Tips For Improving Your Skills and Broadening Your Tastes as a Gamer?

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by xwatchmanx, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. xwatchmanx
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    Member xwatchmanx GBAtemp's (Un)Ironic Weeaboo

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    Maybe this is more of blog material, but obviously that isn't an option right now. Plus this is a question directed at the community, so maybe it deserves to be a thread, after all. Anyway, I have a couple questions.

    First, how would you suggest one improve their gaming skills? To make a long story short, I suck. Part of it is probably because I don't play many competitive games and the ones I do, like Smash Bros., lack a decent online component, or don't have one at all. The other part is... idk. I'm just nowhere near as good as most of the gamers I know, even though many of them haven't been gaming for anywhere near as long as I have (for the record, I've been playing games since I was 5, which is about 18 years). The only games I truly feel good at are ones that I've been playing since I was a kid, and even then I feel a bit inadequate. So what would you suggest? I know that the answer is different depending on the game, but what would you suggest to improve one's skills? I know some of the obvious ones, like quick reflexes and paying attention to all your surroundings and details (which I'm quite good at, if I do say so myself), but what other tricks are there?

    Second, how would you suggest one broadens their tastes in games? I notice I have a hard time finding new games I like because, in all honesty, I'm overly picky. I don't care for most JRPGs, or shooters, or RTSes. Open world games generally turn me off too, limiting me from most things that are not a platformer or not by Nintendo. And it's not like I'm purposely trying to be a snob, I just... am, somehow. How would one open their mind to new genres?

    EDIT: Check my backloggery signature for a strong ideas of the kind of games I play. I update it regularly, and unless I missed something, it includes almost every game I've ever played.
     


  2. Taleweaver

    Member Taleweaver Storywriter

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    Tough questions...

    I won't go with the traditional "just play more", as it's not as simple as that. The best phrase I've heard about it is that "practice doesn't make perfect...perfect practice makes perfect".

    Progression can (and to a degree: should) be a goal of itself. It's okay not to be perfect at a game...but I've found there is a different mind set in people playing. You've got those determined to go the extra mile. Who aim to give it their best shot no matter what, whereas others "just want to have a good time". Which is kind of odd to me, as that challenge to improve myself IS what is a good time to me.

    Obviously, it depends a lot on the type of game you play, but still...I feel the overall mindset is what makes the difference. Not just the determination to keep trying to improve (though that is arguably the most important factor), but also the creativity to change the way you do things. If a brute attack doesn't work, try a sneaky approach. Try using the environment. Look for weak spots and abuse them*. Or avoid them all together.



    Your second question is totally different. But I'm not so sure it is completely unrelated (though it probably looks that way). Different games teach you different things. Thus, widening the amount of styles games you play sharpens your overall feel to games in general (which can be a good thing). That said...I'm not sure if one can be convinced to like games they normally wouldn't like.
    My only real advice is to go with classics, and give them an honest chance. The game will get better once you get better at it.




    *this isn't the same as hitting large bosses in the glowing "hit this to hurt me" areas, but rather learning their movement patterns, the safe spots, best weapons...those sort of things.



    EDIT: I just now realised you only mentioned a couple genres. How about rhythm games? Falling block puzzles? Horror games? Racing games? Stealth games? Simulation?
    Platformers and games by nintendo...they're not that hard. Hard to master, yes (those challenges in NSMBU can be pretty tough), but not that hard to beat. Sorry if I sound offensive, but...have you ever dedicated yourself to a really hard game?
     
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  3. soulx

    Member soulx GBAtemp Legend

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    If you want to improve your skills at games, play more games. It's as simple as that.
     
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  4. EyeZ

    Member EyeZ GBAtemp Addict

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    The only way you will improve your gameplay is through playing the games, obviously, if you've been playing mainly platformers then you will have a certain degree of expertise with that genre.

    Then you go to play a fps and you will suck due to not playing that genre often enough.
     
  5. Hells Malice

    Member Hells Malice Are you a bully?

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    The only way to open to new genres is to try them.

    Valkyria Chronicles turned me off at first because I heard it was a strategy game...then I actually tried it and almost punched myself in the junk for avoiding the best game this generation.
    After that I started trying more strategy games, and found out i'm actually pretty fond of them.

    Same with plenty of other genres... like RTS and MOBA.


