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Inside Beta: Character Customization

Dana Massey Posted:
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As a custom race all four traits are totally up to the player to define. Without going into great detail on what each one does, as I am sure even the ones I listed above could be modified over time, here is a complete list of traits they get to pick from:

  • Acute Senses
  • Accurate
  • Aggressive
  • Astrophysicist
  • Cold Blooded
  • Covert

  • Creative
  • Efficient
  • Elusive
  • Lucky
  • Mental Discipline
  • Natural Immunities
  • Peak Health
  • Physical Strength
  • Resilient
  • Soldier
  • Stubborn
  • Sturdy
  • Sure Footed
  • Techie
  • Telekinetic
  • Telepathic
  • Warp Theorist

It seems that the choice of race also impacts what traits are available. You'll note for example that neither of the Human traits appear on the list of the custom race options. Other races had significantly shorter lists to round out their abilities.

Once you've settled on your race, gender, career and basic traits, it's time to get to the real magic of every Cryptic game: character customization.

To really maximize what I could see, I went down the road of a custom race. I had no particular plan in mind, I just wanted to make an absurd creature.

You start with the head and get to change everything from the type of head you have, to the style of skin (down to three layers of color), the pattern and its intensity, the complection, forehead and nose details, scars or tattoos, the kind of eyes you have, the kind of ears, the kind of hair and eyebrows, and even your accessories (mouth, and organic and/or technological head attachments).

Then come the sliders. There are no less than four sliders for head size, two for the neck, six for the forehead/cranium/skull/row (which are apparently different than the head), three for the eyes, eight for the nose and nostrils, four for the lips and mouth, two for the jaw and three for the chin and cheeks.

You also have full control over the size and shape of your body. For one of my custom races, I made a "little green man." He was super lanky with long arms and very skinny. He also had clawed hands, a giant green head and really came out looking like those flying saucer guys from bad sci-fi movies. I was quite impressed.

They also did a remarkable job of customizing the uniforms. There are a wide range of base options to choose from. You can go anywhere from a high tech warrior look, all the way to a tighter retro feel. It's amazing how much mileage they got out of those basic patterns. Aside from that, you also customize the colors fully (you don't have to wear red as a Captain) down to four layers of color. The pants are again the same way. You can go baggy or tight, tucked into the boots or all the way to the floor. Again, the pants go to four layers of color. Finally, there are boots.

On my fourth trip through the creator, I decided to make a Ferengi. He is absolutely tiny, but for what he lacks in size, he makes up for in being pissed off. I chose a very militant look with baggy cargo pants tucked into my combat boots and some armor looking decals on my uniform.

Finally comes the name. You pick your nickname, which can also simply be the same as your first name. The game says "e.g. Bones," but I went simply with my first name. You also name your first ship right there, then enter your full formal name (e.g. James T. Kirk). Finally, players get to add their own bio if they want. Naturally, being a tiny angry Ferengi, mine was terse and to the point.

From there, you're dumped out into a fast, but engaging tutorial that covers away missions and ship combat quite nicely. And don't think customization ends there. The game also allows you to fully control how your ship looks with much more color than Star Trek is used to, but that is a topic for a whole other article.

Customization in Star Trek Online more than blew away my expectations. Obviously, Cryptic leveraged the technology behind Champions Online to give them a huge leg up. Heck, the little arrows for spinning the avatar around are still placeholders from their superhero game. A lot of the UI is clearly still subject to change. Nonetheless, with a little bit of UI polish and a few more pieces added, they'll not only have top notch customization, but they'll also have done it in a way that it all comes out looking like it belongs in Star Trek. It was no easy line to walk, but so far, Cryptic has nailed it.

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Dana Massey