Picking Alts, and Seeing how the other Half Live

One of my favourite parts of going to a new restaurant is poring over the menu.

You scan over the different items, mentally imagining how they might taste. You pause at foods that you either don’t get often at home, or that bring back fond memories of previous meals. Then you change your mind at the last minute for no reason, and spend the rest of the evening suffering menu envy at all the dishes (that you passed up) being ferried to everyone else’s tables. It’s great! If nothing else, you leave with a mental list of dishes that you want to try next time. You could skip several steps by picking something familiar on your first visit; you won’t hate it and can compare it to previous dishes (I do this in Indian Restaurants, for example). Then you can try something new if/when you go back.

Alts can be this way also. You pick one because it sounds like a nice flavour combination and maybe it’s been a favourite in the past. Then  you get a flash of menu envy when someone else wanders by with an especially cool looking buff, or being able to do something your character just can’t, or generally acting overpowered. I have rolled alts before because I thought a spell had an awesome casting animation, or because I thought their role in one particular fight was really cool. I’ve rolled alts because I thought it must be fun to res people, or because I had a cool name in mind for a pet. I’ve rolled alts because a particular set of gear looked really good.

Watching other people play different classes or roles is one of the big motivators in picking alts. Especially if you have friends who really enjoy their characters. So is reading cool forum posts, watching videos, or anything that makes you look twice at another class and think … wow, menu envy. I want to do THAT.

Or there is also the related route of picking something because no one you know plays it. Maybe you are more of a risk taker, and hope you’ll be the one to give them menu envy.

Many Alts, Many Points of View

I’ve been thinking about alts because in Warcraft right now, I don’t have a whole lot to do on my main character when I’m not raiding. One random heroic instance a day for frost badges, and I’m done.

Like a lot of other players, I have a clutch of level 80 alts. (As an aside, there was a time when having several alts at the max level meant that you were extremely hardcore; now it is pretty much inevitable if you have been playing awhile*) So those could also run a heroic dungeon for frost badges every day also.

With the dungeon finder, it’s never been easier to gear up an alt, and get some playing time in groups. More players are doing this now than ever before. There are fewer other endgame grinds to take up game time, plus there’s the lure of frost badges which can be used to buy the very saleable primordial saronite, if you don’t need it yourself.

So really, the playerbase should be getting better at seeing other classes’ points of view. We should be understanding that some classes are harder to play than others because we have more time to try it. Some roles are more involving. Some tasks more taxing on a caster rather than a melee, or vice versa. It’s way easier for me to put up high dps numbers on my death knight in instances than on my warlock, for example.

I’m not sure that this utopia of broad understanding based on all walking in each others shoes is happening though. Yes, lots of people are playing lots of alts. Yes, more people than ever are dipping their toes into the murky pool of tanking or healing for the first time.

Maybe this is going to be a longer term trend. Maybe as it becomes more baseline to have multiple well-geared alts who are just one tier behind a main, we will have more empathy for the other classes based on our own experiences with them. Right now, I’m more likely to be impatient at people who persist in being blinkered by a single class or role.

Do you find that playing multiple alts or roles has opened your eyes to their issues?

* Note: This does depend on how casual a player you are, I know some people have been playing for years and still don’t have a level 80.  But they are outliers.