Friday, 6 April 2012

Twinky winkie

The everlasting discussion for and against twinks have caught my attention at the Rift forums, so I figured out it would be time to bring my blog back in business and cover this subject. I will make a miniseries of posts about it covering both my opinion and how to deal with it in Rift. In the long run you will notice that I’m both for and against Twinking and it can vary a lot from game to game. But first let’s have a look at the definition.

What is twinking?

The term “twink” has a loose definition. It is used for everything from heavily overgeared characters that has massive amount of HP and can 1-2 shot everyone else to a bad excuse when getting outplayed by someone who happens to be higher lvl or better geared. The term itself is covering 2 different things, and that’s where we got the problem. Let’s not forget that gearing is a vital part of MMOs like Rift, WOW and SWTOR so in most scenarios one side will always have that as advantage unless the game itself has mechanics to balance it out.

The original, and correct, use of the term is the definition of someone who through exceptional gear and use of buffs/pots/whatever is able to take out an average player without having to put much effort in the fight itself. A twink often uses his huge gear advantage to decide the outcome of the fight against a non twink even before it starts and even the most skilled person wouldn’t be able to overcome the gear difference. Likewise will fights between twinks often be a gearcheck. But remember just because a fight seems to be one-sided against you it doesn’t automatically mean that you are fighting a twink.

But since it’s human nature to blame something else than yourself when stuff goes wrong it’s often twinking that gets blamed when people are getting defeated in the low lvl brackets. In PVP gaming it’s often hacks, cheats and cheap tactics which gets blamed and in MMOs it is often premades, OP classes and twinks. The first step towards learning is to admit your flaws (now I sound like Ghandi) but often it’s often the short-tempered and less than average skilled players who refuse to blame themselves. Everything got a reason, right? So if people at low lvl get outplayed (or simply just facing someone with better gear/higher lvl) they often blame twinking.

Spotting the line between these 2 things is very hard which makes it difficult to discuss this topic.

Well-geared vs. twink

Since gear often is a big factor in MMO pvp there will always be people who put effort in gearing so they have an advantage in pvp fights. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a part of the gameplay. However it is when this gets pushed out to the extremes thus becoming twinking it starts getting unfair. The word unfair might not be the best term to use, but you get the point. Though before twinking is even possible there must be a mechanic to block the twink from leveling up and entering the next bracket. And it is often this mechanic which people who are against twinking want to remove. In early wow it was the fact that BGs didn’t give XP but in most MMOs it’s now the XP lock that allows people to twink.

However twinks aren’t the only people who benefits from this. I know there are lots of people, including myself, who during their lvling process likes to temporary lock their XP, while being in the top of the bracket, to do some pvp. And to be honest it’s a great way to prepare for the max lvl pvp which is ruthless for freshly dinged characters. It gives people a chance to learn their class and save up some PVP currencies for a set of starter gear. It’s what I am doing in Rift and I don’t want that option to be taken away from me.

But when the average player meets these people in a BG and get their ass kicked they, as mentioned before, starts blaming twinking. Even though the fight mostly is unfair there’s nothing wrong with that. The person who has locked his XP has already put more effort in both gearing and learning his class. However the other player still has a chance to react and outplay the person, as well as gearing up without going to the extremes which twinks do. Just putting a little more effort in gearing will often make a noticeable difference.

The people who are having problems with this is either new players, which I do feel sorry for, or players who just rush to max lvl, which is they own freaking problem. It is the game designers’ responsibility to give new players ways to get into pvp without constantly being defeated and to be honest I haven’t really seen any company putting enough work into that, which is a shame. Please Trion, I know you have the potential for this. Many of the WOW-like MMOs often have max lvl as a focus, while leaving the lvling part as a minor part of the gameplay, which means people are likely to rush through the low lvl content, especially with alts. So when these people suddenly enter the pvp environment and meet those who put more effort in their gear they get their butt kicked. And the whining starts. However I don’t feel sorry for them at all. There are often many opportunities to get better gear, without being boosted by a higher lvl char, so use them.

Getting to the extremes

I was against twinking in WOW. Dunno how the state of twinking is now so I wouldn’t comment on that. However twinks were able to reach extremes making the low lvl brackets totally unplayable by other people. However before reaching these extremes there were a lot of effort put into it, and is wasn’t possible without the use of a high lvl character. First of all it included numerous boosts through instances to gain the best gear possible. However before the days of XP lock they had to start very early compared to the dungeons min lvl to ensure a high amount of runs before getting too close to lvling to the next bracket. So in order to make a twink you had to plan it from the start. Then there were the crafted engineering items that had a profession skill requirement while having a very low lvl requirement making it possible to get gear items that were meant for much higher lvls.

Expensive max lvl enchantments, the same used by lvl 60 raiders, were also a vital part of twinking. For the lvl 19 bracket the high lvl enchantments offered an enormous and hugely overpowered boost to stats. These enchantments were a big multiplier of both dps and survivability and the procs from weapon enchantments often were the biggest part of the dmg output. These high lvl enchantments even allowed lvl 1 twinks to beat lvl 5 players and defeat lvl 14 mobs.


While these “exploits” are getting fixed in many games the term twinking is still being used. It’s less extreme but there are people who still hate it as much.  In Rift it’s not possible to reach those lvls of twinking which is why I am for “twinking” in Rift. There had been some faction runes (enchants) that could be used for low lvl gear, but it has been fixed. In newer games these loopholes have been fixed and game developers are working on making low lvl pvp fairer. But please don’t take away the option to lock XP in a game like Rift. Go after the real problems, the mechanics that allows people to reach the extremes, but never take away peoples option to put effort in low lvl pvp. 

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