the reason wow doesnt do this was the same reason why the overcloak for the pre cata event was taken out… they didnt want ppl to disguise what gear they r wearing while pvping

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