…or the lack there of has got me thinking at the moment. My gaming time has been rather limited due to two weekends in a row of visitors. The main thing I have been doing is logging in, as time permits, for the daily login rewards on my most current games. It’s an easy thing to do that keeps me feeling at least a little connected with the games when I won’t actually have time to play them.
Not all MMORPGs are created equal in this regard, however, the simple act of switching characters in the same game is not always so easy. Standing Stone Game’s MMOs are particularly egregious here – you select the server after logging into the launcher before even clicking to open the game client. Switching characters on the same server is the fairly standard affair of logging off a character and choosing the other one. But, switching to a character on another server requires a client and launcher restart – you can’t even switch servers on the launcher itself without restarting that as well.
That wasn’t ever an issue in LOTRO in the past as I’ve barely even dabbled on a second server before; now with the Anor experiment running I have to really try to think what I’m doing rather than reflexively clicking the wrong server. Also to get the login rewards for both my Champion main on Laurelin and my new Rune-keeper on Anor I have to load the launcher and client twice from scratch – I suppose I should be grateful that the login rewards are per server and not game-wide though? It’s the same process in Dungeons & Dragons Online and, in that game, I’ve long had characters spread across servers. Back when I was playing in a guild and separately with friends, I’d occasionally have that moment of annoyance as I realised I’d logged into the wrong server and had to quit right back out again.
I remember just how badly this issue was dealt with in Neverwinter at launch as well – no option to switch characters when logged in, you had to log out or close the client to change. At some point a command line command to return to the character select was added (or at least discovered by someone) and that made the process a bit easier; now the client has a button to do the same as is the standard in most MMOs. Neverwinter uses a ‘megaserver’ approach as well so at least there’s no need to remember which character is on which server.
Although I’m not playing Everquest 2 at the moment, it does offer the ‘best of all worlds’ example here in that you can switch character and even server from the character select screen of the game client. Equally it does one better than Neverwinter in having not only a command line switch to return to character select, but also the option to include a character’s name in that command to switch directly to that character without any further input.
Different MMORPGs take rather different approaches as to whether they encourage or discourage the playing of alt characters. They even take rather varied approaches to the process of switching itself.