The Daily Grind: Are MMO monster character races doomed to forever minority status?

    
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I almost fell for it again.

The other night I was logging back into Elder Scrolls Online after a very long absence and decided to start all over with a new character. Without thinking about it much, I clicked on a Breton and started to make a generic good-looking human. Then I paused, stopped, and started over. I’m so tired of falling into the trap of creating model humans in MMOs when there are more interesting options out there. Unfortunately, most MMOs only pay token attention to monster races, preferring instead to focus on six varieties of flawless Elves and the omnipresent and overwhelmingly popular humans.

Not me. I went Argonian this time around and am rocking a mohawk made of feathers and a scaly hide of pure attitude. It’s been a visual adjustment to play this “monster” race, but so far it’s felt fresh and far more interesting than a pod person.

Yet I was all by myself for most of my travels, a minority in a sea of humans and Elves. Are MMO monster character races doomed to be in the vast miniority wherever they appear? How could these games encourage players to roll one up and get out of that human rut?

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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Teh Beardling

side note can we have an mmo where we play the “wild” or “monster” races and the good guys are npcs? Told from the monsters perspective?

butterpanda888
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butterpanda888

I favour monster races though I can see the appeal of playing humans, at least from an RP perspective. I can see people playing humans because of creating a story or character, but I don’t understand the “I wanna play humans so I can BE ME” mindset. I’m me in real life, and I don’t care if it is heroic, magic, or super-powered me, I don’t wanna be me in a video game.

I main Draenei and a Troll in WoW, Khajit and Argonian in ESO, an Ogre and a Froglok in EQ2, an Asura in GW2, and I played as a Mon Calamari in SWG. Though I also enjoy a good human every once in a while.

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Ben Stone

Ratonga and Froglok were my favourite races, its a shame there wasn’t an Everquest Next.

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Ben Stone

I never really had that experience in ESO. Argonian and Khajit races were pretty common. The main reason for so many humans / elves is due to the strength of their racial bonuses.

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Arkady Dust

The people who want to BE characters overwhelmingly choose humans/elves.
The people who want to CREATE characters choose different races, including humans.
So just from that, humans are bound to be more popular.

Doesn’t help that monster races are often presented poorly.
It is more effort for devs to provide visual options for monster races – GW2 is better than most but even there the vast majority of costumes have Charr tails just clip through. Not really their fault.

But in many cases the options that exist are just poorly made:
Human body with different skin, but exactly same model.
Lacking options – cute/attractive, monstrous, like . Or, worse, having those options gender locked.
Combining appearance with culture in utterly unsurprising ways.
And so on

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Loyal Patron
Bývörðæįr mòr Vas´Ðrakken

The default human could be some much more, what would happen if we model our characters after us, rough blend shapes for the pecs on down and higher quality meshes for the faces? we get the reason we have orcs, turnen, goblins and what not. Some people want to be themselves and other people want a fantasy.

What would be fun is you pick from artist created monster heads there are plenty of Minotaur type monsters and the gear for those requires less tweaking. Of course the newer games the more polygons actually make it easier to transfer gear between different shaped torsos.

Really it usually comes down to making ten sets of gear that sorta move between, races, four that can be winged in place, or making twenty versions of each piece of gear. One per race.

what we need to see from the next flavor of the month is a Scandinavian, a Pakistani, at least two African races that do not work well with each others blend shapes, a reptile with a long neck and head, a reptile with a short head, a minotaur, a gaint frog, a canine head on a humoniod torso, four centaurs that are the human bodies, a mini dragon that curls around an npc coat rack basically an npc that can be customized but the gear is mostly gear for the flying serpent. And any other weird and unusually parts of mythology.

The Asian body types can fit onto the Scandinavian body set, and real scanned faces can be used as normal maps with current tech. we should work with the inhernt flaws and character in people’s faces and bodies to make the mmorpg feel more alive. that when it is another generic character or something that looks like a person, it is two options that interest instead of that is so boring today.

quark1020
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quark1020

Honestly, for me, its just how the equipment looks on the model. While I’m not against non-anthropomorphic characters, I myself wouldn’t play them if the gear clips through the model or just looks off.

Its one of the reason I couldn’t get myself to enjoy the male Pandaren on WoW, and they’re just rounder “humans”. Instead of something more visually appealing, like getting just adding more material to the gear while keeping the buckles or laces the same size and location, it just does this weird stretching around the belly area that makes the model look disjointed. I converted my Pandaren into an Orc, and the gear on him looked almost completely different.

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Schmidt.Capela

Thinking about it, I believe the reason I for the most part avoid critter or monster races is because I don’t want to be stuck with a member of such a race as my main character; the game where I usually play a furry is DCUO, and in large part I do it because it’s just a cosmetic option I can change whenever I feel like it without paying a fee or starting the character anew.

Or, to put it another way: I would rather be stuck with a pleasant looking, if boring, human than be stuck with a critter or monster race character.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

I love critter races… go go Khajiit and Charr and especially Ithorians! Monster races don’t pull me in quite so much… I’m thinking orcs and stuff like EQ’s ogres/trolls.

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Ken from Chicago

Isn’t it MMO Law that your mmo, at some point, needs to have a cat race? Even if it’s just an NPC, at some point you have to have cat people. #CatsRule ;-)

butterpanda888
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butterpanda888

Damn you’re right. I was gonna use WoW as an example but you say NPC counts and the Saberon exist.

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yoh_sl

I tend to lean heavily towards monster races whenever it is an option. I prefer ‘otherness’ to ‘sameness’.
People seem to fall into one of those two camps.