I know I’ve said this a few times before, but it’s still strange to me, as a traditional RPG player, to be faced with the limitations of MMORPGs. In many ways these are two radically different mindsets that share the same type of setting and gameplay elements; the entire concept of and RPG character is flipped on its head for MMOs, especially WoW.
There are traits I’d consider immutable for an RPG character: race, gender, appearance, identity. (It’s not that they absolutely can’t be changed, but that they are beyond the normal magic/technology of a fantasy setting. You need strong magic to make this happen.) There are other traits which can be changed over time – professions, proficiencies, even classes (depending on your RPG engine of choice, of course.) Who your character is takes precedence over what they do, and – just like in the real world – they can change what they do, learn new things, take their own path.
World of Warcraft turns my expectation upside down. The only thing about a character that can’t be changed is their class; everything else is up for discussion. Who they are matters not at all; what they do is the important thing. My druid has gone from a female night elf to a male tauren and back again, all without ill effects in Warcraft – but there’s no plausible way for this to have happened. That’s okay! Not everything needs to make sense when talking about class mechanics. But it’s weird. It’s weird to think that that kind of radical character transformation is possible, but a warrior can’t become a paladin (or vice-versa). A Highborne mage can’t find the ways of Elune and become a druid; a disaffected mage can’t become a warlock.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this again while playing Cynwise, my warlock main whom I discarded about a year ago. Seemingly like a lot of folks, the effect of Decline and Fall on me was to pick up my warlock again and start playing her. At first it was to check things for accuracy, then it was to see LFR and Deathwing. After that I started PvPing again, first to get the Cataclysmic Gladiator’s Felweave outfit, then because I realized that now is a great time to work on Battlemaster. I’m having a mixed time playing her; there are times I enjoy it a lot, and other times I find it frustrating and absolutely no fun at all.
But she’s the closest one I have towards that goal, my only real vehicle in the endgame, and if I am going to be PvPing I may as well be working towards some goal. I enjoy it well enough most days.
It’s not the comeback I was hoping for, but it’s at least a quiet return.
CHANGING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAME
One rather important development that’s happened in the past month has been the announcement of account-wide achievements in Mists of Pandaria. Basically, most achievements will now be applied across all your characters, so if you Explore Mulgore on one toon, you’ll get that achievement on all of them. Meta-achievements will roll up the accumulated achievements of your characters, so if you have done all the quests in Kalimdor, but not all on the same toon, you’ll get it across all the toons. Some achievements are going to roll up your totals across characters – honorable kills for the Bloodthirsty achievement, for example – but details of which and what are sparse.
This is a cool thing. As I come out of my data-induced warlock stupor I like it more and more, even without the details which would help me answer questions like:
- Will accumulated wins contribute to the Veteran achievements of specific battlegrounds? I have 80 WSG wins on Cynwise, but 253 on my extant toons. Will victories be rolled up into a single total like Honorable Kills, or not?
- Will the individual BG Master achievements be treated as meta-achievements? I have almost everything for Master of Arathi Basin on Cynwise except Resilient Victory, which I have on Cynwulf. How will this work?
- Will PvP reputation be additive? I am about halfway through the absolutely brutal and ever-worsening Justicar grind on Cynwise; will the rep I earn on other characters apply? I’ve played in 522 WSGs and 410 ABs on my non-deleted toons, but only 202/234 with Cynwise. Will reputation across toons be added like HKs?
- Will Battlemaster even be a Meta-achievement? There are no guarantees here! Things change in development. Some metas may get left out due to coding constraints; others due to policy discussions. To preserve prestige, Battlemaster might be deemed an achievement which needs to be done on a single toon, perhaps like the Insane.
The old advice is to not count your chickens before they hatch, and that applies as much to software as it does to poultry. It’s interesting to speculate about account-wide achievements, but I’m having a tough time convincing myself that they’re going to be there, and that if they’re included at launch they’re going to work all in my favor.
