Wednesday, November 24, 2010

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Ophelia's Gaze: Iris Explores MMO Fashion, Starting With Nexon's Vindictus

VindictusEvieFashion1

Exclusive to NWN, Iris Ophelia's ongoing showcase of all things stylish in SL and beyond!

For years now, Ophelia's Gaze has been a column about style in Second Life, but I've decided to try something a little different this week, branching out to talk about fashion in MMOs. I'm a virtual fashionista first and foremost, but I'm an avid online gamer second. Fortunately, fashion is starting to play a larger role in gaming, from broader customization options to cash shop gear (a big business for free-to-play MMOs!) And while I use MMORPGs as a way to unwind from school, work, and even Second Life stress, I've noticed that I'm far less likely to stick with a game if I don't like the look of my avatar.  Given the recent trends towards more avatar variety, I suspect I'm not the only one.

My current favorite is the graphically stunning Vindictus, which had my interest since its Korean beta stages, and with the North American addition of the sweet and stylish mage character, Evie, Vindictus is my new MMORPG addiction. Keep reading to find out more about Nexon's most stylish mage!


VindictusEvieFashion2

When I started playing Nexon's Vindictus (previously released in Korea as Mabinogi Heroes) as a swordswoman, I was a little disappointed. I'd been waiting for this game to come out for nearly two years, and the graphics and characters are both very pretty, but the equipment for the first 24 levels seemed very drab and realistic. Realistic when we're talking about armor and battle gear means bulky, bland, and uninspiring. Then, shortly before Halloween, Nexon released a new character class, a mage named Evie with skills as impressive as her outfits are adorable.

VindictusTornClothesUnlike the other classes in the game, she has a magical shield that absorbs damage to a certain point, so there is more flexibility to wear what you like aesthetically rather than upgrading blindly just to keep your defense high. Evie wears primarily cloth armor, and generally her clothes involve charming dresses with very feminine accents. Even her early equipment is adorable, like the Scarlet Witch set which has an adorable ruffled skirt accented with ribbons and a lacy mantle.

Another interesting feature in this game in terms of fashion is equipment deterioration. As your clothing absorbs damage, it degrades and may break, leaving it hanging off of you in shreds. Every piece of equipment breaks in a unique way that's left me trying to get hit to see what my new gear would look like broken. I've had the toe of a shoe flapping as I ran, ruffles of a skirt twisting behind me like a tail, even delicate lace trim torn and dangling around my shoulders.

VindictusCurrent outfitIf you take avatar customization as seriously as I do, there are cash items available to upgrade your look. More hair styles, hair colors, makeup, scars, and underarmor are available, though most of your equipment is crafted in-game and not purchased. They also seem to be very aware of the importance of a chic avatar, since after Evie's release they awarded vouchers for new hair styles from the shop to every Evie who had reached level 15.

Nexon is localizing and adding content from the Korean release bit by bit, and they recently released new hairstyles and underarmor sets for all the classes, not just Evie. For now, my own Evie's in her top tier of equipment, but I won't have to wait long before I can upgrade again -- Nexon will be releasing the next major update on December 1st, complete with new areas, a higher level cap, new powers and, most importantly, new equipment!

 

Mixed_reality_iris2010 Iris Ophelia has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan.

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Adeon Writer

I guess I'll be the first to say it, "I wish this kind of style was more popular in SL."

:)

Arcadia Codesmith

More and more games are implementing "appearance" slots, so your character's look is not dictacted by the effectiveness of the gear.

This usually leads to an increase in Paladins in Thongs Syndrome (PITS), but that has never troubled me so long as there are full-coverage options for those who want them.

BTW, great idea for a series!

Iris Ophelia

Totally, Arcadia! Perfect World's games are a good example of that. They have equipment and costume as separate outfits worn simultaneously, so you can toggle into the one you like more while still receiving the stat bonuses of the other. There's also the option many games are adopting to hide usually hideous helmets.

I also really loved DOMO's paper armor which let you buy elite gear that was made of "paper" for the sake of taking pictures, though it would be obliterated in combat.

Rin Tae

The more customization the better and if I have the option for a outfit that is not only good looking but actually also practical then I am home ^_^

Options to style the outfit yourself would be best, but I guess the possibility for this is limited in usual online games. But it would be nice ...

Arcadian Vanalten

Guild Wars is another one that has several great armor options w/ various looks, plus the option to add "Costumes" and hats/headgear that overlay the armor, but don't affect the stats. The latest one is a set of formal gowns, tuxes, and a wedding dress to tie into the current "Hearts of the North" storyline. You've not lived until you've kicked White Mantle butt while wearing snazzy eveningwear.

Arcadian Vanalten

And, ahem, Arcadia, it's not PITS...it's Armor of Distraction, thank you very much. Not that I would know anything about that, mind you...

Rin Tae

* Guild Wars is another one that has several great armor options w/ various looks *

... is on the side of the Kurzick because they are more fashionable ^_^

Arcadia Codesmith

Apologies, Arcadian. I continuously find myself inventing names for memes that already have perfectly good terminology.

Guild Wars irritates me a little because most of the costume slot pieces are sold in the web store, not through normal gameplay. There are some fun armor looks, but they require the sort of epic dungeon-delving mojo that is not my forte.

On the other hand, I've spent literally hours with the City of Heroes and Champions Online costume creators. You have more than enough pieces at first login to craft a unique look for yourself, plus the opportunity to earn more through play, plus add-on packs you can buy in the Store. It's a near total separation of style and function that gives the player maximum flexibility to look as she or he wishes.

Elysia Snook

I am so glad you brought up Champions, Arcadia! It's always struck me as odd that it doesn't seem to come up much in conversation among SL resis, even though the insane character creator and pretty open-ended gameplay are right up our alley.

I'd love to hear what Iris thinks about fashion in Champions, especially given that great article she wrote a while back on SL outfits inspired by City of Heroes. ^_^

http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2009/02/superhero-style-in-sl.html

Iris Ophelia

I actually played Champions for quite awhile Elysia, as well as being in the Beta, and I came up with a lot of characters with looks I really really liked. I found it more flexible than CoH, which I also played for awhile, however I really really hate the body shape editing tools. All the female faces tend to look very similar, and the body times are also fairly limited. As in most hero games (and I believe this is an issue in the upcoming DC hero mmo) there's no option to have a "Huge" body typed female. Chalk it up as yet another example of gender bias inherent in game developing. Actually in the DC game, female body types look to be even more limited than Champions and COH, but then again. It bothers me less in a game like Vindictus where everyone is cast more or less from the same mold anyway, but in games that pitch themselves as essentially limited by only your own creativity, it bothers me a LOT.

Nevertheless, I'm going to enjoy fiddling around in Champions again when it goes free to play in 2011. I'm hoping Star Trek Online will also go that way eventually, though I'm not holding my breath.

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