looking for another term (help)

edited January 2012 in Story Games
there is a style of gaming that is very popular now among the MMO crowd that is about finding the most optimal path of points possible to the conclusion of a game/story/quest/thing.

it's become so popular that people are getting into flame wars on playtest sites because new MMOs don't report how much damage you are doing with a hit, therefore you don't know if you're "winning"

a typical question might arise on the boards, "are you having fun?" and the standard answer is akin to.... "no. i don't know if the class/race/weapon combo i am using is optimal."

now. while this sounds like traditional min-max play. but i think it's branching into a new style of gaming where fun is measured in the value of things i cannot even comprehend. this is really beyond my experiences as a gamer. fun measured in nano-hit points.

has anyone experienced this? hear about this? know of a term for this "behavior" (for lack of a better word).?

aside: i was absolutely shocked to hear about this, but i know a lot of MMO players and we had a two-hour conversation about the future of product/design... and they showed me the forums. these player complaints exist.


  • Aren't they "power gamers"?
  • Definitely power gamers. They probably think you're a weirdo for bothering about all that story nonsense.
  • Instrumental play?
  • "power gamers" is apt, but it might miss a key component of this behavior:

    MMOs require you to sink hundreds of hours into play, if you want to really explore what the game can do and what's cool about your character. But the first 50-100 hours are mostly entry-level grinding - small quests, harmless enemies, limited range of abilities. So if all the optimization information and advancement tree information isn't readily available... you could waste a hundred hours of your life before realizing that you've backed yourself into a corner and picked a bad character. That bad character might make it harder to continue progressing through the game, or even simply "less fun."

    So, it's mostly "power gamer," but it's also "risk averse gamer" and "optimizer" and "someone who wants to know what the stakes are."
  • Reverse Engineers.
  • Unconscious scientists!

    They're formulating hypotheses, and getting frustrated when they cannot adequately test them for subsequent modification.
  • Optimizers.

    I'm assuming that they're coming at this from a healthy attitude, and their goal is to optimize. The fun is in getting to point where they can say: this is the most efficient way to do this. It's solving a puzzle.

    It reminds me of making characters in D&D 3.X. There are so many options there's a lot of fun you can have figuring out way to get classes to work together to make you super powerful.

    If they enjoy doing the same thing over again optimally, then it's something else, akin to looking at your sealed action figure collection sitting on your shelf. I think this second group is usually called power gamers.
  • Reserve Optimization Engineers has a nice ring to it
  • I clicked on this topic because I assumed Barack Obama had started posting on Story Games.

    HA! Ba-dum!
  • "Cheaters"
  • No that's when they use cheats to win the game, and then they are called "hax0rs" Power gamers looks a bit closer, since this is like an extrapolation of what gamists do once they understand the mechanics behind a game, they start to find more fun exploring the limits of the system, and total optimization is just the logical way to go.
  • Record chasers
  • Posted By: jim pintothere is a style of gaming that is very popular now among the MMO crowd that is about finding the most optimal path of points possible to the conclusion of a game/story/quest/thing..has anyone experienced this? hear about this? know of a term for this "behavior" (for lack of a better word).?
    Optimization? The D&D forums at WotC that are devoted to exploring optimal character builds are called "optimization boards."

    Those forums are actually kind of fascinating to read -- they're like dark mirrors into the D&D designers' brains.
  • I think the distinctive element of this behaviour is fear of making the "wrong" choice.

    Optimisation paralysis.
  • I played Kingdom of Loathing for a while and came across the Four Suits terminology. It's actually very useful. The work originally derives from MUDs, but is largely applicable to... oh, just about any black box or grey box multiplayer rules system.

    In brief, there are four kinds of players:

    Diamonds, who want to be the best.
    Spades, who want to explore everything.
    Clubs, who want to beat other people.
    Hearts, who want to interact and be social.

    Here's a link to Richard Bartle's article Players who suit MUDs. It's probably way more information than you'll ever need.

    It sounds like the players you describe are Diamonds; they derive satisfaction by being the very, very best. Interestingly, I've noticed that an ecosystem tends to develop where Spades spend a lot of time unearthing the probabilities of certain events, statistical likelihoods of hits, damage, etc (commonly referred to as "spading"), while the Diamonds make use of this research to optimize their characters.
  • edited January 2012
    Posted By: Thomas TI think the distinctive element of this behaviour isfear of making the "wrong" choice.
    Yeah -- my coworkers are all talking about the Star Wars MMORPG right this very moment. They're pretty casual players but even so I can hear some social pressure around pulling your weight in terms of healing capability or damage per second.

    If your character isn't built to good specs, you're going to be dragging your team down and your social standing is gonna be damaged. The stakes can be pretty high!
  • johnzo. yeah, that's exactly where this thread started for me. some friends of mine are playtesting it. i am not. i don't play MMOs. but the forums there are filled with these ROE players (haha. i'm using it already) who can't have fun because the game doesn't keep a damage log. so therefore they CAN'T ostracize the weakest member of the herd.
  • I remember playing WoW years ago in a raiding guild. Long story short, a guild of around 200 (active) members split in two because some of the members were serious ROE's while the rest didn't care so much about who's ontop of the damage charts; they just want to play the damn game. While I see the value and fun factor in trying to optimize your character (within a reasonable hour or two), these folks took it to another level, to the point where officer status and titles were driven by the numbers on the board. If you didnt make the charts, you stopped getting invited to raids, you didn't get promoted, you were more or less a second class citizen in the game. And the "elites" would not hesitate to let you know how abysmally dissapointing your performance was.
  • doesn't that sound like fun?
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