One thing I did not miss, however, was the part around 32 minutes in when, during a short discussion on whether Landmark will allow multiple characters per account, Terry Michaels says:
"...we've talked about it in both games, where having one character is really what we want to see people doing".
So, there you have it. Current thinking for EQNext is one character per account. That single design decision probably tells you everything you need to know about where the MMORPG genre is going and why so many long-time players are so uncomfortable with the direction of travel.
In the comment thread on Liore's post on $60 Level 90s at Herding Cats Electrolux observes "It’s bizarre how far we’ve come. We used to have fierce values. I guess we all grew up and realised it didn’t matter because it really doesn’t." Yes, it is bizarre and no, it really doesn't matter...except, of course, it does.
Electrolux goes on to conclude, possibly with heavy irony, possibly with the fervor of a Pauline convert, it's hard to tell, "They should just make vendors that sell BiS epics for RMT gems and be done with it. It doesn’t matter anymore. Just give everyone what they want for money. Sell all of the things. Do it!"
I understand his resignation or his despair or his glee, whichever it is. It's a nuanced situation, a slippery slope, a boiling frog, a welcome return to sanity. It's all of those. When you think of an old love, as Jonathan Richman asks, "Do you long for her or the way you were?" Cue Four Yorkshiremen sketch.
|Insert thumpingly unsubtle illustration of pillars here - Ed.|
We all have our own lines but the ever-shifting sand makes it harder and harder to see where we drew them. Twinking isn't a crime when it's heirlooms, Bottom Feeding is a healthy diet when you mentor down, if multi-boxing was bad why is hiring a merc good? It's Game Developer's Jenga - every last RPG brick pulled from the bottom, turned over and balanced on the top. Watch the MMO tower wobble. When will it fall?
When I heard Terry Michael's throwaway insight into the development process for EQNext at first I was incensed. One character per account for an Everquest MMO? Deal-breaker! I went straight to the Landmark Alpha forums, where I post as Thatdarncat, and began a protest thread but even even as I typed I felt my back-brain in motion.
An obvious workaround : EQNext will be F2P so if we can only have one character per account, why then, let's just make many accounts. Implications spiraled. Didn't I once object strongly to the whole account-bound ethic anyway? Didn't I argue that these are characters who have never met, who can never meet? Wasn't I against the Cox and Box life-share model from the get-go?
Good, then! Let your own deeds be the seeds of your destruction, SOE! You could have sold me character slots but now I'll just take them for free and have something closer to the gameplay I wanted in the first place. See how you like them apples! Thus do we rationalize away things we are powerless to affect.
Except, of course, in this case we aren't powerless, are we? Not according to SOE. In Alpha, every man his own developer, so we are told. Our opinions matter.
If the Landmark alpha/beta process is deemed a success, and there seems every chance it will be, EQNext will follow down that road. Who will be first out with the wallets, clamoring to be allowed to pay to test the next Norrath? Everquest fans, that's who, and while I'm sure the great majority will be happy with a game in which everything is bound to the account not the character, I just can't hear the roar of Everquest fans cheering for their bondage to a single character per account.
Either way, I will be making multiple characters in EQNext. If SOE have any sense they'll work out a way to let me give them money for that privilege but if not, well I'm pretty good at playing F2P games for free and my powers of both pre- and post-hoc rationalization are off the scale, yo!
Stickin' it to the man, 21st Century stylee!