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Reader Comments (18)

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 8:31AM Arkanaloth said

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I see what you're saying and overall agree.. these days so many things are being introduced as services for no purpose. Your mention of WoW's coming faction change is a prime example. That was an opportunity for great storyline role play and a unique quest line to learn the other language etc.. etc.. but no, it's going to be "pay the fee.. *POOF* lookie dwarf beard!!!*

I refer to WoW as "The MMO of instant gratification" and it seems more and more games are heading this way. While a bit of that isn't bad cause seeing your character change and grow is really the point of these games, it's gotten to the point that there's very little sense of accomplishment, and great storyline opportunities are lost in exchange for giving things out "Now now now!"

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 9:57AM Snow Leopard said

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I don’t agree with the statement that games are getting easier as a result of being able to retcon your character, if anything, they’re just allowing the player to better access all the different parts of the game without having to spend another two months replaying the same content. Being able to redo talent and skills points allows you to explore an aspect of your character and the game that would have previously required you to roll an entirely new character and play for another few weeks or months just to try them out. That’s not exactly difficult or rewarding gameplay. It’s just tedious, boring, and one of the main reasons a lot of enthusiastic gamers are adverse to this genre. You can call the opposite “instant gratification” but in my opinion, its just reasonable flexibility from developers who want to allow their players the freedom to take risks and try new things out.
This applies to roleplaying as well. How many people have felt bored or unhappy with the choices they made with a character and decided to create a new persona or back-story for them, like change their gender, age, or race? Retcons like these allow you to make these changes with greater ease and give you, the storyteller, the option of going back and revising those details that just didn’t work earlier.
As for language-learning quests and betrayal storylines, such things work in everquest lore, but not in the Warcraft Setting. If anything, allowing dwarves to learn orcish and transfer to the horde in unlimited numbers would just further dilute and ruin the setting and story. The factions would lose definition as humans would be partying with orcs and gnomes would be riding the backs of Tauren. The current pricing model acts as a deterrent to those who would just switch to try it out and it also avoids an in-game lore situation where dwarves are getting magically transformed into trolls or pledging their loyalties to their hated enemies for no substantial reason.
Altogether, I’m happy with my characters and wouldn’t do anything drastically to change them outside our skills and talent points. However, I can totally understand how some people may want to make larger revisions to the characters they not only created but put considerable time and effort into.
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Posted: Aug 11th 2009 12:40PM (Unverified) said

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Many physical changes work for me in-game without changing your story. The WoW faction change, for me, is OOC and I wouldn't factor that into my story. I'd rp an exit story for my character that would be moved, and then i'd start a completely new story for the toon made on the other side.

But that's just me.
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Posted: Aug 10th 2009 8:49AM (Unverified) said

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I am also a little uncomfortable with the ability to reroll aspects of a character. Maybe it is because I too have a strong tabletop background (played World of Greyhawk in the 70s and loved it!). It creates a situation where there is less commitment. You don't have to deal with the "genetics" and "background" of the character if you can endlessly alter it.

Yet, in the end I think the ability to respec is important with monthly fees. I suppose it makes some sense because you are paying for these choices. I'll have to give it some more thought :)

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 9:16AM (Unverified) said

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I see nothing wrong with the ability to change various character features through in-game quests, with various degrees of difficultly. What I do have an issue with is games like WoW setting the standard of 'pay us and we'll change your race' within the industry.

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 9:34AM (Unverified) said

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I think it goes back to the fact that the RPG part of MMORPG has been falling by the wayside for a long time now. I, too, have a backstory for my toons and casually RPG with those in the know, but even those moments are few and far between.

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 9:21AM (Unverified) said

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I think most MMOs appeal to the lowest common denominator. Even in the tabletop world, for every true role player there are horde's of stats-jockeys who will manipulate their stats to give their characters the best possible advantage in a given world. I don't think it's any different in the MMO world and by allowing players to make changes to their characters stats and abilities, MMOs are simply catering to the tweakers in all of us.

I know many RP purists would disagree and state that flaws and imperfections are what add to the roleplaying experience but I have yet to find an online game (MMO or not) that truly allows RP to shine. Most that I have seen seem content to throw out a "RP server" to cater to the folks who wish to do so without necessarily altering the mechanics to actually make RP work in a way that's compelling.

