Jan 15, 2012

Posted by in Blue Milk & Cereal | 50 Comments

Blue Milk & Cereal: Should You Be Allowed To Switch Your Advanced Class?

No day would be complete without the breakfast of Jedi: Blue Milk & Cereal.  Every morning, the team at Ask A Jedi will get Force-induced thoughts coursing through your head with delicious issues from around the galaxy! Join in the discussion below to make your voice heard!

I’m almost afraid to do this one.

Hot on the heels of our dual-spec discussion last week, we have an equally, if not more controversial topic up for internet fisticuffs: the ability to switch Advanced Classes. Now that the game has been out nearly a month, players have a much better perspective on how the game plays, how the classes are designed and itemized, and how the content wraps around all of that. I thought it would be a good time to take the temperature of the community on this topic again. Let’s see if I’m crazy.

Some of the fuel for the controversy is that the design decision itself has never been set in stone, at least in public. When I talked to James Ohlen back at PAX East, he explained that they have the tech to allow switching, and painted the picture for any one of 3 scenarios at launch: no switching at all, prohibitively expensive to switch, or easy to switch often. As we know now, they decided to ship the game without this ability. However, that has not stopped the discussion surrounding the topic.

To be honest, I think BioWare ignited the controversy themselves with their naming of the systems. I’m surprised BioWare didn’t call the classes “Stories” instead. I mean, this completely meshes with their modus operandi as a storytelling studio and would more accurately reflect what you’re actually choosing at the time of character creation. If classes were labeled stories, and Advanced Classes were labeled classes, I think this whole kerfuffle wouldn’t even exist.

My take on it? No. Players should not be allowed to switch Advanced Classes. Here’s why.

In traditional class-based systems, classes are defined by a set of conditions and constraints assigned to a given character. These classes are then differentiated by the ability to:

  • Wield different weapons
  • Wear different armor
  • Use different abilities
  • Perform different roles

All of these attributes are found in the Advanced Class system of Star Wars: The Old Republic. It really is that simple. The Advanced Classes ARE the classes in TOR. Once players understand and accept that fact, everything makes sense.

By certainly my opinion can’t be the only one out there (much less the right one!) I’d like to hear where the AAJ Army stands on this issue at this stage of the game. Vote below, but more importantly post your thoughts and discuss others! Remember to keep it civil, this isn’t Huttball. :)

Should players be allowed to switch their Advanced Class?

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  1. I agree with you 100%, Lethality. People should not be able to switch ACs.

    • I have 2 thoughts on this.

      1. Players should be able to switch as many times as they would like with minimal cost up until level 30. This is because many of the advanced classes don’t play remotely similar to the introductory 10 levels before the selection. i.e. The trooper/BH are truely ranged classes from 1-10 but if a player chooses Vanguard they are a 100% melee class by the time they hit 20 (where the hell is the Ranged tanking I was promised?). I have since abandoned my Vanguard at level 32 after I finished Act 1 due to the atrocious playstyle of that AC

      2. AC switching works off of a Token system. No player can hold more than 2 tokens at a time. Players are granted 2 tokens at the time of AC selection, and each AC respec costs 1 token. Each token has a 2month CD once max level is hit, and additional tokens are gained after a class is changed in any meaningful way.

  2. Katherinne says:

    I think they should, what if you try an advanced class and find that you really don’t enjoy it? I personally don’t want to slog through all of those missions that I just finished to create a new character.

    • Well, boring missions is another topic :) BUT! It’s just like picking a class in another game – if you rolled a mage but didn’t like it, you wouldn’t expect to be able to save your leveling progress and just switch over to a warrior. For example.

      As I mentioned above, BioWare really invited this controversy themselves. I think if classes has been called stories, and/or you selected your ‘advanced class’ at character creation, this wouldn’t be an expectation or issue.

      Interestingly, this is what pushed me to quit Aion. I accidentally mis-clicked on Ranger instead of Assassin at level 10, and since I couldn’t switch and couldn’t stand the thought of grinding another 10 levels again (more grindy, that game was) I left.

