The Daily Grind: How much does optimization affect your MMO play?

When I feel like lying to myself, I tell myself that I don’t care about optimizing my characters in MMOs. I even sometimes convince myself that it was true for a while; I did play a Retribution Paladin in World of Warcraft back before Crusader Strike was even in the game. But the reality is that even then, when I happily shot myself in the foot to avoid raid utility, I still worked overtime to optimize my character. I will gladly walk into an awful build with eyes open, but I will then do everything in my power to make that awful build work.

I have a Red Mage build on Final Fantasy XI that comes as close to being a functional melee attacker as any I’ve seen. I made a DPS Gladiator in version 1.0 of Final Fantasy XIV. The list goes on. But I know there are people out there who will only play with optimized builds, like a friend of mine from City of Heroes who had seven Shield scrappers to optimize AoE farming. And then there are people who hate any hint of utility and choose character builds solely for aesthetics. What about you, dear reader? How much does optimization affect your playing of MMOs? Do you play to optimize your build, do you avoid it, or do you enjoy making terrible builds the best they can be?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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34 Comments on "The Daily Grind: How much does optimization affect your MMO play?"

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Sabir Rao
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Sabir Rao

The best thing we can be having to have the free house of fun coins online here

quark1020
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quark1020

Oh yes, I optimize my characters in ALL games RPG. Its part of the fun for me, researching the abilities of a particular class and see how I can make it better, either by figuring it out on my own or following some suggestions from other players. Its especially nice when I manage to get an unpopular build or class and then build them in such a way that I am able to out perform average players with popular, cookie cutter builds.

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steve

I’ll do whatever I can to maximize my effectiveness, particularly in games where I can farm and hoard enough consumables to make them a part of my regular strategy or rotation. If I can squeeze an extra second of play out of some minor healing potion I’ll stack them and bank enough of them that I don’t need to think twice about using them at every opportunity.

If I have to worry about running out of a consumable then I’m not going to train that button into muscle-memory and it becomes pretty useless.

I don’t like to switch characters just to chase the flavor-of-the-month, though I will do it if my past character/build is nerfed into obscurity. I didn’t have to worry about that in EQ, since the cleric was always the premier healer, but in WoW I’ve switched from holy priest (Vanilla) to resto shaman (Late TBC) to discipline priest in Wrath.

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Robert Mann

I tend to like how something plays more than whether the build is the ultimate performance (so long as it does well enough.) The only things I will go out of my way to do are those things that the elitists of a game state as impossible. So you might find me on a class that “can’t tank raids” tanking raids. Or topping tank healing meters with a class that “can’t tank heal.”

I agree with the many who don’t consider ‘optimization’ the proper terms for min/max. I very nearly wanted to say something much like Dug From The Earth did… although I am not quite as strict about a few hitches here and there (but game experience is far more important that graphics quality, agreed.)

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Loyal Patron
Adri

I like the builds that are the most effective ones. When I have to play a group build because of special reasons I try to follow the rules as good as possible.
Trying to force your character to do something it’s not made is a waste of time imho.

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Dug From The Earth

I care more about optimization than how good the graphics look. If I cant run a game smoothly, without hitches and glitches, I most likely wont play at all, even if it looks amazing in screenshots.

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Iridescence

Usually I get in mind a build concept I like “big slow two handed axe wielder” or “fast agile dual dagger user” then go looking for advice on how to build the best character within those parameters. I do like character building and games that allow you to build different character concepts. Just copying the FOTM build is boring.

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

Right now? not much, i play games where there isn’t much space for that, class/gear based games does not have space for making different builds, skill-based games give you a chance to build a character they way you want even if the build does not give you enough power … what i care about is fun, is it fun? can i play more than one role?

That’s why i like WoW’s druid-like classes, playing support is DPS+healing is fun, and i wish support means more than that, i would not mind a class with so much utility for groups but not enough DPS for itself.

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Tobasco da Gama

I mean, it really depends on whether the content I’m interested in is too tedious (or impossible) to clear without optimisation.

That said, I try to put together effective builds given my understanding of the game mechanics, because that’s part of what I consider fun. So I generally pay attention to “meta” builds just so I can learn more about how the game’s mechanics work.

But if the meta build isn’t something I consider fun to play (hi, GW2 Chronotank), I don’t use it. And if not using it means I don’t get to do content, then I move on to a different game.

Veldan
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Veldan

The term “optimization” confused me, I thought that was only used for improving the game client’s performance on certain hardware etc. What happened to “min-maxing”?

That said, it’s somewhat important to me. I’m not someone who goes on the internet and copies a meta spec/build. If the game gives me the freedom to do it, I’ll always create my own, but I’ll make it strong. I never understand people who insist on some weird, completely useless spec just because they “like it”. Is it fun to make yourself weak? Do you find the game so easy that you want to handicap yourself?

Now if you can answer that last question with “yes”, that’s perfectly fine with me. But please, stay out of LFG dungeons then. Other people do not want your self-imposed handicap to carry over to their group play.

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Robert Mann

Yes, it was poorly phrased, and my first thought was “This is why I stopped playing certain games very much.” Then I realized it was the “Are you a min/max elitist?” that was the real question!