Friday, July 16, 2010

The no alt rule

As I said yesterday, the "no alt rule" deserves its own post. I vehemently defend it, have /guildinfo macroed so I can spam it before and after invites to catch alts (caught several). Why is it so important?

It's a common mantra that "the purpose of playing an MMO is to experience character progression". This statement was never challenged, simply because it means two very different things, so people with completely opposing views can agree with it.

The first meaning is "content progression", your character conquers more and more content. The loot is merely tool for the progress, and was trophy for it before achievement system. It's the standard "complete the task" approach that applies to all games (and all real life tasks), with the twist that since an MMO never ends, there is always new content to conquer.

The second meaning is "strength progression", your character gains more and more strength (for DKs and "playing for fun" hunters, literally). The player just want to be stronger than peers and his former self.

One can easily find that the second group is "playing it wrong", as they don't play at all. They grind levels and items that give them some numerical value that has no worth, as it can only be used to defeat content but he is not playing for that. So it's some bizarre self-rewarding activity like collecting stamps or strange looking bricks or whatever nonsense.

I'd like to point out that collecting some random nonsense is not random. There is a twisted feeling of worth called "e-peen". It's twisted because it does not get social recognition. Good luck seducing girls in a bar by telling them your gearscore! The "e-peen" is an error in the matrix, a systemic fault of the social ape-subroutines. The subroutines came from the age when people could only collect food and other valuable resources. Obviously the one with more resources could give better support to his/her offspring, so was preferred mating choice. There is a reason why "e-peen" was named after a reproducing organ. It refers to the underlying subroutine that says "getting these stuff makes you better reproducing partner".

The subroutine obviously was not prepared to handle a world where you can collect things with no importance to reproduction success. The only purpose of an animal is to reproduce, so everything (beyond self-preservation) obviously serves reproduction. Yet when you gather anything, especially if you have more than your peers, this subroutine produces good feeling (fun), to reward you for increasing your chances to reproduce. This process is perfectly described by the primitive, therefore honest kids: "lol my epeen grown a lot by this drop".

The obvious fact that e-peen does not increase your mating success and does not make you liked/respected by anybody, exposes the social subroutines more than anything else. It's pretty hard to disprove someone who claims "I help strangers and we may meet again when I need help". This can be true, although unlikely in a multi-million community. One can also claim "if you have bad reputation, it can reach people who have power over you". I can only reply that "it's easier to guard your reputation with your boss only than with every living punk", but it makes his claim just ineffective, but not invalid. On the other hand no one with his right mind can claim that collecting purple pixels or old bottlecaps can make you liked by anyone.

Now comes the catch: gear in WoW does increase your chance of success. Even people with 100% aim on content progression use gear as a mean to this goal. It gives a convenient rationalization to the e-peener to attribute his gear hunt to his will to use it "once". While it's a lie as he is not even trying to get near the LK, he can claim that he is running heroics to replace that last 251 to 264 only to defeat him. So we don't have any way to separate the e-peener from the guy who uses gear for progress.

Here comes the alt rule. In any MMO, the strength progression has strong diminishing returns. By killing only a few plainstriders, you can level from 1 to 2, increasing your HP with 30% and get a new, core spell. By doing your first heroics you can replace that leveling green to an epic. By farming your first 60 triumph badge you can replace an ilvl 200 with ilvl 232-245. In your first ICC first wing pug you can replace that 232 to 264. Later you see less and less useful drops and also you can't use triumph badges anymore. Soon you'll be replacing 251 to 264, or 264 "placeholder" to 264 BiS, giving 0.1% power increments.

For a person aiming for content progression, the "gear grind" is just entrance to the real game. He needs to farm a beginner gear to get accepted to a guild that does any kind of progression, so the better his gear the more he enjoys the game.

For an e-peener the end of the curve is no longer "fun". He get new drops with less and less frequency, finally reaching the point when he can no longer gain strength without doing serious content. For him, alts provide and easy escape. By starting a new alt, he can feel the fast power increase again, this time even faster, using heirlooms and other kind of help from the main. By gearing up more and more alts he gets more and more "powerful". Instead of one 6000GS "l33t t00n", he has 5! Just like the stupid kid of the millionaire who cannot "upgrade" his car, since it's already a Ferrari, so he buys 4 more (despite the obvious fact that he can drive only one).

The no alt rule is the perfect filter to weed out e-peening. Why getting another 6K GS alt if you can't show it to your "friends"? One could ask why do I want to get rid of e-peeners? The obvious reason is that e-peening is social to its core so he is doing other social nonsense (like being defensive, helpful with morons or showing off stuff). But the primary reason is that the e-peener can't care less about any kind of activity. The raid (or his RL job) for him is just a tool to get loot and he wants to get over it. He is always half-hearted, he does his job only because forced, and can't care less to make it right, because he can't care less about it. Killing Arthas or discovering cure for cancer doesn't interest him, the title or the Noble-prize does. His mind is always elsewhere (on the imagined respect he'll gain from people for his cool title) and he slacks whenever he can. The e-peener is completely useless for anything else than totally controllable menial jobs like flipping burgers or AoE-ing 5-mans. On the top of that, he is a terrible lootwhore, ninja and freebie-beggar.

Note: of course I don't claim that everyone with alts is an e-peener. Some exceptions:
  • HM guilds with very low playerbase demands one to be able to do several roles on alts
  • alts that are in different kind of guilds or projects don't count here, like heal in raid, PvP as rogue, doing quests you never done...
  • switching mains, when you figure out one class is not for you and start another and don't look back
  • farmalt, saronite slave (although these have terrible gold/hour if you include leveling time), obviously bank alt
  • playing on a different server (even for social reasons), as you can't have the same character on two servers
However, besides the first one when it's guild policy, the alts (or the old main) has no need for being guilded. Read: if you have such alts, I'm not attacking you, so please stop littering comment section with "It's mostly OK, but I (or some guy I know) has alts and not e-peener".

