Friday, September 9, 2011

Alts, I've had a few.

Alts. I have a lot. I used to own four Everquest 2 accounts (I now only run one). At its hay day my EQ2 involvement had me running five top tier toons over the four accounts with about six or seven lower tiered toons that I would work on when I had time. I’ve now only got one top tier toon and although my alt list is full on the account, I don’t play any of the other toons on a regular basis. I’ve been thinking about this and what had caused the change in how I approached the game.

A huge amount of folks play alts. It even has its own name when one becomes obsessed with running lots of toons, Altitus. There are folks who have teams of tradeskill alts, some who have an army of alts they can pick from when two, three, four or more boxing. Folks have raid alts that they swap in and out depending on which zone/encounter they are running. Alts are part of the game for most people.

My alts were all to do with experiencing the game though different styles of play and because I used to be a roleplayer, there is no shortness of back story and each of my alt toons was created because at that time I had an ‘interest’ in creating a toon of that type. For example, I recall creating Langdale my Ratonga Ranger who I played for a short while, all because when I created him I was in a buoyant mood and feeling a little childish and mischievous. For his short existence I wrote a blog about his adventures. From what I recall he was created following a few drinks at a family BBQ. Voltaan was created out of a roleplay point of view. I was fed up of playing toons with fancy glowing blades and huge amounts of magic going off, so I thought it would be nice to play a toon that in a world of magic and power, just liked to punch things in the face.

I guess everyone creates alts for their own reasons. As I say, I have created them from a RP point of view, and emotional point of view, and of course, as I am sure many have, from a boredom point of view. The one thing that does seem to be fairly consistent is the fact that once bitten, the player is doomed to have a load of alts that they switch in and out depending on mood and play style, pretty much for their entire gaming career in their game of choice. So, why did I quit alts? Why hit the Alt cold turkey?

The first reason is financial. I’m lucky enough to have a good job that pays well. But no matter how much you earn, you always pretty much spend up to your ability to spend. Add in a family and of course at some point you’re going to need to save a few pennies. One of the first things to go for me when the belt has been tightened, are surplus gaming accounts. They are one of the things I find hard to justify. It’s not as if I can say that because of quitting a few accounts that I won’t be able to log in. No, I’ll still be able to enjoy the game; just with less options is all. So getting rid of the extra accounts is not too difficult a thing when you need to watch the funds.

The second reason I quit alts is because of a little bit of shame and shock. One day whilst ‘alt hopping’ and switching some in game cash around, for some reason whilst playing Voltaan I did a /played. To my horror, I was greeted by the message that I had spent over 200 days playing that one toon. As I hopped from alt to alt, I checked their /played time and to be honest, it scared me. Another 90 days on my Dirge, 45 days on my Necro, 60 ish on my Assassin, 25 on my Zerker and many more! I started to add up the numbers, then stopped. The figure did scare me. I looked at my daughters and wondered how I had spent so much time playing, where I had found the time? I try hard to be a good father, but those figures spoke for themselves. At some point time spent on alts could and perhaps should have been spent with my family. This was the catalyst for me. I decided there and then to never run alts again and to cut my play time down.

I did drag out a few of the older toons when Merecraft needed a level specific toon to tank for him in the lower tiers and I didn’t fancy playing Volt (to just mush everything in sight), we actually fancied a challenge. So out came an alt. But the alt went back into its box right after. It wasn’t an ongoing thing. So, now I am alt free. Yes my account has every slot filled, but the only one I play is Voltaan and I’m happy with that. I’m happy that whilst playing with Volt that I will always enjoy the toon. It took quite a few creations and many years of playing to find out that Bruiser was the class that agreed with me and my playstyle the most. Now I’ve found that out I feel I don’t miss alts that much, and I’m certainly content with my choice to spend less time playing the game on toons that aren’t my number one and the extra time that has given me with my family.

Alts are great. They provide an answer to many problems and situations, are fun to play, expand your experience and understanding of the game, allow you to still play with folks when your other classes are not required in a group. They allow you to conquer content you could not normally solo by virtue of ‘boxing’, they can offer a set of multiple personalities to match your mood should you be a roleplayer, they even provide alternative uses for all those nice items you get that the toon you are playing cannot utilise. They serve many a purpose to various folks. But for me, they’ve had to go. Cheerio my faithful army of minions, you can all climb back in your boxes. No. Not you Volt. You can stay right where you are.

Be well.


  1. Interesting post as always mate. I just don't have time for more than one character in EQ2 right now, but I've always found alts fun to play around with.

    I wonder how SWTORs approach to alts is going to change things up. They are actively promoting alts through their legacy system and the fact that different classes have different story quests (and indeed if you play as Republic you will not have a single quest repeated as an Empire character). Once you hit level cap there is only so many things you can do - raid, dailies, crafting, pvp... by adding alts to the list of end-game content as well will it extend the life of the game?

  2. That's a good point mate. With each class type having a different story, it has the propensity to add a huge amount of interest come end game. Alts will be defnitely FTW over at SW:ToR if that's the case.