Thursday, May 05, 2011
A question of process
My post on the fear of the sub-optimal evoked a lot of echo, but the fans of the optimal mostly either misunderstood or misrepresented what I said. I am not deliberately trying to make my characters sub-optimal. In fact I believe that optimizing your character can be a lot of fun if it is done as part of the game. Basically you look at a bunch of complicated options, select one on your own, try it out, and see how it works. If it isn't fun and doesn't lead to good results, you discard it, and try something else. Ultimately you arrive at the optimum.
But that isn't how it works today. As spinks says: "Right now, far from having any fun with optimisation, if there was a button in the game that said ‘optimise my character’ that would tweak talent trees, inform the player of the optimal dps rotation, and assign some optimal gear for the current raid then most players would HAPPILY press it."
The problem is not the result of optimization, but the process leading to it. Yes, I want for example my priest in WoW to be optimal. But I would very much like to be able to make a build with lightwell, and see how it works out. Not only do I believe that trying out things for yourself is a lot more fun that looking them up on the internet, I also believe that ultimately the optimum you arrive at through experimentation is *better* than the optimum you looked up on EJ. Because EJ only has the numbers, and doesn't know anything about your personal preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. A build that is optimal on paper is in reality not optimal for everybody.
So I wonder how you guys read crime novels. Just like I want my characters to be optimal, I want to know who the murderer was at the end of that crime novel. I just object to the process of skipping ahead and directly reading the last page. Because the fun is in reading the novel, and guessing for yourself who the murderer is, even if that isn't the fastest or most optimal method. The same is true for MMORPGs: I want to *play* them, not skip them to reach the optimum state. And playing involves trying things out, which by necessity involves being in a sub-optimal state for part of the time.