The AGDC speech given by Bioware’s Gordon Walton has been getting a lot of play on teh intrawebs lately. Gamasutra summarized his presentation here. The PowerPoint generation loves to think and talk in terms of slides and bullet point lists, so his 12 lessons about creating a successful MMO post-WoW have fostered some interesting discussion.
One of his more controversial points was buried in “Lesson Nine,” aka “Let ’em quit.” His view was apparently that MMOs should delete inactive characters to free the “namespace” occupied by them on the theory that “gamers get dissatisfied ‘if it takes more than three tries before they can have a name that they want.'”
This is fairly strong. Its a bit unclear from the article whether that meant deleting characters once a gamer cancels his or her subscription or whether he really meant that a character that has simply been parked forever gets whacked.
As you can see, I’ve got more than a few alts spread across the WoW landscape. In reality, I probably use fewer than three now that I’m playing somewhat regularly again, although thats on two different servers.
In WoW, I think I’ve deleted only one or two alts in nearly three years of play and that was to make space for a new alt I wanted to try on that server. What would you think about a game like that that would delete a character that didn’t meet some minimum periodic play time requirement?
Is Walton right about the “namespace” point? Does namecamping justify alticide? I know that when we reconstituted our WoW group on a new server, name availability was a serious consideration.
In theory the same issue arises with server transfers– If an active player named X wants to transfer to a server where there is a level 1 player named X that hasn’t been played in a long time (if ever) should the transferring character get to keep the name?
Personally, I think its a bad idea. I have the altitis in part because I’m an explorer by nature. I want to see what the game has to offer and from different perspectives. Level a melee class in any game versus a caster or “scout” class and you’ll see what I mean.