Film Study, Or, Learning From Your Fellow Tanks

Alright, so, last night, I’m sitting here at my desk, watching the game play against itself in NCAA14. I have Texas State playing at South Alabama, and…I’m watching a comedy of errors. First down and Goal to go at the TSU one-yard line, and…USA doesn’t do the smart thing, and punch the ball in for a touchdown. No. It’s incomplete pass, stretch run for a loss, QB Power run for a loss, field goal. And it’s not any better going the other way. So many useless plays that go nowhere, wasting downs, and drives. It’s like the game is trying too hard to play “cute”, rather than trying to put points on the board.

When I play, it’s “go for the throat”, every play. Dive, Slam and Counter runs that gash the defense, leading to quick, or deep strikes down-field. On defense, we’re trying to bury the Quarterback on every play, you may beat me in coverage, but, I’m going to have the Offensive Line and Quarterback under duress on almost every play. My idea of “getting cute” is having my receivers running crossing routes, and blasting past their defenders. That, or running an option play to psych out the defense and have the QB pick up a first down.

So, after I watched South Alabama lull Texas State to sleep to the tune of 20-3, I decided I’d play one more game myself before bed. I decide to take on Texas State with Texas – San Antonio, as I think I can easily beat them by more than 17, and…it was a digital bloodbath. We jump out to a quick 7-0 lead with UTSA, and TSU goes out on offense. I get an interception, and somehow run it back for a touchdown. Nice, I’ll take it, get back out on defense again. Next play, get back into a base Cover 3, I intercept them again, and run it back for another touchdown. This is getting embarrassing Texas State, show me some fight! We end the first quarter 28-0, and the half 42-0. They don’t score until it’s garbage time, and I fail a two-point conversion as time expires, game ends 58-7. Screw “sportsmanship”, I was gunning for at least 60 points, sue me.

Why am I talking up a game of NCAA14? Because I initially set up a CPU-CPU game to kind of “study” what the game does against itself, in a normal game, where it’s not having to deal with me playing both an aggressive offense and defense. Like, I’m evaluating what the CPU is doing right and wrong in a game, that way I can either exploit it, or take some pointers, and add it to what I do. For example, I don’t do well trying to pull off outside run-plays, so, I studied what South Alabama’s offense was doing to add it to my Ohio State or Cincinnati offenses.

I do the same thing in FFXIV as well, when I was teaching my brother how to tank, I would focus-target him, and evaluate how he was doing based on what I could see him using. If he was using his mitigation smartly, that’s good. If he’s needlessly stacking cooldowns, or not using them at all, I’d bring it up to him. Now, tanking is second nature to him, and he’s pretty good at it. I’ll do the same thing with tanks I think aren’t pulling their weight when I’m healing or DPS-ing, and bring up what I see to him after I’m out of the dungeon. We typically run together, but, I’ve been distracted with other games, so, he’s been on his own.

He was playing Bard, and running a dungeon while I’m on my lunch break yesterday. Typically, I try to write on my lunch, but, I watched him run Brayflox normal. He had a tank that…did not use…any…mitigation until the last boss. He’s really starting to sound like me, griping about what he sees his party doing or NOT doing. I had him focus target the tank so that I could watch what he wasn’t doing, and, yeah, very little mitigation, draining the healer dry on MP with every pull, it was rough.

But, what I found in that run my brother did, was that HE is seeing the things I would typically see. He’s pointing out the mistakes other tanks make, like I did with him when I was teaching him how to tank. He’s taking all the things HE sees, and using them to make himself a better tank. He’s been working up Gunbreaker on his own, and hit 80 a couple days ago to go with his Dragoon and Dark Knight, and he’s used what I taught him to see and do, and has his own “style” of tanking now. I gave him the raw materials, and he’s built a house out of it.

I’m not a “fun” teacher to learn under, I’m going to make you work, I’m going to push you as hard as I can to make you better. But, my thought is that, I can only give you so much theory, so much controlled training. You NEED to see it in live fire to really get what you’re supposed to be doing. You NEED to be in the fire, holding off whatever nightmare scenario is occurring to really learn what to do.

Ever been through Driver’s Ed? When I went through it, we did the hours of class work, theory, hypotheticals and what you MIGHT see. It wasn’t until my I instructor got me out on the road that I actually learned what to do. It was live fire, the old man had me diving in between semi-trucks at 75mph on the highway in the snow to MAKE me have to adapt on the fly, make me have to take that theory and apply it in a real-world scenario. I’m not going state exactly what he told me, since it was a whole lot crude, but, suffice to say, I was a better driver going out, than I was coming in. That’s the kind of teaching I try to do, where you’re actually SEEING the things you’ll be dealing with on your own, but, with me as your backup in case it goes screwy.

Is it the most effective way to do it? Probably not, but, my philosophy is that you learn by doing, and what better way to learn than by being thrown into the deep end and having to adapt after you’ve been given the theory and class work? My brother’s thinking about trying Conjurer/White Mage soon, and, since I know healing like the back of my hand, and he doesn’t, I’m going to have to be a little more patient. But, as a tank, you gotta understand what your team can and cannot handle, if they can handle wall-to-wall insanity, by all means. But, if they aren’t able to handle it, you got to build them up to it.

As a healer, I can easily handle wall-to-wall, but a new healer? Probably not. However, seeing them NOT handle it helps them as well. They’ll see what it looks like, and by trying and dying, they’ll learn what they need to do in a mass-pull like that. They’ll learn that they’ll need to pre-load heals, get regens/shields on people, and where and when to use their off-globals, as well as sneaking in damage where they can. By taking stock of what they did wrong and right, they know more of how to handle those giant pulls for the next time, and when they’re ready, they’ll be more apt to handle it, and ask for their tanks to go wall-to-wall.

I’ve been playing MMORPGs for more than half my life, so, I don’t get rattled often, but, when I screw up, I have to take stock of WHAT I screwed up. That way, it doesn’t happen again. And when I’m working with other tanks/healers/DPS, I’m studying what they do, trying to take tricks from them, and add that to my own arsenal. I do the same thing at my actual job as well, pouring over other people’s notes, learn what they did, pick their brains, and add their knowledge to my own. Doing that, I feel makes me better at my job, and it’s something I try to stress to my brother, to study other players, learn what they’re doing, and add that knowledge to your own.

These types of games are all about learning, sharing information, sharing knowledge to make us all better, make us all stronger. And, if we’re all siloed into not learning from our mistakes, and others’ mistakes, we aren’t going to solve anything. I know I’m not the most effective teacher, but, I feel like my method has a point, to do the job in live fire to truly learn, and then study others when they’re the ones in that particular role’s seat. I could be vastly overlooking something simple another person is doing that’s more effective than what I am, but, if I study them, learn their methods, see what they do, I can make myself, and my future teams better for next time. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to study up more on how to effectively pull off sweep runs to the outside of my Offensive Line.

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