Monday 30 August 2010

Resisting the reduction of pyschological phenomena to a physical state

Having entirely failed to get into Everquest 2 last year when it was a fiver on Steam, I thought I might as well have a quick poke around the beta of the new subscription-less Extended version. Grabbed the client easily enough thanks to the streaming technology is uses to keep the initial size down, got it installed and fired up, picked Swashbuckler as a class (how could you not want to buckle some swashes?) and human as race, then proceeded to spend a while making him look as Errol Flynn-y as possible, helped by a suitable pencil moustache option named “The Rugged Warrior” (“rugged”, of course, being the first adjective a pencil moustache suggests). Hairstyles offered options like “The Scoundrel”, “The Mercenary” and “The Temple Wiseman”, though from the industrial quantities of styling product employed “The Male Model”, “The Hairdresser” and “The Indie Band Guitarist In Seventh Place On The NME’s Cool List” might be more appropriate. Trying to name my character “Errol” caused the client to spend several minutes in deep contemplation as to whether the name was valid, eventually coming back and saying no, there was already an Errol (probably a hamster). At the same time the Flynn-alike on screen mysteriously transformed into some randomized entirely un-Flynn-y creature, so I flipped back, re-Flynn-ed, tried “Zoso” as a name, many minutes later… no, can’t have Zoso either (probably another hamster). And the face once more transformed into something random. Sticking in a random selection of characters, the brave Swashbuckler “Qfnizxcawet” (either a hamster, or possibly an Aztec god) strode forth to adventure with yet another random appearance, this one involving some peculiar comb-over hairstyle I don’t even remember from the list (which should’ve been filed under “The Geography Teacher”). Still, who cares about character appearance in MMOGs, it’s not something any of us obsess over to a frankly worrying degree or anything, is it? Oh, wait…

Melmoth pointed out there’s an option to save appearance settings, so I fired the client up again, redesigned the character, saved it, then proceeded to try a bunch of names, most of them taken (popular beta, obviously), but without such a long pause for checking, and with the appearance remaining mercifully unchanged. Perhaps the fact that it was streaming more data the first time around had thrown it for a bit of a loop. The saved character appearance proved handy as well, when I suddenly remembered a better name a couple of seconds after hitting “Play” whipping up a replacement was very quick.

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