The other night while watching Pizza Maid's stream the topic of how we "codify" our appearance in games came up. It was a pretty good conversation and even prompted her to write a blog post about it which you can find it here. Go ahead and give it a read. I will be waiting until you come back. 🙂
Ok, back already? Like I said, in that conversation I don't usually have recurring themes when picking character appearances in single-player games except that my first character tends to be male, a melee class and whichever race picks my fancy at the moment of character creation.
This is in large part due to my time when I tried to get into tabletop RPGs where the idea of playing the same character over and over just in different settings felt utterly boring to me. Kinda like eating the same food every day. No matter how tasty it is, it eventually gets tiresome.
This also held true to me in MMOs. During many years I just created whatever hit my fancy, including coming up with a full name. But coming up with names in a MMO is hard. Specially since it is what other people in the game will call you for possibly years. So it is something that I found needs to be carefully considered least I get annoyed by being called by it or even mocked by strangers who think of it as teasing.
With Everquest 2 I finally came up with a character name that I invented and liked. I also made some good friends there who were willing to try new MMOs (which can be a good and a bad thing but that is a topic for another time). So I just became lazy and started using Rakuno as the name of my character in other games.
I do try to keep certain things to get as close to the original Rakuno though, who was a ratonga monk. Mainly I try to keep with a short race with white fur or white hair and a class that relies on their fists.
Of course that isn't always possible so I make certain exceptions. For example, in Guild Wars 2 my Rakuno there was an Asura. White hair didn't feel right for him so I made sure he wore white outfits. As for class it was thief which was still melee.
In Final Fantasy XIV I went with a Hyur midland (i.e. generic human) with white hair at first. Then I got bored with his appearance and went Mi'qote despite of the irony of them being the cat-people race while the original Rakuno was of a rat-people race.
I took so much of a like to this version of Rakuno though that now I got used to the idea of him being of a standard human height. Heck, I can't even imagine FFXIV's Rakuno as anything else than a Mi'qote now. Well, if they ever release a rat-like people I might have to reconsider it just to keep in line with the original one. XD
The non-physical side of character codifying
While this whole discussion has being purely about the physical aspects of our characters I realized later that there was another aspect to this too, one that is my actual recurring theme, the roleplaying aspect.
Now this is strictly for single-player RPGs where we can have choices during the story. I don't RP in MMOs and my attempts at doing so in tabletop RPGs have been ill-fated for a lot of reasons (again, another story for another time).
My first character is always the goody-two shoes. You know, the kind who will forgive everyone, protect the weak and always be there for their friends. I will even admit that is my idealized self, instead of any sort of appearance being my ideal self.
My second characters though tend to be the opposite though, completely evil. In part due to curiosity to see how much the game changes and actually takes my choices into consideration. The other part to indulge my darker side as I don't have all that much compassion for people made of pixels. Unless the writing is really, really good. In that case I will feel bad about it.
If I still play after that then I just go with whatever character concept picks my fancy.
The only time I tried to change that was the first time I played Dragon Age: Origins. I tried to go with an evil rogue of noble origin just because I wanted to start with something different. But I kinda started to meta-play and be evil only to everyone else and try to be nice to my companions, even taking certain choices in the story that I thought would please them. All of that because I wanted to know more about those characters and it is kinda hard to do that when you are an horrible person to them. :p
Because of that the character didn't last for long before I decided to scrap the whole thing as it wasn't working out for me. So I decided to restart and compromise and made a female elf ranger which would still be pretty different for me as I don't tend to play ranged characters in my first playthroughs. That and anyone who knows me also knows that I hate elves. :p
In the end that turned to be my most heroic and favorite character. So much that I still consider her story in the game to be my "canon" as far as the events of Dragon Age: Origin goes. She is definitely one of my favorite characters I created in any game, actually. 🙂