Episode #4 – “Booty Shorts and Bad Faces”

Episode #4 – “Booty Shorts and Bad Faces”

Aug 07

Our fourth episode features Tzufit and Apple Cider talking about character customization and how it shapes our identities and enjoyment of Azeroth. We go into discussion about transmog, potential model revamps and the future of customization for World of Warcraft.


Below the cut is a full transcript of Episode 4, “Booty Shorts and Bad Faces.”

Tzufit:  Hello, and welcome to Justice Points, Azeroth’s feminism and social justice podcast.  With you as always are your hosts.  I’m Tzufit and we also have our co-host-

Apple Cider Mage:  Apple Cider Mage!

Tzufit:  Today we are going to be talking about character customization, appearance, and identity, all those good things as they relate to our avatars in World of Warcraft.  However, before we just right into that discussion, we want to take just a minute for Apple Cider to discuss something that she’s been working on this past week.  It’s a really important item that she’s trying to make some progress with in relation to this year’s Blizzcon.  So maybe you can tell us a little about that, Apple Cider?

Apple Cider Mage:  On the forefront of my mind was the fact that there seems to have been a lot of reported incidents happening at the major gaming conventions this year.  E3, SDCC, all had noticeable instances with men being creeps, but just in general not so good things happening at conventions.  John Scalzi, who’s an author that I follow on Twitter, decided to put up this thing where we said that he wouldn’t do any convention signings or any panels or anything at conventions that didn’t have stated harassment policies after one of his friends had something happen to her.  That kind of got the ball rolling in my brain.  I said, “Well what’s the big convention I go to every year?  Oh yeah, it’s Blizzcon.  Does Blizzcon have a harassment policy?”  And I checked, and they don’t.  They don’t even have a code of conduct.  So no safety policy, no harassment policy, no code of conduct anywhere.  They have codes of conduct for their forums and things like that, but nothing for their giant, massive convention that has like a billion people.  I decided to make a thread on the Blizzcon forums asking for a harassment policy, or if they do have one to make it a lot easier to find, because it’s really hard to find most of the general information about the convention other than one sticky thread.  So far I have reached out to Twitter, I have reached out to the Blizzcon forums, I have written a blog post, and we’ll include links to all these things.  I’ve also written a Reddit thread about it.  The support’s been overwhelming.  A lot of people have come out in support of a policy.  There’s been a couple detractors, but I think that has to do with personal politics versus the policy itself.  A lot of people really want one, so I’m hoping and I’ve gotten some initial confirmation that there are Blizzard employees looking into it.  They are bringing this to the table with some groups inside the company.  So maybe, hopefully before Blizzcon rolls around we’ll actually have a safety policy or a code of conduct or even just some rules of what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable behavior at Blizzcon so that everybody can attend and feel safe, happy, entertained, and not worry that if something happens to them that there’s no protocol for handling that sort of thing and that Blizzard will actually do something about it.  We’ll include links to that in the post for the podcast this week, so take a look at that.  If you like what you see, like the post on the forums or leave a comment.  It’s pretty important and I hope it comes to pass.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  Kind of amazing that it wasn’t in place already, but very happy that you’ve brought it to Blizzard’s attention and hopefully they’ll do the right thing and get everything rolling so that it’s in place by October.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, absolutely.

Tzufit:  Alright.  So on to today’s discussion, which as I said, we’re going to be looking at character appearance and customization in WoW, which as we all know is slightly behind, you might say-

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  -the character appearances in a lot of other games.  On the one hand, that’s kind of a Blizzard staple, I guess, in that WoW can play on a lot of systems that might not really be able to handle more graphically-intense games.  So that’s a good thing, because it means that more people are able to play it even if they can’t necessarily afford a really state-of-the-art gaming system or don’t have a desire to get a state-of-the-art gaming system.  So that part is cool.  And it’s also cool that most of the Blizzard graphics, including the character models themselves, have a very distinct look to them.  The way that people say you can look at a Disney cartoon and you can tell that those are Disney characters – you can look at a Blizzard game and say, “Yeah, those are Blizzard characters.”  We’ve seen updates over the years with the addition of the draenei and the blood elves at first, and then we got the goblins and the worgen in Cataclysm, and finally the pandaren in the latest expansion.  We certainly can see the difference.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  It’s kind of night and day when you look at the original four races [for each faction] – and even now, I would lump probably the blood elves and the draenei in with them as well – when you compare them to the worgen and the goblins and the pandaren, it’s like you’re not even looking at the same thing.

Apple Cider Mage:  The newer models with the pandaren I believe have more points of articulation per polygon than – it’s like 5/6/7 times over the original models and 2 or 3 times over what the worgen had.

Tzufit:  Yeah, one of the posts that I was looking at for today was something Zarhym put up on the forums shortly after Blizzcon 2011.  The pandaren in their faces alone have 10 more points than any of the original races do.

Apple Cider Mage:  And you can tell because they do funny little things like blink and have goofy smiles that they can do.  They scrunch up their faces.  It’s a little bit janky on the pandaren women because they kind of do this weird teeth-bearing thing when they look frowny.  But for the most part, yeah, their faces are very expressive.

