Thanks to everyone who took part in our third blog carnival. We’ve had some great submissions and after reading through them, I’m sure you’ll agree that Guild Wars 2 offers very wide scope to allow us to create characters that are different from everyone else’s character.
We had some technical issues getting this post put together and published … well, more accurately I had technical issues. While I was working on updating our Beta Aggregation page on Tuesday, I had an internet error that effectively prevented me from accessing the entire GuildMag site. At the time of writing this introduction, I still have full access to the entire internet except GuildMag.com. Dutch has been kind enough to act as my secretary for a bit, copying files and pasting my code into the blog so that this (eventually) got published. (On top of that, we had a date mis-match: I thought we were publishing on the 29th, but Dutch just corrected me and said we were publishing today!)
The full spectrum of writing experience in our community is reflected in this carnival: some old grognards from the “good old days” and some folks who literally started blogging in order to take part in this event. Welcome to the newcomers and a tip of the hat to the grizzled types at the back of the writers’ bar.
Please visit and leave feedback to the writers. With support and encouragement, writers tend to write more, which is good for them and good for the community!
In previous games, character diversity was mainly achieved through the character creation. You choose a race, a class, the appearance and then name the character. But character customization doesn’t end at character creation. There are different playstyles that determine what you actually do in-game. In recent MMO’s, you can switch playstyles on-the-fly, change armor colors, complete achievements and earn titles.
Seriously though, after researching and reading about the various races of GW2, I see a lot of roleplay (abbreviated to “RP”) possibilities, and most of them make me excited to step into the updated world of Tyria. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t see pitfalls in many elements of the established societies and races of this lush world. Today, I’m going to point out these potential pitfalls, so that responsible RPers can avoid them.
As many people may be aware, Guild Wars 2 is set to feature an immense amount of character customization including a personal story line, customized armour appearance, and a ridiculous array of weapon combinations per profession. As the title suggests I love the greatsword (great sword). It has a certain devastating connotation and yet grace to it. A weapon that for a long time has been limited to the brawn of warrior-type classes; appealing to the brainless melee hack and slashers out there. GW2 offers a unique approach to change the way this weapon is approached. For those (including myself) who still think in WoW terms, one would think of a ranger using a great sword as impractical. ArenaNet said lets do away with limitations and change how your character behaves when you equip this. Instead using it for stat bonuses use it for assisted melee damage with the help of a pet.
Something that annoyed us greatly in the Eligium beta was that we couldn’t choose the look of our characters. All you could choose — look-wise — was the race and the gender. Nothing to set you visually apart from everybody else. We all looked like clones. In World of Warcraft, people also complained about everybody choosing only the “pretty face” [...] for the female trolls (and there weren’t that many who played female trolls to begin with) which resulted in lots of them looking very similar (there was also one particular hairstyle that was most popular which didn’t help at all). Or think about how players rage when a developer “nerfs” content, so more people can successfully beat it. Some of those who have done the content before the nerf are usually among those complaining. But why? Because now everybody can try and conquer the content and then get the same achievement. Those who have done so before don’t get this achievement taken away from them but it means one less thing to set them apart from everybody else. Something less to brag about, maybe.
Character creation is split up into 3 primary areas.
Firstly, there are the things you can’t change — the constants. I.e.: Charr are always going to have large sharp teeth. Some charr might have smaller teeth than others, but they will always be pretty fang-y. There are tonnes of examples: asura will always be small, norn will always be big, humans will always have 2 legs, 2 arms etc etc etc. This is the base upon which you build your character — fiddle with the sliders all you like — you can’t change them.
Who am I? That question is one that has multiple answers. I am a sylvari, I am a Mesmer. I was born of the cycle of the Dusk. In fact I was born just very recently, only having been born of our mother, the Pale Tree, not at all long ago. It was a lovely evening, as I recall; having awoken, my knowledge of the Dream telling me that it was sundown. There were many other sylvari waking up at the same time as I was. The Dream also told us of that, of the threat to our world that necessitated more and more sylvari being brought into Tyria.
