Character Development in MMO Games

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Gitanos the Gypsy, Outside Ironforge, The World of Warcraft

Speaking of storytelling, character development is one of the things that I really love doing (probably originating from my role playing game days as a kid) and can never seem to get enough of it. Seriously, I’ve even considered creating a site just focused on MMO character development for the World of Warcraft (and potentially for EVE Online as well) to show players how they can create a really well rounded character to personify within the game. This can involve everything from how they speak, their mannerisms, their flaws, to even how they dress.

It’s not as easy as it sounds though because games like the World of Warcraft can make this quite difficult to achieve since your wardrobe is often limited by your level (and I’m not talking armor types here). Portraying a young noble hero is one thing but trying to look like an evil villain can be downright depressing until you reach some of the higher character levels in the game. I’m totally against this limited approach to the game and I wish Blizzard would add something to the game to allow for at least equipment colorization (similar to how you could dye your character’s clothing and armor in Neverwinter Nights).

I mean no wonder people in the game have very little interest in role playing a diverse community with unique characters (even on RP servers) because it’s extremely difficult to visually represent the personality of your character. Even if you do finally achieve a level where you can get the right equipment, it’s a lost cause anyways. Why? Because as soon as you obtain a few more levels, you’ll need to replace your armor and equipment to be able to handle the higher level creatures and dungeons. For example, here’s a couple of pictures below of my character, Malavar, around 40th level, when I felt his outfit fully captured his villainous nature. Of course, levels later he had to give it up if he wanted to continue forward with higher levels.

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Malavar, Inside Orgrimmar, The World of Warcraft

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Malavar, Crossing Deadwind Pass, The World of Warcraft

The only way around this problem that I can see at the moment is to set out to create a social character from the very start. For example, I’ve got one character I’m fooling around with now that basically has no ambitions to get above 15th level (since it’s fairly easy to obtain this level quite quickly). Instead the goal of the character is to be like an NPC near the town of Goldshire in Elwynn Forest who acts like a sage or guide. Boring you say? Well not really, as you’re always interacting with an ever changing flow of people who are new to the area and people seem to enjoy seeing a regular face all the time (i.e. “Norm!” from Cheers). In effect, the unique experiences you have with these people becomes its own reward.