Tzufit:  One of the cool things for me that I first saw when I was leveling my monk – I was underwater with her and I panned my camera around to look at her from the front for some reason, and I noticed that when pandaren are underwater, or at least the female pandaren, they hold their breath.  So you can see their cheeks puffing out, because they’re holding their breath, which I don’t think would be possible with any of the older characters because I’m sure that articulation just isn’t there.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh no.  They had such a hard time adding in even new emotes.  They did two emote revamps, because I remember the ridiculousness that happened in beta with gnome female faces.  There was some just messed up stuff going with them.  They added some new visual emotes and even that broke the faces a little bit.  Then they added in all of the monk animations and stuff, too, and there’s just so many things that you can see are wrong with the old models, either where joints will clip into each other or the face will get all stretched out.

Tzufit:  Oh man, the monk animations.  Let’s talk about monk animations for just a bit, because it just hurts my soul to my very core.  I really was tempted to make a gnome monk when they first became available because I love gnomes.  They’re my favorite race in the game.  Then I was on the beta, and I played through as a pandaren monk.  I made one of the template characters with a level 85 gnome monk.  While I think they’ve done a very good job with what they had to work with with the older races and adding in the monk animations, it just looks really painful.  These people are just moving in ways that look so completely unrealistic.

Apple Cider Mage:  Or the fact that my friend’s night elf monk female when she does the cross-legged sit to do like the Zen Flight or whatever, or anything like that – there’s actually places where her thighs do not connect to her body.

Tzufit:  Are you serious?  I have not seen that.

Apple Cider Mage:  It looks like one of those dolls that people make for little kids that are just very lightly sewn at the joints so they kind of look like a doll that has sausage legs.  That’s exactly what it looks like with night elf women.  It’s like a sausage attached to the body.  Sausage thighs.

Tzufit:  And the one that I always react to, especially since I am obviously watching the healing animations more than anything, the channeling for Soothing Mists – that’s the one where the character like gets down into a squat with one leg ahead of the other and has one hand out.  That looks so bad on anyone who is not a pandaren.  It just looks – nobody could hold that position.  They would fall on their ass instantly.  It’s ridiculous.  But of course, when we’re talking about revamping character models that people have had possibly for 7 or 8 years at this point, this is really a double edged sword.  Yeah, it would be great to make lots of changes and to maintain that Blizzardy look while updating the – I would say the 8 original races plus the BC races as well, because I think that blood elves and draenei probably need a little bit of love, too.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh yeah, absolutely.  I know the draenei eyes have been broken for a while.  Some of the draenei face polygons have been broken.  Blood elves suffer from a lot of the same sausage joints that some of the other elves do, although they’re a little less sausagey and a little bit more – they made their lines so smooth-looking, but that means that they don’t bend very well.  It’s like trying to play with Barbie dolls.

Tzufit:  Yeah, that’s a good way to put it.  This is maybe an interesting question to put to you, Apple Cider, since your main is one of those original 8 races.  How would feel about the revamp if you had to suddenly change and choose a different face and possibly have a body as well that looks slightly different for your main character?

Apple Cider Mage:  It’s going to be weird.  I’ve been playing that character since early Vanilla.  Do I think they have the potential to do a really good job?  Absolutely, because we’ve seen an updated human model when Kalec/Kalecgos came out.  I have a feeling that’s where human models are going.  And we’ve seen an updated troll model, and those look fantastic.

Tzufit:  They look amazing.

Apple Cider Mage:  But I don’t know what they’re going to do with gnomes, because gnomes have always been – they were one of the last original races to be designed along with the trolls.  So obviously the trolls look really good, but are gnomes going to look good?  They’ve always been really proportionally weird.

Tzufit:  Yeah, I do wonder what they’re going to do with gnomes.  What gives me a little bit of hope is that goblins are also extremely proportionally weird, when you have those arms that go almost all the way down to their feet.  But oddly enough, it works.  At least I think it does.

Apple Cider Mage:  Well goblins technically are small, but they’re not proportionally weird in the same way that gnomes are.

Tzufit:  That’s true.

Apple Cider Mage:  If you look at a gnome head versus a human head, a gnome is a third of the size of a human, but our heads are twice as big.

Tzufit:  Wow.  I guess I hadn’t noticed that, but now that you say that it does make sense.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  You see a little bit of it with pandaren.  The way that they have to accommodate for massive differences in size in a game that’s supposed to be 3D but it’s not – it’s 3D painted on a 2D surface.  Stuff like that gets out of hand really quickly in that in order to make a gnome be recognizable as a gnome, or at least back when they created that model, otherwise the face and the head would be so small that you wouldn’t be able to see the gnome’s face at all.  I understand why they did it, but they obviously didn’t have as much of that problem with goblins for some reason.  I’m wondering if they’re going to scale our heads down, because right now we look like creepy little dolls.

Tzufit:  I think gnomes are probably the most difficult for them to redo.  Like you said, we’ve seen trolls.  We’ve seen humans.  We’ve seen orcs who have a relatively newer model.  Those all look great.  I don’t know that we’ve seen a newer female orc model, because I think in the times that we’ve see Aggra, Thrall’s wife, she’s pretty much had the old model.

Apple Cider Mage:  No, they gave her a new model for the animatic that they did at the end of Dragon Soul.

Tzufit:  Oh, that’s right.  Ok.

Apple Cider Mage:  So they have something worked up for that.

