Posted by: mrrx | December 22, 2006

The Character Slots Epic

Add more character slots !     I thought I’d document this very strange, unexplained, and near-game-killing issue since my blog hasn’t done that yet.     Most of my ire on the issue was spent in forum postings in the past.

At launch, Everquest 2 was limited to four character slots.      This came as a surprise to those who don’t pore finely over every detail about a game; including myself.     Everquest 1 had a limitation – 8 characters per server.      This meant effectively unlimited characters because there were so many servers.    But for the new game, they make a mystifying decision to impose strict limits.

As a newb, this was very difficult to deal with.       I tried to figure out what character I would make as my main, and found myself pulled in so many directions it wasn’t even funny.     The game has 24 possible character classes, none of which could be accessed until level 20.       This has since changed; you create a character and start out as your class instead of an archetype.       And as you try to decide what you’re going to do, you were apparently expected to  DELETE characters you might want to play, if you could only figure out which one to play.

And so, in a game with 24 character classes, you were never to be allowed to experience the whole game.      You could only see four.      Absolutely a stupid, awful decision.     They should have given us one slot for each character class.

There’s something about deleting a character that goes against everything I’ve learned, my entire life, about computing and gaming.      You back up important files; you hold on to old games in case you play them later.     And yet I’m supposed to take a casual approach, look at them as mere “toons”, and just wipe them out after lovingly crafting stories and in-game experiences with them ?      Aren’t MMO’s all about persistent gameplay, versus transitory experiences ?      Shoot, maybe I should play more Popcap games if deleting a character is supposed to not bug me.

For this reason and a few other minor ones, I quit the game shortly after starting it.     People quit in droves over the issue; after all, the big competitor (World of Warcraft) allowed eight characters per server, ie “unlimited”.      I made the move to WOW, got bored, and quit MMO’s for a time.     

But thankfully, the devs listened.     They increased the number of slots from four to six per account.    Still pitifully low, but they did increase things.

Now, there are alternate solutions available to anyone with alt-itis.     The Test server comes with its own six characters, and each of the three foreign regions includes another six characters.      Anyone can therefore have 30 characters.       This should be enough for anybody; you can mess with each and every class.   

The problem, of course, is this starts to get a little more complicated than some people want to mess with.    Create a separate test folder ?    Spend extra time downloading to use the foreign regions?     They’re difficult to use, so people are still upset.    Nevertheless, I suspect that because this ability is there, we will never see more slots.     I’d love to be proved wrong.

If you have more money than sense, you can also buy a Station Access subscription solely for extra characters; this gives you an extra four character slots.      The fact that large numbers of people have apparently done exactly this frustrates the hell out of me; Station access is supposed to be for multiple game subscriptions, and yet people buy it instead for the side-effect/bonus of getting more characters.      And thus, Sony gets away with charging us for something that should be free.

But what’s Sony’s side of the issue ?     

You would think, that a fundamental game-killer issue like this would have received some response from Sony.     You would be wrong.      There’s been no forum post or other communication to the community from any dev on just why they impose these limits; This Moorgard post is as close as they ever got.     All I hear are rumors, and believe me, I’ve spent a lot of time on this issue.

I think the four-character limit was in response to the four archetypes.     IE, you could play one fighter, one mage, one priest, and one scout.     Or if you liked one better, you could play several of that class.       They upped things to six due to the complaints and lost subscriptions.      And every game, simply put, needs money from its players.    Station Access for Character Slots might be pulling in a ton of money for them.

It might be a money thing, but it also might be a technical issue.     Things stress computers in strange ways, right ?    So maybe the game wouldn’t perform well if more characters were added to people’s accounts.     There’s only one problem with that.    If performance was the problem, they couldn’t offer Station Access without running the risk of the game world blowing up after a large influx of new subscribers.     No, this couldn’t possibly be a technical issue.

One thing my blog shows  very clearly – it takes a long time to play this game to max level, assuming you stop and enjoy the experience versus grinding your way to 70.     I’m closing in on 2 years in the game if memory serves.   

I understand people can make 70 in a matter of days if they share account keys and play in shifts.      Very dedicated players are doing it in a month, and more normal grinders in three.    To some degree, Sony was right in only giving us four characters; you shouldn’t need more.     Pick one and have fun; it’ll take you a long time to get to the second.     The overlooked problem, of course, being *picking one*, and accomodating the more hard-core grinder types.

What to do ?      Could Sony satisfy most of its customers on this issue ?    Probably not.     People play the game *in spite of* this problem, not because it doesn’t bug them.      Sony could mitigate things though.

  • Veteran Rewards.      The longer you stay with the game, the more slots you get.    This would encourage people to stay subscribed even after they “win the game” by hitting maximum level, to repeat the process.
  • New Expansions.     Fae ?   What Fae ?    I haven’t got any room to make a Fae on the normal servers.      But if they gave us additional slots with expansions, I might actually have some interest.
  • Eight characters per *game*, versus eight per *server* in Everquest 1, would be a smoother looking compromise.     Most people play on a single server anyway, so in practical terms this would be identical to the old game.


  1. Loved this post, as it’s a huge issue I have with the game. Unfortunately, 6 slots is just simply not enough. I have station access (one of those with more money then sense I suppose) and have ended the access, and started the access — and not because I want to try all 24 characters (thank goodness) but because I rather like being self-reliant and not having to actually buy any crafted goods. I have a tailor a jeweler, a provisioner, a sage an alchemist, and a woodworker. Those were my 6. But what about my house item obsession? So I started a 7th, carpenter. No weaponsmith and no armorer, but most of my characters wear cloth / leather, and weapons are a purchase I can afford to make.

    Does it bother me that I have station access just for the 4 extra character slots? Well, no, I also have the adventure packs free, something that I’d rather not have to deal with every few months and purchase when they come out.

    With my account nearing 1,100 days active, I’d have *loved* to see a veteran reward for extra character slots. As well as with expansion packs such as the fae, if it were not for station access I’d have to delete someone….

    70 templar, 70 fury, 70 illusionist.. 51 necromancer.. 46 assassin.. who exactly was I going to delete? I spent a lot of time money and effort on those characters.. there’s no way I could remove one just to experience playin a fae. I already deleted my 43 bard.. *grumbles and shakes a fist* I hate the character restriction. Always have, always will.

  2. It is hard to know what to add to this post or the previous comment. I am an alt-a-holic. I nearly went crazy when there were only 4 character slots.

    I am a bit annoyed that I had to get Station Access to make my fae, but at least it lets me poke around in EverQuest as well.

    My account is at 1043 days, so I would be prime for extra slots as a reward. I would certainly take that over, say, a 12-slot bag.

  3. […] it’s so well received they can raise the price up to $30 a month.  Anyone STILL think the Character Slots issue is about data space […]

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