So, last week we got an interesting little note in SWTOR’s Patch Notes: “Legacy names are no longer unique. New Legacies that are created are now able to use a name that is already in use on the server. All players will be able to rename their Legacies once, at no cost, in a future update.” This change came as a surprise to quite a few players, namely because BioWare didn’t exactly make any sort of announcement previous to the change. It was a total out-of-the-blue change, and sure, maybe it was done to aid our remaining server merges (which stubbornly weren’t referred to as merges until quite late in the process), but, yes, BioWare– players like to be notified about changes of this nature before they occur.
It also surprised folks because of the way Legacy names were originally hyped– Legacy names were supposed to be the ultimate, unique way to proudly proclaim your character’s legacy. Yep, unique. Not any longer, unfortunately, partially due to the effects of server transfers, and partially due to this change. Ever want to see seven Skywalkers aboard your fleet? Well, maybe now’s your chance.
Legacy names served as a handy little tool in SWTOR, allowing players to distinguish identities of cross-faction players simply by their Legacy name. Displaying the names is optional, of course, but due to their uniqueness, the option for easy identification was there. Now and in the future, this option might be difficult.
There’s also the fact that names and other forms of customization are very important to many MMORPG players, and are becoming increasingly important as the genre continues to slide toward the mainstream. We can’t currently change names at all, so our decisions must be well-researched and contemplated. Many players had to change a significant portion of their names during the transfers, only now to find out that their Legacy names won’t be unique after all. Even though names are rather minor in themselves, they still represent a portion of a gamer’s identify, and constantly forcing the playerbase to rethink their names and naming processes is rather discouraging.
Two recently-released games, The Secret World and Guild Wars 2, both offer entirely unique naming conventions that allow players to choose a name and keep it– no matter the server they choose to move to (even if temporarily, as in TSW’s case). Both game developers have come to realize the importance of names for MMORPG players. BioWare may have been better off making either first names or Legacy names unique cross-server, and allowing players to make non-unique names for the other. Instead, we’re having to play name roulette more often than not. This whole transfer/naming process has been entirely too complicated.
And that’s my next issue. This all might be taken better by the playerbase if we were actually able to transfer characters and rename characters freely, even with paid options. The modern MMO’er needs options. Options coming ‘Soon™’, or ‘in a future update™’ don’t help players now, and given BioWare’s track record on keeping up with ‘Soon™’ updates, one can’t really fault SWTOR’s playerbase for feeling disheartened about changes covered with shiny ‘in a future update™’ wrapping paper. If we were able to change our Legacy names right now due to the change, it may have been better received.
Quite a few players have speculated that the reason BioWare has not allowed free server transfers or name changes yet is because the company plans on doing so after the game’s free-to-play model launches, which would give players a few reasons to buy Cartel Coins. This might be true, but I think the mere idea of features being held back until the company can make a little extra bank on them leaves a bad taste in many players’ mouths.
I can’t really blame them. Also, I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again– the longer it takes for us to see content updates, the more negativity players will foster while speculating.