I mean, the idea is great. The idea is awesome! Quoting Greg Street from his post announcing the change:
Overall, we never want you to play Character A instead of Character B because of achievement concerns. If Character A had the Violet Proto-Drake, then you might not play Character B. If Character A was only one holiday away from the Violet Proto-Drake, then you may not play Character B. If Character A had completed most of the raid achievements from Dragon Soul, you may not want to bring Character B for one fight and miss out on the achievement. Having alts is cool and working on achievements is cool, but we don’t want the two systems to work against each other.
I like this direction a lot. Play who you like, in the situations you like, and it all counts. Which toon you play – which class you play – doesn’t matter anymore. So many achievements I work on that I’m like, this doesn’t need to be done on Cynwise. Some I can motivate myself to do – cooking and fishing dailies, since she’s Chef Salty Cynwise. Others – Loremaster – I just look at and go, I would get so much more benefit from leveling an alt through that zone than taking an 85 there. This change is so, so very welcome from that standpoint.
But the implementation of something this complex causes me concern. There are caveats, and gotchas, and corner cases; I’m just wary. I want to see it in action, on live, before I let myself relax and go, yes, this will be okay.
See, it comes back to the immutability of classes in WoW, and the experience of Warlocks in Cataclysm.
TRAPPED BY A CLASS
What do you do when you decide a class isn’t right for you?
I think the answer to this is heavily dependent upon how long you’ve played Warcraft. When I’d been playing for a few weeks and I didn’t like playing my Paladin, deleting him was no big deal. There was no commitment to the character besides a fondness for the name.
But as characters grow, and level, and become a player’s main character, that kind of abandonment becomes more difficult. That character accumulates stuff; not just levels and gear (though don’t discount them!), they get pets, awards, titles, achievements, mounts. They have experiences and start forming part of our amorphous digital identity. They get reputations in game, and with guilds, and with real people. Their UI gets customized, their abilities get internalized, their macros get fine-tuned. It’s progressively harder to say, eh, fuck it, I’m going to switch and play something else. It can be done! But it gets harder than ditching a level 46 character.
Players I know who have switched mains for raiding or PvP seem to go through certain stages of anguish over this. Every time someone drops a pure DPS to tank or heal, it’s always emotionally complicated. The player is experiencing the content, but not necessarily on the character they’d like the experience on. Or they enjoy the class they’re playing on but it’s not their main. Sometimes it works out well – the new class is a better fit than the old one – but even then there are questions of discarded mains, of emotional attachments which need to be resolved. Rerolling is a tough step to take.
Changing for the need of the group is at least voluntary – players can at least take a stand and say, no, I’m a Hunter, take me as I am or else – while changes to the class are more pernicious. What do you do when your class changes underneath you to the point where you don’t enjoy it anymore? This happens to many classes between expansions, but it can also happen in the middle of them.
I think that when this happens to players it’s a very dangerous thing for player retention. When a player is forced to choose between playing a class they don’t enjoy (to achieve their in-game goals) and one they do (but doesn’t contribute to those goals), a crisis is created. Play the game in a way you don’t like to get what you want – or play in a way you like but not get the rewards. This is a no-win situation for the player.
Furthermore, this crisis removes the incentive to keep playing the game at all, which makes it a problem for Blizzard. If the options are:
- Don’t have fun + get what you want
- Have fun + don’t get what you want
Players will rightly say, why should I play this game? They may be able to force themselves to do it for a while, but eventually fatigue will win out.
I call this getting trapped by your class. You want to play something else, but don’t want to not be playing your main. Or you go and play something else, but regret leaving your main behind. Whenever I hit a BG on my warlock and there are no healers, I’m immediately sad panda because I would rather be playing a healer. Give me a healing spec, even a shitty one, and I will be all over it in PvP.
But now that I’ve started working on Cynwise again, and she’s so damn close to so many of those Battlemaster/Justicar achievements, it seems a real shame not to at least make the attempt.