PS: the "my main clears everything in 5 hours, I need alts to play more" is an e-peening argument. You already "won" the game if you clear LK+Halion HM. Reached some position on the ladder if you permanently stopped at a brick wall. The only reason to replay the game on some lower or equal level is to get another "l33t t00n" to show off.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your guild your rules. However, I and many of my friends have alts to experience different types of game play. For instance I play 3 toons, my main is dps, and I have a tank and healing alt. My reason for having these 3 toons is to experience all aspects of WoW raiding, in particular to clear ICC and kill LK in Heroic Mode as a dps, tank and healer. So far I'm 8/12 HM as dps and up working on LK normal as a tank. My poor healer is a bit neglected at the moment as I don't have enough time to raid with him but he will have his day.

nightgerbil said...

What about those times within the pug that the raid is full on dps, but needs a tank healer? if theres 4 hunters in it, wouldnt it make more sense to pull out my hunter, log to my holadin and be good to roll? given that I want to raid, I want to progress through the ICC, isnt it logical for me to in fact level up 3 characters, so I can tank, heal or dps as the situation requires? (well in this case 2 as i would dual spec the pali prot/holy). This reason doesnt make sense, I thought you wanted no alts, as it stops people focusing on playing there main as much and allows "dead wood" to clutter the guilds member list.

Gevlon said...

@nigthgerbil: all healers and tanks have DPS spec. Druids and Paladins have all three roles. If someone just want to be versatile, that doesn't need alts.

Also it's not your job to work for everybody. It's pretty funny when a DPS whines "where are the healers" and when asked "why are you not one?" he gets silent.

I don't want dead wood, that's true. The reasons I gave on the original PuG page are not lies. However now you can see why they are dead wood: because people run them to have more and more stuff to show off and suck in each.

Azzur said...

I know a very skilled player (top-ten DPS on Marrowgar according to WoL, 11/12 ICC10 HM, 8/12 ICC25 HM), who has several alts - Paladin, Hunter, Rogue, Warrior, Mage, and probably a few that I don't know.

Even though a Paladin can play multiple roles, he hates tanking on his Paladin (prefers on his Warrior) and doesn't DPS on it.

Similarly, know of another skilled player who prefers to DPS on his lock but not his druid (who he uses to heal).

The PuG guild policy of "no alts" is fine because I believe it may force people to be totally focused on character progression. However, it is a stretch to say that alts are a result of "epeen".

Gevlon said...

@Azzur: and you think these exceptional players are the common guy?

Larísa said...

I can see reasons to have a no-alt policy in a guild. I don't question your decision on this.
But I don't agree with everything you say about the reasons to roll alts.

I doubt that the major incentive is to show off their e-peens. For one thing: alts don't normally get anything to show off. Worse gear, not that many achievements etc. What's there to brag about?

I think the reason to roll alts for many players is that they want some variation in their gameplay, seeing the content from different perspectives, getting to know different classes. There are also those who don't see Endgame as the one and only purpose of WoW. They actually enjoy the questing as such and levelling an alt they can do it again but with a twist, seeing different zones than they did on their main, since you normally don't level in every zone (it's not needed for the xp). Doesn't it make more sense to roll an alt and see those quests at the appropriate level (or even doing it sub-level, quest red, if you want a bit of a challenge) than to go for the Loremaster title and do all thsoe lvl 20-quests as a full epic level 80?

Yaggle said...

Wow. I thought I played alts instead of endgame because I was a slacker. Now I find out it's because I want to impress women with my e-peen. I guess I have been fooling myself all along.

nonameform said...

Been playing one character for almost two years now. Even though I did roll a couple of alts recently, I never raid with them as I don't see the point to be honest. I'm fine if an alt is in mixed heroic/badges loot, since when Cataclysm arrives I will replace most of the gear pretty fast anyway (even if I do get couple of ICC items), so in long term it's a waste of time to gear up an alt beyond some basic level if you're not raiding on it regularly.

Alts do have some use (saronite slave is a good example), but I've decided to make an emergency stock from the cheap mats that I got at AH and beyond that farming is pretty damn awful at the moment, with WotLK mats selling couple of silver higher than vendor price.

Anonymous said...

My main is dps, paladin. Os pvp holy, also i have kitty/resto, mm pvp/pve hunter and saronite slave dk. I did 9 bosses in ICC25, never bothered with ICC10. I have no guild because i want to dps with my pally, because I'm good in that. Noone wants me because ret pallys are easy to get. I'm not slacker, on fixed targets I'm able to pull up to 13k, when i have to run around (Deathwisper) bit lower. With my resto druid I healed PoS HC with half blue half green gear. I have all characteristics you described above yet i have no progress because of my stubbornness as I don't want to tank or heal although I healed few bosses in ICC to save raid from falling apart.

Taharka said...

I don't understand, Gevlon. In your posts, you always berate people for doing seemingly useless activities, such as collecting mounts, stamps, or cars. You collect gold, and it appears you're quite good at it. But why? Being able to play the market, to reach the gold cap has no more real-world survival value than stamp collecting.
I'd guess it's for a number of reasons. The activity itself brings you joy and satisfaction. Excelling at it does the same. Being able to educate and share your hobby with others, ditto (this *is* a Gold-making tips blog, yes?). Maybe you even enjoy the respect and admiration you receive for this.
So how exactly are you different from stamp-collectors and wealthy people who own five cars? Their activities are not much more useless than your own, no matter the motivation. Maybe less-so, in fact, because I'd wager that more people in the real world value antique stamps and classic cars than WoW gold, and that makes those things more fungible.
All activities not directly related to survival or the elevation of the human condition are 'useless' hobbies, and their value comes from the satisfaction they bring, and one's ability to share this interest with like-minded people. Maybe you don't see much value in having 100 mounts, but obviously some people do. Your activities are more useful when it comes to Making Money or Defeating the Lich King, but that's not what some people want. Everyone sets their own metric for success, and everyone is free to do so. In the end, though, people who level 10 alts and hard-core raiders are exactly the same. Outside of the World of Warcraft, their achievements stand on the same ground: entirely meaningless.

