Twinking: You Didn't Earn That Armor!
When I first decided I wanted to write an editorial on twinking (loosely defined as providing a character with equipment they would not normally be able to achieve at their level), I thought I knew exactly what to say. I planned on ranting from the vast depths of my experience with one single EQ character. But then...
When I first decided I wanted to write an editorial on twinking (loosely defined as providing a character with equipment they would not normally be able to achieve at their level), I thought I knew exactly what to say. I planned on ranting from the vast depths of my experience with one single EQ character. I felt compelled to protest what I considered to be the inherent unfairness of twinking. As a level 29 warrior clad in scraps of plate mail, I vowed to rail against level threes who swaggered around the newbie areas of town wearing full crafted armour. I had my sermon all organized and ready to go.
Then I created a secondary character for myself. I didn't plan on actually playing the character ï¿½ I just needed to buy gems for a pair of crafted gauntlets, and since the charisma of my battered warrior was roughly on par with that of a rock, I decided to just create a half-elf bard in Qeynos. I put all his points into charisma, equipped him with a Split Paw tooth necklace, and a few minutes later, Tyriol the overly charismatic bard was born.
I meant to just buy the gems, then return to my warrior. Really, I did. But somehow, I found myself wandering over to the Qeynos gate, and I looked out into a vast world in which even the lowliest beetle could kill me. I couldn't resist the challenge...I started fighting, armed with a pathetic nodrop short sword instead of my warrior's Langseax of the Wolves, wearing a single cloth tunic instead of my old outfit of plate mail and magical items. But even though what I was doing was menial, tedious work by anyone else's standards, after weeks of camping high level gnolls for tiny increases in experience, it was an incredible rush to slay a gnoll pup and watch my experience bar leap up by several blue bubbles.
Eventually, I switched back to my warrior, and went back to camping gnolls again. A few days later, I was passing through Qeynos Hills, and I thought to myself, "Hmm...while I'm here, I should grab some sheet metal and molds, and make Tyriol some banded armour. It wouldn't really be twinking ï¿½ he's my alternate character, my main is a smith, it just makes sense." So, I picked up some materials ï¿½ I didn't have room for much metal anyway, since this was in the days before stacking sheets ï¿½ and I forged a few pieces of banded armour for Tyriol. A mail shirt, some leggings, sleeves and bracers. Nothing fancy, nothing terribly expensive, but at the same time, I knew it was more than any normal level 2 bard could afford.
Playing Tyriol soon became even more fun. I got my warrior to make him a tailor-made whip, and he was soon slashing his way through everything in the newbie area. I still played my warrior, but I noticed myself setting small items aside to give to Tyriol, instead of selling them. A pair of +3 dexterity gloves one day, a Burynai Digmaster's claw the next...I gave him money to buy his songs and instruments, and one day while plodding my warrior through Greater Faydark, I actually found myself watching the auction channel for things to buy Tyriol (then level 4). Even worse, I bought him something: a Blade of Passage, a fairly basic magical sword. My warrior was 7 before she got her first piece of ringmail, and her first magic weapon was a gnoll hide lariat at level 10. I finally had to admit it to myself: Tyriol was twinked. He had equipment no player his level would be able to obtain through normal means. He was able to solo even cons with no difficulty. He was a twink.
The knowledge didn't bother me at first. Then a few days later, someone one level above Tyriol looked at his equipment while I was resting at the tollbooth in West Commonlands, and sneered, "Oh, you're a twink."
I found myself saying exactly the same things other people used to say to me when I complained about their twinking: I worked for all of the equipment, I had spent untold hours on my other character to be able to afford a decent weapon for Tyriol, I had forged his armour myself. They gave the same response I used to give: maybe one of your other characters worked for it, but the character you're using now didn't. But now that I have an alt, I realize something the anti-twinkers do not ï¿½ work done by another character is no less worthy than work done by the character for whom the final product is intended. I used to get furious whenever I saw a level 3 warrior in full crafted armour. Actually, I still get furious whenever I see a level 3 in full crafted...but now, my anger is closer to jealousy than real rage. If I could afford such armour, I'd twink my characters with it too.
The main arguments against twinking ï¿½ it spoils the fun of the game, it's not fair, etc ï¿½ can be rebutted with a single obvious statement: no two people play EverQuest the same. Some people might enjoy slogging through the early levels, dying repeatedly at the hands of goblin whelps; others might prefer getting to the middle or high levels quickly and safely, so they can play with their friends.
Everything I've said, however, only applies to the traditional type of twinking ï¿½ using one character to get equipment for another. Other types exist, most notably what the inhabitants of Norrath refer to as "eBaying" ï¿½ purchasing characters and items online. Plenty of horror stories exist about high level players who seem utterly clueless about the basic mechanics of the game: warriors who don't know how to taunt, druids who run around begging for "SOW, PLZ!", and necromancers who spam zones with shouts of "HOW DO I GET A PET??" eBaying is becoming less common in EverQuest, thanks to Verant's strict policies on the selling of accounts, but it's still a major problem in games such as Asheron's Call and Diablo II.
Some would argue that if one type of twinking is acceptable, all types should be...but to my mind, at least, there is a fairly major difference between giving extra equipment to an alt, and buying a fully-furnished level 60 druid on eBay. Purchasing characters and equipment is difficult for me to understand: who has the time or the desire to play a character for hours, investing huge amounts of time in it, only to sell it for a hundred or two hundred dollars? $200 for a bare minimum of 100 hours of work doesn't work out to a very good hourly rate...in fact, the last time I checked, babysitting paid considerably more than that. And who has enough money to spend such an incredible amount on what is, at its most basic level, a computer game?
One of the traditional great things about gaming is the level playing field. When you're playing a game, it doesn't matter how old you are, what colour your skin is, or how much money you have...the people who do well at the game are the people who have spent time working on their skills. They might be 14 year old boys with nothing to do, they might be 38 year old women with jobs and families... either way, they've chosen to play the game long enough to become really good at it, and they tend to be respected for that.
eBaying changes all that. It completely eliminates the need for patience, time, and skill. Anybody with no conscience and plenty of money can get as many high-level characters as they want, and the only cost to them is financial. It brings the real world into gaming.
Twinking of any sort is ultimately a matter of personal choice and private morals. Some people view all types of twinking as abhorrent; some people consider all types to be valid. I certainly used to belong to the former group...but damnit, there's just something about a green-eyed half-elf bard that I can't resist. My name is Tyriol Toccatino, and I'm a twink. But to my mind, at least, there's nothing really wrong with that. I may not have earned my armour, but at least I look damned good in it.