Due to the Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness
, the most dirt-common item in the late game would be a Disc One Nuke
if you could just get a hold of it before the endgame
. Alternatively, what if you could bring your whole endgame character "back in time" to effortlessly kill early-game mooks
— or better yet, midgame mooks
who would be far beyond your Level 1 character's ability to kill— while your low-level character sits back and soaks up the Leaked Experience
Well, some games let you do just that, either explicitly or implicitly by letting you use "mules" (dummy characters that ferry items back and forth in multiplayer) or other workarounds.
This tactic tends to be controversial
; some see it
as a cheat or an exploit
, others as a valid part of the Metagame
. And of course different games handle it differently. Some discourage it by throttling Leaked Experience
and using strict Level-Locked Loot
. Others encourage some amount of it by giving players a shared item stash
accessible by all characters or allowing small bonuses earned by high-level characters to apply to low-level characters on the same account. Still others do both at once.
As a slang-y neologism, the grammar surrounding the use of the term is rather fluid. As a noun, a "twink" usually refers to a player that makes a habit of this, but it can also refer to an in-game character that has benefited from it. The verb "to twink" refers to the practice itself, and players sometimes refer to "twinking out" or "twinking up" their characters. The term was popularized with the rise of MMORPGs in the early aughts
, but its use in pen-and-paper RPGs dates back as far
as the late seventies
/ early eighties
Some form of this tends to be possible in any game with both Randomly Generated Loot
and multiplayer that allows item trading, such as most MMOs. When designers don't make provisions for it but players find a way to do it anyway, it's Not the Intended Use
. When designers do
make provisions for it, it's typically in the form of Anti-Frustration Features
A favored tactic of The Munchkin
and to avert Early Game Hell
. Can easily be a Disc One Nuke
and/or a Game Breaker
. Compare Sequence Breaking
, Leaked Experience
, and Equipment-Based Progression
. Contrast Level-Locked Loot
and New Game+
. Not to be confused with The Twink
; the two words may share some etymology (see the article
on The Other Wiki
for details) but are otherwise unrelated.
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- Thanks to rampant item duping glitches, hacks, and exploits in Diablo, in the game's heyday you couldn't wander into a public online game without being offered a full set of the most powerful non-Level-Locked Loot available.
- Diablo II has more strictly Level-Locked Loot to prevent this from becoming too much of a Game Breaker, but many players still found it worthwhile to create mule characters to accomplish this.
- Diablo III deals with this in various ways:
- Players have a Bag of Sharing across all characters on the same account to obviate the need for mule characters.
- Blacksmith, Jeweler, and Mystic upgrades carry over between characters.
- As of version 2.0, Paragon points, bonuses unlocked after reaching the level Cap, apply between characters.
- Loot is level locked, with certain particularly-prized items being flagged "account bound" to allow them to be traded between characters but not players, to keep Twinking from being too much of a Game Breaker. However, the possibility of a "Reduced Level Requirements" attribute on gear means that characters can still equip gear orders of magnitude more powerful than what "should" be available at their level.
- The Auction House was flooded with powerful Reduced Level Requirement gear in the 1.X version of the game. By the time it started dropping, the character finding it no longer needed the reduced requirements, and the attribute took up a slot that could be filled with something useful, so there was no incentive not to sell.
- The 2.0 patch closed the Auction House and increased the quality of Random Drops to compensate.
- Whether any of the above was a good idea tends to be a giant Base Breaker.
- Borderlands 2 lampshades this when you gain access to your shared stash. Claptrap tries in vain to come up with a story-friendly explanation for where the items are coming from and going to before giving up and saying, "It's for twinking items between characters, okay?" The game also introduces Badass Ranks, small bonuses, usually unlocked by high-level characters, that apply to all characters on the same account.
- Downplayed in Team Fortress 2: certain weapons are unlocked via achievements, and as such are untradable to discourage giving them to unexperienced players who have yet to earn then. However, since every weapon is (in theory) equal in strength to each other, it's not much of a cheat. Not to mention that one could get an achievement item early via lucky random drops.
Hack and Slash
- In some Dynasty Warriors games, thanks to Leaked Experience and equipment acquisition, you can play a high difficulty mission in split-screen multiplayer mode and have the weaker player hang out somewhere safe while the stronger player finishes all the mission requirements to obtain weapons and horses for both of them.
- In Warriors Orochi, the game's "Experience pool"(gathered XP goes to a shared pool as if it were money, which you can then use to "buy" levels for characters) system and three-character Tag Team gameplay (you select three characters for a mission, but you can only use one at a time, you can "tag" the others a la a Fighting Game to play as them) allows you to select one strong character and two weak, then play a Harder Than Hard mission with only the strong one, and get strong weapons and lots of experience for all of them.
- In every Pokémon game since the second generation, the Exp. Share item serves this specific purpose, giving half of the experience points earned from a battle to either a weaker party member who holds it or the entire team, depending on the game, when ordinarily it would only go to those who actively participated in the battle.
