The Daily Grind: How do you feel about ‘twinking’ in MMORPGs?

    
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There are lots of different defintions of penalty.

Last month, I took a few hours to put together a care package in Ultima Online for Eliot – a bag of gear, potions, bandages, money, that sort of thing. As someone who’s played it off and on since the beginning, I know better than anyone how rough it is to start there fresh, and I wanted to twink him a bit so he’d have an easier time with his Choose My Adventure and not completely hate the experience. And in doing so, I started thinking about the very concept of twinking and wondering whether it’s on the wane.

For starters, I seldom see anyone use the term anymore; maybe it’s the word that’s fallen out of fashion, or maybe its non-gaming meaning has cost it some luster. But then I wondered whether it’s more that modern MMOs and their nearest online game neighbors simply embrace the “account-wide” nature of play, from account achievements to shared banks, such that people don’t even consider swapping gear between toons that didn’t technically earn it to be twinking at all.

Over the years, I have never felt bad even for a second about twinking my own alts or those of my friends; in my mind, twinking makes an MMO game more an RPG about roleplaying than a survival game about surviving, but I know others disagree and will rant about heirlooms or battleground twinks indefinitely if prompted. Do you still twink your MMORPG characters? Are you a fan of the practice, and do you think it’s slowly being phased out as a necessity in MMOs?

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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Zen Dadaist

I grew up in the twin schools of Eve Online and Anarchy Online. Whilst Twinking as such wasn’t a big thing in Eve, I took to it in AO like a duck to water. On day 2 I was downloading implanthelper and designing my first batch of custom implants. I fully finished my first twink (the ubiquitous L60 TOTW MP) before my main had even gone beyond 150. Implant laddering, buff stacking, gear swapping, weeks of planning, maths, spreadsheets and item farming – I loved that stuff. It seriously kept me playing for years and years. Figured out a way to get 2 more points of that critical skill so I can use the next QL weapon/nano/whatever up but it’ll take a week of work? Let me at it!

I have more specialised level locked twinks than I do levelling and end game characters! And I even twink my levelling and end game characters :p

Edit: I should add that I tried to make a PvP twink in Rift for the lowest Warfront. Fully crafted gear with ridiculous end-game-for-the-time augments to boost the key stats to ridonkulous levels because even with scaling, the curve was way off. It was insane. Well, up until it levelled out of that bracket :P Then it still performed great in the whole next level bracket. But not being able to lock a level or prevent levelling by removing XP means it can’t really be a twink as I’ve come to use the term from AO.

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Anstalt

I twink all the time.

First, I have a desire to be the best I possibly can be at all times when in game. There is a natural cutoff point where improvement vs time isn’t worth it (the old 80/20 rule), but up until that point I’ll twink my ass off.

Second, I hate leveling in MMOs. I really hate questing. So, anything I can do to speed myself along and reach the content I enjoy – endgame – I will do (within the bounds of the game, I’d never pay for level boosting / capped characters or any other shit in a cash shop). Twinking an alt will mean greater speed, less downtime, greater chance of success and all that, which all contributes to reaching endgame quicker.

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Sorenthaz

In terms of gearing up alts or new players so they can get through stuff more easier, that’s understandable to me. But with twinking like in WoW, where you’d sit at level 19 and push what numbers you could just to stomp on people who are potentially trying stuff out for the first time or are doing BGs as a side distraction… that I have never been able to understand. There’s nothing competitive about it unless you’re fighting other twinks, it’s literally just to stomp on newbies. I’m honestly glad that we’ve moved past stuff like that.

Nowadays I guess you could say ‘twinking’ is baseline with stuff like Heirlooms in WoW or so on. But I think the concept of hanging at a level for the sole purpose of outgearing it and dominating the competition is stupid and I’m glad it’s become mostly a thing of the past left to emulators and whatnot.

Serrenity
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Serrenity

Twinking, before the all the griefers really took over, was a gameplay style about working with a different skillset than max level.

In AO at least, there was gameplay in the Notum Wars around it. Whether you could attack a notum mine (capturable resource) was determined by how close you were to the level of the mine. If you were too high level, you couldn’t attack or capture the mine. So you had twinks that would sit a certain level thresholds for the purposes of attacking/defending the notum mines in their level range.

Or, you could completely ignore the notum wars and sit in the bar buffing people for tips :-) . I liked it there despite never doing it because it seemed to build community. You couldn’t twink a character without a whole series of supporting classes/people And you couldn’t just use a stable of alts to do it for it you. Investing in one for your org/guild meant that you got a benefit even if you never did anything with it. It was an xp bonus, and maybe a credit bonus for holding the Notum mines. Factions got bonuses for the number of mines held too. So creating a twink helped your guild and helped your faction.

I dunno – I thought it was really fun and novel in AO. Hated it in WoW because of the assholes who would just sit there and pwn everyone for the lulz.

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kgptzac

I think this is my impression of the “twinking” as well. The fact a game that has a gating mechanic (primarily in arena style pvp) that encourages this kind of gameplay is deeply flawed, and I am very glad to see newer games don’t do this anymore.

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Michael18

If it is my first character in an MMO I don’t like boosting it with uber gear and stuff received from other players. I really appreciate the good intentions, but I enjoy the slow progression during the early/mid levels of an MMO and don’t want to skip that. Esp. since leveling is usually too fast for my taste in today’s MMOs, anyway. Also the flow of this early/mid progression is an important part of the devs’ job that defines a huge part of an MMO’s character and I’m just interested, from a game design perspective, if/how they managed to achieve this.

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Robert Basler

I like to go to the level 1 areas in GW2 and give people gold. I always hated having no money when I started playing.

Celestia
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Celestia

I haven’t heard that term in years! I’m remembering the days of waiting for buddies to log in to help transfer gear or money to an alt. In old UO you could drop items on the ground and log out then back in with your alt to pick the stuff up if no one found it first.

Being able to mail things to alts was revolutionary.

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rafael12104

Ah, twinking and the resulting twinkies.

Well, it still happens in a way, but it is almost irrelevant as in most games leveling and gear progression happens so quickly. Besides, many games now use account bound gear and items quite liberally to encourage alts. It’s good for business.

So, how does winking make me feel? Old…

mystwen
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mystwen

A Twink in WoW battleground was a toon at the top of a level bracket, like a level 19, who turned off experience, and fought at the top of their braket for as long as they liked. I didn’t do it, but I did earn some good gold making and selling level 19 boots. : )

I am pretty much the opposite of a twink. I’ll find some gear I really like and wear it until it become painfully obvious that I should be wearing something higher. Practically had to rip a dress out of one of my mages cold dead hands once.

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Loopy

I don’t mind twinking. I generally don’t do anything competitive in MMOs until max level, and by that point twinks are not twinks any more.

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xpsync

Loved it in Anarchy Online.