Making Yourself In Games
Comparing Character Creation in FFXIV, LOTRO and SWTOR

Creating / Making Yourself as a Character in Games - comparison of FFXIV, LOTRO and SWTOR

One of the joys of playing online games – or computer games in general – is playing characters who are not ourselves. They can be of a different race, body shape, characteristics and gender. This is especially true in the RPG genre where you are playing the role of a character in their story. It’s this “otherworldliness” that enables us to escape from the pressures of life in our world. But in recent months, I wondered how hard it would be to create a FFXIV character based on my wife. That led me to being curious about “making yourself in games” and how my three MMOs compare. It turned out to be really interesting! So let’s take a look at creating yourself in FFXIV, LOTRO and SWTOR!

Actual Wifey and I

Before we can look at games, I’m going to describe how wifey and I look. I’ll be especially sensitive about my other half’s appearance. Not that she cares what others think, but I won’t describe her “body shape” except in broad terms.

Oh and we’re both varying shades of white. So I don’t talk much about skin colour in any options here.

Wifey

  • Age: Mid-30s
  • Height: 5ft 3in
  • Facial Features: High cheekbones, round-ish face, freckles.
  • Eye Colour: Deep Brown
  • Build: Pretty average, stronger legs than arms
  • Hair: Medium brown, quite thin, usually in a small pony tail. Shoulder-length if not tied up.

Me

  • Age: Late-30s
  • Height: 5ft 8in
  • Facial Features: square jaw, dark rings under eyes, glasses, eyes fairly close together. Thin beard and moustache combo. Terrible skin complexion((I’m not exaggerating, so I’m not “putting myself down” or anything)).
  • Eye Colour: Blue Grey (mostly grey).
  • Build: Average, slight tummy (I’m working on that).
  • Hair: Light-ish brown and greying, thinning on top (I’m going bald and I hate it).

Humans Making “Humans”

Right, let’s hop into games and try to make us. As we are human, I am going to go for the race that’s most close to human in each of the games((And I used to very rarely play ‘human’ races in games, until my main character in LOTRO had to switch to one!)). These are:

  • FFXIV: Hyur (in my case, Midlander)
  • LOTRO: Race of Man (Beorning may also be a valid choice).
  • SWTOR: Human

Character Creation UI

Here are how the three games’ character creation screens/UI are laid out. I have zoomed in on some UI elements so they’re clearer or to provide a little explanation. And just so you know, games are in alphabetical order, not in order of “preference” or “most played”.

FFXIV

LOTRO

SWTOR


Creating Wifey

To make comparisons easier, I’m going to approach first wifey in all three games and then myself.

FFXIV

FFXIV is very detailed when it comes to making new characters. Also, a couple of these settings I’m not going to cover to keep this post family-friendly and out of respect for wifey.
Extra Chatty Bit
This is creating my real “wifey RP character”, who I actively play. So, as close as possible, her choices of clothes and combat/crafting are based on her as a person. My other half doesn’t actually game, but she inputs when I come across a new outfit or a potential combat method she might like. So she has a thing for axes and would defend friends from danger (Marauder/Warrior) but also reads a lot and likes animals (Arcanist). Her crafting matches her IRL: she used to do cross-stitch (Weaver), she likes growing things and caring for nature (Botanist), she cooks all our meals (Culinarian) and she manages my medication (Alchemist).

Leg vs Arm Strength

Wifey knows her legs are way stronger than her arms, but certainly in FFXIV the lack of “body shape” options means that you’re assumed to be the same strength everywhere. That’s all I’ll say on “body shape” here. But here’s how her FFXIV version ends up.

I’ve spoken more about the male body shape in making myself in FFXIV further down ↓.

Face Shape

My life, this was difficult! The main challenge with wifey is her high cheek bones. The “rounder” shapes in FFXIV lose the cheekbone definition, and wifey’s are always prominant. In the end I had to go for the default first option.
FFXIV Head Options for Female Hyur (Midlander)

Freckles and Complexion

Freckles are only possible as “Face Paints”, but at least they were do-able. As for complexion, smooth skin was the only option. There’s apparently no way to make a non-young-looking, female, Midlander Hyur. I couldn’t go for Highlander as they are taller and more muscley. And neither of these described wifey (she would agree).

