The Daily Grind: Does mid-game character customization matter in MMOs?

    
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This morning’s Daily Grind question is brought to us by Kickstarter donor Tracergeek, who wants to talk about customization in MMOs — specifically, the type that happens in the middle of the game, after you’ve rolled your toon up and played for a bit, like race- and class-swaps.

How important is it for you to be able to change your character’s race, gender and class in an MMO, and which MMO do you feel is best at offering these features to players?

Coincidentally, I have been giving Trove an extended spin. Trove famously allows players to swap classes from cornerstones and hubs, and although you’ve got to unlock the classes and level them separately, it actually works pretty well in that type of sandpark. It’s the same sort of system that Marvel Heroes uses, and it’s not a huge leap from there to great sub-class-swapping games like Guild Wars and RIFT.

Race- and gender-changes are usually a simple matter of a cash shop purchase, but personally, I’d give the nod to classic Star Wars Galaxies on the matter of swapping classes; I always love skill-based MMORPGs that allow you to unlearn skills to learn new ones, meaning your character can grow and become an expert in a new skill given enough time. Plus it had an entire Image Design skill tree, putting the burden of changing you to look like Neo on players, not on an NPC barber. Runner-up: City of Heroes, since there you could literally swap from being a catgirl with a flame halo and glowing daggers to being a femmebot with a fluorescent machine gun and a top hat at the click of a costume button. Click.

So I’d say it’s important to me since those are my favorite two MMOs ever. I don’t think it’s an accident they rank so highly!

What do you folks think? Does it matter whether you can swap out your race, gender, or class in the middle of your character’s lifespan in an MMO? Which games do it the very best?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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dorn2
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dorn2

I think it’s the most important feature a game can have.  It’s easy enough to get bored of MMO’s as is.  The barrier for class switching (or fully equiping an alt) needs to be low.  It allows the player to change the gameplay and freshen things up.  To many MMO’s try to get by with something simple like switching specs.  It’s not enough.

SwobyJ
Guest
SwobyJ

I’ll only care about mid-game customization more if the game context asks for it. Like if we had actually smart quests that involved my character having a boost in charm with NPCs if I had access to a charming/physically attracted skin (think a futurist MMO).

But LATE/END-game customization, sure. I like the ‘barbershop’ and what it brings. I just don’t like changing my look until I’m done most/all available content and I’m waiting for the next update.

ZenDadaist
Guest
ZenDadaist

I didn’t really mention the other side of the coin when I replied yesterday. 
I spend an inordinate amount of time in character creation. I make sure I have a strong concept for the character I have in mind and I ensure I make it. In that sense I don’t tend to want to change much at all about my characters once they have been made. Except the minor cosmetics like social wear and so on, of course. Characters have whimsies and motivations, and grow as they go. If I find that actually I don’t like a given character at all I’m more likely to just stop playing it and play a different one.
For me the desire to be able to make major changes is normally as a result of the game changing things on me. For example an expansion releases that rewrites a particular class or character type. Perhaps they redid some animations and now that character looks like a complete fool when he swings his sword about. Maybe they took away that one support ability which defined a class for me and gave me some damage ability I didn’t care about because I rolled that character for the support not the damage. Maybe something new appeared that actually fits the concept I had for the character better than whatever I’d come up with in game before – like a new hybrid class option or a new weapon type or a new ability tree. Maybe it’s something as simple as the fact that at mid or end game that particular character type changes into something I don’t enjoy as part of the normal progression. 
If I’ve invested a lot into the character then I’d rather change it than abandon or reroll it. (Especially when you consider all the exclusive stuff in games that you can’t get any more on a new character, and I hate losing out on things I’ve acquired.)

EO_Lonegun
Guest
EO_Lonegun

I think the ability to customize specs has become necessary just given the amount of time players invest in their characters. However I don’t think it is something that is necessary before level cap. In my early MMO days I was bad enough at picking from the options given to me I can’t imagine how broken my characters would have been with a Rift-like system.

McSleaz
Guest
McSleaz

without customization you end with what FFXIV was before the lolvanity slots were introduced, Identical classes wearing Identical gear, total snore fest.

melissamcdon
Guest
melissamcdon

Koolthulu So like… no transition from Wheaties to Fruit Loops for you?   :P   lolz.

melissamcdon
Guest
melissamcdon

Estranged Werewolf Finds Dragon Just like James Bond… yes

melissamcdon
Guest
melissamcdon

Nreff you make me sorta wish for my dark goth princess with psionics character i made in CO

melissamcdon
Guest
melissamcdon

CrowingOne SomewhatEclectic Estranged Their system is the best, but sadly their selection of clothing is very small.

Stormwaltz
Guest
Stormwaltz

I like having the ability to fiddle and edit appearance at any time. Though I spend 20-30 minutes designing each character I make, I inevitably want to tweak something later – whether that’s correcting eyes that look to sunken in game lighting, or adding a scar to reflect experience gained.

Race, gender, or class, though? No, never. Those make up a given character’s identity to me. If I want change any of those, I roll up an alt instead.