Ephemeron said...

"farmalt, saronite slave"

And bank/AH mule.

BrownChickenBrownCow said...

"They grind levels and items that give them some numerical value that has no worth"

"I'd like to point out that collecting some random nonsense is not random. There is a twisted feeling of worth called "e-peen""

Much like collecting hundreds of thousands of gold, don't you think, Gevlon?

Or is that somehow different because you do it?

Gevlon said...

@Larísa: doing unknown quests is "different project" that you obviously can't do on your main

@Anonymous: what stops you to focus on the DPS paladin, make him so good that guilds take you. BTW The PuG do accept DPS paladins.

@Taharka: absolutely not! Doing something challenging (like raiding, PvP) forces you to improve. Leveling your 10th alt just wastes your time. I stated like 100x that collecting gold is equally stupid, I just do it as material for the blog where I teach people to goblinism (which is my aim, challenge and source of satisfaction).

Andru said...

I don't have any alts. I find them absolutely mind-numbingly boring to level. My highest level alt is a DK at 72.

I couldn't even finish leveling the druid I was planning to play in Undergeared.

I do, however collect Achievement points. (Though all the ones I have left to do require massive dedication and time-investment I just can't spare right now.) So I am an e-peener.

This is why I believe the motives for no alts is wrong.

Or rather, not wrong, but a composite reason. You can't say that ALL average guys do this, simply because you can't KNOW all average guys in the world.

Let me provide an alternative view, which is perfectly reasonable for an average guy.

My take on this. EVERYTHING is easy up to boss 4 in ICC. Leveling is trivial, heroics are trivial, first 4 ICC bosses are trivial, past raids are trivial due to the IDIOTIC way Blizzard decided progress should be.

So Averageguy levels and gets 5k GS then goes to ICC 4 bosses, sees it's easy. Then the PuG raid wipes on Festergut and disbands. And next week again, with a different PuG. AND AGAIN. AND AGAIN.

It's like riding a bike along on a 5% incline and then BAM. Brick Wall.

The current progression model does not encourage character progression in a meaningful way at all, unlike, say, TBC (though the badge gear system was introduced then).

I was lucky to play in TBC so I know what proper progression is like, and flattening the difficulty curve in the beggining toes not teach anyone anything.

Wrath progression was absolutely perfect up to ToC. Then progression was thrown out the window. I understand the business rationale for it, but the consequences are what they are. Blizzard just externalized the costs of answering the whines of the 'LOL MAGHTERIDION IS HAAAAAARD. CUBES R SRS BZNS' crowd on the shoulders of the non-retarded playerbase.

Anyway, rant aside, what would you do if you're Averageguy and hit a brick wall which you can't seem to overcome? Well yes, start again, try another way.

Averageguy does not know that the flaw with the current system is the PuG. You don't need a guild for anything prior to Rotface. He thinks that the retarded 5k DpS MAX in PuGs is the norm. HE believes that people who do more are no-lifers because he can't understand that PuGs suck.

He can't learn because he's not forced to learn.

Right now, starting Averageguys are forced to go from crawling (heroics) to doing a running jump over a 2 meter ditch. While for anyone who knows how to walk and run that is absolutely trivial, for someone who knows nothing but crawling, it's impossible.

So they play an alt.

Zazkadin said...

I confess: I do alts. I don't raid, so once I get somewhere above 5K+ GS, progress gets so slow that levelling a new alt is much more rewarding.

However, I do not cherish the illusion that anyone, not even my fellow players. will be impressed by my e-peen. I play this game as a passtime and when I ever quit, I will leave behind a number of mediocre geared characters and nothing to show for myself to the outside world. But this wouldn't be really different if I had focussed on a single character which I then managed to get world first LK HC kill on. That doesn't get you girls at the local pub neither ("four touchdowns in one game!")

Yet I understand Gevlon's alt rule. The purpose of his guild is to prove that asocial players can perform well. Players going off on alts are not contributing to this goal, so they shouldn't be allowed.

Anonymous said...

some people have only one hobby. they are passionate about that hobby, they read magazines, they constantly improve their knowledge of the hobby, they dedicate most of their free moments to it.

some people have many hobbies and switch between them depending on the mood. they might not be exceptionally good at any of them and they don't have enough time to develop all of those hobbies to their full potential, but they still do it, becasue hey, like like to change things up a bit.

some people have one character that they play extensively. they might have an alt or to for banking or farming and maybe sometimes, to play a different role, but they have this one main they play most of the time.

and some people can never settle on a main character, becasue their preferences change from day to day. Some people LIKE to level characters, its the fun part for them.

I'm merely giving you another reason why some people have a lot of alts.

P.S. nothing wrong with your rule. In fact, its perfect for those people who play characters as the mood strikes them - not being obligated to log in at certain time and raid whether they want to or not.

Sarge said...

I think I know what you wanted to point out in your usual provocative manner.
Sure, there are those people out there.
But me for example - I think from a raid perspective I've gained a lot in having 9 different toons, playing as tank, healer or dps. I know what the classes are capable of and which roles they'll perform best in, which is really helpful I think.
So, I think you shouldn't generalize this stuff, even though I can see your point.
Funny btw - in my former guild you were obliged to bring in all your alts, so you couldn't raid "behind our backs" with them. ;-)

Kragnok said...

I completely understand what Gevlon is saying in this post and yet I consider myself a certified altoholic. My reasons for playing alts is to help me as a raid leader, gain a better understanding of how different classes function in a group. My alts have never been in the same guild as my main. One thing I did not see mentioned was the fact that most social guilds use alts to seriously inflate their numbers. When I first started this game, the first guild I joined every officer had at least three alts in the guild and some had as many as nine alts. Thus a social guild, which had about 20 real people in it would actually claim to have over 100 members when recruiting in trade chat.

