Ultima Online, the granddaddy of the graphical MMO, had an open system wherein players could advance in whatever field they chose. It was EverQuest that first introduced a rigid class system, and arguably World of Warcraft that made it the golden standard. And it's a kind of silly standard, resulting in class-based games like RIFT trying to be as freeform as possible while freeform games like Champions Online offer class-like archetypes. It's as if one side always wants to be like the other without sacrificing its identity.
A classless system gives characters far more freedom of progression, but it also creates degenerate environments where everyone takes the few useful skills and the rest go unattended. Class systems, on the other hand, promote a strong sense of homogenization wherein everyone of the same level has the same abilities, often with only tiny variations. So what game has the best implementation of this back-and-forth? Do you like a class-based game that has a very open skill tree, or a classless system with a wide variety of useful skills, or a game which hews closer to the core of either concept?
Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!