RELEASE FROM BONDAGE
I still wonder what it would be like to have class changes in World of Warcraft.
I’m sure that technically, a class change is more complicated than a race change, and probably more complicated than a faction change. There are quests that need to be checked, abilities which need to be reassigned, mounts which need to be modified.
I think gear is probably the easiest thing to consider. If I wanted Cynwise to have a radical transformation and become a Paladin, for instance, I can see Blizzard saying that she shouldn’t be able to wear Warlock tier sets anymore. This should be simple, because the class restrictions on the class-specific gear would go into effect as soon as the class transfer took place, leaving players with the daunting task of both gearing up with the new class tier, while trying to juggle bank space in case they ever changed their mind and wanted to go back.
But is there a compelling reason to not allow class changes in WoW?
Say there’s a concern about people changing classes too often to suit the needs of a patch. Put a 30-day CD on it, but also use class change data to track population and identify balance issues with the class. If Shadow Priest DPS is off the charts, or a specific tank performs really well in a given tier – and everyone changes to take advantage, that’s 1) revenue for Blizzard and 2) an indication that that spec needs tuning. Migratory data would actually be a net positive.
I suppose that one advantage of account-wide achievements is that low-level characters can contribute. In a way, this provides a way to “delevel” your characters – you can have different characters twinked at different levels to play in certain brackets, at-level content, or to play with friends. That’s something to consider in favor of achievements.
While I like the idea of account-wide achievements, I can’t help wonder what would have happened if Blizzard went a different way and considered allowing class changes. Changes would end class tyranny but preserve the uniqueness of a character, of feeling that you really have done it all on one toon.
And they would generate a huge amount of class migration data. That kind of shit would be analyst porn.
Account-wide achievements need to be fairly seamless – and include reputation and other earned currencies – to match a class change.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll take ’em, and gladly. If account-wide achievements been in place during Cataclysm I think subscriber numbers would look better – if nothing else, the trapped by a class crisis could have been avoided.
But don’t forget about the benefits of class changes, either. It’s a conspicuous hole in WoW’s polished portfolio.
35 responses to “On the Tyranny of Classes”
I’d bet money that part of the changing class issue is database related. There has to be a core portion of the DB that everything else is based on, and the class is most likely that.
Of all of the paid services, a paid class change is not present. Just what would go into a paid class change –converting your gear to class specific gear, gems included– is rather daunting. Did that toon complete a legendary? Does that mean that said toon swaps out that legendary for the legendary of their new class? Can a toon even have a legendary of two classes at once, even though one isn’t usable by them?
There are too many portions of the game that are determined by programming for an MMORPG to effectively simulate a pencil and paper RPG, and this is just one of them. (Having gear only usable by a certain class is another. in the post AD&D 1E world.)
I’d leave gear alone, but absolutely agree – there are plenty of features which sound easy to implement, but are really quite difficult.
There’s also an advantage to having account achievements I didn’t mention – RNG. If you roll on multiple servers and get lucky on an alt, there’s no way to get that over to your main.
While I’d like to see class changes, what I guess I’m really saying is that I’d like to see _both_. 😦
Yeah, I know what you mean.
I think we’re both old school, Cyn, in the sense that we’ve played pencil and paper RPGs. We’ve seen what an RPG can be, and we judge everything based on that. Unfortunately, as gorgeous the graphics are or as fun as it is to kill internet dragons, it can’t measure up to a pencil and paper RPG because you are always limited by the programming.
Aside from the programming/database-related issues which Redbeard mentioned, there really isn’t a strong argument against allowing class changes. I’d be willing to bet most players have no idea about how difficult in terms of software, and that’s how it should be. They don’t care that it would probably be a difficult thing to implement, they just see an arbitrary limitation; “you mean I can change my character from a worgen (a worgen!) to a goblin, but not from a mage to a warlock?”
