Archive for February 2nd, 2011

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My Champions Online Superhero Character: A Creative Endeavor

February 2, 2011

It might be all the same for some, but because roleplaying is such an important aspect in my MMO gaming, creating a character in a superhero game can mean going through a much different and more convoluted process. After all, besides having to sport a skintight costume that defies all laws of gravity and wedgies, one can argue the most important trait that separates your friendly neighborhood superhero from your typical fantasy or sci-fi MMO character is having an alter ego.

Essentially, I’m creating two personalities — I have my superheroine, and then I have her secret identity that protects her friends and family from being murdered in their beds by her arch enemies, a second mild-mannered persona with which shes uses to disguise herself for the purposes of fighting crime. Along with that, I need a kick-ass origin story. The more traumatic, and the more freak accidents or tragic events involved the better.

At least, that’s how it should work in theory. However, I created my Champions Online character Red Gazelle waaaaaay before I had the chance to really ponder the nature of this duality, or read this post on Blue Kae’s blog that made me consider the many ways a character can take shape in a player’s mind. For him, it happens one of two ways: 1) either he has an idea for a name before building a costume and powers around it, or 2) he has a costume in mind that suggests a certain power build and a name.

Number 2) probably best describes the way I came up with Red Gazelle, but what is probably closer to reality is that I blundered around the character creator messing about with the myriad options before I settled on a look I liked. Anyway, I don’t have an alter ego and I don’t have a backstory, but I am slowly trying to remedy that. I want to gradually build up the RP elements and add depth to my character, and sometimes you just have to do it as you go along.

I ran into a challenge almost right away. When it came to choosing a fast travel power, I saw what was available to me at the time and immediately chose Flight. What can I say? I like being able to travel up vertically as I please and to fly down from great heights without hurting myself. And it doesn’t matter if it’s slower; being able to float over obstacles instead of having to go around is very psychologically gratifying for me. It was working out quite well, until the guilt started chafing me at the back of my mind.

You see, in wanting to develop a good RP background and story for the Red Gazelle, I also wanted to do a good job of it. I wanted the whole picture, and I knew I couldn’t achieve this by throwing a bunch of costume pieces and random powers together, even when it’s a convenient one like Flight. I’m a “I-want-a-travel-power-to-match-the-kind-of-hero-I-am” kind of player, and so you see the reason behind my bad conscience — gazelles don’t freaking fly.

In the end, I replaced Flight with Super Speed which suited my character better, even though it’s a little less efficient especially in the urban jungle that is Millennium City with its many looming buildings and twisting alleyways. It’s strange, though; while I did sacrifice some convenience for the sake of roleplay, at the same time there is just something so wonderful about having that choice to make in the first place. It was strangely encouraging, and somehow increased my appreciation for CO. There is great fun and pride in seeing your character and his or her story evolve over time, and I look forward to discovering more of this game.