Microblog: Skill

The other day I was playing a console game and struggling with a boss fight. I’d been working on it for many attempts and failing miserably to get the boss anywhere close to dead.

After tolerating a half hour of raging, my boyfriend borrowed my controller and, after having never played this game, killed the boss in one try.

Now, he did have my coaching. Here’s what these buttons do, this boss is weak to fire, don’t forget to craft some potions, etc. But mostly he did it on his own, using his years of console experience to expertly control a character he’s never played before.

This made me think of video game skill, and how the difference between an expert and beginner is often hard to teach, and this extends to WoW. My boyfriend didn’t kill that boss because he knew the special mechanics of that game, he did it because he’s played hundreds of hours of similar console games and he understands console mechanics on a fundamental level, whereas I do not.

Later in the same day, I was coaching a friend of mine through Nighthold on our weekly casual run. While she’s leveled in WoW plenty of times, she’s new to raiding. I gave her the best instructions I could, trying to limit it to three or fewer mechanics she needed to know just to survive, but she still died a lot. Things that take no explanation for me, like “if my health drops, move” or “follow the raid” don’t come naturally to her (yet).

What WoW is to my friend, console games are to me. I still don’t intuitively know how to move my character or camera around, or how to watch boss movement patterns for opportunities to melee. And what WoW is to me, console games are to my boyfriend, who keeps instructing me to do things I don’t quite understand, like “hit R1”.

That’s kind of a bummer, since I’ll never play enough console games to get “good” at them, but it also means that I will at least get better as I play more. Neither of these things are an inherit skill, at least not completely, so they can be learned. A lot of the learning I did for WoW many years ago has been forgotten, though I still have vague memories of struggling with things that don’t even register now.

My Experience with Vengeance and Gul’dan

For the most part in this expansion, I’ve been able to use my monk and dh interchangeably. Sure, there have been some situations where one was a bit stronger than the other, but I could cover those weaknesses with some adjustments in strategy or toolkit and it worked out fine. But when we hit heroic Gul’dan this week, that was the first time I ever swapped out one character for the other for progression.

Continue reading My Experience with Vengeance and Gul’dan

Microblog: Actually Terrible

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.

I’m not sure what the context of that quote is, but when I apply it to myself I find it funny. The whole reason why I maintain this blog is to teach myself, because I struggle with a lot of things. I struggle with learning and paying attention, with reaction times and memory, with verbal communication.

It’s true that once had the trappings of a competitive player, when I was in one of the first US guilds to clear Cataclysm raids. I attribute that to a) unemployment and b) tanking Dragon Soul wasn’t the most difficult thing in the game, and c) I lucked out in joining a guild that had three arcane mages with the legendary staff.

Whenever someone complains about bad tanks, I think “yeah, that’s me”. I pull too cautiously, I do terrible dps, I don’t communicate well verbally. I forget to use cooldowns, zone out, and get defensive (and not in the tanky way). I take forever to pick up on mechanics. I balk at spending gold of any magnitude on consumables.

But I’m okay with my mediocrity. There was a point in my life I wasn’t okay with it, and I got to experience being good at something. But I don’t need that anymore, and I’m having fun in a place where my mediocrity doesn’t hurt too much.

So when I adopt the tagline on my blog “Actually Terrible” that’s my way of just being honest. I don’t want people coming here thinking they’ll get good advice from a top raider. My hope is that average people will come here looking for average advice from an average raider.

Actually terrible, totally fine with it.


Thoughts on My Own Learning

So far, demon hunters have been hard for me to master. That isn’t because of the class, it’s just me taking forever to learn how to intuitively play something new.

A while back I ran heroic Halls of Valor on my two tanks. My demon hunter was at about 850 ilvl, my monk barely above 810. And throughout the whole thing, I actually felt more confident on my monk than my demon hunter. Not for any class or balance reason, but because when bad stuff happens to my monk I intuitively know how to handle it. When my health becomes unstable, even if I don’t know why, I can probably put up an Ironskin Brew and I’ll be okay. I know to do that without even consciously thinking it.

Continue reading Thoughts on My Own Learning