Learning from Watching Others

I feel inspired to start today with a failure story.

My first MMO was Dark Age of Camelot and my first character was a minstrel. It’s a jack of all trades class with a bit of melee, a bit of buffing, some stealth, and some crowd control. The crowd control was a single target mez (it’s a sleep spell) with a short range, and you had to play a little song on your flute to make it work. When I first started playing, I tried this out and figured out very quickly that it was rubbish. I mean, the mez broke as soon as you hit the mob. Plus if anything hit you while you were playing your flute song, it didn’t complete.

So if people asked me to do it, I just explained that it wasn’t very good.

Later, I was in a group with another minstrel (this didn’t happen often, it wasn’t that common a class). And what do you know, he started tootling away on his flute and dancing around during the pull and sure enough, one mob got mezzed and stayed mezzed. It was a revelation to me.

He was actually even better than that because with all the dancing around, he could mez 3 mobs ON HIS OWN before they even got to us. And I was like “Um, I’m a bit shit, aren’t I?” (I didn’t say that though. I just thought it.) And sure enough, a couple of months  and a lot of practice later down the line saw me doing the same thing.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Now this is what emergent behaviour is all about. Someone thinks of something new and tries it, and finds that it’s cool. Other players either read about this, or see someone do it. Then they try it for themselves. The new tactic catches on. And it’s purely because of something that players learned from each other, not something the game instructions explicitly told them to do.

But for this to work, you do have to be willing to watch, to listen, to read, and to learn from other people. It’s also how you learned most things as a child.

And it’s more fun and immediate if you witness it first hand, just as I did with the uber minstrel in DaoC, than if you just read about it or see it on a Youtube tankspot video. Those things are good, but they don’t smack you in the face the same way as actually seeing someone else do something cool.

Things I learned about raid leading last week (from watching other people)

My quest to get more achievements for my alt without having to put any effort in continues. Last week I snagged For the Horde! and Heroic: Twilight Assist, both in pick up groups from trade chat.

PvP Raid Leading:

The guy who led the PvP raid would be a familiar name on my server and faction. He organises a lot of world PvP, city defenses, town defenses, attacks, RP PvP events, and so on. So he’s very used to grabbing a bunch of inexperienced PvPniks and steering them to some semblence of success, zerg-style. And to those who mock zerg PvP, that’s not as easy as it sounds. The raid itself was good fun, we met our goals, got to fight a few players on the way, and here’s a few tips I picked up on PvP raid leading:

  1. Make sure everyone knows where the raid is heading next. What’s the next objective?
  2. If people die, give clear instructions for what they should do. Should they res and run back? Should they res and wait for a summon?
  3. Keep the instructions basic. Keep the tactics simple.
  4. Don’t be afraid to go back for people who got lost, just make sure everyone knows what is going on.

I was especially impressed at how well he communicated the instructions for if people died. Everyone always knew whether they should run back or wait, and where the raid would next stop to summon people. It kept the momentum and stopped people from panicking about how they’d catch up with the rest (this tends to happen a lot with zerg raids – if people lose the zerg, they panic.)

It was a very relaxed, chilled out experience. And no small part of that was because the raid leader was relaxed and chilled out.

Oh, Sartharion! PvE Raid Leading:

Anyone who leads a PUG PvE raid has my greatest respect. I don’t make a habit of it, and as a result I’m really not used to leading a bunch of people of varying skill, experience, and who may or may not give a shit about the encounter. So I’m really bad at gauging the capabilities of a PUG. In this group, we were taking down Sarth+1. Our dps was not stellar. Our tank failed on all three basic jobs of “just keep its head and its tail away from the rest of the raid, and don’t get caught in the fire wall either.” But we got Sartharion on the second attempt. So here’s a few more tips:

  1. It’s not over till its over. Don’t give up too soon.
  2. This includes if someone makes a stupid pull. Just calmly call out the kill order and let the raid deal with the extra mobs. If you’re going to wipe, might as well die fighting. See rule 1.
  3. Trust your gut feel. If you know your raid can make the kill, don’t be dissuaded from trying again.

So this raid was pretty much a study in tenacity and the raid leader trusting the players to handle unexpected incidents like pulling an extra trash pack, or the dragon tail swiping the raid (although I am bitter about being tail swiped while I was about to get out of a void zone).