From a player’s perspective, this is absurd – like you said, is it really so hard to imagine how a person could decide that, for instance, they’d rather use the Light to tank with instead of getting all angry about everything? How strange it is that a person can be a master poisoner, attacking from the shadows, then a minute later be a swaggering swashbuckler taking multiple enemies head-on, but all the while be completely unable to learn how to fire a gun properly or set traps.
It doesn’t matter how hard it is on the programming side of things. Good software is supposed to make complex things easy, and that is almost always hard.
All really good points!
As far as the gearing issue goes, I saw a resonable approach just yesterday. I used a scroll of resurection to reactivate a long abandonded account so that I could use the free level boost and free transfer to move gold and heirlooms to a server I wanted to play on.
When I boosted from 1 to 80 I was standing in a set of class and spec appropriate greens, everythign I had been wearing was mailed to me.
Simply do that.
Yeah. I see gear as less an issue than the potential programming issues Redbeard mentioned. Leave all existing gear and either send a starter set or do nothing at all.
*sigh* started to reply, ended up turning it into a post.
I started to ramble just a bit too much =P
I can see two causes for concern:
Firstly, how will this play out with “flavour of the month” classes? Sometimes changes do bring about a temporary advantage or opportunity for a particular class, and herd mentality takes care of the rest. Some people who currently reroll will end up paying for a class change. How long before Blizzard has to defend itself from accusations that it is deliberately making one or other class OP as a way to generate revenue?
Secondly, class changes effectively do away with the class levelling experience. Whether the process of levelling is beneficial to the individual player is debateable, but in broader terms it would concentrate the game around the level cap even more than at present and open up a debate about how optional levelling should be – why have levelling in the game at all? If you make levelling completely optional for existing players, keeping it compulsory for new ones is just unfair – it becomes a pointless and arbitrary barrier to stop new players interacting with the game-as-everyone-else-plays-it.
As an interim solution, what if you could only change to a class that you’d unlocked by getting an alt of that class to the level cap?
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Some excellent points have been raised in this discussion.
Frankly as much as i hated rerolling mage, from the warlock, ultimately it restored my faith in the game. Coming of LK and into Cata, i began to develop a pathological dislike for my class. My main whom i have countless hours on, was an awesome drag. I hated the no of keybinds, the utter lack of fun ( ISF) and a whole host of other things, which have been clearly documented.
However i don’t think the game is yet ready, for class changes. As much as i would dearly love to convert my first and fav. warlock, to a mage or a shadow priest, the process and social ramifications of this, would tear the game apart. People would automatically be paying to convert to, the big DPS class of the moment, their would be massive population imbalances and well enough chaos that Cthulhu, would be chuckling in the deeps at R’lyeh.
It would boil down to what D3, has been designed as. RMAH friendly. The gear that’s dropping at the higher levels is levels lower, even at level cap. You squeak through Act 1 inferno and then get 1 shot, by a trash mob. To progress? You guessed it.. drop xyz amount of gold, on Act 3/4 Gear available via AH. Back you goto grinding for gold. Not for progression. Not for a sense of achievement, in moving forward but gold. Aka Pay to win. That’s what WoW would become with class changes.
Great post, Cynwise. Thank you. My brain needed this.
Would class changing be a good idea? I’d see someone who went from say a dps class to a tank or healer at lvl 85 as an ebay toon. They haven’t gone through 1-85 learning the skills. My main’s a resto druid, but I’d make a horrible bear tank for quite a while. ANd that’s without changing class.
As for healers in BG’s – I’m not that fond of PVP at the best of times, but when I do, I’d sooner go in as moonkin. There’s nothing fun about being repeatedly focus fired by a group who are running HHTD. You said the equation is about fun, well, that isn’t.
I don’t know if it’s a great idea. It’s just so odd that it’s not even really considered.
