Months later, and nothing has changed…

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Where does the time go, eh? In that same vein, where the hell have all the updates been?

First things first, I’m super, super, sorry (again). The checking and editing process of making updates has been slowed considerably thanks to some employment woes on my end, and I was struggling for a while to find someone to check them over for quality control. Now that both of those things are (more or less) on their way to being solved, updates should be resuming before too long.

As usual, I don’t like to leave the “oh god please forgive the lack of updates” posts too short, hence here’s another quickie for ya:

The importance of customisation, AKA more of that ‘player choice’ thing Oliver bangs on about most of the time.

I swear, I just need to make a master post about all the stuff I keep harping on about when I bring up the importance of player choice…Anyway, I’ve been musing about the Fable series, namely that it became an RPG where armour became a purely cosmetic thing. I remember getting the plate mail set in Fable I, and thinking it was the bees-knees. Who doesn’t want to look and feel like a walking tank, decked out in so much metal it’s a wonder you can even walk, let alone fight?  (Well, I mean, the mages and thieves probably wouldn’t want to, but details…)

In contrast, getting the ONLY armour set in Fable III was an odd experience. Yea, the armour did have effects on your reputation and how the world saw you, but that was it. You were just as vulnerable to damage decked head to toe in armour as you were running around the nude, and to be fair that’s a good summary of the Fable series’ sense of humour. However, it was quite jarring: Fable I was a pretty traditional RPG experience, since you improve your character’s equipment and stats from ‘rank and file’ to ‘saviour/destruction of the free world.’ While that is sort of still present in the later Fable games, the omission of armour having an effect on stats presents an interesting situation, namely that players could choose their attire nearly without consequence.

The Fable games are hardly the first series to do this, but they are one of the only examples of a game series where the stats were ditched over time, rather than just starting off as consequence free.

This is both kind of a good thing AND a bad thing. On one hand, this does mean that the player has as much choice as they want: rather than being forced to wear armour for the sake of the stats, I can just wear an over-sized chicken outfit and watch the game’s story turn into a farce. However, the opposing side of the argument is that that game may become a lot shallower ESSPICALLY in a series that started off as a stat based RPG. Getting a new outfit in some games hold some weight because that armour may give you a cool buff or just make you that much harder to kill, all while also looking badass. The lack of stats or armour that affects stats can make the impact of a new outfit a lot more limp if you have no reason to be excited other then it makes your character look like an idiot.

However, there is a reason MMO’s make a tidy sum of profit by selling purely cosmetic items. There is nothing unreasonable about wanting to make your player character look how you desire them to look: this is the guy/gal/horrible-demon you’ll be spending hours with, and so the least the game can do is let you dictate what colour of boots they’re wearing. This is especially true of games that let you decide the character’s dialogue, alignment, favourite Abba song; basically allow you to build the entire character. To that end, having no consequence to the appearance of your character allows you to have a lot more creative freedom.

This is something that is going to be largely a personal preference, though I would argue for a happy middle ground. Take Fairy Fencer F, for example: there are stat effecting items that might as well be armour, but your choice of cosmetics have no bearing on the character’s ability, and thank goodness: if Fang wasn’t running into battle with a slice of toast firmly in his mouth, what point would the game have?

There’s a good argument for both sides of the equation, and I think the type of game will be a fairly hefty factor  in whether it’s a good idea or not, but we can all agree that if such customisation is present, we BETTER be able to make our characters look at little silly. Yea, looking bad-ass is important as well, but dressing up in garish pink never quite stops being amusing.

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Just to tack on: Fable Legends continues to make me produce curious but worried noises, like a timid mouse considering whether the cheese before me comes with a free metal bar.
– “It’s free to play”
Yay!
– “But exclusive to the Xbox One and Windows 10 (and you definitely aren’t running this without some work, Oliver)!”
Boo!
– “But has interesting asymmetrical multiplayer!”
Yay!
– “But it’s a combat focused game (one of the weakest parts of nearly every Fable instalment)!”
Boo!
– “But the website made a reference to Chicken Chaser!”
Y-yay?

I guess we’ll see how it pans out…

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