MMOs change all the time. They always have. Whether the pace of change is increasing or whether it's just that nowadays a lot of us play more MMOs and therefore see more changes stacked tighter together in time I'm not sure. I think it's most likely both.
It's not easy to cast one's mind back ten or fifteen years and recall ordinary, day-to-day events. Not with any clarity, at least, as anyone who's ever consulted an old diary will attest. Certain events stick in the mind, often those that we polish up to a lapidary gleam and hand out as anecdotes over the years, but memories of most of the things that we did just for the day fade fast.
With that caveat, it does seem to me that, when I played Everquest or Dark Ages of Camelot or The Realm back at the very beginning of the 21st Century, major changes to systems within MMOs that I played came along less frequently. What's more, when they did, less was required of me as a player to adjust to them.
|Number-crunching! It's what I live for!|
Even SOE must finally have realized the potential negative affect this could be having on their players because last time round they automated the recovery process and added predetermined upgrade paths. Rift did something very similar at quite an early stage, when they began twiddling about with way Soul Points worked there and I believe so did Lord of the Rings Online with the recent changes to that game.
Providing a quick fix for players who resist, resent or simply log in unaware of these changes is a wise plan. While there certainly is a significant and vocal demographic within the hobby that relishes Year Zero resets and many who get very excited over builds, yearning for more opportunities to bury their heads in statistics and possibilities, there are plenty who see the whole,thing as a royal pain. Even for those who are willing to spend time getting a build just right, as Keen found, when he launched himself headlong at the ESO head start and bounced off the Wall of Choice, sometimes too much freedom is no freedom at all.
|The possibilities are endless|
Unless, of course, I happen to be in the mood for a good old fiddle. Once in a while, on a whim and usually on a Sunday afternoon, I might take it into my head to revisit a character's traits or points or whatever it may be. I might spend a while moving things around. More than that, I might thoroughly enjoy myself doing it.
Oh, the inconsistency of it all. Largely, of course, it's being imposed upon by outside forces that irks. If I'm in the mood to spend most of that Sunday afternoon changing my Elementalist from a water staff support build to a full Zerker rain of fiery death build then that's my business and my fun. If I log in after a tiring day at work just looking to zone out while I do my dailies only to find that before I can even start I have to respend all my points, which in turn means researching a new build and learning how to play it, then I'm likely to balk at that first hurdle, close down that game and go somewhere else.
Choice is only choice when it's your choice. When MMO developers decide the time is right to revamp these systems they are exercising their right to choose to do what they feel is in the best interests of the game. If the game is strong enough and the changes are sound then even reluctant outliers like me will be carried along on the tide of enthusiasm. Once. Maybe even twice. Keep at it, though, and in the end those returned points will go unspent, the characters unreformed, the game unplayed.
|Can always use a little more zap.|
GW2 has managed to go a good long while without any major shake-ups to its systems. For all the fuss and bother it raised, ascended gear has proved to be eminently ignorable for those who choose to look the other way. The usual ongoing class revamps have represented nothing more than the eternal shortening of the legs to get the MMO table to stand straight that's been going on in every MMO ever, always.
Now, eighteen months down the line, we at last face our first full systems revamp and I find myself cautiously looking forward to it. With no expansion either behind or before us and an end game that could uncharitably be described as "more of the same", for once having all my points back to respend on semi-new things seems like not such a bad idea.
As for the ongoing free respecs in the interest of making it "much easier to experiment with and learn new builds", well I think I'll pass on that, thanks, ANet. Come April 15th I'll get my nine level 80s how I like them and perhaps you'd be so kind as to let me leave them that way for another eighteen months at least.
Unless I have nothing better do one Sunday afternoon, of course...