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Friday, August 04, 2006

The Importance of being Edited

ShadowBolt and I recently decided to embark upon a summer holiday foray into the City of Villians. Due to a spyware induced format and the general inadequacy of the British postal service, however, my copy of CoV arrived a week later than Shadow's. I worried that he would be bored without me - or worse... he could be having fun and levelling up without me! Luckily, my worries were misplaced and Shadow had amused himself with perfecting the design of his super villian using the excellent character design tool.. for an entire week. It must be said here that ShadowBolt is an extreme case. He has always been 'special'. I don't expect that many players would gain quite so much pleasure as Shadow does from customising (he also enjoys restarting most games) but I do mean to suggest that sometimes the most important aspect of a game from a gamer's point of view can often be un-related to the gameplay itself.
Massively Multiplayers usually provide the greatest means for character tweakage, I assume because of their very nature as games which are set in a social environment, individuals will have a desire to individualise themselves, to stand out from the crowd. Blizzard not only release new, more powerful item sets for World of Warcraft but because of community demand there are now a whole host of eccentric apparel to indulge a player's vanity. I think it's interesting to note Lineage 2 for its exception to this rule, limiting modification within the character creation tool to the very basic and limited selection of faces, hairstyle and sex and allowing all futher customisation to come in the form of items carried on the avatar. The game still enjoys huge subscription numbers, Lineage players clearly demonstrating that their priorities lie elsewhere. I might be jumping to conclusions here, but I am aware that Lineage's customer base is located in Asia, and I wonder if our friends in the far east, perhaps by being better aligned with their chi, can see beyond the materialistic infatuations the westerner.
Another game worthy of note is Star Trek : Starship Creator which was played entirely offline with the challenge being that of designing and crewing your own Federation vessel using the limited resources granted to you by Starfleet Headquarters. You would then send the vessel on missions, which is where the game then fell to pieces and became unplayably poor. The customisation of starships, however, was most impressive - with the player able to edit every concievable espect of the vessel from warp core, to turbolift, to jefferies tubes. I had a lot of fun playing this game, ironic considering the nature of the actual 'game' post starship design. Shadowbolt, of cause, loved it.

YoungManAboutTown, my CoV character. Took less than a week.

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