Lips etc

No need for extra images here as it’s evident in all the other ones; wifey never wears make-up. Except maybe at weddings. Thankfully, it’s not presumed that all females wear make-up. So I was able to not have any eyeshadow for example. And I was able to make her mouth skin-coloured, rather than something else.

For comparison, this is my female Miqo’te who has eyeshadow and black lips.

Hair Style

Unlike LOTRO and SWTOR, FFXIV give you some icons showing roughly what the styles look like. It even lets you pin a few icons to create a “shortlist” before making your final choice.

The hairstyles available for Hyur meant I could not create a ponytail that did not also have other fancy bits((You can unlock other hairstyles by playing the game. Some ponytails can be acquired from the Gold Saucer.)). Wifey never plaits her hair. In the end, I had to go for what her hair looks like when it’s “down”.

Hair Colour

FFXIV gives you the option of having two colours in your hair. Which bits are “highlights” changes drastically across hairstyles. But in this case, the choice of hairstyle works perfectly.

Wifey has brown hair but there are other tints here and there.


Other Notes on FFXIV Character Creation

  • Being able to view your character with different backgrounds is a massive help here. And that is something other games should harness.
  • I was also taken by the presumption being that your character has “full” hair. By that I mean, it’s fairly thick. Although wifey has a head of hair, it’s not thick hair. But young heros must all have amazing hair, apparently!
  • You are shown in the outfit/gear you start with on your first login. So you do get a good feel for how you’ll look in-game.
  • Although FFXIV has cutscenes, your character is never voiced. That said, you can select from a wide-array of voices and hear them in different moods. This is great to get right, ahead of using emotes.

Quickly Skip To:

Wifey: FFXIV | LOTRO | SWTOR
Me: FFXIV | LOTRO | SWTOR

LOTRO

In terms of process, LOTRO’s character creation is more akin to that of SWTOR. There are sliders for most settings for you to scroll through as you go. A key difference to SWTOR is around colour selections. But we’ll get to that!

FYI: The screenshots here show different stages of development (like the wrong eye colour). Okay, let’s crack on.

Hair Style

When making new LOTRO characters I always sort the hairstyle and colour first. This is because how a face is perceived varies depending on these two factors. In LOTRO, at least, I can start with a small pony tail, unlike in FFXIV.
LOTRO Small Pony-Tail Hair Style for Female, Woman, Human thing.
Though I’ve also taken a screenshot of her with nearly shoulder-length hair, which is where my other half’s comes to.
LOTRO Shoulder-length Hair Style (Race of Man/Female)

Hair Colour

The shades of hair colour available in LOTRO depend on your race and originating region. The same with skin colour for that matter. But in this case there’s a huge spectrum of colours to go for. And since the last avatar update (waaaay back when) the hair looks fairly realistic, just not to the degree that FFXIV’s is.

Body Shape

With no reference to my wife’s shape, I’ll just say that in LOTRO you can adjust “body type”. However, it is assumed that your weight and/or muscle is evenly distributed. This is achieved via this slider:
LOTRO Body Type Slider
So if I were to want wifey’s strong legs, she has to have seriously broad shoulders. Here are the shots at either end of the spectrum. I’ve provided the thumbnails to avoid too much scrolling.

Head Shape

Okay, this is, in itself hugely challenging for making yourself in games. The reason is that the whole face shape is in one setting (as it is in SWTOR). So you do not have separate control over the eye shape or nose. There is some control over mouth, but the “base” shape is in the “head” setting. As for high cheekbones, let’s just say, they’re subtle at best for the Race of Man. If you need high cheekbones – make a hobbit lassie!

Eyes

LOTRO Deep brown eyes in character creation
I had to change the origin region when I got to the eye setting! This is because brown eyes were not an option for Rohan. Unfortunately, that meant I had to redo the hair and skin. But I tweaked those no problem. Just bear that in mind when you make a new LOTRO character.