      I do think there should be an error trap available to account for cases like this though. Perhaps switchable until you level again.

      • Switching ACs should be possible, I’d even say twice. And the reason is quite simple, If You choose f.i. Jedi Sentinel cuz, You like the way he looks, but after few lvls You see that the playstyle isn’t like you imagined it to be, you are fucked… You can switch AC, so you have to start all over again… The second time is again, You switched AC, but You liked being previous better, and again, you are fucked… That’s why I think it should be there, but only to do twice, with no lvl restrictions, cuz endgame may still be diffrent than the beggining :)
        Sorry for writing that much x)

        • If I picked a paladin in WoW because I liked how he looked, should I be able to switch to a warlock later down the line because I decided I didn’t like the paladin gameplay?

          • Poor example because in WoW they allow AC switching. A Paladin has 3 unique play styles that require there own set of gear, which makes them no different then TOR’s AC.

          • The TOR has AC switching already – I can go from tank to dps with my shadow, right?

            It’s 100% different than TOR – they are all paladin CLASS roles.

          • It’s not 100% different because in TOR 70% -80% of all the abilities you actually use come from the main class not the advanced class. So you end pretty much playing the same way no matter what tree you use in a advanced class the only way to actually make a big change in gameplay is to switch advanced classes.

          • The Operative/Sniper beg to differ.

          • There are always exceptions to every rule.

  3. The thing is, the stories aren’t different between the advanced classes. If they were, it would make more sense not to allow them. As great as the class story lines are, how many people are going to actually want to go back through and level the same storyline just to do the other AC?

    I do think they should, but make it really expensive and only available at 50.

  4. I think they should allow it. But make it a costly choice. I mean, Advanced Class doesn’t matter for the story you play.
    If you picked a Commando, but don’t like it, then you really don’t want to delete your character and start over again just because you couldn’t switch AC. I normally come at the point where I get the feel of whether I like a class or not at around 16-20 so I really often dont want to reroll just because of me picking an advanced class I didn’t like.

    • dikaiosune says:

      I rather agree. It’s already gonna be wickedly expensive (time and currency-wise) to have a second set of viable gear for whatever level you’re switching at–kinda like respeccing between tank/dps on certain ACs. So why not have a level-dependent charge which would wipe out most well-off toons reserve funds? That way if you’re really decided on it you can, but will have to suffer a bit–kinda like rerolling but keeping your level.

      • If I picked a paladin in WoW because I liked how he looked, should I be able to switch to a warlock later down the line because I decided I didn’t like the paladin gameplay?

        • Chromium already answered this.

          • No he didn’t. You can’t swap classes in WoW you can respec. The confusion is using a paladin or a Druid as the example, because those classes were designed to be able to do all three of the holy trinity (tank, dps, heals) and in the case of Druids they could melee dps and caster dps. None of the classes in TOR are that broad, but niether were any of the other classes in WoW. The only reason why this is up for debate is because you get a choice. If the AC were all just classes you had to choose from level one this would be a none issue.

          • The same thing applies to warriors, rogues, and mages in a without any difficulty. Warlocks I beleive there is really only a 2 tree difference and I’ve never played enough of Hunter’s to make a comparison.

  5. No you should not be able to. choices should mean something.

    • The choice will still have meaning even if it’s reversible… it’ll mean which AC you want to play at that point in time. If anything AC switching gives you more choice, which many players would enjoy more.

