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Sep 05, 2004

Comments

1.

At the recent Star Wars Galaxies Fan Fest a prise was given for the person with the most accounts – they winner had something like 11 (I never found out why). So I guess SOE are all for it at least in Star Wars.

When you get married in AITID you and partner get access to each others resources and many couples I met where each others ALTs, which could be quite confusing.

2.

ALTs give you functionality beyond what a single account does. It does make sense to charge for ALTs. Now another question: Does it make sense to offer this extra functionality in this manner (open a new account), or should games just code in tiered subscription levels with tiered features? I'm talking about abilities ALTs give you today, like mining more per unit of time, or teleporting between two points at will.

There are arguments for and against the tiered structure, including player feelings (Does being blasted to smithereens by a "gold" member while being a "silver" subscriber feel the same as if it were an ALT?). Thoughts?

3.


Does it make sense to offer this extra functionality in this manner (open a new account), or should games just code in tiered subscription levels with tiered features?

My supposition is that ALTs seem to enable a tiny fiction which seems to work to the benefit of all parties:

1.) The developers can still claim to be developing egalitarian immersive worlds: the experience of any given player is not dependent upon who much $ they spend.

2.) The players with ALTs can alternate between feeling clever as well as empowered to try out new roles.

3.) The players who don't like ALTs can carry on believing every PC is a player like them...

Codifying the above in a tiered subscription seems more honest - but on the other hand, perhaps we all need our figleaf.

4.

The way I see it, if people want to play with themselves.. that's their business.

=darwin

5.

We should remember that ALTs have two distinct flavors: There are the 'slave' ALTs, which are used by power-players to boost their resources/effectiveness and then there are the RolePlaying ALTs, which provide players a chance to take on different roles or personas.

EVE seemed to be designed as ALT freindly from the beginning - each account includes 3 characters. The reason many players choose to use entirely different accounts instead is that EVE only allows 1 character on an account to advance at a time, so if you build up an ALT on the same account, you lose advancement time on your main character.

-Street

6.

Is there any non-ALT friendly vw? I'd love to meet the guy who made the "Ya know, maybe we should discourage people from giving us money" speach to his boss.

7.

Long-time lurker here.

We should remember that ALTs have two distinct flavors: There are the 'slave' ALTs, which are used by power-players to boost their resources/effectiveness and then there are the RolePlaying ALTs, which provide players a chance to take on different roles or personas.

FFXI allows for about 16 characters per account, with each extra character costing $1.00 more per month. We usually affectionally refer to them as "mules" (I prefer the term "ladies-in-waiting", because all of my mules are female characters). Because the FFXI economy is auction house-style--4 separate cities each with their own little independently functioning free-market systems--I have my one main character, and 3 ladies-in-waiting (one in each city). Because my one character is a crafter, this allows for a great convenience, as I am able to buy low and sell high depending on a certain commodity's value in a certain city, maximizing profit margins. The mules themselves cut down on a lot of travel time.

Oftentimes, people will get into commodities trade between cities using this method, making quite a bit of cash where others are struggling with farming or artisanship. But an issue comes up with extremely rare items that are not drops but instead crafted by high-level crafters, as those high-level crafters will continually re-purchase and re-sell a certain piece of armor, pushing the price up by virtue of using these 'fake' characters. The debate has always raged on whether this can be comparable to monopolistic or anti-trust practices, but what it usually comes down to is, "It's in the code and allowable by the EULA, so there's nothing we can do about it, and there's nothing Square-Enix will do about it."

Besides, if each mule/lady-in-waiting only costs a dollar each per month, I would go as far as to say that SE is encouraging it. In any case, most people just use ALT's as extra storage space.

Is there any non-ALT friendly vw? I'd love to meet the guy who made the "Ya know, maybe we should discourage people from giving us money" speach to his boss.

Actually, yes. The RP-specific server(s) of EverQuest, if I recall correctly, did not allow for more than one character per account. I didn't play this one, so I'm not really sure why.

8.

Ren wrote:
"At the recent Star Wars Galaxies Fan Fest a prise was given for the person with the most accounts – they winner had something like 11 (I never found out why). So I guess SOE are all for it at least in Star Wars."

Funny how the internet brings people together, I was the guy who claimed to have 11 accounts, although I was pretty drunk during those awards and was just fooling around, in reality I only ever play MMOs with one account.

The real top amount in SWG was 6 I believe. Good day!

9.

"Codifying the above in a tiered subscription seems more honest - but on the other hand, perhaps we all need our figleaf"

Nathan, agreed. Those were my very feelings towards the matter.

10.

World of Warcraft should be mentioned in the alt-friendly context. You can have up to 10 characters per server, and it doesn't cost you anything. The advantage of having alts in WoW is that you collect an xp bonus of up to 1.5 levels worth when being logged off. The bonus accumulates quite slowly, a bit faster if you log off in an inn or city. But if you have several characters and regularly rotate between them, you could well gain experience points in combat at twice the normal rate nearly all the time.

I think this feature is more to close the gap between casual players and power gamers, but it also helps a lot with alts.

11.

As mentioned in above comments, there are a set of distinctions glossed over by my introduction of "ALT":

1.) concurrency: can your ALTs/characters be played concurrently. This implies a "functionality" advantage beyond simply relogging in as a different character in a different circumstance in the world. Hence separate Eve-Online accounts.

2.) purpose: as Cris pointed out - slave ALTs carry different game/social world related baggage than RP ALTs. Slave ALTs also seem to imply (1.) - can be played concurrently.

Worlds seem to tend to encourage ALTs more readily if they don't extend to (1.). Can anyone cite exceptions here? Eve-Online would have to be exception for reasons pointed out. Their skills model hamstrings value of ALTs under a single account.

12.

Sorry, to clarify: FFXI does not allow concurrent playing of ALT's under a single account without purchasing separate boxes and monthly subscriptions. I can't think of any other exceptions either.

13.

Rubies of Eventide is splitting the difference.

Casual shards have 6 or 8, depending on account type, gentry or f2p.

RP shard going up soon has 1 per account.

So you get the best of both worlds.

Many, many, arguements over the "mule" issue, still not resolved to everyones satisfaction.

14.

Seems we're using "ALT" to describe two different things, which should remain distinct.

1. The context in which I've always heard ALT is simply an alternate character, created on the same account, for the purpose of exploring different classes/playstyles etc., or just as a change of pace from your "main".

2. What I'm hearing a lot of is dual-boxing (misnomer, for most games you can just load two instances on the same physical computer as long as you have 2 CD keys), running multiple accounts concurrently, which allows your ALTs to interact, exchange items, group, fight together, etc. This is a bit more controversial, but certainly prevalent.

Anyhow, just want to be sure we're all talking about the same thing, as alternate characters is a much different social and design issue from alternate accounts.

15.

Eve doesn't require both characters to be online at the same time to benefit each other though, it's nothing like running a 6 character group in a dungeon by yourself.

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