[Classic] Race/Faction change service

Following a discussion on race/faction change on the burning crusade forums, I’m making this thread here to potentially get an official response and to see what my fellow Community Council members have to say on the subject.

Many people seems to want Race and/or Faction change as a service for a few reasons. While I cannot speak for others, I will try my best to list the reasons many provided:

  1. Wanting to play Draenei or Blood Elf with the character they made back in Classic Vanilla.
  2. Not wanting to be held back by their original choice of race due to racial ability, especially with WotLK heavy changes done to most racial abilities.
  3. Not wanting to lose all their character’s progression (Titles, mounts, reputation, etc.) just to restart as the race they wish to play.
  4. Those services were available in original WotLK.
  5. It is preferable to buying a boost.
  6. (Faction change specific) To be able to play with friends.

As for the concerns regarding this:

  1. Commitment to a character should be meaningful.
  2. (Faction change specific) Faction balance.

This being said, the sentiment overall seems to be in favor of some form of service, with or without restrictions.

This leads to a few questions:

  1. What is Blizzard stance on Race/Faction change for WotLK Classic?
  2. How is Faction and Server balance going to be handled moving forward? Does it affect the decision to allow or not Faction change?

Thank you,
Mispeled.

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Brian Birmingham has pretty much directly answered question #1 in an interview already. To summarize what Brian said, he acknowledges that some players greatly value the accomplishments tied to their characters, but it does detract from some players’ immersion to allow it, so they are (or at least were at the time of the interview over a month ago) considering options for simply balancing racials so that race changing wouldn’t feel so necessary.

Will think on this more and add my thoughts later, but just wanted to put this out there for now.

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Totally miss that interview, thank you.

Reading the section on wintergrasp and faction balance.
Tenacity stacks isn’t gonna cut it. They tried it on private servers and it didn’t work.

As for the race/faction change part, it feels a little… out of touch, especially this line: “there’s no in-world reason why a Tauren would be able to suddenly become a Gnome, or vice versa.”
when we have server transfer, the ability to create new characters or even make a character on the other faction on a PvP server now.
What’s the in-world reason why a Tauren suddenly stop existing and a Gnome comes into existence because a player decided to abandon one character to create another?

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I disagree that it’s a matter of being out of touch. Out of touch would mean that Brian doesn’t properly understand what players want or their reasons for wanting it. I think you and Brian both agree on the facts and what the community wants, and you simply think it’s not a logical stance.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I take your argument to be: “players can already just abandon a character and create one of a new race/faction, which makes just as little sense from an immersion perspective as race/faction change, therefore it makes no sense to disallow race/faction change.”

I think this is missing a simple but important detail: a player who abandons a character and makes a new one will almost certainly choose a new name for their new character, which preserves immersion for players more than simply changing the race/faction of their old character would. When designing games, you’re always gonna have to find a balance between meeting players’ expectations of the rules of your game world, and the actual gameplay experience. Maybe the Classic dev team sees maintaining a name through race/faction change as crossing the line.

As for my opinion on what I think should be done, I don’t really know. Part of me just wishes that racials that affect combat simply were never in the game to begin with. With how players play the game nowadays, race is a very important decision, and one that is not easily turned back on. And ironically, this decision is forced on you at the point in your character’s journey when you are the least capable of making a good race decision. Not to mention that there’s simply no way to predict how racials will change in the future, especially now with the #SomeChanges mentality that the classic dev team seems to be adopting.

A simple solution based on the above would be to allow race/faction change but force players doing so to change their name. Whether this is a good idea or not, I don’t know, but just throwing it out there.

I’ve always personally been against racials that affect gameplay, especially for PvP, but the thing is that it’s not the only reason why someone would want to change their character race. Plenty of people that wants to do it for a purely cosmetic and roleplaying purpose.

It also feels odd to me that they are bringing the barber shop and, correct me if I’m wrong, the ability to literally change your character gender on a whim but not allow race or name change?
It feels inconsistent but also restrictive.

