I read Chestnut’s recent post about starting fresh in The Secret World with interest and a good measure of respect. Starting over in that game in particular is a major task as the game’s mechanics allow for so much ‘horizontal’ progression: your character can learn all of the skills eventually.
It’s not a situation I’ve faced often; I’m an altaholic but usually stick to one server in a given MMO (where such islands of player activity exist). I did once try to start again in LOTRO in order to play a new character with a nephew. It was truly painful, however, to not have access to all the crafting professions and other resources on my main and other alts.
Years ago I actually had some alt characters on two different WoW servers because, on occasion, Moonglade would crash or go down for urgent maintenance and we’d be forced to play on another server or not at all. These characters were never developed that much until the whole cross-realm and ‘coalesced servers’ thing was introduced. Nowadays I can have characters on three different servers and they’re effectively on the same server; also you can use Battle.Net grouping to play with friends even more broadly. So characters that were for years isolated and rather neglected have become welcomed into the larger character family and all the benefits that brings (heirlooms, gold-loans, crafted items etc).
Another related situation would be if I were to dip into playing on an emulator for a MMORPG that has shut down, like say Vanguard. I had a gaggle of low level characters in that game – I never got any character past level 20 because it was too much fun to see all the starter zones and to try all the many, varied, character classes. Playing that long-since shuttered MMO on an emulator would mean starting from scratch again – it makes me slightly sad to think about logging into the game and not being welcomed by my long list of characters.
I guess the start over I’ve contemplated most often would be if I were to return to Eden Eternal. The devs, or the accounting system most likely, decided years ago to send me an email suddenly saying, more or less, “you haven’t played or spent enough so your account is suspended”. The only option to reactivate the account at that time was to make an international call to their support line, so I abandoned any thought of rescuing my Ursan cleric. Creating a new account to play EE would require starting from zero, but the concern that history would repeat itself is likely to keep me from ever doing that.
Have you faced situations or reasons for starting over in a MMO? How extreme a start over a deal was it?