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On the Naming Couch

April 14, 2009 5 comments

roseA ooI’mSoCool00 by any other name would be not nearly as ridiculous. There’s more to names than just designating athing, and some names really do smell like poo. But maybe I’m just a name snob.

GirlIRL started this one, so blame her! What I like most about it is that there’s no tagging obligation — if you read this and you’d like to take part, just do it. Credit the original virus and move on.

1.  What is your current main character’s name (or names, if you play multiple games)?  Explain how you chose the name.

My CoX main is Todestraum; I chose it because my original CoH char was called Alptraum (“nightmare” in German), though I lost that name very rapidly after I let the account lapse. It was already taken on Virtue when I returned to CoX, but since I wanted to recreate the char I picked a similar name. Todestraum means “dream of death,” again in German. The char(s) is designed to let me indulge my vampire mania (in that she looks ultra cool, heals very fast, and hits very hard).

My WoW main… I don’t think I really have one, I’m a total alt ho in that game. All the current names were picked for this round of reuppage anyway (newly-made chars) and none are particularly meaningful to me.

2.  What was the name of your very first character in an MMO?  Explain how you chose that name.

Very first EVER char name was… I can’t remember. “Someone” The Green, in Asheron’s Call, and I can’t remember her first name except that it started with an M. This was back when I thought MMOs were going to be a lot more like tabletop RPGs than they really are. In any case she soon gave way to my real main, whose name was Eloise. Her name is based on several things: 1) characters came from a variety of other worlds (following “Asheron’s Call,” see), one of which was French-flavoured; since I’m French-flavoured, it was an easy choice; 2) I’ve always been fascinated by Abelard and Heloise (more French history); I just didn’t include the “old-fashioned” H in the name; 3) it’s a nice, noble-sounding name and that’s what the character was supposed to be (a lapsed noble spoiled brat). Again, this was before I discovered that there isn’t much RP in MMORPGs (at least for me).

3.  Have you kept a specific name through various games, or do you tend to change your naming habits based on the individual game?

I’ve tried to keep a single name before, porting Eloise to other games (and I have a WoW char with the name) but it never really gelled for me. Characters are game- and time-specific for me, and they’re not just the same incarnation in various different systems. Occasionally, if I really like  a name, I’ll reuse it, but I can’t do that with characters that I played for any great length of time. Even if I do reuse a name, they are quite distinct entities in my head — they’re not “my avatar in another game” which is (I imagine?) how it is for most people who port a name from game to game.

4.  Do you ever reserve names, planning to use them for characters that you might play later?  If so, what are they and why do you hold on to them?

I only did it for WAR, where some of the more obvious “adjective names” (e.g. Misery) were no-brainers for certain classes/sides, and only for a couple of servers. I eventually deleted them too, because holding places I’m not going to use it pretty selfish — and none of the names were particularly meaningful to me anyway.

5.  Of the three common archetypes in MMOs — tank, healer, DPS — which is your current main character?

DPS. I almost always make a DPS char first. WAR was the exception, where I made a healer first. Maybe my supposed role in games finally sank in for that one.

6.  What archetype was your very first character in an MMO?  Why did you choose it?

DPS. Yes, there’s a trend here. My tabletop RPG characters tended to the DPS end of the spectrum too — melee DPS usually, to be specific. Rangers, rogues, fighters, and in AD&D dual-classed chars with rogue or fighter sides. I did play the odd healer but not as often.

7.  Are you usually attracted to one archetype over another, or do you play them equally?  Why?

See above. I like the smell of blood in the morning. I like the snicker-snack of sharp filleting blades. I like the challenge of doing unto others before they do unto me. Hitting things is more cathartic for me than blowing them up, which is why I’m melee DPS rather than ranged, usually.  (I’m a pretty pacific creature in general, so I expect this is how I keep my darker side happy.)

8.  What is your favorite feature from an MMO you no longer play?

Just about everything from Asheron’s Call. I like that it wasn’t 100% quest driven, and I miss that — even sandbox games (at least the ones I’ve seen/have tested) seem to be quest driven these days; isn’t that an oxymoron? I’m SO tired of seeing icons over people’s heads. I liked not having names over anything either; you had to recognise a player or mouse over them, same with mobs; the whole idea of everything and everyone being neatly labelled and identifyable at a glance from 300 yards just distances me. Maybe that’s why I’ve never got into an MMO as much since AC: I play, but I haven’t invested myself in any game as much since, and there’s always that mental distance of “I’m playing a game” rather than “I’m experiencing a world.” I miss that grouping used to provide instant xp bonuses — not huge, just reasonable, so no matter what you were doing and where, grouping wasn’t going to bite you in the ass; I also miss that you didn’t have to; I’m pig sick of the idea that my game play needs to be “directed” by the designers. Sure, it does, but there’s a WIDE gap between being nudged and being told exactly what, where & when to do by the MMO equivalent of Alfred Hitchcock.

9.  Is there an MMO that you would play if it was free?  Which and why?

Asheron’s Call, just so we could have some guild and friend reunions there. Maybe SWG.

10.  How do you measure the success of a character in an MMO (total kills, titles accumulated, wealth, rare items collected, level reached, etc.)?

I don’t, which is why me reaching any kind of cap (level, stats, uberitude) is extremely unlikely and rare. In fact, the closer I get to cap the slower I play because to me, reaching a level cap is the end of possibility, not the “start of the real game” (a phrase and concept I detest with a passion). It’s like reading more slowly as you near the end of a book (which I also do).

I’m not motivated by items (except possibly housing items) and I’m not motivated by levels. I’ll play a character if they’re fun to play by my own yardstick. I enjoy a game if it’s fun to play by my own yardstick — the levels and items and fame and other things one can collect are not particularly important to me. That said, I’m a disgusting packrat all the same. If it’s not vendor trash, chances are I have some of it somewhere.

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