"It makes no sense" What is a character?
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 January 2014, 5:03 pm
In response to Syl's Instant Class Switches - The Last Bastion of Character Restriction

What difference does it make to have one character that can do all things rather than many that can do one thing?

Kelpsacovic is the greatest character ever, at least for me. I have all manner of teleportation abilities, but not the silly city-based spells of a mage. Instead I have wormhole generators, dimensional rippers, a magical ring that takes me to Dalaran, and a remote control that takes me straight to the bar in Blackrock Depths. I don't know if they're useful, but they are interesting. I have a bank filled with odd gear, many items no longer available. Some look cool. Some are symbols of a time gone past: gear from Naxxramas, a sceptre to open the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj, a trinket that allows me to see the ghosts around Scholomance, the Brazier of Invocation, used to summon extra bosses in a few instances, part of the now long-gone Dungeon 2 upgrade quests. She is a paladin engineer, my first max-level paladin, made after Burning Crusade, tanking, healing, and wishing she were tanking through Karazhan.

Kelpsacovic sits alone on Ner'zhul. Her guild is a shell. My rogue, my new main, is on Zul'jin. Another paladin sits on Wildhammer, the result of a brief experiment with playing with real life friends. As usual, a bad idea; compatibility in MMOs is why we're friends.

Surely this is an argument for unified characters. Why should my paladin sit on some distant server, nearly discarded, held away by the ridiculously high cost of server and faction transfers? Yet anyone with a bit of sense can see that the problem here is not one of character, but of server. Greater server mobility, perhaps even unified servers, if such a thing is technically feasible, is the solution.

I have a rogue. I do not wish for her to be a paladin. Or like a paladin. Or even paladinish. Nor would I want my warrior to be the same as my druid. I am slightly sickened by the thought of switching classes as if they were mere specializations. What is the identity of that character? It is me. Of course it always is, but a class places boundaries on it, making it less me. Surely that is part of the enjoyment of many MMOs, to not be entirely oneself, but to take on a different identity. In real life I am no paladin, nor a rogue, lacking the personality traits needed for either. If I were offered a character that could be an amalgam of any classes in order to perfectly suit my personality, well that would be a terribly boring character. I do not think I would want to play it. It's a fine enough personality for real life, but these are games. To switch characters is to switch one's mask, but to merely respec into something else, well that is obviously just insanity.

Perhaps in some games that makes sense. If the class were merely a matter of armor or weapon choice then sure, switch them at will; you might even get away with not having separate progression for each. Yet when character is an innate characteristic, switching at will do not make sense. Are our avatars now some sort of gods who can take on particular forms, but never more than one, or any mixture of two? In that case, then there is no class, merely a fancy set of spells for a particular role, with no identity. To me, that sounds dull.

Of course it is always a bother when there are these little bits and pieces that don't quite work with separate characters. The old attunements could be bothersome, as are reputations. A little bit of the player creeps out and insists, "I already did that! What does it matter that I logged onto a different character?" And then the bags get all strange, wondering where you left your crafting materials: on the gathering character, the bank alt, the crafter, the bank of one of many? I once had an addon that would store my bank and bag contents so I could look at what I had on other characters, but eventually it was too out of date to function anymore. These would all be fixed by unified characters. Or would we just find new ways to create the problems? Perhaps I want to start over again, to try the leveling game. So I make a new character. Oh. There will never be a perfect way to do these things, but we can move toward a closer-to-perfect way; I'm just not convinced that removing class restrictions is the way to do that.

Maybe I will find myself proven wrong when a game catches my interest and executes this well, but until such time, I say, it still makes no sense. I wonder when they’ll notice.



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