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MMO Alts

mmo altsI have a serious love-hate relationship with alts.  For years, and years, and years I was an altaholic.  I went to meetings, got back on my feet, and eventually began playing just one character.  But while thinking about this topic tonight, I realized since then I’ve stopped enjoying MMOs as much.  Have you seen the new seasons of Arrested Development?  I seriously heard that exact “coincidence” whisper in the air; but is it really a coincidence? Maeby you can think on that while I continue.

There’s this awesomeness about alts.  Just knowing that I can replay through a game as another class, or go another path and have the same amount of fun makes me instantly feel good about playing.  It’s like I’ve justified my purchase in some extraordinary way.  If a game is good enough to play through again, it must be something special.  I want alts to once again be this joyful indulgence for me.  I want to feel like I can’t possibly reach max level if I don’t stop playing all of my alts and pick one to focus on.  That’s an awesome problem, but one I’m having less and less.

Not every game should allow alts, though.  I think Star Wars Galaxies is a great example of how you can have the best of both worlds.  One character.  Only one.  You can be whatever you want on that character if you put in the time, and if you want to switch then start unlearning and go down a new path.  This kept class population in check, and gave people real decisions to make.  It was like being able to play all my alts at once.

But lately I hate the concept of alts.  Alts replace the role other people are supposed to play.  People think they don’t need to rely on someone else because they can just roll an alt and fill that role.  Alts devolve into twinks that just burn through content and make me question if I really loved playing the first time through.  Alts are this defense people throw up when someone says they ran out of things to do — “Have you leveled an alt yet?”  I can’t even find a single class I like in most MMOs these days.  I end up hitting the max level and hit a rock and a hard place: I don’t like any of the class choices -and- I don’t want to go through the content.

I’m really conflicted.  Maybe the devolution of MMOs is to blame, or maybe there haven’t been any really good games to play alts in for a while. Some people will chime in almost instantly that they still struggle with the urge to play so many alts  (you know who are) and can’t understand where I’m coming from.  I can’t identify with that position when it only takes 20 hours to reach max level, and I could have every class to the max in a few weeks if the game was really worth playing through all over again.

What are your thoughts on alts?  Do away with them entirely and improve the overall experience?  Bring back the old EQ way of doing it where alts were a serious work because leveling anything required you to commit?  WoW’s method of cranking out alts? Maybe this all boils down to me wanting to enjoy a MMO more, and for a longer period of time.

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Comments

  1. I am terrible about having alts ruin my experience in almost every game, not just MMOs. I like trying out every class along with multiple builds. I recall when GW2 launched I spent the entire week on vacation playing the majority of the time I was off and never got a character to level 30 at the time because I kept jumping around characters. Rift is a bit better since you can experience every “soul” with just four characters, even then that is still four characters to juggle.

    In Wow I got one of every class (aside the Monk) to 85 before I quit and never decided on a main. But like I said I do it with other none MMO games like ARPGs. I had to play one of each class through each act and still never settled on a main.

    Since I don’t raid as far as MMOs go I don’t worry about having a main per say they as I rather experience each class regardless of the end game for the most part.

  2. Oh got to add though that for as much as I love reading. I average at least a couple books a week (my poor overworked Kindle can testify), but when it comes to gaming I almost always just fly through the quest text. I am more about being a part of the action than reading about the action during my gaming time. Don’t get me wrong I love reading game lore, but I prefer to do it from books and Wiki pages than during my time playing.

    Maybe that is why I don’t mind alts a lot since I am not really reading quest over and over. Usually I get into a very quick zoned out phase where I have already done xyz quest enough times to do them blind folded. Personally I guess I just want to slaughter virtual things with cool spells and weapons lol

  3. Darkstryke says:

    I am a huge proponent of the classless school of design where if you want to do something else, you’re able to.

  4. Tumorseal says:

    Alts are why I never seem to play an MMO to level cap. But I think in every MMO I have 10 characters around level 20.

  5. Creating alts for me was about avoiding the so-called end-game (consciously or sub-consciously). As a pen and paper RPG fan I’ve never accepted the gear grind in repeating dungeons or raids as an interesting main part to a game. Leveling and experiencing the world/stories *is* and always will be the game for me, so when I’m done leveling a character I start a new one.

    Funnily though I never replayed any CRPG before I started playing MMOs. Never, not even Baldur’s Gate 1. The difference with some MMOs is that they had enough story to level a character and not see everything (well older MMOs + SWTOR). The newer games I’ve tried like Rift and Tera are so content light in this regard that alt-play isn’t as enjoyable in those games (for me at least).

  6. I am an altoholic too..when I play a game that have x races and y classes I feel that I don’t play the full game until I play all the classes and at least 3-4 races. There are many reasons for this.

    1)new class/gameplay/abilities
    2)class specific outfits
    3)different armor type outfits
    4)professions
    5)generally something fresh and new
    6)….

    Is up to the game to make you play alts or play one character…If for example a game let you level another class in the same character, after you reach max level with the current class and if you can chose whatever armor type you like for the character.

    Generally if the game provides you with plenty of freedom in character customization then I could play one character. In all my MMOs I always wanted to delete all my alts and focus on 1 character but I never managed to do it..I guess because all of them had minimu customization and I had many reasons to reroll an alt..

  7. solarbear says:

    I think when games offered more class freedom, I enjoyed alts more.

  8. I think alts were more compelling back when classes had very specific, defined roles. The general design philosophy now is that everyone can do everything, so rolling an alt is more about flavor and less about changing the gameplay.

  9. Argorius says:

    I generally like Alts but I am getting better at focusing on my main character. I usually roll Alts and they sit there at level 10 or so. Playing Alts is something I do after I committed to the game but there haven’t been any games that I have committed myself to in the last few years. Anyway, I think with the power dilution of characters that we have witnessed, it make sit less attractive to play an Alt because it just doesn’t seem exciting. In DAOC, you may have played an infiltrator and had fun doing this but then you see what some of the PBAOE classes could do and you were like…wow…I want to do this…these days since classes are balanced by neutering their abilities…things are just not that exciting anymore.

  10. @Jenks your point is validin most modern MMOs we witness homogenization of the classes..My opinion is that the root of the problem is pvp and the holy grail(balance) companies try to achieve by making all classes the same..

  11. Nowadays when I start playing a lot of alts, I know my interest in the game is about to come to its end.

    In the pre-WoW days when leveling an alt was going to be a long, slow process and good items were hard to come by, I loved playing an alt sometimes as a break from my main character. It was a chance to play in the same world with a different experience and meet a different group of friends.

  12. Dont like alts in my “serious” mmo’s. By Serious i mean games i want to devote time into or i find challenging to get to the top.

    I think the solutions should be the server type at character creation, hadcore server vs casual. Casual go nuts on alts, hardcore you only get 1 char, period. This takes the issue away from the dev and leaves the choice to the player.

  13. @romble I don’t believe that forcing players into one character is a solution..the solution is to create a game hard and interesting enough so players don’t get bored and start the alts..