The Grass Is Greener In My Mind

I have some sort of debilitating sickness in my head that always works against me when I’m deep into a MMO.  It’s one of the things that causes me to stutter out in the mid-levels of a game and reroll an alt or jump to another title.  I think of it as “the grass is greener on the other side” phenomenon, where I start getting obsessed about playing a different class or game while I’m hip-deep in a mindless grind or a slow leveling curve.

Right now, in LOTRO, I’ve got my burglar up to level 25 and am plowing through Lone-Lands, mentally preparing myself to scale the cliff of content I already have done with my captain.  I’m enjoying the burglar, he’s fun, but the second I’m not playing another class is the second I start thinking of them fondly and missing all of their qualities.  I miss a pet!  I miss heavy armor!  I miss whosits and whatsits!

Before I know it, I’m just salivating over the notion of playing the class I’m not currently playing, and it begins to drive me mad.  Some of you might say, “Well, why not just rotate between three or four alts and play them all?”  That’s a possibility, but it never works for me.  Trying to concurrently play multiple alts usually kills my interest in a game faster than anything else, because I don’t feel anchored.  Still, I want to play my captain, a LM, a minstrel, a warden, even as I’m enjoying my burglar.  It kills me.

What’s worse is when I get really high up in levels and I feel as though I’m locked in for good with whatever I chose at the beginning.  Before I left WoW, I got my druid up to the cap, but started to feel miffed that that was the class I ended up with.  I started looking enviously at other classes, like the shaman, and wishing I could play one but just exchange the hard work I’ve already put in with the druid, level-wise and gear-wise, into a different class.

I think it’d be ten kinds of awesome if MMOs would let us switch classes at end game, perhaps through an involved process, so that we didn’t have to reroll and lose the character we’ve grown to love.  If there was meaningful effort behind the switch, then it wouldn’t be a trivial thing, and players would have another thing to do at the level cap.

I don’t know.  Weird thoughts for a Tuesday morning.

22 thoughts on “The Grass Is Greener In My Mind

  1. I had this problem too but one tonic was finding a group. I mostly play solo and started to get bored of the LM. But when I played in a group I suddenly had a new appreciation for things that my class could do (mezz, root, etc) that I previously took for granted. There is nothing better than being wanted!

    A problem now though is I returned to the game and can’t find a group, ha! I’m lvl 24 and just finished most of the quests/deeds in the 3 starter areas. I know its time for the LL but to me that zone signifies the start of the ladder level grind. I’m already thinking of roling an Alt instead.

  2. I have this problem too. I think that the issue is your not really having all that much fun. If you were why would you even be thinking for playing another character? When i do this i know the game is not for me.

  3. I picked up LOTRO last weekend on your recommendation and tried it out for the first time last night. I started a hunter, the type of class I always start off with, and quickly got to level 5.

    Being a huge Tolkien fan it was fun to actually walk the lands but what I really liked was the mini-movie at the start with the Nazgul. I thought that was really well done and a great way to make you feel immersed in the theme of the game.

    But then I got curious about other classes. I didn’t go into the game knowing anything about it, just your posts, and read through the class descriptions and some of them started to sound tempting, so I started a Rune-Keeper. I’d also like to check out the Lore-Master. I’m not much of an alt player, so all this curiosity is new to me! I

  4. Stop playing class-based titles? 🙂

    If you were in a skill-based game, you would be able to start focusing more on the skills you want to play with to raise them. At least then most of your hard work would not go to waste.

    Sadly, there is a very small pool of MMOs to choose from which do this. And even smaller for those that do it well.

  5. On a side note, the grass is definitely greener in the North Downs than in the Lone Lands. 🙂

  6. I’m probably the wrong one to be commenting on this topic, since I’m just coming off nearly a full year break from MMO’s but there’s still a bit of burnout remaining: I refuse to play alts now. I have my Lore-master in LOTRO and that’s all I’m playing. My Minstrel and Captain continue to be on hiatus unless/until I change my mind.

    However. Rather than playing alts in one game, I’m making a single character in multiple games… HA!

  7. Interestingly, I’ve only ever experienced this feeling in Champions and LOTRO – and it has been especially strong in the latter. WoW didn’t trigger it. WAR didn’t either.

    But in Lotro, I couldn’t finish a level before thinking “hey, I’ve finally decided, I’m going to play my LM/Champ/Warden/etc”. So, I had a lot of characters around a similar low level.

  8. Having played all the classes a bit, a hunter to 65, and everything but loremaster and burglar to 20 (working on those two), I can completely understand the mentality you’re talking about. What’s worked for me is just to float to which ever alt matches my current playstyle, although it does make it hard to keep track of how best to play sometimes since each class has such different mechanics and tactics.

    About you’re comment on being able to switch classes. This is actually what a full-respec or retcon in Champions does. You drop all the powers and bonuses you’ve picked and get to start over. Something that’s easy to do with in-game resources in the first 15 levels or so. After that you can do a partial still to fix mistakes, but it gets expensive to do a full one. Of course you get a free one for hitting max level and you can pay for a token as well. Would be like being able to pay in WoW to change your class but keep all the XP, wonder when that’ll get added.

  9. In LOTRO, if I was getting the itch to play another class I would break. I’d craft, visit landmarks, take screen shots and generally hang around.

    RP server is great for this as you can just jump into the Prancing Pony and listen to what folk are saying. I once climbed the guard post at the east entrance to Bree (I was trying to get onto the roof of the AH I think – never happened) and listened in to a couple having an affair in a secluded, darkened corner.
    As they started lamenting on how their parents would most definately dissaprove, I lost my footing and fell between them. I pulled out my pipe and wandered off, all cool like.