  6. AbstractQuantum says:

    No, they should never allow the switch (if they do, charge $50 to change it). Face it, you most likely will play this game for a period of time… You have NOT done all of the content yet. I have been playing 4 toons on the imp side (one of each class) I have a 36, 30, 29, and 25. The class story is minor compared to the planet content. I have intentionally tried to do different content on each toon. It is easy! Spend more time on a planet with one and not the others. One toon (the 25) I’ve leveled solely with space combat since he got his ship. One I did a lot of flash points. One I did a lot of PVP. You could make all 8 toons on a server the same class and not “grind the same content.” oh and i have bot done a single planet’s bonus series yet!!! plus like I was saying you are going to play the game for a while (a year or 5) you have time to create both ACs if you want, heck you might hate the new AC anyway. Getting to 10/11 takes what an hour or two? Really? That is too much to ask? It’s a game, play it and enjoy it! Lol so yeah, some people are lazy (which is fine) so charge them $50 so when they remember why they didn’t take that AC in the first place they can pay $50 to switch back ;-)

  7. Funkmaster says:

    How does it affect anyone else if I change my AC? That, to me, is the only question that matters. If you can’t point out a direct, significant effect it will have on other players then I can’t think of any reason to prevent it.

    I disagree with the argument that it will result in a continuous string of switching to the flavour of the month, because years of playing these games has shown me that people will play what they want to play, not what they feel they have to play. As for choices having consequences, this is a game. I can accept that story choices I make have consequences, and that directly increases the level of fun I have with the game, but AC is a purely mechanical choice. It has no affect on anyone else, and doesn’t impact anyone else’s enjoyment of the game.

    Arguing against AC switching is simply a case of “I don’t like it, so you shouldn’t be allowed to do it.”

    As an aside, in, for example, WOW, I would not care at all if they allowed you to change from Warrior to Rogue. How does that hurt me? It doesn’t at all, because it’s your character and your choice.

    • But then you’re throwing out one of the most basic core tenets of an RPG. After that, there’s no reason to even have such a thing as a class if everyone can be everything. It’ll be Quake!

      • What are you talking about the basic core of a RPG is making a character the way you want it. Classes are just details to help you create that character they never mattered in the first place.

        • No, the basic core of an RPG is not to do anything you want. Read it again:

          “In traditional class-based systems, classes are defined by a set of conditions and constraints assigned to a given character. ”

          It’s customization of your character AFTER you pick a class. Everything you do within that construct becomes your character, but it’s the starting block.

          In TOR that’s your advanced class. You do not go backwards in an RPG.

          This is a class based RPG. A CLASS is a foundational element of it.

          Sorry, your view is completely misinformed.

          • What if I don’t care about “the core tenets of an RPG” and I’m just out to have fun?… You can have your core tenets, and I can have my fun and flexibility. The way I play my character won’t affect you.

          • @Lethality so your saying when you pick a class that is not apart of customization? That only the talent tree’s and such are? Sorry but your view is completely misinformed if you cut out an entire step of character creation.

            I know classes are designed by rules those rules are to help people design the characters they want to make, which i said already.

            Advanced Classes are not the class, Trooper, Bounty Hunter, etc are the class. The AC is just further customization possibilities that are really limiting without switching.

          • In a class-based RPG, classes are part of your character creation – not customization. How you PLAY that class is customization.

            Advanced classes are, in fact, the real classes. The core classes are the story.

            Again, look in game. What’s under the “Class” column in your guild window? What about Daniel Erickson’s (and countless other devs) explanation during interviews of the intentions and reasons for Advanced Classes?

            Once players understand and believe that, then this whole mess is obsolete.

    • Taking a step away from whatever the core RPG tenets are, making the pick of AC permanent or not does have an effect beyond yourself: it influences what sort of end-game strategies and styles will evolve. This is the same reason for which skill tree resets cannot be done anywhere and cost increasing amounts of money, the difference being that a skill tree reset is a less drastic change and thus allowable in the current game.

      The choice is telegraphed from miles away to be both significant and permanent, so I don’t accept that AC switching should be in “just because people make mistakes”. Getting to your ship takes about two solid evenings of playing, which isn’t significant time for an MMO character, and gives you 6-7 levels of getting to grips with the style of your choice and forming an opinion of it. If someone stuck with a choice they didn’t like for 30 levels hoping it would get better Any Day Now(TM), then I really don’t know what to say except “reevaluate sooner”.

