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Author Topic: Sode #9- Min/Maxing  (Read 11787 times)
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Meg
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« on: March 31, 2008, 08:39:52 AM »

The gameologists are all self-proclaimed min/maxers.  We define what Min/Maxing is, but more importantly, what it isn't.  Thoughts?  Comments?  Do you agree?
« Last Edit: June 23, 2008, 08:47:56 AM by Meg » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2008, 04:00:41 PM »

Of course I don't agree. That goes without saying. But I found a lot of common ground in the middle where you had inadvertently stumbled into the truth.

I hate spellers, too!  Mostly because they use spelling as a way to close down discussion.  A mechanically sophisticated fighter character plays just as much of a role in the party as does the bard-diplomat.  Making sound tactical choices is just as important a role as searching for information.  There just happen to be more rules (more game mechanics) that deal with playing that role.

In a way, this point returns to something you mentioned before regarding D&D.  A large portion of its mechanics deal with combat and movement.  R-o-l-e players (people who make these distinctions) usually aren’t good at integrating lots of rules, and prefer to operate in a game environment where the rules don’t constrain them.  They naturally assume that their preferred style of gaming, - free form, improvisational – is superior to the more mechanic rich style of play.
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2008, 04:13:59 PM »

There is still a problem with the pop-up player.  It's not loading for me...

Was it something I said? Sad
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Meg
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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2008, 04:31:26 PM »

For me too- I was hoping it was just me though.  I'll look into it. 
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2008, 07:05:26 AM »

I always thought Min/Maxing was Minimizing penalties and Maximizing bonuses.

Aww, geeze.. by your strict definition, I'm a very bad GM/cheater. Sad

I always thought my players had fun, too.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2008, 07:22:47 AM by Peaboo » Logged
Josh
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« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2008, 12:50:42 AM »

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I hate spellers, too!  Mostly because they use spelling as a way to close down discussion.
Bingo. 

There is a wide category of people who think they are arguing and are instead just talking.

Quote
Of course I don't agree. That goes without saying. But I found a lot of common ground in the middle where you had inadvertently stumbled into the truth.
What don't you agree with? 

In retrospect there was too much data dumped.  If I were going to re-write it I would split the episode in half.  So lack of clarity is the biggest problem with the episode.
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« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2008, 01:14:26 AM »

I always thought Min/Maxing was Minimizing penalties and Maximizing bonuses.

Aww, geeze.. by your strict definition, I'm a very bad GM/cheater. Sad

I always thought my players had fun, too.

What did we say?  Because we said basically the same thing you just did.  My approach is to widen the subject more than most people do, so when you say we were strict we may have said something that can be misconstrued.
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Weathertop
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« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2008, 04:57:46 PM »

Two issues occurred to me as I was listening to the podcast on min-maxing that caused me a little trouble.  Here's the first one.

What is Min-Maxing?

First of all, I’d like to commend you in your efforts to rehabilitate the phrase “Min-Max”.  But to borrow a quote, I don’t think this word means what you think it means.  Yes, we have a disagreement over Semantics.

Min-maxing is more than just making good choices when you are building a character. It means making choices for a character based on optimizing power or effectiveness in terms of game mechanics, without consideration for narrative elements such as plot or setting.  Min-maxing is emphasizing mechanic-driven gaming at the expense of narrative elements. 

In your discussion, you seemed to try to shift the definition of min-maxing toward maximizing the enjoyment the player gets out of playing a character, and equating that to maximizing the advantages you are able to derive from exploiting the system. This seems to be a pretty bald assertion, contrary to customary usage. 

But more than that, the new definition renders the term meaningless.  When is anyone not min-maxing?  “When you play a boring character that you don’t like and select weaknesses that you hate.” - which isn't very often. So if I don’t do that, I must be Min-Maxing?  You are in danger of leading me into to the fallacy of generalization:    If A is B then all B is A. Since my behavior, A (min-maxing), is a subset of widespread behavior B  (Making characters that I like), then all fun characters (B) are min-maxed (A). 

Here's the trap you've laid for me: Everybody makes choices about their character that make them fun to play, so when I torture the rulebook to the point that it is broken beyond repair and screams for mercy, I’m just doing what everybody is doing – I’m simply better at it than other people.

Now, I don't assume that min-maxing is always a bad thing. I do think that we need to correctly identify the choice being made: When you make the effectiveness of your character (in terms of game mechanics) more important that any narrative element in the game you are min-maxing. 

