Avatars

Yup, avatars: Your character model. The representation of your character(s) in the game world. How important are avatars to you?

In my experience, there are people who care about it, and people who just don’t. And I think both are valid. There are some players that just couldn’t care less. The avatar, to them, is merely a necessity – the necessary point of contact between player and game, that could be a warrior all clad in silver armor or a purple ball that bounces around for all they care. It’s the same, and it doesn’t matter to them if there are a thousand different facial features to choose from, or how much different gear or clothing they can pile on it. The avatar then simply becomes another bulletpoint game feature that may or may not be there and it doesn’t really matter in any case, like being able to log chat or not, or the option to set pretty shadows or not so pretty shadows.

Then there are other players for whom avatars are a huge portion of the game, and this even transcends to the emotional plane. I’m not saying they fall in love with them (wouldn’t put it past some, though) but they develop a very real and very palpable emotional attachment to it and the character it represents. To them, being able to customize that avatar and imprint it with a physical appearance of their choosing can make or break a game. Options for gear, clothing and other paraphernalia such as accessories or even pets then becomes a necessity. Much of the ultimate fulfillment of the game, for these players, comes from what they’re able to do with their avatars.

So the question stands, what about you guys/girls/everything in between? Have you ever enjoyed a game more because of it paying good attention to its avatars? Have you ever been turned off from games when that doesn’t happen? How important is it to you to have a wide selection, not only of physical features for your avatar, but also lots of items, wearables and accessories? Or, on the other hand, are you a player that thinks all that is fluff or a waste of developer resources?

Scream at me.

11 thoughts on “Avatars”

  1. I spend a lot of time looking at the avatars and trying to make them look cool. It matters a lot to me. If I don’t like the avatar’s look, I can’t play it.

  2. Avatars are huge for me. I’ve routinely went with inferior gear that looked better than something with better stats. I loved the preview addition to the WOW Auction House because it meant I wouldn’t have to sell items I just bought that turned out to be ugly.

  3. I like to customize the look as much as possible, have outfits to wear, but not at the expense of gameplay. I’ll still use gear that has better stats, but might keep a nice looking item around to wear when I’m not fighting. So I just switch.

    This even applies to minions. My warlock had an orphan in WoW which I used as my “minion”. I still used the in-game demons when fighting monsters, but as soon as I was done I’d dismiss it and pull my orphan out and just stand around town, or fight low level kobolds for RP reasons.

    Then Blizzard changed it so you can only keep the whistle that summons the orphan around for so long. So now I don’t play that character anymore, that was the last character I had fun playing, so now I don’t play WoW anymore. So yes, changing one little cosmetic thing made me stop playing WoW (though with the caveat I already had max level characters and tried the endgame).

    The more room I have in a game the more I’ll have items for looks. In WoW I had a lot of “RP clothes”. In LOTRO I have none. Even though you start out with more bag space, you are very limited, so I just don’t keep items around that look good.

  4. Interesting. Avatar is important to me but isn’t the be all and end all of the game. I have one character name that follows me through games (except for a brief stint in CoH where he would have been out of place). The problem is that the original avatar was created in a game with hugely diverse configuration screen and is, well, unusual for an MMO avatar. Very few other games (as in none so far) allow the same diversity so he has never been quite the same. It doesn’t put me off playing though.

  5. Avatar creation with a lot of customization is one of the main reasons I stayed in CoH for as long as I did, and partly why I re-up for a month or two with every Issue. It’s just fun to make a new character when they can look so different, even if they have the same powers. I can’t think of how many Super Strength/Invulnerability characters I’ve made, even if I only played each of them for a little bit. Add to that the fact that, for the vast majority of my characters, I never saw anything that looked like my character designs, even tho they were, for the most part, relatively simple Silver Age/Modern Age superhero costume designs.

    If they ever get to the point where there can be more than one character with the same name on the server, that would be fantastic. I tried tons of “suggested” name combinations in LotRO, ultimately leading me to use inauthentic names.

  6. While I cannot say I have a big emotional attachment to my avatars, their looks are definitely important. And preferably also a clear distinction between them and other people’s avatars.

    I liked all the different outfits that were (are) available in Anarchy Online and I really like CoV/CoH character creation. Separating looks from abilities is a good design choice I think and both Chronicles of Spellborn and Pirates of the Burning Sea seems to go in a similar direction.

  7. I have a split personality on this.

    On the one hand, why suckify performance when all I’m going to see is my backside (as in dorsal surface) 90% of my time in game? I don’t see how devs can justify coding the ability to express skeptical consternation or benign resignation on my avatar’s face underneath his full plate helm.

    On the other hand, I just don’t feel unique enough to get invested into a character if there are only 4 or 5 cookie cutter options.

    Despite my desire for some degree of uniqueness, I think you get more bang for the buck performance-wise out of a diversity of clothing and gear items.

  8. p@tsh@t has a good point, which is why I never compromise on cloaks in WoW.

    When I first started out playing, my character’s look only mattered a little to me, only really affecting my choice of race (ie horde over alliance, and troll over undead). However, in the last 2 years that has changed a bit. I still look at item stats first, but the look of an item is very high on my list of criteria on whether to get it or not.

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