Complexion

Your complexion is set under the “eyes” and “details” setting. This allowed me to show a little of wifey’s age – and her freckles!

And, unlike FFXIV, you can create old/older characters in LOTRO((Though I found it harder for female Race of Man than male)).

Mouth

This was easy, as wifey never wears makeup. So, going for the plainest mouth works best, as it did for FFXIV.


Quickly Skip To:

Wifey: FFXIV | LOTRO | SWTOR
Me: FFXIV | LOTRO | SWTOR

SWTOR

As with other sections, screenshots here are from various stages, rather than the finished character.

Choose Class

In SWTOR external-link-alt‘s case, I felt I had to choose a non-robed class. This is because the character preview is not in gear you’ll start the game with. Both LOTRO external-link-alt and FFXIV external-link-alt do, which helps massively. So I went for Smuggler, because it suits wifey and because they’re in trousers and a top, which is definitely more her style than a robe and/or dress!

Body Shape

This is worth noting here, not to describe wifey, but because SWTOR has a variety of body shapes. This is different to FFXIV’s one-shape per race and LOTRO’s sliding scale. There are four body shapes, so please choose this before moving on. In particular, this choice affects your head/face shape. It shouldn’t, but it does.

I gave wifey the “average” shape option 2.

Height

Just a quick note on height: SWTOR characters have different heights, but it’s based on the “Body Type” setting. But at least it is an option. That said, it seems for female humans at least, to keep them all at the same height. So it must be the males I’m thinking of.

Head Shape

If you’re new to SWTOR here’s a biggie: the set of heads available changes depending on body shape. So go do that before choosing your head.

In “Head” section, you’ll find different variations of templates, which cover various origins here in our world. Some western, some eastern, some more African/Caribbean etc. This leads to great variation on one hand, but less choice once you’ve got the feel of what your eyes/nose/mouth are like. And you can find fairly high cheekbones too.

Hair Style & Colour

Again, I went to these options first. I have to say that the hair texture works in SWTOR. But it doesn’t look/feel like hair – but does not feel hair-y. This changes with newer styles, but the old ones have been left as-was. You should also note that, just because I have a hair style option, doesn’t mean you do. Some are Cartel Market items. As wifey only has a small ponytail I went for this one:

As for hair colour, at least the lighting helped to show the “two tones” so I picked a light-ish brown here.

Complexion and Eyes

All complexions are hidden in the obscurely named… “complexion” setting, hurrah! Finding freckles that were just on the cheekbones was straightforward once I had gone through all the available options.
SWTOR Freckles in the Complexion Character Creation Setting
I’ve grouped “complexion” with “eyes” for SWTOR. This is because, apart from eye colour, the rest of how they look is under “complexion”. Demo screenshots here:

It also seems impossible to make an old character without them also looking sinister!

Brown eyes were easy to select, albeit from a slider. I think SWTOR would benefit from using colour-pickers for skin, hair and eye colours. Both LOTRO and FFXIV have them and it’s much more intuitive than a sliding scale.

Other Options

If the SWTOR section feels shorter than the other games, it’s because the process is quicker. The only other options not discussed so far are:

  • Scars: Wifey and I have no visible facial scars. But all three games do have varying scar options. It fits for fantasy worlds((I’m calling SWTOR a ‘Space Fantasy’ for simplicity here)), especially if your character is a fighter.
  • Cosmetics: As I’ve already discussed cosmetics in other games, you’ll know wifey doesn’t wear any.


Quickly Skip To:

Wifey: FFXIV | LOTRO | SWTOR
Me: FFXIV | LOTRO | SWTOR

Making Myself

FFXIV

In some aspects this was pretty much alright, but in FFXIV, as with the other two games, the main issues are: looking my age and finding my beard! Let’s have a look.

General Body Shape

I don’t mind talking about my very generic, average body shape. I’ve always been in “medium” clothes and average shoe sizes. Boring, I know!

Height

As with making wifey in FFXIV, I can use the height slider.
Setting the height of a male Hyur in FFXIV
Apparently in Eorzea I’m nearly in the bottom 25% of heights! But once I’d worked out my height in centimeters, I was fine. Short, but fine!

