by BONZO, HSM Editor
It’s getting very difficult to decide which locomotion alternative you want to purchase with all the current options available. Now there are more wings to consider, with Lockwood releasing their first set in an early preview in x7 with a full public release on the 29th of November and a few more variations to follow the week after.
Unless you want to have an extensive collection of wings, which do you choose? I covered how an accessory alone is not enough, in a previous article entitled “Speed Wings and the Danger of the New Hat Syndrome”, and there really has to be an unconventional method of thinking when considering what options to offer to the consumer if you plan to introduce wings. Lockwood is now diving in and offering their own set of wings, and they really have offered a new perspective for them.
It is hard sometimes to think of the developers as being competitive with one another, as they are all developing for Home and it is far too easy to think of Home as a homogeneous market where the third-party developers just contribute to the greater market and somehow they all get a share. That isn’t the case. Sony as a whole for providing the platform gets a share, but each third-party developer gets a return only from what they invest into. So this brings about a bit of competition from developers — and if you think that is a bad thing, think again. Competition means a developer has to out-think or outperform their competitors. Not only that, but they also have to provide what the competition isn’t — and that also includes competitive pricing.
That, in the long run, is good for the consumer. Not only do developers have to try harder, but they have to provide a better service and content to the consumer. So for the Home user, this scenario is a win. There has been some content which is popular, so inevitably it brings about some overlap between the developers. No developer wants to copy one another, so when similar content comes out developers are careful not to just imitate, but rather innovate.
Two developers so far have introduced wings as an option for new locomotion alternatives: Hellfire and nDreams. Both of these developers have wings which are unique, and have their own appeal. Hellfire really took to the challenge by providing an alternative to demonic wings, and the fairy genre with butterfly wings. What really set them apart was the innovation with custom animation, and some particle effects like the lightning sparks with the Brilliant Lightning SpeedWings. nDreams countered with their own set of very colorful wings in demonic bat-like wings, and colorful feathered wings which put you in mind of tropical fauna. How they differentiated themselves from one another was not only in the visual texture of the wings themselves but the animation of the flying motion.
That alone is important: if you can’t tell one from the other, what difference does it make to the consumer which developer you get them from? From the animation alone you can make a judgement call — which motion do you prefer. Is one more elegant than the other, more fluid, or is one awkward and unnatural? Once you make a decision on aesthetics alone, you decide on function, and if you still can’t differentiate between the two the final deciding factor is usually price.
It seems Lockwood understood this human factor very well, because they have hit the ball out of the park on all three. Unique aesthetics, unique function, and very competitive pricing. Call me a sycophant if you like, but I dish out criticism as well when it’s warranted. I praise Lockwood often because, frankly, it is very often that they get things right, and go out of their way to make their content hold up to the standards of the Lockwood brand. What they have done with their wings is not only provide a unique approach to their wing animation, but the avatar animation as it flies around. They took a simple notion like practical application of wings into how the avatar would move if it actually did rely on the locomotion of wings.
What I mean by that is that as the wings flap, the avatar rises. When the wings cease to flap, they fall back into the force of gravity and descend until the wings flap again and the avatar rises again. That is realistic, in the sense that it gives you the feeling of the wings actually performing and having an effect upon you. In the video it seems as if they are jumping around in a zero-gravity environment, but take a close look. The avatars only rise as the wings flap, then the wings basically glide in the updraft of wind. The wings aren’t just constantly flapping just for the sake of flapping; they flap with a functional approach. That is attention to detail, and something Lockwood is notorious for.
That isn’t to suggest that Hellfire or nDreams got it wrong; they provide something unique to their specific brand. What you get from one you can’t get from the other. They also bravely tapped into an untested market with a new product never before seen in Home. What Lockwood has done is look at what has been provided and then improve upon it to be competitive.
As for the aesthetics, the wings are also unique, because they aren’t just wings plucked from a bird; they have that type of feathered wings in the market already. Rather what they did is stylize them in a new design perspective which adheres more to the fantasy genre. The feathered wings are sleeker and streamlined, while the fairy wings are semi transparent and include a specter or aura of energy which surrounds the avatar and glow in the dark.
The final whammy is the price: between a dollar fifty and two dollars, they provide a locomotion alternative with a unique aesthetic twist and very competitive pricing.
Lockwood doesn’t shy away from being competitive, and they have thrown their hat into the mix with a strong line of uniquely designed wings to compete with the growing market of locomotion alternatives at a very affordable price. If price alone was enough to deter you from purchasing a new means to get around, take a gander at Lockwood’s wings — because not only do they look very cool, but at their price range you may just buy a couple.