I have so many character names reserved on various servers in various MMOs, each a tiny baptismal victory, to my mind at least, a triumph of finding a name meaningful to myself which was not already taken by someone else. I stare at Rumpole Bailey my Loremaster in LotRO, sitting un-played as he does in my character selection screen, and can’t help the smile that tweaks at the corners of my mouth; it’s unlikely that anyone else will witness my self-congratulatory chef-d’oeuvre of character naming, because I’m pretty much settled on my next alt being a hobbit, a race who can’t be Loremasters, and although the race-class combinations which MMOs enforce are often seemingly arbitrary restrictions, I can’t fault Turbine in this instance for not wanting a flock of Halfling wizards running around Middle Earth.
If World of Warcraft has taught us one thing, it has taught us to place an imaginary sign that reads “Beware of the bouncing GO GO GO… thing” above the heads of all miniature mages, until proven otherwise.
How many other characters are sitting out there at level one, reserved as a concept, a moment of naming eureka, or because a player doesn’t want to see Legolas or any number of variations thereof on their server?
Therefore, a moment of reflection if it pleases you, and raise your glass: to all the level one placeholders out there, may you always afford your creators pleasure, even though you yourself may never see the light of a virtual day.
To the placeholders.
It’s been rather fun in Age of Conan naming characters since they purged all the inactive less than level 20 alts.
The blogosphere was rather puzzled by that decision at the time but it’s had the effect, intentional or otherwise, of making it very easy to get names.
They have a similar policy in City of Heroes/Villains, and for those people who are still playing, I imagine it’s quite nice to pick up some much wanted names. On top of that, it probably helps with any new players coming into the game when they don’t have to spend half an hour trying to find a name that isn’t already taken.
Of course Champions Online and company have solved the problem by allowing people to have the same name, which is a pretty nifty solution by all accounts.
And then one can then get into deliberations over uniqueness of character, and whether it’s the player’s actions that make the character unique, or if cosmetic armour and unique names are actually an important aspect of MMOs to many players.
I often make placeholder characters. Naming is very important to me, ranging from the silly to the meaningful. When I can find a name that nobody else is using, I’m happy. I even built a few articles around a character I called Sendoku a while back. It’s one of the few creative outlets in these supremely static MMOs, so I take advantage of it.
Sometimes a name clicks right away, other times I spend a whole evening browsing Wikipedia and learning all kinds of things that I never knew as I bounce from page to page searching for something that works for me.
Just last night I learnt about peltarions whilst searching for a suitable name for a Warden alt in LotRO.
Indeed, the research and creative whimsy can be a lot of fun… and educational too. Crazy, that, learning something whilst being involved with gaming…
It makes a change from the usual conditional learning of ‘pull the lever, get the pellet to drop’, if nothing else.