If I want to discuss this, first I must ask myself why is Steam taking so long to download those games. Then, because I should actually write something, what makes a good character. Well good characters are usually found to be likable and friendly, have a strong personality and morals. All these are great qualities to have but a truly good character develops around the society they’re in. We never see this in MMO’s. I’ve seen the traditional moral choice system quests. However these all seem to be, “there is a little girl crying, help her?” and you have the options “kill her, eat her and wear her skin”, “give her all your money and your clothes” or “ask her why”. You only have the option to be Satan or a Saint. This is probably better than, you are a hero- do whatever we say, mind you. Characters in MMO’s are completely 1 dimensional, only existing to do what other people tell them. What do you actually know about Fribz the dwarf hunter? Or Kaleb the nightelf druid? They like doing what other people want them to do, that’s about it.
I mentioned the Satan or Saint way to tackle who your characters are, this is alright, I mean it shows you what your character is like, but it could be better- far better. Another solution is reputation, I’m going to mention WoW here, because off the top of my head it’s the only one which does something like this. Please don’t send me hate mail or death threats. In Shattrath you have the opportunity to side with the Aldor or Scryer factions, they have their own rewards and quests. Although it mostly comes down to rewards by supporting one faction you support their society, their ideals. In fact, if you support any faction over another you support their ideals, it’s like politics. Although for most people it’s little more than, which reward gives better gear or a chance at bettering my character. The thought is mathematical not political.Would you really care if a faction in a game made slaves of another, the question isn’t “Well does my character support slavery, or is he bound by society?” or is it “Which quests give the most rewards for the least effort”.
So how can we portray characters in a meaning and developed way in a MMO. Well true characters are ones who find themselves among society. An example of this would be a girl. Girl’s have the most societal pressures, the media dictates us as objects of sex and lust, we must look or dress in a way if we ever hope to have a relationship, if you don’t fit in then you’re going to be betrayed and abused. These societal pressures make up who any girl is, for example I am a tomboy, I reject society in how I dress and act, what my interest are and how I talk to people. However I do accept the pressure society gives me in terms of what I eat. I accept society with the color of my room, yellow. And that is what makes me a 3 dimensional person, both the accepting and denial of societies pressures. Obviously this isn’t easy to add to a game, at all. However there is one way to do it.
Firstly you have to ensure your player knows the world he or she has stepped into, what role have they assumed. This should be conveyed in the area they start, the tone of the characters they meet, the stories that the NPC’s will tell. For example, you step into a huge mine and see that your race has assumed power over another. You can choose in your first steps to accept or deny this societal pressure, do you accept fully and understand why? Do you understand but not accept? Do you not care? Completely disagree? Disagree but not say anything? This should all be within the quests, the NPC’s you talk to. This would be the foundation of the faction. But what of your characters personality?
Personality is personality, it’s not black or white, good or evil. For example, just because you’re an angry or violent person doesn’t mean that you don’t care about people or are evil. Personality is a range of traits and colors, the best way to do this is to use a personality wheel, like the one pictured. NPC’s should approach a character differently depending on their personality, if someone is a Champion, they should be treated differently to someone who is a Mentor.
Of course these are just suggestions and probably won’t happen any time soon, but I feel the sooner is does, the sooner MMO’s improve dramatically and both NPCs and characters show real development and personality traits. Designed in such a way that you can never quite get the same personality as before. I’m sorry this isn’t longer, but if you want to know more you can always PM me and I’ll try and get back to you.