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3:05pm on Monday, 22nd December, 2014:



One of the things that irritates me about The Secret World is its attitude to fashion. This is a game set in the present day, using a microtransactions revenue model. Clothes are the classic kind of thing you can sell in such a model without turning it into pay-to-win. All that clothes do is let you customise your character's appearance. They have no gameplay effect at all, except conceivably as camouflage in PvP — and in TSW all PvP is done wearing PvP uniforms anyway. Funcom should be making clothing items by the score.

In practice, though, Funcom doesn't make a lot of them at all. The official reason (which I've no reason to disbelieve) is that making clothes takes time and too few people will buy them to make the exercise profitable. Well it does take time to create the models, yes, but if all you're creating are different textures for existing models then it shouldn't take long at all. You could get fashion students at the local college to do it, and give them a cut of any monies raised when people buy their stuff. So long as an artist could spend an hour or so looking at the results to make sure they're not too Second Life, it should be fine.

As for why people don't buy clothes, well the main reason is that they're rubbish. Even if you put together an outfit of all-black clothes, the blacks won't match. Some will be shiny, some will be matt, some will have wool patterns, some will have leather patterns, some will have other textile patterns, some will say they're black but they're actually dark grey... As for red, well you can get anything from dusty pink to scarlet to near-mahogany; hardly any of it goes with anything else.

The worse thing, though, which I've mentioned before, is that the clothing layers are lacking. There are nine slots where you can wear things: head (for hats), head (for jewellery), face, neck, hands, chest (for shirts), chest (for coats), legs and feet. There's also a uniform slot, that overrides all the others with a single prefabricated outfit. Some of the individual items may override slots, too, so for example a swimsuit is a chest piece that overrides the leg piece.

OK, so what's wrong with this? Well, there's no provision to change skin colour. Why would you want to do that? Well you might want to have tattoos, or, if you have a female character, hosiery. Because there isn't really a male equivalent for tights and stockings, the female characters don't get them either.

Tattoos are the kind of thing that are not hard to make and would sell well — if they'd thought of having them. As for hosiery, well there are only two pieces available at the moment: a pair of black stockings that comes with a pair of demon-head knickers and a pair of grey stockings with holes in them that comes with a pair of mechanics' shorts. In other words, they may appeal to more male players with female avatars than they do female players with female avatars.

All is not lost, though! You can fake having both tattoos and hosiery by making them be part of other clothes. There's a top, for example, that exposes tattoos on the shoulders. For hosiery, all it would take would be to couple an existing skirt with a bunch of different shades for hosiery and I guarantee there would be people out there who would buy every one of them. I've mentioned this in the TSW forums, but nothing happened.

Except now something has happened! For the Christmas quests this year, the rewards include wassailing clothes. These come in either black or your faction colour (red, blue or green). One of the items is a skirt plus built-in stockings. Yay! Here's my character Mareigh wearing said skirt:

She also has the black ones. This is great! She can now put together dozens of outfits without having to have bare legs the whole time.

Except, here she is wearing a jacket:

Yes, there are superfluous frills one the skirt that show through coats.

Oh, Funcom...

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Copyright © 2014 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).