Learning Curves on the Shooting Range

My wife hesitates to try cooperative multi-player games because she does want groups depending on her to do something she does not know how to do. If your tank does not know her job, you wipe. If this is your crowd controller’s first time in a complicated fight, you may be in serious trouble. This worked fine in City of Heroes: not only could she solo for almost everything, but when she did group, she was a Scrapper who did not care about dying. There are very few cases in CoH where anyone cares if the Scrapper dies or has less than the perfect DPS setup.

As I am learning Team Fortress 2, I see that, but there is another factor: many of the people shooting me already know what to do. There are nine classes to learn, most with some special feature, six of whom have three additional options for their equipment; there are also all the maps to learn, some with multiple stages, all with their scattered refills, control points, backdoors, ambush spots, ramps, etc. While you are trying to get the swing of all this, one guy is lobbing pipe bombs at you, and you will be shot in the head in you pause in a sniper’s field of vision.

Some things are more intuitive than others. Protect this point, check. Move the cart along that line, check. And then you find that the map has multiple vertical levels, a little room with ammo and health, back stairs that everyone else on your team seems to know, and windows that you may or may not be able to shoot through. While someone with a flamethrower is leaping around the corner at you.

One of the great barriers for PvP games is that they are not newbie friendly. If veteran players are alongside green recruits, that is great for training the new guys and integrating them, and horrible for having their first night of play involve being shot in the head twenty times by guys they never saw. TF2 is kind enough to give you a picture of your killer, so you can see where those snipers are after someone kills you.

: Zubon

7 thoughts on “Learning Curves on the Shooting Range”

  1. TF2 is a great game. But sweet mother of god do I suck at it. The three or four hours I’ve put in is not even remotely what is needed to get up to speed.

  2. This is quite true… for the first couple of months that I had the game, I limited myself to 15 mins at a time because I really didn’t know what was going on. Now of course I play for several hours at a time and dominate (well, the non-pro servers at least :p).

    My advice for new players would be to not play capture point maps, they are too difficult to learn the layout of in the beginning. Payload (cart-pushing) maps and CTF maps are easy to learn. Also, play medics and engineers they are always needed and easy to play, but people rarely go them because they are a little boring… so your team will be grateful even if you suck. When playing another class, look at the list of characters currently on your team, and for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t be sniper number 6 :p

  3. I disagree with engineers being easy. If you don’t know your sentry spots, any non-noob will destroy your nest, which would be pretty frustrating.

  4. What is this?! It’s a shooter guys! You click on the bad guy and they die, come on. If anything take a bunch of hand eye coordination tests, practice at those, and then you can be whatever you want shootin whoever you want.

    Pew pew

  5. That boggles me somewhat, because Team Fortress and its ilk ought to be one of the most forgiving FPSes out there to learn. Doesn’t TF2 still have instant respawns?

    I remember trying to learn Counterstrike when it first came out and getting quite frustrated by endless repeat runs of the first ten seconds of de_dust, at which point my n00b self walked into a dark tunnel and never came out again. Shot by sniper. Shot through crate. My measure of improvement was whether I managed to kill one other guy before dying. Minutes of thumb-twiddling and spectating follow. Rinse and repeat.

    Other FPS games make you drive back all the way to action if you die. A lot of military-style FPSes have some kind of respawn limit where you’re affecting your team’s score by dying too frequently, or make you wait to respawn in waves.

    In Team Fortress, so what if you suck? So what if you hit a negative death score because you blew yourself up with your own demoman bombs? Folks all have their unique goals anyway. Some are improving their personal Kill: Death ratios. Some are actually playing to support their team. Some are just learning. Some are fooling around trying to kill people with their melee weapons and so on.

    It’s ostensibly cooperative, but unless you’re playing in a competitive tournament team, you’re probably not going to get yelled at for sucking, unlike the usual MMO PUG.

    The way to learn in TF is just to mess around, learn by doing and watching what other people are doing. I got to be a fairly decent engineer by watching where other engis set up their sentries, and finding a niche in defence which few people like to do. I get this immense glee out of foiling other people’s grand attempts to infiltrate my base.

    Because of above-mentioned varied goals, if you actually help your team in any way, you’re doing a lot better than some others already. :)

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