Tuesday, September 07, 2010


One of the good things about WoW is that Blizzard never deletes old characters, and Blizzard allows to have up to 10 or so characters on each server. However, each character's name is unique per server.

I wonder if this combination of factors will reach a boiling point as Cataclysm approaches. It is getting harder and harder to find a name for a new character. Instead it's a continuous round of "That name is not available" until you finally hit some acceptable combination. I think this factor has contributed to the large amounts of odd names and non-standard characters used these days.

Over 5 years worth of names have been locked away. And that might present a problem when Cataclysm hits. With two new races and a large overhaul of level 1-60, people are going to be making lots of new characters which will require new names.

Maybe it's time that Blizzard starts looking into ways to free up some of the names that are gathering dust. Deleting characters is excessive. But maybe Blizzard could unlock the name of any character under level 40 and that has not been logged in for 4 months. Anyone could take the name, and if the old character logs on, she will have to choose a new name.

I was skeptical at first, but I really like the way Cryptic handles names. They use "characterName@accountName". In-game and on nameplates only the Character Name is displayed, while the full name is shown in the chatbox. Though, the character name is emphasized and the account name dulled. To friend someone or send tells, you use the account name.

It's really nice to be able to just create a new character with the exact name you want, and not have to play "That name is not available" roulette.


  1. When I copied a toon to the test server, there was a 'Your character has been flagged for a name change', so the infrastructure is there.

    However, I would be wary of suggesting that account names should be included. As some account names may contain identifying information, it would be starting the realid debate again

  2. They could increase the namespace by
    using first and surname. Just enforce that every character name contains at least one whitespace.

  3. So much this. The problem of finding an available name that is decent and not some sort of random "Xzetesxcth" name is probably the factor that most of all keeps me from rolling alts. I can't stand the name giving process. It's really depressing. Sure, there are random name generators on the net, but it doesn't help, because the names they suggest normally ends up being occupied.

  4. @Foo: of course the best thing to do would be to have every character create a screenname.

    The way Cryptic does it, you have your Login name, your account name, and your character name.

    Noone will ever know your Login, and your name displays as charactername@accountname.

  5. It would depress me if I ran into another Rhii on my same server. I like to think I'm special. The Rhiis on other servers exist, I know, but not having to see them preserves my own sense of uniqueness.

    However, I definitely don't want to be zbkrifth for my next alt, so something's gotta give. I really like the idea of flagging unused characters for a name change to release names back into the pool. I also think that something could probably be done with abandoned sub-level-10 characters, as I suspect there are many of them.

  6. As a note, as best I can tell Blizz has an unspoken policy that inactive characters below level 10 can be changed if you petition a GM. A friend of mine has done it twice now for character names that he wanted for higher level characters (the paid name changes), so I know it's possible.

  7. Personally I like MMOs that handle this issue with first name and 'family name', like FF14 does: it is sad indeed when you really identify with a name and that gets taken by someone else - sometimes just on a mule or dead char even. it's not very 'realistic' either that you shouldn't be able to name your character the way you want.

    i'm all for giving people more freedom, even if I have issues myself to think of good family names. but you could let people show or hide their second name, so there's no real issue IMO.

  8. I have heard that you can petition a GM for a name. If it has been dormant for a while (and perhaps also if the account is inactive), they will free up the name.

  9. I'm the only Hjorolf on any WoW server, which is kind of neat, but it wouldn't bother me overly if someone did it elsewhere. I assemble character names from Old Norse words, so most of them turn out unique.

    In LOTRO, however, a year and a half ago I paid for a name change but during the couple of days it took, it looks like some 1st level character took the name I wanted, and hasn't logged in since. Just to add a little pointless nerd-rage, the name is a fictional warrior and the character is a loremaster, so they don't even know what they've got. :)

    My understanding is that Turbine is unlikely to take names back, especially with people coming back for F2P, but it would sure be nice. I'd even pay to evict a name-squatter, but that's a can of worms I doubt they want to open.

  10. Certainly the one thing that they should do is change or expand the "Random" names that WOW has built into it. As of now there are a very limited number of choices and it's all but certain that they are all going to be taken.

    I personally don't use this (I choose very Roleplaying style names for mine... it's the longest part of character creation for me), but I know a lot of people that do and it would make it considerably easier for the non-roleplayers among us.

    That being said, of my many characters, I have one completely unique name according to the armory... a truly wonderful feeling.

  11. Agreed. Releasing names by automatically flagging the previous toon owner for a rename after a period of inactivity is the way to go. Having to petition a GM for something that is programmatically simple seems silly.

