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One of the most important elements in any MMO is the process of creating your character itself. In many ways the ability to give your virtual persona a unique and interesting look is every bit as important as their stats, abilities and items.
In Age of Conan we want to create a character customization system that presents players with a deep and varied selection of options. A system that truly lets them craft a unique looking character, and one that is in keeping with the world of Hyboria. We went looking for the art team responsible for creating this system to find out a little about what inspires them when considering what options to present to players!
Kristian Vik elaborated for us: "When we set out to make one of the roughest places in fantasy literature come alive in an MMO, we wanted to embed the adverse nature of the world in everything we did. From the beginning, it was very important for us to enable the players to create characters with actual character, not plain-faced mannequins with armour. In Age of Conan, Hyboria is a cruel and unforgiving world, we wanted our characters to look like survivors, people whose features reflected the violent and merciless nature of Hyboria.
Your characters in Age of Conan will all be deeply customizable. In character creation you will be able to alter the shape of the body and head by scaling and editing the muscle-mass and bone structure, then tweaking the texture of the skin. Afterwords, you'll be able to slap on race-specific tattoos, scars and other asymmetrical detail, change the tint of your skin, and pick and choose from a wide variety of hairstyles and beards. All of this will give you a wide variety of ways to make your character stand out against the saturated and vivid backdrop of the brutal world in which he'll live.
We hope this will help and encourage people to make truly unique characters, filling the Hyborean world with characters ranging from valiant soldiers and unbreakable barbarians to degenerate swashbucklers and wizened mages."
After a little 'gentle persuasion', and a promise not to tell Gaute that we were distracting them (guess this has torn that one!) from the actual work of creating this great system, the team provided us with these three great images below. These show off how you might customize a character for each of the different races.
So if thats the inspiration behind the system, what kind of options can you actually expect to find?
- Race - Choosing your starting race will of course be the first choice you have to make!
- Bone scaling on all parts of the body, including arms, legs and torso etc, allowing you to define the height, weight and proportions of your character
- Over twenty sliders for facial expressions (for example there are five sliders just to customize the nose - length, width, placement, angles and more...) and over 40 sliders in total 
- Skin Coloring of character.
- A wide selection of hair and facial hairs.
- An age slider so your character can be a determined younger man or a seasoned veteran
- Texture Layering for Tattoos, scars, face paint and more.
- Ability to wear piercing, bands etc...
We hope that with these kind of options players will have no problems populating the Hyboria of Age of Conan with many a character you won't want to meet in the back alleys of Tortage late at night!
A movie showing parts of the character customization process can be found here (Norwegian website, but English language in the movie).
- See the Developer quotes regarding Character Customization