The discussion is heating up over at BioBreak regarding SWTOR's Legacy System. Syp brings up some excellent points. For example:
Because surnames are unique on a server, it’s going to be a race to get to them first (and if you come late to the game? Good luck!).
Warsyde commented on Syp's post:
Whether the name is reserved at character creation or reserved at level 20 (or whenever) doesn’t make much difference, either way it’s a race to get there first, the only difference is the length of the race. They need to make them non-unique.
I think the difference between someone beating you to a name at character creation and the same thing happening 30 levels later is significant. In the first case, you'd lost before you even started running. The second affects gameplay style and possibly enjoyment, if you feel you need to rush through the story to snag that name.
Scarybooster thinks BioWare should stop calling it a surname and just refer to it as a Legacy name:
Everybody can be Skywalker if they want. If you want to be original BW should make a check system that says, “Skywalker”- taken are you sure you want to proceed? Yes/no. “Skywalker” -Name has not been used on this server. Do you want to proceed, Yes/No
I like STO's approach to names and roleplaying. Along with @handles that only appear in chat (I don't count chat when thinking about immersion, it's part of the UI.), STO has "short names" and "full names" along with an in-game RP backstory section as part of the character window. This allowed me to roleplay Donovan Locke as Locke, a militaristic character, and Rowan Starblanket as Rowan, a much more informal character. It also meant that there could be many players with the same character name (Just like my meatspace name is hardly unique) because our @handles were unique. The printed mission dialogue sometimes used the designated surname and sometimes the short name, depending on the context of the conversation. It worked great, and made me feel part of the story.
Scary's suggestion that being original could be optional is great for the first user of the name, until there are two hundred other "Skywalkers" running around. Then they are not so unique. On the other hand, meatspace couples and families could share the surname as they play together. Of course, if it's not a surname, then the option to make it a surname should be removed. I agree the surnames should be either non-unique and/or not part of the Legacy system at all. We could still have the Legacy title and it wouldn't have to be a surname at all, could be an object (i.e., The Frostmourne Legacy, to borrow from WoW). Of course, now that I think about it, there's nothing stopping people from doing that now. Also, if I understand correctly, the players automatically enter the Legacy sytem and start earning Legacy points, regardless of whether they choose a Legacy name immediately or not. So no worries about missing out on whatever rewards are in store.
[EDIT]Another quote from Syp's comments, this time from Buhallin:
While I agree with the concerns over how Bioware implemented this, I’m continually amazed at the MMO community’s ability to take even the most minor things and turn it into an epic catastrophe if they don’t get exactly what they want.
In short, the Legacy system as currently explained is flawed, but I believe there are work-arounds. BioWare could maybe heed some of the suggestions, but people shouldn't sweat it so much. It's just a game . . .