How do we learn?

| Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Yesterday I helped a noob, trying to teach him a little bit. In the comments Stabs talking more about teaching, ending with "And lastly we all learned to play because at some point some better player was kind enough to take time to improve us." I honestly can't agree with this as a blanket statement. I don't remember anyone teaching me.

I'm not going to pretend to be some self-made man who pulled himself up by his bootstraps and did his own theorycraft out on a farm in Durotar, digging up numbers by hard work and a lazy Sunday meant a sermon at Elitist Jerks to see what they had to say. I'd be lying if I said that. I didn't do theorycraft. I didn't know it existed. I didn't know Elitist Jerks existed. Maybe it didn't. I also won't pretend to be old school old school. I never saw warlocks in leather or rogues with bucklers, but I was a grown up level 60 troll shaman (or close enough that my memory blurs it) when the AQ Farm Festival started. I've played since about this time in 2005.

All aboard the nostalgia train...

We were different back then. For starters, I was a complete noob. Worse. I rolled need on a SP trinket as enhancement. This was that one off the rare spawn in UBRS that you NEVER SEE because he NEVER SPAWNS. Fortunately for all involved, it went to someone useful. I still remember running around with WF and no concept of aggro control, thinking it was funny that I could burst so much that right after being rezed I'd attack in the next pull, get aggro, die, and have a res timer. These days I'd be kicked from the group for ninjaing and sucking. I don't recall anyone saying much about it. We just went along.

Oh it wasn't happy bunny land. There was still some flaming, but it wasn't like now. We didn't care so much about gear levels. We knew blues were RARE and purples were epic; which back then meant 1% drop rates off end bosses or drops for the one class that isn't there from a raid that your guild is too small to do. You'd wipe on the core hounds anyway because you're all in greens and the tanks don't know to turn them around and Horde doesn't have fear wards and tremor totem was fail back then and... Sorry.

Not happy bunny land: We didn't help each other much. We weren't hostile, but we weren't much help either. We learned on our own. Slowly. As in, what we'd expect someone to know after a couple weeks took me months, maybe a couple years to really get the concept of theorycraft. Still, when no one flames, it's easier to learn on one's own. There's no defensive reaction, so we remained open to the bits of knowledge that we found. It's not like know where it's all "l2p" and when someone tries to offer advice you can't tell if they're just the next asshole, so you block it all out.

It was a different sort of learning. Now we learn actively, searching for or being given information. Back then it was more like classical conditioning: green puddles make me feel pain, strength makes bad things die faster; simple stuff.

I also learned a decent bit from the forums. They were terrible back then. I won't let nostalgia say they were better. It was a different type of terrible, one I am more used to, but terrible nonetheless. This was how I learned to control feared mobs, learned to go against the almost universal "don't use fear." Still, it took some fail, some epic fail, some corpse runs, but I learned.

So how do you learn? How did you learn?


Sygor said...

About the same way as you did. Although I remeber my class leader back then teaching me some tips about downranking to save some mana, and how to cancel-cast a heal when the tank is almost full HP. Also had to cleanse without decursive, with 40 people getting hit by [Insert nasty debuff here].

Yea, I agree with you that newer players have it easy nowadays. But I also like it being much less of a hassle now.

G-Rebel said...

I had a Rogue tell me while I was a 1H Axe + Shield weilding lvl22 Enh-Shaman that I should be using a 2H weapon. He was friendly enough about the tip, so I decided to research before following through. That was the first time I used the internet for game-play tips on my character. Sure enough, a slow 2H weapon was the way to go (until dual-wielding).

I still try to figure most out myself, using external help for quest tips mostly. I'm open to tips from other players as long as they are nice about it. But I always search for a second or third opinion before following any player suggestions. Who knows, they could be a complete dufus-brain?!?!

Copernicus said...

I learn through research and experimentation. I like reading all the talents, looking for any that play nice together. I throw together a spec that I think is pretty good, then go out and kill lots of things. I look at recount and see what abilities are doing the most damage and see if any talents I've taken are more or less useful than I thought they were.

Once I get what I think is a good system, I go look up blogs and sites like Elitist Jerks to see how far off I am from the "best" spec, and why.

Ideally I do this while leveling, so it's a natural learning process. However I had to do a compressed version when I dual spec'd moonkin on my 80 druid who had never tossed a burning ball of Wrath in his life.

Yeah, it would probably be a lot faster just to skip to step 3, but it's nowhere near as enjoyable for me. I actually enjoy the learning process.

I detest when players try to tell me that I'm doing it wrong. It ticks me off on so many levels that I can't really give any one solid reason.

Unknown said...

new and off-class, but relevent.
I learned WoW in the "new" school a.k.a. started the game post 3.0. I had no idea what forums were, I had no idea a druid could shift into 4(!) possible things.
I just like playing a bear. I figured out Maul hit hard. I used to live by agility... until Patchwerk killed me before the prot warrior. I didn't find any blogs until 3.1(tankspot).
Now I'm the best feral tank on my server. Sure the info helps you fine tune, but you have to be the type who can figure the class out on your own to be truly good.


Klepsacovic said...

@Sygor: I actually don't think players have it easier nowadays. We no longer learn on our own through direct experience and experimentation, trial and error.

@G-Rebel: Be careful to not dismiss the doofus brains; they are stopped watches: right twice as Blizzard changes mechanics. What I really mean is that we should all remember that what is wrong yesterday might not be today.

@Copernicus: The process of learning is highly underrated. But perhaps you shouldn't be so sensitive, sometimes people mean the best. Sometimes.

@Michael: Knowing, understanding, and experiencing are all needed to get far. Sounds like Patchwerk taught you the experiencing part. Specifically experiencing pain. :P

Stabs said...

EJ and such wasn't quite what I was driving at.

I was more talking about the influence of other players on your play.

You've picked up the word "tank" from somewhere? Did you make it up yourself and happen to pick the same word everyone else uses or did you encounter a player who told you he was a "tank" and showed you what tanking is?

If you learned WoW in the same way you learned to play an offline game like Oblivion or something then you can claim no one ever showed you anything.

But if you raid then surely you pick things up from others. When you first did Anub'Rekan did someone kite him around the room? Or did you keep tanking him in the locust swarm over and over and wiping?

Even raids where people pay only passing attention to sites like EJ and Bosskillers people still figure out strategy as a committee. Some Warlock will mention some obscure pet talent that could help beat an encounter that the raid leader had never even heard of before. And so on.

Klepsacovic said...

@Stabs: You're right that we're not isolated and we do learn from others. What I meant was being actively given knowledge vs. having to find it within the normal gameplay.

I suppose I should have had an exclusion for raids, that knowledge from them is often specific to a boss rather than being part of a general knowing how to play which is universally applicable. Also once I started raiding I was more actively pursuing knowledge and gradually using tools like EJ or wowhead. So at some point I stopped learning on my own.

Anonymous said...

I learned through a mix of things, as I dare say most people do.

Friendly pointers...
Nasty stabs...
"look it up on thottbott noob!"
Misinformation... which made me look for real information.
Official forums
unofficial forums
Trial and error

Ultimately what made it all gell was the friendly pointers... or the friendly players... well that and green goo = pain...

Stabs said...

"Nasty stabs.."


Oliver said... that we know you're a ninja who sucks....

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