The switching cost of alts


#1

One thing that’s been bothering me is that alts feel like a hollow mechanic at the moment :frowning:

The (most common) use of alts today seems to be to allow players to try different roles, and to specialize in each

However, because of the low cost to switch characters (all items are freely transferrable, it takes a couple seconds, etc)—alts are effectively being used as a respeccing mechanism.

It also has some downsides:

  • The identity of your characters is less valuable (take it to the extreme, and everyone will have 2-3 characters per player, all freely switched between on the fly)
  • A player’s investment in their character is weakened—why spend a lot of time getting that last level for one more skill/coin/item/whatever, when you could just level another alt?
  • It’s annoying/confusing for other players (hey, add nevir-hunter, nevir-miner, nevir-builder to your beacon, thanks!)
  • As someone who likes being a completionist, it’s also frustrating (damnit, now I want to get all the feats on multiple characters)

I want to highlight @seorin’s post below, which summarizes this far better than I ever could:


Now, there’s a couple ideas that spring to mind for dealing with this:

We could increase the switching cost by some combination of:

  • Bind gear to characters
  • Make it annoying to switch (add time to it)
  • Add a cost to maintaining multiple characters
  • ???

But that doesn’t seem like a great tactic - it dramatically favors players with more time/money


Another approach might be to weaken the tradeoffs we make in the skill system (aka a single character can do everything well). But that makes the skill system boring


Or, we could go all in, and explicitly support skill respecs/builds for a single character. I think this actually may be the right approach:

  • It preserves the identity of your characters
  • Isn’t annoying/confusing to others
  • It can preserve some of the effort you’ve spent on your characters (particularly if xp is fully or partially preserved for each spec)
  • Could be a great coin/resource sink for the economy (make it consume oort shards or something. Or even make it require some player built structure)

Downside?: More players will be able to do more things in the game. Not all at the same time, but it reduces the cost in player time/effort to be able to experience more of the skills that are available, while still preserving the challenge of figuring out the right build


Skill refund for the bomb nerf
#2

I detest having to have more than one character and generally steer clear of doing it. I’ve found that on this game I’ve had to do it already - after only a week of playing. It absolutely sucks for the solo player. It’s bad enough that we have to have an alt (imo, but I know this is totally the norm in MMO’s), I do hope we won’t be penalized for it too.


#3

Hrm… lots of comments here, lol.

I don’t like that I have to have alts to be able to do all the things in game. I think the biggest drawback here is something you mentioned. It lessens the connection to your character as your character. It also makes it difficult to keep track of who is who, with everyone having three characters with different names. It hurts the social aspect in this way also.

But, I’m also not sure if I think one character should be able to do everything in one ‘build’.

A possible suggestion here was discussed a bit on Trello, switchable ‘builds’, you start with just the one, and at a certain level get the ability to ‘swap out’ to a second skill mapping. And possibly a skill line that allows for more ‘build sets’.

This would of course as you mentioned, need to have some cost involved, though I’d rather just go with some sort of time requirement, like a 15s meditation/sitting pose to complete before the switch takes effect. Anything more than that and I think people will still just use alts.

And I’m all for total respecs. These should indeed have a cost, probably just coins, to allow everyone access to them. (new players wont have oort shards, etc).


#4

Yeah I think this approach you are suggesting is not the way to go. I would consider increasing total amount of skill points to deter from HAVING to make an alt.
We could also have certain skill be under the same skill point I stead of breaking down multiple choices.


#5

Personally I think the skill system should just be progressive. If I want to be a miner: equip a hammer, mine stone or low level ores, reach a milestone to be able to use better tools, go purchase it or spend the time working on building your crafting in a similar way, equip the new tool and go mine the next level of ore.

I know the idea of everyone doing everything sounds scary or boring, but in reality no person really has the time to devote to each aspect all the time. This model is similar to an MMO I still play off and on, Mabinogi, and trading is still a large part of the community.


#6

I don’t have an alt yet; I’ve only played on a single character so far in my time in Boundless, which I’ve been quite happy with.

I like the idea of specialists, and characters specializing in one role over others to become better at that one task than someone who does everything is. I think alts are fine for players who want to have specialist craters, and specialist miners, and specialist hunters.

I also think that specialists are important to the economy; if everyone can do everything equally well, there is no comparative advantage to leverage to net real benefits from trade.

I don’t think anyone here’s opinion is wrong or invalid, I just wanted to offer a different viewpoint to anyone reading this that some people think specializing in specific roles is ok.


#7

Sorry, OP, but I can’t get behind anything you’re mentioning. Putting some arbitrary tax or inconvenience around having an alt seems very silly to me. Boundless is intended to be an MMO of sorts within a voxel universe so, from my perspective, there are two approaches to alts we can take:

  • The traditional MMO approach where alts are free characters with some loose tie-ins to your “main” (shared storage, for example).
  • The Final Fantasy XIV approach where you can make alts but you can also fulfill every possible role on a single character via gear swapping. You level up each role independently by swapping to gear for that role and gaining experience. In FFXIV, you can be max level of every single role if you want on a single character.

#8

i enjoy having an alt for crafting along side my main.
I also think when the new skills are added (rage, focus, and weather resistance) they will have to add more skill points to the pool which will go a long way to making a single charicter feel useful.
when it comes to switching to an alt you already have to meditate to get to sanctum. maybe just add a few minutes of stasis sickness upon switching.
or! what if you have to earn your alts by building a a cryosleep pod. when you switch characters you are actually transferring you concesness to a new body.