    It would also eliminate some long-term name-squatting (ex: everybody who made level 1 alts to reserve names for the upcoming expansion, like Holycow or Gevlon).

  12. It would also make returning people feel less at home when they return after a longer hiatus and have to name a couple of chars.

  13. While that's true, Kring, the current system is very annoying to both brand-new players and current subscribers.

    A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and judicious constraints on level and inactivity can mitigate most of the annoyance for inactive players.

  14. I'm not a fan of re-claiming inactive names: I find it very harsh to be honest. if you're attached to a character and have to quit playing it for whatever RL reason, coming back and seeing your name taken away ain't so great. also, how would you determine what lapse of time is 'fair'? etc.

    I'd much rather see a solution via second names. let people name themselves and identify with their characters.

  15. Reclaiming names should be a combination of activity and progress, so if a character is above a certain level (maybe 5th or 10th) they should be immune. It's the abandoned throwaways that bother me.

    I don't even have a problem with deliberately parking a name, so long as someone's actively wanting it.

  16. This is not actually true.

    If a name is attached to a live account you have no chance. It does not matter if its a level 1 that has not been logged into for 5 years.

    But if you petition a GM and ask nicely and the account is inactive and you have some justified reason for using that new name(ie you have it on a another server or before a server transfer) the gm will change the name of the current holder.

    Having said that it took me 10 tries to get a valid name for my alt dk and that was a the start of wotlk. I was not even using real words just something that sounded like a real name.

  17. My Character name is one of few unique character name in the armory, i checked today and date tagged it for my record. The way that Cryptic did their naming for STO works well in my opinion and worked well when I played the game and the various characters I had with the extension name handle. In EVE you have the variation of just having either a first name only or a first and last name both for character.

  18. I tried petitioning to get a name released to me, but it did not succeed, even though the character was nowhere to be found in the Armory (so either below level 10 or hadn't logged in for months).

    Because having that name was important (I was using it to research and get a feel for a character I was using for my writing contest entry) I ended up rolling on another server that DID have that name available. Obviously, that's not always an option for people and my alt ended up on a server that I rarely play on anymore.

    I dislike the idea of reserving names with level 1 alts, but I'll admit I do have one name reserved for Cataclysm. A DK on my server used to have it, and then one day he disappeared from the armory. I've been squatting ever since. :P It's unfortunate, but I know I'm going to use this name, it's not a maybe, and if I don't grab it now I won't see it later.

  19. I've got a cute name saved for my gnome priest in Cataclysm. I also have one I used to use earlier in Wrath saved...I intend to use them, just not right now.

    I think that with a little creativity, most people can think of some pretty unique but not too crazy sounding names. I needed one for a priest a while back, and went with Naydina. It wasn't too much of a stretch on Nadina. There are still lots of options out there =)

  20. My first couple toons, I hit the random button a few hundred times each before I got something that sounded decent and also wasn't taken. It sucked. So decided I needed to come up with a system that, as often as not, will provide a non-fail name that isn't already in use.

    What I try to do when naming toons now is to think up the name of something real that not everybody is aware of or thinks about on a daily basis, but has some significance as to be memorable to me personally.

    For instance, since I am a towboat pilot and work the gulf coast intracoastal waterway, there are lots of landmarks with good names for characters. The "Mermentau" River had a name that seemed to fit a Draenei, so I used it for my Warr. Score one. "Nickajack" lock and dam seemed like a good name for a Gnome. Score two.

    Also, I enjoy single malt scotch. "Glenfiddich" seemed like a good name for a drood; it was taken, but "Glenfarclas" wasn't. Score three.

    Use something that has some meaning to you but not necessarily everybody else. It's not that hard to find names that haven't been taken unless you're after something that's insanely well known or popular. Forget trying to get "Darthvader" or "Kerrigan" or "Jackdaniels", or probably even a variation thereof (unless you use a LOT of ascii and make yourself a pain in the ass to add or invite); they're taken. And not by me. But yeah, be creative. You never know, you might get a few tells from people who 'get' your name and say "hey I wish I'd thought of that instead of Xjklsafk."

  21. It isn't often actually that I find a name that's taken. Granted I snagged my Worgen and Dwarf Shaman names the day the Catalcysm trailer came out, but only occasional do I get the "name taken." I just keep looking for something that works or even a spelling variation if I think it fits the toon.
    Having said that, if the name is really that important to you, armory it. If the name doesn't come up, it's under level 10 (obviously). If they haven't logged in for quite some time, GM's will occasionally reset the name and allow you to have it.