The switching cost of alts


Maybe WoW-style skill switching isn’t the answer. But the current system is pretty awkward and tedious, IMO.


I’ve talked about this on the trello, but the way ESO(Elder Scrolls Online) does it would best suit Boundless. In ESO you do pick classes, but they’re essentially ability sets, so they don’t dictate what roles you play. We could use the system of levelling from ESO, but use an open skill tree for abilities and skills.


In WoW (and many other similar games), when you switch skills, it’s effectively like being able to cleanse all your skills, and load a “saved build” (all your skill points are preserved).

Additionally, in WoW in the past, you used to be able to only switch at certain locations - which prevented people from switching on the fly (but now you can freely switch as long as you’re out of combat, because that game is combat-centric, and the skills are all combat-based). If we were to do it here in Boundless, it would definitely need restrictions on when you can perform a switch


I like the option of having alts for one reason.
When I start from scratch, I can become a miner, a hunter and a crafter faster, as I can focus my alts on getting skills needed for one of the roles. Of I had only one character available I would have to decide if I want to hunt better first and leave crafting for later etc. or maybe progress through all aspects of game simultaneously (meaning slower).

Thanks to alts I buy survival skills and atributes and tool masteries needed for a hunter and miner and skipping costly crafting skills. At the same time my third alt only gets crafting skills letting me engage in crafting all I mine and hunt without much delay.
And it doesn’t mean I don’t need other players help or shops to buy stuff. As a single user I need to divide my time between 3 alts and I cant possibly mine/hunt and craft fast enough to provide myself and have a profitable shop of my own at the same time.


Nor do I, in one ‘set’ or ‘build’ of skills.

Some people are completionists, or like to be self-reliant. Your view and their views should not have to compete. All should be viable.

And, socially speaking, shouldn’t characters be based on (and known by), well, character and personality, and what we DO. Actions not words, Actions in the world and not skill sets? Skill sets solves this for those that do not want to RP different characters. Leaving alts in solves this for those that do. (And I am all for adding the option of ‘family’/surnames, but not everyone who RPs wants their characters related, either.)

See previous response. Why not allow those people to play how they want to and not how you want them to?

And you have to know this is already being done now, with alts. And will be at launch, one way or another.

First, This is still missing the part where we can all have all the skills NOW, with alts. Log to Sanctum, Switch Char, poof, an alternate skill set. Many, many people have done just this (use alts as alternate skill specs), and if the game launches with alts and no skill-swap ability (or some other option), I cannot see that changing.

This could actually feel limiting to some people who might want to create an alt just for RP purposes.

I also think forcing people into or limiting their depth into roles like miner/gatherer, hunter, can help promote trading, I don’t agree with forcing roles, but what about those who DO choose to source all their own materials and build their own things? Yes, they can undercut prices, but the time and effort involved balances that, and there is no way one person can keep up with the demand that would be generated vs. the time required, hence they might cause some fluctuations in the market pricing, but would not have as huge an impact as you are thinking.

I’ve seen this play out recently in several self- sourced (start to finish) shops. Awesome prices, but they sell out of stock and take time to replenish. Whereas places like Omni’s (based on trade) were always fully stocked (but not always the best prices). I think that in a way the two work as checks and balances on the market prices.


I have no idea what you mean by this, could you elaborate?


Balanced as in don’t max out any one skill. Accept maybe speed. Go about half way on the main skills. Don’t purchase crafting skills for items that are a dime a dozen at most shops. Be very tactful and slow about spending points. Inquire and research skills before investing in them.


Alts are different characters.

I like the current system with finite skill points offering one the opportunity to be a generalist, or specialize in mining, crafting, or hunting.

I think making and leveling up an alt is fine and personally I enjoy it. I prefer different characters because I believe in time we will get more of the player models in game, and I’d like to play with more than one of them.

The only change from the current system that I’d like is for more of the specialized skills to be in the game (e.g. lances, bombs, engines, environmental skills).



Which would be possible with the current alt system, or the switchable builds system. Nothing lost.

Not suggesting we change that. It’s a perfectly valid choice, and one that I might make use of as well.

Ok, I’ll try to say what I’m trying to get across, as clear as I can one last time, then I’m out. We’re going in circles here.

Me switching characters in the Sanctum and me switching skill ‘sets’ on one character can, if one develops the alts to separate roles, have the exact same effect – of allowing one to fulfill all roles. Call it an alt, call it a skill set, the end result is the same.

I love alts. I love that it gives people the ability to imagine and create other personas and/or families.

