Size Should Matter
An enjoyable post over at Tobold’s yesterday got me thinking about size in MMOs. I know I’ve probably said this before but I like being big. I’m big in real life, I’m big in games, it seems like a natural fit and, for the life of me, I just can’t bring myself to play small races. Who would possibly want to be a tiny little Gnome or Goblin when they could be a towering Orc or Ogre? And then there’s the Dwarf fetishists, those bizarre players who are obsessed with playing short and stout races, constantly cracking jokes about hairy women and putting on phony Scottish accents when they talk to you over Ventrilo. Ugh. Obviously there’s a demand and desire for the smaller races but to me it will always remain a mystery.
Maybe this says a lot about my mind and subconscious. Maybe I’ve got a deep, well hidden inferiority complex that makes me want to roleplay a huge, slobbering Ogre that crushes everything in it’s path. Maybe I use virtual size as a way of compensating for some real physical weakness or deformity? Or maybe it’s just because I’m so used to being bigger than everyone else I find the notion of having to look up at someone very alien. Although I’m inclined to go with the latter reason, it’s likely that we’ll never really find out what’s driving these urges inside me.
But if choosing a big race possibly says all of these things about my personality, what does picking a small race mean? Does it mean that the player is more inherently sneaky, lacks the confidence to stand out in a crowd or just likes to the notion of headbutting enemies in the groin?
Whether or not there is a real psychological link to what size of race a player chooses, I always love to see MMOs that explore and utilise the concept. It’s fun when being really big or really small actually makes a difference in the game. As Tobold pointed out, size does matter when it comes to doorways and mouse targeting. Is that a good thing? I think so. I always got a chuckle when my Ogre in Everquest 2 couldn’t fit down a small passage way or when an army of Gnomes assaulted me (how come Gnomes are always so aggressive?!). I also adored the buffs in EQ2 which altered your character size either to increase it and imbue them with more power or shrink them and diminish their stats.
More often than not though size is purely a cosmetic thing and has no long lasting affect on gameplay. I was thinking though that maybe it would be nice if more mechanics in MMOs did affect it. Perhaps larger races did run faster and jump higher but smaller races rode faster on mounts and needed to eat less? Would mechanics like this make a game more interesting or just annoy people by inflicting advantages/drawbacks because of the race they selected? I suppose it’s possible players would get annoyed but then would it be any different from the racial advantages, like night vision or weapon and crafting skills, that most races get in RPGs anyway?