Tzufit:  They have a general direction.  And we know from an interview that MMO Champion did a while ago with Ghostcrawler, that it sounds like dwarves are significantly along the way toward being completed as well.  Dwarves are another one that I have a hard time picturing exactly what they’ll do, but I think there’s a lot more room, in terms of the way the proportions work; I think they have a lot more room to work with than they do with gnomes.

Apple Cider Mage:  Gnomes are going to either look really good and really polished, or they’re going to look really terrible.  So I have a feeling that maybe in the future I might have to race change my gnome finally.

Tzufit:  For me, the key with gnomes would be that even though they are sort of creepy little doll-like things now, I would not want them to go in too realistic of a direction with gnomes.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh yeah, it would look weird.

Tzufit:  And I think it loses some of the appeal.  I think, for the people who really like playing gnomes characters – and I recognize that there’s this bizarre divide in the Warcraft community between people who like playing gnomes and people who think it’s ridiculous – but for those of us who do enjoy playing gnomes, I think part of the appeal is that they look a little different than a lot of the other races.

Apple Cider Mage:  Absolutely.  I mean, obviously I think goblins were a really good addition for people that like playing small races.  But I feel like gnomes were the first iteration of that, and so we lost, or we didn’t lose, we never had the ability to have a lot of the cool stuff that goblins were drawing off of.  The fact that goblins, for all of their stretched out arm weirdness – and I think that’s actually intentional because they’re supposed to be short but very lanky.  Goblins look way better in transmog gear because the shoulders scale better than gnomes.  Gnomes constantly have problems with shoulder scaling.  Much like how orcs and tauren get too big, ours stay the same size.  They don’t get smaller.  They clip through our hair.  They clip through our shoulders.  They clip through our head.  They clip through our robes.  I hoping they fix some of that problem.

Tzufit:  Transmogging a gnome is truly a labor of love.

Apple Cider Mage:  There’s really not a lot that you can do transmog-wise with gnomes unless you’re Ok with having things clip really weird or not seeing half of the texture.  You’ll never see boots.  You’ll barely see gloves because your gloves will often go right up to your shoulders.

Tzufit:  Yeah, that’s true.  Your weapons will be comically oversized.  Not in the way that – on the female human model, weapons are also comically oversized.  But for gnomes, it’s different because it’s actually like as you’re running you’re staff is dragging through the ground with you.

Apple Cider Mage:  I feel like this is a really good central point of the discussion, is that character models looking really good is so important, and making a model look the way you want it is so important.  Playing a gnome for me over the past couple of years with the advent of transmog has been really difficult because I really can’t dress her up the way I want to.  All of my other toons look so much better in transmog than she does.

Tzufit:  Right, absolutely.  That’s probably a good place for us to jump into just why is character appearance and, by extension, customization so important.  The answer is pretty obvious to me, which is when we play a game that avatar is our virtual representation of ourselves.  It’s a really cool space, because it means that, regardless of what gender you are, or what your appearance is, or anything about you in real life, whatever you want to be representative of yourself you can have.

Apple Cider Mage:  It’s a way of creating either an ideal image or a fanaticized image or a fun image-

Tzufit:  Or a factual image, if that’s what you prefer.

Apple Cider Mage:  -yeah, of things that aren’t necessarily related to real life.  I feel like a lot of my friends refer to the whole transmog thing as “playing Barbie dolls,” where you can dress them up and you change their outfits every day.  It’s really nice because I don’t really get to do that in real life at all.

Tzufit:  It really is unfortunate – and it’s true for other races as well, although I don’t think it’s as problematic for any race as it is for gnomes.  But undead, when you think of the Forsaken, and because of the way the bones come out of the elbows and knees and all that – which on the one hand, makes a lot of sense, and on the other hand, looks completely terrible – it isn’t particularly well done.  It definitely influences the way the armor appears on those characters because there are elements of it that just don’t look right because you’ve got these really terrible looking bones jutting out in those places.  They don’t look realistic at all.

Apple Cider Mage:  That’s also a good place to say that Blizzard, prior to transmog, really didn’t have any options in terms of customizing your appearance.  That was such a big thing for everybody because outside of roleplayers who would put on whatever armor they wanted when they were roleplaying, once you got done with that character screen, outside of when they introduced character customization (the paid option), that was it.

Tzufit:  Right, you were done.  Over the years, they’ve implemented very few additional options to preexisting races.  We’ve had just a handful of hairstyles that have gotten added in.  Gnomes got one – the “punky” hairstyle, which I love and it happens to be the one that Apple Cider uses on her mage in-game.  But there were actually supposed to be three, I think, hairstyles that were implemented at that time.  For whatever reason, the other two did not make it into game and we’ve really never heard anything else about them since, unfortunately.  Then around that same time, night elves got a few new ones.  Dwarves got a couple of the new ones, too.  Then I think some of the Horde races did as well.  But other than hairstyles, that’s really been it.  We haven’t seen new faces implemented.  And yes, you’re absolutely right, you get through that character creation screen – you can go to the barber shop, which even that is a relatively new invention in WoW.  You can go to the barber shop and chance a limited number of things.  Pandaren are pretty cool in that you can change much more with them than with other races.  But still it’s very, very limited.  And transmog was such a big step towards giving us a little bit more control over what our characters look like.

Apple Cider Mage:  Well it was not just a couple of limited character feature changes, which I feel like a lot more people tend to get locked into how they look and be Ok with that.  It gave us access to fashion, and fashion is such a bigger way of expressing yourself and a more immediate and more transitory way of expressing yourself than anything else that you could really do with your character model.

