Ok so I may have to add another category for Game / Gamer Terms so that posts like this one and the one on Power Creep don’t fade away completely.
SO I have used the term several times now and I am sure there are some people who may read this blog either here directly or via the ties to my FB page that have no idea what the term is. Thats ok, I am here to help.
Min Maxing is when a player (or even a game designer but if this is designed into a game folks usually cringe) decides to focus a character so deeply on a single aspect of the characters abilities or a skill, that the character becomes the best there is at that single thing and becomes totally pathetic at something else. Or even everything else.
Example, in a fantasy setting game, someone wants their character to be the best swordsman ever. Ok so the first thing to look at is character stats (the numbers that reflect the characters mental, physical, social, spiritual, and even magical raw talent). If you want a swordsman you need to be strong enough to swing the sword, do good damage with it, and fast enough to swing it often. Any stats that help with that get pushed as high as you can, the rest, bleh, make em average, or if you can make them below average to push the ones you want even higher. Next comes the skills (the numbers that reflect the training and natural affinity the character has to tasks, combat, or other learn-able items). Again just like the stats, you want to put all your skills in things that help you be a better swordsman, and if you have points, skill slots, whatever left over after you have put as many as you can into swordy skills, then you do something else. If you still have room to improve though after your initial character creation, ohhhh no levels or points or anything else going into anything non swordy.
That is Min Maxing at its most basic. It makes really good one dimensional characters. Is that bad. In my mind not in games that have a need for it, or for players who are just getting started. It can give someone something specific that they really like to focus on. It can also though make a player completely insufferable when no one can beat them at something and the person running the game has to put something in that is sooooo unbalanced just to deal with that one player, that every other character gets hurt or killed in the game.
Personally I min max (notice the lack of caps there… to me it makes a difference). This is when you make a character really good at something but dont ignore everything else. Give them other good points so they are a little more well rounded, and useful in more than one situation in the game. It also gives the character a chance to grow in more than one way. Say you start out a character that is a really good swordsman, not the best by any means but really good none the less. Give them a smattering of skills that maybe a thief would use or a spell caster, or a holy man. This way if the character takes an interest in something else or another player brings out the interest by playing really well you have a way for the character to grow that goes past that one dimensional sword thing. (Hmmmm now I am thinking about making a one dimensional sword… I wonder how that would work in the … oh wait I need to stop think typing). Even if nothing else piques your interest as you play the character you can still spread the points/skills/levels around and allow yourself to come up with something that is really more unique and more you than you may have ever thought possible.
Or you just want a one dimensional sword.
In the end it is really up to each and every player, game master, and designer just what they want to put into a game. As usual I will simply say you need to make your own choice about what you want to play and run with it. But now at least you will know the term for what you are doing 🙂
Ok gimme the dice, I need to see if I have a character with the skills to forge a one dimensional sword.