    As for getting better...I dunno, play more? That's about all you can really do. I'd also say "try to challenge yourself" but if you stick to primarily platformers and Nintendo games...kinda hard to do that, since platformer games doesn't have mutliple difficulties, and Nintendo games are Nintendo games.
     
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  6. EyeZ

    Member EyeZ GBAtemp Addict

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    A little story for you, i remember when i first began playing Q3A, boy, did i suck.

    MY in- game chat to other players were "how do you get to be so good"?

    The reply i always got was "practice" or "play the really good players"

    It took 12-18 months of being thrashed practically every game but i got there in the end, and now, i'm a pretty good Q3A player, even if i have to say so myself.
     
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  7. xwatchmanx
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    Member xwatchmanx GBAtemp's (Un)Ironic Weeaboo

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    I updated the OP with a little bit about my backloggery. I do play things besides platformers and action games, but platformers and adventure games definitely saturate most of the kind of games I play. You can check the backloggery link in my signature, to get an idea. I do love games like F-Zero (though I haven't played in forever) and Tetris, for example.

    When you say simulation, do you mean stuff like the Sims, or what?

    Also, don't worry I'm not offended. To answer your question about difficult games... well, I guess it depends on what you consider a hard game. I personally consider most traditional Mega Man games (classic, X, Zero, and ZX series) to be pretty damn difficult, and I kept trying for at least two years before forcing my way through X and X2, and then the first Zero game on normal difficulty. Zero took me forever (despite only including about 2 hours of overall true playtime according to my save file, since I kept getting game overs), and I was pretty damn proud of myself when I finally beat the game. Easily the hardest game I've beaten, if my memory serves me correctly. I'm taking a break before moving on to Zero 2, though, and have been working on ZX (though I haven't played it in a few weeks now), though I find that game to be a bit easier than Zero was.

    Some other games I consider difficult that I've been playing include the original Kid Icarus, Cave Story (i've been stuck on the "true" final mission of Cave Story since October, and I still play it periodically). Also, Fractured Soul is one tough cookie, but I haven't touched it in a while.

    I've also been working on-and-off on an intensity 9 run of every chapter in Kid Icarus: Uprising since last year, but haven't made any progress in a long, long time. I'm still stuck on the 4th chapter, and I only attempt it once every few months when i feel like a real challenge.
     
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  8. Celice

    Member Celice GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    Play cross-genre games to see how you can appreciate new elements you wouldn't like in their own, as they're meshed with elements you do enjoy. Perhaps you'll grow on it. But really, just start tricking yourself into playing things you don't enjoy by seeing them as potentially things you would.
     
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  9. Gahars

    Member Gahars Bakayaro Banzai

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    In general, though, I don't think you should worry about being "good" too much. You don't want to suck, but as others have said, that just takes practice - it comes naturally once you play a game long enough and get to understand all the little intricacies that make it work. That organic type of learning is the most rewarding.

    I've found that only playing to get good can ruin a game. After a certain point, the game stops being fun and starts becoming a chore. What's the point of memorizing all the combos or hidden exploits if you're not enjoying yourself?

    As for other genres, you could always try transitioning yourself into them. If you're not big on FPS games, for example, try out Portal. It's a fantastic game with easy to understand gameplay, enjoyable puzzles, and hilarious writing. Plus, it's short. Then move on to the even better sequel. Once you have that down, move on to Half Life 2. You'll have the basics of controlling in First Person down pat, and the game is brilliantly paced so you'll never be overwhelmed by the challenge. Then maybe move on to something faster paced like Left 4 Dead, or something more open and free like Far Cry 3, etc. You'll become more and more comfortable, and all at your own pace.
     
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  10. xwatchmanx
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    Member xwatchmanx GBAtemp's (Un)Ironic Weeaboo

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    You have a point, and I agree. Thing is, that's my problem... I'm playing games and loving them for a long, long time, and I'm still not getting that good at them. I'm just worried that I'm doing something wrong, or there's something inherently wrong with me as a gamer. :\
     
  11. Gahars

    Member Gahars Bakayaro Banzai

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    If you're loving them and having fun, that's all that really matters. It's more right than being good but bored by a mile.

    I can compare it to myself and tennis. I actually really love playing tennis; it's a fun sport when the weather's right, and there's no better feeling than taking an opponent out with a well-placed shot after a long volley. The thing is, though, I'm just not all that great at it - I practice, sure, but my skills only go so far. There are tons of other players far better than I could ever be.