Tzufit:  That’s a good point.  Fashion is a much more fluid thing.  Even if we do get a full character re-customization and assuming that they do that, I would imagine that probably everybody’s going to get a character creation screen again and get to pick what that character looks like.  I can’t imagine how else it would be fair.  Assuming you get that, you go through the process, you lock into it.  The process of customization like choosing a different face, I assume will still be a paid service beyond there.  Whereas transmog is a service that costs in-game gold.  That’s two very separate things for most people.

Apple Cider Mage:  The cost of transmogging all of your gear, even if you’re transmogging heirlooms which cost quite a lot more because of the vendor price, it’s still a very meager amount of gold so even people who aren’t rich auction house barons like myself have access to transmog; whereas real life money to change your face doesn’t seem like it’s in as high of a demand.  Whereas transmog, when they introduced it, it felt like Blizzard was saying, “Ok.  We know you’ve been collecting all of this gear forever.  Ok.  Just go do stuff with it.  Ok.”  It changed how a lot of people played, too.  I feel like a lot of people who were casual / are casual, had a lot more of a reason to go back and start doing old content as well.  Now you could pick any weapon you wanted.  You could pick any helm.  It gave you a reason to go back and do all of that cool stuff and get all of that cool gear, and do whatever with it.  It opened up a lot more of the old game content for me, especially.  My guild is a bunch of clothes horses.  We do transmog runs all the time because we love to be fashionable.

Tzufit:  I think even for people on the other end of the spectrum, with my guild, I have a lot of people who I would not have expected to be interested in transmog.  There are 2 people in my raid who never transmog anything except for our hunter, who never transmogs on his dwarf except he always her carry the same gun.  No matter what.  It’s always the same thing.  So even small details like that that players get it into their head that this is a part of my character’s personality, I think that’s part of what’s really cool about the options transmog has given us.

Apple Cider Mage:  It does seem to reinforce that you can have a permanent part of your character’s identity by having them carry around this cool, special weapon – excepting legendaries!  Or maybe this 1 hat or this 1 chest piece or anything like that.  It’s not just a way of expressing a transitory nature of your character, it’s also a good way of expressing a permanent part of it as well.

Tzufit:  Of course, the other side of transmog is that it can be sometimes a little frustrating to put together the outfit that you want when, first of all, you’re limited by the race of your character and the way that that armor is going to look on your character’s model.  But also, you’re limited by the gender that you’ve selected for your character because the armor models can look so different on a male model versus on a female model.

Apple Cider Mage:  And this is why I always suggest MogIt, because you have the ability to look at that piece of armor on all of the races and all of the genders.  Have I profited off the fact that a lot of under level 60 mail and plate chest pieces happen to be skimpy?  Absolutely.  I’ve made quite a lot of money off of that.  But, on the other hand, it is a little weird if you don’t want your character to look like that.  It’s cool to have granular control over the clothing that your character wears, especially in response to sexy clothing or sexy armor that Blizzard has decided to put into the game.  But on the other hand, it does make mugging away from that a little bit more of a difficult problem.

Tzufit:  Right.  Apple Cider wrote 2 posts back in – this was a while ago, I think it was sometime early last year – about the so-called “slut plate,” which was something that we’ve really wanted to get away from calling this particular pieces of mail and plate armor that are exceptionally revealing, like the ones that show the midriff or the ones that only cover a very small portion of the legs, that kind of thing.  And so for the purposes of the podcast, I think we’ll stick with Apple Cider’s suggestion, which was “platekini,” which I like a lot.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  My thing with that business was that it was really language representing an idea that I didn’t feel was representative of why people wear that stuff.  You can go back and forth all day about it, but granted Blizzard put that armor into the game for a particular reason.  We all know what that reason is, is that a lot of times they still do make the decision that the audience is predominately male and want to see a bunch of women running around in skimpy armor, etc, etc.  With transmog, it gives you the choice to make that, the choice to wear that stuff, and it doesn’t mean that you’re X, Y, or Z for wanting your character to be skimpily dressed or not skimpily dressed, wearing a whole suit of plate or not wearing a whole suit of plate.  It shouldn’t be a value judgment.

Tzufit:  Absolutely not, yeah.

Apple Cider Mage:  It should just be armor.  My shaman is wearing little booty shorts because she looks good in it because she’s a pandaren.  Like you said, some races look better than others.  My pandaren shaman is in the very notorious I think it’s called-

Tzufit:  Is it Glimmering, maybe?

Apple Cider Mage:  No it’s not Glimmering, it’s the exact same – it’s the different color.  Battleforged!  That’s what it’s called.  Battleforge Armor.  Because pandaren look so good in that set.  They look so, so good because unlike how it looks on a lot of other races where the silhouette is very skinny and the armor’s very sort of – it almost looks like Chinese Imperial sort of looking, because it’s very red and black and gold.  It’s very striking.  My pandaren, she kind of – well, to put it nicely – fills it all out.

Tzufit:  Right.

Apple Cider Mage:  And she has beautiful reddish-brown fur, so it just looks so much better on her.  So I said, hell with it, I’m going to wear booty shorts on my big booty panda bear.

