*Opens the bible of MMOS.* Quote from the book of Jealousy and Anger, chapter 37, section 13:
“The keyboards of Jealousy and Anger’s followers were sent asunder as a divine hand came smashing down in anger. The hallowed and sacred word ‘Twink’ followed a string of holy expletives uttered in praise from the lips of their followers as their cult was smote by the unholy and pixilated avatar.”
One of the constant draws of AO is the system it uses. Unlike most traditional MMOs, AO uses a skill distribution based on numbers. This system is based of the use of IP (improvement points) of which you get a certain amount depending on your title level (TL) – which is dependant on your level range. As you go deeper and deeper into the title level during the early levels (1-175’ish), you need to find a way to budget your IP until you cap your skills for that TL. Early on, IP is very tight. Skills also have color designations which dictate how much IP is needed to raise a skill one point, as well as how high or low the skill will cap. Skill colors, as should be guessed, are based on class and breed. The system was designed so that every class could basically do whatever they wanted to. Want a Nano-technician (NT) with a 2-handed sword? Why not! The only catch is that it’ll be hard to get the item on – harder than, say, a class like Enforcer (Warrior/Generic tank) or Keeper (Paladin) who have a light blue/light green 2he (2-handed edge) skill and buffs to augment that. But, hey, you can put that 2-handed sword on that NT if you still want!
As your toon nears the end of a TL, the skills start to hit a level cap – you can’t raise them anymore. Dark blue colored attributes – the ones that are the hardest to raise and cap lower than light blue (easier to raise than dark blue) and light green colored skills (light green are the easiest to raise and highest caps) – usually hit breed caps around 150, from there full breed caps kick in by 175. At this same time, your main skills begin hitting caps so you suddenly have a stockpile of IP to waste that wasn’t there before. Items suddenly take huge leaps in the amount of skills that are required as people have access to higher level buffs, twinking items, and higher base skills. *Wheezes* Must… breathe… too much… rambling….
This is a basic description of how the system works. I’m missing out on things like perks and Alien perks which throw the whole game out of whack by poor balancing in a lot of instances.
However, this system is what I live for in AO. AO comes down to a game of numbers. If you want to get a weapon on, it’s not about the level you have, it’s about whether or not you have the needed skills raised – no arbitrarily assigned weapon skills and restrictions for classes in this game! As one could guess, a system that revolves around numbers like this is based around buffs. Here is where my enjoyment of this game really stems from:
Twinking in AO isn’t quite the same as it is in other games. Sure, it is the idea of getting better-than-average items and spells for that level/level range; but most other games do not take the work or effort that AO does. Getting the items and a base level range is just the beginning (base level range needed simply to ensure that one has high enough skill to think about twinking on bigger items.) So even before you have the item you’re looking to twink on, you have to do calculations and add up numbers from various places to ensure that you can get this item one; start with the base, unbuffed skill; add in nanos that buff the skills in question; then add in nanos that buff attributes in order to add trickle down to the skills in question; add in items that modify the skill (HUD items, weapons, armor, belts, NCU chips, implants/symbiants); add in perks as needed; and then figure out the proper dance needed to equip the item (don’t forget to have your semi-colons handy!) and then maybe… just maybe your item will go on.
Yes, I said maybe. I do twinking like this all the time. I don’t do PVP twinks, or lowbie item farming twinks, or twinks based around a certain level range for lower level dungeons. I twink the character I am leveling simply to say I was able to do this or that because I can. I have stopped leveling my main character for times in excess of one month simply because I was going to twink. And, yes, all I really had to do was get a couple days of leveling in and I would’ve been able to equip any item a lot easier. But that’s not nearly as fun. The point of twinking to me becomes the principle of the matter. Nothing gives me more satisfaction in AO than equipping something really early that takes a lot of work and time to accomplish. Most people ask me why the hell I bother. They inform me, a player of AO for going on three years in August, that all I had to do was level and it would’ve been so much easier! I just say “Because I can.”
Now I’m not going to say that I am the greatest person when it comes to twinking. All I do is simply something that is easily done if you put in the finances and time to get easy-to-obtain items (either financially or camping). I’m not doing this based around gear from the Pandemonium raid zone in the Shadowlands; I do not have access to Notum towers or tower contracts. All I have is money, lots of time, and little to no patience.
But let’s go back to maybe getting the item on. I am notorious for screwing up my twinking. My first guild leader, for instance, would get ready to give me every buff in the game when I started the twink. He knew I was going to forget something, be short in something; I might’ve miscalculated, so his alt army was always at the ready for me. But that is the way of AO. I would roll the twink dice and always get the “You’re an idiot, stupid!!” roll. And it’s not just me. In guild chat you’ll get people talking about twinking, starting it, and then some expletive is said as they are short by some points in the skills required, and this is completely regardless of whatever their calculations said at times….
Remember that month-long twink I talked about earlier? Well, yeah, I ended up being short in something – the brawl skill I think it was. I was not happy. However, I quickly looked back at what was needed and was able to switch implants around to get it. It was fantastic. And, I was shocked.
Twinking like that is just a blast. It’s not just about getting a level. Its buffs, knowing the system and game. It is a display of knowledge and information. I love it. As long as there is the challenge to twink, no matter how much I do it, I will have some attachment to this game. It’s not as simple as most games, you need to think and be creative.
After writing this lengthy post, something comes to mind: Twinking is generally a community effort. Mention that you are going to twink something, make a twink, whatever, and you’ll have people rattling off items to help, offering buffs, and other forms of assistance. It’s great to see people coming together to help one another even in the mundane aspects of this game. The previous sentence, I might add, not so subtly leads me into my next post that I’ll have ready in a few days – maybe after I get back from my week-long trip coming up on Sunday.
(Oh! And I want to know what draws you to your game. In the end, that was kind of the long-winded, deeply buried point of this post. =P)