Account-Based Advancement

| Monday, January 13, 2014
I've been doing a lot of pet battles recently. I must admit that I enjoy them. The collection, the searching, the little tactics, all fun to me. I also like that it is account-based. This has a few advantages.

It gives me greater flexibility on what character I play, and even where. Of course the pet battles don't really use my characters, so in effect it doesn't matter which character I play because I'm not playing one at all, during the battles. Ironically, this makes either my paladin or druid the best characters for this. My paladin has the benefit of extreme map mobility, having all manner of tricks for getting around the world. My druid has the benefit of extreme local mobility, what with having instant flight form and travel form for those few places where I cannot mount. Yet I cannot mind that the game accidentally encourages the use of particular characters, since all gain the benefits.

If I happen to get a pet on another character, perhaps while out questing, that's great. This sort of shared inventory is helpful for that. It also means that I can park characters all over the place to keep an eye out for those spawns that aren't common. In those cases, I grab the first pet I see and figure I'll use a battle stone. I hate the idea that someone was denied any shot at all because I felt the need to slaughter the few available spawns in a hopeless quest for an instant rare.

As this notion of multiclassing (no classing?) spreads like some sort of zombie-as-metaphor-for-Communism I find myself wondering, how far has it gone and how far would I want it to go? These account-based activities in WoW are perhaps a first step. I have many titles that I earned on that paladin, all available to a stable of alts. Mounts as well, though thankfully, not the engineering ones. I'd not like that. Some pets, no longer available, are now available thanks to this sharing. All of these things that I think of as secondary are all things that I am glad to see shared among my characters.

Except perhaps the Insane title. I used to find myself wishing I could use it elsewhere. Yet, now that I can, I find it to be a silly idea. But that too is silly. It was not my paladin who earned that title. Certainly my paladin was the Bloodsail Admiral, and the extremely persistent pirate-killer; so persistent that by killing a different pirate faction I managed to get her to a positive reputation with everyone except those stupid Southsail Pirates. But it was my druid who made the Darkmoon cards. It was my rogue who farmed the junkboxes. Without them I doubt the title would have been possible. Surely it makes sense that those characters would share the title. It was a group effort, after all. But why should that stupid hunter get anything? Or that imposter new paladin who is Kelpsacovic in name only? Obviously I can choose which characters to give the title, so it's not as if some alt stole the title; I'd have to have given it.

That's what irritates me about this entire discussion: it is ultimately about feelings and feelings tend to be a messy, changeable, illogical thing, often with no basis in reality. I'd prefer to make decisions based on something concrete. In games the cost of working off feelings can be a few subscribers. In real life it can be lives and rights. I suppose that's my response to Tesh's question on Twitter. And I still don't have an answer for myself.


Green Armadillo said...

The system has its pluses and minuses. Any character can advance my progress, to include throw-away Death Knights on other servers. It's great to park less active characters somewhere out of the way for a daily or a rare pet spawn. That said, having no re-set is also a downside. My alts have nothing to work towards, as they spawn at level 1 with a roster of nearly 450 pets (300+ rare quality, 56 max level). If a new alt visits a mid-level zone there's nothing left for them to tame there.

I'm doing some of the same calculations in Marvel Heroes - an action RPG where each playthrough (the same content) unlocks increased exp and stat bonuses account-wide. It's fun to play as a different character, and it's also fun to get through the content faster since I am repeating it so often... but will it be broken when I'm running around at permanent double exp with 20 various +2% bonuses?

R said...

I've always felt that my characters are part of me (sorta) so the account-wide paradigm is quite comfortable to me... when your toons are wearing The Insane title, it's because you are, not because they are. Pets, mounts, etc that are shared were earned by you, therefore they're accessible by you regardless of who you're playing. Those are all cosmetic perks, anyway, not anything substantive.

Plus, there's still some gating and limitations in place... some titles only become available when toons hit a certain level, for instance, and things that actually provide significant gameplay benefit (gear primarily) are still generally toon-specific so where it MATTERS, effort is restricted to the particular toon.

Klepsacovic said...

@Green Armadillo:
The strange thing is that deleting pets or having them restricted to a character would have the same net effect of requiring/allowing you to capture them again, yet the former is almost unthinkable.