Tzufit:  And that’s great.  I think that’s really the point is that you should have that control over what you want the character to look like.  So I know a lot of people object to platekinis basically on the logic that this is completely impractical, especially when you think about a plate-wearing tank or a warrior going into battle.  Obviously, it’s ridiculous that they would be wearing a suit of armor that has that much of their skin revealed.  It serves no functional purpose.  You’re just going to end up getting stabbed through the stomach within 5 minutes.  But I think it’s a little difficult to try to apply real world practicality to WoW, because that’s not what we’re doing here.  There are lots of things in WoW that are not realistic.  So, personally, it doesn’t bother me that those types of armors exist in-game, and that some of the armor, when you put it on a female model looks that way.  What bothers me is that you don’t have the choice to make it look another way.  So like, if I love the colors and the appearance of that Battleforge set, but I want to put it on a character and I don’t want their midriff showing or I don’t want the booty shorts, I don’t have a choice to change it.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  Blizzard is ultimately the people that we have to kind of look with a discriminating glance at because they’re the ones that put that armor in and don’t give us a lot of choice outside of transmog.  What players want to wear on their essentially Barbie dolls, like I said before – they’re paper dolls.  They’re paper dolls that have stats and wear armor and fight dragons and stick swords in things.  If the character wants to wear something like that, by all means.  Now, you can definitely see where the whole this is completely nonrealistic falls apart because men, when they wear the same armor, male models they seem to be all covered up.

Tzufit:  Absolutely.  Yeah, there really are not many examples – although there are a few, I should point out.  But there aren’t many examples of armor in the game that when you put it on a male model reacts in any of the ways that it reacts on female models.

Apple Cider Mage:  I think that people that play male models should have the same opportunities as female models to have booty shorts.

Tzufit:  Exactly.  If you want your paladin – if you want your dude, human paladin to be in booty shorts you should be able to put your dude, human paladin in booty shorts.

Apple Cider Mage:  Seriously.  Well, after the model revamp, because human male paladins look terrible.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  And that’s kind of the other part of the character model thing is that particularly for human males, but for a lot of the males in general in the game, they look much worse than the female counterparts.  There’s just not the same level of detail, which I think we can certainly make assumptions about why.  But it’s just unfortunate for people who choose to have a male avatar that you’re kind of choosing to have an avatar who doesn’t look very good in comparison to the others.

Apple Cider Mage:  Or has a neck, or wrists.

Tzufit:  Yeah.

Apple Cider Mage:  Or a shovel for hands.

Tzufit:  And all of them seem to have something very strange going on with the mouth.  The male human model is particularly unfortunate, so I hope that one at least is getting a serious revamp.

Apple Cider Mage:  I hope all of them end up looking like Kalecgos, because if they don’t I feel so bad for so many people.

Tzufit:  I don’t play a ton of other MMOs, but I do play a few.  And it really seems like WoW is the only MMO I’ve played in recent years that does not use the slider system.  Not everything has sliders where you can change every aspect of your character’s body or every minute point in their face, but most of them have a few.  And all of them have way more options, both in like the categories – so when you go into character customization and most of the time in WoW you just have skin color, hair color, hair style, and face.  Most of the other MMOs that you go into have 6 or 7 if not more options, and a lot of them have sliders at this point.  So it’s really just kind of showing WoW’s age that we have so few options.

Apple Cider Mage:  The couple of MMOs that I’ve played, even just to do the character customization, a lot of them because they have upgraded engines, they either give you a slider or they give you a palette to work with for various things.  But a lot of them, they let you put the placement of the eyes, and the eyebrows, and the ears, and the face width, and the jawbones.  You’re basically creating a character from the ground up.  That character is going to look radically different from every other person that’s playing the game.  WoW just doesn’t do that.

Tzufit:  And that’s so important because I don’t know about you, but I hate walking past somebody in Stormwind who looks exactly like me.  It drives me insane.

Apple Cider Mage:  Especially if you like a popular thing, too.

Tzufit:  Yeah, exactly.  I hate when somebody has the same hairstyle as me, let alone the exact same hairstyle, hair color, and face.  And then when you find people who have the same transmog and you, too, it’s like I’m just going to quit for the day.  That character is your representation in-game.  You want to feel some sort of individual connection with them.  So when we have such a limited number of choices, it does get really frustrating very quickly.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, that’s also why I will never wear purple Judgment is because everybody wears purple Judgment.  I think we all know at least a couple transmogs that everybody does.

Tzufit:  Yeah, there are certainly are those that are much more popular than others, purple Judgment probably being at the top of the list.

Apple Cider Mage:  I can hear somebody off in the distance screaming, “God damn you purple Judgment!”

Tzufit:  A couple of the sliders that, for me, I would really appreciate – I’m very short in real life.  I’m 5’2”, and I like to have characters who are the same size as me.  There’s something appealing to me about that, and I think that’s probably part of why I like gnomes.  So having all of these characters who are like 6 feet tall and walking around looking down on everybody and having no way to choose the race that I want but be able to tone down that height a little bit, that’s one that I would really appreciate.

Apple Cider Mage:  I would really like to see more granular racial sliders or choices.  I’ve always really liked the idea of brown-skinned orcs, or Dark Iron dwarves, or Wildhammer face tattoos, or demon hunter tattoos, or just different stuff.  We saw a little bit of it with death knights in that death knights have certain hair colors that are reserved for them and skin palettes and even the very deformed looking faces are only death knights.  So I want something like that but for each race.