It’s also funny how wildly different people’s opinions of PvP healing can be. If this expansion taught me anything, it’s that I love healing BGs. I adore it. Give my warlock a healing spec and I would do nothing but heal all day long. Focus fire is part of my enjoyment. 🙂
Thanks for the comment!
As somebody who’s bought an 85 toon or two, I can honestly say that it takes maybe a week or two to catch up on everything you need to know and learn to actually play the class proficiently. It’ll take longer just to gear up the toon for heroics or raiding than to learn the class.
Really, why would leveling a character from 1-85 with a limited range of skills be better than actually playing the full class at 85 for the same couple of weeks?
Using different classes and brackets to contribute is something I hadn’t thought of. I am of the opinion that it is advantageous to get certain achievements in specific brackets. I wonder if this will create lower level toons in enchanted heirlooms rerolling? What happens if you server transfer a 85 or delete the lvl 28 toon you have Ironman on? Now I may not be able to do what I want with character A, B or C because I will lose the achievement. It will be very interesting to see what they come up with.
I am of this opinion too. And character deletion is a big question mark! You know how I am with hunters! 🙂
I played Final Fantasy XI when it came out back in the day, and you could switch between wildly unrelated classes – you just had to go back to your Mog House/save point to do it. It was nice that you could try different things, but it did suck like hell to try to keep the gear for more than a couple unrelated classes. I wound up paying for alts (I think we called ’em “mules”) to hold one character’s armor.
Both FFXI and a little game I played that I swear lasted only for a month before dying (it was called Holic – that’s so generic a name I can’t even find info on it anymore) also allowed you to have two main classes at a time. The systems were different – in FFXI, the secondary supported the main with additional skills and stats (I think?), while in Holic, you just switched between the two wherever and whenever – but it was fun from a variety standpoint alone.
I think the gear would actually be the thing to keep people from doing this very often. Think of how much gear is keyed to your class! Pretty much all JP/HP and VP/CP gear!
Great post. It’s obvious that modern MMOs, and WoW specifically, are about the game and the mechanics. Table-top RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons are about the story. You fudge the rules or guess or estimate all in the name of having fun and telling the story.
Also, I am so very excited at the idea of being able to contribute to my HK total on other characters. I hope that doesn’t get changed, because I can never get myself to PVP on a different character when I’m so close to “of the Horde.” (And don’t get me started on the 150,000 additional I’ll need after that.)
Oh, I hear you on the HKs. I went through a lot of anguish about how little I was contributing to “of the Alliance” by playing all these alts until I finally got over it, but it would be nice to have those 35k HKs tossed into my total.
Sigh. I don’t mind shared mounts and pets, but account wide achievements? I”m so used to being the number one achievement whore in my guild but I only have the one toon and now…. I’ll no longer hold that position. Do I want to level more toons JUST so I can get achievements like having maxed profs on an account? I dunno. I hate alts. I guess I only have this expansion to enjoy the awesomeness of having the most achievement points before everyone else in the guild with their 8 alts will be taunting me as they streak ahead and I won’t be able to keep up…
The shoe is on the other foot. I will miss it.
Well, I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. You have the most on your one character, but others may not chase achievements on multiple toons. While there are a few I’ve gotten on alts (Resilient Victory, From Hell’s Heart, Arena Grand Master), there’s a LOT of repetition.
I’ve been looking forward in terms of account wide achievements too – particularly as I’ve been levelling my rogue and is now 3 achievements away from Master of Warsong Gulch (Veteran, Ironman and Persistent Defender) – and is only about 10 returns from Persistent Defender. I have Ironman on other toons and I’m now actually closer to Veteran on said rogue than my other toons. Likewise I’ve got some of the harder achievements in other battlegrounds (e.g. AV All Star) because in general they are easier to get while levelling than getting them at the cap.
Additionally I like the fact they are going account wide from the perspective that some of them are harder with one or another character – e.g. flag returns as a ranged player (aka a healer).
