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Assiduous Altaholics

Dr. Klassi's IconAssiduous – constant in application or effort; working diligently at a task; persevering; industrious

For those of you who know me, not like many of you do, I am not the most avid MMO player. Shocking, yes. I try; really I do, but until RIFT it never seemed to pan out for me. I am or was, as you probably could have guessed from the title, an altist/altaholic. Before I started playing RIFT I never really used a character for very long, my previous record being around 3 months. In fact it was usually much shorter than that. I’m sure many of you know someone just like me; someone mostly incapable of staying with the same character for any period of time. Afterwards, they get burned out creating a few characters and just bail. After finally being able to stick with a character for some time, I think I have narrowed the causes of my problems, and maybe they’re yours or a friend’s as well.

Firstly the problem stems from a lack of investment in the character. I try to make a character “mine” but the vast majority of MMOs don’t really allow you to make a character your own, with a few exceptions. I feel that this is really part of the problem, everyone looks the same, you have next to nothing invested in your character aside from time, and let’s face it, you probably have some to spare. Customization is great to an extent. However, when a character creator is too detailed it makes it even harder to stick with a character. I could make any combination of traits and designs, and I just keep making new and different characters, playing them for only a small amount of time. A character has to be yours, so time must be spent to really decide what you want. Otherwise things spiral out of control and all of a sudden you have the max allowable characters and you don’t want to play any of them. What I have started to do is to make a character and then just walk away. I’ll walk away for about 10 minutes and sit back down and see if I still like the character’s appearance. If I do like the character I continue on, and if I don’t I start over and repeat the process. It’s just a simple trick to see if I like my creation after I’ve had time to wander.

The next seed of my destruction revolves around the old adage “the grass is always greener.” I’ll see a class that looks cool or I got killed by a certain class and think to myself “that looks pretty sweet. I have to try that.” This process will repeat itself ad nauseam until I have at least one of every class which isn’t always a bad thing. I just tend to take it to the extreme in that I’m always switching characters, never staying with the same class or making multiples of the same one. I’ll play the same areas, doing the same quests over and over again and it gets tiring. However, having multiple classes in the beginning isn’t so bad, because the descriptions never really do the class justice. If you haven’t decided on a class then try all of them out, taking the time to really get the feel of the class and its abilities. Then make the decision based around what you want to play and don’t pick a class just because someone tells you to pick that one. Just because someone says a class is better at “blank” doesn’t mean it’s actually fun to play. Choose what you want and screw all those other people who say otherwise.

Next… well, it’s friends. Not what you’re thinking though, they aren’t the cause. When I play alone I switch around classes a lot, constantly even. I feel no obligation to a class or a character and well, that’s why this is getting written. After establishing your class with friends it’s easier to stick to it. They all know you as that class and if you start over you can’t play with your friends, and if you don’t want to play with your friends… well, I don’t know what to tell you. Get better friends? If none of your friends really play MMOs then try to find a guild that fits your play style and interests and join up; this will help keep you accountable to your class choice.

What helps me the most though is to just become invested in your character. Make up a back story or persona for them. I’m not telling you to start roleplaying, unless that’s your thing, then more power to you if so. Make it so that you want to play as this character, this character who is an extension of you, or maybe they’re the opposite of you. Just don’t view your character as simply a conglomeration of pixels but as something more meaningful. That’s probably simple for most of you, or obvious even, but when I was in all those MMOs I never really did it or thought to do it.

Now these aren’t the only things that may cause my or even your altism or altaholic tendencies but it’s a start. “But Dr. Klassi until RIFT you’ve only played a character for 3 months or so,” well shut up, no one is asking you. That ended not through my altism, but the game being broken after a certain level. That character was the start of the decline of my altist tendencies. I’ll let you try to guess which MMO. No hints for you!

Dr. Klassi M.D. PHD (not really, it would be impressive though, right?)

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8 Responses to Assiduous Altaholics

  1. Bronte says:

    “The next seed of my destruction revolves around the old adage “the grass is always greener.””

    I don’t suffer from the altoholic syndrome, but I certainly suffer from this. Lately though I have tried very hard to ensure I am no longer making new characters simply because someone else seemed to kick ass with that class or combination. They probably worked at it for months, acquiring the perfect gear, grinding PvP content, not to mention the arduous leveling game.

