This is something a little different for MMO Fashion. I’ve wanted to do a series of blog posts where I talk about different aspects of MMOs and compare and contrast the games that we cover. It’s a wish list for what I would like to see in an MMO. On a weekly basis, I’ll be going through some game elements and talking about the parts I like / dislike and would love to hear your opinions in the comments section.

Character Visuals

Some people spend eons planning exactly who their character will be from making sure their names are lore appropriate to getting every detail of their face exactly right. I am not one of them. Character creation is where I spend the least amount of time. As long as I don’t have to run around with a character as ugly as my main in World of Warcraft (WoW), I’m happy.

WoW Meriel
Meriel – Dwarf Death Knight

Although I’m likely to use the default settings, I can appreciate those MMOs that provide you options to tweak significant aspects of your character.

For example, Elder Scrolls Online’s (ESO) controls for changing your character’s body type and face feel extensive to me. They are intricate enough to be able to make your character unique, but not so difficult that I get lost. I especially like the controls at the top. By moving the blue circle within the Large, Muscular, Thin triangle, your character’s dimensions will change but stay proportionate.

 

On the other hand, Black Desert Online’s (BDO) character controls are beyond me. Every time I’ve tried to play with those, my character ended up looking like a Pablo Picasso painting within seconds. I’m still not exactly sure how to get the sliders to un-grey themselves.

Source: Pablo Picasso Paintings, Quotes, and Biography

Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) has character creation options that are too simple. For instance, there are only four options for body type. You can’t make any additional changes at all, even to height. It’s sad when your character ends up looking remarkably similar to one of the NPCs in a cut scene.

SWTOR Control Gethon

Do I know you? You look awfully familiar.

Guild Wars 2 (GW2) is somewhat better with sliding scales and presets, but it doesn’t come close to what you can do with ESO and BDO.

GW2 Height 

Templates

For people like me, there are games that allow you to share your templates with others giving those of us with no talent or time the option to have great looking characters. I prefer the system in BDO because you can change your template after you’ve created your character and share them in game, but also like how Blade and Soul (BnS) saves their presets as a JPG file. It’s just a lot easier to share offline than BDO’s file with no extension.

To be honest though, I’m just a little creeped out at just how much my Ranger looks like Arwen and my Tamer like Lucy Liu.

RangerTamer

Races and Classes

When I played WoW and when I started with SWTOR, I had to create a male and female version of every race and at least one character of every class. Now that I don’t have much time to play, I find it’s easier if there aren’t too many options. I generally just choose a male and female human or human-like race and stick with that because it’s easier to do pics for the sites on those.

For the most part, games have a reasonable amount of options for races and classes ranging from 5 – 16 classes and 4 – 11 races (BDO only has one race). It is possible to go too far, though. In ArcheAge, you don’t pick a class on character creation. The skills you choose determine which of the 120 classes your character is. I haven’t leveled a character in ArcheAge, but it seems like this many classes would make it very difficult to determine the best builds.

ArcheAge Classes

Source: www.archeagegame.ru (no longer available)

Factions

I don’t RP or PvP and despise open world PvP, so factions are not something I care about at all. Just don’t ever put me into a situation where I have to PvP and I’m good. I prefer games where you can join a faction later in the game (BnS, GW2)  versus those that force you to choose one at character creation (ESO, SWTOR). Too often, you don’t really know which faction you want to be in when you first start playing and then end up in the wrong one for the people you want to group with.

No PvP

Race Gender, Faction, or Class Lock

I hate having races locked to a specific gender, faction, or class. I realize there are often lore reasons or it’s easier on the game developers, but I still hate it. I want the freedom to choose my gender-class-species-faction combination. BDO is absolutely awful for this. There is only one race, but each class is gender locked. Some classes have an opposite gender equivalent, but they aren’t identical. While not quite as bad, BnS classes are restricted to certain races and one race doesn’t even have a male version. WildStar has races locked to specific factions AND classes.

At one time, SWTOR had species locked to factions, but opened it up to allow you to combine either gender with any species in either faction. Classes are locked to factions, but have an equivalent in the opposite faction. Abilities look different, but are essentially identical.  GW2 gives you a ton of freedom. You can choose whichever race-gender-class combination you like.

Names

Games have to force a limit on the number of characters allowed in a name. All I ask is that I get the option to give my character a first and last name and have a reasonable allotment per name. Exiled Messenger has 16 characters. That’s the absolute minimum that will work for me. I believe ArcheAge still only allows one name. SWTOR and WildStar originally allowed only one name, but added a second. I do find it frustrating that SWTOR doesn’t always capitalize the second name. At least they didn’t force all characters to add a last name like WildStar. I guess there was a lot of uproar over that.

Number of Alts

I am an altoholic. I want the ability to create dozens of characters even though I’ll never level them all. Since games often change the maximum number of characters allowed, it’s difficult to keep track of an exact number for each game, especially when there can be limits between servers or the entire game. From what I understand, GW2 gives you five characters, but you can purchase up to 64. SWTOR gives you 12 per server with the option to purchase more. They were looking into raising the limit per server from 40 to 50. I don’t know the current limits for the other games, but I do know they are significantly less with ArcheAge at only six total.

altoholism-860x280

Source: How Bad is Your MMO Altoholism?

Servers

In an ideal world, everyone would be able to play on one server with the game automatically converting everything to his or her chosen language. Unfortunately, technology hasn’t advanced to the point where that’s feasible. Games handle this in one (or more) of four ways:

  1. Geographic / language individual servers (SWTOR)
  2. Geographic megaservers (BDO, ESO, GW2, WildStar)
  3. Server groups (ArcheAge, BnS)
  4. Geographic clients (BDO, BnS)

Individual servers are generally located at server farms in different geographic locations. They have a cap on the number of players able to log into each server. Most games will allow you to pay to move a character from one server to another.

Megaservers are a newer technology and preferable to individual servers. They allow all players on the same server, but are broken up into a maximum number of players per instance. Some games will create these instances automatically, while others let you choose which one you would like to play in. Either way, you can usually switch your character from one instance to another manually, but you cannot move a character from one megaserver to another. Megaservers help solve problems with overcrowded or empty areas and long wait times on group finder queues. I’ve heard that they are also supposed to help with lag by limiting the amount of characters in each instance, but the number of ESO lag complaints I see every time I log in seems to contradict that.

Both ArcheAge and BnS started out with traditional individual servers, but have started grouping their servers together in an attempt to become more megaserver-like. They do this by choosing a specific set of servers to link together, allowing characters on only those servers to play together.

Some games also have clients for other geographic areas. Often, the game companies launch these clients after the original one and may be on a different version. For instance, BDO started out in South Korea, then Russia and Japan, then EU/NA, and finally Taiwan. They also plan to expand to xBox One and PlayStation 4. We’ve found items, classes, and expansions are available on the earlier clients before being available on the NA one, sometimes with no rhyme or reason as to when we’ll get them.

MMO Wish List

My perfect MMO would have ESO’s character creation options, BDO’s template sharing, GW2’s lack of race/gender/class locks, SWTOR’s number of character slots, first and last names with at least 16 characters, all on a megaserver. Let me know in the comments what your perfect MMO character creation would look like.

Next week: Equipment