We Can't Stop Here, This Is Rowsdower Country

A little something different today.  I'll leave our "Jaded Look At Recent Steam Releases" serial for another day.  Perhaps the weekend, considering Steam tends to release nothing during that time.   Instead, I think I will like to wax philosophy about how things have been going in WildStar for me this week.

Einstein's definition of, "Insanity" was probably
mostly in context of getting his colleges to
relax their death grip on tried-and-true
methodologies.  If so, it proves that even
Physics geniuses struggle overcoming habit.
I have a very bad habit when it comes to massive multiplayer online role-playing games.  You could say MMORPGs are a bad habit to begin with, considering they're generally geared to get people to sink a ridiculous amount of time into making wholly artificial numbers become bigger numbers.  However, I would say that such an appeal is largely ineffective against me, I've outgrown being addicted to numbers.  My habit is even stranger, it's something I learned back in my first big MMORPG, EverQuest, and it has stuck with me until this day.

Basically, I can't stop throwing away all my progress and starting over again from scratch; I am the worst "altaholic" I know.  It's really not WildStar's fault, I have yet to see any MMORPG that can overcome this, not even World of Warcraft nor Guild Wars 2 were capable of preventing this.  Nor it is an MMORPG-specific problem, as even excellent single-player experiences (such as Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim) produces this behavior in me.  Why do I do it?  Well, as the saying goes, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence," and the utter freedom of being able to play whatever kind of character I want means that hopping that fence is a mere investment of time... from here, the reasons merely branch out into excuses.

As I was planning to during vacation, I managed to sink a good amount of time into WildStar, and here's the short version of how it went:
  • My first character, a Mechari Engineer, made it until about level 13 before I decided I was upset with how all the "heavy armor" pants she was wearing appeared to be cloth bloomers.  Considering I would eventually unlock alternative sets, and could customize her outfit however I liked, this was a poor reason to start over... but it was enough for me.  WildStar's chauvinism in female apparel was apparently intolerable, and I decided to go back to playing my gender instead.
  • My second character was a Medic Scientist... I could not make up my mind about the race, and waffled for about an hour before I decided to go with a Mechari... they look pretty good holding a pair huge resonators.  I got a good look at the end game armor and realized that Engineers and Medics were my style, with Warriors being alright.  Well, this character lasted until level 13 until (for reasons I'm not entirely clear about) I decided to take another run at being an Engineer.
  • After verifying my bloomers-bound previous Engineer was, indeed, unbearable, I decided a complete restart would be necessary.  I experimented briefly with Chua before settling on a snarky little Cassian Engineer Settler who I roleplayed as being a self-satisfied ponce, to the point of inadvertently mocking himself, much to the delight of many other roleplayers.  He lasted until level 15, a whole day of playing WildStar, actually managing to get his housing plot started and put a few things on the auction house... but then I decided I was not contributing enough in a group and I thus I should play a healer... which was wrong, all classes can contribute just fine to groups.
  • I went back to my second character, the Mechari Medic Scientist, for all of 2 hours before I decided that I was basically experiencing the same gameplay as I was with my Engineer.   In retrospect, it may have been expecting a bit much to think that any of the classes are going to play overwhelmingly different at a mere level 15.
  • Seeking something new, I started a psychotic little Chua Esper, and he really kicked a lot of ass: I am good at playing an Esper.  However, I don't really like the special effects on some of his powers, and by a mere level 9 (some 3 hours into the game) I came to realize that maybe what I really wanted was self-sufficiency.  When I was playing my Engineer, a tank, I wanted more healing.  When I was playing a Medic, a healer, I wanted more armor.  I decided that healing was harder to get than armor points, and the Medic was the best class from me because he wore the best armor of all the healers.
  • Yet, rather than return to my existing Mechari Medic Scientist, I decided I wanted to roll up a Medic Settler because it is a real bummer to run around Nexus without the benefit of that 50% speed out-of-combat run buff that Settler kiosks produce, and I wanted to be self-sufficient in creating my own as needed.  After a brief experiment with a Chua, I decided I would merge the amusing ponce-ness of my Cassian Engineer into a Cassian Medic Scientist whose appearance and mannerisms were more dandy than ever.   He made it to level 13, largely following in the footsteps of the Mechari Medic before him.
This takes us up to yesterday evening, when things started to get really ridiculous.
After doing some more WildStar research, I came to a battery of interesting conclusions that shook my confidence in my Medic.

Since self-sufficiency was the kick I was on, I could not help but notice that the lifesteal attribute, which returns a certain percentage of damage done to the attacker as healing, is freely available to every class via AMPs up to 6%.  Lifesteal is available in larger numbers via certain abilities of the Warrior, the Esper, and (especially) the Stalker.  Likely, armor sets and other items can be found that would make lifesteal accessible to all classes.  Consequently, there was less need for self-heals than I thought there would be, which suddenly made higher-armor possessing classes more self-sufficient than healing classes.