    My point is that sometimes you have to talk yourself out of it, or you end up with a platoon of half-used, half-leveled characters, and no desire to play, through no fault of the game or the developers!

    • Dr. Klassi says:

      Indeed! I have done that in well… almost every MMO I have ever played. How I discourage myself is similar to how you do it; thinking about all the time that person put into their character, gear etc. Also I tell myself “Do you really want to level up another character enough to be able to do the things they did?” Usually the answer is no.

  2. camelotcrusade says:

    Interesting that it’s RIFT, of all games, where you can get invested in your character. Why is that? RIFT has been the only recent MMO where I *couldn’t* get invested.

    I felt that it encouraged the opposite, with the endless tinkering of different specs leading me to shift my identity so much that I felt more like an amorphous blob of game mechanics than a consistent persona. I suppose for me, function and feel are intertwined, and I like to build a back story – and forward story – that explores how I’ve developed. I never figured out how to reconcile that with clicking a button and completely changing myself into different roles, and honestly the game didn’t give me enough “mechanics indepedent” customization options to feel like it worth trying.

    I’m not saying I didn’t love the flexibility of the game (it is an amazing feature) but it sure didn’t help me identify with my character. Why did I need more than one alt of each archtype? I had four chameleons and yet none of them unique.

    • Ferrel says:

      I have invested in Rift Ferrel because she isn’t a one trick pony. I’m not trapped in a healer-only body. She can heal, she can beat face, and she can even take a hit. That flexibility attaches me more to her but I can’t speak for Klassi’s experience!

    • Aurelis says:

      (This is not meant as an argument-fodder or team-tag attack of any sort, but I started to type, left, and Ferrel commented before I could!)

      I personally REALLY like that I can change my character as far as role goes. In real life, I have different skill sets, likes, dislikes, etc. that don’t always mesh. I like to climb trees and go on walks, but I also like to sit on a couch with a bag of chips and a TV remote! In my head, sometimes it really is like someone clicked a button and I get up and do something, or get down and stop doing things. I like to code and dig deep with Javascript, .NET, PHP, SQL, etc…. and I also like to wear a pretty dress and paint my nails and go shopping with my best friend. I’m certainly not saying female coders/scripters/developers/whatever can’t be girly girls, I’m just saying I never want to be one when I’m in the mindset of the other (;

      Now, Aurelis was originally a mage. In RIFT she’s a warrior. I’ve had to rethink her history and what I used to know of her, and her ability to go from tanking to DPSing (albeit poorly) fits in nicely. She put down her books to pick up a sword and shield, but sometimes, she just wants to wreck havoc like the good old days – Riftblade and Void Knight fit in well with this image of an ex-mage gone warrior!

      • agra says:

        ” … and I also like to wear a pretty dress and paint my nails and go shopping with my best friend. …”

        /target Aurelis
        /point
        /yell Girly girl! Girly girl!!! =)

    • Dr. Klassi says:

      Well, Rift is really the second MMO that I could get invested in. I mention the other one in passing in the article but don’t say what it was. It was WAR, and my Orc Choppa “Torgutz Gitstompa” was the first time I really got into my character. Then again I’m a huge fan of the Warhammer and 40k universe, WAAAGH!

      But I digress. How I like to think about the instant class change of rift, is to liken it to switching fighting styles. If a combatant only knows one fighting style eventually that will become a liability. I prefer to think of switching classes in RIFT to that; I switch to the fighting style to best defeat my opponent. Or if you’re a mage, switching what area of arcane knowledge you are drawing from. You’re a Hero! Why should you be limited to one method of fighting, one that could get you killed when the correct opponent appears. Fighters don’t stick with one fighting style, they adapt or die. Just how I think about it, your mileage may vary.

      • Starseeker says:

        This is kinda how i feel about it….My toon can change roles, well…in the real world an archer can usually use a sword too, they don’t just sit on their horse and go “I am an archer” while the bad guy is hacking off his legs with an axe. No, they’d take out their own axe and cleave the guys skull, thats how role changing feels for me in rift.