Beer bellies and sagging

This is a post primarily about the videogame World of Warcraft. Just thought I’d let you know up front, in case you were wonder. Also, there may be mild spoilers for Dragon Age.

On a recent guild trip to ICC we had one person on their first ever visit, and another who, although a frequent visitor, had never healed there. Naturally, we made sure to switch the buff off as we’re very cruel to give them the “real ICC experience” before they had a chance to steamroller the first 6 bosses raiding +buff. Much fun was had.

Aaaaanyway, we might have spent a little longer than usual “practicing” with the jetpacks when we got to the Gunship encounter. That’s the only excuse I have for finding myself admiring one of the dwarven deckhands, who was so bonny that I felt it necessary to draw the raid’s attention to the vision I had discovered. The word “Pervship” wedged itself in my mind as a replacement for “Lootship” and the long-deprecated “Gunship”, as we all stood around ogling. EDIT: During a subsequent visit on another character (in a pug!), I noticed that my muse was no longer there. Perhaps she was in counselling and suing Muradin for sexual harassment in the workplace. Ano of the Argent Dawn, sexual predator? *gulp*

I mention this not so you know to avoid me at parties (“Ew, it’s the digicreep!”) but because it reminded me of a minor problem I had with Dragon Age which I’m now having with my newest baby alt. First, let me introduce you to Grammy.

Grammy is a gnome warlock, created completely by accident when I was poking at the character creation screen to see what combinations were available. I had no intention of making another gnome, much less a warlock — I quite fancied something with faster LFG queue times, ta — but it was one of those occasions where the decision was made for me just by the way the character looked.

So, Grammy. She’s seen most things. Twice. She’s old, and a bit tired — that’s why she has the minions. She has no intention of being a nice old lady handing out Werther’s Originals. You only have to look at her — wizened face, a murder of crowsfeet around her eyes, the toll of the years evident in her stare and her aging body, which makes her look like a … miniature swimsuit model???

Waitaminute. How can you pair a face *that* damaged with the regular bouncy gnome body? In game, she’s even more horrifying that she looks here!

This reminded me of something I’d felt when playing Dragon Age — that there was something wrong with the female body models. Ok, Morrigan (despite conforming to the string-is-tougher-than-you’d-think school of combat clothing) was a twentysomething who ran around forests all day — there’s no reason for her not to be in good shape, right?

Morrigan dear, the Rab C. Nesbitt look is dated...

And Leliana, well, she was a professional seductress/assassin.’Nuff said.

I don't know where your weird combination accent came from and I don't care. *swoon*

But why did the geriatric and mildly insane priestess outside the Chantry in Denherim have to look “ripe for worship”?

I don't know what to say about this. *insert religious quip*

This town appears to have opened their augmentation clinic before they opened the laundry.

Local amenities: slurry pit, cesspool, cosmetic surgeon

And once I’d noticed that whether highborne or low, noble or refugee, everyone had the same profile, I couldn’t *stop* noticing. It was very offputting. Seriously Bioware, you put a million different sliders for freckle density, nostril angle and septum depth in the character creator (even releasing a standalone “character creator” before the game shipped), but you couldn’t spring for more than one body model for the NPCs?

And now Grammy. Face like a sharpei, body that could be reasonably described as “perky”.

I’m so tired of this. Just because I don’t necessarily want to be “me” ingame doesn’t mean I need to be an olympian or a Heavy Metal cover girl. It’s 2010, and a $600 PC from Best Buy is more powerful than the mainframes used to design the stealth bomber but the best we can manage  is a single body model for each race/gender combo? Don’t be silly.

And so back to Grammy. If you’re going to allow me to “customise” my character, let me customise my character. Not just choose between a few heads and a hairstyle or two. Let me make a mage with a beer belly and bad posture — why *wouldn’t* she be unfit, she never has to run anywhere! Let me make any kind of male character who isn’t a colossal mesomorph. And if I want to make a twisted, grumpy old lady to throw curses around and complain loudly that this would never have happened when she was a girl, *let me*.

All of those FlagRSP descriptions featuring stunning figures and perfect skin are just a little too accurate.

Bonus pic: I'm sure there was a good reason for running naked through the fire...

Caveats and disclaimers

1. No, I don’t live with my parents
2. Or my grandparents, or any other elderly relatives
3. When I was 16, thanks
4. With a human female, you sicko

9 thoughts on “Beer bellies and sagging”

  1. That was one of the best features in the Neverwinter Nights PC series, you could make your characters different sizes. I always had a hilarious time running around as a fearsome half-orc raging barbarian…who was obscenely fat and tubby. Cookie-cutter body types gets pretty old fast, unfortunately. I would love in WoW to have a bit more slender orc as my hunter (since I’m not a melee combatant) or a bulky troll like the ones out in the Hinterlands.

    1. Heh. I don’t think I spent much time customising my character model when I played NWN (for shame!), but it’s exactly the sort of thing I could and would spend time on now.

  2. Being able to choose different body types would be a great feature to have in WoW, or any RPG-type game really.

    On the Dragon Age topic, I’ve been going through my second playthrough and I’ve found the lack of body type variation a little disconcerting. My character is a human female and seeing her go at it with Leliana, who has the EXACT SAME body model (not to mention undergarments) kinda creeped me out a little.

    1. Yes, it’s more than a little off-putting.

      I can never quite decide how I feel about videogame sex. On the one hand, the only way there’ll ever be successful (by which I mean moving, emotional, visceral etc) sex in games is if they keep trying. Unfortunately, this far “scenes of a sexual nature” in games are almost always horrible and jarring, and I often find myself wishing they’d been abstracted or simply fade-to-black’d.

      Tangentially related: I keep meaning to re-play Mass Effect 2 and tear myself away from the delicious Tali to see whether the body language was generic or specific. It seemed pretty well done from what I recall, but I was just a little infatuated with that particular storyline (and I’m a sucker for romcom) so I might be rose-tinting the memory.

  3. Random tangent: the thing I find really disconcerting about Morrigan is that she puts more clothes on to have sex. I mean, look at her. Is she wearing a bra with that top, err, piece of string? Clearly not. But when you bonk her she’s suddenly wearing a bra. Strange woman…

    1. Yeah, it’s strange, the contortions game devs go through to avoid exposing a nipple in any kind of sexual context lest they earn themselves the dreaded “AO” rating in the US.

  4. Not to put too much of a reality rears it’s ugly head damper on the discussion…but having 1 model per sex/race combo that just gets textured differently radically reduces load on the graphics side of the game.

    I’d love to be able to scale and customize more than colors and hair. However, if the price I pay is that it triples load times for Dalaran, I’m not that in love with the idea.

    1. It’s a fair point.

      I wonder if Blizzard were to include some of the exclusive features of Dalaran (the portals, the high-level shops etc) in level 80+ only areas of the major cities, whether that would reduce the strain.

      I’m guessing they haven’t instanced Dalaran because the contribution of the rest of Crystalsong isn’t that much, load-wise.

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