Thing of Beauty

Black Desert Online is releasing on March 3rd, and the second beta test begins February 18th. In the meantime, they have gone and released a character creation tool.

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I always love it when company’s do this that have very detailed character creation screens (Final Fantasy XIV is the last one I recall using). I can waste a good couple hours crafting an avatar just the way I want it, and with the amount of customization Black Desert Online gives you, this will save me many hours indeed.

Screenshot 2015-12-16 07.05.09

The tool took a whopping 6gigs of space, but operated flawlessly. I feel I must note, that these graphics aren’t exaggerating or higher-rez for the character creation. They appear this way in game. All the screenshots you see of avatars and this game, are real. Nothing prerendered. They are truly this beautiful. As soon as it launched, I set to work designing my Warrior and Ranger. Usually I’ll design my main character, a male of some type, and then a female for fun. In Black Desert Online, classes are gender locked (sadly). So my Warrior was a male, and my Ranger a female. The Ranger will likely be my main.

This wasn’t my first time designing the characters, as I had also done it during the first closed beta.

This time, I tried to model the male character more after my own appearance (I didn’t do a very good job). From the screenshots you can see white/highlighted areas. You are able to individually mold all of these. Not only are there a dozen or so on the face, but each body part is also adjustable, length, width, girth. They also offer tattoos, alternating eye colors (which you can also adjust the iris, shape, and several other unique alternations to eyes), make up, and probably more that I of course didn’t use on my male. I was surprised to see no scar selection however. I modeled his body to be what I considered a warrior should be, a bit built, solid, but not too large.

I then moved to designing the female, which I knew would be a much more in-depth process. Let’s face it, males are simple. This is the first time designing a female avatar that I have ever had to stop and go “wow, I don’t know how women work…” I came to this issue when coming to the facial cosmetic options. There is blush, upper/lower eye-liner, eyelashes, lipstick, eye shadow, whoa! One of the coolest features I believe is being able to customize the hairstyles to such a degree. From the screenshots you can see white lines with dots in equal spaced intervals. Each of these allow you to control individual strains of the hair style to make it your own. I generally design a female avatar after what I find attractive. Long hair, blue eyes. But this time I had more control, I thought less about aesthetic, and more about practical. I knew I was making an archer, so I thought of how annoying it would be for her hair to be in her quiver, and scratched the long hair and went for a short cut in the back that had bangs (I think they’re called bangs?) in the front. And then I thought about her reaching back for an arrow. “My it would be annoying to pull your hair while reaching backward, girls have it tough” I thought. I then began to play with the placement of the hair. After several attempts, I was able to get it up behind her ear and out of the way. I played with the back and made it as long as possible without hitting the quiver, and to satisfy my taste for longer hair, I made the other bang as long as possible. I also changed the color of her right eye and added a lens that would insinuate she uses that one to aim.

The designers are also hosting a “Beauty and the Beast” character creation contest, in which players can submit their most beautiful and ugliest screenshots for prizes! You can see it here!


In 2013 I presented a paper at an anthropology conference based on what we put into an avatar and what they represent to us. The more detailed and intricate our avatars become, the more they play a role in our online experiences. I’m excited to see what future MMOs can offer us as the standard continues to rise.

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