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Josh
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« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2008, 08:08:30 PM »

Firstly, you are right about the multitude of meanings for min/max.  As Zeke opens practically every discussion of semantics “there are as many definitions of min/maxing as there are stars in the sky.” 

Quote
Min-maxing is more than just making good choices when you are building a character. It means making choices for a character based on optimizing power or effectiveness in terms of game mechanics, without consideration for narrative elements such as plot or setting.  Min-maxing is emphasizing mechanic-driven gaming at the expense of narrative elements.

Given that the Camping analogy is true, there is the need for two words here.  In one you take advantage of the system.  In the other you take advantage of the system and neglect the Game at Hand.   So we have min/max(a) and min/max(b).  Where min/max(a)==min/max(b)-actively neglecting the game at hand. 

Everyone still does and should min/max(a).  It makes it easier to say, so thats why we say it the way we do. 

If I was debating the point with you, I would have no problem using your definition.  I would then go on to say that “actively neglecting the game at hand is bad.”  We would be in agreement, I think.

Also it is important to point out that you don't have to be min/maxing to ignore the game at hand.  I have seen people who both ignored the game and min/maxed poorly. 

Quote
You are in danger of leading me into to the fallacy of generalization:    If A is B then all B is A. Since my behavior, A (min-maxing), is a subset of widespread behavior B  (Making characters that I like), then all fun characters (B) are min-maxed (A). 

It is not a fallacy because it is independently true.  Making the character good at doing the things that you want them to do is min/maxing.  But it is not a syllogism that defines the situation.


This comes down to the old po-tah-to vs po-tha-to argument.  Logically either choice would be fine, kind of like assigning the + to protons and the – to electrons.  At the time the choice was made the math was simplified to go the way they did.    With me it is easier to say “min/maxing” rather than “min/maxing but without making the choice to neglect the game and setting.”

Quote
Here's the trap you've laid for me: Everybody makes choices about their character that make them fun to play, so when I torture the rulebook to the point that it is broken beyond repair and screams for mercy, I’m just doing what everybody is doing – I’m simply better at it than other people.
Come back here to this discussion in a couple of weeks, we have a podcast coming up that addresses this point.  I'll give you a tease; While you and I don't like broken rules, we are not everyone. 

« Last Edit: April 05, 2008, 03:40:47 AM by Josh » Logged

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Meg
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« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2008, 04:25:06 PM »

For me too- I was hoping it was just me though.  I'll look into it. 

The popups should work now. 
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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2008, 10:59:06 PM »

I often get accused of being a Min/Maxer, but I also come from a War Gaming Background.  With that I tend to view character design, particularly in system with a strong tactical character design system (such as D&D 3.5, Gurps, Heroes system), in the same way I come to the design of ships/forces/what ever in a war game.  In otherwords finding the best combinations of abilities, that fits with my character concept.

I do have one question, I have been trying to download the episode, but the internet says it is not there.

Ben
« Last Edit: May 01, 2008, 10:29:34 PM by benbalestra » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2008, 12:06:47 AM »

I do have one question, I have been trying to download the episode, but the internet says it is not there.

Ben

It should be fixed now.  Occasionally wordpress does that and I have no idea why. 
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« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2008, 01:40:39 AM »

I think the term Min/Maxing doesn't quite fit you guys. (Or your definition doesn't fit.) I think you guys are optimizers.

Min/Maxing back in the day was re-rolling your stats until you get a "decent" character. And by decent I mean at least one or two 18's and a couple of 17's and no score lower than 14.

I remember clicking the re-roll button on a few computer games until I got the best scores for the characters I was playing.
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« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2008, 03:25:16 AM »

Quote
I think the term Min/Maxing doesn't quite fit you guys. (Or your definition doesn't fit.) I think you guys are optimizers.

Optimizer Means, by definition, min/maxing.  The word was invented to placate douchebags.  (History lesson: the name change was actually my fault.  I had the audacity to accuse people who were into in depth character development of competence.  Seriously.  Some medically unstable yahoo, who I imagine is either now institutionalized or dead, flipped out.  Insisted that they were indeed completely incompetent.  Seemingly strange response, but the truth is that Min/Maxing was so reviled back then that people would do anything to get away from it.  We have come a long way.)

With the death of the WotC CO forum, the word should die as well.  People should not have to change their name because other people hate them. 

