Studying For Games

  • I'm in my third of likely 6 years in college and I've been doing a lot of studying. It's kind of a drag but easier to do when with friends or a study group. I got to thinking, and I realized, I do a lot of studying for games as well.

    What ways do you study and prepare for gaming? In my eyes this could be looking up guides, memorizing attack patterns for a boss, reading up on how to optimize you character or party, even grinding to make a boss encounter a little less impossible.

    In my time as a gamer the most time I’ve spent actively studying and seeking knowledge is for Pokemon. About a month after I finished my first Pokemon game I decided that I wanted to play competitively but that’s not an easy thing to just jump in to, especially when you’re very new to the series. Getting ready to play competitively requires a lot of preparation, planning and studying. Here’s my step by step study system for Pokemon.

    1. Beat the current gen game.
    2. Determine your play style. For me it was heavily based on special attack.
    3. Watch the last Pokemon World Championships. Learn about the format used in competitive battles (Doubles). Take note of Pokemon commonly used on the most successful teams. Take note of common Pokemon types used. Take note of common type/ability/battle position combination. Such the formerly common combo of a Storm Drain Gastrodon with a Water Type with strong and wide reaching water type attacks.
    4. Research specific Pokemon, their abilities, and possible movesets. Smogon is a good resource for this since it provides recommended move sets, abilities, EV’s, IV’s, and stat distributions, as well as placing it in a bracket that denotes it’s usability like Uber, Over Used [OU], or Never Used [NU].
    5. Build a practice team. This is possible through battle simulators, the best one is Pokemon Showdown! which is run by Smogon. It allows you to set a Pokemon’s stats, EV’s, IV’s, Nature, moves, and ability with ease.
    6. Battle with your practice team. Again, use a battle simulator like Pokemon Showdown! to test your team against other players online. Test out new combinations of your Pokemon and new strategies.
    7. Analyze your results. How often did you win? How often did you lose? When you lost or won was the outcome hard fought or totally one sided? What Pokemon were the stars of your team? Which combinations served you well? Which ones didn’t?
    8. Analyze your opponents. Seeing as the best time to train is between competitions, a good way to see what Pokemon are going to be used the most in the next competitions are the ones you battle most commonly in training.
    9. Build a new team. Based on your results and the teams on your opponents, repeat steps 4 and 5 to build a new team.
    10. Repeat steps 6, 7, and 8. Then return back to 4 and 5. Continue this cycle until you feel confident in your team.
    11. Actually make your team in game. Research what Pokemon you need to battle to raise EV’s, how to breed for IV’s and abilities, and trade until you have what you want. Then actually train up your Pokemon. This will take a long time. Like weeks depending on how much free time you have.
    12. Bonus Step Only Possible in Gen V: I started playing in Gen 5, and in Black and White 2, it was possible to download the teams of the winners at the Pokemon World Championships for that year and battle them. It’s good practice to test your team against the best players in the world. It’s also a good reminder of how much you have to learn. It took me about a week to build a strategy that could beat the winners from Worlds.
    13. Sign up for a league. I was lucky to have a league in my small town, but depending on where you live you might have to travel.
    14. Play against members of your league.
    15. Repeat steps 6, 7, and 8. Then go back to Steps 4 and 5. Repeat the cycle until you’re REALLY confident in your team.
    16. Build your team in game again.
    17. Test it against your league. Repeat the cycle if you’re not happy with your team and continue doing so until you are.
    18. Sign up for a competition!
    19. Play in said competition or subsequent competitions if you do well and go as far as you can! Make sure to research and adjust your team as needed as you advance.
    20. And your done! You are now a competitive Pokemon player, congratulations!

    Really the only other times I study for games is with the Persona series. I watch a lot of Japanese streams and I followed all the updates for Persona 5 so I knew a lot about the game going in, but only for about the first third of the game. After that I was going in blind, which I decided to do because I wanted to really experience the story for the first time when I played it. The only issue with that is that I horribly mismanaged my time. In the past I've studied guides and determined what my goals for a play through were ahead of time so that I could make the most out of it. I will definitely being applying this method for my second run of P5. Also research is practically required for P1 and P2. The way you build your party in P1 is very confusing to the first time player and you might end up not being able to recruit valuable party members if you don't know what to do. P2 is simpler with a fixed party but the negotiations and Persona fusion/summoning system are very confusing. I went my entire first play through of P2: Innocent Sin not knowing I could change Personas.

    So to restate my question: How do you study for games? What games do you study for? Do you like to research and plan for games you play, or do you like to just feel your way through it?

  • What I always do nowadays is to look up if missable trophies or pick ups are a thing as I like to do as much as possible in 1 playthrough. Like for example Yakuza 3 which I'm playing currently has 3 missable sidequests so I looked those up.

    Else I usually look things up when i feel I need to, not before playing the game.

  • I typically hold off from looking at trophy/achievement lists for the games I'm playing until I pop it into my system and try to do as many as possible in one run. Typically, I go for these things as a means of giving me something to do when friends are unavailable to play.

    Another thing I do is invest in outside material, within reason. For example, not only did I play Final Fantasy XV, I watched both Brotherhood and Kingsglaive. For Battlefront II, I've already read Inferno Squadron. For the Gears of War series, I own EVERY book. Depending on how engaging the universe is to me is how much additional cannon I consume, in addition to the game itself.

    For my favorite games in the RPG genre, I plan out each new playthrough different. To use a Pokemon example:

    For Red/Blue, I ALWAYS pick Charmander, catch a Nidoran, and buy the Magikarp, but decide well in advance, "Do I want a Haunter or Snorlax in my final team? Train a Pidgey from the beginning or take a legendary bird by the time I get to the Elite Four? Do I focus on the "free" fighting Pokemon in Saffron or invest in the fossils?

    Also, for RPGs in general, the way I go about leveling is a little weird: I try to keep as even team in any game. To accomplish this, I go by total HP. For a game like Final Fantasy VII with the Materia system, characters can be molded how I choose, so it follows a similar pattern. For Final Fantasy X, a game where each character has a defined role, some characters are a part of the fighting more than others (Lulu and Yuna quite a bit in the beginning, and Rikku lasts close to two whole areas as opposed to Auron and Wakka who take a backseat). To keep the balance to compensate for my flawed system, if a character-specific enemy appears and said character isn't in battle, everyone has one action before I switch them out.

    Example: Elemental enemy, but Tidus, Yuna, and Kimahri are the team. Each takes a turn before Lulu is brought in to do damage.

    These are the things that popped into my head, but I'm sure I do something else. This is a fascinating topic to think about as I didn't look at these as "studying" before.

    EDIT: OH! Long time later, but I remember another thing I do: I rewatch a previous year's press conference, take the following 12 months into account, and make predictions for the coming show. Right now I'm going to rewatch the 2015 Paris Games Week show from Sony to get a vibe about what kind of show it will be. I get REALLY nerdy about that kind of thing.