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I wanted to share a rather technical opinion I have about the armour mostly in the off chance that a Blizzard employee might see this. Some players may find it interesting, but it is rather tedious and nit-picky and definitely a non-issue for most people. I will say at the start, however, that I’m not raging and will happily play the game regardless. For references purposes, a google image search for the armour I describe will be helpful.
I am, on one hand, glad to see that the dev’s have made a conscious decision to use actual armour names for the items in many cases. Schynbalds, Bascinet, and spaulders, for example, are all entirely appropriate and period names for armour pieces. On the other hand, I am really disappointed that not only do the icons not at all match the item’s name but that they also often appear in an order (“item level”) that makes no sense at all.
I’ll use the helms as an example. The first few are Leather Hood, Coif, and Arming Cap. Firstly, the images largely do not reflect what these armour pieces actually are. A leather hood is obvious, and the DH’s image is really cool. A coif is a hood of mail, and an arming cap is basically the D2 Cap, a cap made of quilted fabric. The icons largely do not fit at all, however. Nor do they have an “item level” (for lack of a better term) that reflects the protective nature of the item. An arming cap should appear first, being the least protective, followed by the leather hood and coif in turn. Later items include a “Basinet,” “Klappvisier,” and Hounskull. A bascinet was the standard helm of the 14th century, and a klappvisor and hounskull were two different visors used on bascinets. The same issues of order and image apply to these as well.
Similarly, some items are given names that do not correspond to what the armour piece actually is. Schynbald is used to name a pair of pants, but in truth, schynbalds are an early form of greave, and would more appropriately fit into the foot item slot. Cuisse, the term for thigh armour, never appears at all, let alone its many variations (leather, splinted, studded, plate, etc.) In other cases, ridiculous invented names were used for items when a plethora of period names would have sufficed. For example, a Plated Helm sounds silly and redundant (because helms virtually by definition are made of plate); sallet, barbuta, spangen top, armet, burgonet, conical helm, cervellier, or topfhelm could have been used instead.
It is somewhat sad that D2 actually did a much better job in some cases with the images, names and order. I had a few qualms, but they were fewer than what I have for D3. The Quilted Armour (called a gambeson) actually looked like what it is, and the item order made a great deal more sense as well.
At the end of the day, my issue can be boiled down to this: A day’s worth of proper research or the hiring of an actual consultant that is an expert in arms and armour would have made a world of difference. Honestly, in literally 2 days I could have given Blizzard an extensive list for each item slot of items with proper names, a few images to use to inspire the icon artwork, and a respective “item level” that would make sense. Or I could recommend 3 or 4 different books that would have supplied them with the same information. And I could have done it from home via e-mail and probably for free. I would have preferred either an entirely invented item-naming convention or more than a half-hearted attempt to be correct. I think what bothers me most, in the end, is that it all smacks more of laziness and ignorance than I expect of a company with such high standards and resources as blizzard; I know they can do better. But I’ll say again, that is in no way a deal-breaker for me and I’ve learned to accept that movies and (especially) videogames will never have armour that I am satisfied with (though Ridley Scott is trying hard to raise that bar). Just the opinion of an armourer and medieval historian… If you happen to need one, Blizz, contact me. ;)
Kelley DeVries – “Medieval Military Technology”
David Edge and John Paddock – “Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight”
David Nicolle – “Medieval Warfare Sourcebook: Warfare in Western Christendom”
I only skimmed through your post briefly, but I totally understand your concerns. However, remember that a lot of the item pictures used right now are placeholders. Hopefully by release, the pictures in game will accurately reflect their names.
My D2 issues boil down to really really specific things:
studded leather = coat of plates; should have been between splinted mail and breast plate
ring mail = no such thing
scale mail = no such thing; scale or squamata is a fine name
chain mail = mail hauberk/byrnie/shirt
splinted mail = lamellar
helm = cervellier
skull cap = spangen top
For D2, I wouldn't have expected any better, especially for its day. I'm actually impressed that they did as well as they did. They even had a proper flamberge and the gothic plate was reasonably gothic! They silly names like 'ghost armor' don't bother me at all because they are entirely fantastic in a fantasy game.
My D2 issues boil down to really really specific things:I don't think D2 or D3 were really trying, they just ran out of things to call a stick with a pointy bit on the end had to get a thesaurus.
I'm glad you liked it.
As for not trying, I really can't agree. They could have used the fantasy-naming convention like "ghost armor" and gotten plenty of item names. Especially this time around, there was a clear intention to use period names, since "coif" and "arming cap" are among the first helms to drop. For the weapons, yeah I'll grant you that it is possible that they just needed names. There aren't a whole ton of different kinds of axes out there.
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