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Hero's Journey: Dev Journal #2: Character Creation

Hero's Journey designer Stephanie Shaver pens a new developer journal for us today that explains character creation and customization. At E3 2005 we were blown away by the game's expansive system. Today, she unwraps the system for you. This article includes four screenshots of the system.

image Let's talk customization.

Hey, y'know what sucks? Having to do what other people tell you to do. Sometimes this comes as a direct order and is the result of our own life choices. Like when I'm at work and someone says: "Hey, Steph, I want your TPS reports by noon." Or: "Steph, we need a seven-letter word starting in 'o' that means 'funeral rite'." Or: "Steph, put your pants back on."

And sometimes it comes in a much more subtle manner. Like, say, in an MMORPG. Pretend you're me, and you're playing a 50th level Swedish Pastry Chef in the first massively multiplayer online restaurant RPG. You love your Lake Woebegone baker, and you've put a lot of effort into making her a statuesque, blonde-pigtailed beauty who boldly bumps convention by wearing plaid miniskirts and halter tops in the kitchen. And then along comes a 60th level British Soux Chef who looks at you and says, "lol ur not using teh brioche armor of alton brown. learn to play!"

You can read her full journal here.

Dana Massey
Formerly of MMORPG.com
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios



  • TechleoTechleo Member Posts: 1,984

    With that I faint.....::::08:: Honestly tho it captures the essense of what Ive been trying to explain to players in WoW for the last few months. Despite the fact I mite wear weaker armor, i just look awesome. What sucks is im sacrificing personal gain for personality. Which frankly just isnt natural. Anyways Kudos on the article. Your deffinetly on the right path. Oh and personally, im a Bard-gearmage.

  • pirrgpirrg Member Posts: 1,443

    ive decided to reply to every HJ thread from now on with the following phrase:

    This game will dominate every single mmo out there including WoW when it comes to popularity and critical acclaim. If it doesnt, i shall eat my socks and record it for your viewing pleasure.

    I am the flipside of the coin on which the troll and the fanboy are but one side.

  • slapme7timesslapme7times Member Posts: 436

    i think there is a pretty simple fix to this...

    you dont have to remove stat drops....

    why not just make armor independent from stats?

    say you can apply stats to armor.... and remove and sell stats independently from armor peices.

    i think thats the problem with "end game content lack" because there are only so many latter armor peices, but allow stats to be sold completely independently from armor, looted independently, and then you can allow players to use armor from the entire game as much as they please to meet their needs.

    easy fix right?

    --people who believe in abstinence are unsurprisingly also some of the ugliest most sexually undesired people in the world.--

  • slapme7timesslapme7times Member Posts: 436

    bosses could simply drop

    mail shoulderpads (named)

    mail shoulderpads stats +20 run speed +30 jiggalow skill

    now you can apply any "mail shoulderpad stats" to your pads and sell the shoulder stats you dont want.

    or just take the shoulder stats and apply them to the ones you already have because you love them.

    and just allow individual armor peices to be died different colors...

    one more thing! allow you to change your characters appearance once you've made it... it's really not fair to realize you really dont like your character and be stuck with it.

    i'm not saying every 5 seconds like in second life..

    but maybe get a change features "credit" once every month, or even sell it for like 5 bucks from the web site...

    just something to keep people from changing their minds on appearance and then debating wheter or not to start a whole new character

    --people who believe in abstinence are unsurprisingly also some of the ugliest most sexually undesired people in the world.--

  • MischiffMischiff Member Posts: 169
    image Ive waited all day to check mmorpg.com for the next article by HJ; I just cant get enough. HJ just sounds too good to be true. I am so looking forward to this game .. The World looks great, mobs are very imaginative and players look unique!  If HJ has the game play that i think it will, there will finally be a game that has it all  !  image
  • BrynnBrynn Member Posts: 345

    Your're right on the ball...er money, Steph! My guild and I are looking forward to this game.  image

  • MordiaziMordiazi Member Posts: 23
    I've played other Simu games before, Dragonrealms namely. I know those are text, but if they do half as good a job in this one. I probably won't play anything else.
  • zipitzipit Member Posts: 487


      Did u guys zoom in on that screenie of the character generation? Awesome. Just finished Dungeons&Dragons Beta Test Europe and they don't even have half the detail level in character looksimage. This will definately be a game I will be observing closely.

