Thursday, 17 October 2013

Stuck In The Middle With You

Once upon a time, Blizzard used to treat every character as individuals, not alts belonging to the same account. This was typified by the loot system, Bind on Pickup (BoP) and Bind on Equip (BoE). BoP items become soulbound as soon as they hit the bagspace making them vendor trash, disenchantment goods, or usable by that character. When in a group or raid, careful consideration had to be made before assigning any loot. BoE on the other hand was Guildbank, Auction House or Alt territory.

As far back as patch 3.0.2 Blizzard introduced a new option Bind to Account (BtA or BoA) which is far snappier than the Binds to (BtBNA - which incidentally nobody uses and I just made it up). The original plan was the distribution of an account wide pets the [Baby Blizzard Bear], and the [Onyxian Whelpling] as a reward for logging in on the WoW anniversary.

The technology was there but it was seldom utilised, but there was a seismic shift in playstyle with the introduction of Mists of Pandaria and the Account Wide Pets and Mounts (achievements). It looked like Blizzard had finally recognised the existence of alts, before giving so much content and significant gating mechanisms as to make playing alts difficult and in some respects painful. Blizzard would eventually concede ground in this area and make rewards for alts and gearing significantly easier, the zenith of this policy is the Timeless Isle with the gear reset to top all gear reset.

The question is, have Blizzard gone far enough? Yesterday the Grumpy Elf discussed Timeless Coins but touched on the subject of Burdens of Eternity. Any main character doing the Shaohao rep grind will be rewarded with a plethora of Timeless Coins and Burdens of Eternity and of course armour drops. Only the armour drops can be posted to alts, leaving the main character with largely useless items that would be useful to another character. Earlier on in the expansion Blizzard had made the same mistake with Spirits of Harmony. How difficult would it have been to let gatherers send their stash of Spirits to the Crafters  that needed them? The reason was clear, Blizzard wanted to stop a flood of iLevel 476 crafted items reaching the Auction House. This policy was so successful that I never saw any of these items until they were already superseded by the Kor'kron gear from the Barrens.

I have decided to write an open letter to Blizzard, seeing as Miley Cyrus and Sinead O'Connor can do it.:

"Blizzard, our allocated time slots are limited, does it really matter which of our characters does the hard work? We still have to spent the hours grinding one way or another. Just a few Burdens of Eternity on top of the Timeless Armour would make all the difference. I have thousands of timeless coins, unfortunately they are separated over 11 characters, please let me trade coins and Burdens of Eternity and let me do something useful with my alts. I promise I will stop going on about the pitiful excuse for weapons that you let us have outside of Raids."

Yours faithfully
Bob (and alts)(we really are the same the person on the same account)


  1. Let me know if they ever reply to you.

    I'd bet you will get some sort of that "you can go to such and such link and make a suggestion" bull crap. You will never get a real answer, an honest opinion, or a helpful attitude from anyone that works for blizzard unless the stars lined up for you at that one fateful moment that you run across a guy in a good mood that might say "I agree with you, it is a decent idea, I'll pass it along and you should do the same visiting the suggestion forums, here is the link."

    That guy might be blowing sunshine up our ass but you know what? In the world of customer service he will make me a happier customer even if I think he is lying to me than the jerkward that just blows me off will.

    Blizzard needs to work on their "the player is all characters" or "the characters are separate" design. Pick one and stick with it. Either let us have full access with all our goods between all characters, like with pets, or have no sharing what so ever, like with soulbound. Just my opinion, but they need to make it one or the other.

    1. I was thinking about your comments on Blizzards design of Account v's Character. The process is flawed, but would you want shared Valor points or would you prefer to be able to buy something with Valor points and send it to another character.

      The first option seems wrong but the second seems right.

    2. Second option seems better if those were the two options.

      I do still believe some things should be character only and soulbound should stay there. Dungeon drops, raid drops, gear purchased with valor, basically anything "current". This would keep people rolling need on cloth because "my priest needs it".

  2. I saw that GC was not keen on alts for professions, but it seems that he is very keen on keeping things separate for each character on the same account. As you know, I'm no alt player so these points to me are rather moot, but for those who invest a lot of time into it, I can understand the frustration.

    1. Hi Navimie,

      GC comments about alts and professions was aimed specifically at cooldowns. Many players have been running with multiple Transmute Alchemists since WotLK.

      At the end of the day, players are mostly smart and will tweek the game to gain any advantage they can, if it is maximising Dps, BiS, or money making tricks.

      We all spend a lot of time in game and shortcuts to the system are of course very welcome so that we can move onto the next challenge.

  3. Immersion-breaking

    I absolutely do not like being treated as if I am the same person as my banker, or my brother-in-law, the hunter, or any of the other characters in my extended family. While I can just about accept binding heirlooms to accounts (who wants grandfather's cape to get into the hands of outsiders?), I don't get it that once my hunter brother-in-law captures a pet, it suddenly turns up among my pets.

    If you want to free items like Timeless Coins from the constraints of BoP, then make them freely tradable, not just BoA. I am not an alt, I am a free mage!

  4. Yeah, I like my toons being treated separately as a general rule, too. I kind of liked that it was a nearly unplayed alt on an orphan server who just happened to fish up the Sea Turtle on his first ever cast, ever.

    "You have a fished from a pool, achievement"
    "Sea Turtle!!!!"

    Mind you, I do prefer all my toons having access to the turtle, I'm not immune to the convenience of shared utility between toons. My toons are my family so at this point when one gets a mount or a pet, from a very mild RP perspective I consider it me getting it and making it available to them for use.

    Some musings...

    I like the idea of Burden DROPS being bound to the toon. I like the idea of PURCHASED Burdens being account-bound. I also appreciate the idea that this discrepancy will be confusing to many and likely can't actually happen.

    I have no idea how this would work but I like the idea of being able to trade coins account-wide with some sort of penalty, say, 50%... you can grind on the toon of your choice but you're going to pay for the privilege. I could also see something similar for VP, JP, rep, etc... again, though, no clue how it'd be implemented. I really like the idea for rep, though... say, for each 100 points of rep you earn on a toon, you earn another 100 rep that's split evenly among every other toon on that server... 2 toons, they both get full rep. 3 toons, the one you're on gets 100, the other 2 get 50 each. Etc. That might also have a side effect of putting a minor drag on alt sprawl, since GC doesn't seem to like that idea.

    I like the idea of intermediate tradeskills being account-wide but not entire professions. I'd like my Blacksmith to be able to craft directly from ore to Living Steel Belt Buckle in one button push as long as one of my Alchs has a Living Steel xmute cooldown available. No clue how that would work from a UI perspective but I'll leave that for someone else to figure out. I don't think it's necessary for my tailor to be able to smelt 100 stacks of ore if he doesn't have Mining, though. Having said that... if I'm stuck on a queue on a toon, it's not the worst idea in the world to be able to do some of that grindy profession stuff even if it isn't their profession... smelting, milling, etc. I still think I'd prefer not to have that option but I might change my mind later if it comes out, I might appreciate it more than I realize.

    I do think Spirits of Harmony should have been made account-wide or BoE in 5.2. By 5.4 I think it's ridiculous that they're still bound.

    Bob - multiple xmute Alchs? I have 10... that might qualify as more than multiple at that point. Apparently some of us have a plethora. ;)

    Alchemy - the only profession that I've never once regretted having on a toon, EVER, regardless of class or spec or the prof it's paired with.

    Grumpy - Agreed, account-bound gear should only be an option in an individual loot scenario, not if people are rolling against each other. Since it sounds like they'd like to extend individual loot to 5-mans in the future, though, if not other areas, that could become a more viable option.