But free people from thinking “but I can’t mine on my other character, maybe I should make this character a miner so that I can…”.

Let the alts be creations of their own, their own personalities and skill sets that may or may not overlap, as fits that character. This can also be done now with alts, if you don’t want or need to have all the game options available to you (mining/gathering/hunter/tank/etc). And that is a perfectly valid choice in how you choose to play the game.

For those of us who will create characters to fulfill these other roles, because that is how we like to experience the game, and do not want to be forced to use another name that people will need to remember us by, why force that?

For example, I’ll just end up with Stormsoul, SomeOtherStormsoul, and YetSomeOtherStormsoul. each of which will fulfill a role. This diminishes name and personal recognition within the game. I’ll still have all the roles I want fulfilled, but there is no gain in forcing it to be another character, and a loss, socially, I think.

And I am in no way saying give a character enough points to get every skill at once. Heck, you cant do that now, and you wouldn’t be able to do that with either alts OR switchable specs.

Just think of it as when I switch ‘sets’, I am switching to an alt. I just don’t want to have to change my name or appearance. For those that do want that, the alt option is still there. Nothing is lost in allowing sets if we keep alts as well. In fact, as I stated, I think it frees up the alts up to be more creative inventions for many people, not based on which skills the others don’t have.

I’m in no way suggesting taking away people’s ability to create alts as they are.

I’m sorry I can’t be more clear. :man_shrugging:


This really doesn’t impact the economy as much as you think. Time and convenience are primary motivators. They greatly overshadow what little trade gets generated by forcing somebody to buy something because they can’t acquire it any other way.

Time: you buy coal because you don’t have enough time to get it yourself.
Convenience: you buy coal because you simply don’t want to go get it yourself.

Rational factors are not as common as you would want to believe. In fact, I always end up filthy rich in every MMO I play specifically because I don’t expect other players to make rational economic decisions. Players regularly sell items for less than vendor value (or buy them for more). They undervalue their own time, often selling an item with zero regard to the time it took them to get it in the first place. They will even buy things they could pick up off the ground ten feet away. If you ask them why, they laugh and say it didn’t cost much anyway. Of course it didn’t. You can pick it up off the ground ten feet away!

My point being, there is plenty driving trade already. The economic impact of skill specialization is minimal by comparison. Players can have three characters (and thus three different skill sets) already, but trade is still fine. Adding swappable skill sets would not change that.

Nobody is advocating removing the alt system as it exists currently. Regardless of any other changes, that should remain an option for you if that’s how you like doing things. The suggestion is for skill sets to be offered in addition to and not instead of alts.


I’m making this a separate post because I think it’s extremely important: if you are concerned about economy, your primary concern should be player retention.

If you study high vs. low population servers within the same game, you can see what a significant impact population has on the economy as a whole. Low population servers have incredibly stagnant economies - difficult to buy or sell at any price. High population servers have active, functional economies that serve the needs of most players. Yet the underlying game systems are exactly the same, the only difference being number of active participants.

Player retention is why modern MMOs evolved in the direction they did. Respecs became cheaper and easier, swappable skill sets were added, available roles were expanded, and it ultimately became possible to do more and more on one character with less of a time investment. This is all because it helped keep people playing.

In the end, that’s what matters most regardless of what you believe. There can be no functional economy without enough active participants. This is especially true in a game like Boundless, with a vast universe and no (official) central market or auction house. Fail to reach a critical mass of players and the economy will be dead no matter what systems there are to support it.

Swappable skill sets have a proven track record of helping keep players happy and playing. What you gain from the increased player retention vastly outweighs any minimal benefit the economy might theoretically see from forced specialization. I very much favor the guarantee of a significant improvement over the theory of a minor one.

Please don’t say that forcing people to specialize will help trade or the economy. It won’t. Keeping people playing will.


The way I’ve read posts in this thread, for some people it’s not about ‘refusing’ to roll alts, or requesting everything be available at once, on one character. This thread clearly highlights a difference of opinion about what an alt actually represents.

I might be wrong (and if I am I apologise), but from your comments you are part of a subset of players who seem to view an alt as a change of clothes. You change your character (clothes) to fit what you want to do, but underneath it still represents you, the player. Other people in this thread don’t view their characters like that, and you seem to be discounting that entirely. To some people, their character is everything that that single character represents on a social level. It is the personality with which they play their character, the relationships that THAT character builds.

You’ll probably notice that I’ve been careful with my wording because that group doesn’t really include me, and I’m not going to pretend it does. I’d much rather only play one character, and have one public persona while I play Boundless. I do still think that the viewpoint should be considered and respected as much as any other when discussing a solutions that fits the most people.