Muscle Tone

Despite the pain I’m always in, I am also not completely inactive. Doing the housework, DIY and woodworking projects all help my upper body.
Set muscle definition on new Hyur character in FFXIV
I’m definitely not muscley, but my arms do have some definition, especially since I lost weight.

Skin Colour

I probably went for a too-light a shade, but given I’m inside more than outside in real life, pale seemed reasonable.

Complexion

You’re either smooth-skinned…or smoothskinned. Unless your head shape lets you. Not exactly logical in my humble opinion!

Hair Style

As with wifey’s hairstyle, “thin” hair isn’t really an option. The only styles that show some scalp are those intentionally cut that way, e.g. tied-back dreadlocks. In the end, I had to go for the thinnest style available.
The closest male Hyur hairstyle I could find to thinning hair!
This is the way it would have looked a few years back if I’d brushed it all backwards.

Hair Colour

The hair colours I chose, a darkish brown with grey highlights.
Where I could not show my baldness in the hairstyle, I can show my age with hair tinting. I would say “hurrah” but I hate the fact I’m going grey before I’m 40.

Face Shape

Unlike trying to create my wife, it’s perfectly okay to look older in FFXIV if it’s a male character! This is built into “Face Shape”, where you get a feel for the age because of the shape. I did not go for this face shape, it’s just an example!

Interestingly, maybe annoyingly, the beard choice changes per face shape.

Eyes

I adjusted the eye colour here, from my previous setting. Blue-Grey wasn’t really an option – and the lightest blue was still more blue than my eyes are.

I was also able, albeit a little bit, to get my eyes to look darker with facepaints. And my choice of face shape at least left them a bit sunken. Close enough I guess.

Jaw Shape

With my choice of head, it is assumed all males have that “super hero square jaw” thing going on. Seriously, look at classic male superheros, acted and pixel versions.

Thankfully I do actually have a square jaw. So, I guess that make my jaw a super hero.

Facial Hair

Yes I can have a thin beard and moutache. No, that beard cannot cover my whole “super hero jaw”. Goodness knows why! So this is the closest match. And we’ll see that other games also struggle to cater for my facial hair choice too.
The closest match to my own facial hair in FFXIV

My Thoughts

  • As with making wifey, youth is very much promoted. I couldn’t have a “slight middle-aged belly” or anything like that, at least with this race. I guess they presume the life of an adventurer will take any excess weight off.
  • You just cannot make a character look around my real age. One head shape maybe close but that’s the only way to do it. FFXIV really needs a separate “complexion” option.

Quickly Skip To:

Wifey: FFXIV | LOTRO | SWTOR
Me: FFXIV | LOTRO | SWTOR

LOTRO

Body Shape

Males are muscley, whether you like it or not. Skinny-muscley to broad-muscley.

And no extra belly thank you very much! Those are reserved for Hobbits and Dwarves. Maybe I would make a better Dwarf, as Hobbits have no facial hair((Which is true to LOTR lore, except Stoors can have facial hair lore-wise, but not in-game.)). I went for average in this case as I am quite broad-shouldered, despite only having arms about a quarter the diameter of this dude’s!

Hair Colour

This is hard to get right. There are loads of colours but such a small pallet UI to click((These pallets really do need to be made bigger, in my opinion)).
LOTRO Hair Colour Picker Pallet
So I did what I could to get something on the brown-to-grey scale without accidentally tipping it towards having blacker hair. See the hair style section to see the screenshot.

Hair Style

Well, now this was interesting! In The Lord of the Rings even older characters are presumed to have plenty of hair. The only balding characters I know of are dwarves, and the movie creation of Gollum. So in LOTRO, you can be a near skin-head, or have the “halo” of hair. Although my hair is thinning on top, I’m not that far gone!

I kind of needed the skinhead “texture” when trying to recreate my facial hair.
So I needed to choose the thinnest style. Choice 11 gives, at least, a receding hairline without also coming with flowing locks!

Head Shape

With hair sorted I could look at the head shape. But, in all honesty, all I could do was pick one which didn’t have too big a nose. I dislike my own reflection so I don’t mind forgetting what my face is like!

