MMO Rant #9: “Better” Character Creation

I love making my character look unique. If you can identify me as “Blackguard” or “Luckbad” or any of the other characters I play immediately because you’re a friend of mine in a game, I am happy. Many games have professed to have better character creation than every else. Interestingly enough, ignorant people have agreed with them even though they are completely wrong. I will go on record today and say that I. Hate. Sliders.

I know what you’re thinking… “OMG, Shwayder, why do you hate sliders? Sliders are the greatest thing to happen to character creation since eye tints! I can’t believe you think sliders are stupid. I think you’re stupid.”

I think you’re stupid, too. I don’t actually hate sliders, I hate the people who use them. The reliance on sliders as “good” customization makes my stomach hurt sometimes. Ook, you can make the nose longer, wider, move it up, left, right, and even make it look like it has been broken 100 times. How nice. 9 times out of 10, there is an extremely tight range in which that nose doesn’t look like a dumbass cartoon character. And 9 other times out of 10 other times, I can’t tell the difference in the game anyway.

You know what game has good character creation? I don’t know, either. Most of the times I’ve been able to identify friends in games, it has been based on the armor or clothing they wore rather than what their character customization was like. And games these days don’t seem to even have that luxury (the last games I really could say I recognized people based on their equipment were Ultima Online and EverQuest).

Anyway, back to character creation. Most character creation systems suck, especially if they rely on sliders. You either look like everyone else or you look like a giant dumbass. Then there are the ones that seem to be going in a better direction like WoW–you can swap out geometry completely and these options are created by artists so they don’t look completely stupid. But then there are usually too few options and there’s no additional cool factor, like eye color pickers, skin color pickers, size sliders (ACK I SAID SLIDERS!), etc.

Yeah, my ultimate character creation system would actually be a combination of choosing from predefined options and the sliders I claim to hate. The Wii actually does a pretty damn good job of it, in my opinion. Those of you who answered that to the question about “what game has good character creation” were close, but it’s a console, not a game. They have predefined options that you can tilt, resize, move up and down, tint, and do lots of neat little things to. You can pretty much make a Mii (the avatars created on the Wii) that looks like anyone on the planet, which is pretty awesome.

So there you have it, my ultimate character creation system is the Nintendo Wii’s Mii creation system translated into 3D MMO format. Add in some awesome equipment customization and I’m a very happy camper.

In the interest of maintaining this as a rant, screw all of you who rely on sliders for character customization if they look completely dumb, and screw all of you who rely on changing predefined options if you don’t make those options various and meaningful. I want to see real, better character creation in MMOs. Our avatars are our freaking identities in these games, and the social aspect is so blindingly important that more time should be spent making a sweet character creation system than saying that it’s better when it’s not.

P.S. If you answered City of Heroes or Villains to the question, you are wrong. It’s a great system for what they intended, but I don’t count it as good character creation if you can’t slap a bunch of other equipment on your character without harming the customization (and throwing a platemail armor set on my favorite CoH character, Digerati, would make him completely unidentifiable).

19 Responses to "MMO Rant #9: “Better” Character Creation"

Comments are currently closed for a server migration!

Return to Ryan Shwayder's Nerfbat »