Caiden’s Core: Character Customization
We all play games for different reasons. Some strictly for the point of PvP and killing, some for roleplaying and others for exploration and adventure. Now if we go even deeper, what do we find? I suppose I could spout some strange behavioral science out about people playing games to escape, or PvPing to prevent a superiority complex, but that would be silly! So let’s talk about character customization and how it’s changed from the good old days of Ultima Online to now, and why different people enjoy different styles of creation.
Character Creation in Ultima Online
So what was available back in the day? Games like Everquest or even Lineage 2 were some of the first of their kind. Character creation wasn’t very in depth, but it was enough to prevent too many carbon copies of yourself running around. Sure you just chose your face and hair, but at the time it was more than other games where you just chose your class and your gender and appearance was already chosen for you. People were able to create for the first time avatars that they wanted other people to see themselves as in these massive online worlds. Time went on and we get games like Everquest 2, Perfect World and City of Heroes where you were introduced to…drum roll…sliders! When I first saw I could change my characters jaw, chin, eyebrows and hair color I almost made a mess in my pants. Now I’m an old school gamer that started getting into gaming during the good old days of pencil and paper RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons and some Whitewolf stuff, so this new ability to bring characters from my mind to life in a game was amazing! Surely this brought a new age of character creation to the world of online gaming. I have fond memories spending hours in games like Aion and Perfect World making my character exactly how I wanted down to the millimeter. Good times!
City of Heroes has some of the best character customization in any MMORPG
Well now hold on…with all these steps forward in character customization, surely this means everyone would follow in the same way. Oh how wrong I was. Let’s come to present day and look at some eagerly awaited games that were disappointing in these area. First Aika Online, as it is still decently new and has a pretty good population. What happened? This is such a solid game overall, yet they couldn’t spend a couple more months making more models for their characters? I’m one of those people that refuses to play a character of the opposite sex. It’s not because of any radical reason, I just like to immerse myself in my games and really can’t do that when I have to picture myself with big boobs and pink undies. So as fun as Aika was, I was very disappointed in its gender locked classes. The same thing goes for two games I’ve been waiting for, Vindictus and Dragon Nest. Have you seen the character creation videos of Vindictus? Holy buckets it looked like they were making actual people in that thing. I visibly grinned at the sight of this amazing development and went on to look for what classes the game has to offer. Surprise surprise, classes are gender locked. Much puppy punting ensued. I’m not sure if developers are trying to save money, or if they feel it isn’t needed, but myself and many others are put off by being forced to be male or female.
Perfect World has amazing customization!
Some people don’t mind not being able to make their characters the way they want. I got used to it for a while when I was in my PvP hungry phase. Screw what my character looks like, if I can kill everyone with a pulse I’m happy. Maybe not even a pulse…pulse optional! But as time went on I was spoiled by pretty games like Champions Online, Everquest 2 and Perfect World and their great character creators. All these great free MMORPG’s on the market really turn me away with their fail character creation. Yeah yeah, it isn’t a part of the game as a whole, but if I can’t look how I want in a game, it definitely ruins immersion. This is one of the reasons I left Soul of the Ultimate Nation and Ether Saga. So what about you folks? Do you look for character creation in a game as one of its make or break points, or does it not really matter?
Sorry for the article delay, busy week! Look forward to next Mondays article.