- Some players attempt this by trading in a high level mon and using it to sweep the early gyms. However, the game discourages this by having an obedience mechanic: higher leveled mon that you didn't personally train to that level will often disobey you. Not until you get a certain number of badges will they respect your authority, and by then they will be on equal levels with the enemy mon.
- Final Fantasy X gives full XP to any character that takes part in a battle, even if they only swap in, defend once, and swap out again. It's not terribly common for a character to get significantly underleveled, but if it does happen, it's easy enough to twink them back up by using stronger characters to "carry" them through tough battles.
- Dragon Quest IX averts this a little too well by doling out proportionately less experience to lower level characters, regardless of battles fought. Classes with steeper experience curves will take that much longer to level up at later levels, as teammates who end up leveling up faster due to lower XP requirements siphon off even more XP from their lagging colleagues. The difference can be somewhat offset later on with Elevating Shoes, which give a 5% XP boost to anyone who wears them.
- Star Trek Online has three ways to do this, at least one of which is completely intentional on the part of the developers. You can use face-to-face trading or in-game email to transfer unbound items between characters or even between accounts, and you can buy account bank slots to transfer account-bound items to alts. The latter include everything from some types of currency to the Reputation tokens introduced in Season 8, which are explicitly meant to be created on one character and handed over to an alt (to speed the alt's progression in the Reputation system and alleviate the grind).
- In the "vanilla" times (i.e. the time before expansions) of World of Warcraft, a popular form of twinking was to stop leveling after you hit level 19 and get the most effective gear possible. This included farming dungeons for certain items, choosing the Engineering profession just so that you could get an item in the helm slot as early as in level 19, and getting high-level enchantments for your weapons (which back then didn't have any level limitations, so you could have level 60 enchantments in your level 19 weapons). Since most low-level players don't have money for stuff like enchantments (and they don't stay level 19 for long anyway), this made you an unstoppable killing machine in PVP.
- Blizzard later introduced an intentional version with Heirlooms, gear that can only be purchased with currencies earned at max level. Heirlooms are account-bound, so you can send them from character to character at will, they scale with level (until you hit 5 levels below max, i.e., current expansion content), they will always be as good as or better than the gear you could normally get at that level, and they also grant an XP gain bonus. Their entire purpose is to let low level alts of high level players tear through the content they've already beaten at least once, so they can get to the good stuff faster.
- In Mabinogi, since a single account can have multiple characters (three before you even need to spend money), most of a given player's characters will have gear that their earlier characters leveled up enough to craft or saved up to buy. However, this only takes you so far, since most of a character's combat power is intrinsic and the weapon functions more as a focus than a source.
- In Elsword the Level-Locked Loot system is in effect, but only with equipment, so you can trade everything else with all your characters. Newly-made accounts cannot send items or access the market for their first five days, but they can still receive items from everyone else.
- Dungeons & Dragons Online has minimum required levels on its equipment, but sometimes far too low. Particularly large offenders are:
- Crystal Cove trinkets (level 4), and customized hats (around level 9) have the potential to stay useful up to and beyond level 20. Also, one can buy cheap single-use gems (level 4) that summon a friendly Greater Air Elemental — a spell you will not normally see until level 15, at which point it loses its usefulness.
- Green Steel items, from a level 17 raid but wearable at level 11, are ridiculously powerful and often useful beyond level 20. When Green Steel is available, the power boost upon gaining level 11 is immense.
- When true reincarnating a character, all of the character's old items are placed into a Reincarnation Cache to be recovered and used at leisure. Before true reincarnating, some players deliberately collect a hoard of unique gear so it'll be in this cache. Even without all this, anyone with enough platinum can peruse the auction house and brokers, and buy exceptional randomly-generated items long before they'd have a realistic chance to loot it themselves.
- Tower attacks where a stack of characters attack an enemy For Massive Damage. This mechanic makes it possible for high-level units to help lower-level units catch up as all the units in the tower get full experience.
- There are also the Magichange (in every game but Disgaea D2) and Mounting (replaces Magichange in Disgaea D2) mechanics, which allow a monster unit to become a weapon or a mount respectfully for a humanoid unit. Both units get full experience. Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten adds Fusion and Dual Wielding Magichanged monsters, allowing players to twink 4 monster units at once.
- Weapons and other equipment are not Level-Locked Loot, so one can give a new unit an Infinity+1 Sword (and there are many ways to get many of those) and equally powerful armor and watch them blaze through the levels.
- These tactics are all necessary as the games allow you to reincarnate your units for better stats, but the reincarnated units Restart at Level One so they can't handle enemies that they would have usually Curb Stomped beforehand without obscenely good equipment or help from other units.
- Every species that rears its young is engaging in a form of this. Your parents were probably feeding you items and experience for at least the first ten or twenty levels.