Eyes

My blue-grey eyes tell me I can only have come from the Dale-lands. Bree-land has no shade of Blue (or grey-ish), the Gondor and Rohan ones are pure blues only.
My attempt at blue grey eyes in LOTRO.
My eyes are more care-worn than wifey’s, despite her having way more responsibilities than me. So I was able to add some age to my eyes. Admittedly, more than there is as I don’t have laughter-lines or “crow’s feet”.

Facial Hair

Okay, this was genuinely funny. Apparently if you want a moustache and a beard you need to have a lot of hair. Either respectfully cut or Santa-style! Reminds me of the “big, bushy beard” reference in Hot Fuzzexternal-link-alt. Anyhow…
LOTRO Big Bushy Beard!
I’m not even a dwarf, so “thin beard” isn’t an insult! Nevertheless, the full beard-moustache is the closest to me so I had to go for this one. Unfortunately.

Complexion

There are more “old” or “older” person complexions for the male character than the female. But no freckles (I have very few anyway) but no other skin “textures”. So the nearest thing was smooth skin.


Quickly Skip To:

Wifey: FFXIV | LOTRO | SWTOR
Me: FFXIV | LOTRO | SWTOR

SWTOR

I went for Smuggler for me also, for pretty much the same reason I did for wifey. Trousers/jeans and a shirt or jacket is more my style.

Body Type

I had to go with the average setting too. The only way I could have a bit of a belly would have been to also be really tall, which I definitely am not! In case you skipped here from the top, the height of your character is tied to body type.

Though it is interesting to see that it’s perfectly fine for males to have more around the stomach than is healthy. Only males.

Hair Colour

I couldn’t find a colour between my shade of brown and grey. If my hair was black and greying, then this would work:

But it’s not, so I just went for a lighter brown instead. (See my SWTOR Hair Style to view the colour). As I’m not actually grey, there is no colour even close to mine. Without knowing the workload needed, if SWTOR added “highlights” similar to FFXIV then that would create more variety. It would work the same as dying gear – some bits “dyable” and others not. Just an idea.

Hair Style

As with LOTRO, I had to go for a short hair cut with a receding hairline – and this isn’t far off how I used to have it 5-10 years ago:

Again, it seems the usual presumption is this: you have a full head of hair, have shaved it, or a lot of it is bald.

Eyes and Complexion

My blue-grey colour turned out to be an option, much to my surprise.
Setting my mostly-grey eye colour in SWTOR
As for looking “older”, this is complicated! Some of the aging looks are inside the “head” options. Others are in “complexion”.

Facial Hair

While you can use “complexion” to give a “midnight shadow” (stubble) look, again, short beards like mine aren’t an option. There are goatees of various shapes, but I don’t want one of those in any world. So I had to go with the “Obi-Wan from Episode II and III” look. Interestingly, beards look more realistic than the hair. Which makes me wonder why they don’t update the hair textures with work they’ve already done?

Head Shape

Being forced to have a full beard kind of negates the need to try to closely match the head shape. I decided to go with #10 as it’s closer to how my eyes are. My nose isn’t that broad, but it’ll have to do.


Quickly Skip To:

Wifey: FFXIV | LOTRO | SWTOR
Me: FFXIV | LOTRO | SWTOR

TL;DR Making Yourself in Games – an Intriguing Journey!

From discovering my wife would make a better Hobbit than human, to my beard not being an option, it’s been an interesting exercise! Also, there are some subtle indicators on society in there. FFXIV make it hard to make older-looking characters. SWTOR only allow for podgy males. LOTRO makes it easier to make an old-looking human man, than woman. But all these games have their own style – as well they should, and that’s what makes playing them interesting. If you have any observations, feel free to chat in the comments while they’re open. Thanks!

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Fibro Jedi

A 30-something Shadow Jedi, married and have a small daughter. By that I mean "young", not just "short". I have a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia andI play LOTRO, SWTOR and FFXIV and blog about two of them. Social Media has connected me with so many people and some of those have become amazing friends too! As a hobby I am relearning drawing, which you can see on my DeviantArt profile.