Oh Noes!

It’s starting to creep in on me again. That horrible feeling of incompleteness that only another alt can solve. No, I don’t mean that in the sort of hopelessly addicted way that it may seem. Yes, I’m an altoholic, but I’m not that bad… yet. I just mean that I’m bumping up against the 10 toons per server limit and with Cataclysm inching ever nearer, I’m starting to put some serious thought into what I’m going to do.

With toon #8 flying towards 80 with as much speed as his epic druidy wings will carry him, I’m left with only 2 toons that are more or less unleveled: a 20 dwarf warrior and a 17 draenei shaman. I  imagine that both of these guys will be 80 or well on the way before Cataclysm is officially announced for release, much less before it actually launches. If I level them. Which I’m now pondering… not doing. The thing is, Blizzard has been sticking with this 10 toons per server limit since the dawn of time. And although I haven’t even been around for half of its 5 years of existence, my main server is already full of my alts. Ten classes, ten slots: a bargain so perfect I couldn’t resist making a toon of each class to try out. Except that now this once-happy coincidence has turned into a devil’s bargain. I’ve got 7 80s (and a 78 who will be 80 very shortly) and I love each one in different ways. Even my least favorite among them has its uses and gets playtime. I like variety, and the experience of having so many toons to choose from is delightful… except that now my opportunities are closed. Or at least closing quickly. I’m going to want to level a new toon or two once Cataclysm hits. At the very least I’ll want to level another druid, because even with dual-speccing, which helps, you could dual-spec two druids and not double-up on a playstyle (cat, bear, boomkin, tree). I have the same problem with my paladin: he’s ret/holy, and I love both, but I also want to try my hand at prot. I gave it a shot for a while in the 70s and it was kind of nice, but wasn’t as fun or comvenient for leveling as ret was. Only now I have a pretty decent dps and healing set put together and the thought of dropping either to pick up tanking seems kind of wasteful.

Which is where I’m sitting at, apparently all alone. I’ve seen literally hundreds of posts asking for extra character slots and in what few posts Blizzards has responded to, they seem pretty insistent on not giving a damn about this “small percentage of the players.” Which leaves me in a bit of a bad situation. None of the proposed solutions look all that appetizing to me. Many of the posters mention that they have one or two bank alts and don’t wish to delete them. Unfortunately, I don’t even have such a simple solution: none of mine are bank alts! I have 10 legitimate toons on my main server, and when cataclysm hits I’d love to have at least 2 more. But I can’t, and since Blizzard has all but said “go to hell” to the legions of rabid fans asking for more slots, this leaves me a bit worried about what I’m going to do, come the Cataclysm.

I could:

  • Start over on a new server. Except that juggling servers doesn’t work very well. It’s hard to stay active on 2 different servers at once. It’s not a matter of toons, it’s a matter of trying to juggle two calendars, two friends’ lists, two pools of professions and alts available to help with something. It’s a matter of not having that comfort zone on the new server. When I play on the new server I miss my network of crafters, of high-level toons that can help me with that 5-man group quest that I’ve been spamming general about for the last hour or two, but I just can’t seem to solo. I miss the financial resources that allow me to buy the riding skill and mounts for my toons when available, and that allow me to train new spells and profession recipes without worrying about affording it. I miss my ample guild and bank storage options. I miss my heirloom gear. And yeah, I really, really miss my friends. I’ve tried starting over on a new server several times. I have toons scattered across 4 servers, and in the end I always come limping back “home” to my main server, where all the luxuries are, because, well, because once you’ve had a taste of the good life on your main server, it’s hard to rough it in the slums of a new neighborhood where you’re a big fat nobody (and broke, to boot).
  • Buy a second account. Except that going from a harmless $15/month avenue for cheap entertainment to a $30/month addiction seems like a pretty big step. One that I’m not ready for, even if I could afford the extra cash. And even if I did spring for a second account, I’d be left with many of the same problems as switching to a new server. Like, say, being unable to transfer my heirloom gear to my second account. And though not impossible, transferring gold and items between accounts is much less convenient than mailing items between characters on the same account. Same-account mails are instant and can be done from any mailbox. If I have a toon at an inn in Westfall and I need to get him some gold, I can send it to him from my mage in Dalaran and just switch back. Voila! Done. On two accounts, the only way to transfer instantly is by signing on to both accounts at once and trading it to yourself (which requires you to be in the same location), or transferring the items through a guild bank (which requires both toons to be in a major city), otherwise, your mail has a one-hour delay on it. That may just be a minor annoyance, but if I’m paying for entertainment I like to keep the enjoyment high and the annoyances to a minimum.
  • Delete someone. Except that deleting an 80 isn’t an option to me. It seems to me that this is sort of like telling lil’ Timmy that he has to be killed because there’s a new baby on the way and you’re out of bedrooms. Seriously, though, I don’t like the idea of deleting a character that I’ve put so much time and effort into. Although some toons are more fun to me than others, there are none of them that have been so god-awful that I was like “Ugh! I’m never playing that class again.” Even my least favorite class so far – the rogue – is pretty fun to play, even if more clunky, awkward, or cumbersome than certain other classes whose play-style I enjoy more.  Which leaves only the two little ones. Setting aside for a moment the idea of deleting a toon that already has maxed (for his level) two professions, first aid, cooking, and has all available bank spaces with frostweave bags in each slot… I would be cutting off one avenue of exploration for another. Which, you know, sort of defeats the entire purpose of the new toons.
  • Transfer someone. Seeing as I feel the way I do about new servers, this would largely be like paying a $25 fee to delete a toon. Or, say, exiling lil’ Timmy to Ethiopia instead of killing him. Whichever toon I would transfer to a new server would inevitably be played less than it is now by a considerable margin. Cut off from my current friends list, he would never be the one I grab to run a quick daily or take advantage of an easy weekly for free emblems. He would, in effect, be shelved in storage, and unlikely to ever be dusted off again. Transferring a large sum of gold and heirlooms with a toon to start over on a new server would be, in effect, like shelving the whole other server full of toons. I don’t really want to shelve anyone, much less do so en masse. While it may seem like a logical solution at first, it’s really the most illogical one suggested. Sort of like: “well, we were trying to come up with ways to save your foot and we discovered that if we cut off your leg at the hip we won’t have to cut off your foot!” Uh, yeah… thanks, doc…!
  • Quit WoW entirely. This is beginning to look like a better and better option. Maybe it’s juvenile or whatever to just throw your hands in the air and say “screw it” but I’ve been leaning towards trying a new game for a while now. I know I like City of Heroes, and games like LotR Online and Aion, and Star Wars look pretty promising. I’m one of those shiftless, crazy all-or-nothing types  that tend to sometimes make drastic decisions. But it seems to me like this… If I’m paying $15/month to be entertained, and the stress and dissatisfaction begins to outweigh the fun, it would seem stupid to the extreme to either a)keep paying the fee to be annoyed, or b) give the company that annoys you twice as much money for a partial workaround to a problem that’s really all on their side, anyway. So maybe I’ll just try some other pastures. Maybe one of them really is greener.

