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Achieving agility and the highest rank in a fighting game
What does it mean to be "agile?"
5 min read
This article is about how I got the highest rank in a fighting game that I enjoy playing. I was able to achieve it by borrowing the principles from agile software development. Very nerdy, I know. Here is how I did it. But first, here is some context!
My favorite fighting game
I love playing a 2D fighting game called Brawlhalla. I started playing it since 2017. The game itself can be played casually and competitively (this is my favorite match featuring my favorite players)!
Image courtesy from Brawlhalla.
Within it, the game allows you to have offensive and defensive capabilities. You can do light attacks and heavy attacks using your fists and weapons. The weapons you use are unique and offer certain matchups against other types of weapons. Examples of weapons include sword, hammer, blasters, rocket lance, and many more! Light attacks are favored more as they are quicker in building up damage. Heavy attacks, also called as signature attacks, often result into risky yet rewarding kill confirms. Apart from doing attacks, you can dash around and dodge as a way to defend yourself.
Brawlhalla has a ranked system and it is one way to play the game competitively. Players attempt to face each other off and climb the ranked ladder to reach the highest rank. There is an elo range per rank, like so:
Image courtesy from Reddit.
It was always my dream to reach the highest rank in the game! I wanted to reach diamond (2000+ elo). Although I have played the game for so long, I remained as a hardstuck in platinum back then. I played the game quite casually before. Moreover, the climb from platinum to diamond is oftentimes difficult as you could go head-to-head against diamond players. With this, I have usually just peaked at 1800 elo every last season! So, I figured that I needed to finally improve at the game and take it more seriously.
Getting better at the game
Agile what now?
Before I aspired to accept the challenge of hitting diamond in Brawlhalla, I watched a talk from Dave Thomas entitled "Agile is Dead." He talked about what is the essence of achieving agility in software development.
He also touched upon the subject of "agile" being used as a noun. Likewise, usages such as agile manifesto and agile training. From this, I grew a distaste for using agile as a noun too. So, I would not call my gaming strategy as an agile gaming strategy. I would not call myself as an agile gamer too. I am simply gamer who tries to improve with agility!
In Dave Thomas' simple way of putting it, agility can be achieved and reclaimed by doing the following paradigm:
- Find out where you are
- Take a small step towards your goal
- Adjust your understanding from what you learned
...and that is exactly what I did to get diamond in the game. Specifically, here is me applying the same paradigm:
Find out where you are - before I hopped into ranked games, I checked my performance first by warming up in a series of unranked games. This can also mean reviewing my previous matches through a convenient replay feature in Brawlhalla.
Take a small step towards your goal - when I play in unranked, I try to do one thing differently. This can be changing my playstyle based on my previous matches, making myself less predictable by mixing up my dodges, and so on. It is okay that I would lose a game as long as I improved by doing an aspect of my gameplay better.
Adjust your understanding from what you learned - when I have started acknowledge my weaknesses in the game, I emphasized in mitigating them more. This is crucial. Although it might hurt to retrospect on a loss, it is important to understand why you lost in the first place so it you have a better chance of not losing to the same reason again.
Repeat - the strategy is iterative. I religiously followed this paradigm and surely enough, I was able to finally hit diamond.
My ranked screen showing my Diamond rank and main legend as Diana.
Just like how Dave Thomas said in his talk:
Agile is not what you do. Agility is how you do it.
It was indeed fun to reach diamond in the game while applying a concept that I typically use in the workplace and academe. It was satisfying to see that practicing agility in fact worked and made me a better player at the game! The approach that I took might have been the obvious route in being more effective at something. Nevertheless, I am glad that this is the advocated approach as it is tried and true.
What I really enjoyed is the fact that agility is all about incremental learning. You are indeed a winner if you learned something new from your previous iteration. I lost a few times during my ranked climb definitely! I also learned that it is okay to make mistakes when striving for agility. Just make sure those mistakes are correctable, fast, and cheap to do. Always have the courage.
If you are a gamer reading this article, you might want to try out the same principles of agility above. Personally, I am curious whether a Valorant player can reach radiant while embodying agility. That is another tale for some other day, perhaps. For now, cheers! 🕹