why I main

Recently over at Bio Break Syp had an article answering a question for a reader regarding doing MMO’s wrong and, as per usual Syp attempted to enlist him in the ever growing cult of Alting. I can’t say I disagree with his conclusion, I see this feeling a lot in the current generation of mmo’s and being a player who enjoys a main, one main character focus over all others this feeling of burnout is all to familiar but there must be something better to do than abandoning how you play and the part you love.

To me, playing a main is just focusing on how I enjoy and how I get the most out of a game. I like to focus on just one character and then experience all there is and learn as much as I can about them. To learn the skills, the different ways of play, how to win in certain situations and be the best at that character I can possibly be.

To do this I usually end up playing the same content over and over, read countless threads on the forums and engage in a lot of discussion. It also means being flexible with your character, understanding all their skills and traits and trying to build your own functionally and effective killing machine. It, to a certain extent is also about being a representative of your class and I actually enjoy giving a certain amount of advice to others about the class.

This gives me purpose within games and out. Learning the depth extends the life of a single character immensely and that’s where I get my enjoyment. It is fundamentally about gaining knowledge then seeking out challenge and overcoming adversity… maybe also making your mark within the world in whatever you want to do best. Unfortunately with the prevalence of cheap content filler, repetition of the same or similar content with a slightly different skill set this isn’t as possible any more. The gameplay remains relatively unchanged while you progress and even though classes may perform differently it is the same mobs, the same engine, and the same combat style. Alts do well in extending the life of such content but to me it isn’t as real as seeking my teeth into something on a main.

We really haven’t had a contender that can test the hypothesis of whether you can create a mmo that is more of a long-term game with a focus on mains for a long time. Most titles just aren’t meant for the long-term play; fast levelling systems and the race to level cap… forgetting and obsoleting vast amounts of content. Grinding the same dungeons gets tiring… incremental increases in stats aren’t that meaningful and as such we seek new experiences yet settle on the same because their really isn’t much to pick from at the moment. With these types of games it’s better to just have short bursts of slightly new things otherwise the façade fades away.

So to feel, “burnt out”, like the commenting exclaimed is not really an indication of needing to change themselves. This is not a failing of the player, there is no right way to “do MMO” in how you play them. There are and should be a variety of content and gameplay styles to fill different interests. A mmo should be able to satisfy both those that enjoy a main or alts, unfortunately companies, except for a select few smaller and growing studios know how to “do mmo’s” and we wait now while they develop and then the industry as a whole can play catch up as per usual.

Until then… when in Rome I guess but I will always have that urge to focus on one character in its entirety. It’s the passion burning within me and that can… and probably will be a wonderful thing some time in the future


7 thoughts on “why I main

  1. I’ve asked this question before – what does it say about an MMO if it can’t keep you occupied on one character and the only solution is “go repeat our content” on a different toon? that’s okay for very late, end-of-expansion which was generally my most boring time in WoW because raiding in more progressive guilds meant having seen it all. but if that’s a game’s general tune, I am so not interested – which is ultimately also why GW2 didn’t keep me longer. I need either endgame or more of a sandbox or more in terms of character growth (hello multi- and hero-classing) or I’m one unhappy player.

    • yeh that’s exactly what I want as well. Either give me defined progression or completely open it all up

      Now I have nothing against alting, like you said it’s good for those down times in between big patches but not as my primary form of mmo entertainment.

  2. Oh great post. I’m somewhere inbetween. I always have a main. But I like to explore other classes too. However, I do prefer to perfect one first. Getting it to max level and learning how to play it well, maybe exploring a bit, before levelling something new. Sometimes I realise I rolled the wrong class and try again and that’s okay, because it’s how I play and as you say, there is no right or wrong way to MMO.

  3. I am usually the same way. I like to stick to one character, learn them completely, and earn a reputation for being a great player of that class.

    That said, I very much enjoy making alts as well, but most MMORPGs are not built with them in mind. Instead of a single character doing everything in Skyrim, I split the game into three back-to-back playthroughs where I approached the game in different ways. Not only mechanically, but in how my character might act/react in certain situations. It worked great and it really made Skyrim feel like three entirely unique experiences to me.

    MMORPGs rarely can replicate that. You do the exact same zones, classes tend to operate pretty similar to one another, and there is rarely an opportunity for choice. That’s why I tend to prefer a more sandbox-style MMO because I feel less forced to experience the world the exact same way on every character I play.

  4. I’ve always found the idea of being dedicated to a ‘main’ to be perplexing. It’s not something I can really wrap my head around. I have yet to play an MMO where the classes have enough depth for me to continually learn new strategies and such after the first few dozen hours. Achiever is far and away the lowest score on my Bartle profile, so grinding achievements or getting gear does almost nothing for my enjoyment, especially with the super homogenized gear they put into modern games, so repeating content on a routine schedule is the epitome of frustrating dullness for me.

    But then, alts don’t really do anything for me by themselves either. Making alts just for the purpose of having then baffles me. The only starting area I’ve ever been able to stomach multiple times is the bloody Shire in LotRO, and that’s only because I’m a big Tolkien fan.

    I collect alts because I always play with, and for, my little group of friends. Before we start playing a game we already have a pretty bloody good idea of what we want to do and what classes to make to accomplish that. Of course, such predictions are often wrong on some level and dictate a change of strategy, rerolling, etc Or the metagame shifts away from our current setup because of some reason. Regardless, I’m usually one of the ones who ends up making an alt to fit the new paradigm.

    I don’t even know if I can count how many of my characters were born of such shifts, but it’s probably upwards of two dozen. Shit, all 5 of the characters I leveled to 80 after my original warrior in GW2 were made because of how much I got bounced around in that game.

    • I think there is a little there for mains. For pvp it’s about perfecting your skill routine but also knowing when and what To you also need to know the skills and animations of other classes to an extent as well as how these work with you in group play. Takes a bit of learning.

      I agree though, there just isn’t as much there.

      I think this problem is both solved but also causes issues for Alting. It acts like a filler but is mostly only a cosmetic change.. Nothing fundamentally different

      The shire is rather gorgeous and the Leveling there is dome f the best designed. Good mix in the style of quests, interesting and amusing stories.. Amazing.

      I’ve also levelled many characters through there with various people. My main was a lore master by I think I have a guard, burglar and one more.

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