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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Alts and Metagaming

This month’s topic comes to us from Mynxee of Life in Low Sec. She asks "Alts and Metagaming: Is playing two accounts who are logged in at the same time and work together (hauler/miner, explorer/combat associate, trade alts in trade hubs) a form of metagaming that is 'ruining the game'?"

Good question Mynxee. One has to take into account the differing mechanics in EVE vs. the rest of MMOdom. Alts in EVE work differently than in other mmos. In most MMOs all characters progress solely thru the efforts of the player. So if you work on one toon you can't work on another.

In EVE you can have up to 3 characters but on a single account but only one is training at any one time. Training goes on 24/7 and it would take what? 14 years to max out a character in eve. One can see why putting some time on the alts when your main has not yet reached the place you want him to be at would be frowned on. One of the features of serious alts in other games is you don't work on them till your main char(s) are at max level. You may have a few lowbie alts hanging around but most people don't try to level them in sync. With EVE's specilization and deep progression for the advanced skill trees, it can take a few years until your main is "at max" so the freedom to create alts is much more limited on a single account.

Then there is the metagaming aspect of EVE. EVE is a game that is supposed to be dark and dangerous. The game rules promote this, as well as promoting espionage and intelligence work. As a friend of mine commented last night: "I don't know of any other game that will hand you your ass quite so hardcore". Spy alts are a credible profession in EVE. Heck spy mains are also credible. The point here is that real intelligence operations are part and parcel of EVE. Not many people get into them but at the alliance level they are indispensable. If your main character is in 0.0 you may want to have an alt in empire running the market for him and another hauling stuff to trans shipment points.

So in other games people make alts to try out different jobs, but the progression is mostly the same. In EVE people make alts to do entirely different aspects of the game. Usually that compliment the main character's abilities in some way.

In the end I think it makes EVE a richer game. I should note that in a lot of cases the reason for the 2nd account is usually greed. Or in the cases of alliance leaders and CEOs necessity.

In the end most people tend to get a 2nd account because they can't reliably find a 2nd person to do what they want when they want to do it. From a purist point of view, yes it breaks the game. But then again with it's politics and economic shenanigans, EVE has a well developed metagame. Since one of the tenets of EVE seems to be "grab every advantage you can", multi-boxing is here to stay as part of EVE. It certainly doesn't hurt CCP's bottom line, and that means the game can continue to grow. It realistically has to be considered part and parcel of the sand box. You can do it or not. Just like EVE doesn't force you to mine.

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