Rowan, Belghast and Syp have all been pondering the problem, which is compounded by the extensive, some might say draconian, changes to the Talent system.
Some, like Chestnut, have already made their choice, while others prefer to defer, avoiding the difficult decision of which class to make their focus for the expansion by attempting to level everything to the cap before the demon army gets here. Stargrace and Tyler are working on that.
Then there are those who've seen it all before and don't feel the need to jump in any particular direction just yet. Wilhelm and Keen are sitting back and thinking, taking the long view.
Me? I find the whole thing a tad confusing. In all the years I've played MMORPGs I've never really accepted, far less adopted, the notion of a "Main Character". I remember being introduced to the concept quite early on in my EQ career and finding it problematic from the start.
When I first stepped out into Norrath it was as a half-elven ranger who promptly fell to his deat h from the platforms of Kelethin and was never seen again - or at least his corpse was never found. He was followed, not precisely in this exact order, by a human warrior, a dwarven cleric, another half-elf ranger (starting this time in the re-assuringly ground-based caves of Surefall Glade), a troll shaman, a human druid and eventually a gnome necromancer.
As I was trying out different classes and races and starting areas, coming to grips with the game and the fresh concepts that came with it, each of those was, for a time, my "main" character. The necromancer eventually made it into the twenties, pulling ahead of the pack, but I didn't stop playing any of the others.
The Great Test Wipe debacle shifted the emphasis from my necro to the druid, who made Kunark her home when the expansion launched. As the weeks and months rolled on I continued to create more characters, trying out all the classes and races and several combinations of each.
That was a period of amazing growth for EverQuest. New servers opened often and I developed the habit of making new characters on all of them. When the Scars of Velious expansion appeared, around a year after I first began playing, it turned out you needed a character in the low thirties to have much chance of joining in with the action in the lowest level of the new zones.
At that time I played every hour I could manage. I was working part-time and had plenty of opportunity so I'd always get in at least forty hours a week, often more. Despite this major life commitment my highest character, the druid, was around level 28 or 29.
The reason I was so far behind the leveling curve was simple. I had literally dozens of characters spread across more than half a dozen servers and on any given day I would probably play at least four or five of them. My established practice was to play a character until it hit a milestone of some kind - and a milestone back then might be one yellow bubble of experience, twenty per cent of a level. Then I'd swap.
Playing mostly solo this wasn't any kind of a problem. On the contrary, it meant the game stayed astonishingly fresh. Not for me the sad ennui of the bored fifty. Or sixty as it became with the coming of Kunark.
It did become something of a problem after Velious, which was when my grouping and guilding days really began. In order to function in a group, particularly in a responsible role like main healer or tank, the two positions I ended up taking most often, there is something of a requirement for the player to be, at least, competent with the class he or she is playing. If you play dozens of characters that competence can be harder to acquire.
People recruiting for groups tend to ask awkward questions. Questions like "is that your Main?". The subtext being "...and if it is, why are you so bad at it?" Guild leaders and officers can be even more pointed. For administrative purposes they almost always want to know which characters are "Mains" and which "Alts". That was a question I could never answer.
The result of all this was the building of a network of open-minded, laid-back, non-judgmental friends and acquaintances, a list of people who genuinely wanted you to bring the player not the class. It also meant joining what used to be known as a "family guild", giving up any thoughts of participating in the then-cut-throat world of raid progression.
The compromise I made back then was to have a small number of "focus" characters. I played my Cleric and my Shadowknight - and later my Beastlord - enough to keep them at the level cap through a couple of expansions as well as to develop the instinct and muscle memory I needed to be effective in tight situations. At the same time I continued to play a whole slew of other characters, day in, day out, most of whom rarely met the rest of the people on my friends and guild list.
In the decade and a half since then not an awful lot has changed. The main difference is that, as MMO developers have chosen to make their games hugely more friendly both to playing solo and to raising a horde of characters, the choice of "who to Main" has become less and less of an ordeal.
In the old days a serious player would generally have a Main and an Alt. Just the one. The Alt would often be chosen to complement the Main, would always be in his shadow, often only coming into his own in the dog days towards the end of an expansion cycle, when the Main had Done Everything and the player was Bored.
These days, as can readily be seen in the current Invasion Frenzy, it's probably more normal for the average player to keep a stable of characters at or near the level cap. In GW2, where even at launch it barely took two weeks to hit cap, and where now you can make an Alt and level it to 80 in five minutes while standing at the bank, everyone plays everything.
And yet people still talk about Mains and Alts. The concept is deeply ingrained in the genre. It may never go away. And with good reason, because the fact remains that, no matter how swift and easy the journey becomes, there's really no short cut to becoming competent at your class. In the end you have to put in the hard hours, whether you do that leveling up or after you boost.
I don't have a "Main" in any MMO I play unless it's one that only allows a single character. That's for the same reason I don't have "Toons". All my characters, in every imaginary world I visit, are individuals. They're people in the same way the characters in a book or a movie are people. They aren't extensions of my ego or tools for me to use - or, perhaps I should say, they are much more than that.
All the same, I have to recognize that, in any MMO, there are only so many classes or builds I can play competently. In GW2, currently, that's Tempest and Druid. In EQ2 it's Berserker and in EQ it's Magician.
For WoW, while I'm there this time around, it's most likely going to be beastmaster Hunter and demonology Warlock. At the moment I have virtually no understanding of, let alone competence in, either but it will come if I keep playing.
It won't make either of them my "Main" though. I don't do Mains.