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TOPIC: Being unique in MMORPGS part 1 - How important is it for you?


Stormhaven Studios
Hey friends! The TOPIC OF THE WEEK is back. For real this time! I promise!

I also decided I wanted the style of those topics to be a bit more casual and friendly. Afterall, the purpose of those topics is to create discussion and connection with our community! I will also encourqage YOU to share in the comments the TOPICS that would interest you most to discuss. I will start with ideas that inspire me first, but I will try to satisfy everyone!

So let's get started with today's topic, which I hope will inspire a series of subsequent discussions in a similar vein for weeks to come.


Guild Wars 2 character creator

BEING UNIQUE in MMORPGs PART 1: How important is it for you?

Character uniqueness in MMORPGS (and other video games) can be achieved through different ways that we will discuss in detail over the following weeks:

  1. Character Creation (appearance): options avalaible when players create their avatar such as different races; the physical aspect.
  2. Character Creation (gameplay): options avalaible for players to customise their character from a gameplay perspective such as skills, talents, and classes.
  3. Cosmetics and accessories: options for players to customise the appearance of their character while playing. For example: armors, accessories, cloaks, titles, mounts earned in game or purchased via a cash shop.
  4. Gameplay: options for players to differentiate their characters via game activities. For example: quests and stories impacted by the player choices, different types of content, equipment, different paths of progression.

Most MMORPGS offers the players the option to customise their characters in various ways to accomodate different playstyles and personal tastes. It is an important element as it allows the player to create a deeper connection with their virtual alter ego.

MMORPGS are also a social experience, and to be able to stand out in the crowd - or on the contrary, following the latest trends and metas - they need to give players the opportunity to find their place in the community and an excuse to interact with others.

Lastly, this allows the developers to create content, activities, rewards and other items for players to strive for. It make the game richer, encourages players to play more frequently, and gives good reasons to share screenshots or video-guides on various social media outlets.

However, not all games offer the same options to players. Even though the general options allow players to customise characters more than ever before with new generation of games, not all games have equal levels of customization. Some MMORPGS offer robust character creation, some offer a lot of freedom for players to select combat abilities, while other games will allow players to shape their own story.

How much does your avatar uniqueness matter to you? How does it impact your choice of games, or your way of playing it? Or does it even matter?


The Elder Scrolls Online give a lot of freedom to customise characters and have a unique playstyle.


Its an aspect of the game that matters very much for me. More options, more choices, the better! I am a creative person and I'm someone that enjoys standing out in the crowd. I like to immerse myself in a game, to create a bond with my avatar. I also enjoy calm activities in video games and very often cosmetics which are rewarded through side activities such as crafting, achievements, or exploration.

I like a robust character creator that allow me to create my avatar just to my liking. I enjoy to be able to select from various races. I very much like to dress up my character in uniques ways. I love systems in game that allow to customise my look and to change my appeareance at will.

I also very much enjoy to be able to deeply customise my character with talents and skills. While I'm not a theoricrafter or a meta gamer, I like to be creative and find unique combinations that others have not thought of.

I like to be unique and recognizable in every way. It is truly an important aspect for me in regards to enjoying a game, and this certainly has an influence on my choice of games to play and how I invest myself in them. Very often, I came back to a game simply because it added a new race to play, or few new haircuts.
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I usually spend 1+ hours when creating a character. More options, more attractive the game is for me. I like the idea of my character being unique, so when someone sees you says: "Oh Selinerath is coming!" :p So, my opinion is that a game must have lot of customizability in every aspect, character creation, skills, talents etc. But, it is important that you can't change the look of your gear to something else like transmog or costumes. The gear that others see, has to be the gear pieces that you actually wear. I think if you could recolor it, that would be awesome, as long as the gear pieces are the original ones. What I don't like are cosmetic shops, where you can buy badass looking gear even when you 've reached nothing ingame. You should have to earn how you look!
Character customization is probably the most important aspect of MMORPGs to me, because in MMOs it's usually very difficult to really leave a mark on the world unless you create secondary content or run a huge guild or something like that, so your character is the one thing you really get to shape and make a statement with.

What I find really important in character customization is that it's actually based on hard choices. I don't like it in games if you can change absolutely everything about your character with little effort, because your character doesn't really feel unique if it only takes one minute of slotting different perks or whatever to turn it into any other character, or you wind up being defined only by the gear you have on hand.

Speaking of gear, love collecting cosmetic gear, hate when equipment is such a massive contributor to your stats that the whole game is basically just about a random nobody being used to hold up a heroic suit of armor. Guess that's a somewhat different topic, but "gear progression" always kind of annoys me, because it implies that what you own is more important than who you are in that world. It's another one of those things that kind of makes character customization feel kind of hollow unless it's something like a mech game where it's all about building the ultimate war machine.