Brian is correct about this being a fantasy game, that’s why it’s important to let people live their fantasy. This isn’t the real world where you are born human and have to deal with the fact you weren’t born a cow. People play WoW to escape that reality and play a character that isn’t like them, allowing them to change when they want a change doesn’t take away from the fantasy aspect of the game, it enhances it by making this fantasy world more akin to what each player wants their world to be.

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I’ll have to agree with you 100% there. It makes no sense to me to release this,

the additional changes in the barber shop are the ability to change your face and gender for in-game gold, rather than as a paid out-of-game service.

and then to suddenly turn around and say,

there’s no in-world reason why a Tauren would be able to suddenly become a Gnome, or vice versa.

as a reason why race/faction changes aren’t allowed. Is there an in-world reason why a male orc could suddenly become a female orc with completely different bodily proportions? Not to mention that this transformation happens in… a “barber shop”?

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Since my last post in this thread, I’ve read an interview with WoW devs I didn’t read before. In this interview, the topic of inclusivity comes up.

Of course, sometimes creating the best experience for players in World of Warcraft Classic involves adding things to the game that weren’t there before. The removal of outdated, problematic references World of Warcraft has been subtly doing throughout its game is an example of this, which will continue in retail and Classic. “We are very committed to being as inclusive as we can,” Zierhut confirmed, “so the things we find that are a problem? We’ll fix it.” Likewise, adding the ability to change gender and appearance at the barbershop is another simple customization that allows more free expression among the playerbase.

The article doesn’t make it clear what Kris is actually speaking in reference to. However, I’m just going to assume that inclusivity is a reason behind the decision for allowing sex changes and go from there.

I think the idea that allowing race changes is inclusive game design supposes that a WoW player might, at some point, have a shift in the way they want themselves to be seen in-game in terms of male or female. Well, if inclusive game design is something the Classic team values, why does this stop at sex/gender? Why does it make sense to accommodate those people, but not people who have had a shift in how they want to be seen in-game in terms of race?

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I had another random thought today. In a Wowhead interview, Brian says, “there’s no in-world reason why a Tauren would be able to suddenly become a Gnome, or vice versa” which, now that I think about it, ends up being extremely ironic, because there is actually an item in the game that transforms taurens into exclusively gnomes, and vice versa: orb of deception.

Orb of deception isn’t the only race-changing item though; there is an exhaustive list of items and effects in the game that already allow you to change race. Probably the most notable of those is savory deviate delight, an easily farmed item which allows players to change their chosen race into a human for an entire hour with no cooldown.

Since Brian expressed his desire to come up with a more “fantasy-forward” solution in the Wowhead interview, and items changing appearance is apparently okay, I suggest adding a new shady dealer NPC to the game in an obscure location, who sells pills of metamorphosis for an obscenely high amount of gold. Upon consuming this pill in the designated area (maybe there’s a “changing room” near this shady dealer), your character is logged out and flagged to be given a new race. I think I’d also prefer this to be how people change sex/facial appearance as well. If we did that, the barber shop could then be left to change strictly hairstyle/facial hair, which seems way more immersion-appropriate than the current barber shop plan if you ask me.

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As Pazorax said elsewhere:

While it won’t be ready for our launch in September, we have changed our minds on this, and we’re working on adding the Race and Faction change as a paid service in a future patch.

Originally, we planned not to offer Race and Faction change at all, because it felt like it removed some of that fantasy feeling of having dramatically different physical attributes that affect your gameplay. We were also a little worried about players chasing the “flavor of the month” in terms of racial abilities However, we’re convinced by the argument that being able to play with your friends is more important, and that you should be able to bring your accomplishments with you when you do. This turns out to be the same tradeoff provided by transferring between realms, which is already available as a paid service, so it makes sense to make the same decision with respect to Race and Faction change.

In short, this fits our aim to nurture and protect social experiences, so we’ll work on it for an upcoming patch.

Thank you all for your feedback and discussion. It largely mirrored our internal discussions that produced this decision.

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