Flow of the Game

Written on March 11th, 2010 by

When playing a first-person shooter (FPS), a player cannot underestimate the importance of the flow of the game. It is one of the most important facets of the game to give attention, and, yet, most people do not consciously think it about it even once during the course of a full game. The flow of the game defines how quickly individuals can move about the maps, where they can move, and when they can move. Everyone involved affects it. Spawn locations affect it. Respawn delays affect it.

By dictating the speed at which people can play, a person can completely throw an opponent off of their game. Some individuals need to move quickly while others will camp. Take them out of their element, and they suddenly will become less skilled. Meanwhile, it is advantageous to consider one’s own preference. It is not uncommon for someone to die in a way which frustrates them. As a result, they begin to play at a different pace. They begin to do things they do not normally do. Many times, these new actions make them worse players since they do not have the same level of experience.

It is also important to learn to play at multiple speeds. Certain maps, gametypes, team combinations, et cetera can make playing in a particular manner a noteworthy disadvantage even for the most skilled players. If someone can identify these situations and adapt to them by altering their tactics, they can gain the upper-hand. When a particular strategy is not working, shift to something else. It may be best to take the opposite approach of the opposition or perhaps assuming a similar stance will work. Other times, a combination is the best avenue.

Personally, I prefer to change the flow of the game throughout the game. My default approach is to play slow and allow the enemy to come to me. This gives me time to think and reduces the likelihood of split-second, random, blink-of-an-eye twitches to change the outcome. By using my team to limit the avenues of approach of the enemy, I suddenly gain the advantage. I, now, know where to expect to confront the enemy while they are walking into a blindspot. At the very least, it gives me a direct confrontation in which neither of us has the advantage. I am confident enough to expect to win this encounter until proven otherwise. If the enemy continues to walk into the same trap without a change in results, I will simply continue using the same tricks. Typically, the opposition will begin to try something different after a couple failed attempts. The result is I need to do something different.

If I have been slow to move, I will begin to charge them. They have become careless near their spawn since they expect me to be farther away. Suddenly, I surprise them by being merely around the next corner. Again, the advantage goes to me. Perhaps I had held my ground long enough that their entire team expects me to still be in the same general location. Now, I can begin to push through their flank unexpected. In due time, they will turn to meet me because I have become the greatest threat. Then, the rest of my team can push out to again catch them off-guard. Still, the entire time we are dictating the pace of the game.

There are games where the enemy beats me early on for whatever reason. Maybe they were faster than I expected them to be and they caught me off-guard. Maybe they simply out-shot me. Maybe they sat way back near their spawn, and I eventually crept into their trap if my patience was thin. The result is I now know their initial strategy. Usually, I will probe it again. I tend to be cautious, but leaning towards them maintaining the same basic concepts. After all, it worked for them once. If they were going fast, I will usually slow down even more. I set myself in an area will they will have less chance of surprising me around a corner. If they are sitting tight, I will approach them from an unexpected angle or with the help of a teammate. Once their defensive shell is cracked, I spring forward and attempt to take the offensive.

The key is always being in control of what is happening. Do not let the enemy push you around. If they are, try taking a different course. Learn your strengths and weaknesses and understand how those match up with your opposition. If they want to be fast and cover the entire map, don’t let them. If they want to hide in a corner, make them pay. However, simply butting heads with them is rarely a good idea. The only time when I see it as a viable option is when the game remains close and I am playing in my comfort zone. If my team begins to fall behind or I see a weakness easily remedied, I adjust. The flow of the game is not a static concept. It changes between every game and within every game. It changes with each team and within each team. It must be constantly monitored. You cannot underestimate the importance of the flow of the game.

This concept applies to nearly every single competitive game. It exists in FPS, football, basketball, baseball, hockey, chess, and even military conflicts. It is the basic idea behind strategy and tactics in general. It is not the only factor in deciding a victor, but it is without a doubt one of the most important. Not everyone understands it at a conscious level, but the best all use it to their advantage.

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