Overall what's important to me is that you can make a character that isn't just visually distinct, but also mechanically interesting and memorable. Unfortunately this is difficult for games to put into practice because having a lot of build options doesn't automatically mean that all of them are viable. Oftentimes good game balance is actually the most important part of having good character customization.
I view character creation slightly backwards, I like to look at what is presented in front of me and see if I can make an interesting story around the look and it starts this narrative of who this character is. More like I am discovering the character than I am creating one from scratch. As such I like games to have interesting traits like tattoos, scars, or age. Things that can help tell a story, I care much less about the eye color, nose position or distance between eyes because those don't tell a story like the other pieces, not to mention that most games don't use 1st person cameras which are the only way to appreciate these sort of details in the game world.

That said, very few games want this style of character creation because they often have their own writers making up your backstory. The best example of something that I really like would be Skyrim with the alternate start mod. I can craft my starting skills to fit a story and approach the world from that angle, for me this goes back to how I would make D&D characters as well, letting attributes flow together into a story, like a back and forth between myself and the game to create something new.

I suppose this means I do appreciate being unique at the very least, but specific to certain cosmetics that tell backstory combined with the class/skill/stat choices I make to create a whole picture.
It's important to me, and I like to try unusual skill sets as well. In DAoC my main was a pierce heroine, loved her! and her look was unusual as she was a tall furby.
Coming from a theatrical background, I scrutinize my look, my class, my craft, and formulate "my story". My build may not be the best build, but it reflects the character I have envisioned as closely as possible.
I absolutely love cosmetics, and in a PvE game you don't HAVE to look a particular way like some people prefer in PvP games.(I don't) I also like having possessions that support my choices, like housing, crafting stations, gear, and "work" clothes (crafting). Some times I want to be sexy and other times I want to be practical; so having many choices in looks is fun. Love holiday clothing and house items, too. I want everything earned in game.
Being able to earn titles in game also brings a nuanced aspect as you get to choose how you want to present yourself.
In games like BDO in character creation you picked zodiac signs, that conferred slight stat aspects which I found interesting as well as other minor character choices; which makes it more fun to build a persona.
I think a MMO is more interesting the more choices you have other than killing things to be part of the world.
Yep Its very important its could be cool if we where able to import logo for shield and cape, and guild sign .

Ofc those logo should be respectful of the lore's game .

This is a discussion we already had with the team and at the moment, we have concluded that the annoyance and negative effect of having to take in charge the control of every guild logo will outweight largely the benefit of allowing players to add their logo.
There may be ways for players to customise their Guidl crest, but we are not there yet in the discussions.

THANK YOU to you all for participating to the topic of the week!! Next week we will speaking about character customisation more in depth!!
If you have any TOPIC OF THE WEEK you would like me to do some research and write about, please, tell me about hwat you would like to see in this series!
Self expression in all forms is incredibly important. Through gear, skills used, character look. Choice of armour/weapon.
But that might just be the Roleplayer in me.
Speaking of gear, hate when equipment is such a massive contributor to your stats that the whole game is basically just about a random nobody being used to hold up a heroic suit of armor.

What about a system in which superior items of equipment are non-tradable, because making them superior requires imbuing them with magic, and that process binds them to their creator (so they would just be mundane items in anyone else's hands). This would mean that the items you wear are a display of your crafting skills.
I don't know, Bind on Drop and Bind on Equip have in my opinion been the biggest promoters of "gear progression" as a game mechanic. The second you make items non tradeable you're cementing the idea that items are an integral part of a character and not just tools that character uses.

Fantasy characters delineate into two sort of broad categories. You have characters that are naturally powerful and are held back by the rules and expectations of civilization, like a barbarian, and you have your characters who are naturally weak and are empowered by the sophistication and discipline that civilization brings, like a paladin. So in the archetypal sense reliance on equipment represents that split in character themes. Highly worked and sophisticated items are the manifestation of the mindset that humans are weak and discipline, industry and order make them strong. Then games come in and screw up all the philosophical depth of character archetypes by trying to make gear progression a unified system. Before you know it your barbarian has enchanted hide armor +5 that is worth hundreds of thousands of gold, which doesn't make any sense. The barbarian who is supposed to reject the trappings of civilization is now just as dependent and attached to an item as the Paladin in his sanctified plate armor.

So as far as I'm concerned, in a pure fantasy game I don't like it when powerful gear is a layer of advancement that exists on top of regular character progression, because that always negates the philosophical point of characters like barbarians. It forces characters who's whole point is that ideas like "owning nice stuff" mean nothing to them betray their narrative grounding through the mechanics of the game. Emphasis on equipment is more at home in a historical fantasy / simulation type game where a character like a barbarian simply doesn't work because being really angry is not an alternative to wearing armor in a realistic setting.