Xerian said...

I have to agree with Gevlon in several points.
I know a druid healer, who is seriously obsessed with alts. She has every healing class, tries to run ICC with every one of them, leveled a paladin for tanking and bought every craftable piece >245 when she dinged 80.
She's actually not a bad healer, but I can't stand her almost panicking on monday/tuesday "oh no I still have to find a raid for my mage/shaman/priest/whatever"

I also have a whole lot of alts. But, only 3 80s, and in most cases I can't be bothered at all to upgrade their gear in the same way I upgrade my priest. My tank has Kingslayer, goal achieved, see ya in Cata.
Something like that.

Why do I play alts... well, you can only run so many relevant raids (currently: two.) in one week, and I get bored with reputation-farming fast. So... instead of boring myself to death, I create a new character (different class/race/server/whatever).

Nick S. said...

There's a time factor in my alt play that you're not considering.

My main can get upgrades from two places: LK-25, and hardmode ICC-25. That means that I can play him 3 times per week productively; any time I spend on him otherwise offers no opportunity for character improvement.

Alts allow me to play for some purpose the rest of the time if I want to, and have poor enough gear that some content is challenging again. There's no fun to be had in clearing ToC-25 on my 6k GS Hunter, but healing it on a 4400GS Disc Priest actually feels challenging.

Wildhorn said...

I have a level 80 of each level. I did it for 3 reasons:

1) Experience quests I never done and experience the other faction
2) Vary my gameplay experience (for when I get bored of my main)
3) To know each class better to fight them better in PvP.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I'm 11/12 hm+lk10hm on my main and 9/12 hm on my alt. My alt does not attend guild runs. My alt is in my mains guild, both so people can get hold of me and also so it's easier for us to arrange "alt+friend" runs (we do 11/12 icc10 hm weekly f.e.)

Personally I would have thought that having 2 chars would be an advantage to your guild (if the owner was playing/gearing them correctly) as it would enable more flexibility in raids and more chance of a second group later in the week - i noticed some comments recently about the lack of such later groups.

Anonymous said...

How about using alts as a tool to get more raiding time? True most have an off-specc but even with an off-specc you still have only one raid ID. I have a druid and a warrior tank with druid being my main. Our guild runs a couple of 10 man ICC runs and one ICC 25. My druid goes to the 25 man and one of the ICC10. Most of the week I have enough time to join both the ICC 10's hence I have an alt. He existence right now is to have more raid time since its the main thing for me about wow: spending time in a raid.

Tully42 said...

The PuG has a no alt rule, but doesn't have a no off-spec rule. When it comes to e-peen, as you've defined, a geared off-spec is the same as a geared alt. Why the exception for off-specs?

The only thing a new alt rule does is put a cap on the number of e-peen specs a player can have (2-4 for a single toon) and limit the rate at which e-peen gear can be gathered (1 toon = 1 raid lockout).

Nielas said...

I am calling BS on this argument.

Having multiple geared alts in WoW is not really 'epeen-worthy'. People who care about those things, look at what gear your best geared character has and what content you raid on that character. In other words people look at how long your longest epeen is and not how many you have.

Playing alts is a great way to become a better player if you actually try to understand each class. A mage plays different from a warlock and way different from a rogue. A rogue and a fury warrior might seem similar but play differently. Healing on a shaman is different than healing on a priest or druid.

If you really care about learning the big picture in any fight then you need to have played the classes involved in the fights (ie walk in their shoes). If there is a problem with your group you will know what warning signs to look at rather than having to rely on guesswork and dps meters.

Eaten by a Grue said...

Sorry, offtopic, but there is no general forum here, so here goes.

Gevlon, what do you make of the recent waves of bot banning on WoW? There is a noticeable difference on my server - herbs and leathers have doubled to tripled in price.

I think even Historyy may be gone - his activity log appears to have stopped.

Wilson said...

Your entire argument is based on the belief that there are "social ape-subroutines" which reward acquisition of objects with opportunities to reproduce. If you knew anything about primatology, however, you would realize that this makes no sense. There is no species of ape for which this is the case. Gibbons and Orangutans are generally loners for whom reproduction is heavily dependent on chance encounters. Gorillas live in small groups in which a single adult male relies on physical size and strength to drive potential rivals away. Bonobos live in large matriarchal groups where sex with many different partners is a common activity. Chimpanzees are less patriarchal and more social than gorillas, but still rely heavily on size and strength. Sharing of objects (primarily food) occurs, but usually as a means to strengthen alliances rather than to obtain sex.

Apes (as well as other primates) are actively curious about the objects in their worlds, and are often attracted to new items. The reasons for this are unrelated to impressing potential mates, however. Instead, there is the constant need to find food (ape diets tend to be inefficient in terms of calories per hour compared to, say, a lion's) and to stimulate the brain. A brain requires regular stimulation to avoid atrophy, and in an order that has evolutionarily doubled-down on large brains for survival, atrophy = death. Therefore are hard-wired to enjoy new experiences for their own sake. It has nothing to do with impressing potential mates.

Since your foundational assumption about why people play alts is completely wrong, I see no reason to accept your conclusions. If you want to exclude alts that is your business, but you are fooling yourself if you believe you are helping people overcome misplaced reproductive instincts.

Anonymous said...

Gevlon this is really a great conept.

This helps with many facets of guild issues. Here is a couple I thought of.

1)"my alt has x less gearscore and does twice your dps" well bring him! oh you can't too bad!

2) "You need to use x rotation on your toon." Hmmm I didn't know you played dps... "I do on my alt!" oh are you going to change to the alt now? No... well stfu then

3) You get away from this stupid leet crap like "I have 10 toons that all do better x than you all do on your toons... too bad I can't play them all myself" Yeah too bad about that your an awesome guild all by yourself

Great idea Gevlon

Riptor said...

