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Gear Requisites and Twinking

One of my favorite things to do in the original EverQuest was twinking alts.  I loved handing down gear I no longer used, or passing an item I found on my higher level characters to an alt.  Today’s MMOs have abandoned the idea of low levels being able to use high level items.  Most items are full of requisites which restrict usage.  I miss being able to hand my level 1 Gnome Warrior a Wurmslayer, FBSS, and pair of Short Sword of Ykeshas.  Those were my treasures, my cherished possessions, and I enjoyed being able to use them on other characters.

Twinking often gets a bad rap for trivializing content or offering an unfair advantage.  I think the unfair advantage can be tossed out because there’s nothing unfair about fairly acquiring an item.  There will always be haves and have-nots. Oh, and there’s also the “you didn’t earn that” argument which is also false — even if someone gave me the item and I wasn’t the one to originally loot it off a monster, I still earned it through social constructs.

Trivializing content is a legitimate claim, though.  My Monk would waste just about anything with his Tranquil Staff and Fungal Tunic.  I think I was able to blow through the first 30 levels without ever having a second of downtime.  Heck, I loved every second of it and repeated the process over a dozen times on various other twinked characters — I would actually delete characters and pass my treasures to the next one.  In hindsight, the items were probably (I say this reluctantly because I really did have fun) overpowered in the hands of a lowbie.  That can be solved.

All it takes to alleviate the problem of twinked characters being ‘too’ strong — notice the emphasis on ‘too’ since a twinked character should always be strong (imo) — is a better scaling system.  If the damage my warrior can do with a SSOY is directly related to my 1-hand slashing skill level (capped by my level), my strength (also capped), and some other complicated math then maybe I can still use that cool sword; I just won’t obliterate everything.  My treasures will still scale with me, and I’ll still be able to pass them down and enjoy them.

Twinking is something I enjoy, and I hope future games are designed to allow these types of activities.  Personally, I think it adds to replability, and breathes new life into items which may be forgotten or sentenced to a life spent in a bank slot never to be enjoyed again.

You’re going to be tempted to talk about BoE and BoP.  I have purposely neglected those topics for a post I’m putting up tomorrow.  I’d like you to hold your thoughts on binding until tomorrow; instead, share your thoughts on twinking.  It used to be so much more than giving your alt the best items he can use at his level.

Update: I’ll be posting my BoE/BoP post on Friday.

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Comments

  1. I think twinking is just fine and can be a fun game of itself. In many games having to relevel an ALT is not quite as enjoyable as the first time you did it. Eventually, it just becomes a pain…some MMOs recongize that and making it easier to gain levels by reducing exp requirements, increasing exp given, hell, start characters at level 20, or even 80 etc. Twinking does the same thing but it is much more organic – plus you feel like you accomplished somethign special…collect all the gear necessary and set your character up so that you can level faster. That by itself is entertainment.

    I have noticed that sometimes leveling becomes much more enjoyable if you find something special..a special grind spot…a cool way to AOE tons of MOBs…maybe some super tough mobs that you kill in large groups and that give tons of exp…whenever you come across these, you feel like…oh my gosh…this is so cool…I better take advantage of it…sometimes it takes a lot of skill to make it happen…twinking is similar to that…I think people mostly get annoyed if there is a PVP component involved and the twink pretty much 1-shots equal level characters etc….

  2. It’s one of those slippery slope things. For the first year or so that I played EQ, once I discovered what twinking was I was a zealot against it, as were many people. I had very strong ideas back then about what constituted cheating – looking things up on the web, talking in /ooc to get in-game info, doing things to get xp that were things your race/class would not logically be expected to do (my druid never intentionally killed an animal for years and used to argue heatedly with anyone in groups she was in who did) etc etc.

    As time went on I began to backslide on just about every moral standpoint and in almost every case the “badder” I was, the more fun I had. Twinking turned out first to be a guilty pleasure, then just a pleasure. I didn’t twink all my many new characters, not by a long chalk, because too much of a good thing is too much. I picked certain characters to twink and twinked the hell out of them, though, and it was enormous fun.