  • TerranahTerranah Member UncommonPosts: 3,575

     I love character customization.  SWG had a good character customization as did COH.  But this customization blows away every mmo I have seen, if it makes it to Live.

    To make this work, you must have an awesome game engine, as all I hear from other development teams is excuses.  I really hope this makes it to Live.

    I have played SWG, COH, EQ2, Matrix Online and WOW.  I would LOVE to play Hero's Journey and I am really looking forward to it.

  • StevemikeStevemike Member Posts: 4
    This is exactly what I've been hoping HJ would be like. I bow before the staff of HJ who understand what we really want from a game, individualism. I don't care what other mmorpgs come out before HJ does, I'm going to be playing it and it will probably consume my attention for years to come. I am so excited and I can't wait to hear more. :)
  • EliasThorneEliasThorne Member UncommonPosts: 338

    Well written article, excelent description and I can't belive no-one has mentioned the pants yet!!!!

    Currently Playing: GW2
    Currently Following: Elder Scrolls Online
    Games in my wake: Anarchy Online, Archlord (beta), Asheron’s Call, Asheron’s Call 2, City of Heroes, Dark Age of Camelot (SI to Catacombs), DDO, EVE Online, EverQuest II (beta), Guild Wars, Horizons, Lineage II,LORTO, Rift, RF Online (beta), RYL, Saga of Ryzon, Shadowbane, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard, WAR, WoW

  • ArconaArcona Member UncommonPosts: 1,182

    ::::06:: ::::31:: ::::29:: ::::01:: ::::03::

    Acording to wikipedia.org, its slated for 2nd quarter 2006! (April-june)

    So beta must start soon!

  • PaksPaks Member Posts: 263

    I'm just floored! This is absolutely fantastic! I love character customization and hate it in some games were everyone looks alike when they reach the level cap. You guys are just really doing some amazing things so please please keep it up!

    And start beta already!! ;P


  • icecrossicecross Member Posts: 78

    Ok, seeing those pics almost made me drool ::::31:: So far the customization looks INCREDIBLE! Only game I have tried that comes close is The Saga of Ryzom, but not even a pretty face could save that one...

    So how long do we have to sit in pain and wait for the game?

    *insert shameless worshipping sentences here* ::::08::

  • z80paranoiaz80paranoia Member Posts: 410

    customization is the very reason why I will be getting this game when it's out. i can finally be an individual that looks the way i want to look and with multiclassing i will find a combination that more closely matches my playstyle. if i want to wear the gear i was wearing when i created my character all the way to the level cap i can and still not end up with a gimped character.

    Guild Wars 2 is my religion

  • BrynnBrynn Member Posts: 345
    Another thought: we may also run across other clothing or armor during game-play that we may even like better. But, I sure hope we don't end up seeing naked females running around, ugh! I know the guys won't vote against that, which is why the girls do it. But still, it's a game breaker for me. image
  • MadcappMadcapp Member Posts: 20

    Bard-Necromancer image She's in my head!

    But yes, excellent article. I'm so glad to see someone finally realizes how important it really is to have your own look and to have real control over what you're wearing. I hate phat lewt, and end game armor was never appealing to me. Being able to make my characters look how they do in my head (or close to it) is something I can't wait for!

    I've been following this game for a year... I'm still anxious to actually play it!

  • dalevi1dalevi1 Member Posts: 829

    Steph. Great article, I rate character customization has a very high priority with new generation mmo's. In my opinion, anything that was released within a year of swg should have equal or better options for their players. In short, I have been sorely disappointed. I appreciate that you are making this an important issue in your development strategy. I was very connected to my avatar in swg, and I havent had quite the same identity appreciation since in any game.

    But please do keep your pants on, you must not know this bunch!

    Played (more than a month): SWG, Second Life, Tabula Rasa, Lineage 2, Everquest 2, EvE, MxO, Ryzom.

