If you’re not the front end of the horse…

This post is not MMO-specific. I’ve seen this behaviour everywhere and I hear it expressed quite frequently by the people I read or talk with. My problem is I just don’t get it.

So some people would rather not play a certain class because it’s currently popular — even if it’s fun? Oh wait, especially if it’s fun?

I’m sorry. I just don’t get that.

Then again, I also don’t get the need to make sure my sneakers are the wtfbbqzomgcool latest ones and/or different from everyone else’s.  Or my clothes. Or my cellphone.

Seriously — if a class is fun, who the hell cares how many other people are playing it? If a class isn’t fun, are you somehow more Iron Man Gamer for picking it up? If a class is misunderstood and challenging and whatnot, that’s another matter; but not playing a given char class because lots of other people already are? Really? Damn. I guess I need to stop playing Hold’em then, it’s too freaking popular.

More to the point: just because something is popular doesn’t make it inherently bad, or easy to master, or unchallenging. And just because something is unpopular doesn’t make it inherently good. Nor does it make it an inherently good choice. Unless all one cares about is standing out — which I guess is a mindset I just can’t get my head around. I’m not a sheep, but I’m damn sure not going to wrap myself in plastic wrap and sit outside on a hot day just because it’s SO not flavour of the month.

This whole concern with rarity in MMOs is excessive if it makes players cut off their noses to spite their faces. We pay for these things — paying for them and then caring more about what other people think of you than about how much fun you’re having is just mind-boggling.

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That is all.

13 thoughts on “If you’re not the front end of the horse…

  1. Easy answer to the “why?” for me:

    Because I find it more enjoyable to be useful than just having a neato class mechanic.

  2. My answer to “why” Echoes Slurms. I have a LOT more fun being useful. Who wants to LFG for 8 hours at a time because you and 1238423842390 of the same class are LFG. Why not play something that people are going to desire to have around rather then what everyone else is already playing. That is far more “fun” to me.

  3. So to some extent the decision is motivated by finding places in high-end groups? That makes sense — as does my incomprehension, since I don’t do the high end stuff.

    Pootling around by myself or with a handful of friends, I’ve never had to face the “OMG not another XYZ class, go away” thing — which also sucks, imo, but that’s no player’s fault.

    EDIT — I’ll add that it was a rant fuelled by a chance-read comment elsewhere (yay twitter! :D). I just wonder why some people seem to choose to do something they don’t enjoy when these are pastimes we actually pay for. If one enjoys the element of challenge (or just being the underdog) I have no problem with it — I do that myself for some of my chars. I guess to some extent at the high end, one’s class is more of a means to an end than an end in itself, which is a playstyle that’s very foreign to me.

    Oh and RANT RANT moar RANT (got to keep up the facade).

  4. I remember this first hand. I rolled a Pally when Warcraft released. The problem was so did every other Tom, Dick, and Harry. I made it to 60, and you could never find a group because everyone knew 10 other pallies that needed a group.

    I rerolled a priest, and it was like night and day. I literally had players begging me to do stuff.

    I decided to roll a Mage after that for a while. It didn’t last long because no groups have problems finding DPS.

    I ended up going back to my priest where I felt wanted.

  5. I admit, I have more fun playing the minority classes. Partially because it’s an investment into more open doors for groups. Partially because the overplayed classes tend to be the first to get nerfs/changes.

    I did end up rolling a Paladin in WotLK though. I had a lot of fun, although, was constantly belittled by the community just for being a paladin. It was one of the first times Id made a character without considering the population. It turned out that being a great healer outweighed the fact that I was a paladin in the end. To top it off, most paladins seemed to go Ret and Holy in my raids, which left me with all the healing plate that usually dropped.

    I think you are right in a sense. You shouldn’t let the populations dictate how you have fun. If an overplayed class is the one you find enjoyable, play it. However, I feel a lot of players take the less traveled path in order to provide more opportunity (possibly read Fun) in their endgame. Cant begrudge them that.

    1. The fun, not at all — and that’s a perfectly valid reason. But avoiding a given class purely because it’s fashionable is as bad, to me, as not wearing a given colour because some fashion maven tells me it’s last year. I’ll do / wear what I like, thanks! 😉

      As I said above, I hadn’t considered the end-game aspect. Having considered it now, it irks me that games are still designed with the holy trinity requirement — even if it’s a dozen classes you need rather than 3. Problem is, in order to provide a challenge it looks like end-game content has to be designed specifically around what given classes + combo of classes can do. That it leaves oversubscribed (but fun to play) classes out in the cold is a really regrettable side-effect.

  6. The grouping thing has been covered. It goes beyond class and into roles: being a good healer or tank is rarer than being a good DPS. I’m sure some people enjoy the role because it is rarer to be in that position; but, that’s more about ability than mere number of people who choose that. There’s something cool about being able to master something (a role or class) that few other people choose.

    So, I also think there is a general sense that something is cooler if it’s less common. Take motorcycles, for example. I have a motorcycle license and go out for the occasional ride, although I’m not particularly hard-core. There’s a certain kinship that motorcycle riders share because it’s obviously a lot more dangerous than riding in a car. Less people choose to ride motorcycles, so it’s perceived as being a bit more cool.

    But, imagine if force-field technology were perfected and riding a motorcycle were no more dangerous than riding in a car. I suspect a lot more people would be willing to ride motorcyles in that case. Would motorcycle riding be as cool if everyone were doing it? I think I’d still enjoy a ride, but I think for a lot of people it would lose a bit of its luster if there were more motorcycles on the road.

    Some perspective.

  7. I have not played an MMO where there has been a strong emphasis on the holy trinity in a long time; at least not extensively.

    The issue with “group need” has thus seldom ocurred for me as a consideration when creating a character.

    However, I do play or have played some of the less popular classes/archetypes in a a number of MMOs – but that because I found the playstyle to be fun, not because they were less popular.

    And I do tend to try out some of the less popular ones just because they are less popular, in the hope of perhaps finding a golden nugget. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes not.

  8. I can only see a few problems playing a, “Flavor of the month” class, we’ll call it class X for now.

    1. Good luck getting into a end game content guild. More than likely they’ll have more than enough of class X.

    2. Having class X out number other classes by a large margin might cause the developer to swing wildly at it with a soaking wet nerf bat. So choosing to play class X now because it fun is great, but be prepared for some not fun play later on.

    3. When you do finally get a group, good luck get any rewards out of it, cause 7 out of the 8 people in your group are class x as well.

    These might or might not affect you, depending on your play style and time you have to play.

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