What are you going to take into consideration when you make your Guild Wars 2 (GW2) character? We have a lot more options this time around. We can choose our race, gender, and profession for starters. From there we have been given a variety of sliders to play with to manipulate our character appearance. We have armor and town clothes. We have an intricate dye system. We have several “personal story” questions to answer. We can create a name for our character. And finally, we have our playstyle to consider. One thing we are likely to overlook, however, is who our character is.
In Tyria, we will be as diverse as we are in real life. Some of our characters may echo our real life personalities (like one of our “asuran” friends above) whilst others will truly escape from who we are. The little tweaks, the opportunity to shoot off in a different direction, the experience that is tailored to each and every one of us. We will spend our time doing what appeals to each of us individually. The irony is that for many, what appeals to them will be based less on individuality and more on what the community they are a part of is doing at the time. The choices in game will be as broad as choice in life itself.
Ah, hello! Come, join me at the bar, my friend. The stoutest ale for the both of us.
You seem new to these parts, so allow me to welcome you to Hoelbrak, my home and the home of many norn, when we’re not testing ourselves against the wilds.
Myself? I am Arrun the Chronicler, son of Asgeir the Iron-Maul. Norn are people of great deeds, and we achieve immortality by performing feats none other can. When our tales have passed into legend, retold night after night by a raging fire, then we become eternal! And I have taken it upon myself to gather those stories, catalog the greatest epics the world has to offer, then tell them wherever I go. When my tradition is spread through the norn nation, then I, too, will be legendary, the Great Chronicler!
If you’re anyone who’s anyone, you’ve heard about the upcoming next generation MMO, Guild Wars 2. And hey, if you’re no one who’s nobody, that changes now! Guild Wars 2 is a game that is innovating the MMORPG genre, and (among many many wonderful things) offers limitless potential for players to create unique and diverse characters. This player made diversity is incredible in its own right (and something we will discuss on its own in the future!), because it allows Guild Wars 2 the power to tell limitless, infinite, unique stories. That’s freaking epic.
However, there remains one single issue I have with Guild Wars 2; the lack of a well developed, diverse, central character (or characters for that matter). At least from what we have seen so far.
There is so much character diversity in Guild Wars 2. Just a while ago one of the ArenaNet devs, Leif Chappelle, was discussing that there are a staggering 30 choices for the first story arc (levels 1-10). I know these aren’t all-roads-lead-to-Rome choices either. A person dies in one player’s story and exists forever in another player’s home instance. Tack on five trait lines per profession, a billion dye combinations for town clothes, anti-clothes, and a million armor combinations and character diversity goes to infinity and beyond.
And it’s all there for you. Just you.
In many ways, the invisible uniqueness that Rav [see previous entry] talks about is simply a reflection of life. We all have our unique experiences and journey, our own internal narrative that is impossible to share in it’s totality with anyone else. No matter how close our life partners, parents, family, and friends are — at best they only experience a small percentage of our lives. We’re all different, but narratives of life share common keystones and emotions. Moments in our life that we share with others, some that are intensely private when experienced but are something that millions of others will experience one day too. They just won’t experience it in the same way as you, or the same place.
These shared but private experiences help to create empathy and a shared sense of community, for all that we are innately alone in our own heads.
