I remember one of the selling points for SWG was how many professions it was going to have. It promised to have dozens of professions. I think this appeals to people because we’re always trying to be special in MMOs. We’re tired of looking like everyone else and having the same abilities that they do, and we want more diversity in the kind of people we bump into. If there are very few people who play a certain profession, it’s natural to assume their rare abilities would make them valuable and fun to play
But it didn’t. Instead, if you chose to be an crafter, a doctor, or an entertainer, you were completely worthless most of the time. Most of the time, nobody had to interact with you and nobody wanted to. Eventually, someone might want a guild-hall, or a face-lift, or some death-penalty removed and they would be forced to interact with you until they could get back to doing fun stuff. Outside of that one shinning moment when someone needed you for something… you were a waste of pixels.
SWG separated out their professions for the sake of printing “30 professions!” on the box. Yes, it’s nice you can change your haircut in-game, but it was never nice enough to have it’s own profession.
What would a game look like if there was only one class? I don’t mean skill-trees or having someone specialize for battle before going out. I mean, what if everyone could do everything all the time and it was a matter of just dragging the skills onto the skill-bar? In this case, nobody would be turned down from a group because people were waiting for a particular class. What would make you special in that case would be real skill. Honest-to-goodness skill. Are you good at healing? Are you good at tanking? What do you like playing most?
But MMOs don’t do that. Even in a game like the next Final Fantasy which blurs the line by letting you switch jobs on the fly… you still have to level that particular job before playing it. You can still be sitting around waiting for a white-mage, blink-tank, or whatever else you need for the group. I have to wonder if feeling unique is worth all that time I have to wait for a particular class to log on and join the group.