You are absolutely right… If you decide that a character is defined solely by the way that his skill points are spent. But it isn’t. See nevir’s post for a nice list of other things that make up a character. Even if that WERE the case, why do you have problem with that? It wouldn’t be people asking for an advantage, or skills at any given time. It would still retain any balance that currently exists.

My additional suggestion that you quoted, beyond the reason I already specified in the post, was intended as a way to mitigate or reconcile what I thought was going to be a legitimate complaint that about it. It could have been argued that this was a bad idea because if it worked like skill specs do WoW, you would be able to do the same amount or work as you presently do, and be rewarded with a character that has three specs that cover most activities, cutting the leveling process by two thirds. I am trying to provide thougt-out suggestions that make more people happy, not people who want it easy.


Ok… features take time to add, and there are finite developer cycles available available.

I’d rather see new features added than adding a new respec/spec swap system that is functionally equivalent to an existing one.

Player retention is important, but we need to attract players to retain in the first place. That will take flashy new features, not revisiting sub-optimal but functional systems currently in the game.


I don’t think anyone’s going to argue that. This is most definitely a quality of life improvement, not a necessity.

We should still be voicing our opinions and areas where we think the game could be improved though, no?

Plus, the devs have a much better view of the overall plan and areas for improvement—for all we know, there may be some way where they can address the underlying concerns here in a completely different way, that folds in other areas of the game they already want to build. The more information they have about how players are perceiving the game, the better.


Granted, but only the programmers of the game know how much time and resources this would take. I am a programmer and could speculate that while it would definitely take some time/code/ui, it may not be as much as you think – we get skills reset on updates, so that functionality is there in some fashion. All it would need is some buttons across the top of the skill page, and the data for each skill set saved. …but I truly have no idea because I have no idea how the code is structured. Whether or not its worth the time is going to be up to the developers.

It can be done now, but … well, I already went into all that.

This will likely result in what is referred to as ‘churn’. New players coming in cause its flashy, and then leaving because the Quality-of-life features aren’t there. IMHO churn would be worse for Boundless than a slightly lower playerbase overall. esp. when you consider all the abandoned plots that would cause.


As with all new features, it’s probably not that simple, heh.

I think the main challenge may actually be around whether it’s ok to preserve all of the player’s skill points (at which point, you get those points for free vs the time people spend leveling their alts).

The alternative where you level each “build” independently probably requires more work technically (and probably requires giving more thought to objectives, and whether there are enough xp sources to level multiple builds)


It never is… :wink:

Agreed, this is a point of consideration. I would be fine with either, and if necessary, the xp and level scales could be adjusted to accomodate. Though as you mention below there might need to be additional sources of xp to overcome the fact that feats are then only achievable once.

Coding-wise, a separate xp/level counter, perhaps. But yes, not having the objectives/feats to do over again would require some rebalancing in this scenario.


Very much this! Poor volume = inefficient market prices. Specializing allows you to just play the way you want and doesn’t give you an advantage.

The system is still incomplete. I believe they will incorporate some skill reset system somehow after 1.0 because without it players would never be able to respec their hard earned level 50 characters. New features will come out after release which will most likely have their own nodes in the skill tree and the devs would not force each player to make an alt just to enjoy the new perks.

I suggest adding a wish to the Trello Board titled Character Respec if this is one of the gripes that you have with the current system.


So, to summarize this thread then:

Some people: "We feel the way that alts and skills work together isn’t always helpful, for reasons X, Y and/or Z.

Some other people: “But that doesn’t directly benefit the way that we play, so we don’t want time wasted on this”.

Fair enough, ‘Typical Internet Behaviour’, you win this round… again.


It doesn’t have to end there! Post wishes on the Trello board so that we can streamline suggestions to the devs. People can vote up features that stand out to and it will give us a better idea of what 1.0 will look like.

Ultimately, it’s in the devs hands and they have surely covered more bases than us players can imagine. A forum is for sharing feelings and ideas to get some feedback from other players and devs! But it is true, there are only so many features that game developers can add to a game. Imagine Minecraft mixed with Destiny mixed with Overwatch mixed with ESO mixed with GTA. Okay this is much more than a bit of a stretch but the point here is that a game has to stick to a single scope. If the scope gets too big the game may never see release. Time is limited and we have to assume that the devs are more than competent and that they have a plan that’s probably better than ours! A lot of times newer players have lots of suggestions to how the game could be better too. Voicing our opinions is a way for everyone to understand the many facets of how the game may be affected! :slight_smile: