Tobold's Blog
Monday, May 09, 2011
 
"Playing" World of Tanks

I played World of Tanks a lot yesterday. I am not extremely good at this game, still learning a lot. I did not look up optimal specs or equipment, nor spent real money on consumables. I didn't read up on the best possible tactics, but just tried out all sorts of crazy tactics, most of which only got me killed. I just played, and had fun. When I got killed, I just hopped into the next tank and started the next game, so I got a lot of games done.

And in not a single one of these games did any of my fellow players criticize my gear, build, or performance. Go figure.
Comments:
The only time I get annoyed at other players is when they give up at the start of a match. You will find times when you hit Tier 4 or 5 that you will be a very small fish in the big boys pond, with up to Tier 8-9 tanks against you.

Some players just resign to death and drive straight into the opponents guns. Where a thinking player might see the value to the team in a little tank moving quickly to a known approach, finding cover then just spotting for your big tanks. So many ways you can always contribute in this game, not just shooting.

Other than that, I do not care how others play, just dont despair :)
 
I think it's a little unfair to compare a new game with one that is over 6 yrs old. When WoW first came out, no one really complained about gear, build or performance.
 
Well, I read and analyze your blog (literally) and this post is kind of redundant.
It is obvious that this community will not criticize. Based on the conclusions you yourself posted in here the community is way too young and way too small for the really bad jackassiness to unfold. Also, it's harder to minmax when the rules are different depending on how much you are going to spend on the game, so the theorycrafters are not only a young breed but also need more time to provide fuel for any bad kind of jerkiness.
 
I've played World of Tanks off and on since September - when it was in closed beta. There are two things worth purchasing with gold (RMT currency) - premium (for extra cash and EXP) and EXP conversion on elite status tanks (which is useful for power leveling).
The gold tanks aren't bad ideas to power level through tech trees, but since I participated in the closed beta and pre-ordered gold I got two premium tanks (one from the beta - an M4 Sherman variant and an M6 variant for pre-ordering 25k gold) I didn't need to purchase one.
I assume Tobold plays on the Euro server - if not, I'd enjoy making a platoon with him and going a few rounds.
As for optimal strategies, stick with one nation and one tank type to start with - it depends entirely on play style which is best for you. I chose US Medium tanks and will tech into US tank destroyers once available as I like having mobility and also don't mind a bit of point defense. The French tanks look interesting too.
Some insight on the tech tree Tobold chose would be helpful.
 
I think this is part of the phenomenon whereby many MMOs seem to be more fun in beta than they are after launch. In many MMO betas (although not all) unfamiliarity with exact game mechanics engenders greater open-mindedness and greater tolerance of both error and experimentation.

This is probably a sliding scale after the games go Live, too. The first few weeks or months are something of a free-for-all on tactics and strategy as players level up, explore and consume content for the first time. If the game is successful enough, things begin to crystallize. Wikis and guides appear and fill with reasonably accurate detail. Guild leaders and officers, at least, read them and promulgate the winning strats, builds and specs, which slowly trickle down through the whole community (or that part of it that might care).

I think this is may be part of why MMOs often see a big surge in population at launch, followed by a heavy drop after two to three months. Given that MMOs are famously not at their technical best until a while after launch, you might expect players to be "once burned, twice shy" on jumping straight on a new game, but they pile in at the earliest opportunity. It may be because novelty really is best experienced when it's genuinely new to everyone.

If you arrive when everything is new to you but well-known to everyone around you, rather than feeling like a brave explorer breaking new ground you tend to feel like the gawking, uninformed yokel arriving in the big city for the first time. No-one has time to explain, or particularly cares whether you're having a good time or not. They just want you to keep out of their way while they get on with things.

The upshot is, MMOs are best enjoyed fresh.
 
Dan I just started playing World of Tanks too (Euro Server) and I'm looking for a Platoon. If you are still recruiting give me the clan name and how to contact you in game I'm interested.
 
Wikis and guides appear and fill with reasonably accurate detail. Guild leaders and officers, at least, read them and promulgate the winning strats, builds and specs, which slowly trickle down through the whole community
...
The upshot is, MMOs are best enjoyed fresh.


What if they could be KEPT fresh? Dynamic changes, random events, bosses which "learn" with neural network AI software and get increasingly resistant to the same old strategy, ...

If MMOs become stale because players optimize the fun out of it, the solution to me appears to be an un-optimizable game.
 
Bhagpuss and others:

"If you arrive when everything is new to you but well-known to everyone around you, rather than feeling like a brave explorer breaking new ground you tend to feel like the gawking, uninformed yokel arriving in the big city for the first time. No-one has time to explain, or particularly cares whether you're having a good time or not. They just want you to keep out of their way while they get on with things.

The upshot is, MMOs are best enjoyed fresh."

This isn't an MMO phenomenon. If you play FPS, they are usually best in the first few weeks, when the behaviour is more experimental in nature and the population of players is large. The learning curve for FPS is a bit quicker, but infinitely more demoralising as you run around a map you don't know whilst more experienced players rush to the power weapons and blam blam blam headshot (the community is often worse as well). I generally reckon on 4 fun weeks on any FPS and if I want to play seriously beyond that, I gotta put some time in. I haven't done that since Halo 3 really.

RTS is pretty much the same. SC2 is a prime example. Today, anyone competent can look up basic MMM ball or 5 roach builds or whatever is current today, execute them well, and smash anyone new. Basic openers are quite inflexible and going random 2s and "having fun" is likely to be frowned upon (unless you are playing custom maps for lols).

So, like I say, this isn't an MMO point, it's an online game point, across many genres. The underlying common ingredient is likely to be the community of people playing tbh.
 
If MMOs become stale because players optimize the fun out of it, the solution to me appears to be an un-optimizable game. Now *that* would make for an interesting topic!
Or more importantly, for an interesting game.
 
I'd guess it would be pretty difficult to hit a pitch where either the game environment or the gameplay or both are in constant flux, yet players feel comfortable and satisfied rather than frustrated and disoriented. The history of MMOs suggests that although players *say* they want dynamic, ever-changing, non-static content, when it's offered most of them complain bitterly until it goes away.

Nevertheless, we do seem to be edging slowly in that direction and it's intriguing to see how far the trend will stretch before it snaps.
 
I'm not really sure how the community would attack each other in World of tanks. I mean, take the M3 Lee, for example. It is horrible. Everyone who has used one knows it is horrible. No one will ever be like "Why did you bring that piece of crap?" because you just have to go through it to get to the M4 Sherman, which is one of the best tanks in the game.

Tobold, one of the fun things about experimenting around, is that sometimes you will get a random medal for it. For example, I was playing in the starter American tank on Pagorki, went straight down the left hand side of the map in the water, then across the bottom of the map into the enemy base, and capped it from 0 to 100. Got a medal for doing that without being spotted.
 
@MMO Tomb
I'm on NA servers, unfortunately.

As for keeping things fresh, the standard battles will always have a variety of tank types in them (but not always SPG - if there are SPGs in a match, their numbers and tiers will be balanced.
WoT does have some RTS elements in it, especially when clan warfare is involved. There also aren't many things to optimize - again, unless you're in clan warfare, where every tiny advantage can matter.
 
I didn't read up on the best possible tactics, but just tried out all sorts of crazy tactics, most of which only got me killed. I just played, and had fun. When I got killed, I just hopped into the next tank and started the next game, so I got a lot of games done.

In your previous post you are talking about improving community and in this post you are effectively saying 'to hell with other players and teamwork, I'm just going to do whatever I please'. How do the two not contradict each other?
 
@Dave

1) That's called learning to play the game

2) Non-standard tactics actually tend to either succeed or fail spectacularly in WOT. Some things are just bad to do, but you have to get a feel for all the maps to really know what. See #1.
 
@Kobeathris

It's a 'team' based game. Team. Wouldn't learning to play as a team be a better approach?
 
"If MMOs become stale because players optimize the fun out of it, the solution to me appears to be an un-optimizable game."

Look at any truly random event in WoW, and consider it's popularity compared to a static encounter.

Players say they want random, players run the loot pinata. Design a game with too much random, and you start designing the dreaded niche product.
 
Where, specifically, does he say that he is ignoring what his team does? Trying out crazy tactics is not the same thing as ignoring your team mates. Learning to scout in WOT tends to get you killed quick until you learn how to do it well, but even while you are learning, you are still helping your team. If you haven't gotten good at brawling or sniping, you are probably going to be more useful as a scout anyway. Scouting also tends to feel pretty crazy whether or not you are any good at it.
 
Tobold, just out of interest, do you acknowledge that for many optimisation is the fun part of the game? Or are you suggesting that optimisation ultimately kills all games regardless?
 
I think that the tier spread that you are able to meet is too wide really. But then if you narrow it you will spend more time in queue (although that time is very very low at the moment I must say).

You didn't get any remarks about performance? I guess you didn't camp a lot then? ;) People bitch about that quite often, although I guess it's possible that you will encounter that more in a bit higher tiers.

All in all though WoT is a really good game. Much much better than most other games that are F2P at launch.
 
Tobold, just out of interest, do you acknowledge that for many optimisation is the fun part of the game? Or are you suggesting that optimisation ultimately kills all games regardless?

I would say that what I was doing in WoT actually *was* optimization, a learning process that is the fun part of the game.

What kills the game isn't optimization, but the optimum. Optimization can be a dynamic and fun process. The optimum is by definition static and stale. There is no game in it. If you expect people to skip the optimization process but skip directly to the static optimum, the game won't be fun for them.
 
If you expect people to skip the optimization process but skip directly to the static optimum, the game won't be fun for them.

But many people already do that and find it adds to the fun - level an alt, EJ the current optimum spec, Tankspot the best tactics, AtlasLoot the BiS gear and go raid. The fun part is progressing and downing new bosses with friends or guildmates; I'd argue that for many players that the optimisation process is considered the grind/least fun activity.
 
I would look towards the differences in the goals of the individuals playing:

Are the players more oriented towards achieving the objective and winning as a team? Or are they primarily out for themselves (e.g. playing for a high K/D ratio).

Then you need to examine the amount of reliance on teammates to achieve your own goals:

Do you absolutely need the support of your teammates to win the game
(e.g. L4D/DoTA/WoW)? Or can you just hoof it alone and the performance of your teammates doesn't matter? (e.g. in COD, I play TDM and only care about my K/D but not about the success of my team, so I don't care what my teammates do).

These factors are what define the attitudes players will take towards other players on the same team.
 
"Design a game with too much random, and you start designing the dreaded niche product."

Then there's Notch, who's too busy succeeding to spend time dreading his nicheness.
 
Thank you for introducing me to WoT. I've been having fun playing much like yourself, just feeling my way around.

One small tip for new players: While hiding parked, moving your turret (mouse) alerts you to enemy players. You can look around without moving your turret by holding down the right mouse button.

Also, I would like to refer you to one WoT forum post of interest: "You Can Help Stop The Spread Of P.U.T.T.S -- A comedic way of teaching good game ethics"

http://forum.worldoftanks.com/index.php?/topic/14187-you-can-help-stop-the-spread-of-putts/
 
/agree with Dave
 
1) I haven't played WoT yet due to not yet slogged through the hassle of getting Windows to run on my Mac. However a guildie was constantly praising the "get on, play for 20-30 minutes then go to bed". As opposed to logistics to get 2 tanks, 3 healers and minimal melee to log on at the same time.

2) Is it really better because it was a fresh MMO or just not-end game? I have heard few complaints about the 1-60 leveling in WoW. It's when you get to 85 that the game breaks down.

3) I enjoy optimization, I used to enjoy reading many theory postings. But I totally agree with "the solution to me appears to be an un-optimizable game." Yes, random strategies to disrupt the "learn the kabuki dance" would be nice. ( Or would it just mean you would be expected to watch 16 instead of 1 Tankspot video per boss? ) But I feel at least as important is build/gear: if build 137 is always the "best deck"optimal build, then I see getting there is not a fun journey but rather a grind that I am happy to optimize with reading. But being able to read about when build 16 is superior and why, versus 37 or 256 or ... seems better game design.

I think chess openings analogy for an MMO is a great example: most random choices are horrible; you can easily play without the knowledge and can do well but will be at a considerable disadvantage if you don't do some homework, and there are dozens of strategies that are very good but no best; each have strengths and weaknesses.
 
I agree that comparing a brand new game with an old one like WoW is not going to give honest or revealing answers to the question "what's the best MMO design?"

Take a polished, ages-old game like baseball. Pee-Wee leagues are fun and cute and everyone has a great time. Little league is still fun and everyone is learning, but now there are a few emerging athletes that will throw around some attitude. At high school level and beyond, the term "fun" loses meaning.

Adults still do play "fun" forms of the game, but even weekend softball leagues look to the professionals to define how to approach the game, and asshats can abound, especially in "PuG" teams.

The secret is in playing with people you like, and have, or can develop history with.

I don't think tinkering with game design is the answer. No single game can be new or fresh forever, except to a constantly emerging demographic of player. There will always be wide-eyed little kids, so there will always be youth baseball, despite the fact that baseball has had the same "design" for over 100 years.

The answer is clearly about community, like you blogged about yesterday. Community development opportunity in MMO's lags far behind other aspects of game design, yet the "experience" of playing in a virtual world has not changed very much at all.

The "next great MMO" will be the one that combines social networking with clones of current game design, must allow us to actually get to know each other in a more human sense, and give us the tools to communicate more effectively with each other.
 
And in not a single one of these games did any of my fellow players criticize my gear, build, or performance. Go figure.

In chat.

They still criticized you to themselves or on their private voice server.

One of the first things I did in WoT was go through the forums, seeing what other people had already found as tips and tactics. I think it has made me a better player. o noes, otimizr!!!

In the lower tiers, experimenting fine. Everyone is training. It's the Barrens. The only ones there with any skill are guys like me dragging out the M2 light or loltractor to show friends how to play in a platoon. But when I'm trying to grind my M3 Lee or T1 Heavy and you're pulling crap like that, I'm cussing you. I'm just too busy fighting my own tank to type in chat why you are causing us to lose and hurting my win/loss.
 
Thanks for the linklove, mate. I"ve been playing Borderlands with my buddy from WoW, and we're having a blast with that. The game has "specs" similar to WoW, and both of us are just taking what looks fun. We switch all the time, in fact, just based on what the newest item we got is.

There's no damage meter, so we don't compete at all. I've got a sniper kinda guy and he's got a more straightforward shooter, so it's impossible to tell really who's doing "better" since our approach is so different. I die a lot more, that's for sure, but it doesn't upset us (even when we "wipe" or cause bickering. We just say "Man that guy's tough. Maybe we should take out the adds from a distance first," and go back in.

It's refreshing.
 
People know this is not an MMO right? This is counter strike from the mid '90's where you just play because you like to play.

I agree that sometimes you feel you are on the fail teams from hell, but others you are not. Most times I feel I have been on the former, I realise that I also did not communicate any form of plan at the start or use any patience at all.


So in summary, whenever I have been on a string of fail teams, the only common denominator has been me :)

Its at that point of realisation I take a deep breath and start to play sensibly again (anger does lead to the darkside you know).
 
Jesus christ. I just wrote for like 15 minutes on this game and blogger gives me "We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request."

Are you joking me? Jesus christ. I am so angry right now.

Sort of like I am playing WoT. Oh well, I still enjoy the game. I am just too impatient. And too impatient to remake my goddamn post. I hate blogger.

Anyway, the final question was: What play style have you enjoyed the most? What tanks and nations are you currently using, and which are you aiming for if any?
 
Mostly I'm playing Russian artillery, a SU-26 at the moment. That gets around nicely around one flaw of WoT, which is that at level III you tend to be paired against mostly bigger tanks, and the regular level III tanks can make barely a dent into the bigger tanks' armor. The level III artillery on the other hand is still quite effective even against higher level enemies.

I also tried other types of tanks, but haven't tried the tank destroyers yet. But with the regular tanks I never got past 2 kills, while with the artillery I can manage up to 4 per battle.
 
