Actual Wifey and I
Oh and we’re both varying shades of white. So I don’t talk much about skin colour in any options here.
- 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.
- 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”
- FFXIV: Hyur (in my case, Midlander)
- LOTRO: Race of Man (Beorning may also be a valid choice).
- SWTOR: Human
Character Creation UI
To make comparisons easier, I’m going to approach first wifey in all three games and then myself.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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”.
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.
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FYI: The screenshots here show different stages of development (like the wrong eye colour). Okay, let’s crack on.
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.
Though I’ve also taken a screenshot of her with nearly shoulder-length hair, which is where my other half’s comes to.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
Your complexion is set under the “eyes” and “details” setting. This allowed me to show a little of wifey’s age – and her freckles!
This was easy, as wifey never wears makeup. So, going for the plainest mouth works best, as it did for FFXIV.
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In SWTOR ‘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 and FFXIV 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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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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!
As with making wifey in FFXIV, I can use the height slider.
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!
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.
I’m definitely not muscley, but my arms do have some definition, especially since I lost weight.
I probably went for a too-light a shade, but given I’m inside more than outside in real life, pale seemed reasonable.
You’re either smooth-skinned…or smoothskinned. Unless your head shape lets you. Not exactly logical in my humble opinion!
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.
This is the way it would have looked a few years back if I’d brushed it all backwards.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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Males are muscley, whether you like it or not. Skinny-muscley to broad-muscley.
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)).
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.
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!
So I needed to choose the thinnest style. Choice 11 gives, at least, a receding hairline without also coming with flowing locks!
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!
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 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”.
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 Fuzz. Anyhow…
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.
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.
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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.
I couldn’t find a colour between my shade of brown and grey. If my hair was black and greying, then this would work:
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:
Eyes and Complexion
My blue-grey colour turned out to be an option, much to my surprise.
As for looking “older”, this is complicated! Some of the aging looks are inside the “head” options. Others are in “complexion”.
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?
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.
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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!