I experienced a class epiphany in Lord of the Rings Online last night. In the last exciting (for small values of “exciting”) installment of “What Character Should I Play?”, I was vacillating between a Captain and a Hunter, with a nagging feeling that a Guardian might be more useful, and a Burglar could be fun. I thought I should get it out of my system, so I created a Burglar and a Guardian, flipped a coin, entered the world as the Guardian, ran up to the first NPC and… couldn’t be bothered with it. Logged out of the Guardian, logged in to the Captain, finished the Prologue, visited Strider in Bree, and I’m now ready to embark on the epic quest proper.
I can’t say with absolute certainty I won’t pick up another character, but I’m fairly sure I’ll stick with the Captain now. Even though it only takes a couple of hours, at most, to work through the starting areas, having done it once, I really don’t want to do it again.
It’s a sort of psychological inertia, the aversion to repeating content; some people can re-read books or re-watch films, but I seldom do (not that it stopped me buying DVDs, until I twigged that I hardly ever played them… one still being in its shrink wrap after a year or so was a bit of a giveaway). If stuck in on a rainy afternoon with the login servers down, I might glance down the DVD pile and, even though I enjoyed the cinematic masterpieces the first time through, think “oh yeah, bloke heads down the river, mad Colonel, the horror, the horror, know what happens, no point watching that again… three blokes go after gold, Mexican standoff, hilarity ensues, know what happens, no point watching that again…”. The funny thing is, if I get past that initial inertia (like if a few people get together, when Heisenberg’s Law of Film Selection states you can’t find something which nobody has yet seen *and* that everybody wants to see, or a film comes on television and the remote control is all the way over on the other sofa) and start watching something again, I’ll usually enjoy it as much the second time around, sometimes more so, picking up things I missed the first time.
It’s a similar thing in games; I never really progressed with alts in World of Warcraft, as after running through different starting areas, you wind up in pretty much the same parts of the world on the same quests. Even though playing a different class can change your approach significantly, I’d log in, look at the quest log, see the Defias Messenger staring back at me, and then extrapolate from that through Darkshire, on to Stranglethorn, running up and down to Booty Bay, grinding Furbolgs, over to Winterspring, the whiteness, the endless-ness stretching on beyond the human imagination, desolation of the soul… and I’d log out again. If I got past that, I’d probably enjoy playing through it again, but I don’t have that push of the “log out” button being over on the other sofa.
Anyway, I think I’ve reached the decision just in time, as every time I change my mind Melmoth is forced to roll new characters according to some square-cube law which, by my calculations, would mean that had I gone on the play the Guardian and then Burglar, every other character on the server would be Melmoth. Twice.