It’s the last round; the bomb is planted and nobody has a kit.
There’s just one tower left; before long the base will fall.
Pushed back to the final point and already down a player; it’s time for the defenders to take their last fight.
Sadly, none of these are the enemy team tonight. They’re yours and man, losing is just the worst, isn’t it?
It’s the dual nature of team-based competitive games. When the only difference in whether you win or lose is whether or not your team of players can play better than theirs, the rush of a well-earned win is irreplaceable. Equally though, the competitive drive is just as much a curse as it is a blessing when the semi-random nature of online matchmaking is allowed to poke and prod at your ever-dwindling patience. You can’t pick your teammates without putting a party together, which isn’t always as easy as it sounds. You sure as heck can’t pick your opponents, and what are you supposed to do about getting matched against amazing players when your own teams seem to consist mostly of orangutans, Tamagotchis and bags of hammers that have somehow been trained to use a mouse and keyboard? It’s so dangerously easy to become apathetic, frustrated, and downright mad at a loss.
Well, you shouldn’t. Harder than it sounds? Absolutely, but I’m here to show you why a hard-fought loss is actually one of the best things that can possibly happen to you in online gaming… as long as you know what to do with it. Winning is great, but only by analysing your mistakes can you improve and those are much easier to spot in a loss than in a victory. You just need to know how to self-analyse, so here are some pointers to help get you started on winning your losses.
The Sliding Scale of Overcome to Overwhelmed
The first step in making the most of a loss is also the most intuitive, because it’s often the first thing that will naturally come to mind anyway. “Wow, that sure was a close game!” and “Wow, we sure got a mudhole stomped in us that would bring a 30% alcohol-by-volume tear to the eye of Stone Cold Steve Austin!” are two very different beasts which have to be approached differently. It’s not always a totally clear immediate distinction, either, because frustrated annoyance can make a close loss feel like getting stomped, while frustrated apathy can make a stomp feel like a close loss. Before asking yourself what went wrong, it’s important to sit back, take a breath and ask yourself: how close, realistically, was that game? This can be done from memory or, if you’re serious about improvement, it’s often worth skimming through the demo/replay, assuming your game of choice has that feature. Identifying how close you came to winning is hugely important in putting everything else about a loss into context.
The Three Points of Focus – Us, Them and Me
To make a productive start on analysing your losses, there are three questions you can ask yourself after a match. The way you look at answering them will change from game to game, since different games have different formats. For some games, like MOBAs, these may apply to entire matches. For others, like CS:GO, individual rounds. However, the concepts can be applied to any player-vs-player competitive game, even 1v1 games with a little tweaking.
The first question: What was our win condition and how did we fail to achieve it?
A win condition is exactly what it sounds like. Within the context of the match you just played, what specifically did you have to do in order to beat their team with your team? This can be tricky to pin down in games with random matchmaking as often everyone on the team has a different idea of what the win condition is, but it’s not impossible. In CS:GO, it may be that their AWPer on B site was getting the vast bulk of their team’s kills, therefore keeping them pressured above all others or, conversely, avoiding and killing their team around them may have left them outmatched in firepower, allowing you to take more fights and win more rounds. In Dota 2 it may be that their heroes were weak in the early-game and strong late-game while yours were the opposite, meaning that your window of opportunity would have been to get aggressive as soon as possible, turn that into tower kills, control the map with wards and presence and never allow them to make a comeback. In Overwatch it may be that the enemy were using far more ultimates than you to secure fights and leaving themselves at what the competitive community often calls an ultimate economy disadvantage and your team could have taken points by capitalizing on that more effectively, or perhaps their supports were frequently out of position and could have been killed early to win fights. To wrap everything together, as well as figuring out the things you didn’t do which could have led to a win, identify any things which you did do which were unnecessary for your win condition. Did you spend that extra 5 minutes farming your next item when you should have been looking for kills? Did you spend 30 seconds looking for solo kills while your team was preparing to push a vulnerable area, and by the time you grouped up with them that area was no longer vulnerable? Identify these and you’re well on your way towards improvement.