    It wasn’t fun for other people though. I left many groups over the years because twinks joined and made my character (and sometimes the whole of the rest of the group) redundant. I was occasionally that twink and had people disband for the same reason. It’s fun to be the one doing it but not so much fun to be the guy carrying the coats, although of course plenty of people are happy to put up with that if it means easy xp.

    I think you’re right that more could be done to come up with an acceptable compromise, but hasn’t twinking largely been replaced by other, officially-licensed mechanics such as Heirlooms, Veteran Rewards, Mentoring, Sidekicking, Mercenaries etc etc? And with modern difficulty standards, would we even notice if our low-levels were twinked in most MMOs these days?

  3. @Bhagpuss: I know EXACTLY how you felt when a twink joined your group. I think that’s a fantastic point, and probably the biggest downside. When someone joins your group and they outperform you by 300%, you feel bad about yourself. I’ve had so many of those experiences.

    Your last point is one Graev brought up to me when we were discussing this subject. I actually dislike heirlooms. Oldschool twinking (EQ style) feels different to me somehow. I think it’s because the introduction of heirlooms kinda made it an ‘official accepted act’ instead of just something unconventional people do. I’d rather the game not standardize the twinking I do. Heirlooms feel too prescribed to the point of being “what everyone should wear from 1-80.” It’s a transcendent subject for sure.

    Twinking wouldn’t work in a game like WoW — at all. Heirlooms, low difficulty, etc., all steer the game away from the need. That’s a good point, actually… difficulty is a huge factor that I even mentioned but didn’t emphasize enough in my post.

    Good thoughts.

  4. swarmofseals says:

    My kneejerk response was that these ideas are crazy talk… but after I thought about it for a minute I began to agree with you. I’d actually take it a bit farther and argue that the issue of content trivialization is not actually a problem at all. Anyone who hardcore twinks knows that they are trivializing content. I can see what you all are saying about it being a problem in groups, but then again you can always just decide not to group with twinks.

    The main benefit to EQ style twinking is that it allows you to solo level alts rather than be forced to group through content more than once. Say your main playgroup does not want to roll an alt but you do — if you have the option to twink you can level your alt relatively quickly in your spare time without having to find new sets of people to group with. I think that this is generally a good thing, and it would make a forced-grouping game a bit more palatable to me.

  5. My knee-jerk response was ya! Back in the day on a slow weekend I loved to sink a few hundred gold into a hunter and solo Warsong Gulch on a lazy Saturday. Or stockpile items in a shared vault for any given toon on Neverwinter Nights. I have played a few games since then, I am afraid that twinking may encourage a cliquish mentality I like to call the good ole’ boys club. The good ole’ boys club is not conducive to new players or casual players. I know in previous posts people have said that if you don’t want to group with these players you don’t have to, but sometimes the player space can become flooded with “twinks”, especially on an older game. Also, twinks can wreck the local economy and basically make low level crafting obsolete.

  6. Twinking is bad. In PVE like you mentioned it makes others look useless.
    In PVP its the useless part plus getting abused.

    Its a flawed game mechanic, unless you can only twink in an environment where everyone else you encounter also twinks.

  7. @Zyler: In my opinion, if a game lets twinks into PvP then the game has horrible PvP. Let’s set that one aside.

    Part of what I’m trying to say is that twinking can be improved. Right now in some games it makes non-twinks mediocre. If gear scaling can be fixed up, it won’t be as big an issue.

    Inherently it is not flawed.

  8. “I think the unfair advantage can be tossed out because there’s nothing unfair about fairly acquiring an item.”

    “…if a game lets twinks into PvP then the game has horrible PvP. Let’s set that one aside.”

    I believe you are being too cavalier in dismissing these points so readily.

    I don’t think that the concern over fairness is based on how a player acquires an item as so much how a low level toon is given an advantage compared to one that is progressing through the game at appropriate difficulty level as intended by the devs.

    In PvE it may not be as big a problem as in PvP, but even in the former I wouldn’t consider it trivial. I suppose as previously mentioned there is a negative psychological effect that relatively devalues a standard non-twinked toon, but any PvE competitive activity, such as resource harvesting and selling of goods, is skewed against the standard player.

    By analogy imagine a bunch of kids running around with their little baskets picking blueberries, until Richie Rich drives in with his combine harvester. It undermines immersion and enjoyment of non-entitled players.

