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Breakfast Topic: The Personal Aesthetic

Matthew Rossi

Recently, a commenter on a post mentioned that I use a similar screenshot for a lot of my The Care and Feeding of Warriors posts. I looked over it, and he was right: since I race changed to draenei, in fact, quite a few of the screenshots have been silhouetted, facing downwards shots that I often take just because I am playing my character and suddenlt stop and say "wow, that's cool" - I'm not a terribly sophisticated visual thinker (for that, I go to my wife, who has a landscape artist's eyes and a remarkable grasp of light and nuance) but I know what I like.

One of the reasons I like playing draenei and tauren are connected to the classes I like to play: shamans, warriors and DK's are the only classes I've consistently gotten to max rank, and in all of those cases I tend to play large characters. When race change became available I agonized over it (silly as that is) even though I'd always said I'd go draenei because I'd grown so accustomed to the way my human character moved, and watching old avi files of Burning Crusade fights I'd tanked really brought it home to me. In changing my character's race, I've changed his silhouette, I've changed the way he swings a weapon, I've changed the way he looks in every aspect of the game. I don't do that spinning one handed smash when I tank anymore, it's much more of an arching, down-angled slash. My Shield Slam is different.

Granted, I'm okay with that. But it got me thinking about why I choose the races I do and the classes I do.

One of the things I love about the warrior class and the races I've chosen to play is the sense of raw mass you get. Draenei are as big or slightly bigger than an orc who stands up straight, and tauren are even more enormous.Warriors just have a feeling of inexorability, of grinding, relentless and deliberate forward progression. There's just something in me that deeply enjoys the almost ponderous yet graceful way tauren move, to the point where I honestly have a very hard time playing any of my horde alts that aren't tauren. I'm looking forward to Cataclysm because I expect it will save my poor, lonely belf paladin: one race change later and I'll have a paladin I can finally endure leveling. Likewise, switching away from human cost me the moves and emotes I was familiar with, but it also cost me a freakish upper lip.

I know there are plenty of people who enjoy completely different aesthetics for their characters... I have a friend who swears by undead for her rogues and warriors because she loves to see the female undead combat animations (which are, I have to admit, impressively frenetic) and I've actually grown to enjoy the way an orc shaman looks as enhancement: orcs seem tailor made for going totally buck wild with two fist weapons or axes or maces, it's really almost poetic the way they just shred things. And when I was on the test server I grew tremendously fond of watching my gnome proxy tank via continous hurling of his body into the air and overbalancing every weapon swing or shield slam. Each race (and even gender within each race) has detailed casting animations as well... I've always thought troll females just looked the most exuberant in the way they go about casting spells, although I'm not much of a caster myself.

For me, I always come back to characters I can identify with, and that tends to be big, almost cumbersome toons who take up a lot of space, who specialize in physical roles. I'm just not comfortable as a caster (healing was the closest I could get myself to go in that direction) for whatever reason, it just feels wrong. (I also kind of suck at it, but hey.)

So now I ask you: how much does the look of a character affect you? Do you even care? Did you pick your race for the racials and your class without regard for how it goes about doing whatever it does?

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