They found me in a tavern in Smuggler’s Watch, where I’d been spending my days looking for opportunities like this one. The place was usually packed with corsairs, as was the greatest part of the city, making it ideal for adventurers such as myself to find a job. Having been brought up in the mean streets of my city, it was very easy for me to pass by unnoticed among these people, despite being wanted by many of them. But it wasn’t easy for them: they stood out like flies in a milkshake – and not just due to their spotless looks. They were, without doubt, the most controversial company of people I had ever seen! A Necromancer and an Elementalist together, escorted by a huge Warrior…? A few steps behind them followed an Engineer, hyperventilating as he struggled to pull his enormous backpack through the tavern’s narrow wooden door. Various clinging and rattling sounds were coming from inside it, mixing with the curses he grumbled. Eventually he gave up and stood outside the doorstep, blocking out the scarce spring morning light and looking provocatively upon anyone who’d dare to smile. The rest of his group stood about two steps away from my table and gazed upon me, investigatively. Leader of the pack appeared to be a Guardian, who’s view had been blocked by the monolithic figure of the Warrior up to that point.
My name is Rhymelark and I was awakened from the dream to the gentle light of dawn filtering through the leaves of the Pale Tree. Our mother gifted me, while I was in the dream, with images of ships with graceful sails navigating the currents of rivers. The images entice my imagination and I know I can not long stay here in the Grove for the river calls me. Quickly I will have to learn what ever I can in the Grove while I can still resist its siren call
ArenaNet has been at pains to remind us how important story will be in character creation. Not only will we be choosing from five distinct races, we will have multiple storylines to follow in each starting instance. A recent Anet blog post goes into detail about this, and it appears that players will have quite a bit of room to develop backstories for their characters starting with the character creation screen.
One of the videos from the press beta shows that even a fierce charr can be made to look utterly savage or nearly cuddly with a wide range of facial, body, and fur choices.
Interestingly, charr females wear bras beneath their armor despite the absence of breasts. Or is that a toga? In any event the uniqueness of your character depends on how much of your own personality you want to inject into that bundle of pixels. Will your charr be a pacifist, your human a simpleton? Do you want your norn ranger to stand apart from the thousands of other norn rangers you will meet? It can happen, the only limit is your own imagination and how much you want to “roleplay” your character.
Character Diversity happens to be one of the most important features of a game for me…
Guild Wars 2 is set to be the best game I’ve seen in a long time to actually hit the character customisation on head with a massive 2hander hammer now let’s have a look a the advances ArenaNet has made in Guild Wars 2 compared to other MMOs out there…
“We still need one more!” Lyrra growled angrily. The callicoe charr flicked her tail vigorously. She glared at her companions, “We’ve been in this jungle for hours, we should just call it a night.”
“I rather like this jungle. The atmospheres are roughly equivalent to those of my lab in Rata Sum.” Dipps’ jungle moa companion chirruped in agreement. “Besides, Alex has yet to recruit a healer for us.”
Diversity starts with individuality and in Guild Wars 2 there is an immense system in place to make your character unique from others which can be summed up into three categories: Visual appearance, Personal story and Play style. Visual appearance is a pretty obvious and familiar system to all of us. Whether it’s in a game or in real life we like to look and dress a certain way that is appealing to our own style. Personal story is another way to make your character unique but is not always so visually obvious. Some choices you make in your personal story can give you gear or titles to change your character visually but it is more focused on who your character is. Play style is exactly that, how you personally play your character. By choosing what weapon you will use, what traits you feel will complement your play style and even what battles you choose to fight will determine how successful your character is in the Guild Wars 2 world. Making your character unique sounds simple right? That’s because it is. These three things will make your character YOUR character.
Okay fine, there’s not much diversity per se because we fall into one of three categories: Straight, bi or gay. Well, before I continue, I figured that another article about how diverse characters on Guild Wars 2 will be based on traits/races/professions/weapons/skills/play styles or any combination of the six will just be rehashing what everyone is saying and it doesn’t really contribute much for discussion. We’ve already established that very well, thank you very much, so let’s move on.
I decided on a topic that’s rather personal to me because being gay and a gamer, I was very pleasantly surprised with the way ArenaNet decided to handle this controversial issue. Drawing your attention to Ree’s interview with Wartower during Gamescom 2011, she was asked about the relationships between sylvari since everyone was making a mountain out of a molehill regarding the fact that the sylvari don’t have the ability to reproduce despite having the proper physical parts and the fact that Caithe and Faolain were hinted at being lovers.
