- Players' characters' names are not visible to other players.
- Each player can name characters that they see, and each name will only be visible to the player that assigned it (on the character that they were playing when they assigned it).
For example, if I come across a blacksmith who sells me a particularly well-crafted blade and I want to recognize that blacksmith in the future so that I can buy from him again, I could either ask that blacksmith his name and then assign him that name, or I could simply select the blacksmith and name him something like "favorite blacksmith" (names should of course be limited in length).
Why do I believe this is a crucial feature for any good MMORPG? Well, it completely changes the social and political aspects of the game whether you are a roleplayer or not. Instead of simply seeing characters' true names automatically, we will be incentivized to interact with other characters to learn their names. Criminals will be able to carry out crimes without every witness automatically knowing the criminals' true names, and witnesses will have to compare physical descriptions of criminals in order to decide if they saw the same people. This will make law enforcement and bounty hunting much more interesting. These are just a few of the many ways in which such a feature would improve interaction among roleplayers and non-roleplayers alike.
There is another potential aspect of this feature that could easily be implemented and would improve the game even further: each name disappears after a certain amount of time. This can be as complex or streamlined as the devs wish. For example, each name could simply last for a set amount of time, perhaps a few months, before disappearing. This amount of time would be reset every time a player saw a character that he or she named (so if I kept returning to the blacksmith from my previous example, his name would not disappear). A better way to implement names disappearing would be to extend the time limit on each name every time a player sees a character he or she named, until finally a player has seen a named character so many times that the name is permanent (so every time I returned to my favorite blacksmith, the time limit on his name would be extended, until I could recognize him for the rest of my characters' "life", just as humans in the real world can memorize faces for life). This is my preferred implementation of this feature.
There is one more aspect of this feature that I think is important: disguises can be worn in order to obscure names. For example, if I have named someone but they later use some sort of disguise skill to obscure their features, I can no longer recognize them (see their name) until they remove the disguise. There could be many more facets to the disguise feature, but it doesn't really need to be any more complicated than that.
Oh, and of course one should also be able to rename characters that one has already named, but this should not affect how well one has memorized other characters' names. (So using my blacksmith example, I could change my favorite blacksmith's name from "favorite blacksmith" to "Henry", but I would still know that name permanently if I had visited that blacksmith many times.)
I know this is a long post about a feature that some people may consider minor, but I think it is actually really, really important. In fact I would say it is one of the key features missing from most MMORPGs.
- Your character's true name should not be visible to other players.
- Each player should be able to name characters that they see in order to recognize them later.
- Your name for a character should disappear if you do not see that character for a certain amount of time, but you should be able to permanently memorize the name you've given a character if you see that character often enough.
- Characters could always be renamed, and renaming a character would not affect how well one has memorized that character's name.
- Disguises should obscure names (there could be a disguise skill, with better disguises being more difficult to see through).
- This would vastly improve social and political interactions regardless of whether one is roleplaying.