The only flaw I could find was you not taking the Environment of the respective Players into consideration. The Guy collecting Stamps might be viewed as a time-wasting retard by the majority, but within his Stamp-Collector Club he is a well respected Member of the Community. Why should he give a flying fuck what anybody else thinks? Aren’t those the guys (be it Stamps, Comic book collectors, Tabletop Gamers, Die Hard Star Wars –Trek Fans, etc) that really embrace the Idea of a asocial Being as they absolutely do not care what People outside their “Bubble” think of them?
Never the less, I for one think, that although Alts can have their advantages, they really keep the Players from truly mastering their Main Char. Easy to learn, a Lifetime to Master goes for every Class. Even if I read every scrap of Information on say a Prot Warrior I can find, I will not have the same feeling for the Class and will never react with the same speed as the Player who has played his Warrior intensively for 3 Years.
I think it could even be said that Averageguy subconsciously uses Alts as an Excuse because deep down he knows that he is not able to reach the same skill level as a so called experienced Player. So I think it’s really a good Idea that you force the Members of the PUG to invest more time for their Main Char.

Anonymous said...

I find myself oddly torn by this post. I agree with the theory behind it and the concept however it misses the extreme possibilities.

I will say this up front, in the most extreme way, I am an e-peener. Now that is out of the way.

While my motivation for raiding in and playing MMORPGS is always strictly character advancement on the character strength side of things, and in particular in comparison to other players, this attitude rather than being a cause to slack off the way you say is even more of a motivator than merely progression. My desire to strive to be the best in relation to my peers (thats right, even those strangers whose only association to me is in that they are doing the same things I am doing) is strong enough that it drives me harder than even those who are motivated by progress.

The reason behind this, is that in almost all circumstances in life, the peak of a field is determined by the difficulty of achieving it. My goal would not be to achieve 6k GS because thats "better than most" - it is to obtain absolutely full best in slot. And more specifically, the gear is only a step to the real goal - to achieve the maximum I possibly can within my respective role.

That is to say, when I was playing my DPS character (I have only one alt, and that only came about due to me server transferring to be able to play with a friend, and the top raiding guild on that server did not need more melee DPS, but did need a tank) my goal was not to be the most geared of my class in the world, it was to be the highest DPS of my class in the world.

In any important respect my goals push me harder than a mere desire to progress, because the best gear is obtainable only by those already clearing the entire game, and beyond that, since my goal is not just to be the most geared, but more specifically to be the most skilled (I am not saying I have ever achieved the top in the world in my class, however I was close enough that my goal was pretty obvious, my records were always top 20 at least) therefore one could never accuse me of being a detriment to my team.

This leads into life - my goals may be suspect, but the fact remains that while I may not have been particularly interested in mathematics in school, I still studied very hard to strive to be the top student. In my present job, I have swiftly been promoted to a very contested position in a large company, I am well paid and yet am very young, not due to my interest in the job itself, but rather in the fact that my goal is, of course, to strive for the highest possible position. In all fields having such a goal, as long as you are serious enough about it, would drive you towards success.

While strictly speaking it may be true that I would lose interest in, for example, raiding, were I to obtain full BIS gear and achieve world 1st ranking in DPS in my class, however such goals are quite lofty and difficult enough to truely obtain that my motivation is still at least more than mere progress has.

Now, while what I have mentioned about myself is true, irregardless of whether anyone reading this post BELIEVES that, I just wanted to point out the fact that such circumstances can and do exist. That said, it does not obviate the point of the post, because regardless of my motivations, I do not play alts. (I mentioned I have one, but since switching to my new main, I no longer play the old one. Optimal progress can only be obtained when focused.)

Duskstorm said...

@Wilson

I think he's still right, but for my different set of reasons.

1. When you look in the guild roster, and you see a high concentration of level 80's, it sets a tone that is focused on end game content.

2. I agree with Gevlon in that people who gravitate towards alts are often the kind of people whose reward for playing lie in their characters development. Progression raiding provides them little tangible improvement, whereas leveling and working on alts provides immediate tangible gratification for them.

3. People in guilds with lots of alts often end up spending their time running through Scarlet Monastery instead of improving their characters' performance.

It's not hard to believe that the alt rule inevitably attracts more progression minded folks versus collection minded folks.

Gevlon said...

@Wilson: The acquisition for reproduction is common among primitive early agricultural tribes. Buying wife(s) for cattle is still common practice in rural Africa.

"Ape-subroutine" sounded much better than "3K BC agricultural subroutine". I did not think about apes when I gave this name, (unconsciously assumed that they are like primitive men) and now corrected, will use the correct term: "evolutionary psychological scheme".

@last anonymous: pride drives the talented to higher, but the mediocre into lies. If what you said is true, you are a very talented player. However imagine that you can't get better than top 5%. Would you keep trying harder or just go for the easy gratification and start some more alts or "compete" by doing literally insane achievements?

Anonymous said...

i wouldn't ask someone to invite my alts as i focus on my main but i wouldnt be suprised that someone with more time at hand would love to get the rest into the guild just so he can follow guild chat when he plays -wouldn't want to miss a forming raid group for bg/pve

before you ask why i have alts:
i made them for
a: understand other classes better as i strive to become the best pvper
b: i wanted some extra tradeskill slots
have to admit that only one is 80 though, remaining 3 are 60-70

wouldnt either sort under e-peen motivated

btw not last anon but even if i can't reach top 5% i would continue maybe setting my goals in smaller steps to keep myself going (eg first reach 7% then win against teams in 5%, then reach 5%)

Bristal said...

