GW2: Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat?

aka The Dilemma of Playing Realistic Female Characters in an MMO

I made my female Norn warrior last night, having decided to use some of that gold for a character slot after all.

Immediately, I was of mixed minds whether I should be keeping her.

This isn’t just the standard complaint of boobs and skin peeping out of convenient holes in armor that would be delicious for an attacker to stick a sword into, though.

Yes, we know GW2 suffers from a “first impressions” presentation problem.

defaultfemwarrior

The default appearance for several kinds of female professions delights in showing off skin and boob plates. This one’s not too bad though, it harkens back to the old Jora look (though she herself seemed designed to be one of those pinup girl faces of GW1) and you should see the female human light armor problems.

I’ve always been cool with that because as a well-educated GW2 fan, I am aware that this game has options beyond the barbie doll sex appeal look that is immediately attractive to the most populous youthful male demographic.

What I didn’t quite realize was how tricky reaching those options would be, while still looking like a character I’d want to play.

The default face and hair settings started making me a little depressed because a majority of them seemed tilted toward “female human” cute and perky.

amianornorhuman

OMG. DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A NORN TO YOU?

The body defaults weren’t any better.

starvingorpudgy

The choice seemed to be between various shades of anorexic or downright plump.

(I’ll at least give Anet kudos for including the last option, though it wasn’t at all appealing to imagine myself running a giant fat lady character through the world and wondering what kinds of whispers I was going to get from other players. While it may be an amusing side goal to get them all 72 hour banned for harassment, I would actually just want to play the game here with a character that doesn’t attract abnormal amounts of attention.)

dorkyhelmet

Let’s not even talk about how dorky the helmets look, shall we? (Where the fuck did my hair go?)

Maybe my take on the lore isn’t as strong as I’d like, but I always envisioned most Norns to be big, trending toward the muscular, possibly Amazonian in stature.

Anyhow, because that is the type of character I am trying to make on a -roleplaying- server that values a lore-appropriate look, LET ME make the mannish, not immediately pretty and possibly somewhat homely, stern lady warrior concept in my head already.

I persisted. GW2 supports options. GW2’s character creation has sliders. There must be a way.

A great deal of slider pulling later, creating some of the awful-looking faces possible in the manner of most unskilled players operating sliders in character creation (ok, at least GW2 has that option for scarily ugly if you want it – click the link only if you’re prepared to see what greets people zoning into the Heart of the Mists on Tarnished Coast, they’re pretty famous), trying to get the closest I could to the character concept in my head, I eventually settled on a vaguely piratical, square-faced, stern-jawed appearance, complete with scars and bandana.

yarrillmakeyouwalktheplank

I still wasn’t sure whether I’d achieved believably realistic, or just plain fucking ugly.

(Something about the distance of the eyes still nags at me slightly, but I’ll be damned if I go through all that slider pulling in character creation again.)

You might ask, why was I so obsessed with how “I” looked.

Good question, I kept asking myself that too.

I think I just knew that walking around as a tall giant character draws eyes, and every last detail on the model is a lot easier to see on a Norn than say… a human or sylvari, let alone an asura. If something looks “off,” it’s just going to be a lot more obvious than say, some lil guy’s three toes sticking out of shoes that don’t fit.

Then I landed in the world and hit the Norn problem. An outsized avatar runs slowly. It also runs like a human female, complete with little dainty dance of the hands, that on a giant character make it look like a waddle.

I was already having second and third thoughts about going through with this.

I ended up taking her into the Heart of the Mists to check both the PvP locker to see if future skins held any hopes of looking good (minus about half of the options for ridiculous skin and boob designs, minus another quarter or third of the options for being plain butt ugly, there were a -few- left that seemed to hold some promise) and test out the combat animations for various weapons (which I have to say, I rather liked. Or found quite passable indeed.)

One of the reasons for why I wanted a Norn Female character is because they’re voiced by Claudia Christian (she of Babylon 5 fame.) I wanted to hear that voice acting through my personal story.

But I was really not sure if I was okay running around with an oddly proportioned giant lady towering over everyone in towns like a bad B movie.

Since the character was already made, I eventually decided that I’d take her at least up to level 10, where the personal story would drop a black lion key I could hoard and see if things got better or if she grew on me, or if I was going to continue feeling awkward and generally “not feeling it” for the character.

loreofgiants

It wasn’t so bad among other Norns in Hoelbrak or Wayfarer Foothills, though I developed a habit of running up to every NPC to measure my height and check if I looked out of the ordinary against other Norn females. (What the hell was happening to me? Why this sudden obsession about my self-image?)