    I've just learned to not let it get to me. I do my best and play for the sport, even if I get absolutely creamed. Plus, there's the added bonus of not having to worry about competition - while everyone is trying to outpace each other, I'm content with where I am.

    It's all about frame of mind. I know it's tough, and it takes time to adjust, but you'll be much better off. Trust me.
     
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  12. Taleweaver

    Member Taleweaver Storywriter

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    F-zero GX was one of the hardest games on the gamecube (or so I've heard). If you managed to unlock the diamond cup or the story campaign, I really wouldn't worry about your skill. :)
    And from what I've played from mega man, those aren't easy games either. Tetris (obviously) depends on the skill level you play it at.
    (unfortunately, I haven't played enough of your backloggery titles to know how hard those are).

    I've never played the sims (honestly: I haven't), so I can only say "probably" at this point. I was more referring to games like sim city, the tycoon games, anno XXXX, the settlers and civilization. Games where you're pretty much a God who has to keep their peeps happy. It sorta leans to RTS, but without the emphasis on fighting (age of empires is somewhat halfway between those two genres).


    Further...I've got to stress that Gahars makes a very good point. You play the game to have fun. Anything else is optional.


    That said...I'm arguing that 'fun' in itself can be defined as 'learning in a nice environment'*. Taken from a different perspective, the purpose of a game is to grow bored of it eventually. Once you've mastered everything the game had to offer. So the disadvantage of getting better at gaming is that you'll get bored of them more quickly. And I wonder if that really is what you want. ;)


    Also...I was just playing spider solitaire, kinda thinking of this thread. The game (solsuite, spider 2 suits, for those interested) has it ranked as a reasonable chance of winning (1 in 5). I've played it a couple hundred times so far. I've won every freakin' time. The question is obviously...why? What makes me "better" at this game?

    The answer: the rules. If you want to be a better gamer, you have to know better than "just" know what the rules are. You have to grok them. And 'grok' basically means knowing them so well they're like a second nature to you. If you're bad at the game, you start by learning those rules, understanding them and pushing them into...erm...well, not the unconscious mind, but...a "different" mind. I've heard it being called 'muscle memory' at times, but it doesn't quite fit the description, as it's not exactly the muscles doing things**. In any case: ALL the rules need to be there. So knowing them all makes a huge impact.

    Which brings me to an important question that I hope you won't take offense to (it's not meant that way :( ).

    xwatchmanx...are you a scrub?

    Scrubness isn't the same as being a newbie. Scrubs have these sort of mental barriers that make perfect rational sense, yet that prevent them from doing things efficiently. Moral rules, usually. New online players of FPS'es often complain about spam. New RTS players hate being cheesed. Yet all of that is part of the game. Learning to accept that it's there and deal with it (aka: overcoming it) is part of becoming better at a game. Some people rage, or quit the game to go for something more simple, but that says more about their attitude than the game itself (though I've got to admit: a loss against something you really don't know how to deal with can be pretty hard to swallow).
    So if you're really determined to be a better gamer: take a better look at the ruleset laid out by the game and see how you can use it the best way.
    I'll give Mario as an example. I play it pretty much the whole time with the B-button held down. Reason: the fellow just moves faster and jumps farther. Yes, it'll take more precision timing on things, but once you learn to get used to it, you'll look back and wonder how you managed without it.

    And to get back at that card game. If someone was to watch over my shoulder, they'd probably say something like "hey! You're not supposed to take back every other move, just to see what's under the stack there!" at some point. To which I would reply "it's part of the game...scrub".


    Oh, and...for the record: I'm also a scrub in more than a few occasions (I don't care how efficient scouting is in an RTS...I'm NOT sacrificing my guys for it). It'll prevent me from being good at a game like starcraft 2. But I'm still having fun with it, so it's okay. :)



    *it may be a paraphrase, but it's from Raph Koster's "A theory on fun in game design"
    **though in FPS games, it can be almost scary how accurate twitch-aiming can become...it's like your hand becomes sort of an aimbot on itself.
     
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  13. xwatchmanx
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    Member xwatchmanx GBAtemp's (Un)Ironic Weeaboo

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    I actually didn't pick up F-Zero GX until a few months ago, and actually haven't played much at all, except for a few single races. I've had quite a few other games I've been playing to keep me busy, so that game keeps going on the back burner. F-Zero X is the one I've played most.
    I'm still not QUITE sure what you mean by 'scrub'... I'm guessing you mean someone who refuses to take advantage of certain rules of the game to do better, and complains about how stupid they are, instead? Or else someone who just keeps making the same stupid mistake? Kind of like the second definition here?