Gevlon, you may not e-peen about gear. But here's a small list of the things you do e-peen about:

1. Reaching gold cap
2. Number of blog readers
3. Progression in blue gear
4. Making a splash on a PvP server
5. Succeeding in your PuG guild

When you have reached your goals, you move on. Much like a gear e-peener moves on to an alt to start again when he runs out of gear progression.

Your many projects are just your slightly more elaborate construct of e-peening.

So, explain again why this is a sign of weakness?

Gevlon said...

@Bristal: this will be a post

Zyrus said...

You're missing certain points of views.

I'm raiding only because I want the PvE pieces for PvP purposes, and for me the raid is indeed a means to an end, to gear.

So you could easily argue which that I see the raid as a tool, which I do, and that my mind is elsewhere, which is probable, PvP/Arena ratings, etc.

Also you can easily argue that I'm forced to raid, which it feels like, not by the raid leader/guild/etc, but by the game, for these drops, if I want to be the best, I have to have that gear.

YET, I'm one of the biggest asset to the raid, be it being the highest DPS, which I am, or one of the tanks, whenever we need that three tanks fight.

This is why the guild picked me as the Shadowmourne wielder, and I have now to not even skip any raid at all, the game is forcing me to assist EVERY RAID and EVERY BOSS, just to get the shards, yet I already have all other pieces, that's the only reason I raid now, for the shards.

With your argument I'd make for a terrible player, some scrub that only worries about his own e-peen and whatever.

But, I'm a 2400+ almost 2500+ arena player, highest dps about everywhere, star-tank whenever it's needed for.

You can armory me (Zyrus) if you want, Exodar Server, US.

Your argument falls there.

Wilson said...

@Gevlon - Like many, I find Evolutionary Psychology to be rather long on handwaving and rather short on evidence, but we can worry about that another time. I agree with you that having more "stuff" in many primitive agricultural societies can translate into having more wives. The king gets twenty wives, the successful farmer gets one wife, the poor farmer gets his right hand. Notice though that the sexual reward is not for "having more than you had yesterday" but rather "having (a lot) more than anyone around you". This is very different than WoW, where the mental pleasure of obtaining a new epic is independent of whether or not seven billion other people in Dalaran already have the same item.

What's my main again? said...

As someone who has an 80 of each class... I can tell you a big part of it is Epeen... why wouldn't it be?

Of course the big reason... at least for me is that I enjoy playing different classes and specs. I work to get them raid worthy and then raiding with them is kind of the culmination of playing that toon.

I'm the raid leader of my guild and so having intricate details of how each class plays, gears, specs and performs in a raid environment lets me more actively tweak strategies and my raid group.

It also means that I can give tips and advice to my raiders on things they may not of thought of... and things we discuss about I can then go and experiment on with that class.

Having this amount of knowledge lets me easily call out the bullshit that people try to feed me as well as screen out applicants.

Holly said...

Gevlon, while I agree the main purpose of alting does seem to be 'e-peening' I do not think that is the only possible reason. You say if you want to experience all the roles in world of warcraft you pick a hybrid class, and there's only one hybrid that fulfills all 4 roles. Druid, and if you're just looking at tank/melee dps/ranged caster/healler. Then yes, one main of a druid could do all of those.

But that does not mean you get the experience playing different classes and roles can do. You can't say paladin tanking is similar to warrior tanking, or that priest healing is similar to druid healing. I do have many alts, but mostly because I really enjoy experiencing other classes and how they play, particularly at end game, where currently the only real challenge in the game is.

Though I also admit I've never been able to get into the other options people enjoy, I couldn't even tell you the gearscore on any of my 80's, though I can tell you they can pull their weight in ICC and I know where buttons are on each class that half the people in the game probably couldn't (raise ally on a dk anyone?) I've also never been able to get into mount collecting, or jumping through hoops for achievements that are like 'kill this boss with a finger up your bum, and you get a gold star!'

And while I sense I may be in the minority of alt players that might apply to your guild, and that just cutting out every alt is an easier, much more black and white way to deal with the problem. But given the fact you've already proven with the PuG you're okay at doing a more grey rule. (300g to wipe causers?) It seems almost like a double standard to go 'yes there are people that don't suck at alts, but it's easier to just ban all alts' and then turn around and go 'when one person sucks enough for it to be a wipe, we'll fine him 300g, when 5 people suck enough to cause a wipe, then it's a learning wipe'

Anonymous said...

Your point on no alts....while fine for your guild.....really seems to be missing some logic that i just dont see. Whether I play one main toon in your guild and progress through content on the raids and do abolutely nothing else than progress on this toon....vs having additional time and playing an alt doesnt really hava an impact on my main toon(offspec vs alt....see little difference once you have the badge gear). It would if the alt was going into raids instead of my main but otherwise it has no impact.

The content today is such that the time on your main toon to progress is limited by your guilds raiding. It isnt impacted by your playing of an alt. I do not see any connection based on what you write. Conjecture based on a small sample size of those that were not in a guild and join a guild...misses those in the longer running guilds.

Your article hasnt enlightened me nor convinced me of your point of view.

Serone said...

I might have misunderstood you a bit but I agree that you shouldn't be allowed to bring your alt to the guild raids if that's your primary point.

Anonymous said...

You've mentioned that you've had to replace people during raids, but what motivates people to wait around during raids they are not a part of and later act as replacements? The raid lock out system is restrictive in letting them simply join trade chat raids and there is a pretty limited amount of things to do on a main past the triumph badge stage of farming heroics, most of which are as mindless if not more than alt leveling. Most guilds have a combination of socialization and alts to keep people available, but why would anyone be waiting around in your guild?