    Tried: WoW, Shadowbane, Anarchy Online, Everquest, WWII Online, Planetside

    Beta: Lotro, Tabula Rasa, WAR.

  • benidictatorbenidictator Member Posts: 2
    Hell yeah.... Multi-classing, I played Horizons for so long just for the fact you could level upto 100 in reaver class then with the same char, level him upto 100 in another class like druid. You could make your char how you wanted. MMORPG's today are too liner i've been put off. Sure playing a mage or pally was fun for a while but it's all the same now. It will be refreshing to play a game that allows you as a player to design your own armour and then pick different skills to level up in. Maybe this game will also let you build you own home and guild house... Horizons did. Look forward to playing this one.
  • tessatessa Member Posts: 6

    Very funny journal from Stephanie!  I've been a 'lurker' up until this point.   I have to admit, while my  husband is excited about Vanguard, I'm hoping Hero's Journey will be the one we choose in the end.  Customization of my character is very important to me also and multi-classing is icing on the cake!


    I also must add a 'Woot'! for Serenity :)


  • anarchyartanarchyart Member Posts: 5,378

    Wonderfully written article. I love the ideas and I too love character customization, and indeed diversity of items to relate back to our own character tastes. Sometimes I will use a crappier item in game because it looks better for my character, that's just how I am.

    I can't wait for Hero's Journey as the devs seem to have the same ambition and taste as my favorite game in waiting, Vanguard.

  • CeloriaCeloria Member Posts: 8

    Best Dev journal article I've read in awhile. I've had my eye on HJ for some time now. Every update on character customization I see makes me drool that much more. If the game can handle the lag induced by such ambitious customizations then HJ will go extremely far and I hope to be there when it happens!

  • Arfa1311Arfa1311 Member Posts: 4

    Hey there, Im a Lineage II player who greatly sympathises with this particular topic.

    There is nothing more boring than toodling around an online world, after spending months even years levelling a character up to a decent standard only to find that your other 1500 identical twin brothers have done the same. Lineage, although fun, is just a pure grind.

    In HJ can you get scarred from battle, and what items of clothing can you actually design. Also one more thing... if you are wearing a cape or helmet, does it appear in the game? 

    This game looks lie an online heaven in terms of freedom, creativity and most importantly, gameplay. I believe that in order to truly attach yourself to a game you have to first create a character that you would be pleased to show off to others. 

     This is just one of the many aspects of HJ that makes it so appealing. I'm an incredibly new member to this MMORPG website forum thing, and the only reason i suppose I am is cos i LOVE the look of this game. Congratulations and a further good luck to all working on it!


  • EndemondiaEndemondia Member Posts: 231
    Nice to see women giving thier all to the genre but Steph needs to play GuildWars more often as they do all that...the colouring, the individualism of armour parts and the best armour is in fact just a fashion statement and no better than many others available from merchants. Hope Hero's Journey has something else to make it ground breaking... oh and yes GuildWars does hybrid classes tooo...with 2 new ones coming out soon...so already done the necro-druid....
  • SpiritofGameSpiritofGame Member UncommonPosts: 1,332


    Every time I read something about Hero's Journey, or see screenshots, I keep thinking this will be THE game ... which scares me.

    I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop, for them to say something really bad like:

    "Ahhh errr by the way the game will be 99% instanced, you will still need to group with 11 other players to do any combat, and the max level is 10 which you can reach in about two days, and your character MUST be named from our Name-a-matic-generator, for example: Gafrilneeatzadumbbell, and, huh, what's PvP mean?"


    So far they have not said anything I have not liked.

    But I still cringe thinking, "Whoa, man, this is waaaay too good to be true, and the Devs are actually literate and don't speak Bureaucrateze-Techno-Mumble, and OMG they communicate well and OFTEN, and even have a sense of humor."


    So please just say some "bad stuff" like, "Errr our quest-writer's medication, ummm, is not working too well so, ahhh, some of the quests might be a bit wierd ... or buggy ... or insane ... or non-existent."


    ~ Ancient Membership ~

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