This leaves advancement as being the primary focus (on a micro level) of any MMO and folks who are new to the game will be glad that they can tweak their stats when three weeks into a character they decide that they started out on the wrong foot.

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 9:21AM (Unverified) said

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I have fond memories of being taught elvish by a bard while making the journey by boat from Qeynos to Erudin...the immersion was just incredible. now you speak the language of your faction no matter what your race.

It isn't better...it's just face roll easy. I hate what MMO's have become, I miss EQ Pre GoD. Developers today will either give you full gank pvp or PVE raids that anyone with a IQ under 80 can do. Yes I know everyone is doing easy now it's human nature that doesn't make it fun...just makes it easy.

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 9:36AM (Unverified) said

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People want instant access to "features" when they play "toons." Those who play "characters" (or, at the very least, "my guy") tend to be more willing to take the good along with the bad.

Last year, I started up a "toon" that never really became one of my "girls." I'd be quite happy to change her race, her name, even her class, for that matter. She's nothing more than a raiding tool. But my original girl? Even with no inclination to play her again, I'd never change her race and move her over where I play now, even in order to have access to her deep cash and skills.

My newbies are rapidly developing personalities of their own, and I'm seriously considering changing professions on several so that they will be more distinct (I took all the same stuff when I started them, never expecting to enjoy playing all of them at once). But I consider the character who's already level 30ish "stuck" with her choices -- a pretty clear indication of where the line lies for me on this particular issue.

When it's possible to level a character quickly and without a lot of effort and commitment, it becomes a "toon" to fill a certain need rather than "my guy," an virtual extension of yourself. When you have a toon, you're simply looking for the best experience for the moment -- and features such as race changes. I guess I don't begrudge the players who play that way their own version of fun ... But for me, that Undead toon I played last year really WAS just a heartless bag of bones. I'll stick with my girls, whatever their limitations may be.

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 10:03AM wjowski said

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If people want to pay for those sorts of things I don't see why not.

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 10:15AM Duffy said

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I think the problem you are having is differentiating between a true RP experience/game and an MMO, most MMOs are mechanics based games, not RP based games. And when mechanics are what make or break the game, bad "number" choices can ruin your ability to play. Should someone be punished for making "wrong" choices they weren't aware of or couldn't foresee? Or if a development change down the road alters there character? I think not.

As such does it really matter if they allow race or faction changes? Maybe you are sick of looking at the race you initially picked for whatever reason. Or perhaps you have a bunch of friends on the opposite faction. I think the reason these services are appearing is not to generate revenue (I doubt they truly generate enough to be worth it), but to facilitate the player base to keep playing, because ultimately, these changes don't mean much aside from personnel taste. And the limitations/price are in place to prevent those who would "manipulate" the system. (Various examples can be given if asked for.)

In all honesty it's incredibly hard to make a true RPing game on the same scale of most MMOs. Sure, people can RP within most of them, but there isn't truly enough support to flesh out the experience.

Comparing to the pen and paper RPGs is not fair. They are designed with flexible rule sets and the game is only as "mechanically hard" as your DM makes it. If you design a well rounded character to actually RP, you will not be punished for it because the DM can account for it.Try to do that with MMO mechanics . (If you can you should immediately pitch your idea to a dev studio and start counting your money).

This really appears to be a case of apples to oranges. This is why I play MMOs for a mechanics game and still attend my pen and paper RP group. They are two different things.

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 10:20AM Macabre 13 said

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I don't see the point of having to make "hard choices" in a casual game. If a game wants to be "hardcore", then it should be so through and through.

For the prime example here, WoW is a casual MMO. You can consider your top-class guild or "1337" arena team as "hardcore" as you like, but at the end of the day, WoW has virtually no consequence for anything you do, everyone steadily progresses one way or another, it guides you along on rails, and makes sure you never get lost; all in all, a "carebear" MMO.

I'm not trying to bash WoW here, but my point is, why limit peoples choices, or force them to live with some choices they made when they were a "noob", when practically every other facet of the game is casual-oriented? By all means, let 'em switch sides, sex change, name change, race change, whatever. Don't put on some façade of "tough choices" in a casual game.

