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MMOs use a different skeletal armature for pretty much every class, meaning that if you pick a paladin or knight you will never be able to wear archer clothing or use archer abilities because they don't fit with the same animations or are not weight painted for the same skeleton. And you'll also see ridiculous things like not being able to wear a hat...because it's not for your class...a'ight brb gonna go take a diploma in archery so I can wear this hat.

Why do they do it?

I mean, it's extra work for a reason that I don't understand.

There must be a logical reason why they decided to pay modellers and animators for extra work that seems futile... like that's millions of dollars and hundred of hours of work, gone to thrash... for what?

The question is asking a logical reason why a multi-billion dollar company would choose the most expensive, most time consuming solution to wanting to have different classes/genders/races..

if/else statements or match var do the same thing and accomplish the same class balancing with less cost, it's like a few hours of coding vs a few weeks of modelling and animating

(I used to do stuff on DeviantArt with ripped models, so I know for a fact that most mmos do use different rigs for things like female human mage vs female human warrior... same gender same species but a different rig based on class)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Take a look at Path of Exile, everyone can wear any armor and be all classes and they have different default models \$\endgroup\$
    – Zibelas
    Commented May 6 at 9:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ You may be attracting down votes because your question reads somewhat like the "rant in disguise" example from the community guidance on questions to avoid. Consider editing to put more emphasis on how the industry trend in your question impacts the development of your game and less criticizing what other developers did in their games. We might be able to help you with your game - it's highly unlikely we can change the design of all existing MMOs. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pikalek
    Commented May 7 at 13:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pikalek there's no rant....I was making assets using the same rig... I remembered that pretty much every single MMO I've played so far used different rigs for each class, I asked the question thinking to myself "I must be doing something wrong if I'm saving so much time" and multi-billion companies didn't do it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xenophile
    Commented May 7 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pikalek oh I see the issue, someone edited my question's title... \$\endgroup\$
    – Xenophile
    Commented May 7 at 18:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Xenophile - Could you be specific about which games you're wondering about? Is the fact that they are "MMOs" relevant to the question? (I ask because I'm pretty sure the two goliath-sized MMOs, World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy 14, share models and rigs for all classes, but use different ones for race and gender) \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim C
    Commented May 7 at 23:44

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That's not all MMOs though. Many MMOs don't have race or gender locked classes (which sounds like what you are complaining about). Though you'll find that the same "equipment" in that case is uniquely modeled for each body type you can choose (more expensive). That unique modeling is why MMOs can opt for locking certain classes to certain body-types, to save money craeting those assets.

The reason why one would restrict equipment to specific classes is to avoid messing up the balance of a class and make it simpler for players to figure out whether an equip if for them (or one of their alts).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I can easily use the same skeletal rig for a lot of race/gender combinations and it does look well.. or at the very least slightly adjust the rig to make it fit whilist still maintaining animation quality. Therefore this isn't the reason \$\endgroup\$
    – Xenophile
    Commented May 7 at 18:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ oh I see the issue, someone edited my question title... \$\endgroup\$
    – Xenophile
    Commented May 7 at 18:27
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The skeletal rig is not that important

I think it is very likely that many of the games you're thinking about actually do share skeletal rigs between the different classes/characters/etc. - but they still choose not to make equipment shareable for other reasons.

Gameplay Concerns

Equipment usually has stats associated with it. In class-based games, different classes typically interact with stats in different ways. Constraining equipment to be only equipped by certain classes means that designers don't have to think about whether something that was intended for one class might be overpowered for another class.

It also makes it easier for players to read, since a player who gets an item doesn't have to think "Is this item intended for my class?" In many MMOs, wearing the highest-level item allowed to your class will get you 99% of the way to an optimal equipment selection, so only the very top echelon of players need to even think about stat optimization at all.

As a practical example, during Final Fantasy 14's first expansion, Tank players discovered that they got enough survivability from their weapons and armor - so they filled their accessory slots with items intended for melee damage dealers instead in order to improve the party's overall damage output. This threw off balance and made several fights easier than intended overall (though, arguably, harder than intended for the healers).

In expansions after that, accessories (which were previously sometimes class-unrestricted) became locked to the classes they were intended for.

Aesthetics and Readability

In some games, different classes have a visual identity. Final Fantasy 14 doesn't want anyone to be able to look like a White Mage without being a White Mage.

Model differences

Even if the skeletal rigs are the same, different characters might have different body types. For example, one character might have beefier arms than another, so a set of bracers that is sized to the smaller model would clip on the larger one, and a shirt sized for the smaller one would completely distort the model of the larger one. The differences between masculine and feminine models falls into this category as well.

This doesn't apply to the two biggest MMOs (World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy 14), because both of them share both models and skeletons between different classes - but I think it most likely applies to any MMO that has different rigs for different classes. If the two classes are distinct enough that they would consider using two separate rigs, they almost certainly are distinct enough in model that pasting equipment modelled for one onto the other would deform it.

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