Just a quick thought this time. Spinks has a great article up that refers to a couple of things regarding optimization and playstyle:
It made me wonder about this nebulous “right way” to play a game, especially one as… squishy… as an MMO. I think we’re simply stuck with min-max players who will optimize their play. There’s nothing really wrong with that, as it’s their choice, and arguably, the learning curve of a game may well be the most fun part, and optimization is a huge part of that learning process. I think the trouble comes when players start telling other people how to play.
Yes, yes, things like a Recount addon and Armory profiles in WoW let players scrutinize each other to unhealthy extremes, even without RealID. That’s probably the game devs erring on the side of “TMI” (Too Much Information). Similarly, game design that demands optimization (rather than simply allowing it) is annoying to all but the min-max crowd. (I keep almost typing that “Minmei“.) I think that optimization can be fun, and that it has a place in games, but it shouldn’t be the baseline. I’ve written about this before when thinking about autopiloting and broken games.
…and yet, I can’t help but think that the lion’s share of the “MMO optimization problem” is on the players’ shoulders. If players would just focus on having their own fun and stop whining about others, well, then we could have a nice hippie “buy the world a Coke” group hug moment and get on with making better games. Let the optimizers optimize and let the Role Players do their thing. Live and let live. (Well, except for the griefers. I’m all for harsh automatic counterganking mechanics. Jerks and bullies deserve a beatdown. *ahem*)
As always, the real problem is the other players in a multiplayer game. Even if we did have a level-less, gearless, addon-less MMO, we’d still have some who can’t resist telling others that they are doing something wrong. We seem to be wired that way.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play my games my way. It’s my time and my money, after all.