The second question: What was their win condition and how could we have stopped them from achieving it?
Just as you and your team have a win condition, so do the opponents. The easiest way to stop them from achieving their win condition is, of course, to reach your own first, but often when push comes to shove that’s not a viable option and you’re left to identify what they have to do to win and stop them from doing it. Let’s take our earlier Dota 2 example. If your team has failed to dominate the early-game, the enemy are now free to work towards their own win condition of avoiding fights and farming until their heroes hit their main power spikes and suddenly they can throw you so far across the map that you land in a Heroes of the Storm match. In this situation it’s often productive to focus on their win condition and anything you can do to mess with it. Stealing their jungle camps, forcing their attention with split pushes which spread them around the map where they can be picked off, doing anything possible to prevent them from comfortably preparing for a late-game win. Being able to look back at a loss and recognize times where the enemy were doing something to work towards their win condition which you could have prevented can prepare you for those improbable, clawed-back-from-the-brink games where you win by leaving the opponents unable to close out the match and slowly neutralising their advantage.
The third question: What could I, individually, have done better?
In team games, by far the most common trap I see people falling into is blaming their team for everything, not taking full responsibility for their personal screw-ups. This is rarely conscious and almost everyone falls victim to it at some point. This can boil over into becoming frustrated in-game and giving your teammates grief which, for the record, never helps. If someone’s being counter-productive, mute them. If you’re considering communicating in a way which is counter-productive, follow the system of Stay Targeted, Focused and Understanding.
In other words, if you’re considering giving people grief, remember to S.T.F.U. and keep playing.
But I digress. The final and arguably most important question to ask yourself following a loss. Disregard your teammates’ mistakes – it’s good to recognize them so that you don’t make the same ones yourself but – and I cannot possibly stress this enough – you can’t control or change what other players do. Ask yourself, simply, what you could have done better. Look at the shots you missed, the kills you could have gotten by acting just two seconds faster, the teammates you could have saved by healing them instead of someone already close to full health. Don’t focus on how your teammate let you die that time, focus on how you died and shouldn’t have been in that position. Don’t focus on how your teammate couldn’t finish that important kill, focus on how you also missed the shot in the first place. It’s especially important not to forget this in games where you felt like you carried your team. Even if you did, you did not play a perfect game, because in pretty much any modern competitive game that’s impossible when you account for human error. No matter how hard you carried, there’s always something you could have done something better. That goes for every player of every skill level and any successful professional gamer will tell you the same.
Applying the theory
All of this, of course, is just a set of pointers and guidelines, something to point you in the right direction. The most important part – and if you only take one thing away from this, it should be this – is that winning isn’t everything. A loss can be just as valuable as a win, if not more, if you take the time to look at how and why they happen and for that reason, why be upset by them? Losses are a necessity, and a beautiful one. Competitive games are all about the rush of competition, about proving your skill, about the satisfaction of being the better player. Without the sting of losing, winning wouldn’t taste nearly as sweet. So, embrace it. You’ll get that win back sooner or later.
In the current era of video games, we seem to have hit a weird snag. We’re seeing the prices of digital downloads rise whilst the cost of a physical copy is falling – it all seems to make no sense! However, what really is best for consumers? What is the best distribution method for developers and why are we seeing this weird shift in prices? When a physical copy sells for £35 and a digital copy sells for £45, is there a reason to back digital?
We’ve done alright recently with our GOVG nights, so if you’re looking for an event to pass the time this coming Saturday, then why not consider joining us for an evening of fun and games? We’ll be playing some free to play games, as well as some other games that people choose throughout the night. It’s always a good laugh, so if you’re up for joining a bunch of the GeekOut UK community for some laughs, then join us on Discord today.
Sackboy, a name that’s associated with cute platforming fun, is back once again with another installment in the hugely adorable and massively popular LittleBigPlanet franchise. But with big names such as Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie involved with voice acting, can the game live up to it’s predecessors, or does it fall just flat of knitted character goodness? Read on for our full LittleBigPlanet 3 review!
