Posts Tagged ‘Character Creation’

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June Newsletter: Where Are The Tribbles, Darn It?

June 27, 2008

Okay, let’s get the biggest announcement out of the way first: you just KNOW that the Bastion Stairs dungeon is going to be abbreviated “BS” in in-game chat. “4 more for BS,” they’ll say, and then warrior-poets with a thesaurus and a heart full of lies will show up.

The Bastion Stairs is the big surprise of this newsletter — our first-ever peek into a full-fledged WAR dungeon (first ever at least to my eyes and knowledge). And it looks pretty darn awesome. The video flies through the entire place, which looks fairly expansive, if not hugely packed with dense swarms of mobs. Lots of red, high walls, flames and such. It made me wonder how fast we’re going to be able to go through these dungeons — will WAR be like WoW, where each pull is a carefully orchestrated maneuver of trapping, crowd control and tanking, or will we be able to wade into the fight without spending 15 minutes setting each battle up?

Questions, questions.

You might’ve noticed in Jeff Hickman’s video podcast that he briefly shows a screen with guild ranks and rewards. I haven’t posted on this stuff yet due to NDA, but since it’s right there, the ranks/rewards that you can see are as follows:

  1. Guild Vault
  2. Taxes and Tithes
  3. Guild Calendar
  4. Entry to Sigmar’s Hammer, Access Alliances
  5. Crafting Components
  6. 2 Standard Bearer Titles, Recruit’s Battle Standard, Tactic Slot 1, Tactic Point
  7. Guild Auctions
  8. Objective Claiming, Tactic Point
  9. Heraldry Reservation, Base Pattern, Base Color
  10. Recruit’s Standard Tactics Slot 2

The heraldry creation screen that Jeff shows has the options for 2 shapes, 45 base colors (and yes, pink is one of them), 3 patterns, 45 pattern colors, and 276 emblems (!). Jeff says that’s about 30,000 unique banner choices. Unique’s a key word here — no other guild on your server will have an identical banner, apparently.

He then goes into a lot about the standards guilds can carry into battle — with heraldry, trophies and tactic slots on them. Heraldry can go on people’s cloaks, too. The standards are a very cool battle feature that does reinforce guild unity, as well as make it feel more medieval war-like. Standards can be used to claim keeps, providing bonuses to the area, and giving the guild a constant stream of XP (another motivation for guilds to keep the keep, eh?). Standards can also be captured for rewards and tome unlocks, which gives another PvP objective.

Very nice video, as always. I sort of wish the entire newsletter would be done like this, they do such a great job that the rest of the newsletter is anti-climactic compared to it.

Moving on to the White Lion grab bag… again, might just be me, but really nothing new is being said here, only possibilities limited. White Lions come in one variety, two genders, don’t live on after master’s death, match the level of the master, are affected by masteries not your gear, don’t know yet if we can ride them as mounts, and can be healed by its master. There. That’s the whole grab bag. Whee.

There’s a pretty funny video about Guild Mongbat that “captured” the Mythic offices, a la keeps. Of course, this idea was — or soon will be — first thought up by Chrono Chaos, once we get H.G. Wells to stop monkeying around and fix the time machine.

Paul’s Video Blogs were a toss-up, as they often are. “Character Customization” gives us a tantalizing glance at the many character head options. “Orc Teeth” shows how Orcs have a variety of lower jaw teethies to pick from. “Win the Loot” shows the treasure box graphic that plops down on the playing field after you beat a PQ.

I like how much Paul cheerfully bashes marketing. “Evil marketing!”

That might not be the full newsletter as published next week, but that’ll be the meat of it — if you want to check out any of these articles or videos, stay tuned to this thread on WHA.

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The 10 Commandments of Altitis

April 30, 2008

Alts — “alternative characters” — are a staple of any dedicated MMO gamer’s life (although some far more than others). The next time you decide to roll another character on a whim (or to stave off boredom), keep in mind these ten commandments:

1. Thou Shalt Pick A Main, And Stick With It To The End

Before you go all alt-crazy, make sure you’ve ended up with a “main” that you play through to the level cap. Not only will you learn a lot in with that first, primary character, but you’ll find that your focus on the gameplay will hinge upon that toon more than any other.

2. Give An Alt A Chance To Impress

Characters usually need a running start before you get a good feel for the class — yet it’s easy, as a higher level player, to grow impatient with a lowbie toon who has only basic skills, few (if any) class-defining abilities yet, and not even a single mastery point to help differentiate your alt from the pack. Reserve your judgment until you’ve given that alt a fair shakedown.

3. Alts Deserve Real Names Too

So for the love of Pete, don’t slap it with a generic or stupid moniker just so that you can get through the character creation screen faster. You never know when that toon might end up being a beloved fave, and wouldn’t it be a shame if you spent 200 hours staring at — and hating — the name “SnuggleSlasher”?