Tzufit:  Yeah, I think that would be really helpful in giving some added distinction to the races.  And along those lines, something that I’ve seen other people suggest, too, is if we don’t just get full on sliders for controlling the amount of muscle tone and definition or if we want a scrawnier character, that kind of thing, maybe we could at least have body shapes which coincide with the class that we pick for our characters.  So it makes sense that a mage, for example, isn’t going to be as muscular as a warrior.

Apple Cider Mage:  Excuse you.  I want a completely buff, swole as heck mage.  Got biceps and triceps ripping out of my robe as I throw fireballs.

Tzufit:  And that’s why I kind of – I like that idea as a concept, but I would rather just have the sliders independent of those decisions.  Having been a roleplayer in the past and still hanging out with several roleplayers now, I don’t think it’s really fair to limit people in that way because what if you warrior is somebody who is brand new at being a warrior and is pretty scrawny at the moment and is trying to get a little bit more buff.  Or what if you have a mage who used to be a warrior and then felt the calling to go set things on fire and so they look a little bit different.  I think more choices are always better and I would prefer not to have those choices limited by things like class or – to an extent – race.  I mean, I know there’s going to be upper levels and lower levels of height based on the race that you select.  Like you’re not going to have a 6 foot tall gnome and that’s Ok.  But it would be nice to have short gnomes and tall gnomes and short night elves and tall night elves.

Apple Cider Mage:  Even just a range, like you can pick a 7 foot elf or a 6 foot elf or an 8 foot elf and that’s your choices.  But even just some variety in the choices that we get if not outright body sliders, things like that.  I understand, from a design standpoint, that any time you add more choices in it’s more development time.  It’s more staff needed.  It’s making sure it all works correctly.  So yeah, I get it.  We’re working with a very old engine.  It is an engine that probably would not even come close to being able to support sliders.  But with the model revamps, there’s got to be more choice and more control that you have over the models they can put in.

Tzufit:  I played Star Wars: TOR for a little while, and TOR didn’t have sliders, but it had – when it came to body sizes – it had 3 options that you could choose.  There was 1 that was really thin.  There was 1 that was sort of average.  And then there was 1 that was more muscular.  So even just having those 3 options rather than 1, even that would be great.  So I think, while we can talk about how much time and effort would go into this, and I agree with you – it would probably be astronomical.  I think in terms of continuing to keep people interested in the game, and attracting new players, especially if they’re players who have played other MMOs and are used to that level of customization, I think it’s probably a relatively important thing to have as a priority.

Apple Cider Mage:  It’s the time to basically have this.  It’s to the point where we’ve seen the terrain get revamped.  We’ve seen armor improved.  We’ve seen-

Tzufit:  Sun shafts!  We have sun shafts now!

Apple Cider Mage:  We have sun shafts!  Why not the models?  It’s mostly speculatory at this point, but I have it on good word that there are models in the pipeline, that there are new models coming SoonTM.

Tzufit:  I’m really hoping that this is something we get more information about at this year’s Blizzcon, because I think it’s just been too long in coming and I think that people tend to understate its importance because on the one hand, it doesn’t seem like a big deal when you compare it to class balance issues or new content issues.  But on the other hand, we see these characters 100% of the time from the moment that we log in ‘til the moment we log out.

Apple Cider Mage:  There’s just so much jankiness and so much broken stuff.  And every time they introduce a new race, it gets more and more pronounced.  I want to have blood elves and draenei freshened up.  Maybe a little couple of tweaks with goblins and worgen.  New animations.

Tzufit:  Get rid of the lady worgen snarl thing that’s going on.

Apple Cider Mage:  New hairstyles and a lot more updated models.  That’s what I want.  That’s all I want.  That’s obviously quite a lot of development time, but I don’t think that’s out of the question.

Tzufit:  Well but here’s the interesting part for me, is that a lot of the discussion in the community this week has been about customization because we have the 3 new helms that have shown up in the Blizzard store, which are $15 a piece.  It is a piece, right?  It’s not $15 and you get all 3?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  OK.  A lot of people, myself included, I think that’s probably a high price point for what you’re getting.  But if you told me that if I paid $15 for a character recustomization, I would have access to like 3 or 4 new hairstyles, a bunch of different faces, that kind of stuff?  I would probably be willing to shell out my $15 for that.

Apple Cider Mage:  Absolutely.  I would too.

Tzufit:  I think that’s maybe another consideration for when it comes to updating player models.  Obviously it’s not going to be some people have the updated one and some people don’t because they’ve paid to update it.  But I think that maybe if Blizzard does even a basic update for all character models and then if you want to unlock additional hairstyles, unlock other faces and so on, maybe even unlock not true sliders but where you have more options for body types, that sort of thing – that those require actual cash transactions.  First of all, that’s closer to what you see in a lot of other MMOs when it comes to additional customization options that you have to pay for.  And I think it would probably garner a lot more interest than these helms.

Apple Cider Mage:  The only drawback I see to that is that Blizzard probably wants to roll everything out all at once, because if they do it half in / half out, there’s going to be so many people that complain, there’s going to be so many people either don’t have the money or do have the money.  We already kind of saw a little bit of that when just even the whisper of a money store got brought up for the Asian market.  Even when that kind of just got datamined, people just completely went off the rails.  So I don’t see them doing anything half-assed at this point.  They either got to go all or nothing.  Honestly, I want a lot more character differences but it would have to be over changes that they make in-game for me to pay for it.  I want them to do the character revamps and then unlock stuff on top of that for money, perhaps.