      Call it enforced diversity or whatever, but while your personal choice doesn’t matter, the ability to change that choice, and by what frequency and cost you may, does have a profound impact on the game.

      • Agreed. It absolutely does have an affect beyond the player himself. It changes the dynamics of the game entirely, just as is having unlimited amounts of scavenging or bioanalysis materials would. There has to be an accounting for, and an element of control to all resources – including classes. It’s the biggest one of all!

        Besides, I’m unsure what the appeal would be if we’re allowed to change classes any time we want in a class-based RPG.

        • I can without a doubt tell you that the way grouping is going in the game there will be drastic changes to “listen to what the devs say” attitude. We will have AC switching or cross server LFG flashpoint finder and likely both in the next 4 months.

  8. I think you should be able to switch, but with caveats. One could be cost, either in real dollars or in-game currency (probably the latter, since pay-services aren’t available… yet). This can be modulated by the level the character is — if you, for example, want to switch at level 15, it is very expensive… and if you wish to switch at 50 it is far less expensive. This way, the burden is lessened if the player has put many hours into his AC and begins to find it unenjoyable, i.e. “I’m 50 and I really wish I picked the other AC!”

    They could also allow someone who has just chosen an AC to revert that choice, or at the very least double-check that the player wishes to make their decision.

  9. I think that people should be able to switch advanced classes up to level 20 or so, just so they can do a tiny bit of testing or if they make a mistake when they choose their advanced class, then they can switch.

  10. I voted for “yes under certain circumstances”.

    I think that you should have a quest after you are done your class story on DK / Cor (so around level 15-20 depending on how you do it) that gives you one last chance to change your AC now that you have seen it for a few levels. Once you leave your capital world, the quest autocompletes so you can’t go back and change your mind later.

    I think that is a reasonable compromise between the “omg i should be able to do whatever i want” and the “omg choices need to matter” crowds.

  11. I say yes for few reasons. 1st reason you don’t have enough character slots to try all AC on a single server. (Which I’d love to see change then I’d be more apt to say nah not needed. Plus I’d like to play one of each AC because they are basically different classes. And I like to keep all my toons on one server. I am also spoiled by CoX where you can have up to 36 toons per-server. This 8 toon stuff is archaic honestly.)

    While the story is different the AC are basically different classes, and I’ve know no other game that makes me play the game for 10 levels then makes me make choose that can radically change my game play. Usually by level 10 I have pretty good idea how a class plays and I can decided if I want to keep putting time into it. Not so much the case here I have another 10 levels past that, and that can take awhile. And truly the class story I don’t mind seeing again. Some the world quests are a total snooze feast and I really didn’t give two shakes about them after the 2nd time through.

    So I say one free switch before level 20 then your locked in. And raise the character slot number to 16 at least for goodness sake!

    • Really, you only need 8 slots to do all AC’s. There are 4 classes (Agent, Bounty Hunter, Inquistor, Warrior)(sith side of course) and 2 AC’s each. That is 8, where are you seeing more, unless you think the race choices matter?

  12. I really don’t care either way. I just wish people would stop with the “your choice matters” crap. Your choices mean so very very little. If they allow it wounderful, if they don’t so be it.

    Also, once they allow you to do it once in the game, no matter how hard or expensive, a patch is going to make it cheap and easy. There will be no such thing as a one time only switch.

  13. You should be allowed to switch once. This would allow you to change if you hate the spec you picked without having to re-level a toon. This is assuming you got well past level 10 with the choice you did not like. Though to be honest at level 10 you do not know if you are going to like the AC or not. Give us until level 20 or so then give us the choice to switch once. That way there is no switching back and forth over and over. Though you could just make it like a respec where it costs more each time you do it too. Personally I don’t care what you do, but it shoudl be allowed. The time being spent it by us, we shoudl be able to play a character how ever we want.