On top of that, I was a little bothered that the Medic had a whole "support" tree full of abilities that did little more than just heal.  Where was my ability variety?  Did the Tanks have it?   Well, their support trees seem to be full of more attacks that boost threats, and that may actually be worse.  I studied the information on the Wildstar wikis a bit, noticing that all the classes actually seem to have roughly the same amount of play variety, but perhaps there was an edge to be found in a specific class that would appeal to me?

After pouring over those sheets long enough, I came to an important realization: pouring over ability sheets might be the worst possible way to choose a character, the reason being that suspension of disbelief may be more important to the player's lasting enjoyment of a roleplaying game than class capabilities.

In other words, do you remember back when you could get excited about playing an RPG because it was cool to think of yourself playing this cool concept, rather than a bunch of statistics?  I needed to recapture this idea of playing the concept, not the statistics, and actual class capabilities be damned.  If I could pull that off, becoming ensconced enough in the idea behind the class to roll with whatever that class does (and does not), then surely my tendency to quibble over classes would be eliminated... right?
I meditated upon this idea, trying to contemplate what class "feel" suits me the most, and eventually landed on this idea:
  • While Exiles may suit my temperament more, the Dominion is currently outnumbered on the RP server so I decided it's better to bolster their numbers.   Besides, it doesn't seem right to play both sides on the same server.  If only there was another RP server, preferably one that was mostly Dominion, I'd roll up Exiles over there instead.
  • Of the Dominion races, Mechari, because I think I would rather serve out of duty and logic if I am throwing in with the imperial side of this colonial-themed game.  Of course, a Cassain could do this too, but their reasons would probably be closer to religious fundamentalism.
  • In terms of class, I decided I would like to play a Warrior out of an honorable tendency to be a straight dealer.  One can still be clever with a Warrior's bag of tricks, but there will be none of the subterfuge of a Stalker or a Spellslinger, no egotistical superiority as with the Esper, and not even the technological advantage of an Engineer or Medic.  Warriors put down jerks head on, toe-toe-toe, with maximum justice.
  • In terms of path, I could imagine myself as being more interested in wanting to fathom the mysteries of Nexus, as a Scientist, than building crap on it (Settler) conquering it (Soldier) or mapping it (Explorer).  Plus, I get to be a Warrior Sage, how cool is that?
So I started my Mechari Warrior Scientist, and I was immediately addicted by the look: these guys are badass.  I wish I could be a literal engine of righteous justice like one of these.
I hit a brick wall inside one hour, when I decided that maybe Settler was more important to me than Scientist.  I'm a giver, am I not?  I can only chomp at the bit, powerless, when I see that the other player settlers have not put up valuable public service kiosks.  Heck, I work public service in real life.  Maybe I was no Warrior Sage, after all, but something a bit more humble?

So I rerolled as a Mechari Warrior Settler and smacked into WildStar like a bird hitting a window.  I had finally reached overexposure to this content.  I had seen both of the new Dominion characters' zones about three times each over a single week, and I had about enough of them!

Here is the main problem with rolling up too many alternate characters too often: the in-game content is not built to be retread by the same player over and over again this often!  The problem may be even more pronounced in a theme park style game, because obviously you're going to get bored of the theme park quicker if all you do is ride the bumper cars over and over again!   If I have to keep retreading that old content, at least make time to allow some details to fade from mind, allowing what's old to become new again.

Things were now beyond ridiculous.  I realized I need to work on my goddamn impulse control, so I came up with a system:
  • Pick a class, path, and race.  If I can't decide, pick one at random and work with it the best I can.
  • If I already have a character of that class, play that.  Otherwise, roll up a new one.
  • Play only that character for a minimum of one week.   This is the impost important step.  Better that than to overexpose the content, which is a death sentence for the game.  If I can't do this, it would be better to do something else entirely for that week.
Thus far, it's not worked out great.

My random class roll told me that Fate wanted me to play a Spellslinger.   They don't thematically suit my mindset.  I don't like how they play.  Worst of all, it would pull a fifth class into the giant mess of characters I had generated.  Yet, I confess, none of my issues with the Spellslinger would be impossible to circumvent with a bit of creativity and effort.

Instead, I went back to playing my Mechari Warrior Settler... and, not an hour afterward, thought to myself, "But wait, maybe Scientist suits me more after all, because I kinda want to get all those achievements for uncovering those labs, I can't be bothered to find other players to do it for me.  Besides, it's not necessarily hard to get access to all the Settler perks with the ease of teleporting too and from my house and I should really be willing to go without that run buff if I have to..."

BAH!  I already had a Mechari Warrior Scientist and rerolled it, and now I was sorely tempted to go back again?!  Apparently I literally cannot decide on path.  As that would seem to be the case, the solution would seem to be to do what a random roll tells me to.  I rolled on it: Even for Settler, Odd for Scientist.  I rolled a 3.  FINE, Mechari Warrior Scientist is what I will be playing from now until the 15th.  More than a week, but this works out better for my work schedule anyway.

I can do this.  It's only a few days, after all.  Yet, it's funny how I'd rather blog about it than commit right now.  I think perhaps the week-long commitment is giving me pause... not a Mekari Warrior after all, my subconscious qualms?  That's it; I'm cracked.  Thanks a lot, character indecision cognitive dissonance, you've broken me.

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