Tzufit:  It’s hard to say, because that is one of the easiest things for MMOs to monetize because it is something that is specifically not game-changing.  So you don’t get into trouble with people saying, “Well I can’t raid without this.  Well I can’t get to 90 without this.”  You can get to 90 without having a badass hairstyle, but do you want to?  I’m a little torn because I think that if they want to go the cash transaction route, then appearance is a very sensible way to do that; however, I also am really invested in the idea that people should get to create the characters that they want and get their characters to look the way they want and be representative of whatever it is they want to look like, even if they don’t necessarily have the money for additional transactions.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, Ok.  Yeah, that makes sense.  That makes sense.

Tzufit:  Like I said, I could see it either way.  Best case scenario, to me – they revamp all the character models and there are ridiculous numbers of options for faces and body types and hairstyles and all that stuff in-game and it’s all part of our normal subscription fee.  But if Blizzard decides that this is the direction they want to go with the cash store, and doesn’t think that it’s worth developer time without it costing more money, then I can kind of see that decision, too.

Apple Cider Mage:  I think that if they did introduce some sort of customization stuff for money, that that actually could go back into the amount of time and developer resources that are going into doing all the revamps as well.

Tzufit:  Right.  Exactly.  It’s way easier to justify all that time spent if you’re going to get additional money because of it.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh yeah, absolutely.  For how they’ve been doing the transaction stuff with pets and mounts and things like that, it feels easier for me to justify a pet or a mount, which seems to have a lot more practical purpose than a transmog helms, which were a visual change.  Given that there’s so many other helms I could transmog into, I didn’t feel like that $15 was worth it.  It would have to be something so overwhelmingly good looking for me to pay real life money for it if it was just a visual thing.

Tzufit:  Helms are such a – I guess for me, that was a really surprising choice for the first option to send in as a transmog-only armor for cash because lots of people don’t show helms.  The 3 helms that they’ve introduced, they all have common themes.  You can certainly find other armor in-game that matches those but helms are a really delicate thing.  If you want to display a helm, it’s really got to match up with the rest of the armor in a pretty cohesive way.  For me, I wouldn’t ever purchase any of those even if I felt like the price point was a little more where it should be.  I probably wouldn’t purchase any of those because they don’t easily fit in to most of the mogs that I’m looking at.  You really have to figure out how you’re going to do that.  It’s a bit more complicated than with existing helms in-game.

Apple Cider Mage:  Also, the fact that a lot of people don’t wear helms because their models break the helms.  So that’s kind of an ironic point there.

Tzufit:  Yeah, that’s a really good point.  And it’s the same with the legendary cloaks.  They’ve fixed some of that issue since they’re going to have that visual proc that you’ll see.  That makes it a little more distinctive even if you choose not to show your cloak.  But there are very few races that I play that I choose to have a cloak displayed because they look kind of silly.  Like on draenei I never display a cloak because it does this weird swoopy thing over your tail that just doesn’t make sense in the realm of physics.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, exactly.

Tzufit:  And I usually don’t display it on a pandaren because their cloaks – I don’t know.  Pandaren cloaks to something odd.  They get very skinny up top, very wide at the bottom.  It just doesn’t look quite right to me.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh yeah, it’s because how they have to animate cloaks in relation to the body.  They have to attach it to the body, so if you are a model that gets very skinny or has only a couple points on the neck, that’s why it gets super skinny at the top, because they have to attach it to a point on the left and a point on the right and maybe a couple of points in between.  But I know that a lot of pandaren necks have articulation in them, so it’s probably why it gets super skinny.  Then down at the bottom they don’t have to attach it so it can swoop back and forth.  That’s probably what’s doing it.

Tzufit:  That makes sense.  But still, on just those 2 races alone, not even going into the other ones, I’m never going to display a cloak.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yes.  Absolutely.  I don’t usually display cloaks on any of my characters at all just because it tends to break up the silhouette that I’m going for or it doesn’t match or it looks silly like on gnomes.

Tzufit:  I think one of the other things that would be really helpful is that most other MMOs that allow a decent amount of character customization, especially when it comes to fashion, they allow you to turn off and on pretty much ever gear slot.  It’s not just helm and cloak.  Most of them have a toggle or a checkmark or something where you can go through every single gear slot and say, “Ok, I want to show my gloves.  I don’t want to show my boots,” and so on.  I think that would be really helpful in WoW for a lot of the transmogs that people are going for.

Apple Cider Mage:  If they change the models, if they change how a lot of the animations work, we could see a resurgence of people actually wearing the things that you can turn off in-game now.

Tzufit:  Yeah, exactly.  So again, all of our conversation today just kind of focuses around the notion of why is it so important for us to have our characters look a specific way.  Apple Cider, I’ll let you answer as well, but I know for me it’s that most of the people who I play WoW with, I have not met in real life.  So they see me in-game as the character that I’m playing and I want to represent myself in a certain way, just like when I go out and meet someone for the first time in real life, I want to represent myself a certain way.  It’s very important that, when I think of Apple Cider, I think of pink spiky-haired gnome.  And when people think of Tzufit, I think most of them probably think of my night elf that I had the picture of up on my blog.  Because we are so associated with those characters, I think it’s really important that we have as much control and as many choices as possible over what that representation is.