  14. I chose the scoundrel AC and like it, although im traditonally a ranged dps person and was very tempted by gunslinger. I do regret my choice now especially since im level 43 and rerolling isnt a matter of a few hours work :(

  15. ScytheNoire says:

    You should be allowed to switch the AC.

    This is a game. A game should be fun. Putting in convoluted rules just because you want to appeal to the “hardcore” doesn’t make a game more fun.

    Just put in limits, such as you can only switch once per week. Just have a lockout like raids.

    But there is no good reason not to allow this unless BioWare feels they lack content and the ability to make new content, so they want to force people to re-roll new characters.

  16. After playing the game a while – I do not see the need to ever switch AC’s.. an alternate AC is a new class, i don’t see the point. I’ll just start a new character, it’s only about 1 hour of playing time to get to the republic station and gives you an opportunity to play differently (dark/light choices). Which in turn changes the story.

  17. JunkyVirus says:

    Stop being stupid, ofc you shouldn’t be able to repick your AC -.-
    Seriously, do you know what an MMO is ? And if your are dumb and pick a class you don’t want to play then it’s your own fault, and it doesn’t take long to lvl the first 10lvls or so anyway
    Stop trying to make this into the new suckyass WoW and make it as easy as possible and all classes can do the same thing -.-

  18. Yes, definitely. Played as a Bounty Hunter, and chose Powertech because I wanted flamethrowers etc., regretted cuz I wanted more firepower and missiles. Now at lvl 25 I feel that the more up-close-and-personal attacks suits my style and is infact more fun, so I had to re-roll. So yes, please let us change ACs. Only good thing that came out of it is that i have 270 in Armstech, so I can take Armortech, and still get awesome weapons.

  19. I vote NO. They definitely made a mistake with the naming. AC is definitely your class. I like the story/class idea, rather than class/AC. You shouldn’t be able to switch your AC.

    There are problems with that anyway. A shadow having to have a double-bladed lightsaber and a single bladed one. A Trooper running around with a rifle and a cannon. A JK having to have MED and HVY armor. These examples just reinforce that AC is the real class.

    This debate has been going on for a long time. My biggest suggestion to those who “accidentally” chose the wrong AC, or tried it and didn’t like it is that AC should be chose at character creation. This would reinforce the roles and let you know right from the start what you are getting into.

  20. Maybe there should be a class change trainer. This comes from the thought that people change their minds in their careers in real life all the time. How do they become proficient on their new path? They have to train in some fashion, usually. Perhaps if someone wants to change AC’s, they should have to pay a trainer a large amount of credits, then have a series of quests that earn them the gear they need and teach them the playstile of the alternate AC, at the end of which, theyd get to commit to it or get their money back. That way there is a steep investment as well as gear swap and in the end, an informed choice.

  21. ReallyDeepMan says:

    IMO: If it results in my guild and/or the community at large having a more “ideal” distribution of roles, I’m for it. If we need more Tanks, for example, we can get them ‘faster’ by some folks changing from, say, Marauders or Mercs to Juggs & PT’s.

    In the end, what I really care about is getting a group and playing, so anything to further that cause makes me happy.

  22. Atlictoatl says:

    An element that is missing for me in this discussion is whether or not the player, at level 10, has received enough data from the game to be able to make an experiential decision as to Advanced Class.

    I don’t need to be able to switch Advanced Classes, but I damned sure want to have experienced some of the playstyle and animations from each Advanced Class by the time I have to make my decision. As an Imperial Agent, I have a fairly god idea of what sniping will be like, but very little idea of what sneaking around, stabbing people, or healing will be like. So it’s a tough decision for me to make.

    I don’t want to roll multiple characters to find the Advanced Class and Skill Tree that are to my tastes. I’m attached to my character and my decision points in the class story, and rolling multiple times to land on my favorite playstyle ruins that.

    Without the classes being designed such that, by level 10, I have an educated idea of how the two Advanced Classes will feel and look in play, then Advanced Classes should absolutely be swappable (at least early on in the game).

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