Re specialisation (“respeccing”) on a whim. A choice is not a choice if you can circumvent the inconvenience that choice causes. Superman can’t see through lead and can’t be super near kryptonite, what kind of story would it make if he called in to his local corner shop and swapped out laser eyes or flight so he could beat those issues when he needed to?

I believe one of the key definitions of character development isn’t what your character can do, it’s what they can’t. What they need help with or what they need to overcome with some lateral thinking.

Defining your character in a concrete way helps to form attachment to them, it makes them more identifiable to others, sure it might mean you aren’t number one in some field or situation but that’s were the big deal comes in. It’s not impressive to beat someone because you are specced to win, it’s impressive to beat someone because you aren’t.

I’m ok with respeccing if the developer makes fundamental changes to your characters class or their abilities. This is something you can’t have foreseen and thus can’t plan for. However when choosing your abilities, talents, traits, feats, skills, whatever you should make a serious effort to know your shit. Not just be a drooling idiot and press any old button without giving it any thought then complain the designer of the game gave you a choice and you chose poorly.

That’s not letting designers off either, games with such choices should always make every choice useful, it should be a hard decision when making a choice. Choosing between +5 health and +1 health is not a hard choice, it’s a no brainer. Choosing between +5 Fire resistance and +5 Cold resistance is a hard choice…you might make certain fights easier and certain fights harder…that’s a choice worth making. If you don’t lament the choice you didn’t pick at some point, you really aren’t making a choice worth making.

So, what about new players, how can they choose when they have no experience of the impact of said choice? Good question, If you look at Champions Online, I think that’s a good example of allowing players to experiment with their options before making a final decision. In Champions you enter a training room where you can swap your choices around and test them out on combat dummies and obstacle courses for as long as you like. When you are happy with your choice you leave the testing room and that choice is locked in.

Alternatively, give players 1 hour game play time (allows for server downtime) to change their choice in case they decide it’s not what they wanted. Then after that hour is up playing with that choice they are locked into it, permanently.

But what if group X doesn’t want me? you won’t be the only one, there will be plenty of people who don’t conform to their ideals if they are that picky. As I said earlier, think laterally, don’t give that group leader power over you to be how he wants, be how you want, make your own group, beat that game content without needing somebody elses pre defined group requirements, if the game has been designed properly, there should be more than one way to beat the content.

If you can’t find a tank that uses a shield, take two tanks that use dual wield and bring along a second healer, if you can’t find 2 healers bring along a character that can crowd control to give your single healer time to heal or get both tanks to swap hate when they need to. If you are short on dps take anyone, any class can cause damage and kill, so what if fights take a few more seconds to win….you’re playing a game, stop clock watching and enjoy playing. Some of the best fun you can have, is achieving victory by any means necessary. Overcoming an obstacle not by somebody elses set of rules but by throwing out the rules and still succeeding.

Most game content can be beaten by far fewer players that are talented and know their class than what other people call “required” they think they are required because they can only think in one dimension, prove them wrong, prove them stupid and never bother grouping with them again.

The next time you feel someone else is specced “better” than you, question what they can’t do before you start complaining what they can. If you find yourself not being able to compensate for your characters limitations, make an alt, try a different path, you aren’t supposed to do everything with one character in a class based game, that’s the point.