Now on the flip side, if a given game is considered to truly be for the "hardcore" gamer, then I fully expect players to live with tough choices and feel consequence for their actions in most or all aspects of the game. I wouldn't welcome all these options in such a game, as it would certainly take away from the essence of the game.

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 11:31AM (Unverified) said

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I agree with you to a point. There are tough decisions you make when you choose your character in any game. In WoW, for instance, if you chose a dwarf because you wanted to find treasure, that was a plus, whereas you didn't get that option with another race. But, hey, you wants to find dat treasure, so yay.

Then Lich King comes out. Now all of a sudden there are no treasure boxes to find. One fourth of your decision just went right out the window, and for your troubles you get a weapon proficiency. What if you were a priest? what the hell are you going to do with skill in axes?

Developers take liberties with the variables in decisions you made potentially years ago. For them to charge you to make a change is what I think is too much.
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Posted: Aug 10th 2009 1:28PM Waxil said

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Retcon is a problematic symptom of a bigger problem; fundamental mmo balance issues. Since almost every mmo undergoes drastic balance changes being able to reroll stats/talents/skills/whatever becomes essential to keeping your player base tolerant. While I do wish more mmo developers would grow a pair and take a harsher stance the reality is the market (for the most part) keeps paying for games that offer these features.

If you want your game to be taken seriously I think you should place limits, or at least require some sort of game world appropriate storyline for something as dramatic as changing race/gender/faction. MMOs are more about making money than progressing gaming though.

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 2:11PM Meagen said

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Change is the essence of storytelling. These sort of tools don't "sacrifice" role-playing, they open up new opportunities. Of course they can be used badly, but if we refused to add anything to an MMO that non-roleplayers could potentially use in a way that wasn't roleplaying, we wouldn't have a whole lot of features left.

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 6:14PM Seldra said

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The way I see it the times have indeed changed, the days of hardcore roleplayers in mmo are largely overrun by everyday gamers who are more interested in gameplay rather than lore or any story based matter. Allow me a moment to name a few examples:

Guild Wars - How many in here really watch the cutscenes on missions anymore? How often do we see the little number on the bottom indicating how many group members want to skip them? In fact how often do we see people yelling at other members who don't skip them?

Wow - Holiday events, storyline event, even a little lore during raids/instance dungeon runs, or a quest even how many people really bother to read the text on the quest log other than the almost robotic nonlore summary that gives you the actual plain english details of the quest. I mean I can't count the times when I did a 5man and someone said something I found silly but as a person that played WC games it makes sense to me and know the back story most gamers...pick up wow play it.

Long story short, people just want to play mmos and most of them don't care anymore about back story, who's who, just as long as xyz quest gives 123 items that are better than the ones I got 5 levels ago.

Posted: Aug 11th 2009 2:35AM (Unverified) said

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It's been enough to completely put me off MMOs. I currently don't have a subscription to any MMO after canceling the last one in disgust at the direction everything is going.

Pretty much everything is just instant gratification right now. That affects the community that plays, and generally permeates the attitude of the game.

Nothing feels like an accomplishment anymore. Nothing provides any satisfaction. These were the things that drew me to MMOs in the first place.

I enjoyed playing through old content (if it was quality content) with a new character, no matter how many times.

I don't enjoy being rushed through everything now to get to .... what?

Posted: Aug 11th 2009 8:22PM (Unverified) said

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As a former MMORPG developer (Asheron's Call I and II, Lord of the Rings) that's currently making a (kick-ass) online sports game, I have had many fascinating conversation on this topic.

Here's the bottom line that the devs I've worked with keep reaching - so long as it doesn't ruin the experience of others, give the user as much freedom as possible. The more freedom users get, the more creative license they have and the richer your world will be for it. There are some great reasons to retcon - it's no different that starting a new campaign and deciding you want your grizzled fighter to retire for a while while you roll-up a mage.

This is of course, even more true in an online sports game. Season to season you're going to want to go back to the drawing board. Maybe it's because you're getting owned by your opponents or maybe it's just because you've been playing the same team for months and want a change. So fire your huge running backs and go for a lean, fast finesse players or cut some players and double down on wide-receivers so you can run 5-wide formations...do what makes the game fun for you so long as it doesn't ruin it for anyone else.

After all, that's why we built it.

A.S.
V.P. Product Development, Quick Hit Inc.

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