What matters varies with the person. Maybe battle pets are what matters most. Or cosmetic gear. Many things that can matter are not restricted to a particular character. Even gear, through BoAs, isn't fully restricted.

Unknown said...

It's a good observation. I think account-wide unlocking certainly has a place for a lot of things. Pets, for one, seem like a good option since gaining a pet isn't necessarily dependant on you being a particular class.

I think some titles and most mounts should be account-wide as well. The few exceptions would be content that required you to accomplish it as a specific class. For example, a straight faction grind can be done by any class, but a title earned from succeeding at specific content (a raid, or PvP, as examples) directly reflects your ability with a specific class and role.

It is similar to how I view gear. I don't think earning a piece of loot should also mean that every alt you have should get an equivalent piece of loot fitting to their class. I think that undercuts a major point of MMORPGs, which is to progress and master your character.

Given, all this is highly subjective and could vary wildly from one game to another, or one person to another, so don't take my opinion is my definitive view of how reality ought to be.

Electrolux said...

We had a desk move at work yesterday, I thought about complaining about my new desk before realising that any objections I raise would be corrupted and twisted to make the 'solution' even worse. I was reminded of MMOs.

R said...

@ Klep - guess it serves me right for trying to stick to my "shorter blog comment" resolution. All of those things you mention matter to you, sure, but they don't MATTER. They're all personal items... nobody else is ever going to demand specific battle pets, or cosmetic gear, to help your progression raid. If gear (Garrosh BoAs aside) weren't toon-restricted you could reasonably be required to have your best set of gear on any toon regardless of the circumstances.

If you want to consider battle pets to be toon-specific, though, and only your druid is allowed to use your moonkin hatchling and only your toon that got Insane is eligible for the title, there's nothing stopping you from imposing those restrictions on your own account. This almost seems like an odd variation of a theme I see occasionally within the WoW community, the "I have options therefore I'm being forced" theme. Having 50 dailies available doesn't mean you have to do 50 dailies every day, just like having account-bound titles, combat pets, mounts, heirloom gear and TI tokens doesn't mean you have to actually use them that way. Account-wide is just there for those of us, like me, who LOVE that they're account-wide and that we have additional options available to us.

If you had a toggle option for "[ ] Stone Ages - When NOTHING Was Shared" would you use it? Would anyone? Are you really not looking forward to the toy box and tabard storage? Would a shared account bank be a bad thing?

Klepsacovic said...

You seem to have taken a post in which I express my feelings as mixed, or even slightly in favor of more account-based advancement, and perceived me as being entirely opposed. Surely when I said "Obviously I can choose which characters to give the title" it means that I know I have control over how I use these features and I'm not decrying them as the end of the world.

Dàchéng said...

R said "All of those things you mention matter to you, sure, but they don't MATTER.". "Nobody else is ever going to demand [them] to help your progression raid."

You mean they don't matter to you, R, because what matters to you is progression raiding. But that isn't the only game under the Azerothian sun. You may not care about the plight of pet-collectors or mount-collectors or recipe-collectors today, even as Blizzard changes their game drastically. Don't expect them to come rushing to your aid when Blizzard changes the raiding game. Look for progression gear in a cash-shop near you soon.

R said...

@Klep & @Dacheng - That's my point, those are personal to each person. I'm agreeing that's a good thing. I was only intending to clarify my opinion on account-wide since there seemed to be some confusion after my first comment, I'm not actually disagreeing.

@Dacheng - I haven't been a progression raider in a while so it's not really a personal priority for me these days. I was just trying to differentiate things of yours that might or might not be of interest to other people. What gear you have (for raiding or PvP) can and likely is of interest to people you raid with, what title your toons wear isn't. That's the only differentiation I'm trying to make. Personally, I'm not actually against the idea of a cash shop selling gear, I think players with limited playing time should have an option to stay somewhat competitive if their skill level allows it.

What pet-/mount-collectors plight are you referring to? I had significant collections of each prior to account-wide spread across a dozen toons and the merge has done great things for my quality-of-cosmetic-life across my account, I haven't run into any downsides that I can think of.

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