I warned a few blog posts back about the regular flow of new guilds that are overeager to credit themselves with raid success when they simply imported it through recruiting. Since THE PuG is still only a month old, I'm extremely suspicious that you're riding high on that initial recruitment wave and new guild shine. People are highly motivated during the new slew of progression and eager to get their characters into the new fights, which tends to overshadow any critical problems in guild structure. Even more, since you recruited from your blog your guild likely has many people that agree on your world view and would like it validated through the project, a far, far stronger incentive than any amount of WoW gold. As I said then, any guild can ride the recruitment wave in the short term, the real test is whether they can last through problems of stagnation or the absence of key players. As far as I know, your guild is entering its first ever two week period of no new progress, yet on the cusp of its first real trial here you are declaring the method proven. I don't believe that at all and I have to wonder if the timing in this indicates doubt in your own method's tenacity, that it might just be another flash in the pan guild that happened to shine brighter than most (bolstered as it was by blog sponsorship, being old content with the ICC buff, and an ideologically motivated playerbase who may be dissatisfied with their current guilds during the summer lull). The only positive I can say for this is that it might eliminate some people who were motivated more by being "proven right" than anything to do with the guild structure itself.

I don't trust wowprogress.com as a baseline, as far as I know it still flags non-raiding guilds as raiders if a handful of members do trade chat pugs. My own social and socialist guild downed halion in the same week THE PuG did despite being much smaller, most of our kingslayer players being on summer break and any RS attempts being a precursor to 2 nights/week ICC alt nights. Our only other common link with THE PuG? We also recruit heavily from an external internet WoW community and the players recruited this way tend to be more capable and able to accept constructive criticism than your average trade chat superstar, not because our guild structure is anything spectacular.

I like your projects but I wish you'd stop presenting them as experiments or proofs. Experiments to prove things have to be tightly controlled in order to isolate causes. What you tend to do in projects like undergeared or the pug is take a single factor you're interested in then crank every other factor to the maximum without regard to how it interacts in the general community you're trying to offer proofs to. That's not an experiment, it's a diet pill commercial. You're stacking the deck as much as possible toward a favorable outcome then letting wishful thinking and confirmation bias assume it was the pill that made the difference rather than the accompanying diet and exercise.

Anonymous said...

I think at lot of this flows from your idea that it is about progression, unless you broaden it out to "progressing in what I enjoy" The major gold/AH person on my realm only recently got TBC/LK; there was gold progression but not gear or level progression. I.e. what was important to them was not what the masses valued. I think someone who truly enjoyed RP in the Barrens or getting 5000 achievement points is more successful than someone who didn't really enjoy getting their no-buff, heroic LK kill.

Did you read the recent Tobold on why a lot of people did not like realID since it would hurt their employment prospects if people knew they played WoW. If you have a "real" (insert less pejorative word here) job with 25+ year old college graduate peers, then a realm-first hard mode kill is still something that hurts your employment prospects if known. Many people won't care, but the ones that do will be more likely to judge unfavorablely. So whether you are working on hardest-mode realm firsts and a 6500 gs is a consequence or you are explicitly targeting ten 6000 gs toons, it is no different: you are spending your time and money on doing something that will slightly reduce your reputation in the adult business world.

Which is fine; your entertainment should be entertaining to you. I just don't see how what other people think is entertaining should influence me.

Anonymous said...

I think the main reason for alts is that there's a one week cooldown on raid IDs.

Once you've fully cleared a tier of content, the only reason to keep running it is gear. I currently do 12/12 ICC25 HM + RS25 HM on wednesday evening with my main. There just isn't anything else worth doing with that character for the rest of the week.

For anyone who plays 20+ hours a week, you basically NEED alts if you don't really enjoy anything else but raids.

lochinbar said...

While you make some good points, I think you leave out the most obvious reason why raiders have alts, which is so they can run the same content more than once a week.

It is useful in terms of raid progression, as you are able to get additional practice on content outside of the scheduled raid times.

I do scheduled guild runs with my main, and I can use my alt for runs whenever I feel like it at any other time, which I do sometimes with other guild alts, or in PuGs.

Will said...

To truly know which class is for you, even for example among the 4 tanking classes, its hard to really know the feel for how they play out without trying them all in roughly end game content.

You get the general idea by playing them at around level 40. But even then, they gain new abilities that adjust the feel of gameplay as they get to level cap.

Anonymous said...

You nailed it on a head.

I have 5 "alts" but I raid on them all and I have them tied to different raid groups with non-colliding times. I like my chars geared so maybe I'm guilty of "epeening" as well, but well, once I'm "done" with the gear, I'm not "done" with the game, I want to go further, I still want to raid without worrying any more about "stupid X didn't drop again". Also I'd pass X item if it's a bigger upgrade to some other guildie if I respect that player (so I'm an awful social), but I'll be a merciless lootwhore against people I think they didn't work for their loot (I don't like boosting some lazybums). I'd also voted when 1-raid-per-week guild wanted to extend raid lock to tackle the lich king, even when I lacked the "most important" part of my equipment, the weapon, and some other pieces, while other guildies were like "farm until we have everything".

But yes, many people I raided with were the kinds "I got everything I wanted, I vanish", they got "bored with the game", "burnt out with raiding", whatever bullshit they came up with. Then they mysteriously came back all sweety with some new alt "I'll get my last piece of t9 this Sunday".

Personally, I despise being boosted, I felt bad when my 232 geared alt was in a group of 264 geared people, I felt like the weakest link, that I didn't contribute much. But now, all my alts are "geared" at similar level, they also raid and I feel I'm doing my job. 3 of them have the kingslayer and I'd happily wipe on the lich king again, if needed.

Actually I was pissed off by one of my guilds, by people's attitude. We got 1 lich king kill, but of course not all the guildies got it (someone couldn't make it that day etc.). So we planned to go kill him again for the people who didn't get it. But those with title already... they didn't give a damn about the fight. They got their title, they "were done with it", they didn't want to see the end boss of the expansion for a second time!

Another issue I ran into with alts were people who wanted to raid on alt, yet couldn't get rid of "this is just an alt" attitude. Missing glyphs, enchants, no professions, not researching their specs or new kind of role... If you want to raid on alt, make it look like a raid worthy character not some half-assed saronite slave.

spinksville said...

