Tobold's Blog
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Thanks, Stubborn!

As Stubborn was sending me Thanksgiving thanks, I would like to return the favor. Especially since his post helped me make a decision I was pondering. You might have heard that Planetside 2 just came out, and I've been reading about the game and wondering whether I should play. My main concerns were that I prefer to play games about war from the perspective of the general, and not from the perspective of the grunt soldier, and that I've read several comments on how unforgiving Planetside 2 was. In a multiplayer first-person shooter game there is no adjustable difficulty level, the difficulty is given by the skill of the players from the other side.

So reading the input from Stubborn on the matter helped me decide. He says: "The most likely candidates for games that are too fast paced include first person shooters and real time strategy games. If you’re not of that age just yet, eventually you’ll find that while you completely understand the strategy behind a real time strategy game, you simply can’t operate fast enough to beat the computer on certain difficulty settings. It’s not a coincidence that that you don’t find champion Starcraft 2 players over a certain age (in fact I believe the oldest is my age, 32). Similarly, first person shooters can be too fast paced if enemies spawn too quickly for the player to handle them. This, too, can be age related, since as I’ve gotten older I’ve had more and more trouble getting my crosshair precisely where I want it to retaliate."

I'm way past 32. I can play PvE shooters on low to medium difficulty levels, but with my reaction speed and aiming skill I'd just be a random target in Planetside 2. Maybe one day some game company comes up with a system that sorts players by skill and manages to put us slow old-timers on a separate slow-poke battlefield. But until then I should just give up on the idea to participate in multiplayer PvP games that rely on fast reflexes.

I am younger than you, but very bad a quickly aiming and having reflexes. But it seems you CAN play planetsides 2 as a thinker, by playing medic and thinking about where you are most needed, or engineer and building turrets, or playing a slow motion tank and thinking where to fire.

I have not a lot of experience with Planetsides2 (just playing like 3hours or fun running and discovering the game).

But I have played a lot of Team Fortress 2 as an engineer, and being able to build the turret sentry at the perfect spot at the perfect time so that I have a base fully updagred when the enemy push comes is greatly satisfying. Building the Teleport that was used 100 times in a round, you know that *you* are the guy that make this round.

In a FPS, you can enjoy yourself by being the engineer, but you can be frustrated if you want a good Kill/death ratio, or if you know what spot is necessary to help your team, but you are the only one to try to take it.

You will be at the bottom of the end-of-round table, but in fact, you know you are the king that allow your team to win !
Well that's a little disappointing. I was looking forward to the premier MMO anthropologist's take on this game.

After all, it is a very different game, with a different pricing model and offers different incentives to the players. These are things you usually like to write about. It also features an interesting 'organic' outcome to the actions of hundreds (thousands?) of different players.

I'm an older game myself (47) and only a FPS dabbler, and am finding the game interesting. The combat is not like Tribes, where enemy players popped around like ping-pong balls, but is more about using cover and anticipating the enemy. You can also play a supporting role, healing or repairing. Or you can drive a transport vehicle or man a turret.

You gotta at least take a look! :)
Maybe one day some game company comes up with a system that sorts players by skill

Doesn't World of Tanks already do this?

In fact, hasn't chess's Swiss tournament system been doing this for over a hundred years?
EVE Online! The ship modules cycle in 5-10 seconds and the server responds in every 1 sec, so it doesn't matter who shot first.
That ties in with some thoughts I've been having about the idea of "slow gaming" - games that are based on thought and strategy and not just on twitch reflexes. Must get round to working a bit less and actually writing up the blog post on it one of these days.

While I've not played PlanetSide 2 yet, I did play the original and like all RvR type games I found that playing smart and going for the right objectives is more important than having leet FPS madskillz. Work with a team and you'll do fine. You can't beat the feral manchildren at their own game, but who would want to?
Moving closer to 40 (and past 32), my only twitch game is League of Legends.

Of course, I usually play tanks or bruisers and although I've played squishes I find them too demanding to enjoy (except Karthus who loves to be dead).

So slow gaming work for me. XCOM's turn-based combat was perfect. I'm currently playing Endless Space where combat is totally hands off, so that's a bit too much.

Come on, I'm not eighty!

I also suffer from that bizarre condition known as "middle age"but there are still times when I feel like a bit of multiplayer shooting. One unexpected source I have found is to look to older games. The young hotshots generally move on to newer shinyer games but often you can still find more casual players still playing an older title. Origin recently released the original Battle field 1942 for free and I spent a couple of enjoyable evenings playing it.
Yeah, I've found myself trending toward the Medic/Engineer role. Surprisingly, air-combat is also a good choice for slowing down the demands on your reaction times.

God. I can't believe this is happening to me. I used to be a godamn ninja in competitive FPS. It was like I was Neo in the Matrix and my enemies were moving and turning knee-deep in molasses.

Now, I'm starting to realize... maybe they were just over 30. :(
Fun thing to try:

Basic visual reaction time measurement.

Apparently the median is around 215ms.
I dunno, I've been playing PS2 and I don't think it's all that demanding reaction time wise. Better to be smart and pick good positions than have fast twitch, imo. Given that it is free, I think it's worth a shot.

As I've said plenty of times before re: reaction time, I think it's primarily an excuse to avoid the reality: if you don't play that kind of game, you're going to be AWFUL for a long long time. I remember when I quit WoW it was when Cod 4 was the hot thing, and I got back into FPS after a few years of only playing WoW.

I had 10000 deaths before my K/D ratio got to 1:1. It took a long time to get my mojo back. I had to swallow a LOT of pride, since in my FPS prime I was a thing to be feared. MMO's just destroy your ability to play these games. After a long time I started shredding again.

So if you don't like these games enough to put up the lengthy time it takes to get back in shape, that's totally fine. Perfectly rational.

But it's not really an age thing, so much as you've spent a decade playing games that make you soft and weak, and you're going to have a lot of shin splints and sore muscles (metaphorically) to claw yourself into shape, and you in shape might not be all that great. I mean you won't be as good as an 18 year old who plays 12 hours a day. Given the payoff is pretty small--- being good at FPS--- it's perfectly rational to decide to avoid the humiliation. But it's not the decay of time as much as it is being out of practice.
Also, outdoors combat is mostly over large open spaces, where checking bulletdrop and aim is more relevant.

The only twitch part is when you are storming a base as infantry, and even there it is not as twitch as other shooters, more about setup. Also as others said: medic or engineer are perfectly capable of avoiding most.
I'm 41 and honestly was horrible at shooters ten or more years ago...I've improved in skill since then, and generally do pretty well, so I'm not entirely sure age has much to do with it (other than lack of time to dedicate to practice and persistence). I mean, I figure younger gamers probably have an edge...but this isn't genuine sports, its all about perception and a twitchy mouse. Anyway, I'll take a look at PS2 and see if it's too twitch or not for my tastes/skill/age...
I'm 39 and Mechwarrior Online is my PvP game.

Planning and tactics are at least as important as reflexes. There are also some great units.

Hopefully the Community Warfare promised by the developers will turn out well.
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