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I've been playing this genre since Meridian 59 in the mid-90s. When I hear Dave Georgeson open his talk by pointing out that we've essentially been playing "a LOT of Dungeons and Dragons" I get excited.
These guys get it. The genre is stale.
Because I can tell that they're bored with the genre, just like many of us veterans are, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on a lot of the stuff that's still under wraps. But there's one area where I can see them potentially making a big mistake, largely because a lot of games have recently done so. That mistake is offering too much freedom in swapping your character's classes and abilities.
Now I know that more freedom almost always sounds like a good thing at first blush, but it can often backfire. One way is that it can destroy any sense of character continuity. Let me illustrate what I mean with a few examples. (Please bear with me for using WoW as one of them; other examples follow.)
With WoW's multi-spec system, I could level a fierce Paladin who wields 2-handed weapons to the max level (90), and then, by simply clicking a button, "respec" into a healer Paladin who uses magic almost exclusively and wields a sword-and-board for defensive purposes. This despite the fact that I may have never played this role for even a single minute prior to level 90.
My character's specialization in Rift was essentially a temporary and meaningless convenience. After selecting my basic archetype at character creation, I quickly learned all the sub-types and could swap them around at will. So whatever abilities my character may have been using at a given time were no indication at all of that character's history or past. No continuity.
Finally, consider Spore, a game from a totally different genre that nonetheless illustrates the point well. Whenever I went into the species editor in Spore, I had complete freedom to change my creature around in any way I chose - and this was terrible. Complete freedom meant that my creature need bear no resemblance whatsoever to what went before. Each iteration was completely independent from the previous one, if I wanted it to be. For a game based around the concept of evolution, this was a baffling design choice.
Now, in each case the lack of continuity had varying effects. The specifics of the game matter here. WoW's error (if I can call it that) was minor in that class uniqueness was still fairly well-preserved, and the extra spec solved a major problem that resulted from the game's design. I think a lot of people liked Rift's flexible system, but I'm sure I'm not the only one for whom it killed any sense of character development outside of a gear treadmill. And as for Spore, well, I don't think I've ever felt so let down by a game, and the total lack of continuity was the main factor. I wanted to be constrained, but I wasn't.
As I said, I'm more than willing to give this team the benefit of the doubt. I just felt obliged to point out how more freedom isn't always a good thing; there are other factors to consider.
My worst case scenario would be the possibility of learning all ~40 classes and swapping between high level abilities on any of them at any time. If my character has been casting spells and playing a magical DPS for several weeks, he should not be able to suddenly become a fearsome warrior on a whim, simply because he "picked up" those skills a year ago. I'm really hoping you can't maintain every class at a high level, that there's some sort of skill decay, or at least a time delay between drastically changing your character's role.
Thanks for reading.