What I Learned About NAV Development From Playing Street Fighter
I’ve been thinking about the concept behind this blog entry for a while, and now I have some time to sit down and write it out, so here it goes.
If you talk to me about my personal life for very long, you’ll learn that I have a very dorky hobby: I play video games as much as I can. Specifically, I play a lot of Street Fighter IV, a game which involves two players choosing a martial artist and having a hand-to-hand fight for supremacy.
Street Fighter IV is a complicated game. Really, really complicated. You control your character with a joystick and six buttons, each of which does a different move. To make things more complicated, there are special moves for each character which involve moving the joystick and pushing some buttons simultaneously. And there are a lot of characters (39 in the latest version of the game), each with a distinct move set and strategies. And after you get a feel for the moves, there are advanced techniques like combos, frame traps, and cancelling to learn.
What I’m saying here is that Street Fighter has a very steep learning curve. Learning how to play it takes lots of practice and patience. I don’t even come close to knowing everything about the game, and I’ve been playing it in some form or another since I was 12.
The community around Street Fighter is big and vibrant, with fans all around the world. It started out in video arcades, and we’ve since moved onto the internet. And it’s this move from a bunch of disconnected people in video arcades becoming an online group of people with forums and YouTube channels that leads me into my point.
Back in the day of local video arcades, a lot of top Street Fighter players here in the USA hoarded knowledge like crazy. They’d played the game enough to know the advanced techniques that would lead them to victory, but they didn’t dare share that knowledge with other players around them, for fear that those players would also learn the techniques and then the top player would no longer have an advantage. There was even a name for this practice-STSFN, or Save That Stuff For Nationals.
The problem was that saving all of that stuff often didn’t work out very well for the people who were saving their knowledge. They’d go to a tournament and fight against a top player from another region who’d see the secret technique that the knowledge saver had developed, and the player from the other region would adapt quickly and destroy them. Often, this “other region” was Japan, where this mindset was not as prevalent.
Over in Japan, the mentality was different. The concept that the Japanese Street Fighter community embraced can be summed up as “I can’t get better unless you get better”. By explaining advanced techniques and strategies to one another, the Japanese players learned from one another and broke down the weak points in each other’s game playing. Eventually, the internet (and particularly YouTube) lead the worldwide Street Fighter community to embrace this strategy; you can find hundreds of Street Fighter tutorials on YouTube that offer explanations for anything from simple beginner tutorials to very advanced strategy breakdowns.
In the NAV development community, we need to embrace the concept of mutual learning and improvement. This is why we put together the ArcherPoint blog—to teach other people new and interesting techniques for NAV that they can use, so that NAV can be pushed to do new and innovative things and serve the NAV users better. If NAV can do more things, it can gain more customers, and that makes the NAV ecosystem bigger, and so everyone gets new opportunities. It’s a virtuous cycle that leads to better things for everyone involved with NAV and that ultimately helps out our customers and users worldwide.
Thanks for paying attention to my bizarre tangent about video games. I’ll try to write something more technical with my next blog entry.