The latest “Ask Cryptic” had an incredibly eyebrow-raising answer to the question of unique names in the game:
Rejoice, the days of name-squatting are over! In Champions Online, character names are unique to a single player’s account. Everyone can now be “Odysseus.” Each account can only have one “Odysseus,” though. If Champions Online can’t figure out the precise character you’re referring to, you specify the player who owns the character. This is done by appending the player’s handle (also call an @name or public name) to it. For example, “Odysseus@poz,” “Odysseus@Simmons,” and “Odysseus@Homer.”
As far as I know, no other major MMO lets you duplicate character names (although, nerds of the world, please prove me wrong!). Off the cuff, my pros and cons:
PRO: No player has to worry that their name will ever be taken, even if they start up the game six years after launch. Since superheroes in particular have a special bond with names, to throw wide the doors to every player is a big gesture.
CON: Duplicate names decrease the value of a unique name. You roll “Darkfire” and then see ten other Darkfires in the starting zone alone. If you ever come up with a truly awesome name, it is fully open for name theft (homage?) by anyone who sees you. It won’t be as easy to keep characters sorted out in the game, even with their “@” thing. Characters with bad reputations might ruin it for the rest of the ones with similar names. And speaking of similar names, there will be a billion “Docs” and “Batmans” running rampant.
I… feel that this is a good thing. Maybe? It’s definitely interesting. Cryptic could probably make a mint down the road by offering a RMT deal where you can pay a limited fee to protect your name and claim ownership to it. At the very least, they should let you see how many other characters have that name before creating your character. What do you think?