All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.

If you’re going to have character customisation during the character creation stage of your game, even if it is just of the basic eye colour and hair style hat-tip variety, here’s a simple lesson, a character creation foundation, if you will:

  1. Place them under a neutral, unchanging light source.
  2. Make the character stand still.
  3. Make. The. Character. Stand. Still.

For what reason do character creation screens have those little ‘rotate character’ arrows in the corner of the screen? Why, so that you can play a game of ‘try to see your character’s face’ while the character performs the head-spinning demon possession scenes from The Omen.

I’m trying to view a tattoo on my character’s abdomen and you’re making their body contort in such a way that they appear to be trying to lick their own genitalia from the wrong direction.

Have you seen the average /played time for a player of an MMO? It runs into weeks, if not years, of continuous play. In that time, in this hypothetical week or more of solid continuous game-play, do you not think that I will get the opportunity, nay several hundred opportunities, to witness your animator’s genius in being able to make my character tongue its own rectum? This being the case, it being a fair certainty that I will get to see this more times than I could ever possibly care to during my time in your game, could you not hold back on the ‘paranoid schizophrenic prairie dog on methamphetamines being attacked by bees’ animation for the two minutes that it will take me to get through character creation? Really, is it too much to ask?

Or perhaps your character models are so hideous and malformed that they shun away from the direct gaze of others? Virtual Quasimodos who are doomed never to be loved by the Esmeraldas who look upon them with pity and fear from the other side of the screen?

I’m absolutely sure that I’m in a minority here, but when I see my character flailing about all over the screen, and I have to spend my entire time with the right mouse button held down as I chase my character’s head around the screen like a dog chasing around fruitlessly on the edge of a game of tetherball, I think “These people can’t possibly care about the player experience. Here I am, not even in the game yet, and the most basic of functions is broken. Who in their right mind designs a system such that when a person is trying to create a character and see what the various options look like, the character turns away so that the player can’t see them, forcing the player to either wait some arbitrary period of time for the character to turn back, or making them spin the character around in order to get a look, at which point the character turns and looks back the other sodding way?!”

Actually I don’t think that. I used to. Now I just shout the ‘F’ word very loudly and take my medication.

Today’s post is brought to you by Fallen Earth’s Thunderbird-Puppet-Undergoing-Electroshock-Therapy Character Creator.

And the letter ‘F’.

5 thoughts on “All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.

  1. Brian 'Psychochild' Green

    Age of Conan did the same thing. Sure, maybe its kind of neat to have dim lighting and have the screen shake because your character is in the hull of a slave ship that’s being attacked, but it makes it hard to really create the character. And the strange lighting meant that perfect shade of lip color you chose now appears totally garish in the outside light.

    Er, I mean, those scars totally didn’t look the same in the ship! Yeah, scars….

  2. Derrick

    Oh, good god, yes. So very, very many RPG games – be they the MMO variety or not – suffer from this. They do the character creation in some dark, dank, weirdly lit place where you can’t possible choose coloration properly. You may as well just randomly pick things! It drives me batty. So often, I make a character, get to playing and once I’m out in normal light and see what my character really looks like…

    …it’s shockingly like one of those horrifying Mornings After Picking Up Someone At A Bar While Absolutely ****faced, wherein you chew off your own arm rather than risk waking them, so you can flee and drown your shame in more alcohol.

  3. Melmoth Post author

    @Brian ‘Psychochild’ Green: Oh yes indeed, I’ve been pootling around in Age of Conan recently, and it’s just as bad.

    Lipstick though? How does that ever go with a beard? Wait, on second thoughts don’t tell me, I think I’ve accidentally been to one of those websites before.

    @Derrick: Deary me, yes, I’ve had so many ‘morning after’ characters now that I generally psyche myself up for the fact that my first few hours spent with a new MMO will invariably be spent trying to chew my arm off so that I can sneak away from the monstrosity that I’ve created and try rolling a different one.

  4. Melmoth Post author

    GAAAH! Don’t jump out at me like that! You’ll give me heart failure.

    And what are you doing in the KiaSA wardrobe anyway?

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