28 January 2018

What Is Theorycrafting?

So I've done over 50 posts, not all are about theorycrafting but most of them. Not everyone knows what theorycrafting is so I'll devote this post to explaining what theorycrafting is.

What Is Theorycrafting

Let's start off with a TL;DR (too long; didn't read) definition of theorycrafting.
Theorycrafting describes the act of mathematical analysis of video games to achieve an advantage. 
 This describes theorycrafting very well so let's go into detail by explaining parts of this definition more.

MATHEMATICAL ANALYSIS We're literally talking about calculation here. Whether it's physics, some formula we want to know or income, prices, and gain, in the end, we will use math to understand the game world like we use math to understand the real life. A lot of useful systems we use today, like a lighter or a crank, has been established by either trial and error or mathematical analysis (physic) of the real world. We're doing the same in games though more limited due to the rules that are set. Some examples of what you would do are, working with stochastic to determine chances, analysis to look at changes in formulas and calculating formulas as well as being able to plot these. Simple math in between to calculate values, physics to determine the fastest way to move, whether or not falling is faster than by foot and more. Technically theorycrafting is science applied to games to gain an advantage in the games.

ACHIEVE AN ADVANTAGE  The goal of theorycrafting is to gain an advantage. Not all of my theorycrafting does this but the definition says this. So what is an advantage? It really depends. Usually, the goal is to reach the end of the game or achievements or beat the game in a certain time. In the first case, any calculation that lets us skip content or get to the end game faster would be considered theorycrafting. The second case is much broader, achievements make players face challenges or spend a lot of time. Depending on which achievement it is the goal would be to find a strategy to skip hard parts, make them easier or work on them most efficiently. This may or may not include alternatives to gain in-game currency most efficiently. The last case matches with the first. Here we want to find the fastest way to move, skip most or all content.

Classic Theorycrafting Example

Yes, I know my blog has lots of examples but let's go into typical examples. The most typical example and the most common example to represent theorycrafting is the calculation of damage. Any RPG or MMORPG, sometimes even other game genres, has a system with stats and damage you deal with. The goal of theorycrafting here often is min-maxing. Min-maxing describes the act of getting out every single last damage increase possible for you to be able to push your or your groups to damage further up. Often different stats are compared, how they affect each other and how much they're worth it in comparison to determine in the end which is the best option or distribution. This may also take cooldowns of skills and cast time into consideration. (Cooldown describes the time that is required to wait until you can use the skill again and cast time is the time you have to wait or work on a skill for it to affect the target or target area)

Labeled Theorycrafting; Isn't Theorycrafting

Technically speaking some of my blog posts labeled as theorycrafting aren't theorycrafting. The deciding factor here is "achieving an advantage". Not all my posts tell about tips, tricks or fancy things you can do that may come in handy or bring in advantage here and there. Some are analysis just out of curiosity. The mathematical analysis of games doesn't really have a name. If you know the Youtube channel GameTheory it's the same story there. Game theory is a science of game concepts, the Youtube channel even though borrowing the name does theories, trying to explain things in games and every now and then applying game world logic to real life. technically speaking GameTheory has nothing to do with game theory but with theories about games. My theorycrafting is no theorycrafting but the usage of theorycrafting to describe my act of mathematical analysis of games... and doing theorycrafting. It's hard to explain but actually, it's not quite what it is labeled or named as.

In the end, the content will look similar it's gonna be math or physic applied to video games to gain information. If it's about gaining an advantage, just for fun, proving the information is right, trying to get to the bottom of something or out of curiosity, the procedure is the same as the application or conclusion differs.

And maybe just maybe some person may use my blog as a glossary of game analysis or to pick up on something they didn't understand in school/college or pick up something as a teacher to implement when teaching younger generations  (I'm a huge fan of gamification ;) ) or learn how to theorycraft themselves.


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I'm a junior game developer and software developer and I created this blog to share my ideas, thoughts and whatever I'm working on or doing.