And really, all the frustration comes from the fact that Blizzard could continue to meet my needs (and those of my fellow altoholics) by simply enacting a solution that doesn’t really seem overly taxing in its implementation.

They could:

  • Allow accounts to merged within game. I’d reconsider my position on having 2 accounts if those 2 accounts acted like one big account. Give me instant mail between all 20 toons, BoA items to all 20 toons, etc. and that $30/month addiction starts to look a little more like just an extravagant indulgence. You want my money? Make me think I’m getting a bargain.
  • Allow altoholics to purchase additional slots for a one-time fee. Say $10-15 per toon slot would be reasonable, but I’d even consider Blizzard’s usual highway-robbery prices of ~$25 per action on the account to be able to get another druid on my server without slaughtering one of my other toons as a sacrificial lamb. This would satisfy both of Blizzard’s most commonly quoted (and ironically, mutually exclusive) responses to why adding new slots isn’t a priority: there aren’t many people who want an extra slot and it would take too much server space to store the data for all the new toons. (One wonders just how much extra server space it would really take to give the alleged “average player” 10 empty character slots instead of 8 empty character slots.)
  • Just give us a few more slots to use. The number of race/class combinations has roughly doubled since the game started and the 10-per-server limit was conceived. The 2 existing expansions have greatly increased the amount of content to explore, and the new expansion will likely do more of the same… except that our ability to explore this new content has not expanded along with our new world. They’ve given us new classes and new races, and now they’re giving us even more, but they’ve never given us more room to accommodate these changes. It almost seems like each new expansion is just a slap in the face that says “well, if you had wanted to enjoy the new content you shouldn’t have explored the old content.” Which just seems stupid and backwards. Lately Blizzard has been implementing all sorts of new features aimed at getting more people to level up, including, from the looks of it, trying to encourage people to level more alts. The new dungeon features are a much bigger improvement at lower levels than they are at 70+. The overhaul of low-level zones, gear, and quests suggests that they want the leveling process to be more streamlined, even before Cata hits. And finally, the amount of heirloom gear available suggests that they want at least part of these people to be old players with new toons: alts. Except that in a way, they’re punishing the people that already enjoyed leveling alts the most. You can’t move your heirloom gear around: we expect you to keep it right here, on the server you got it. And we’re not giving you more spaces for alts, so just delete or shuffle around the toons you have to make space.
  • Break down the barriers between servers once and for all. Make heirloom gear truly BoA: my pandaren monk, corehound pup, and Mr. Chilly appear in my mailbox when I start a new toon. Make my stained shadowcraft set and tattered dreadmist set do the same. Allow cross-server friends lists and dungeon crawls, both random and non-random. Allow at least a limited amount of gold to be transferred from server to server on your own account, even if it must be done through an easily tracked resource, such as the blizzard website.

So, yeah, maybe I don’t NEED any of this. Maybe I could just stfu and get over it and make do with what I have. Yeah, you’re right, maybe I could. But I won’t. Because this is not about a need. It’s just a game. I don’t NEED to play the game at all. I choose to play the game for enjoyment. If the game doesn’t meet enough of my needs and desires, I can find another outlet for entertainment. Yeah, this is all about wanting. I gladly admit that. This is what I want. This is what would make the game more fun for me. This is what would make me happy. Which is, after all, what I’m paying for.

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