EQ2 and “Hidden” Characters
One of EQ2’s biggest downsides is a lack of character slots. There are 19 races and 24 classes, allowing for 456 combinations (double that, if you’re looking at gender as an additional combo) and yet a standard account only allows for 7 characters in total. Yes, for those of you that don’t know, you did read that right — not 7 per server,but 7 in total. SOE’s “Station Access” subscription plan allowed access to nearly all of their MMO’s and has the added perk of 5 additional slots to total 12.
I had Station Access so that I could also play SWG (pre-CU, much less NGE) and at the time it was only $20 so it was quite a good deal. Eventually I simply stopped playing SWG, but at that time I had and was actively using more than the 7 character slots anymore, so I maintained the Station Access sub level. It didn’t take long for it to become an open secret that one with “alt-itis” like me could simply sub up to the higher level for a month, create 5 more characters on the account, then downgrade to a regular sub again and then use the “/camp character_name” command in order to still access all the characters on the account, but I didn’t bother. I could afford the $30 a month that Station Access went up to, and it allowed me to still check out the goings on in SWG (and I found I actually didn’t mind the NGE too much and quite enjoy the space combat, actually) and I also was able to play Vanguard with it for a time as well, so I don’t feel like I was using it “just” for character slots. Once it hit $30 it would have been the same cost for 14 characters if I bought 2 regular subs, so I never thought of the upgraded sub model as being about the slots.
Last November I realized that I hadn’t really logged in to EQ2 for about 3 months, and I figured the $30 I was spending on it could be better used elsewhere, so I canceled my account. Come February and the new expansion, I bought that and resubscribed. I enjoyed the new content and leveled 2 of my characters up to 90, but then started working on lower level alts again. Even with that, I normally would log in on my 2 mains a time or 3 a week for instance runs and such, and I had 3 other characters in their 70’s I liked to occasionally pop over to. So with the 2 mains, 3 other “must have” characters and the occasional flight of fancy on to a lower alt, 6 or 7 slots was actually fine for me.
However, since the “/camp character_name” command worked for all 12 toons, I did use it occasionally to bring different alts out of obscurity from time to time. My Defiler Project was one example of this. Of course that project was also me trying to justify keeping my subscription to EQ2 when I wasn’t really logging in that much anymore either. I had seen all the instances on my coercer, was decently geared up, and don’t raid, so I was more or less “done” with the expansion in my own mind.
Still, I had the sub and the other day I decided to log through my entire toon list to see if I was actually using the research assistants on them. Found that several of them I’d not logged in on since February, and 8 of the 12 were not researching masters. I set them all to be researching non-upgraded spells and called it a night. I logged in to my toons in the order from most played to least played. This happened to be the day before the GU57.
Lo and behold, when GU57 was pushed live, the “bug” (which SOE tech support has told us to use on more than one occasion) that’s been in place regarding using the “/camp character_name” command had been fixed after 4 years or so. And the server only would allow access to my 7 most recently accessed characters, locking out my 2 mains at level 90, and my other 3 “most played” characters. Oddly enough, I’m still listed as receiving a 20% combat xp bonus for having 2 characters at level 90, even though they don’t show on my selection screen anymore and trying to log in to them directly throws an error stating I have too many characters.
Now, I know I could simply delete 5 characters. They are my “least played” ones after all, meaning I don’t mesh with their playstyles or something. But…… they’re all over level 50 (which for me is an achievement since I don’t power level) and most of them were created close to the game’s launch, so while I may not play them that often, they have a story and history in my mind. As someone put it in the official forum thread about it, a “toon” (tool you use to play the game) is easy to delete, but a “character” (with a story and emotional connection to them) isn’t — and while I don’t play them much, they are “characters” to me.
So, since I’m more focused on EVE anymore with my move to nullsec and was thinking about canceling my sub until the next expansion anyway. . . . that’s what I have done. I have seen dev posts saying they’re going to try to be making it so people can pick the 7 characters they have access to, and also possibly making a way to use the Station Cash shop to buy more slots, but . . . .too late.
Had they announced the change, I would not have logged all 12 of my toons in the day before, but would have made sure to have the 7 I wanted to keep “showing.” Had I not coincidentally logged in all 12 of my toons the day before the fix was put in and thus still had access to my 5 most played ones, I could have lived with whichever random other 2 were showing as well. But… it didn’t happen that way. Such is life, no?
Update: SOE has posted on the forums that they’re rolling back the character limits for the week of 8/24 – 8/31 in order to allow “re-ordering” of the characters so that the “correct” 7 will show. In another case of bad timing, my sub expires on 8/22, so I would need to re-sub in order to take advantage of this. If I don’t, then next February when I get the new expansion and want to start working through it, I’d still be in my current situation. Oy vey! On the bright side, I didn’t want to cancel that badly so this gives me an excuse to take it back 😉