The Daily Grind: Would you play an MMO with randomly generated characters?

    
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MMORPGs are traditionally games where people spend a lot of time designing their characters. Even in titles where there’s not much to character creation, we often care what we look like (even if we are still willing to look like clowns for stats). So it struck me as an interesting question when I saw a Reddit thread a while back about whether people would play MMOs with randomly generated characters.

It’s not at all unheard-of, I hasten to point out. Remember back when RUST randomly assigned gender and skintone and, um, other interesting bits? Not a pure MMO, of course, but even in a free-for-all sandbox, people didn’t love it. And then there are games like Realm of the Mad God and One Hour, One Life where you’re dying kind of a lot, so maybe it matters slightly less whether you get to customize your toon for three hours. By your fifth character, you might not care that much.

But if I went into City of Heroes and had to go with the first “random” costume the random button generator made for me? Oh please no. That should be a challenge mode or something. (Speaking of, where are the “worst costume” contests?!)

What do you think – do you need to customize your MMO character to feel invested? Would you play an MMO with randomly generated characters?

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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Brazen Bondar

If the game was in what we used to know as a “beta” version, I would try it to see what the game was about. But to actually commit to the game and really play it long term, I have to be able to create the character I want. I have to be able to put some red glasses on! It has to be a black character and on and on. I let my grandson and his mother create a character on my SWTOR account once. That thing was so ugly, I just couldn’t use it. I’ve never logged it in after the two times they ran missions with it. I have to be able to define me. The end.

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NeoWolf

I would test a Beta with Pre-generated characters but I would not play a live MMO with pregens, no way.

Customizing and making my own character is a huge part of putting my personal stamp and feeling invested in a game from the get-go.

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Phubarrh

I sort of did this with my last run at EQ2, rolling randomly for class, race and appearance on a toon. It didn’t go badly at all, problem was he was pretty much buried among the eight other characters I was running in parallel. If something new comes along, as opposed to the score of other MMOs that I’ve played to death, it’s something to keep in mind.

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Oleg Chebeneev

I dont care about that if the game is great. Project Ascension actually does that. You start with Wildcard character, where all your abilities are random and will be randomly chosen while leveling. You never know if you get trash or something good. THis made leveling experience fresh and fun for many including me.

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Phubarrh

Sounds intriguing! I’m going to try that out.

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Schmidt.Capela

What do you think – do you need to customize your MMO character to feel invested?

Nope. I have no issue with playing characters I can’t customize. Playing something like Marvel Heroes Online — where the most appearance customization you had was to choose which of the pre-made classic outfits you wanted to use — doesn’t make me feel any less invested. That being said…

Would you play an MMO with randomly generated characters?

Also nope. While I have no issue playing characters I can’t customize, that only holds as long as customization for them don’t actually exist; if, on the other hand, there are customization options, but they are locked and unavailable for players, then I have a big issue with this arrangement.

Sea of Thieves is one example of such game; the PvP is the main reason I don’t bother with it, of course, but even if fully PvE servers were added I would still refrain from purchasing the game over the fact I can’t customize how my character looks despite the engine and assets being clearly capable of such customization.

(Incidentally, the only reason this isn’t a bigger issue for me in No Man’s Sky, with its random ship appearances, is because I can edit the save in order to replace my ship with any other ship I’ve ever bothered to check, as well as recolor it.)

EmberStar
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EmberStar

Not being able to recolor ships in NMS is kind of annoying. I kind of liked the part where ships had preset hulls, since it made finding wrecked ones (and claiming and upgrading them) actually more interesting. “Oh, this one looks really nice. I’ll send it to my Freighter and then I can work on scraping off the gunk and expanding the cargo space later.” (Related: They apparently also added the ability to upgrade and expand Freighters, so if I happen to LIKE the looks of my clunky starting freighter I now have the option to keep it.)

For the bioships I sort of felt the randomly generated appearance was kind of a feature as well, since you’re basically on a quest to hatch an NPC companion who *also* happens to be a ship. It might have helped though that I actually liked how mine turned out, and didn’t get stuck with one of the weird ones where all the optional decoration slots randomly rolled “empty” for how they looked.

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Bruno Brito

Nope.

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Peregrine Falcon

Yes.
No.

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Phubarrh

Maybe!

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Anstalt

MMO in the pure sense of the words, sure, I can imagine playing as a randomly generated character.

For example, I’ve long imagined a time when games like Battlefield or Call of Duty scale up their multiplayer to massively multiplayer numbers, and I’d be totally fine playing a random character in those types of games.

But an MMORPG?

Nope. My character plays a big part in the way I approach the roleplaying and as I usually play just one character, I want to play someone that I have a genuine interest in. If it had a random generator, I’d probably have to sit there for hours creating someone, assessing it, deleting it, then starting again until the randomness gave me someone I wanted to play.

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Witches

Doesn’t the average first person view game already do this?

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laelgon

As long as the random appearance always fit in the world, none of the slider monstrosities you can make in BDO for example, I would. I don’t get particularly attached to characters or their appearance.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

Yeah, hitting “randomize” in a character creator like Ark is… not a good idea. You can barely alter the preset face (which causes screenshots with more than one of the same gender character to have a heavy dose of “This is me and my CousinUncleGrandpa Billy-Joe-Bob!”) But there’s a HUGE amount of variation in things like limb length and hand/foot size. Everyone gets the exact same face, but you can totally be a distorted gremlin with six inch-long legs, seven foot long arms, and hands and feet twice the size of your entire torso. Yay!