Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Playing the Name Game

And a cry went out across the world, wherefore can we not log on to the Wildstar site and claim our selfhood?
~Rowanblaze 14:5
Twitter and the blogosphere were abuzz yesterday with the collapse of the Carbine webserver(s?) as people rushed to get their character names reserved before the impending headstart and launch of Wildstar. Since Scooter and I are still on the fence about even buying and subbing to Wildstar, I only looked on with bemused detachment.

Syp can't believe Carbine was not prepared for this onslaught with servers capable of handling the inevitable traffic. Since "first come, first served" in an era of global communication seems a bit unfair, Tobold thinks a lottery would be a good way to go. While I agree with him about commodities like tickets to Blizzcon (something else I have little interest in going to), I am not sure how that would play out in distributing unique items—names in this case.

As I did on those blogs, I wonder yet again why more companies don’t go with some @handle-type route, like Cryptic and, more recently, Zenimax have done. At its heart, this is a database design issue, a decision to be made by the devs. A character name (along with all other aspects of a character) is simply a part of a database. If you're distributing your playerbase across separate servers (another relic of prior decades), unique character names might be OK for a while. But if you have a flexible server system, then to me it makes more sense to have unique user names and let the players create whatever character name they want.

Within reason, of course. No need to allow offensive terms or phrases in character names or player handles. But systems for determining whether a name may be inappropriate are fraught with problems, too. I once tried to create a name in Guild Wars 2 that included the word "Jewel." It was "not acceptable" and the only reason I can think of is that it included the letters j-e-w in sequence. The system was not capable of recognizing an innocuous iteration of those letters.

With Wildstar's launch barely weeks away, it's probably too late to implement a system of player handles the way Elder Scrolls Online and Star Trek Online have. But I would plea with any game developer to consider such a system if you really expect to have a massive number of people playing your game. Non-unique character names means no rush to reserve said names, and no crashing of an unprepared server suite.
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  1. You should pre-order the game so it tips me scales to pre-order it lol

  2. If names were unique items, there would be no problem. But in reality too many people choose an unoriginal name based on some character from another game, movie, or TV series. Even if you could technically manage it with an invisible additional tag, do you really want to group with four different Daenerys or Legolas?

    1. I don't know what naming children is like in your country (The Netherlands, right?), but I grew up frequently having four or more Jennifers and a few Shawn/Sean combinations. Another solution would be to allow surnames of some sort. You might still have four Legolases (Legoli?) in your group, but one will be Legolas Longears; another, Legolas Flowinglocks, etc.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. :)