While discussing how to read verbal and non-verbal reactions while playtesting, Robin Laws made an interesting point about the GM’s perspective versus the player’s in the character creation process:
As a GM, time spent during character creation can seem dull. You don’t get to join in until it’s over. That doesn’t mean the players aren’t having a rich experience. The designer/GM must see past his own wandering attention to see how engrossed the players are. Prep can be a tedious slog, or it can be play. If it is play, a design might be ill-served by streamlining efforts that rush players through a process they’d sooner linger over.
This is a personal failing of mine. I get hugely impatient during character creation. Even when there’s a surfeit of books for players to reference, finding entertainment in their internal processes is not something I’m good at doing, or have even thought to attempt.
Character creation is certainly an interesting time. In a lot of games, it’s the time when the players have the most creative control. They’re calling the shots about who their character will be, at what their character will excel. Around a table of excited players, concepts come flying thick and fast, so that it can be difficult to pick just one on which to focus.
It’s also the time when a GM can start gathering information about what the players want to see in the game. You can infer from the choices they make in skills the tasks they expect to tackle in the course of the campaign. So take that opportunity to either figure out how to accommodate their expectations or let them know those points or slots could be better spent in other ways.