On New Games and New Players

Hi.

(looks at date of last blog post and sighs heavily)

Well. It’s been quite some time, eh?

I’m sorry. Life is work and work is insane and that leaves exceptionally little time to do much beyond my (sometimes weekly) podcast, The Kurncast. (You should listen.)

That said, I have this week off from work, which is delightful. So I’m going to throw my hat in the ring and chime in about Overwatch. But not about how gorgeous the maps are (they are) or how awesome the animation is (it is) or even about balance or characters.

I want to talk about being a new player in a new game and learning to play and being an experienced player in a relatively new game. I want to talk about talent and practice, work and understanding.

Let’s be quite fair — this blog is resplendent with examples of my frustrations with other Warcraft players. But I’ve also done a fair amount of trying to help people play their holy paladins better, be better raiders, be better guild masters

So I understand the frustrations of some, particularly people in a game that has been around as long as World of Warcraft has been and if they’ve been playing that long.

But… I remember being a scrub, myself. My history is filled with dumb things. Of note:

  • did not tame enough pets as I levelled, thereby not teaching my old pet new abilities (Growl Rank 1, anyone?) Of course, this mechanic is long-gone.
  • often forgot to dismiss my pet, causing a pet pull. (Whoops.)
  • “tanked” a dungeon with a melee weapon as a hunter instead of using my pet (Blackrock Depths) (long, long, long story)

Part of why I was able to do such dumb things is, of course, that the game wasn’t mature at that point. So many people were still learning. Do I have higher expectations of both myself and others in WoW nowadays? Yes. It’s been out for 11 years. The population of the game is declining. Most people who are playing WoW should know some basics. What basics?

  • what a tank is
  • what a healer is
  • what a DPS is
  • what bad environmental shit looks like
  • how to stay out of bad environmental shit

I wouldn’t even expect most players to know how or when to interrupt spells, or to know necessarily that healing causes aggro. I wouldn’t even necessarily expect them to know various fights, particularly fights that I do know, because I’ve run BRD like eighteen billion times and it’s their first time in the dungeon.

I do expect people to do a bit of research on their class. I do expect people to ask questions if needed. I do expect people to follow instructions if they’re unsure.

So now we come to Overwatch. The newest Blizzard game on the block, it’s been in beta for a few months and some people have had the good fortune to be in the beta this whole time. Others are just now getting their first look at the game.

Overwatch is a first-person shooter game that’s very reminiscent of Team Fortress 2. I enjoy TF2, I’ve spent many hours of my life playing it (nowhere close to my time played in WoW, mind you) and so this format of the game is not terribly foreign to me. But I imagine it’s foreign to others.

That said, as a newer player to Overwatch myself, this is what I feel I need to know:

  • what offense, defense, tank and support roles are for
  • what assault, escort, control and assault/escort maps are
  • what my particular choice of heroes can do in terms of basic and ultimate abilities
  • a general idea of when it would be useful to use my abilities to best help my teammates

The first thing I did during the Overwatch stress test a couple of weeks ago was play a LOT against bots. Easy bots. Medium bots. Eventually hard bots. Then I played with friends, primarily, against real people and realized I was still a scrub.

Playing with friends is great, particularly if you’re on Skype or Mumble or something of the sort (ugh to the in-game voice chat) because you and your friends can correct each other and learn from one another. Majik used to do that in arenas in WoW — he’d experience the arena and then discuss the reasons for failure with his teammates. It’s a smaller version of what I’d do as a raid leader, where I’d post a review thread and discuss the various items that needed to be addressed where we, as a group, had fallen down. So playing with friends is bound to help you out.

So new players should know the basics. I think everyone should be okay with knowing the basics I listed above. That’s not asking too much.

What is asking too much is that someone have amazing aim or know where all the medpacks are or even knowing the names and abilities of all the characters. If you think I know more than a handful of hero names and abilities, I’ve got news for you… I don’t know where anything is on most maps. I don’t even always feel like I’m using the right hero in the right situation. But I’m playing and practicing and learning. And I’m improving. I am, by no means, innately talented at FPS games, by the way. I am pretty bad to begin with — most people are. And that’s okay. As long as I keep trying and practicing and learning, I’m going to improve. The only way for me to go is up.

For those Overwatch “experts”, who have a lot of previous experience with FPS games (particularly TF2), I can understand your dislike of newbies. But we’re here. We’re learning the game. Give us a chance to catch up! This is our first real look at the game and there will be more newbies incoming on launch. Feel free to give us instructions if you see someone doing something “wrong”, but remember that we’re learning!

Oh. And here’s a pro tip for you: people are more likely to listen to you if you say it nicely. :)

2 comments

  1. Matticus says:

    Matticus pro tip: Target the freaking healer.

    That is all.

  2. Redbeard says:

    I’m glad you’re back.

    When I couldn’t get to your site last week, I thought “uh oh, another blogger has faded to black”.

    I noticed similar behavior when Splatoon dropped for the Wii U; the people who’d played shooters before were doing shooter things –graveyard camping, etc.– and it was pissing a lot of other people off.

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