Please Enter your character name.

Mortimer – Sorry that name is already taken.

Mortimerr – Sorry that name is already taken.

Morttimer – Sorry that name is already taken.

Mort_imer – Sorry you cannot use underscores.

Mortimer1846 – Sorry numerical characters are not allowed.

Mynameistaken – Sorry that name is already taken.

Wruvnqw4piuv – Sorry that name is already taken….by a gold farmer.

If you start an mmo on day one of release, you may be fortunate enough to get the name you want, if you start an mmo six months after or later you’ll see this a lot. There are many reasons for this, some people like to reserve all the names they might want to use on as many servers as possible, some people sign up for free trials and then never come back but the name is still taken by them, some people just like to be annoying and take a name of someone they didn’t agree with on a forum or maybe someone just uses that name as much as you do just in a different game. It’s the most tedious thing in the world to have spent all your time designing your character, picking your server, maybe even building up a reputation or friends list in past games for years and then be forced to pick somebody elses name that you don’t even recognise or remember because the game hasn’t been coded to identify more than one person of the same name. 

I also find it especially annoying when the registration of a website asks me to pick my login details and then tells me I can’t have them…..the whole point of login details is that they are memorable and identify you. If I have to pick login details that I won’t remember whats the point of asking me to pick them in the first place? However that’s another argument….

So what can be done to combat this?  Well if you have played a Cryptic mmo they have switched character identity to your email address, how this works is say your email address is  (that is made up in case you were unsure.) and you create a character named Bob your character is then identified as  It’s essentially like having your very own character server tied to your email address. Players wanting to contact you can see your email address and find your characters based on that. You can also choose to hide your email address though when you chat so you just show up in chat as Bob instead. What this means is that providing you get the email address you want registered to your account, you can pick any name you want. (assuming it doesn’t breach the terms of service).

Alternatively, you could add Second Names to the character creation process, Instead of just having Bob you could have Bob Mortimer that way anybody wanting to use the name Bob or Mortimer can still do so they just can’t have both names in combination and order. So you could have….

Bobby Mortimer, Bob Mortimer, Rob Mortimer, Robby Mortimer, Bob Mort, Rob Mort….you get the idea…it makes two names a lot more versatile, you could possibly still hit the name filter but it’s far less likely and you are almost guaranteed to be identifiable by your first name as the name you actually want, even if you might need to choose a second name again. Whats important about both the email and two name system is that it is still identifiable for server database and account function and it is still a personal choice that is by and large unrestricted by who else is on your server.

Whats that at the back there?

 “But Frosty, I don’t like typing long names when I want to send a tell to someone, keyboards are the devil. I find it far simpler to just type Bob than to type Bob Mortimer….my fingers will bleed if I am forced to press extra keys!”

Fair enough, that’s why there is this thing called “auto complete” it’s a wonderful little tool that checks your friends list for matches to the letters you are typing in sequence…you should see this if you ever begin typing in a search engine for example. If you have a friend in your friends list called Bob Mortimer and you begin with /t Bo….the chat window can detect that you will likely be wanting to send a tell to your friend named Bob Mortimer and fill in the extra letters automatically. At this point it will look like this /t Bob Mortimer that gives you two choices, you can just press space bar and start typing your message to Bob Mortimer, or if you happen to have TWO friends with the name Bob, say the other friend is named Bob Moogle, you continue typing /t Bob Moo…and at this point the chat program recognises that you are not wanting to speak to Bob Mortimer, but maybe you want to speak to Bob Moogle so it auto completes that name for you.

If you happen to be talking to some random guy in the world calling himself Bob Moonstone that isn’t on your friends list then the auto complete won’t fill that in for you but that’s not a big deal because you probably won’t be sending that guy a lot of tells and once you get a tell from someone you can just hit the reply key or type /r to respond to that person without typing their full name. Or if you are really economical with the keys you could just right click on their character or their name in the chat window and choose “send tell” and the chat box will fill that all in for you.

So the next time you are on an mmo forum and the game is still in production think about asking for this, if enough people start telling developers it’s annoying to not be allowed the name you want, maybe enough of them will get the message and start figuring out ways to let players be who they want to be. Oh and no….I have no idea who Bob Mortimer is.