It is also worth noting that this precise definition we use now has been around almost as long as the original WotC Min/Max Board.   
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« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2008, 06:27:46 AM »


Re-rolling stats is not min/maxing. It's cheating. That said I did do it back in the day (I was 12). That's why I am a firm proponent of non random methods of determining stats.
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Meg
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« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2008, 10:42:44 AM »

I have to agree with my colleagues.   We define min/maxing in our episode and it definitely it not rerolling stats to get only 18s.  That is flat out cheating and powergaming which is absolutely not min/maxing, and to suggest so gets the hair on every min/maxer's neck to stand up.

It's not a coincidence that min/maxers are proponents of point buy in D&D.  That way you eliminate the randomness of sucky rolls and the overpowered high rolls.  Everyone has a level playing field, and that's the point of min/maxing.

Also- the WotC Character Optimization board was a name change meant to show that Min/Maxing and Development were just 2 sides to the same coin which is character creation.  That term though was invented for those boards- min/maxing is the universally known term, but they are the same thing.
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« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2008, 09:05:47 AM »

Quote
I think the term Min/Maxing doesn't quite fit you guys. (Or your definition doesn't fit.) I think you guys are optimizers.

It is also worth noting that this precise definition we use now has been around almost as long as the original WotC Min/Max Board.   

I guess that would be important if you were born after 1992. 

Quote
...but the truth is that Min/Maxing was so reviled back then that people would do anything to get away from it.

Yes, Min-max has always been a derogatory term associated with players who were willing to sacrifice story elements in favor of self-serving power goals.  Again, I commend your efforts to rework the brand, but it's going to be a tough sell.

If you and the Kool-aid drinkers choose a name that already has such obvious negative connotations, that's fine.  Just quit crying about it. Wink


Edit:  And.... I can't spell derogatory.  sorry it was buggin me
« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 09:23:07 AM by Weathertop » Logged
Meg
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« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2008, 09:11:47 AM »

Oo Snap! 

The negative connotation is our point-- it shouldn't have it.  It's unwarranted, inaccurate, and ignorant. 

Also, I think there are more kool-aid drinkers than most would think.  We're a minority, sure, but not an overwhelming one.
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« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2008, 08:28:02 AM »

Hey now, there's nothing wrong with Kool-aid. I drink it all the time, (I know I'm going to get smarmy comments for that.) to cut back on the amount of soda I drink.

I think some of the negative connotation comes from the illusion or fact that Min/Maxing is trying to get the best perfect character. No character is perfect, but that drive to only play "the best" might be seen as problematic.

The only time someone who "min/maxes" will take a "penalty" is if there are some "bonus" points somewhere to make the character more exceptional. There's the ever popular "I want to play a blind character, but still able to fight perfectly and have no other problems" character as an example.

I made a stack of characters for the players to choose from, so rather than being boxed into "traditional" roles, I got a bit creative, hoping the players would take the character ideas I presented as a base, and build them up from there. I varied some of the selections because I thought the players would enjoy something other than standard Elf ranger, dwarven fighter, human wizard syndrome.

Looking through the stack, the half orc wizard character sheet was summarily tossed aside because he had penalties. Penalties!

Never mind the DM had planned on placing treasure later on that would boost his intelligence and remove and/or negate said penalties. Or the idea that a half orc could become a very powerful wizard. Or perhaps he is someone who wants to become a wizard, but it's always a struggle for him. The story potential, the role playing opportunities, the quests to improve the character all just tossed aside because it didn't fit the mold. The character wasn't perfect, and didn't have the potential to be perfect the moment a player put his /her name on the sheet. It could have, and would have been fun to explore that character, but no.

He had penalties.

 Wink
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« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2008, 04:14:17 PM »

Quote
Looking through the stack, the half orc wizard character sheet was summarily tossed aside because he had penalties. Penalties!
First off the orc wizard was cast aside because he was incompetent.  You can drive a truck between “he has minor penalties” and “incompetent.”  A fighter with a str penalty can be playable, a wizard with an int penalty is crippled. In an action adventure game do you want to be Indiana Jones or random Nazi 7? 

The two big complaints about people who admit they min/max is a)they never take penalties and b)they take obnoxiously crippling penalties.  So the same page needs to be approached. 

Should you take a penalty for nothing? No.  Why would you?  It does not create a more interesting character, it is not more fun and indeed it can be a painful waste of time.  Again it comes down to the fact that DnD is an AA game.  You clear dungeons and Fight monsters.  Things that get in the way of that are bad, things that help that are good. 

In DnD everything that is not AA is just an excuse for AA.  Going to a game like Burning Wheel, it is not about AA and the game rewards you for taking penalties.  Should you take a penalty for nothing, no.  But no good game on the market asks you to. 
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