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The Daily Grind: How should MMOs handle character names?


Names are a big deal in MMOs. I've struggled through many a horrible launch to score a good name and camp names for friends until they can log in because only rarely does a game allow unlimited copies of a name. Ultima Online is one such game, as is Champions Online, though your global handle there is yours alone. The Secret World requires a unique nickname; your "real" name can be a duplicate. But most games just code for one use of a name per realm. (After all, one Malcolm Reynolds per server is plenty.)

City of Heroes took a stand on the issue. Years before CoH's F2P conversion, Paragon Studios boldly adopted name-recycling. If your account was inactive for three months, your characters' names were put back into the pool for other players to use. You didn't lose your character, but you were forced to rename her the next time you logged in. It was wonderful for active players who could make more immediate use of names no one was actively using but not so great for encouraging former players to return.

So how do you think MMOs should handle character names?

[Thanks to Joel for inspiring this topic!]

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

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