You only get 1 first impression, well, character creation (i'm calling it CC here, hes I know that crowd control, but bear with me this one time) is your first chance to impress a player. I’m sure a few overzealous players /random through this asap the first time, but I’m confident most of us aren’t of that mindset. To me the cc is my first chance to see what kind of developer I really have. Marketing be damned, you can tell a lot by cc if you look a little deeper. Below I’ll look at what I think of as the worst CC, the best CC, and finally some ideas for CU.
SWTOR, ah SWTOR, you are always my favorite example or the worst of the worst aren’t you? AAA, next Gen, even average? No. Shallow, bad looking, and all around under developed, from the options to the races, everything felt dead and unfinished. Expectation is a bitch and a MMO with a price tag like SWTOR has me expecting something better. I expected more than a variety of human races with skin tone changes. The cyborg race, WTF? They could have had cybernetic options for all the races and made it look like they did something neat, instead they tried to pass them off as an entire race, and it only served to expose just out of touch the rest of the game was.
EVE, my gawd this EVE cc! Amazing, the best I’ve seen! Sliders galore. You can really push the system for some unique looks. The sad irony of it all, your character is essentially useless. You only get to see them when you're walking around your closet with the eternally locked door. What a cruel joke CCP played on us with this one! Give us WIS you curs! Great system, lots of variety, and you can make a character look like just about anyone.
EVE WIS rant aside. SWTOR was cookie cutter blah. EVE was really impressive, some of the slider controls were odd since you actually grab a part and stretch it, but it made for a very unique feeling, almost like an extremely low end version of some of the clay modeling programs. It felt like you shaped your being. SWTOR on the other hand felt like I put some paper cloths on a paper doll.
So what can CU do different and better? From what MJ has said they plan to do a variety of races that basically go, normal, interesting, extreme, that is a fantastic start! Right off the bat, as many options for hair, skin, tattoos, weight, height, etc as they can fit in along with sliders for everything would be epic! I gotta have more sliders!
I have 0 code knowledge but I assume the following is done for code reasons. I never understand why we are always limited to for ex. 8 hairstyles. Why not just have a hair slider so you can make it the length you want? The WWE games have some pretty deep character creators to reference. I don’t expect a MMO to go as hardcore as they do, but it’s a good reference point. Just look at what some of the crazy talented people from the WWE community have been able to make with that cc, it’s really impressive. http://caws.smacktalks.org/?q=&cat=1&g=18&sort=rated&console=&creator=
I’m not crazy, I’m fully aware that in an MMO most of our play time is spent fairly zoomed back, looking at your toons back side, which is covered from head to toe in armor. Details aren’t exactly the most important factor once you put the character into practice, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important! We don’t need sliders for ear hole sizes, nothing that extreme, but we need to feel like we made something special for ourselves. Retention has a lot of factors, but if you can get your new players to feel like they made a special character, unique to them, you're already headed down the right path. It’s easy to walk away from a generic character in generic gear that everyone else has, it’s harder to walk away from MY custom made, personal character.