Uplink Analysis: Character Creation

Written by David "Scooter" Bass on October 12, 2012

WildStar Uplink is a weekly conversation we hold with our fans about MMO design, philosophy, and news. The main goal of these conversations is to gauge how important certain issues are to the WildStar community. More than just a simple conversation, we ask questions about topics that are important, and we share your responses with the development team directly. Want to participate? Follow @Team_WildStar on Twitter for the weekly question, participate using #WSuplink, and keep an eye on the community team (CRB_Atreid, CRB_Aether, and CRB_Scooter) to interact with us throughout the discussions.

This week, the topic was Character Creation:

What kind of character creation do you enjoy? For example, do you like your character to look pretty or ugly?

Here are a few of the conversations we enjoyed. First, some general opinions from you guys:

drdre1973: i would like em pretty and i dont mind if i could make use of some sliders to make em perfect :)
hbriand: Depends on the race but main often looks like an idealized self ; rerolls more like opposite
b_1st: "Pretty," for me - I like to make HOT GUYS! But I'm a fan of a whole range of options; some people like to be ugly!
OniOnidra: pretty characters ! With a lot of choices like Aion. I don't like to see clones in the world
RaraBagel: Pretty. I'd rather look at something thats appealing rather than harsh and ugly. An ideal version of myself.
Timbricius: Ugly and mean!
nohelixws: Customizing height I find a lot of fun. Sometimes you want to be short and sometimes tall.
MattstaNinja: I just play with all the options until I get something I like. Limits to keep race design in check for "realism".
AgentNardz: My first toon always ends up looking like me, except, you know, more badass, usually with a beard :) Beyond that I like to experiment, usually more on the humorous side of things.

jleithart can't really put his process into words, but we know exactly how he feels:

jleithart: I end up figuring out what looks best for my character. It's not about pretty or ugly, it's just how I feel about the character.
CRB_Aether: @jleithart What's the driving force in defining what you feel about your character? Your mood that day? Your char's story?
jleithart: @CRB_Aether Often it's the name of the character. Theodrin is an old grizzled warrior for example. Marie is a charming young woman

Flawed characters definitely have a certain appeal to some of you (though this conversation may have gone in a weird direction):

ValkavGaming: It's more about making the character look like they fit the role. Like I wouldn't make a flawless-looking warrior.
Team_WildStar: @valkavgaming ah-ah authenticity, then?! A warrior should have battle scars, you think? :)
ValkavGaming: @Team_WildStar Right, I want my character to look the part. Melee fighters should be battle-hardened, not pristine and beautiful.
ValkavGaming: @Team_WildStar It's the same reason I don't typically use accessories like earrings -- they'd get in the way, in a real fight. ;)
Team_WildStar: @valkavgaming pretty sure some people would disagree! I've seen some supermodels (male and female) on every MMO I played :)
elixabethclaire: @Team_WildStar @ValkavGaming Pfffft. "Earrings" is just a fancy name for "neck shields."
CRB_Aether: @elixabethclaire Note to design: Let's make neck shields a thing.

We asked Matt Mocarski, our Art Director, for his thoughts about what makes a good character creator:

Hey guys!

Character Creation is something very near and dear to me. It's great to hear everyone's thoughts about it. Our goal with customization is to give people the widest variety of choices without breaking the themes and personality of the characters or the races.

We usually start with the essence of what the race is all about. Within that we make sure we have a strong subset of the "idealized" version of that character or race: basically your supermodels/perfect specimen. That will mean something different for each race, of course. The Granok will never be pretty boys but they have their own ideal look they would consider handsome. Once we have a strong set of idealized features, we'll make the outliers. The tough, silly, and ugly faces that tend to be a bit more polarizing. That way there should be something for all player types. We don't want all our character to look like supermodels. Where's the fun in that?

For the player that really wants to dig deeper, we are offering advanced facial customization with sliders for individual facial features. This can be really difficult to balance. When most games offer this it usually opens up the floodgates for players to make faces that just look awful. Usually if you want to get something decent you end up having to stick close to the original face and it barely looks different at all. We are making a huge effort in allowing people a broader range of options while still maintaining the essence of the character. We have a long review process on how far we can push things before they break or look bad. Thankfully, our art style allows for a lot more freedom than a traditional "realistic" game, so I think people are going to be really happy with the results.

Neck shields! Man, I wish I would have thought of that!

What do you think about our plans for character creation? Let us know on Twitter at @Team_WildStar and keep an eye on the #WSuplink hashtag for a heads up when we begin a new topic on Monday. Thanks to everyone who participated in this week's discussion, and have a great weekend!

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