You’ve been playing the game for a long time. You just bought and installed it for the first time. In either case, you find yourself staring at the character creation screen with a heart full of hope and a future full of 29 Days /Played. Many MMO jockeys will tell you that this moment — making a brand-new character — is one of the most addicting experiences in online gaming. The choices are many, the possibilities endless. So what’s involved in making a new character?
I look at it as starting a new career; yeah, yeah, we hate “MMOs as jobs” metaphors, but “lifetrack” sounds a bit like pricey equipment sold on late-night QVC programming. If you’re wise about things, you’re not just going to whip together a character in a few seconds and start bumbling through the world without giving it a bit of forethought.
Recently, I made a new World of Warcraft character to feed my alt addiction, and I thought I’d walk you through my mental process of planning out her career:
- Name: A good name, by FAR, will be one of the greatest things to impact your play experience. Your main character’s name should be something that’s memorable, short (I like short names), and agreeable — after all, this will be the name people will be calling you for months to come. Put some time and effort into choosing a fun name (I like looking through lists of cool words), and for the love of Caesar, just skip right over any LOTR/Harry Potter/Star Wars/Matrix/D&D references. You’re “Dryzzit19”? That’s great for instant messaging with your buddies in 4th grade homeroom, but if I see that name in game I will do everything in my power to drop a summoned Infernal on your oblivious noggin. For my new character, I called her “Twisty” — a word that conjures up emotions of attitude and sass.
- Race and Class (and Faction): Where do you want to start? What role do you want to play? What do you want to look like? What advantages do you wish to have? All important, and all crucial decisions in those first few minutes. I picked the Alliance side, as I both know the quests and have my guild over there. I knew I wanted to bring up a healing class to compliment my DPS class, and since I’ve more or less given up on my druid, learned to loathe Shammys, and am awash in a sea of Pallys, I went with a priest. Finally, I researched racial abilities, and since Draenei come with a free heal over time, a nice mana regen spell, and (in patch 2.3) a cool interrupt spell, I found my home. Twisty became a Draenei priest.
- Short- and Long-Term Goals: Setting goals for your character is important, particularly right at the beginning. For instance, I know that I hate the Draenei mounts (big fat elephants? no thanks…), so I make it a goal to gain Stormwind reputation and gain access to the human horsie mounts. That meant, from level one, I needed to transport Twisty to the human starting zone to start working on quest rep. I also knew that Twisty was going to try her hand at both tailoring and enchanting, two professions I’ve never done much, so I trained those at level 6 and started working on them diligently. My longest term goal was to get Twisty up to 70, have a bit of fun healing, and collect as many vanity pets as I could.
- Twinking: There’s no shame in getting an early boost to your career, considering how much longer it takes these days to get your character to the max level. A generous donation of gold from my main put Twisty in rich land, outfitted with 16-slot bags all around, and with a pile of cloth to start tailoring so I wouldn’t have to worry so much about farming it. Helpful guildmates are great assets to run you through low level dungeons to get great beginning gear (at level 18, I have no less than three blues on me) — but make sure to return the favor for their alts!
- Guides: People are often divided on the topic of leveling guides, although these days its seen as a necessary evil. A good leveling guide will maximize your XP/hour, and if getting to a certain level range is more important to you than enjoying a lazy journey, then go for it. With Twisty and the post-2.3 leveling situation, I plan on making my own way and exploring the new quest hubs in Duskwallow Marsh when I hit my 30s.