    If so, i really don't think I'm a scrub, at least on most occasions. I'm kind of a scrub on Mario Kart, though. I think the cheap items and special methods to avoid blue shells (especially in the newest one, Mario Kart 7) are just stupid design, so I don't really care for the game that much.

    The fact of the matter is, I just don't play that many competitive games (as I said), so even if I was the kind to complain about camping in a shooter, I wouldn't simply because I never play competitive shooters online. I love Halo and Gears of War, but I play those for the story and single player campaign.
     
  14. FAST6191

    Reporter FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Improvement.... never really a problem I had to face (I do not care for competitive games so much as logic puzzles, stories and such like). I guess you could work on 3d spacial awareness, map reading and similar such skills as I find a lot of people do not do so well there. I am not the greatest fan of encouraging the mindset as it has a nasty habit of making things harder to play for you as you see how it all works but yeah reverse engineer mechanics and such like- shoot a gun at a wall and observe the spread, practice timings and whatever else.

    Broaden tastes- for everything you like there is probably a kind of counterpoint that is very similar (some would probably point at COD and Spec Ops- the line) and in recent times everybody is more than happy to mash up two different styles of gameplay or liberally borrow elements from one to wedge in another (the most notable is probably RPG elements).
    Also make sure you have played all the classics from the first arcade stuff right through to the 16 bit era.
     
  15. xwatchmanx
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    Member xwatchmanx GBAtemp's (Un)Ironic Weeaboo

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    Well, I was born in 1990, but I grew up with a NES and SNES (hand me downs from my uncle) before getting an N64. So I went through the major "eras" from 8-bit onward, at least.

    I love SNES games, as well as some NES games (though some of those NES games are really hard for me to tackle).
     
  16. Taleweaver

    Member Taleweaver Storywriter

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    It's the second definition (from urban dictionary). But that doesn't really exclude the first one.

    In any case...if you're not clinging to certain playstyles or refusing to change your style depending on the game you're playing, then I'd agree that that isn't your problem.


    It's kind of hard to say what IS the problem, though. It's a bit hard to come over to your place to check what you're doing (and even then...Unless you happen to play a game I'm actually good at*, I can't offer specific tips).

    What I can say is that it was quite a leap going from single player games (including co-op games) to competitive games. It's only then that you start to realise that AI is made to mimic real behavior, but is far from complete (and that is when taking a game with good AI into account). I thought I was doing okay in unreal tournament because I could beat adept bots. But online, I ended up last just about everytime. It took persistence to just abandon the single player game and keep connecting to online games.
    On the RTS front, it's even worse. Starcraft 2 is a pretty good game with great matchmaking ranks, but man...the fact that your opponent can throw so many different things at you makes the game overly complex. And the single player campaign just doesn't prepare you for that sort of thing.

    Ahem...that aside...is it that you WANT to be good at competitive games? Honestly, there's nothing wrong with just keep playing the computer. Heck...I've pretty much abandoned the whole competitive scene. And compared to the skill of clan gamers, I wasn't even that good to begin with (okay, I was reasonable...perhaps above average at best. But by no means really good).


    *not that many, I have to agree
     
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  17. RodrigoDavy

    Member RodrigoDavy GBAtemp Maniac

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    How good you're at gaming depends solely in own's point of view. For example, I was the best Super Smash Bros player in my school, later I went through college and I can hardly beat anyone because they've played it as a child.

    I'll talk a little about my opinion about myself as a gamer >> I find that my problem with playing games is that I often can only play single-player games, because most games I like doesn't have online. In this case, I often find myself satisfied in just beating the game, possibly in a higher difficulty if I have the option. But, not inspecting every corner for secrets unless I really like the game.

    I also like a good local player competition which I prefer over online, but in those cases either the game can't be too complex and balanced so even people who never played it actually have a chance of winning or you have to know people with about the same level of skills in the said game as you. And, as I grew up, most people grew either less interested in video games or they started being too picky about the games they play, making it more difficult to gather friend for a match.

    In online player, I find that there's a great level of difficulty even in unbalanced games like Mario Kart 7, but if you train hard enough you can manage to keep up. That said, this is not good if you're just a casual player who doesn't want to play a game everyday.