Up there in the skies! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s just the GeekOut Bristol Meet attendees flying over to the Old Market Tavern for a night of fun, games, drinks, discussion and much, much more. But of course, not everyone knows what we get up to during our meetups, so if you’re new to what we do, or if you’re simply curious about what’s going down this month, then join us today for a quick chat about what’s new, what’s not and what’s hot about this upcoming meetup.
We were asked by the lovely team over at the Later Levels if I would like to take part in doing a monthly Q&A, to open discussion about video games amongst bloggers. If you’re interested in joining in the discussion, leave us a comment below, or reach out to Later Levels. Every month here on GeekOut South-West, we’ll be sharing what the question of the month is, as well as what our answers to this question is and our justification for the answers.
What Game Has The Best Soundtrack?
The next few paragraphs will be from the GeekOut South-West team – All giving their take on the above question of the month.
For me this one was a really easy pick, I mean I’ve ranted and raved about this game and it’s music for a very long time. I even wrote a guest article back in 2015 regarding this exact subject and I still mentioned this game. It’s one of those games that has a soundtrack so good, that not only do you enjoy it, but the guy who made the soundtrack (and he’s made a lot) went on record to say it’s his favourite musical score in any of the franchise.
Final Fantasy IX – Timlah
Final Fantasy IX is a game I’m playing through on YouTube at the moment, which means that I hear it’s music a lot right now. It’s melodic, it’s simple and most importantly: It’s a fantasy score like no-other. It’s clear Nobou Uematsu went to town on this one and he enjoyed it. There’s joy in the happy moments, such as “Zidane’s Theme” which plays as he’s commandeering an airship to take to Lindblum. There’s suspense in moments, such as “You’re Not Alone”, where Zidane is fighting alone, only to be joined by his friends. It’s clever, intense and passionate music.
Heroes of Might and Magic 3 – Joel
It was a hard decision to make but of all the incredible soundtracks I know and love, I have to go with my first love, Heroes of Might and Magic 3. The incredible classical score made every faction so much more unique, give each a dramatic feel and personality, brings up the pace of combat, and slides into the background effortlessly. It was the first title to make me sit up and pay attention to the level of talent being thrown into the gaming industry, and it’s set my expectations in the years to come.
That’s it for this month’s responses to this question – What did you think of our answers? Do you have any games you’d consider “The hardest game in the universe, ever”? As always, leave a comment below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit. If you wanna see who else has been writing, check out The Mental Attic and Later Levels today.
A game for the criminally imaginative, that’s the tagline. Whilst board games have enjoyed a massive resurgence in the 2000’s and beyond, so too have games where there are less typical boards involved. This month, we investigate a game that’s been on my “to play” list for quite some time – Rogues to Riches. This was a game I backed on Kickstarter quite some time ago and I received it late last year. We finally got around to playing it as a small group at this past GeekOut Bristol Meet and I will say it’s one of the most funny games I’ve picked up in quite some time. Read on for our full review!
Last year I managed to attend the Play Expo up in Manchester, got to meet one of my heroes, played some fun games, spoke to some lovely people and in general had a really nice time. We asked you last year if there are any more Expo’s that you think GeekOut should try to attend and report on. I have already asked my niece to see if they would want me to take them to one of the many Anime Expo’s scattered around the country but this week whilst browsing one of my regular sites I saw a link that I found sparked my interest.
2016 has come to an end now and we’re hopeful for a bright future in 2017. Ah, so let’s look out of the window… Dear God, it’s all gone to hell out there.
It has been a couple of years since the release of the core set – Players Handbook, Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide – and in between we’ve mostly seen the release of campaign books that have added their own flavour that a half-awake DM can implement to great effect in his/her own games.
Across the last two editions we’ve seen something of a template in terms of extra material, and the same with independent adaption Pathfinder; more monster manuals, more player options, flavour books that add new worlds or mixed materials that play to a theme, accompanied by campaign modules which are primarily focused on a playable adventure, rather than adding usable material for anyone to use. (more…)