What have you learned recently from watching someone else play?

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10 thoughts on “Learning from Watching Others

  1. My first char was a Northman Thane… but I so wanted to play in Albion/Camelot! :( So I became a Highlander Paladin.

    I did not play much online, so I had to figure out things on my own in Mount & Blade. I learned to throw daggers just below shields and hit the big toe of the right foot during city infiltrations, no kidding. :)

    I learned some mass dotting and aggroing tricks way before TBC thanks to a very cool Warlock who pulled half the map and then made them all die roughly at the same spot while never getting hit – that was just awesome.

  2. Hm, and I also learned much from some warriors in GW. The so-called “corner-blocking”. Or how to play Necromancer – it is one of the best PvE classes, but it really required someone showing me how cool the “curses” line is. Then I started my own Necro in “Factions” and she became my main char. :)

  3. Nice article. It struck a cord with me. I remember playing EQ years and years ago and being amazed at some of the players I saw, particuarly enchanters and bards and, above all else, tanks. I can’t recall anyone’s name but I have vivid memories of some Ogre tanks who really left an impression on me. Not only did they teach me how to be a good tank, they left me with a bizzare Ogre fetish.

  4. One thing I learned over time from various pugs, because nobody had an answer, is to ask WHY, when someone tries to explain HOW!
    Example:
    Run down stairs on [Dispersion]! Why? It hurts! Huh!?!?
    Ok, nobody knows why, all know how. Disappointing. Figured out myself: Spot the spark following you and just outrun it. This way you can run near the boss spot and be there again faster, if he resembles himself.
    So sometimes watching someone fail, still can teach you something useful.

  5. Heeheeeheee! “Um, I’m a bit shit, aren’t I?” — I have had so many of those moments! The ones where, once you work it out (or see someone else doing it right), you wonder how you could ever have failed to get it right from the start.

    Some things about MMOs aren’t really all that intuitive, but you still feel like a right prat after you learn them. ;)

  6. “Why?” is good advice (assuming there’s time). If you know *why* you’re doing something, you’re apt to be better at doing it (or maybe even figure a better way to reach the same goal). Knowledge is power and all that.

    As cliche as it sounds, the most important thing I learned is to relax. It’s so frustrating to have a wipe after a near-win and have people log out in irritation, or just start swapping in other characters with better gear, or whatever. I’d much rather try again, play better based on what was learned from the loss, and have the satisfaction of beating the encounter. When people learn to relax and not get all frantic because of a wipe, that can be accomplished.

  7. Oddly enough…I wrote about failures off-handedly today too, before I read Larisa’s article or Gevlon’s =)

    I frequently learn from other people that don’t even know that I’m learning from them! I often review our raid parses, and then “compare” my performance to other druids by pulling up their parses and studying what they are doing, that perhaps I am not.

    I am also secrectly stalking Gurgthock’s armory page (shhhhhhhhh!) trying to learn all the tricks of being a decent resto shaman for my newest alt project, Mynn. I learn all kinds of things from just observing, such as specing, glyphing, enchanting and gemming.

    I believe that there is no shame in being humble and acknowleding that there will always be someone that is better than you (or at least equally skilled), that you can learn from. And I try to expand my knowledge every day.

  8. Something interesting I’ve been trying lately is to turn off DBM and recount and all those other various crutches you raid with. And it’s something I’ve found has turned me into a better raider. It’s forcing me to pay attention to what the boss is actually doing as opposed to when the little bar counts down. And I’ve found I stand in the proverbial fire less, I do more deeps and I’m better at reacting if everything goes south. And what it’s done above all else is make the fights actually interesting.

  9. I guess we all have had our shares of “Um, I’m a bit shit, aren’t I?”- moments. Think we too often forget how much we learn from each other in game. Your comments of good raidleading in PuGs strikes a chord with me. I think that often PuGs fail not cause people can’t play, but simply that they have learned from different people.
    What one player considers rude, might be normal to another. F.ex do you reenter instance or do you wait for a res? Do you buff before trash or only on bosses? It can also be about strategy. Heal through dmg or move out of fire? Tanking in north or south corner?

    When these things clash it causes QQ, and often wipes. However, just cause someone has learned it a different way then you, doesn’t make them bad or stupid players.

  10. Pingback: /AFK – July 12 « Bio Break

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