Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shields: Maximizing Personalization in 4.3

With patch 4.3 and the introduction of Transmogrification coming to the Azeroth, it begs the question: If the majority is fair game, how can you avoid looking like everyone else?  More on this below and a real eye opener to the potential future of shield design for the next expansion.

This question about personalization resonated with me because as a professional, my job is to crack such codes. WoW has always fascinated me in this regard for certain reasons, and I've finally decided to step into the ring and see if I can offer a fresh take on the topic.

Differentiation Analysis 2.0:  Shields

The chart depicted here (click for larger view) illustrates all of the Epic, Rare and Uncommon shield models currently attainable in-game.  For a list of items to link to WoWhead, scroll down to the bottom of the article.  Since this is a form study, excess model samples have been removed so we can focus on the differences from model to model, rather than color to color and model to model. Once you identify a model you'd like to review further, just skip on over to WoWhead and see what other color schemes might be available.

For the purposes of this visual analysis, I've arranged the shields horizontally by the expansion in which the model was originally released and vertically by wireframe uniqueness. So the Blackskull Shield from vanilla WoW, for example, which shares its model with another 27 shields in-game is bottom of the barrel in terms of uniqueness, and as such I've placed it in the pile of parity in the lowest band of the chart. Conversely, the Skull of Ruin from Wrath of the Lich King is truly unique, reserving its model unto itself, and as such I've showcased it in the highest band of the chart.  More on this analysis and our conclusions after the jump.