Roundup: Blogosphere Discussion On Optimization

Yesterday Tobold did what Tobold does best. He set the blogosphere alight. Not literally, though we have hidden the matchbox. Nope, he posted an article about fears of optimization and loads of people around the blogosphere have jumped in on it. Many of them are disagreeing with him, some are wandering off into specific points about optimization, but all of them are passionate and thought out.

So here they all are for you to make your own mind up – can optimizing your character be a bad thing?

  • Optimality – Rohan at Blessing of Kings talks about why optimization is crucial, and how and why it’d be very difficult to get rid of it.
  • Fun Builds: Not That Fun In End-Game Content – Syncaine says that optimization is a content-based problem: at end game there’s simply no middle ground for those who want to experiment with their playstyle.
  • The Enemy Is Not Optimization – Nils argues that optimization itself isn’t a bad thing – crowd sourcing (i.e. crowds of other people determining optimal ways to play) is. A simple but brilliant argument.
  • Combat Meters – Nils has also split off from the main topic to talk about combat meters permanently measuring your ‘performance’, relating to inefficiency/optimization. For me he’s summed up combat meters in one word: sinister.
  • Playing Without Recount – Shintar talks about how playing with and without recount’s made her feel in the past, and wonders if players would get less stressed without those numbers constantly on screen and in our heads.
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Doing It Right’s Not Always The Best Thing

Tobold’s one of the biggest MMO bloggers out there but he’s plain stopped playing WoW. He’s been catching up on single player games instead. But he’s realised his time as an MMO player has coloured his overall gaming habits, particularly in regards to optimisation.

Tobold’s upfront about his views on optimisation – constantly trying to play your character better – and says that gaming is meant to be fun, so you shouldn’t always have to play a particular way deemed most optimal. Which, sadly, happens. Tobold points out that there’s an entire sub-culture in MMOs where other players expect everyone else to play ‘correctly’, and if you deviate from that you’re Doin’ It Rong.

There is a wide-spread cult of optimum efficiency towards a single goal in MMORPGs. If you don’t have the same goal, Gevlon will compare you to a pedophile [link to corresponding Gevlon post removed]. If you have the same goal but aren’t on the optimum path towards it and moving sufficiently fast, you’re only a moron & slacker. Now Gevlon is just the most disgustingly outspoken high priest of that cult, but the attitude is everywhere.

Now, calling this mindset a cult is extreme for my tastes. But to make up for it he comes up with a beautifully simple idea to reduce the problem of other people telling you what to do. And that idea is absolutely needed because extreme or not he’s got a point; more often than not other people will unsolicited tell you how to play and even berate you if you’re doing it wrong by their standards. And that’s no fun.

What do you think – is the community too focused on playing ‘right’ or are there times and places for playing right and experimenting?

_Quote taken directly from Tobold’s post_

_You can find Tobold’s MMORPG Blog homepage here_

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