I like VK3601 (about 2/3 win/loss and 1k xp avg). Others I like to use are:
- PzKpfw 38H735
- Churchill
- Ram-II
- T2 Light Tank (insane scout :)

Aiming for T-54 (at T-43 atm).

Mostly prefer sniping, but sniping and brawling can be fun too.
 
Err that was scouting and brawling :)
 
@Sine Nomine

I played German Tanks at the beginning but I stopped at the Pz III Ausf. That Light Tank get matched against beasts from tier 5 all the time. You will be one shotted so many times you will hate your life. You will need to shoot at enemies 3-5 times to destroy them and for some tanks like the KV Heavy Russian just forget it.

I made comparisons with all nations tanks from the same tier and type. For Heavy Tanks I think the Russian Tanks win. They are always faster and almost always hit harder. For the Medium Tanks maybe the German have decent ones but if I recall correctly Russian tanks still hit harder.

I'm disappointed with the German tanks I always loved the Panzer but oh well. I switched to the Russian route and aiming for the KV then the IS-7 aftewards.
 
@Tobold, I haven't tried Arties yet but I did try the Murder II (German Tank Destroyer) with the gun upgrade the Murder II in open maps can dish out a lot of damage against Light and Medium Tanks and they are more mobile and direct than Arties.

The Arties, I think, depends on your team to scout enemy tanks. Without good team work Arteis are less effective.
 
I'm using the Su-26 too at the moment. My full stock of 5 tanks is:

SU-26 (Russian Tier 3 SPG)
T-46 (Russian Tier 3 Light tank, leading to heavies)
AT-1 (Russian Tier 2 TD)
PzKpfw II (German Tier 2 light tank that leads to like...everything...)
M2 Medium tank (US Tier 3 Medium tank)

With light tanks, I have basically given up on scouting. I just don't have a good internal balance of when to advance and when to hide, and when you screw up you basically get one shot. Nowadays I find the closest KV and hug his side and back, trying to help prevent flankings of him and basically acting a parasite, taking potshots with explosive shells at his targets, occasionally trying to flank them (and usually finding the rest of their forces and getting obliterated every time I do try and flank them).

I'd say you really gotta try out TDs Tobold. They really are a good hybrid between tanks and SPGs, since you are always best finding a good spot, hiding, and sniping like an SPG, but you do it by firing normally like a tank. It can be satisfying getting a shot off and just, obliterating an unsuspecting tank. You have to know the map even more than SPGs do though.

Finally, I have to say the most frustrating aspect has been that, because there is a large amount of TDs and SPGs waiting for matches almost always, you can get matches where there is over 20 of those two combined out of 30 players, and especially combined with a few maps this leads to horrible, HORRIBLY boring stall matches where you don't have any tanks fast or maneuverable enough to scout, and if anyone tries they are usually destroyed by a barrage of fire before they even see the enemy, meaning they died before painting the target and it becomes a game of hoping their side is more impatient than yours.

I would honestly rather have much longer queue times than get stuck in those matches. I would love a cap of like 12-15 TDs+SPGs per match
 
I'm also sort of surprised that, despite all the woe is me feelings towards some of my matches, I have never dipped below 50% victory rate since...I started looking. I had a high of 56%, although I have been on a really bad losing streak today that has dropped me all the way down to 51%
 
In the higher tiers, the spg/tank kill ratio will shift. Rof drops off sharply for spgs.

Like most mmos, you really do need to try all three rolls to grok the game. Tds should rely much more on stealth and ambush. (you should read some guides on this -- it isn't intuitive because the only indication that you have been spotted is that you are half dead.)

Spgs are the usual glass cannons. Tds are a different breed - harder hitting pound for pound, but screwed for close combat.

(sorry for the weird caps. iPad.)
 
Having played a tank in most other games I have played, I am now playing a tank who tanks (ie Heavy tanks).

Have all three nations to at least Tier 7 on the heavy tree, and have unlocked and elited my favourite tank the IS-4.

I am far too impatient to play TD's, and I just nave never gotten the hang of SPG's.

In beta one of my other favourite tanks was the Panzer 3. A great tank in its own tier and to me one of the best scouts or scout interceptors in the game.
 
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