My Toons Are Beautiful… No Matter What They Say

I actually hate that song, by the way:

One of the most common complaints leveled against World of Warcraft is the quality of its graphics. It’s understandable. The game is seven years old, and it can’t compete with the gorgeous graphics of games like Aion or Rift.

A comparison of World of Warcraft and Rift character modelsBut Blizzard was smart when they designed WoW’s graphics. They gave it a unique, cartoony style that ages gracefully. I know the graphics are out of date, but they don’t look that way to me. They just look stylized — they look like WoW. So I think the graphics complaints are somewhat overblown.

But yet they persist. And one area of the graphics that receives a special level of hate is character models. People are constantly begging for them to be updated, and now, Blizzard has caved. We now know that they are working on new character models. It’s no longer a question of if we will get new models; it’s a question of when.

Common rumor has it that the new character graphics will be required to work in the new monk animations and will thus launch with Mists of Pandaria, but if that were the case, I would think Blizzard would have just come right out and said it, so I somewhat doubt the validity of this assumption.

Although then again, there is that new Chuck Norris commercial featuring a new human model with some very monk-like moves…

My only question about these revamped models is, “Why?” Maybe I just need to get my eyes checked, but I think the current models look fine. Okay, human and Orc males are definitely showing their age, and I could see arguments being made for Night Elf males and Tauren females needing a facelift, but the others look okay to me.

It seems even less necessary in the case of the Burning Crusade races. Can you improve on the perfection that is the Blood Elves? Of course not.

I question whether this is a worthwhile use of Blizzard’s time. New character models will consume a huge amount of resources, and I can think of many things I’d rather have, even just in regards to graphics updates. I’d much rather have better spell effects or more realistic trees. I mean, have you been to Eversong lately?

The outdated tree graphics used in Eversong Woods in World of WarcraftDear god, my eyes.

Furthermore, some people, including yours truly, get very attached to the appearance of their characters, warts and all. They may not like a character they’ve played with for years turning into something unrecognizable overnight.

Now, to be fair, I do trust Blizzard to do a good job in most things, and odds are that I will like the new models. But there will always be some people who liked the original better, and what if I’m one of them? There are some very fine details of my characters I like, and it wouldn’t take much change to ruin them.

Take, for example, my rogue, a human female. I don’t like the human female face choices. They’re all far too innocent and cheerful-looking. Except one, the one I picked for my rogue. She has a sort of permanent glare, and her eyes shift back and forth as if seeking a target. It’s the perfect face for a rogue, and it’s one of the first things that got me interested in the character, even before I hit “Enter World” and killed my first kobold.

My rogue and her "srs" faceBut what if the new models don’t have an equivalent “srs” face? What if all we’re left with is the placid, soccer mom faces? I may have to race change to a Night Elf or Worgen just to avoid the indignity.

My father, who also plays WoW, has a similar feeling towards his rogue, an Undead female. In his case, he’s mildly obsessed with her hair. But what if the new Undead females don’t come with a blonde pixie cut? I’m sure he’d be devastated.

There’s also the risk of more advanced models causing lag on lower end computers. Probably wouldn’t affect me, but it’s still a concern that needs to be raised. Is it worth crippling someone else’s ability to play just to make your toon a little more polished?

Now, with all that being said, I’m not necessarily opposed to the introduction of new models — as long as we have the option to keep the old ones if we prefer. Once the new models go live, I think everyone should be given the option on each character to upgrade or not. There are some characters I probably would like to upgrade — I would be overjoyed if my Orc learned to stand up straight — but I can still keep the old ones if I prefer. Then, everyone’s happy.

So what do you think? Do you think the models need an update? Are you fine with how things are now? How would you feel if you logged in one day to find a new character staring you in the face?

8 thoughts on “My Toons Are Beautiful… No Matter What They Say

  1. A few models could certainly use a little tweaking (human males comes to mind…ugh) but a complete overhaul might not be necessary. I’d rather have more choices at the create character screen, particularly faces. Some just look “wrong” because the proportions are all out of whack regardless of race, and others simply lack variety.

    Female Worgen – really, could we have a face map without a snarl on it?
    Female Troll – choices are only “kinda pretty” and “downright hideous” with not much in between.

    Give me better quality maps with lots of faces/hairstyles to choose from, the ability to pick hair/skin color from a color palette and I’ll be happy. I don’t need higher res models.

    Skyrim was fun to create a character although tweaking meshes wouldn’t work in WoW (I’ve spent more time on that then actually playing Skyrim.) But in WoW, I’m guessing it would be entirely possible to allow users to create their own face map from a set of options at the graphics level.

    I’d pay extra for that level of customization 😀

    • This is the sort of thing I would be interested in. I’m all for more appearance and customization options. The new haircuts they’ve been adding in recent patches are a good start, but they could go farther. Why not give people the option to give their Orc brown skin and play as a Mag’hari? Why can’t we have playable Dark Iron Dwarves?

  2. Overall, you are correct. I get nervous about my toons changing. Will my priest still have the epic porn moustache that everyone has come to know him for? Will I still have the crazy swooping chops and moustache on the gnome? Will my NE still have facial hair that makes him look like a catfish? I assume yes, they just might be more fine-tuned.

    I appreciate what they have done adding in more options for hairstyles. There are things I would like is a not-so upright female troll. Why do they stand up straight but the males are bent over? This has always bugged me! Face choices for all races need to be updated. I think there is just one face for BE, the differences are so subtle that they all look the same. And more SHORT hair options for the male humans, everything is so long or mullety…bleh. It’s disgusting, and the crewcut needs to be refined, it looks more like a crown made of hair. Longer beards for the male humans would be nice too.

    I agree with the comments on the druids and the colors of Orcs and Dwarves for example. I wanted to make my dwarf warlock a dark iron, but the colors weren’t as dark as I wanted. As for the models themselves, even if it was just a couple different body type options for some races that would be nice, for some like humans for example and probably orcs or trolls, it would be great if there were maybe models for either thinner or fatter characters or else characters that varied to look as though they were different ages, a younger looking model for characters that look fresh to battle, maybe not as tall or not as “bulky”. I understand they are characters of war, but I doubt my priest does arm curls with 100lb weights like it looks like he could…

  3. Its easy to say ‘dont change player models’ when u have a fem human or a blood elf. Im a guy an want to play w/ guy toons but u all know how terrible human male models look. Someone called them the tarzan family lol. I want to make a human and would love a new model. I also like my human fem mage. I am wondering what if blizz changes her too much. But blizz usually hits the mark w/ these changes. Not too much, not too little.
    I liked chuck norris model for humans. And i would like an undead model to look more realistic. Less more torn clothes. Scarier undead vampie like look to combat ally worgans. Agree?

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