I even met a Jotun giant who was taller than all the Norn who told some interesting stories about the Age of the Giants, of which Norn and Jotun shared a certain common heritage apparently. Thinking about it that way made me feel better, that I was part of a race of giants, rather than an awkward over-sized female human that vaguely resembled Xena and could look fat at certain unflattering camera angles.

None of which was probably going to help me the moment I hit a human proportioned town or have nosy asura looking up my skirt though.

Still dancing with the idea of deletion, I decided to hit the Hall of Monuments to see if a good (armor) skin and dye job could help.

tookyoulongenoughtogethere

It did.

Oh my fucking lord, how it did.

I suppose some of the problem was that the lowbie heavy armor was plain ugly, no matter what character you put it on.

I put on heritage armplates, leggings and boots, which gave me plate armor on all the extremities you’d expect a tall giant lady to have in contact with shorter beings in combat (also functions great to boot a nosy asura with), and left the top in chainmail for better flexibility (the better to reach over and thwap you with a gigantic sword.)

I was also surprised how good the default Ebony dye came out on this particular armor for Norns. It’s almost a true black. (On all my other characters, it’s always been a more dark grey.)

As everyone knows, black is slimming.

Add on Stone and Matte for shiny metal highlights, some Tarnished Steel for variation, and the end result is something I could probably live with.

surprisinglymuchbetter

At least for another 10-20 levels, where I might re-evaluate again once I get to non-Norn proportioned settlements.

Still can’t do anything about the dorky helmets though.

*Hides them all*

GW2: Asura Guardian Style

For lack of anything better to write about before the oncoming patch which we are anticipating with equal parts glee and trepidation – will my favorite spirit weapons ever attain more usefulness than being relegated to a PvE anything goes farming build? How badly are glamour mesmers hit by the confusion change and will those damnable mistform elementalists actually fall over and die for once? What other surprise are in store for us, etc…

… I thought I’d show off some of my lil asura’s heavy armor fashions.

Bear in mind, I like to dress up on a budget, and certainly cannot afford all Tier 3 cultural armor right now:

Me in my early days, contemplating an infallible murder scenario for the other guy's armor. Decided he'd turn around and kill me instead.
Me in my early days, in the standard crafted exotic armor, contemplating an infallible murder scenario for the other guy’s armor. Reached the conclusion he’d turn around and kill me instead and snuck away. (Picture courtesy of rich PiNK guy.)

Well, if you’re rich, abyss and celestial goes with anything and anything bright colored looks nice on the glowy parts of T3 asura armor.

For the rest of us, there’s still ways to look fancy and unique. I’ve seen a gladiator-sparta style gold/red asura running around, and a Marvin the Martian-colored one too. Alas, I forgot screenshots so you can imagine them instead.

This is actually my third set of armor. I was experimenting with different stat combinations and by the time I got around to the standard PTV gear, it was easier to just pick up the Orr Karma temple armor and be done with it.

winterkarma1
I like to think that it matches my chicken.

I had gotten tired of transmuting by this point (I only have a limited number of those crystals from map exploration, y’know) and decided to stick with the look, but try something different with the dyes. I also wanted something light colored to easily differentiate for myself which armor I was wearing when, as my other two sets are darker colored.

winterkarma2

winterkarmapalette

The brightest and most expensive dye in here is Winter Ice, which sets one back half a gold or thereabouts. I just happened to have it, so I used it for the skulls and the highlights.

Sea Ice is the main color, a very white-ish green that gives a tinge of sickly Orr, which feels rather appropriate for stuff that comes from Orr.

The last color is Blue Shade, which again I happened to have, and fits the ‘cool’ palette versus a more warm color. But I bet any dark chainmail-y color would be fine as a contrast too.

The one thing that’ll really set you back in terms of Asuran armor is if you’re a stickler for clipping. I gave up with helms because I like my asura’s ears and face showing. And ears sticking out of helmets with no visible holes is a big no for me. You could pick up a cultural helm, I guess, but they all look kinda daft to me except maybe T3, and that’s a 20 gold bomb right there. So much easier to hide helm and show off the snotty face I worked so hard on.

