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Columns: Who Wants to Build a Crappy Character?

By Shawn Schuster on July 09, 2015

Who Wants to Build a Crappy Character?

I'm a bit torn on the concept of a "ruinable" character in Crowfall. The folks at ArtCraft Entertainment have said a few times now that it is possible to build a character that is just outright broken from the start, but I'm not sure if everyone is quite ready for that yet.

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I've touched on this before in a previous column, but I wanted to revisit it as a central topic because it was brought up again in a Q&A video just last week.

"We believe that there's a hole in the market for creating a game where you have the power to create something really cool or really crappy, and that that power is valuable," ArtCraft co-founder J. Todd Coleman said in the video. "We enjoy systems like that. We just don't see them anymore."

He's right, we don't see that anymore, but you have to ask if there's a reason for that.

On the one hand, I think it's a welcome change that can really liven up the MMO genre. The last few years have been saturated with games that allow respeccing and other do-overs on the fly, so the idea that you can create a character poorly from the beginning is interesting.

But on the other hand, I don't like wasting time. Call me a casual, but if I put time into a character, I don't really want to find out 100 hours later that I'll need to reroll if I want to reach a certain part of the game or achieve some specific leveling goal.

But to a degree, that's a whole game entirely in itself, and I understand that. Despite the opinions of some, I don't believe that everyone should get a trophy for showing up. If you really have your heart set on achieving that end-goal and you find out that you've messed up, try, try again. And that's what I need to remind myself when I've "wasted" all that time developing my character. It shouldn't really be viewed as a waste, anyway. I tried, learned from my mistakes, and will come back with an even better character next time.

Now, the thing that will ruin my romanticized version of this system is the almighty information superhighway. It's inevitable that the "perfect" builds will be plastered all over wiki pages and forums, and players will look to these builds first before experimenting. We saw this quite a bit with the original Guild Wars, and it soon became a game of mastering the flavor-of-the-month build until ArenaNet caught on and dropped the nerf hammer.

The funny thing is, that didn't matter. Even though those overpowered solo farming and arena PvP builds were usually quickly nerfed, half of the fun was discovering that next ultimate build.

Of course, right now we don't know a whole lot about how this character system will work in Crowfall because it's just too early, but it will be fun to watch as it unfolds. I'm playing devil's advocate on both sides of this issue in this column, but I'm really curious to hear what you think about this. Do you plan to jump in head first and re-make your character if you find out that you messed up? Will you make a character and play it through with no regard for what's supposed to be right or wrong? Or will you hold off on playing until the best builds are posted and go from there?

Shawn Schuster / Shawn Schuster is the former Editor-in-Chief at Massively.com and founder of the indie gaming review site Shoost.co. Shawn has been writing professionally about video games since 2008 and podcasting about games since 2005. When he's not leveling yet another alt, he's running his organic farm with his wife and four kids.