4. Spoil An Alt, Spare Your Sanity

Part of the fun of having an alt is to pimp it out with money and gifts from on high… your higher level main, that is. Embrace the ability to fund your lowbie and by doing so cut down the annoying money and gear grind.

5. Make It Easy On Others To Identify You

You may know each and every alt by their name, and have composed a song utilizing all of them, but your guildies and friends lack the eidetic recall that makes identifying you possible. Use either similar names or clear guild note tags to help them in this failing.

6. Go Off The Beaten Path

Alts aren’t there to be carbon clones of your previous characters, stomping down the same exact path that you’ve already explored. Try something different — after all, that’s the POINT of an alt! Try new zones, new classes, new roles, and you never know what you might discover in so doing.

7. Supply Your Demands

A clever gamer will realize that multiple alts can create a supply chain for crafting. Toon A is a metalworker, Toon B can mine ore, and Toon C does a bit of both. Why not use Toon A to send crafting recepies to C, and Toon B to supply C and A with ore instead of having to purchase it?

8. Park Your Alts, Don’t Deep Six Them

Don’t forget that alts are there to be experimental, and it’s okay not to like them or to shelve them for a while to try other things. Just keep in mind that you don’t know the future, and you may end up coming back to that alt with a fresh perspective (especially if a patch buffed them!). So if you’ve spent any good amount of time on an alt and don’t need the spare character slot, don’t delete them.

9. Alts Can Cause Burnout

I know this first-hand: as much as I love making alts, too many of them dilute my focus and goals in the game, causing me to feel overwhelmed with duties and “to do’s”. If you have six alts you’re devoted to playing, then you have to eventually face six separate end games, six leveling paths, six series of similar quests and gear searches, and six trips through the Tome of Knowledge. It might just be too much of a good thing and end up pushing you away from the game entirely.

10. Embrace Your Altitis

Don’t be ashamed of it when a guildie moans “ANOTHER character?” after you re-join the guild with an alt for the tenth time. Just grin, emoticon a grin so they know you’re grinning, and embrace the fun and joy of being diagnosed with one of the most enjoyable diseases an MMO gamer can have!

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What’s In A Name?

March 31, 2008

In my opinion — which is lengthy and carries the weight of the seven richest kings of the world behind it — the single most important decision that you make when you roll a new character isn’t the class choice, the facial features or what server you are going to call your home. It’s your name, bubba, and if you’re the type who is impatiently trying to get through the creation process just to get in the game, you might make a fatal mistake.

NAME = IDENTITY

Let’s be honest: what your character looks like has little to nothing to do with how players see you as a character/player. Those facial features you spent twenty minutes tweaking with sliders and subtle color shades? Obscured, most likely, or only seen as a handful of pixels to anyone passing by. The rest of you will be covered with an ever-changing suit of armor and weapons, none of which promote a permanent, recognizable image. The only part of your character that stays constant, from the first time you create a character until the moment you delete it or the game shuts down, is its name.

Your name, primarily on your main character, is how all of your friends and guildies address you and think of you. I have friends in WoW who have real names that I know like “Ryan” and “Amy”, but even if I met them in real life I’d probably call them by the character name I’ve gotten to know them as for the past few years. If you pick a crappy name and that character ends up being your most-played toon, you WILL regret it and be stuck with the fruits of your hasty decision.

So names are important. Names are your identity. But what if you’re one of those folks who just blank when staring at an empty “NAME:” field? What if you duct tape electric eels to your body to prove how hardcore you are? WAAAGH! can’t help with the second thing, but we have a few ideas that might help with the first.

WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN CHOOSING A NAME

It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: some names are common and overused for a reason, so avoid those. No matter how much you might like Drizzit, Elminster, Legolas, Wolverine, Harry Potter, Neo, Sephiroth, or (shudder) Chuck Norris as make-believe friends, nobody cares if you create a twisted variation to join the crowds of other Gandolfs, ChickNorruses and Drizzles out there. It makes other people hate you with a passion reserved for the Zombie Third Reich, and you don’t need that grief before you actually start playing and earning your own reputation.

I’m not saying that literary or video game sources are bad sources for name ideas — just go a path less traveled, eh?

Other Don’ts:

  • Don’t make an offensive name
  • Don’t choose a name that obviously displays your immaturity level (Mr. McFartyPants, I’m looking at you) or need for sex/attention (Ms. Nudely)
  • Don’t name your character after the latest internet fad/meme (which your character will certainly outlive)
  • Don’t name your character after your class (a rogue being Stabbykill, for example)
  • Don’t modify a name that the game’s already said is taken (why do you want to be similar to another player?)
  • Don’t name yourself after a real world celebrity or politician
  • Don’t use weird symbols dredged up from the depths of ASCII that will require me to open my Character Map just to send you a whisper — most countries would legally turn a blind eye if I decided to keelhaul you for doing this
  • In fact, don’t use any symbols or numbers whatsoever, if you’re English speaking — the 26 letters in the alphabet are good enough for anyone
  • Don’t just roll a hamster across the keyboard and accept the random letters as a good pick, and
  • Don’t pick the really cool name I’ve been holding in my hands for the past few months, cradling it like a newborn fledgling hope of a dream. You don’t want to do that to me. No, you don’t.

