Monday, June 30, 2008

Breast Debacles

Last night, a friend of mine asked me to sign onto my mage so she could get a portal to Shattrath for an alt that hadn't been dusted off since TBC went live. She arrived and I gaped at her armor in shock.

"Is that supposed to be a plate chestpiece?" I asked, incredulously.

The item in question, a [Brutish Breastplate of the Bear] was only level 45, so she appeared to think that I was insulting the quality of her leveling gear. My actual objection was to the "armor" itself. Take a look at a screenshot from WoWHead. This supposed suit of armor is effectively a halter-top bra that might be appropriate for a skanky nightclub. The character's midruff is completely unarmored (disembowel ftl?), as are her upper arms, and the sides of her torso (i.e. anyone standing to her left has a completely un-armored shot at her heart; if memory serves, the area under the arms was a relatively weak spot on real world plate armor, but I never knew that was because they simply didn't bother to cover that part of the body).

Given its level, this joke of an item has most likely been in the game since its launch (i.e. about 4 years now). This is not to say that the other armor types don't also fail as armor (I had to buy my wife's druid an in-game shirt to wear under her "armor"), but I had somehow foolishly expected a bit more out of plate armor.

In other news, Age of Conan's character generator apparently includes a breast size toggle for women (the minimum is estimated to be a C-cup). This has caused several problems. First, there was a freak breast reduction bug (note the "armor" in the accompanying screenshot, and see previous item). More recently, it was determined that weapon swing speed animations differ between genders, resulting in less DPS for female characters, with tongue in cheek commentary suggesting that the women's attacks are unbalanced because they are too top-heavy. This from a game that is pioneering the presence of topless women in a major fantasy MMORPG. (Personally, the "feature" is a substantial turn-off, not because I'm offended, but because I don't think I'd enjoy playing the game with anyone who looked at topless women as a selling point.)

Is this the best the fantasy genre can do?

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