Theorycrafting and min-maxing is an important part of the fun of WoW to me. I’ve always been a maths geek [among other flavours of geekdom] and calculating stats and converting them into theoretical DPS and so on is something I enjoy immensely.
But there’s a line you can very easily cross if you’re not careful, where you stop seeing it something you’re aiming towards and start seeing the best possible actions as a preset path that must be followed, to the point where you restrict yourself to that path. I don’t understand how anyone can still have fun in this game when the only options they give themselves are “rigid conformity” and “failure to maximise”. You have only to browse past the first post of any EJ thread to see perfect examples of this thinking.
The official forums aren’t much better. The parts that I see pasted on the front page of MMO Champion are more than enough to depress me. We have people who set themselves up to play in the most restrictive way possible, then complain about the lack of choice and variety in the game. People who will exploit every possible advantage their class offers, but complain about the advantages that other classes have. I have to remind myself that these people are outliers and not representative of the player base as a whole [for one thing a lot of them can spell], they’re just the ones with the the highest ratio of spare time to relevant opinions.
And then I see Ghostcrawler, whom I have a good deal of respect for as a designer, actually take these complains to heart and respond to them, over and over, seemingly forced to design the game around the people who are trying their hardest not to enjoy it. I have to giggle every time I see him gently reminding people that, while their opinions are perfectly valid and not at all retarded, the game is being designed to allow as many people as possible to enjoy it as much as possible, and concentrating on increasing players’ fun per second is a more important design prerogative than increasing your damage per second.