I’m also interested to see how they turn out to be implemented. The follow-up post by Zarhym said that the progressive ones won’t be additive. But then GC in his post mentioned that honourable kills will be so there is some form of determining where that line will fall (i.e. its not solely a technical problem).
That said MMO-C now has all the achievements from the beta – and it looks like the Meta achievements will be account wide, but the ones like WSG Veteran are not – so while you still have to focus on one character for total wins you don’t have to get all the individual entries of the achievement.
I’m guessing they aren’t final however – e.g. The Justicar is not listed as account-wide yet and I would imagine that one is (although they have talked about achievements requiring you to have some prerequisites and reputation is possibly one of them).
The other strange thing I notice from playing around on beta last night was that my Traveller’s Tundra Mammoth wasn’t available on my new 85 pre-made despite 74 of my other mounts being made available (-2 for paladin class and so 5 didn’t make it across – but I didn’t check which). So I’m not sure what is going on there (although that is even more up in the air as it isn’t an ‘announced’ feature still).
I wonder if I should have split this post in two – one to talk about class changes and achievements, and one just to talk about Battlemaster achievements for the PvPers. 🙂
Generally, PvP achievements are vastly easier at lower levels. Wrecking Ball and Iron Man are all vastly easier at 10-19 than at 80-85, Perfection and the speed victories are much easier, etc. But the reputation thing is really big – I can’t see how Justicar would work unless reputation stacked, yet reputation stacking is kinda weird.
Yet, if rep doesn’t stack, then there’s no reason for me to play anyone BUT Cynwise until I get Exalted with those two. >.<
Well if you wanted another post idea then feel free to write another one! I’m always happy for more posts from you… no pressure 🙂
I ended up writing a forum post about the reputation meta achievements here: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/5568800953
It would be interesting to put estimates on the time factors on achievements and do a comparison – because as far as I can see some of the biggest time commitments will be the PvP achievements. I was honestly surprised to see you hadn’t got the Veteran of WSG, but it is a big commitment. The closest I have on any toon is 34/100 AV victories on my druid (thanks largely to two very successful AV weekends – the ones where the AV queue popped almost instantly because it was the beginning of Season 11 – now it is more like a 5 minute wait versus a < 1 minute wait for random bgs). But given that factions are more or less balanced you are talking about playing 200 games before you can get the achievement (Gnomer's ratios for when he got his battlemaster title where more or less a 50% win ratio). That is a large commitment of time to put to one character. Does that really match up with the desired aim of account wide achievements?
Now you take that to Justicar – or any of the PvP reputations and that is an even huger commitment and an even larger commitment to one particular character – as you wrote previously that is around 1000 games for AB and that is focusing on just one BG.
What is interesting is that all the reputation meta achievements are showing up as being character specific (e.g. 40 Exalted Reputations). And I really don't understand the reasoning for this at all, apart from they are clearly trying to distinguish that reputations aren't an account wide thing and/or (as I wrote in the forum post) – it is some technical limitation at this point.
I think you kind of touched on this briefly, with regards to people wanting to play something that is overpowered and that sort of being an indicator that the developers may want to rein that class or spec in – but one thing I do worry about with the ability to change your class is people being forced to play something they don’t want to, for the sake of their raid groups.
There are guilds out there right now that do enforce certain specs or talent choices and while they are at a level that most of us will never experience, it does happen. What also happens is people who see what the big guys are up to and decide to try to implement that in their own groups, which doesn’t always go over so well.
I just worry that someone who is very happy being a ret paladin would ultimately be forced to not be one, in favor of another melee class or even a ranged class that is doing much better than they are and the stress that comes with being given an ultimatum like that. One could argue that this is something a player like that agrees to when they decide to take part in very high end raiding, but it’s still a crappy ultimatum to give someone, regardless.
Yeah, I skirted this issue a bit. It’s a combination of the pressure to change specs and class roles all rolled in one, but with more effort required by the player to make the change. It’s one thing to master 3 specs of your class, but at least you have gear that can be used between them. This adds more specs and a different gear grind on top of it. A current example would be warrior tanks being asked to change class to DK or Druid, which are very different play styles.
