Approaching a New Game for the First Time

Iron ManWith some exceptions, MMO players eventually leave their “first” MMO for something newer or different. Experiencing a new game for the first time (and having it click) is an exhilarating experience, especially when you start to realize the depth that lies before you and the potential it holds. I’ve recently jumped around to several different games, going from LOTRO to Guild Wars 2 (where I successfully capped one character) to Skyrim and lately to Marvel Heroes 2015. Arguably three of my last four games have been MMO’s (the other a very deep RPG), and I’ve noticed a pattern to how I approach playing a new game, and I wonder how it affects/enhances my enjoyment of it. I’m also curious about how others approach a new game, and how their approach differs from mine.

Generally speaking, between blogging, podcasting and playing (plus other non-gaming endeavors), I don’t have a lot of leisure time left over to do outside research on games. I’ll occasionally stumble on the odd blog post that catches my attention, or I might go looking for an answer to a very specific question, but I can’t spend minutes upon hours poring over official forum threads.

I’ve also found podcasts to be a fairly poor resource for newbies to a game. Many times, game-specific podcasts are produced by folks who have a certain level of expertise (who are max-level, at the very least), and who spend time talking about high-level or end-game happenings that they’re involved in. They don’t stop to explain the beginning nuances of the game because in all likelihood they’ve coverered it previously, and don’t want to repeat themselves in every episode. This leaves the listener with no choice but to listen to the entire back-catalog of episodes, which may be entertaining but also very time consuming. The one case where podcast listening may behoove the newbie is if he/she’s able to find a podcast where the hosts are close to his/her level of expertise and everybody is able to learn the ropes “together” along the way. However, the chances of this are fairly slim, and in my case the hosts usually move faster than I do and eventually leave me in the dust.

Surveys by The Bees on Flickr
Cmon, Brax, just do the research and shut up!

So in lieu of up-front research, I’ll typically jump right into the game, trying to learn as much as I can from in-game hints and tips and figuring things out along the way. Sometimes, this results in me making stupid mistakes (which are often pointed out to me when I complain about them on Twitter). For example, I’ve been playing Marvel Heroes for almost a month. In this game, certain crafting items drop from random mobs – essences, orbs, globbity bloops etc. Also in this game, instead of leveling your individual character’s ability to craft, you donate items to the crafter NPC to level HIS crafting abilities. Seems a little strange at first, but it makes sense when you understand how the roster system works in MH. Anyway, I knew you could donate stuff to level the crafter, but I thought you could only donate the crafting specific items (the globbity bloops type stuff). These don’t drop all that often, so my crafter was leveling reeeeeealy slowly. My assumption stands the test of reason, right? Crafting guy needs crafting stuff. Leaning on my own logic, I never even attempted to donate anything else to him.

It wasn’t until just a few days ago that I came to the realization that you can donate basically anything to the crafting NPC (gear, runes, those letters from Shield that say “do not eat”) to level him. I’ve wasted an entire month’s worth of trash gear drops not leveling my crafter. A tough lesson, to be sure – but one that I won’t soon forget!

Another example from this week: Once I finally realized I could donate trash gear to the crafter, I decided to try and catch him up! I participated in Monday’s Midtown Madness event which was dropping extra reward boxes full of gear. So, after every two or three midtown boss defeats, I’d run back to the crafter NPC and drag each gear item from my inventory bag to the little NPC “donate” box. In Marvel Heroes, there’s no way to reposition either the inventory or the crafting window on the screen; one is on the left side and one is on the right side. So, I continued to drag each item, one by one, from the left side of the screen all the way over to the right. First world problem, right? Wow, you had to DRAG AN ICON FROM ONE SIDE OF THE SCREEN TO THE OTHER? You must be some kind of super hero (well, actually….I AM Iron Man)!

Iron Man
Well…I AM Iron Man!

I did this for six levels worth of NPC craft leveling, and by the end of the night, my wrist was fatigued. Not only were the physical ailments apparent, but the time spent simply sitting in the hub dragging icons around was easily half of my play session for the night. In other words, it did nothing to enhance my gaming experience and it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t until the next day when ‘old man Brax’ was bemoaning the mechanic on Twitter when the response came back: “uhh, Brax – just hold alt and right click the item.” OK, it wasn’t phrased like that, but that’s how it sounded in my head :). Once again, I had been burned by hands-on learning. Once again, though, it’s something that I will always remember and be sure to pass on to other new players so they can learn from my mistakes.