    Times like this you are classless.

    Another thing that helps is to look at things from a different angle. Rather than think “I want that class so I can do what they are doing/wear what they are wearing/dance like they are dancing” (:P) think – “how can I use my class to bring out their best attributes?”. Then you are effectively co-playing that class.

    Get in with a fellowship, group up and your class becomes an asset. When people want you to play your class, playing your class becomes more fun.

    Innit?

  10. Only going to get worse my friend.

    I’m pretty positive that I will have one of each class when SWTOR comes out.

  11. always end up being hte class that no one chooses; i can’t stand playing a class my friend/brother plays.. and its usually a class i want to play too 😉

  12. I’ve argued more than once for full and complete respecs, all the way down to classes, at any point in the game (maybe only in town like Guild Wars, though, to keep it from being too crazy). I still think it’s a great idea, but in a world where grind directly translates to money for the publishers, it will never happen.

    Even though it should.

  13. One thing I like about the classes in LotRO is that they don’t feel like the bog-standard classes ripped from a D&D manual. The Champion, for example, really does feel like a warrior that can wade into combat and come out the other side while leaving a trail of bodies behind. (It used to be better before the -30% incoming healing in Fervour stance, but let’s not get too bitter today….) The Captain is perhaps the perfect hybrid class I’ve ever played. Each class has something to recommend it, which makes it fun for someone who wants new experiences.

    The really cool part is that you keep getting new abilities as you progress, there are few abilties that feel like the “Icebolt 1, Icebolt 2, Icebolt 3, Icebolt 3.14159, etc.” advancement you see in WoW, as an example. It’s a neat experience to be able to go to the trainer at a higher level and expect to find something neat. The downside is that if you see a higher level guy use a neat ability, you’re not sure when you’ll get access to that….

    Ultimately, I’ll echo what Ryver said above: this is one reason why I like skill-based systems. I can build the character the way I want, which means I’m less likely to want to roll a bunch of alts. Of course, this might mean I play the game for a shorter period of time if there’s less to investigate, which hurts the business aspects….

  14. I’m intrigued in Heroes of Telara (even though it’s likely a while out still) because they’re supposedly going to allow class-switching on the fly. Even if you have to level each class, just being able to switch easily on one character will help me at least have one in-game persona that people know.

  15. “I think it’d be ten kinds of awesome if MMOs would let us switch classes at end game, perhaps through an involved process, so that we didn’t have to reroll and lose the character we’ve grown to love.”

    There is a game that does that – Champions Online. Just do a full retcon at level cap – you can pay a truckload of in-game currency or shell out a small micro-transaction fee. You can even change the look of your character to match the new powers.

  16. I still dislike complete character class changes. Heck, I dislike respecs. I’ve spent my life becoming a software engineer, I don’t wake up tomorrow as good a carpenter as I am a software engineer today, having completely forgotten how to create software.

    If you’re able to change the character at will, what is there to be attached to? The name? The face you never see? The height? By the time you change class, everything they can do will be different, their entire look will be different (different gear, of course), and everything they have done will suddenly be “Syp v1.0”. At that point, why not just make it something like Team Fortress 2 or Modern Warfare, where you pick the class you want each time you log in to play?

    Commitment and attachment to a character are the core element of roleplaying. Character death is a big deal in a traditional RPG. MMOs have already made that part meaningless; give WoW a bit of time and any progress you make as a character will be equally meaningless, because it won’t be the same character any more.

  17. Buhallin, the thing is, not everyone cares about role playing. They just want to play a game. When trying new things out in the game involves grinding up an alt, that’s an unnecessary time sink, which really bites in a sub game.

    Beyond that, though, just because a respec option exists, it doesn’t mean that someone dedicated to playing a role has to use it. Role Playing in MMOs is already an exercise in self-control.

  18. You would have loved FFXI. Want to change classes? Just go into your mog house and switch to the job, and with 20 different classes you’d be busy for a while.

  19. Isn’t this sort of a double whammy for you Syp? Aren’t you sort of locked into playing LOTRO now, since you’ve been picked up to write about it for Massively? I would think that that would add a little pressure to the situation and take some of the fun out of the game if you start to see it as a somewhat of a job, now that you have an obligation other than to your own blog/readers.

  20. Let me clarify a couple of things:

    I’m enjoying LOTRO, very much so. When I applied to Massively, it was the MMO I wanted to talk about, because I knew I’d be playing it for a long time, and because there’s just so much to discuss.

    I’m also enjoying the burglar, and it’s not that I want to stop playing her. I just want to play everything, and some of that “grass is greener” mentality comes from wanting what you don’t currently have, and I was just trying to express that.

  21. “Buhallin, the thing is, not everyone cares about role playing. They just want to play a game. When trying new things out in the game involves grinding up an alt, that’s an unnecessary time sink, which really bites in a sub game.”

    Whether you RP or not, at that point why have “characters” at all? If a certain amount of time in-game means you can pick up anything at that level, what’s the point of a character? Heck, you’re looking for more than even something like Modern Warfare or Team Fortress gives, as you still have to gain the perks for the appropriate weapons and such.

    But it’s not just a time sink, and it’s certainly not unnecessary. Have you tried getting a group for something like Deadmines in WoW lately? It’s gotten worse as WoW has accelerated things, but new (or returning lower-level) players face a barren wasteland. Imagine if players only ever had to do it once no matter what. Two weeks after launch it would be impossible to find anyone in lower-level areas.

    I know you seem to think that 90% of the game content is nothing but a waste of your time, but I continue to think you really, REALLY don’t appreciate what would happen to games if you got what you wanted.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s