    I don't like those mmorpg games where you have to level-up your characters since the games rewards better the time the player spend in the game than his/her skill. Imagine if you have a level 200 soldier and for some reason your account get closed, you would have to create a new account just to get a level one soldier and inflict the same damage and have the same abilities as a first-time player.
     
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  18. ouch123

    Member ouch123 GBAtemp Fan

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    Hmm... well, I think you've already received a lot of good advice, but I'll throw in my two cents.

    So, when it comes to games, mostly I just play for fun. Sometimes though, I really want to get good at a game. Not because because I want to beat anyone, but just because I want to be good at it. A useful concept to understand for achieving this goal (and for improving any skill in general) is deliberate practice. What's deliberate practice? It's when you try to identify:

    1) The skills required to be good at the activity in question.
    2) Which of the above skills you are currently lacking most in proportion to the skills which you already possess.
    3) How to train the skills you're lacking in.

    Can you get good without deliberate practice? Yes, but it will probably take longer and yield worse results than if you had chosen to use deliberate practice. So how does one apply deliberate practice to video games? Well... let's take Soul Calibur as an example. It's a very technical fighting game, and while you can definitely enjoy yourself without going too hardcore, there's really a lot to learn if you have the desire to do so. Let's say you play a match and notice that you can't seem to guard impact very well. One option is to go into training mode, crank the AI up and just try to guard impact. Don't do anything else but that. Chances are, you'll notice you're lacking in some skill you hadn't considered before (say, correctly reading which moves your opponent is telepathing). Then you break it down further and practice that. Once you feel you've started to get the hang of it, you try integrating it with actual play. Then you'll notice some other aspect you hadn't noticed before, and the cycle repeats. Basically, the idea is that you break down precisely what "micro" skills are involved with what you're trying to improve upon, and you focus on honing each micro skill until eventually, you begin to master the macro skill.

    To illustrate this, let's say you're bad at drawing. Well, that doesn't really help at all. You say you're bad at shading? Better, but not good enough. Bad at shading organic shapes? Closer. Bad at shading round objects? Bingo. Now it's broken down to the point where you can deliberately practice a single micro skill until you've improved at it, then recursively iterate through the the other skills involved with the macro skill (drawing). By practicing and improving each of these micro skills then integrating them, you can become much better at the macro skills that use those micro skills. It's (basically) the same with most skills.

    Now, having said all that, you shouldn't be deliberately practicing all the time. Sometimes you can just practice without deliberately trying to improve any skill (very useful for benchmarking) and of course, you should continue to play the game in question just for fun. In addition, while some skills will have carry-over (say, learning to read opponent's moves in fighting games), getting truly good at a game requires learning the game in question, specifically. You could be good at a genre in general, but unless you learn the intricacies of a particular game, you shouldn't expect to be able to compete with people who have been playing the same game for literally years (Starcraft is a fantastic example of this). So, to sum it up, deliberate practice is a great tool to use for improving your skills and identifying your weaknesses, and becoming really good at a game (attaining virtuosity you could say) requires learning the game itself, not games in general.

    Whew. Super long post.

    With regard to broadening one's tastes, I'd say either play a game that incorporates a genre you already like alongside additional genres you haven't tried before or generally dislike (pretty easy to do given the wide selection of games available now and in the past) or just try an accessible version of a genre you tend to not like or feel neutral about. Just as an example, I used to hate horror and shooting games, but after reading a lot about (and here I am mentioning it again) Resident Evil 4, I decided to give it a shot (ha!) despite it being a combination of two genres I didn't like, and now I'm an avid fan of both genres. Just try new things and don't shy away from a genre because of bad past experiences. And, of course, have fun. That's the most important thing.
     
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  19. king_leo

    Member king_leo Real Hero

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    I think practice is the main way.
     
  20. Forstride

    Member Forstride The rudder moves when I turn the wheel

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    Practice is definitely the best way to get better at something, however, for competitive games, I'd recommended looking up different strategies, tricks, etc. that are often used. Smash Bros. has a TON of them, and it'd definitely help to learn them.

    As for broadening your taste in games, if you don't like a game, don't play it. You don't have to like a certain genre just because other people do. I don't like RPGs because I find them extremely boring, and I'm not going to force myself to play them in an attempt to broaden my tastes in gaming.
     

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