For a while now, (read: since text-based RPGs in the ’80s.) game developers everywhere have been trying to capture an effective way to allow their players to forge a story of their own within the realm of their games. But how is ArenaNet measuring up against the efforts of every other developers’ efforts with Guild Wars 2?
Instead of writing several paragraphs where I go on an on about several different as I remember new things while I write, I decided to instead list each section of the game that will give players choice in how to make their character unique, and then go through the options available within hose specific sections. In my opinion, each of these sections represents a “multiplier” that adds to how many combinations of options there are available for character diversity in the game. And the more there are, the more possible combinations are available to make unique characters.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” So goes the famous Shakespearian quote. Alas, the sentiment behind this phrase can all too often be used negatively today when aimed at the various MMORPGs being released on the incredibly demanding market this game genre has built up around itself.
Many games in the genre lack the kind of nigh impossible diversity players desire from the virtual worlds found in MMORPGs. After all, everyone wants to be as unique during their virtual fantasy adventures as they are in real life. Unfortunately, developers can only do so much to accommodate that desire within the confines of budgets, time constraints and technical capabilities.
Some MMORPG developers focus on character appearance and provide character creators of incredible complexity. From bodily shape to eye color and the shape of facial hair strands, new generations of character creators in MMORPGs bring more and more options to the table, allowing players true creative freedom… or do they?
One of the more interesting facets of ArenaNet’s design philosophy is that each and every profession is going to have its own way of contributing to a battle through a variety of means. No longer will you be tethered to one particular class in order to heal, for example. Under this system, each player now possesses a number of different options to support their teammates, which radically decreases the chances that anyone will be shoehorned into one specific spec or play style. Moreover, every race is able to play each profession. The diminutive Asura is more than capable of tearing your face off, and the towering Norn may just be the one raining fire down on your friends from afar. Those who are used to scanning the battlefield and identifying healers and support classes based on character silhouettes alone will quickly learn that this will not be the case in Guild Wars 2. The doctor is in, and he could be just about anyone in this scenario!
Being able to create something unique, to be able to set yourself apart from the crowd is what character diversity is about. It can be a unique look, playstyle or story but, it also means much more than that. Depending on how the game allows you to put your spin on something it can often lead to something more than a personal creation. If you are allowed to make choices in a story, it can lead to excellent dialogue between players when discussing the specifics. Allowing a player to tweak how there character performs allows the spreadsheet masters to create something they are satisfied with and allows them to discuss the different ways a character can be optimal. Even a certain playstyle can shed light on something you never would have experienced with the way you play. Guild Wars 2 allows players to do all of the above.
It’s always the same. I log into a new game and my first thought is “errrrr…???” Which race should I pick? Which class suits me best? Well I played everything. Tank, support, damage dealer and healer. However my heart beats the fastest while healing. So I pick a cute or sexy race and a class with some kind of healing abilities. So I am all set for Guild Wars 2, right? Suddenly a lightning struck down next to me, the Guild Wars 2 God came down to earth and told me:
“Healing is the least dynamic kind of support there is. Healing is for when you are already losing. No healer for you!”
WHAT? Panic! Armageddon!!! How can they do that to me? And how can they start a game without healing?
No two people are the same. This simple truth is simultaneously the basis of humanity’s greatest strengths and most detrimental weaknesses. Whether it’s our appearance, personality, beliefs, or culture, our diversity is perhaps the single most identifiable, all-encompassing trait of the human race. We all have different preferences, motivations, and fears. Lifetimes have been spent studying what makes us who we are, and there will never be an end to what such introspection can discover.
I just wanted to help.
I worshipped Mrs Blodgett. Mrs Blodgett was the jolly, ebullient center of my small universe, wearing flowery aprons and gravity defying hairdos and an abundance of kerchiefs for solace.