There’s one thing that pisses me off about the above armor set. My toes. They stick out. These shoes are not meant for asura feet. If they didn’t have spikes on and complement the rest of the set, I’d throw them out. But as of now, I just close an eye because I bought better stuff for the other two sets and I’m broke.

Here’s set number 2. The realistic dark-themed blue and grey gold-ish but dark and shadowy style.

invader1

invader2
It matches the day time Ascalonian Catacombs hammer surprisingly well.

It started out as an entire WvW invader armor set, because I’m, you know, broke, and spend all my days in WvW (which explains the lack of monies part) and looked very decent if basic when colored appropriately. I was especially fond of the shoulder and armguards.

But I had cultural T2 chest and leggings left over from my first vanity dress up set, and those toes sticking out of my boots pissed me off, so I bought the booties as well.

The coat sets you back 2 gold, but I think it’s worth it as it gives a bulkier power-armored look to the asura. The leggings may or may not be necessary, 1.5 gold. The 80 silver boots that actually fit my toes are pretty worth it too, imo, but you could probably do without if you don’t look at your asura’s feet much.

For sure, no one else will, they don’t even see most of an asura anyway, it’s you that will be looking at yourself most often. 🙂

invaderpalette
Colors: Tarnished Steel, Blue Shade and Burnished Steel. Super cheap dyes, but if you ask me, super sexy color complement too.

Now vanity set 3, or to be truthful, the first set I put together because I wanted to splurge a bit and look cool, while still on a “modest” budget.

darkangels1

The main goal here is the glow. And if you look really carefully, the main bang of the T3 cultural armor glow is from the shoulders and boots. Sure, every piece glows and adds to the effect, but I’m not -that- fucking rich. The protruding glowy bits are from the shoulder and boots. The boots, thankfully, are “only” 12 gold, but the very sexy shoulders will set you back 20 gold. (Ouch.)

It broke half my bank at the time, but it was worth it.

I cheat here and add the heavenly bracers from the GW1 Hall of Monuments rewards, because it also glows quite prettily. The downside is that it does clip. (But you know, no one looks that close at asura anyway.)

darkangels2

The chest and leggings are left as the standard crafted draconic armor. This, I must warn, does cause the sheathed weapon to clip the shoulders a little at the back. But well, if your weapon is out all the time, who’s gonna notice?

I had actually considered swapping in the T2 chest and leggings at one point, which I think would also look very good in compact bulky power armored fashion, and might avoid the clipping issue (not tested though, the T3 chest probably takes into account T3 shoulders, but egads, it’s 30 gold.)

Eventually, I decided I liked the slimness of the chest as contrasted with the bulky attachments, and the winged skirt/kilt/robe of the leggings grew on me. You see, I am a big Warhammer 40k fan, and the T3 asura armor looks a heckuva lot like very sexy space marines power armor for tiny people.

And while you probably could use any decent color complement on such sexy armor and have it look good, I decided to recreate a Dark Angels theme and color scheme, just to see if I could. Mainly dark green, cream/bone, robes, winged/angel stuff, red accents.

You can, and it even sorta kinda matches the red golem mini from the HoM.
You can, and it even sorta kinda matches the red golem mini from the HoM.

The main color is Emerald, which will set you back 28-30 silver or so, but it’s the best dark green I can find right now. The secondary cream color is Frosting.

Because of the mixed armor, the palette is a little more complicated.
Because of the mixed armor, the palette is a little more complicated.

The silver chainmail part is Frost, and I used a lighter Evergreen as the last chest color merely because I’d bought a bunch of cheap green dyes to find the best. You could make it Emerald with very little difference, but the Evergreen just makes it a little brighter.

The fun bit is the glow can be any damn color you want. I went for blue after a while, because guardian, y’know, and my other guardian is all red and fiery anyway, so it’s Sky dye because if you’ve spent this much on vanity anyway…

(The red was Salmon on the heavenly bracers to make it flamey and either Melon or Cantaloupe on shoulder/boots to match the red orange-tinted bracers. I haven’t been arsed to explore the red spectrum long enough to find an exact match for the golem, but it’s probably possible.)

And when I’m bored, I get to change colors like a Christmas tree.

orange
Random orange, probably Citrus.
Because I now have too many greens. This is Sprout, but Wasabi's a good light green too.
Because I now have too many green dyes. This is Sprout, but Wasabi’s a good light green too.
When in doubt, glow white. Winter Ice pulling double duty here.
When in doubt, glow white. (Or white blue.) Winter Ice pulling double duty here.