So magical gear that is really powerful is fine, but then the whole lore of the game needs to be written as though that is the reality of that world. Primitivist cultures would get crushed just like they were in real life when someone with better technology shows up in a world where manufacturing high grade gear is the only path to power. At that point it also becomes silly when the setting is like "Yea, but if you just dump enough magic into a piece of bark and wear that on your head instead of a plate helmet it's just as good!", because why would anyone bother going through all the pain of mining, smelting, metallurgy, smithing, grinding and polishing if they could have just used anything else?
These are all good points, and I don't disagree with them. But I don't see how the issue of items being more powerful than the character who wears them is related to the issue of items being bound to the character who created them. Wouldn't it be entirely possible have a game in which imbuing a steel helmet with magical properties can make it only (say) 50% better than a mundane steel helmet? Then characters could choose to develop their enchantment skills to get that extra 50%, or develop their combat skills to get an equivalent ability to avoid getting hurt, and both avenues of progression could be equally viable. A +50% bark helmet would still be rubbish compared to a mundane steel helmet, and a character with no combat skills wearing +50% armour would still get chopped into catfood by a highly skilled warrior wearing mundane armour.

As I see it, if enchanted items are non-tradable, it doesn't mean that items are an integral part of the character - it means that the character is an integral part of the items. It doesn't mean that without the items the character is useless - it means that without the character the items are useless.
Then characters could choose to develop their enchantment skills to get that extra 50%, or develop their combat skills to get an equivalent ability to avoid getting hurt, and both avenues of progression could be equally viable.

Yea, I think that's where the point of balance would lie when it comes to enabling a full range of archetypal characters. You make powerful items something a character gains by developing certain skills instead of others, and make the resources you gain from adventuring universal, so that you can spend them on skills just as much as on items. That's kind of how Skyrim does it with their crafting skills, the big payoff to it is the ability to hone weapons to deal more damage, so that someone who is a good smith also has the best swords. Of course in Skyrim you don't have to make any hard choices which skills to develop, but it could be in a similar system.
My favorite character creation let me play as a genderless rock golem. I just get a little annoyed when a game claimes to have lots of races, but they're all basically just humans with minor variation. It's not so much that i need to make unique characters, it's enough to just have one good one. Of course, what counts as good will vary wildly for different people, which is where the lots of options comes in handy
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If it's a humanoid character, l will spend 2 minutes on the appearance. If there are other factors like stats, talents or powers, I will spend more time on that for sure.
If it's a race with a unique appearance, I will spend much more time. Shape and color of horns, gills, scales, wings, etc is much more fun to me than size of nostrils.
I enjoy an experience with many different combos. I often will create a dozen characters, given a chance: Make a character with a race/class combo (maybe spiced with other modifiers), level it up a little then keep or delete and start all over.
Do I want to play a minotaur barbarian? Probably, but I'm just as likely to have fun with a minotaur bard.
This is quite interesting guys. Thank you for your answers.

Now what I would be interested to know is : how to make humans more fun and exciting for you to play?
This is quite interesting guys. Thank you for your answers.

Now what I would be interested to know is : how to make humans more fun and exciting for you to play?
I don't know if that's possible. For me personally, it would definitely be necessary to be able to play as something other than male or female (in biological sex, not just gender), but I don't know what would be sufficient to make human characters interesting.
This is quite interesting guys. Thank you for your answers.

Now what I would be interested to know is : how to make humans more fun and exciting for you to play?
Expression of self. From body type, and other visual stuff. To weapons, armours and skills. Passive all that stuff.
As far as lore is concerned humans are never interesting. They tend to be just a default.
Now what I would be interested to know is : how to make humans more fun and exciting for you to play?

I personally really like games where you can only play humans, but I would really like it if humans came with a range of "body types" and "backgrounds" that have different mechanical implications and set the things about your character that you can't change.

So you might be able to make a human whose body is:

Average - No inherent advantages or disadvantages.
Lithe - Better dodging, sprinting and jumping. More encumbered by heavy gear, easier to knock down, worse blocking.
Heavy - Slower dodging, sprinting and jumping, Less encumbered by heavy gear, harder to knock down. superior blocking.
Seasoned - Slower dodging, sprinting and jumping, more encumbered by heavy gear, easier to knock down, worse blocking. Has two backgrounds instead of one.

(these are just examples of course, no idea if sprinting and dodging etc. are even things in the game)

And then you'd have a number of backgrounds to pick from that grant bonus abilities that can only be learned from having spent a few years in that former life, like:


These would provide bonuses to your character, and maybe each come with a useful active ability as well that you can't get any other way.

So between your body type and background you'd basically be able to come up with a human who is fleshed out and plays in a unique way, but is still compatible with all of the actual learnable skill paths in the game.
This is quite interesting guys. Thank you for your answers.

Now what I would be interested to know is : how to make humans more fun and exciting for you to play?
Anything more than just visuals. Something to add to a build.
I like what @Aetrion said with body types and professions. You can do the same with region, culture and religion.
A minor bonus might seem trivial but still adds uniqueness to the character.
A human that follows the goddess of spring and receives her blessing of more mana from mana pots is better to me than just having the same ability packaged with a class. Mixing and matching a variety of perks is much more interesting.
Would be more in depth but posting from hospital.
That's why we need to convince @Undone to work on implementing Astrology!! I'm working on the Lore aspect, and its going to be sooo coool!!
That would totally add some extra depth to character creation.