Apple Cider Mage:  I have looked roughly the same since Vanilla.  I mean the hairstyle’s changed, but I have not changed my hair color.  I have never changed anything else about my gnome.  People have known me as that gnome for so long that there are people on my server that recognize me by sight rather than just by my name.  They know who I am.  I’ve been a person who’s played the game without nameplates turned on.  I don’t have names turned on because it’s kind of a weird holdover RP thing that I’ve done.  I don’t have nameplates.

Tzufit:  Yeah, I’m the same way.

Apple Cider Mage:  I can recognize people by sight in-game.  And that’s why that visual element, that perception of self, that identity, that visual identify is so important because people, even in a limited choice game, still want to look unique and have that identity that they have, especially if you’re a person like us that do blogging and have a brand established.  Even if I stopped playing Ais tomorrow, people would still always associate me with a small, pink-haired, spiky-haired gnome.

Tzufit:  That would be the mental image that pops up whenever you talk, whenever I hear someone say your name.  That’s what comes into my head.

Apple Cider Mage:  I’ve had fights with my guild about wanting to race change because they all got race changes when that sale went out.  Everybody in my guild got race changes for 1 alt or another.  I felt left out because they were all getting to have fun with being a cool new person or have a cool new face on an alt or something like that or wear transmog differently.  And there was me, not changing after 8 years, but they got so mad.  They were like, “If you changed I would just lose my shit.  I just wouldn’t go on living anymore.”

Tzufit:  Yeah, because it is such a deep and complete association between you and your avatar.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  If you don’t like the way your avatar looks, you really don’t want to play that character.  You don’t have an attachment to it.  So maybe that is why I’ve played a gnome for so long is I have such a deep attachment to her.  She is a lot more me than maybe many of my other characters for that reason.

Tzufit:  You heard it here first, Blizzard.  This is a heartfelt plea from Tzufit and Apple Cider.  Please, please do a character revamp.  We’re begging you.

Apple Cider Mage:  Please!  Pretty, pretty please with sugar on top?

Tzufit:  Thank you all very much for listening in today.  We would love to hear your comments, your suggestions, your experiences with your characters in-game, what type of customizations and appearances you would like to see for your character, whether that’s something you would be willing to pay real money for, whether you think it’s something that all of the options should be free for everyone.  We want to hear all of your thoughts on this and we would love to see those either up on iTunes or on Twitter or on our blog at justicepoints.com.  As always, we want to thank Safe Shark Hosting, who hosts our webpage, because hosting doesn’t have to bite with Safe Shark.  They do WordPress migration and WordPress and website hosting.

Apple Cider Mage:  We’re going to be putting the link to any of the blog posts that we talked about in our notes this week into the post.  We’re also going to put the Blizzcon harassment policy thread on our blog post.  We also have our episodes up on iTunes.  You can comment, rate, and subscribe if you want to listen to us every week.  And this week we’re going to read our first fan comment on our podcast.  It’s super great and it makes me feel all warm and gushy on the inside.

Tzufit:  So many warm fuzzies.

Apple Cider Mage:  So great.  Ok, this is the first review we’ve gotten on iTunes and it is from Lion Publication is the name, but they also left a character name as well:

“Standing out from the throng, this podcast looks at social justice issues in World of Warcraft. In episode two, they took a look at so many different issues that they could have spanned three entire episodes. Both hosts present in a very straight forward manner and while they discuss emotional issues, they never stepped into the zone of ranting and railing. Tzufit and Apple Cider demonstrate what it means to be a thoughtful voice for consideration in this game that we partake in. I sincerely hope that they continue this endeavor since it means so much more than the news of the week, ptr notes, and blue posts.”

From Saanji, draenei BM Hunter, on Laughing Skull.

Tzufit:  Aw!  Thank you.

Apple Cider Mage:  Thank you so much.

Tzufit:  And we also want to announce that next week’s podcast is going to focus on WoW’s villainous women.  We’ll be looking at figures like Sylvanas, Magatha, Vanessa Van Cleef, Lady Vashj, and my personal favorite Maeiv Shadowsong.

Apple Cider Mage:  Woo!  Yeah, what up?

Tzufit:  Very exciting.  As always, thank you very much for listening and we would love to hear your thoughts and comments once again, on Twitter, on iTunes, or on our blog.  Thanks guys.  Have a great week and we’ll be back next week with WoW’s villainous women.

1 comment

  1. If the upcoming character re-customization goes the TOR route (a couple different body options) I would really like to see a fat/chubby option. Yes, as an Alliance player I could play dwarves or pandaren, which represent a little bit of body diversity, but there could be more. As a woman of size, I don’t often get the chance to represent a body like mine in-game. Not that I’d always want to, I just would really like to see the option. This is something that disappointed me when I tried out The Secret World – they had a ‘character size’ slider, but all that did was scale you up or down, and it didn’t really make you look lankier or more compact in the way that people who are taller or shorter in real life sometimes do; it was just the same body proportions at different sizes. Even being able to play a human proportioned like Olga, the Scalawag Wench would be awesome. If they managed to make “motherly” night elves and draenei, I would happy squeal until I died of not getting enough air. XD

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