I actually think limiting people to one alt in the guild is probably a good idea. It makes it much easier to know who everyone is, for one thing. Plus gets people to focus on their main.

Altoholic said...

Being in a smaller guild, I have to be flexible.

I did want to add some other reasons for alting (I play almost everything) you seem to have missed:

1) Knowledge. As a guild leader and a raid leader, having a solid understanding on how to utilize each class and spec on my team for each fight. Having raided at all perspectives allows me to better explain fights when needed and give fast precise directions on the fly when I see trouble. I can also give clear, constructive advice.

2) I love raiding. I can't get enough. It's not about loot, but about accomplishing things as a team, group problem solving. Once my main character is locked then I'm out of stuff to do for the week. There's no reason why I shouldn't raid on other toons to get my money's worth AND get more of my "yeay we killed bosses" fix.

3) Guild diplomacy and networking. Having my own personal army allows me to help other groups when they're short a person. I establish a reputation for being a competent skilled helpful flexible person. They can trust me to run away when I'm the bomb in RS rather than stand there and cause a wipe, something your average mouth breathing GS trade moron won't do.

This pays off in two ways:
If I need someone to fill a spot for one of my raids I can ask people I've grouped with on my alts and get a non-moron.

I get invited to things based on my reputation. It is for this reason that I was part of a super pug that got the server first RS10 clear mere hours after our server came up.

4) I can also shut down the "You aren't my class, why are you giving me advice?" tools.

5) I can craft everything in house. This gives me a wider variety of ways to make gold by diversifying my markets. It also means my guild doesn't have to worry about losing access to patterns should our trusted crafters gquit.

6) I'm a multiboxer and social experiments are fun.

Fetzie said...

My main is a paladin (tank+retri)
My Alt is a priest (disc+holy)
I also have a rogue (mutilate)

I hate healing with my paladin. So much so that I vendored my healing gear a year ago and would rather see 277 spellpower plate get sharded than spend my offspec DKP on them. On the other hand, I love healing with my priest, despite her being my alt, she has nearly full 264 disc and holy gear (disc is haste and crit, holy is haste and spirit). I have spent upwards of 30k on her, maybe more and have healed 25 man heroic with her.

My priest made my main character be better. I now know when I am making a healer's job harder than it needs to be. I know what to look out for, how the boss fight works from a healer's perspective.

Alts are not just there to epeen with. At some point you reach a barrier with your main, be it gearwise (my paladin needs nothing from icc25 normal), skill-wise (you need to sit down and work out how to work around a problem) or gameplay-wise (why are my healers having trouble here?)

The gear barrier is easy - run25 hc.

The Skill barrier is harder, it requires you to be self-critical.

The gameplay barrier is where Alts come in. You learn the fight from a different perspective and can learn to adapt your gameplay when playing your main.


I have conquered the content my priest mainly plays with my main. I have no means of progressing my main (at least gearwise) other than in the guild 25s. So I use my priest so as not to not spend my computer time idling in dalaran, which I do when on my paladin and not raiding (unless I need money for a new project, in which case I go fishing)

I would not be half the player I am today if I did not have my priest healer alt, and definitely would not be tanking in a 25 man heroic guild. Now my alt does not absolutely need to be in the same guild as my paladin. The only thing that changes is the fact that I am not socialising with my guild members. Remember that this game has a "Multiplayer" in it's genre description, that guilds are not only for downing bosses.

If my priest is not in the guild then I feel like I am estranging myself from the rest of the members.

Anonymous said...

I must disagree.

I have alts because I'm bored with my main. Not because I need to prove anything to anybody.

I could either be logged onto my 6kgs main and sitting in Dal being bored because the raid isn't today, or log on my alt so I can have have something to do and have fun doing it.

I actually /like/ the progression from 1-80. Doing it with other classes to kill the time isn't an e-peen issue.

Metraton said...

Like people said above, no-alt policy is good for guild. And your reasons are logical, especially from psychological and social point of view, what I approve. However, try to extend your "exceptions" list. As comments show, there are enough "uncommon" people, who play their alts for non e-peen purpose. Even if their deep natural decision to do it has something to do with e-peening, doesnt make them what you've described in your guide. Feels slightly offensive.
I would also like to say about myself, as I was a bit confused after reading all the guide. I fit for your e-peen description for like 90%+. Yes, I make numerous alts with straightforward purpose of "twinking" them to "best the class" as I call it. But, I have full comprehension, that I am by no means better than others in skill or whatever. When I 2-3 shot a person on a bg, I dont count it towards my skill. It's just the common feeling of victory, similar to t10\s8 players slaughtering s6,t8 on bgs. Also, I fit for that statement that e-peens are useless for anything, like job. Personally, I'm a horribly lazy and impotent person. However, I have a main, whose purpose was to progress and raid for fun with my guild. While playing him, I understand everything about progression and raidroles, as well as leading rules. Of course, I am not a "pro", but I know what I do. So my question is: who am I? A raider with e-peen syndrom or an e-peen who is trying to raid? Or something else? If you still reply to this thread, please tell your opinion.

Metraton, Storms Fury Eu-Vek'Nilash

Avael / Argent Dawn EU said...

Like some others have pointed out, even though your "Exceptions" list is nice enough, there's also those who play alts simply to experience the game with a different class and perhaps role, in the interest if learning how they work.

I have a lot of alts. I don't care what people think of them. But I feel I become a much better player (on my main character) when given the opportunity to play the other classes and roles, and see how they tackle various situations.

Being an experienced tank can make you a better DPS and healer, being an experienced healer can make you a better DPS or tank, etc, you get the idea.


Having a max-level alt does not "Have" to mean e-peening or wanting an alt for PVP or whatever. It could just mean someone wants to know every little bit there is to know about their game, to get better, on their main.

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