The Joy of Hat

March 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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Hat! Hat! HAT!

Wotcha everyone,

In every game I play, I wonder how bad the hats will get.  It’s not an obsession, but I do think that sometimes, games developers just can’t get the design of a hat right.

Proper headgear is very important.  I read somewhere that the scalp is, largely, one big heatsink.  And the heatsinkiest part are the ears.  When attempting to stave off hypothermia it’s not enough to put on lots of lovely warm layers; lack of appropriate headgear will see you end up as a meat popsicle anyway.

It’s also good for keeping the rain off.  I spent many years in what felt like permanent rain, before moving to another place where it rains *most* of the time instead of *all* the time.  At one stage I owned twice as many hats as I did pairs of shoes.

It’s safe to say that I like hats, and find them woefully underrated by modern society.

Being somewhat hat-minded, I’m regularly disappointed by the designs on offer in MMOs.  Fantastic suits of armour? Check.  Shoulder-pads you can balance a full-grown rhinoceros on?  Check.

Woolly hat?  No!

I wonder if the ability to turn headgear off in the settings is one of the factors that has contributed to the sort of nasty, badly designed hats that appear in our MMO games.

Some of the hats in Lord of the Rings Online were shocking.  Truly shocking.  Before the joys of the cosmetic overlay system, it was the Minstrel’s lot to look like a refugee from Glastonbury.  No, I do not want hats with three cloth “horns” coming out of it.  I wanted to look like a badarse banjo-twanger who took no prisoners, not a hippy who’s looking to score.

It didn’t help that the best hat in the game was only available to those who had 11 good friends capable of taking down one of the nastiest raid bosses in the game.  Needless to say, I am eternally grateful to the rest of that raid team, and that once that hat was on Minstrel Hawley’s head, *it never came off*.

And that’s without mentioning some of the disturbingly bad helmets that appeared in the same game.

Now, I have not trained to be a games developer, thus am unsure of the exact curriculum at Games Developer School.  I am, however, willing to bet that Fashion Design In Fictional Cultures is neither a major nor a minor course requirement, even for the art department.

So it’s hardly surprising when I state that I generally wander from game to game, character to character, too much of a min-maxer to stop wearing hats (whatever they’re made of) yet vaguely embarrassed at having to hide my head-based shame by using the “No, don’t show my hat!” option in the settings.

Until, that is, my first run through of Deepstrike Mine, when there was a hat drop.  And such a hat.  Lucky me; only cleric in the party.

It’s got a touch of steampunk gasmask about it, yet there’s also a hefty dose of bespoke Uruk Hai tailoring in there too.  It’s not just a hat; in the scale of these things, it’s at very least attained Hat! level.  It doesn’t just look like it would protect the wearer from incidental bumps and scrapes, but also non-random acts of violence, and incidental all-out thermonuclear war.

That pre-1970s Ice Hockey Goalie facemask look (you know; the ones that made it look like there was a lurking serial killer at the back of the ice) doesn’t just say; “Hello, I’m dressed appropriately for martial prowess”, it positively shouts; “Wotcha chap.  Do us both a favour and put all of your trez in the one pocket, because I hate having to get my hands all wet and messy searching what’s going to be left of you”.

And the best thing is, the same model is available as a quest reward at the end, so you don’t even have to hope to get a lucky drop!

As ever, the chicken of depression has accompanied the blue bird of happiness (thanks, Mr Larson).  It’s not a level 50 hat; I know I’ll level out of it soon enough.  But right now, I grin every time I see it on Cleric Hawley, and there’s also the hope that, with lightning having struck once already, perhaps it can strike again.



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