Gaming has taken a competitive twist ever since Doom brought friends and foes together in an all out deathmatch. Now games such as Halo and Counter-Strike bring multiplayer to a whole new level, and revolve around the multiplayer gaming scene.
But how do you get as good as a pro player? In the gaming world, there’s always people playing, people who may or may not be better than you. Where do you fit in, and how do you get higher up on your ladder to gaming greatness? Grab a soda, your favorite online game, and get ready for a good training session.
- Understand your game. It sounds like a textbook concept, but if you don’t know how something works in any given situation, you aren’t going to train at your full potential. Learn everything about the maps you play on, such as important item areas, vantage points, secret (or just less visable) locations, and “sucker zones” (areas where players are the most vulnerable). Learn the weapons or units and how to use them in more than one situation effectively, because you can’t perform a “Zerg Rush” twenty minutes into the game. Also, know your glitches and cheap tricks, so you don’t feel like a loser when you can’t find the guy who just “Super Bounced”.
Read about your game, and further your knowledge of it. Learn about strategies, tactics, and gamebreaking moments that other players speak about, and use this to your advantage. Also, try to get used to the terminology for the game you want to learn. You don’t want to be confused when your last teammate dies after telling you “2 on cat w/b”. There is a lot of important info underneath all of the useless stuff, so don’t be afraid to sift.
Practice, practice, practice! Start a multiplayer game by yourself, and if its hosted online, slap a garbage password (“asdfasdf”) on your game so nobody can join. Play around with the game, and get a feel for the timing, speed, and caution you need. For RTS, practice your ability to “micro” your base and units correctly. For FPS, practice with your guns and grenades. For example, find safe points in Halo 2 and memorize how to throw the grenades into popular camping points.
Join an online game. Find the game with the lowest ping and the simplest name, so you get good results with simple rules. When you play, generally focus on your opponent only while skirmishing. Don’t waste your time thinking “Well, he’s not here”, because chances are, he’s been there. Concentrate on when you see your enemy, and when he sees you. Watch for patterns. Play a few games, and see how you fare.
Read your enemies. If somebody spots you, you’re now engaged in what I call a “mind war”. For example, if you plant the bomb in Counter-Strike, the enemy will know your general location. You can either guard the bomb, strike while they’re defusing, or run the map looking for the enemy. Do whichever feels right for who you’re playing against. On the other hand, if you’re playing the opposite team, think about where your opponent might be waiting or watching. Consider your opponent’s options, actions, and common patterns (if you play the same people for a while). If your enemy did it once, he’s sure to do something really similar at some point (more often than not).
Develop good instincts. Learn to shoot when something moves. Throw a grenade if you can’t see your enemy. Memorize a strong build order. Crouch-block sweep attacks, stand-block jumping attacks. As soon as you can do this without thinking, you’ll be so much better already. Don’t, however, practice a bad habit. As soon as you start doing a bad habit, practice alone, or do whatever it takes to get back on track. Bad habits develop FAST.
Play against good players. You won’t get anywhere killing newbies all day. Learn it the hard way from the top dogs themselves. A lot of players online are good, and almost fifty percent of those players are total jerks. When you find a player who isn’t a jerk and you get whooped, talk. Make friends, ask questions, get answers, and learn. Give them the occasional “Wow, where were you?” or “How did you do that so fast?”. They’re bound to share some tips with you.
Play often. If you skip out for a few days, you’re going to get rusty. Also, play in medium bursts, around two to three hours per session, two to three times a day. You would generally want five or more hours under your belt before bed. This ensures you don’t overplay the game, which adds to stress and boredom, and that leads to quitting.
- Never give up! Giving up usually means you’ve hit your peak, though you have more to put out. Some players quit and hate the game because of a bad match or two, or an embarassing moment. Unless you have a problem with the game itself, and it’s not some anger issue, quitting should never be an option. Just remember, “Progress over time, and victory is mine.”
- It’s just a game, and never forget that. That isn’t you dying, and those units don’t have souls, so don’t panic when you lose. Keep your cool, and never throw a fit during or after the game. You can acknowledge yourself or whine a bit, but don’t get cocky, and don’t be a sore loser. You will look stupid. Very stupid.
- If you’re having some emotional trouble, such as stress or depression, play in much shorter bursts. Playing by emotion can really throw off your game, so unless you’re doing a practice, alone or with friends, take a breather until you feel better.
- Play with friends. It makes the experience more fun, and you can have those post-games talks about what went right, wrong, and how to improve. Plus, you have people to cheer you on when you win, and pat your back when you don’t.
- Keep your mind clear with healthy brain habits. Eat and drink healthy and keep yourself balanced; Never fill yourself, but don’t run too close to empty. Get a good sleep (seven hours, minimum) the night before you play, and when you wake up, wait an hour (or shower, your choice) before getting into anything. You don’t want any distractions (such as bloating, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and itching) while you play.
- Sharpen your mind before the game with reading, math, or a puzzle. If you aren’t into that, do some stretching. It always helps to loosen up before a game, and it’ll really help with your hand-eye coordination, thinking, and reflexes.
- Get pumped with some music before the game. Ever thought about your “0wn463″ killing spree with a song to it? Listen to it before you start. If you gun and rush, listen to some hard Techno or some fast Rock. Maybe if you’re a slower, calmer player, some Trance (possibly even Vocal Trance) or Techno remixes of Classical music will better suit your mood. Think about the game while you listen to it, and you’ll feel it while you play.
- Never, and I mean never, play music while you play the game. It takes a piece of your mind that could be used for concentrating, and it wanders off and pays attention to the music. Unless you’re a “vibe” player (using music to keep your emotions calm, while normally they’re hard to control), music is not recommended.
- Practice and training is time consuming. If you don’t have the schedule for it, don’t start.
- The health warnings on your games are no joke. If you do experience anything wrong while you play (twitching, vision problems, semi/full blackouts, or anything that shouldn’t be happening), contact your doctor and ask for their opinion.