I was over on the ArenaNet blog checking out the new article written by Jeff Grubb and I realized that it has been a very long time since I have connected with a character in an MMO. They had a lot of interesting things to say but I will be going over what I found to be the most interesting.

Jeff: And I think we find that middle ground with your initial character creation in Guild Wars 2. We give you choices beyond just race and profession, and we make those choices meaningful for your experience in the game. If you’re an Ash Legion charr, your experience will have a different feel than if you’re Iron Legion. If you’re an asura from the College of Synergetics, you get different life experiences than if you’re from the College of Dynamics.

This is one of the most important parts of connecting to your character in my opinion. I remember when I made my Druid in World of Warcraft I felt that connection. Not because of the character selection but because they gave us a story with class quests (something they later reduced to “do them if you feel like it” quests).

Fast forward to March 2011 and the release of Rift. I remember creating my Rogue and falling in love with the game play, dynamic events, and soul system, but also remember not really getting any direction or feel for the story or a purpose for being where I was and doing what I was doing.

All in all they have tried to create an environment for us that makes us feel like we are important and that we have a purpose in the world beyond that of just “playing the game”.

Jeff: Identification with your avatar is a key to emotional investment. To create that bond, a player has to evolve from “this is my character” to “this is me.”

This couldn’t have been said any better. No one wants to feel like they are logging into play a strangers character, and this takes it one step further by trying to bond you to your character beyond that of a player to character relationship and really immerse you into the world.

Ree: In some games, you can create a character you love but still get bored with the game around you—so we have to do everything we can to keep the world interesting and relevant.

This happened in World of Warcraft for me after downing the Lich King (Arthas) in Wrath of the Lich King. When I killed Arthas I felt as though the game was over. My story had been told, there were many battles that led up to this point but this was the end.  Some time later in the same expansion they released Ruby sanctum that had no real appeal to me because it just felt as though it was filler content and had very little if anything to do with the story.

A month or so before Cataclysm dropped, we got a meaningless shattering event that changed the world forever. This was what ended it for me. It’s not that Cataclysm was a bad expansion, it was more that everything that had lead up to this point meant something in my Druids story, but this felt like a bad sequel. It felt as though we were trying to complete a story that was already completed. Needless to say I left World of Warcraft after the first tier of Cataclysm and it was a sad day because it was like losing a part of me. Me and my Druid had been together for the better part of a decade and now our story was over.

This is the emotional connection that  ArenaNet is trying to create. It’s a healthy relationship between you and your “alter ego” that evolves into something more than just a person logging into a character.

This is something I have been longing for and my ticket back into the world that I created for myself in World of Warcraft with my Druid. I can’t wait!

Until next time…