This post is part of an ongoing social meta series on how to further develop skills in Vermintide and is a continuation of Part I here.
Disclaimer: I am still in a very harsh learning period myself and all learning in-game is an individual process of self-discovery. These are just things I’ve stumbled across that may help others in finding motivation in furthering their gameplay.
TL;DR: Everyone experiences their own skill ceiling in their development at some point, and changing your thought process lessens the pain of breaking through gameplay barriers.
Special thanks to Nayre for the review and once-over.
With the institution of Winds of Magic, Patch 2.0, and Cataclysm, I felt it was a good time to write this post, and the topics contained therein are things I, personally, have struggled with and are things I have become painfully aware of. With the changes in this patch, they do, in some way, cause you relearn what you may have known and make you check yourself as you adapt. In order to adapt however, and get over the hurdle, there is, in some way, a need to change your mindset in order to keep yourself from either burning out, getting fed up, or remaining stagnant.
This post is not a guide in mechanical exercises to break these ceilings, but more a reminder to bear in mind that mental shifts are also half the battle. Practice makes perfect, but is not the whole piece of the puzzle.
WHAT’S A SKILL CEILING?
A skill ceiling is a very individualized concept that boils down to a number of factors, both mechanically and mental. One person may struggle with horde control, another may struggle with ranged, and yet another may struggle with both. You will know you have hit your own personal current skill cap when it feels, after weeks or maybe even months of development, you feel you just are unable to develop further and feel stuck. This can lead to both good and bad things; the former being a possibly increased drive to succeed, and the latter being an uptick in salt and frustration levels (and maybe even leaving the game entirely).
It’s important to note that while all skill ceilings are personal, they are also not permanent. While there will always be some skill ceiling you will butt up against, it is raising your own personal skill ceiling that leads to further in-game development.
SO WHAT NEEDS TO SHIFT, MENTALLY, TO DEVELOP?
GOAL SETTING NEEDS TO BE REALISTIC TO YOUR CURRENT SKILL LEVEL:
It’s important to goal set for yourself during the development process as it allows you to become motivated and actively seek change. There are two types of goals to bear in mind:
- Short-term goals: Or that one specific thing you want to focus, whether that’s “I want to take less hits during hordes,” or “I would like to be able to handle X amounts of elites when it all hits the fan,” this is one of the easiest ways to feel satisfied and notice self-improvement. Short-term goals are normally followed in a series; i.e., you finish one short-term goal and move onto the next. These, as a cumulative whole, lead to:
- Long-term goals: Or that one thing you have in the back of your mind you fantasize about. It could be completing a true solo, it could be smashing leaderboards, could be becoming a Cata pub god. These are much harder to reach and take some time, and while good to have, can suffer from the inherent problem below.
Make sure you set realistic goals. I personally, have the nasty of habit of holding myself to indubitably high standards, to the point where I’ll beat myself up about them for not reaching them (see “Placing Blame”, below). So therefore, it’s always important to look at what you’ve achieved and what’s next, versus comparing yourself to what you want to be (hard to do, I know). Only you can develop at your own rate, and forcing the issue can be detrimental to progress and mental outlook. While having some date set in stone is always beneficial, it is not worth beating yourself up should it not be met. It will happen, given time.
PLACING BLAME SHOULD LEAD TO SELF-REFLECTION:
In my experience, I know I have hit a skill ceiling when I start placing blame and frustration on things. This can manifest in two ways:
- Placing blame in yourself: You are your own worst enemy. “Why can’t I do this?” “Why isn’t this faster?” “God, I suck at this!” will be pretty common mantras. These are the days where you want to throw the game out the window and hate yourself.
- Placing blame in others: Everyone is your enemy. The pub who didn’t ult correctly? Their fault. That person who accidentally drank their heal pot instead of giving it you? Their fault. That wipe? Everyone’s fault but your own. This is a dangerous place to be and will make you hate everyone in the game when things go south.
This isn’t to say that placing blame isn’t an inherently bad thing, but it needs to be looked at in a way to bring constructive growth vs destructive salt, and is important to gain perspective.
Ergo, if there is a wipe in Cata, how did it happen? Did you get poked through a horde? Did your teammate die and you compromised your position to res him and it went south? Failure in a run is normally a series of events going wrong and how it is reacted to (both team and self), vs one small thing. It is important to take these events in retrospect and glean what you can from them so you can make better decisions in your gameplay in the future.
SUPPORT SYSTEMS MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER:
This sounds somewhat silly as Vermintide is, of course, simply a game, but when pushing boundaries, it can become somewhat consuming and sometimes somewhat lonely. Vermintide’s cornerstone is the people you meet along the way, and the people who enjoy playing with you and/or interacting with you. I’ve found Vermintide support systems are most productive with an inherent mix of people (with there, of course, being crossover):
- The cheering section: Those friends who are always super upbeat, enjoy seeing you achieve goals, and are happy when you’re happy. These people keep you motivated with their chipper attitude and inherent joy.
- Those that make you check yourself before you wreck yourself: Or, those friends who know when you’re frustrated and listen to you vent while reminding you to stay realistic. They remind you what you’ve achieved, and maybe what you’ve set for yourself may need to be scaled back a touch so you don’t lose your mind.
- Those that make you wreck yourself: Or, those friends who know you can do A and want to see you reach goal B. These are the people that point out that you should be focusing X activity when you’re really focusing Y, and sometimes smack you and go, “Well, do the thing, already!”
In addition, developing with friends is even better than developing by yourself.
TAKING BREAKS IS HEALTHY AND YOU SHOULD TAKE HOWEVER LONG YOU NEED:
Sometimes, just sometimes, you just can’t go on. You boot up the game and just cannot play Vermintide for whatever reason. This means that it’s time for a break, recharge your batteries, and come back later. For me, this can be anywhere from 24-48 hours. For others, it could be weeks or months. However long it takes, I’ve found starting fresh from a clear head may even make me play better than inherently forcing the issue.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, MAKE SURE YOU’RE STILL HAVING FUN:
It’s sometimes easy, too easy, in fact, to get wrapped up in attaining the next level that you forget why you started this all in the first place. While it’s satisfying to go at breakneck speed 99% of the time, take some time to slow down, do something casually, and check-in with yourself. If you’re no longer having fun, something has gone terribly wrong, and you’ll need to find ways to make that fun again. Development stalls when you’re no longer invested.
What helps motivate you in breaking your skill ceilings in game?