Saturday, 28 March 2015

Working as intended; SW:TOR's Outfit Designer.

I'm relatively new to gaming. I didn't beta pong like some of my contemporaries might have done. I didn't finish the first Zelda on the N64 console. I don't even know if the first Zelda came out on the N64.

So when it comes to features in games, I'm not really able to say things like "GameX had FeatureY at launch" or "GameA's implementation of this feature is so much better". I just don't know which game offers which feature and who does it best.

What follows will be my honest opinion of Star Wars: The Old Republic's new outfit designer. A feature I've been interested in trying since it was first announced.

It will be a review of the good and bad points of the feature itself, without comparison to similar features in other games. If you want to know if the outfit designer in SW:TOR is as good as the one in LoTRO, you're reading the wrong blog. Sorry.

I was very interested in trying the outfit designer because all of my characters in SW:TOR have at least two outfits they swap between regularly; their combat gear (which is in Legacy shells) and their 'around-the-Stronghold' gear which is empty cosmetic shells they wear when not out questing. About half of my toons also have Legacy PvP armour, too, adding another set to the gear juggle.

And so, as soon as I heard that the outfit designer was available for testing, I spent the better part of a week trying to install the Public Test Server in my client (I wound up having to do a complete reinstall of the entire game before it would install the PTS).

Overall, I'm happy with what I found when I finally got to play with this new feature. Having said that though, there are a few niggles in it.

Before I discuss those, though, a word about expectations. The outfit designer as it exists now is exactly what I was expecting based on tidbits shared by Bioware in the lead up to its being opened for testing.

I wasn't expecting to be able to customise, let alone design, individual gear items. Anyone who has played this game for any amount of time and who thought that might be the case is obviously an incurable optimist when it comes to the limitations of the Hero engine that SW:TOR is built on.

So I wasn't disappointed when I first opened my character window and started to click on all the new tabs. It was, to my mind, all according to spec.

You can create, and lock in, up to 16 different outfits for your toon, mixing and matching from any gear you have available and you can swap between these outfits with two clicks.

The list below is the things I found most interesting about the tool. Some are good, some are bad. Bear in mind that any of these could change before the official launch.

  • 'Stamping' an item into an outfit binds it to you. You can't buy an item, use it in an outfit and then pass it around to other toons or sell it. Totally fair enough in my mind.
  • At the moment, you can only 'stamp' items into an outfit if you could also equip them the normal way. Meaning a light armour class can't stamp heavy armour pieces into an outfit. Tait, however, has mentioned that they are looking into removing this restriction 1.
    I'd like to see this go, if only so that heavy armour wearers don't have a distinct advantage when it comes to options in creating a costume.
  • You can't leave slots in a costume empty and have them appear as empty on your character unless that slot is also empty in the corresponding base slot. This is suboptimal. In my opinion, not having a piece of gear on/showing as part of a costume is every bit as valid as having one (as exhibited by the 'Hide Head Slot' perk). If you leave a slot in a costume tab empty, whatever is in that slot in the base tab will 'show through', appearing as if your character is wearing it.
  • Further to the last point; items that 'show through' from base slots can't be color matched to the chest piece of the costume they are bleeding into. I hope this is a bug and, if Bioware doesn't allow us to have empty slots as part of an outfit, that we can at least colour match the things that show up there anyway. This is, to my mind the biggest problem with the designer at the moment.

On the left is the base gear; all clothing slots are filled and colour-matched. On the right is the first outfit tab; the gloves, belt and bracers are empty with the base items showing through (they appear more shadowed than the other items). The actual character model shows the active outfit, plus the base items in unfilled slots. Since it's not possible to colour-match empty slots, it's equally impossible to colour match base items that show through into empty costume slots.

  • It's a credit sink. Because this is the PTS and nothing really matters, I blew through about half a million credits setting up six full outfits on another toon (unlocking the tabs and stamping an item in all slots). Six is about a third of what's available and likely more than I'll ever use.
    It costs 14K to stamp an item into a slot. Across 16 tabs with seven slots each this comes to over 1.5M credits. That's over and above the cost of unlocking the tabs in the first place. And the unlock prices have gone up since I did it!
  • As with everything that costs credits, pay attention to what you're doing! After you unlock a new outfit tab, the window doesn't automatically switch to it. So if you're not careful you can wind up creating a new outfit over the top of one you've already committed, destroying it and wasting the money you spent to create it in the first place. There's no warning that you're about to undo an existing outfit. I did this precisely once before I learned my lesson. QoL issue there, Bioware!
  • And finally, while not a problem with the outfit designer itself, years of practice has taught me to interact with the character window horizontally, not vertically, causing me to click on the 'Companion' or 'Ship' tab pretty much every time I wanted to tinker with outfits. Muscle memory will adapt in time, but for now, be prepared to misclick a lot.

And that's about all I have to say on the matter (as if over a thousand words isn't enough!). Feel free to leave any comments below or hit me up on Twitter (@Scotthomas) or on Google Plus with the details on the right of this page.

If you want to check out Star Wars: The Old Republic, you can play for free by downloading the game from and earn some free swag if you decided to subscribe!

1: Updated: The armour weight restriction is being lifted in the Outfit designer;
(Original post suggesting that this might have been happening: