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10.10.2012 , 08:44 AM | #1
We need a way to quickly store, organize, and equip custom outfits. If players are to collect, customize, and generally get "into" outfitting their characters, then the UI must promote it, rather than relying on the player to find a way. And if this is not Bioware's intention with this game, then I'm afraid it's too late now--these are the rewards they are offering, so it's time to embrace this.

Why is is a "problem?" Well, the design of the inventory and UI have created a scenario where it is inherently difficult to pursue one of the core activities to keep players involved with the game beyond the basic "more missions to complete" level.

And why prioritize this?
Well, primarily because this is the foundation for building out one of the major aspects of personalization--a key to keeping players involved--and it requires a bare minimum of newly-created features. As a side note, it appears that custom outfits are going to be one of the ways that BW tries to pull more users into the cash shop, so this is needed rather soon.

The (proposed) solution:
A little change can go a long way here. Essentially, all that we need is another inventory tab, with 14 slots for gear and the guild tab system for organization. It's dead simple, and I went ahead and mashed up what it looks like already. Have a look at the image linked below:

How it works:
You drop gear from your inventory into the Outfits tab (You would likely want to have a separate "inventory" tab open up, like it does when you interact with a cargo hold or vendor, for convenience).

The Outfits UI has a number of "tabs" like the guild bank, allowing you to store up to 14 gear items per tab (gear items only). If a player wants to use this "creatively" to store 14 helmets in one tab, just let them.

The Equip All button will equip each item on the tab, and if someone has put 2 of something, only the last item gets equipped. Extra tabs can be purchased with Cartel Tokens.

If you want to get super-fancy with this, then you might allow players to place a virtual duplicate item as well--esentially, to place one piece of gear onto 2 or more outfit tabs (You might not have 2 different sabers for PvE and PvP, for example). An icon would denote that the item is from another tab. This last component is the only part of the Outfits system that is not already an existing mechanic in SWTOR.

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For what it's worth, here's the thinking that led me to believe that this is a problem--the root of it lies with game design, rather than with a personal compulsion for more outfits. And this feature request isn't some arbitrary thing that I decided I want to see. It's a feature that I arrived at by thinking about what's in the game, how it works, and what's lacking.

What makes a game endure? What keeps players "in" the game, after they inevitably complete all of the missions and are waiting for the next little bit to play through? A look through the worlds of other games would suggest immersion, personalization, ownership, achievements, and role play.

In Swtor these themes might convert to "careers/ extended world dialogue/ Pazaak/ swoop racing"; "customized outfits and ships with baubles and trinkets tacked on"; "Guild ships/player housing/more interactive or customizeable ships"; "trophies/ leaderboards/ displayable trinkets"; "chat bubbles, functioning cantinas (serving droids, sitting at tables to initiate group conversation, etc), emotion (implemented-gj, BW)"

I have many, many thoughts on each of these areas, as do all of you, but I would like to take a moment to focus on the problem of custom outfits for a moment, as I haven't seen the root cause addressed in this forum yet.

One of the ways that BW has been offering us rewards for continued participation is with social gear. Presumably, we are all going out there and getting sets that we like for our characters, as well as sets for "being there." Which means that by now, we're all got a Containment Officer suit, Sandpeople Bloodguard suit, Collector's Edition suit, Dancer suit, Slaveperson suit, War Hero PvP suit, Campaign PvE suit, Balmorran Vomit-looking suit, etc and so on.

So...surely I'm not the only one who is both running out of inventory room and also finding this to be a pretty darned silly way to store outfits. I mean, these things have 4-14 pieces each; I literally do not have enough room in 3 cargo bays and an inventory for all of the game's "outfits." Heck, I'm running out of room just collecting several along with crafting mats.

But space to keep them all is a secondary issue. The entire "point," as it were, of many of these suits is basically to show them off. But in order to do that, we're either keeping a set of geared PvE, geared PvP, and one or several "show off" sets in our inventory at all times, or we're running back to the cargo hold every time we want to switch, or--and this is what I fear is really going on--a majority just stop giving a dang about outfits. I think most of us try to get one or two customized looks and then just give up on wearing anything else because it's too much of a hassle to carry around last world event's outfit just for looks.

So, a simple change for a simple motivation. If it's easy to collect and show off gear, then maybe, just possibly, the players will start to get into their characters just a bit more.

(And a word of warning to Bioware--if the F2P cash shop is hoping to capitalize on player interest in customization and special gear, rather than on pay-to-win, you really need to take a step like this, to re-emphasize social gear in a meaningful way, or you will quickly find players ignoring the new direction)
I make useful, game-expanding suggestions.
Holorancor | Food! | Outfit Storage | My Career | Ultimate PvE Solution