The Daily Grind: Should every MMO with factions have mechanics to switch factions?

    
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Also, let's just put this out there, how about more robots?

Lots of things bug the living heck out of me about World of Warcraft, but one of the bullet points on that list is the fact that there’s still no way for an individual to switch factions. It just doesn’t happen, despite the fact that we know there are members of Horde races in the Alliance (and vice-versa) and plenty of space for disagreeing with your factional stance. City of Heroes got this right ages ago, and that was a game where the factional split was based on actual morality, not just political alignment.

Personally, I think every game with factions should offer a mechanism to allow players to swap their faction. There should be no hard-and-set uncrossable faction lines. Even in Star Wars: The Old Republic, you should have the option to make a reformed Sith or a fallen Jedi if you so desire, and classes like Bounty Hunters don’t even have factions in the first place.

But perhaps others feel like that would erode some of what makes factions distinct. Having watched people develop strong factional identities in games like Final Fantasy XI (which encouraged you to swap factions) that rings false to me, but what do you think? Should every MMO with factions have mechanics to switch factions?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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JC Denton

There used to be an old MMO that I won’t mention here but began with an A. Really garbage game but had FIVE (!) factions and they finally put in faction switching just because people were sick of being in one of the ‘losing’ factions. They put limits on it and prevented switching for X amount of time after doing a switch but there were always those who abused it.

Game’s dead now. Good fucking riddance. I don’t believe faction choices should be set in stone but allow for a switch at the cost of a significant amount of in-game currency AND a time limit between switching (maybe once a month) to mitigate abuse.

ultorius
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ultorius

in swtor you can select light or dark side choises whenever you want,but ye you cant change faction. You could always make a new character though.The endresult is the same anyway.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

In terms of PvP games anyway the answer would be a big “No”. For some people just competing is fun. To most however they’d much rather be on the winning side. Too many people would just desert the losing factions and move to the winning one making it even worse for those that are losing when trying to compete. You don’t want to make this easy to do.

If we’re talking about PvE and co-op games, role playing servers, etc, that’s different and fine to do. But when we’re talking about the splitting up of factions for PvP purposes letting people change isn’t a great idea.

How do you balance PvP factions? Games often will impose limits on creation on the more popular side, which isn’t good either. You don’t want to block people from creating the character they want. There are the games that split people into new factions every once and a while based on performance and try to equal it out. As far as competition goes that’s the best way to do it, as far as role playing and faction identity goes that isn’t so great.

There are the limited entry places as well in PvP factional games that limit the number of people who can go in and that equals things out somewhat. And yet it spoils the big huge battle feeling with a great many people.

Every way of doing it has ups and downs. Again, this is all about games with factional PvP combat.

If we’re discussing PvE games it really doesn’t matter as much :D I do like the idea of being born to a faction and having to do quests to win over the other side and join them. Though there would also be some of the other races born in that area and raised as that faction who wouldn’t need to go through that and I understand wanting to build your own story for your character, so they should let people do it both ways.

Star Trek Online lets you make most of the other factional races to be in the Federation if you want. And there is a semi neutral faction that grows up and decides who to join later, though you mostly have to be a type of Romulan for that.

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Pandalulz

Eh, honestly, I’d still just prefer they didn’t have factions in the first place. I’ve never liked the way it separates the community.

flyingltj
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flyingltj

This is another feature in gaming in which the cookie-cutter MMOs that were massively embraced by the unwitting and inexperienced masses don’t realize was done properly… before games like WoW, CoH, etc… did wrong.

You don’t have to switch factions, worry about faction locks, or anything like that… if your game doesn’t start you off in a faction.

Joining something is a choice, not an innate characteristic of character creation. Learn how to game kids… learn. how. to. game.

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Castagere Shaikura

This is what happens when you have story heavy mmo’s which i hate. Early mmo’s let you switch as a role play element. Modern mmo’s are driven by story where you and every other player is savior of the world. EQ2 betray system was a lot of fun. Anarchy Online let you play a neutral faction which i loved.

flyingltj
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flyingltj

Back when MMOs were MMORPGs… Instead of multiplayer theme parks on a track.

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Blake

Definitely not for me. Making a choice on the side you join ought to mean something. Letting people switch sides just gives bad behaving players an out when they wear out their welcome on one side. Lorewise, it doesn’t make sense for most games. While there may be a scenario where I could see a Blood Elf allying with the Alliance or perhaps a Worgen joining the Horde (just as an example) that would fit the story arc of the game, I cannot see ANY way that those characters could be PLAYER characters.

Designers and storytellers could craft a story of a character switching sides that maybe would provide an interesting narrative. Letting player characters do it, to me, smacks of lazy/lore-breaking design.

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rafael12104

Hmm. It depends on the game.

There are some games steeped in lore. And a race or faction story matters from the very outset. Your choice is at character creation. And let’s be honest, if you want to see how the other side lives, it’s a simple matter of creating another toon on the other side.

But there are other games where the lore isn’t dominated by factions. Choices, as you progress, may be important, but the idea that your toon could easily move from one faction to another is conceivable because you are not playing through the story of a faction. It is a much broader tale.

As a pure mechanic in a game, I prefer to be able to switch whenever I want. BUT games are much more than just mechanics.

Skaar
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Skaar

In a PvE game…sure, why not. EQ2’s faction change system was awesome: Betray your city, become exiled and work up favor for your new city. On top of that you lost all your spells, so it was quite the investment and something you had to think about doing…

In a PvP game though…no way! Imagine if Aion had a faction change system…it would have been even worse than it already was with the imbalance…

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Rolan Storm

Yes, please? SWTOR especially? Could be whole new thing, you are very right with your example.

Professor mentioned EQ2 betrayal quest – it was great. It was hard, too. Not to mention you could not recover your shard. At all. But in the end it was worth it.