Some groups are going to enforce min-maxing no matter what. They’ll expect it with dual spec, they’ll expect it with pure DPS specs. It would happen with class changes, too. Like you said, it’s a crappy ultimatum to give to someone, but I think the blame lies with the person making the ultimatum. The difficulty of switching classes and gearing appropriately, coupled with a long CD between them, would hopefully curtail this as a frequent thing.
There is a fairly simple “first step” to all this, and that’s the notion of class archetypes. In just about any form of fantasy setting, you’ll see the warrior, the ranger or the mage archetypes (simplification) – defenders, protectors and spellcasters of many different shapes and sizes. There are legitimately no reasons why a defender couldn’t simply be a good fighter, but then choose to specialize in necromantic magic in order to become a death knight. Equally, that same player could then have an epiphany that leads him to convert to the Light and become a paladin.
In the end, he realises that religion is contradictory so he’ll just hone his fighting skills and be a warrior.
Sure, there would be some difficulty in sorting out exactly where things like rogues or druids might fit, but you see the point. If someone rolls a “mage”, there’s no reason the forbidden arts wouldn’t incline him to move into demonic magic and make him a warlock. I suppose my archetypes would be:
Protector: Warrior, paladin, death knight.
Ranger: Rogue, hunter, druid, monk.
Spellcaster: Mage, warlock, priest, shaman.
Each player would pick an archetype at character creation and then forevermore have access to the nine potential talent specializations that come with it (maybe give the shaman or warlock a tanking tree, just so the role is covered).
It’s not “the” solution you’re looking for, Cyn, but it’s possibly a step in the right direction.
You could even point out how there are examples of shamans becoming warlocks and going back again in Warcraft lore. Archetypes are an interesting suggestion, one I hadn’t thought about in relation to WoW. They’re in D&D – or were, I know I’m hopelessly ancient in my D&D knowledge – but it would certainly be an intermediate step. I like how you grouped them. 🙂
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Great post, Cyn. Your thoughts on class changing and account wide achievement sharing are intriguing. From a RP perspective, which I think is where we started on this topic, it seems much more “realistic” and would create a really strong emotional investment bond to our characters have the ability to class change. It is not that far-fetched to conceive of the character undergoing some sort of transformative event where they “lose the calling” to be, for instance, a warlock and want to become a healer to atone for their past deeds. I think there could be a mechanic that allows this to happen which has been ignored in WoW and could be explored and developed – scaleable class quests. I have long had the belief that there is great value in class quests. They allow the player to develop an understanding of their character in a way that collecting ten animal pelts do not. I would absolutely love to see a game which would allow you to convert classes and by doing so would require you to perform a series of class quests.
As far as achievement sharing among account characters, although I’m probably in the minority, I am not a fan of the idea. Maybe it’s just me, but when I create a character, I have a somewhat generalized notion of who that character will be – a hard-ass feral druid born and raised solely to take on the horde in the battlegrounds of Azeroth and beyond, or perhaps a silky smooth hunter trained to slay all manner of demon and dragons in Azeroth’s farthest reaches to protect the world’s inhabitants. It just seems too great of disconnect that those two characters, separate and distinct from one another in both their purpose and experiences, be able to share achievements, whether it be Justicar, Kingslayer or Loremaster, that they did not achieve of their own accord.
As John noted upstream, learning a class doesn’t take playing it from 1 to Cap, and it’s often even better to learn with the full toolset anyway. I’ve long believed that WoW should allow class change. I strongly believe they don’t simply because altitis is profitable under a subscription model. Anything that makes players play for that next month serves the business side of the game. If they really had a will to make class changes work, they could work through the database and gear issues. They aren’t even trying. They are as dismissive of the idea as they are of player housing, and they hide behind the same “but, but, it’s haaaard” excuses.