In all, I think the trial and error method of learning a new game works pretty well for me. As long as I don’t mind looking dumb and doing a few stupid things along the way, it seems to be a quick, efficient way to jump into a game and learn it’s systems and pitfalls. It’s also good for balancing learning the game and enjoying the game, as the two don’t always go hand-in-hand. Sometimes learning a new game, especially an MMO, can be a bit of a chore, but I do my best to make sure that it doesn’t feel like one.

How do you approach learning to play a new game for the first time?

Surveys by the Bees on Fickr Creative Commons 

İron man final by Cihan Unalan on flickr Creative Commons


11 thoughts on “Approaching a New Game for the First Time

  1. tomeoric June 12, 2015 / 11:50 am

    First off, damn… you can give gear to the crafting guy in MH? Don’t feel bad on this – I didn’t know that either. I did know the alt+clicking thing though.

    I think I fall right in line with you Brax – I just jump in and try to figure things out. Normally, if I find something to be odd, super time consuming, “there has to be a better way”, or “someone has to have already figured this out” – I will head to Google or the game’s specific forum or wiki to do a little research. Besides figuring out my initial question, sometimes I’ll also figure out another tip or two.

    I also agree on the podcast on specific MMO’s. As I started playing GW2, I figured I’d also start listening to some of the popular podcasts. I soon realized that 80-90% of the stuff they talked about was not relevant to someone just starting out, or I just plain didn’t understand what they were talking about. It makes me appreciate more the work that LOTRO Academy did, and how you could easily look up a topic and go back to listen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Braxwolf June 12, 2015 / 3:04 pm

      Yes, it makes quite a difference to be able to donate all of that gear. Stuff that I used to run past to save space I’m now grabbing as I run by as it actually has a use!


      • tithian July 16, 2015 / 6:30 am

        The xp the crafter gets is equal to the credit value of the things donated. In the exchange tab of the crafter, you can exchange 3,4 or 5 of the same unique (of any level) for a chest that you can usually sell to a vendor for 50k, 200k or 500k credits. Or… you can donate a 200k chest and almost level the crafter to something like level 17, in one go.

        Now you say, how am I going to find 4 of the same unique? Isn’t that knda hard? No it isn’t. On Monday go to Midtown and the chests that drop have a high chance of dropping uniques, which will most likely be for your character. I used that trick to level the crafter, the enchanter and all vendors to level 20 in 4 hours, but I was lucky enough that the Odin;s bounty event was running as well (so was getting chests by the dozens). You can probably space it out over 2-3 Monday events.

        But after that, what am I ever going to do with all the excess gear, I hear you ask. Why, level your pet of course. Either donate the items to the pet (Alt+Right click without having a vendor/crafter window open) or just set the auto-vaporize options in the Gameplay menu to automatically donate items to the pet, saving you the hassle of even picking it up.

        Mind blown yet?


      • Braxwolf July 16, 2015 / 6:38 am

        Thanks! I didn’t know about the triple-unique trick!


  2. Knifesedge June 12, 2015 / 2:52 pm

    I’m a little behind you but I also started Marvel recently (in part inspired by yourself) and had similar experiences. I don’t have time to wade through guides etc so learn by playing.

    I haven’t the first clue how crafting works so you’ve already passed on information to help another newbie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Braxwolf June 12, 2015 / 3:05 pm

      Glad to be able to pass on anything that I can. I’ve also been paying particular attention to what Syp is posting at Biobreak and MOP and hopefully gleaning a lot of good new tips as he discovers them!


  3. Teszla Coil June 12, 2015 / 3:46 pm

    Jump in, keep my head low because I’m afraid of talking to stranger, muddle my way through and read your blog to see how I have done things wrong. haha!
    Kindof not really ok yeah, pretty much that’s how I handle it. Even if I have a guild/kin like I do now in GW2, I hesitate to ask stupid newbie questions, especially since I have one level 80 already!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Braxwolf June 12, 2015 / 4:02 pm

      I’m not a huge fan of asking questions in-game, either, unless I know the people I’m chatting with fairly well. I always feel like I’m bothering someone or distracting them from what they’re doing!


  4. ironweakness June 14, 2015 / 11:50 am

    What I like about the approach you described (I’m much the same) is that it gives you context, you know which questions to ask because you’ve gotten your feet wet. However, there are some questions you would never think to ask and that’s when outside resources are critical.


  5. Xannziee June 23, 2015 / 7:03 am

    I creates a few different chars and experiment – trial and error – until I find my main. Im never in a hurry. Leveling is cosysauce. Enjoying ESO atm 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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