One of the things I’ve always loved about games is the ability to customize my character. There’s just something wonderful about being able to assign parts of a character’s appearance that reflect my own personality, rather than having it dictated to me.
Because of that, I love any game that lets me customize my character. My idea of “gotta catch ‘em all” in Pokémon X was more about my wardrobe than my Pokédex. I spent months carefully saving up every resource for every outfit in Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns. I still have the screenshots of the ones I haven’t gotten yet. I will happily spend hours planning glams in my inn room in FFXIV.
But it wasn’t until recently that I learned that there’s such a thing as too much power when it comes to my characters’ appearance.
And that power is called Fantasia.
Over the weekend, I was looking through some of my older photos in Lightroom when I stumbled across a few of my FFXIV character, Diana (yes, named for the Roman equivalent of Artemis, because archer), that I’d never actually posted anywhere. They were from a time period when I’d designed her as an Au Ra, essentially the game’s version of dragonborn.
It was a little weird to see, because quite honestly, I’d forgotten I’d done that.
The thing is, though I originally created my character as a Miqo’te, the somewhat-downplayed felines of Eorzea, Diana has been through quite a few transformations in her time—all thanks to Fantasia, the potions you can use to basically rewrite your character from scratch.
Now, theoretically, you can use a Fantasia just to make slight tweaks to your character if there’s something that doesn’t look right. Change up a jawline, maybe the skin tone, and leave most of it the same.
But my problematic logic is that it’s something I have to pay actual money for, so I’m going to get the most out of it.
Because of that, Diana became a Viera for the Shadowbringers launch. Then, she became an Au Ra because I was done with not having hats. Then, she became a human because I was done with dragon ears. Then, I brought her back to Miqo’te because I figured that’s who she was.
Through all of those changes, it became harder and harder to see her as one particular thing—and harder to identify any piece of my own personality in any of the races I’d chosen.
To me, it’s an interesting reflection of myself.
When I watch other people make characters, they tend to pick out what they think is ideal, as opposed to finding ways to relate to their characters. If you asked Shane to build a character, for example, he’d pick what looks absolutely badass—and if you asked me to do it for him, I’d try to make one that looked and acted like him.
Originally, when I made Diana, that’s what I did with her, too. I made a character that I thought would represent myself, one I could relate to and identify with. It’s completely logical (and a little funny) when you consider that a few years ago, I did a Myers Briggs test and came back as INFP—a highly empathetic type that loves self expression.
When I started messing with Diana’s appearance using Fantasia, and literally changing every part of her, a little part of my brain lost sight of what it was that had made me relate to her. And the more I changed her, the more I lost that connection—to the point where now, even Miqo’te doesn’t feel right anymore.
I’ve been playing around with the idea of changing her again, because I’ve been able to find some characteristics I relate to in the Highlanders (they’re surprisingly dorky when you use certain emotes, and well, I identify with not fitting into skinny jeans!).
But I think if I’m ever given the chance for such drastic character changes in another game, I’m going to stick with my gut, leave well enough alone, and avoid a rippling identity crisis altogether.
Do you like customizing characters in games? How do you usually build them?