THE RULE OF THREE/FOUR

Before you do start brainstorming over your new moniker, I’d like to advise you about a little something I call the Rule of Three/Four. The rule is this: no matter what name you pick, people in the game will naturally abbreviate it into three or four letters when they talk to you. (Most of the time, that is; I know some people take delicious sadistic pleasure out of correctly typing out each guildmate’s complete name, even if said name is sixteen letters long and consists mostly of K’s, I’s , X’s and umlauts.)

It’s just a fact of quick game communication — we don’t have the time to fully spell out your name, Melandriatix, every time we need to wing you a /tell. You’re now “Mel”, and you just have to accept it. One way to make this rule work in your favor, of course, is to only create names with three or four letters. Hence, why I picked “Syp” (although my guildies love to rearrange the letters into “spy” for some reason…).

Exception to the rule: If you pick a name that starts with an unusual letter (Q, Y, X or Z, usually), people tend to abbreviate down to just that one letter. Hope you like James Bond, Q!

IDEA #1: PICK A THEME

One of my friends loves to choose names from Norse mythology as a source of her unique character names. I’ve heard of other people going with river names, types of weather, names of previous Popes, and so on. Choosing a theme to revolve all of your future character’s around not only gives you a pre-made list to pick from, but it ties your characters together in a subtle yet mentally tangible way.

IDEA #2: DO VARIATIONS ON THE SAME NAME

This is a boon to guildies that have to put up with you, Mr. or Mrs. Altoholic who has at least 8 characters on the same account. People have a very difficult time remembering who’s who in a guild, particularly if people aren’t good at posting a guild note beside their alt. You might have 50 people in the guild with 5 characters each, and you’re now expected to remember which of the 250 names is what person.

An easy, non-posty way around this is to come up with your main character’s name, then every other character you create has a variation on that name. Suffixes and prefixes are a key to this. I have another friend who starts every character with “Val-” and then a different ending to that word. No matter which toon she’s on, we all know the “Val” name means her, and it plays right into the Rule of Three/Four anyway.

Warning: people tend to get possessive of their naming rights in a guild when they do this sort of thing, and if anyone comes into the guild or creates a character with a similar name, there could be trouble.

IDEA #3: CREATE A PERSISTENT LIST

I’ve been doing this myself for the past few months, because I know that while I rarely have inspirational naming flashes when I go to character creation, I often brainstorm excellent names at odd times. Ergo, I have a notepad file on my computer that I’m always opening and adding a new name if I see a cool word I like or think of a name I’d like to try out in the future. I’m not one of those people who always has to have the same name in every game, so coming up with spiffy names is a great way to prepare for what I might have coming down the pike.

My wife, by the way, will never let me name our children because she’s seen my list. ‘Tis a pity. “Harbinger of Death” would’ve been a great name for my firstborn.

IDEA #4: BABY NAME BOOKS

I work with teens, and a fun question I ask them sometimes is “If you had to give yourself another name that isn’t your current one, what would you pick?” The hypothetical option to rename yourself gives you a sense of ownership and control — you couldn’t pick your own name at birth, obviously, but you do have the option to do so in the future, at least in games!

Take a note from established writers: invest in a few baby name books — or if you’re too cheap, phone books — and spend some quality toilet time leafing through them and highlighting names that appeal to you. They have some crazy names in them thar books, yeah-huh.

IDEA #5: PUNS ARE AWESOME

If I see a character running around with a punny name that makes me groan (in a good way), then they’ve just made my day. Assuming that you’re secure with being ribbed about it and having the joke grow stale by the second week, why not?

IDEA #6: NAME GENERATORS

For the truly hapless, there are hundreds of online name generators to help you out. In addition to spouting you a random name, many of them will let you pick a theme, era or country to narrow down the list of names it comes up with.

I have used generators in the past, although mostly just to get me started on a name. If the generator comes up with a name that has an interesting prefix or suffix, I’ll modify it some and give it my personal twist.

IDEA #7: BLEND TWO WORDS TOGETHER

This can border on pretentious hippie geekiness, but taking two common words and combing them can come up with pleasing results. Moon + Jerky = Moonjerky! Lite + Sneeze = Litesneeze!

IDEA #8: THE BIBLE

It’s not just the message of salvation for millions, but it’s also a great bizarre name generator! Mehujael, meet Arphaxahad and his younger brother Zubudah!

IDEA #9: RESEARCH THE LORE

I’m not as hung up on this as some people, but some are concerned with finding a name that will fit the lore and setting of the game they’re playing. This is trickier, as you have to shy away from currently established names and variations thereof, and have to do some research into the story of the game and how many of the characters of your race are named (what traits they share, etc.).

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