    As far as twinks in PvP are concerned I wouldn’t set that issue aside as it seems to be the rule instead of the exception and as such deserves to be addressed. I like how GW2 equalizes gear unlike in the WoW battlegrounds; I always hated having to even wonder if a player in Warsong Gulch was hacking or just buffed to a supergnomish degree.

    http://www.comicbookdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/richie-rich-5.jpg

  9. Free for all twinking = gold farmers’ paradise

  10. Also Keen, I cannot for the life of me fathom the purpose of your post. You for twinking? Against? For twinking unless it impacts PvP and your personal PvE experience?

    I genuinely do not understand what you’re trying to say, if anything

  11. @Blargh: I’m pretty sure I said “I love twinking” about three times, then went on to say I wish it would make a comeback. In fact, check out my last paragraph: “Twinking is something I enjoy, and I hope future games are designed to allow these types of activities.”

    Not quite sure why you’re being passive aggressive. The purpose of my post is to write my thoughts on twinking. I thought I clearly stated I like it, wish it could come back, but acknowledge it hasflaws (which I think can be altered to make it less broken).

    Difficulty is a huge factor I should have taken the time to elaborate on. Twinking doesn’t matter when a game is easy. It’s all about the personal experience in PvE being made easier and/or more fun or different. In PvP twinking becomes a different story, but I’ll repeat myself and say if PvP is impacted by twinking then the PvP has issues all on its own.

    As for gold farmers, that’s another subject and I don’t feel it should weigh in on altering a mechanic that makes games more fun.

  12. As in a lot of things, DAoC handled this quite elegantly. You could equip items of every level – but your character had a cap on every stat based on your current level, so while your level 2 character could equip a level 50 sword, he would only get level 2 stats out of it. On top of that, item durability (which was NOT infinitely repairable) decayed faster when using over-level gear, so all twinking really did was waste perfectly good items for higher level characters. However, it did mean you could equip stuff that was a few levels above your character and then grow into them, as opposed to the current state of games where as soon as you ding all of your gear is sub-optimal by definition.

  13. Oh I duno. I have had lots of fun with QQDQ (or whatever it was) onwards – noclip, nodrown, godmode, etc. etc. I have to admit though, with time, I enjoy that kind of gameplay less and less. Case in question, Path of Exile, which is a very recent game.

    Don’t get me wrong, it is a great game, great fun, wonderful graphics, very nice dialogues, but the sheer mindlessness of running through a map one-two shot killing everything in sight is kinda meh. I’ll be sticking with it to the end though, part because of “must beat game” OCD, part because it is supposed to get harder.

    But yeah, “kinda meh” is what usually comes to mind first when I get that kind of game experience, which is why twinking purely for power does not really entice me.

    But if twinking does not make a character more powerful, is it still twinking?

    On the flip side if the game (does not have to be an MMO) supports and/or requires a complex gear system I do, and I have, had tremendous fun leveraging the gear (or gold) of a higher level alt towards solving the rubik cube gear puzzle of a lower/newer alt. The best example I can think of was Anarchy Online and its stats, gear and implants system. Granted I never played enough to have a “very high level alt”, it was more a case of “several low-midbie alts working to twink out another”. Some of the stuff needed to twink was crafted, which for me was a bonus.

  14. Even if you could twink, items have no meaning anymore.

    14 years later you are rattling off FBSS, Fungi Tunic, SSoY, Rubicite armor, mana stones, etc.

    I can name a couple items from WoW if I think hard about it.
    I’m currently playing SWTOR (painfully) and can’t name one item.

    Here level 1, have this… generic lightsaber that everyone has. There was no sweat in earning it. The FBSS you camped in Guk for days, the Oracle Robe your friend gave you when they finally got their SMR, the Dark Reaver you haggled with a guy in North Freeport for an hour to get… those have history. They meant something when you handed them down. You loved your gear because it had a story.

    Also, as you touched on, games have no difficulty, with no twink gear. SWTOR with what you get from quests is infinitely easier than EQ with full raid gear. You don’t need to twink in today’s games, because you already are.

  15. Gankatron says:

    @Jenks

    Agreed!