I’m a min/max gamer. Anyone who ever watched me play Jump SuperStars, Armored Core 3, or any other game with tons of customization know that I work diligently to minimize my weaknesses and maximize my strengths. I do this obsessively, it’s a large draw for me to get the optimum setup. No tweak is too small, no change too minor. Any and everything within the game mechanics is accounted for and utilized.

I am not necessarily the best min/maxer for any given game, but between that and my level of skill I present to my opponents a worthy foe.

Another name for what I do is “twinking”, a term that harkens to Dungeons and Dragons. This term has become ubiquitous in MMORPGs for players who min/max, although other games lack the term (possibly due to a lack of connection to Dungeons and Dragons). Unfortunately, these same MMORPGs are giving twinking a bad name.

Before I delve into that, I’ll explain a key difference. In most games where twinking occurs you are balancing benefits of detriments. Doing X yields Y benefit at the cost of Z. Z may have an in-game monetary element, but generally that is negligible. The true cost of Z is in what you are excluded from doing. Z may prevent a different and desirable X with Y benefit you really want, or it might reduce the effectiveness of another Y, or any other number of undesirables. In these cases, twinking is getting the maximum total of Ys with the minimum effect of Zs. Additionally, an important factor is the individuals preferred playstyle. A player who likes to move fast and strike quickly will shape his customization differently than one who prefers a slower method of combat.

In MMOs Z tends to only (or almost only) encompass in-game monetary costs and time spent. As such, the effects of Y can become quite incredible because they do not have to be balanced against Z. Any other effects of Z are so small they are hardly noticeable. The bonuses of Y can become so overwhelming that playstyle becomes irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if you like slow or fast, durable or deadly, you can get every benefit at no cost. So long one has the most basic of skills, one can be a killing machine.

This second model appeals very greatly to a vast, immature group of players. These players most likely aren’t skilled, but through sheer time and currency can more than compensate for that. While the first model presents twinking as a skill in and of itself, the second presents it as a substitute for skill. The players themselves do not endear themselves to the populace, as they are quick to insult and berate anyone who even tries to have a discussion of the matter. They can be imperceptive to the point where they will cluelessly insult people on their side of debates simply because they are debating.

What is terribly interesting is the similarity in attitude they show to the attitude of cheaters. This interview with a cheater, while childish in it’s own way, is a prime example of the attitudes displayed by the majority of those who twink in the second model.

In the end, what bothers me about the second model is a lack of accomplishment. I don’t get the sense that I’ve accomplished anything worthwhile in being able to smash through people with ease by twinking in the second model, whereas in the first model there is a satisfaction in knowing that my skillful manipulations granted me advantage. For the first model, I’ve had people whose skill in actually playing one of these games was inferior to mine, but more than made up for it in superior twinking skills. Neither of these senses come across in the second model.

The final conclusion is that should I ever make a game with twinking, which is extremely likely, I’ll follow the first model quite vigilantly.


Talk like a Pirate!

Talk like a Pirate day is the 19th, which is also incidentally the release date for Saumrai Warriors on the XBox 360 but I digress. In honor of the holiday, I present you the following educational video so that you won't be found a landlubber.


Talk like a Pirate


Texas = Big

This is my TV. It is a big TV. It was not a cheap TV.

This is really my splurge for the month, or would be if I didn't need to pick up a futon or sofa before my Dad comes to visit. However, Futon goes more under necessity rather than frivolous luxury, which a TV really is. Although one could even call a futon a luxury, but I think you understand.

It's a Sony, 46' 16:9 aspect ratio TV. Rear projection LCD. Capable of 720p and 1080i resolutions. More video hookups than I know what to do with. A very nice TV stand (some assembly required). Basically this should do me for about 20 years, barring it breaking down. I didn't want to skimp on something I was going to have for a long time. It's actually lighter than the 27' CRT I gave away, and doesn't bite into you when you try and grip it. The size does make it a little awkward to carry.

Anyway, my Playstation 2 which is capable of playing DVDs doesn't want to. It's decided that only games are good enough for it. So I'll have to pick up a DVD player eventually.

I'll also need to get some kind of cable soon, Uncle David is threatening to barge in for Monday night football. These Batchelders like to party.