#9

Let’s see…people use Alts because they don’t like the skill system limits, (or the skill system period)

So you think that’s bad and want to add a cost, make it less desirable…

I’m just concerned if solutions or fixes are to make more parts less fun…more people are going to leave.:face_with_raised_eyebrow:


#10

I love both of these suggestions.


#11

I’d like to say I like the system as it is now. I think being able to have alts and switch is great, as I can build multiple characters to each be a specialist in what they do well. Of course, I tend to almost roleplay my characters, so it’s cool to have a miner/crafter/builder, then a hunter character, etc. as I can give each a different identity and building style, etc. I agree that adding more penalties or disadvantages to switching alts will only serve to make the game less fun for me. Of course, more skill points so alts are not required would be great, but is optional, and yeah, probably will happen in the future anyways with more skills being added/implemented.


#12

For the switchable builds idea – I’m just saying, it’s basically the same thing now.

If I want a Hunter/Combat char, a miner/gatherer, and a builder, right now I use the three character slots for that.

The difference with switchable builds for one character would be, … well, no difference. I either switch ‘builds’ or I log out and switch characters. Same result.

So why make it un-necessarily complicated with alts. Esp. when some people would like to be identifiable as their character, and not have to have everyone remember three names for each person. Better/easier social recognition.

And I’m not saying remove the ability to have other characters, absolutely not. Many people enjoy creating the alt personas and such, and that is great. It should be left as an option as-is.


#13

Two of the currently most popular MMOs already use solutions mentioned in this thread:
Final Fantasy XIV: one character can do everything
World of Warcraft: a character can freely switch between multiple different talent specs

Furthermore, there are interesting lessons in the development history of both games.

FFXIV has struggled with the idea of specialist crafters. At first, there was a very steep cost to switching specializations, and the system received a lot of negative feedback. Development moved away from specialist recipes and the mechanic seemed all but scrapped. More recently, they’ve brought specialist recipes back, but they’ve dramatically decreased the cost of changing specializations. This system seems to be a much better compromise between players who want specialization and players who want to do everything.

WoW originally did not have multiple talent specs, and when they were first introduced it cost gold to unlock your second spec in-game. Last I checked, now multiple specs are unlocked by default (no extra cost) and it’s easier than ever to switch on the fly.

To throw in a third example, the original Guild Wars also made it easier and less costly to switch skill sets through its development.

I think these examples show a clear trend towards players preferring to do everything on one character - if not at once, then at least with a free and easy option to switch back and forth. You see the exact same trend in this game with how players use alts. The only major difference between an alt and a swappable skill set is you have to change names and do some minor extra micromanagement. In that case, swappable skill sets would be a great quality of life change without impacting the current economy or how the game is played.

I’d personally vote for two or three sets that you can switch between anytime you’re in the sanctum, with no cost, no cooldown, and no penalty.


I understand that some players worry it would negatively impact the economy or social aspect of the game to allow a character to do too much at once. In my long history of playing MMOs, I’ve never seen anything to suggest this would be the case. In fact, I’ve consistently been able to make money in several different games just by selling vendor items for more than I paid.

That tells me that there are enough different playstyles and priorities among players to create meaningful trade even if every character can do everything. Not everybody wants to do everything. People will happily pay to avoid the parts of the game they don’t find fun, and luckily, there are always players who do find that part fun and are happy to profit from it.


#14

To be clear, I’m suggesting a system similar to what WoW does with skill respecs


#15

I’ve never played Wow so I don’t understand what they do. Could you elaborate on this? Also, what I got from the OP was more of negative reinforcement, for players to be pushing for having more characters, that’s how I read your post. I offered a solution in a positive reinforcement way of thinking, rewarding players for just having one character. If you are trying to explain something different I am sorry I didn’t understand.
My personal experience with having alts it’s only been positive, but I am not a “complishionist”. Having alts gave me lots of plots and the ability to excel at all aspects of the game with a click of a button. Of course before people didn’t have to since they could unlock every skill tree on one character.


#16

Yeah! So, in WoW, a single character can be viable at multiple roles (some combination of dps/heal/tank depending on your choice of class). However, each role requires deep specialization (aka skill tradeoffs). You can’t heal/tank/dps (well) all at the same time

What WoW offers, though, is the ability to unlock additional builds (for an up front cost), and from that point on, you can effectively switch builds with the click of a button. In the past, it also had steep costs each time you switched, but they slowly reduced and ultimately removed that

Very similar to how we’re leveraging alts in Boundless, except you’re not switching characters, only skills within the current character


#17

Oh I appreciate you for explaining. I was talking about it in a card I submitted on the Boundless Tallo, messing around with the skill trees and adding abilities like a traditional MMORPG. But have all combat roles in one skill tree and being able to switch by the tools you carry.
Healer: carries bombs
Dps : carries slingbow
Tanks: carries lances.
But having such specialisations as you mentioned, wouldn’t that go against being BOUNDLESS?


#18

We have similar specializations today (based on where people focus in their skills): builder (recipes + chisels), hunter (bows + lances + survivability), miner (hammer/shovel/etc). there’s no way one can max them all out at level 50 - so it’s pretty similar in my mind (and even more flexible!)


#19

I only want my alts to have the same name, I actually enjoy building up different characters to fulfill a roll and also that they look different from each other.


#20

Yes, that’s true, I was in the mindset of combat related roles but what you’re saying it’s true for career roles.