For this pro-file, I spoke with a player who’s been up and coming for a while and finally getting to show it in the Fall Masters League, Lightning!
Real Name: Alec Schule
Location: Los Angeles, California
Vocation: Student (Computer Science)
Prismata and other games
How long have you been playing Prismata?
Since December 2014
How’d you find out about the game?
Someone (that unfortunately no longer plays) posted about the game on an online forum. I got my key from the same person.
What interested you about the game?
I’m probably repeating what others have said, but the lack of RNG was the biggest factor. I’ve played chess in the past, and I really like playing a game where winning or losing is based purely on skill. I also liked the fact that matches would be relatively short.
What other games do you currently play?
I play TagPro and Osu! a fair amount. Also League of Legends, but not nearly as much as I used to.
Do you play those with anyone who also plays Prismata?
You’re not on a team at the moment correct?
Any interest in joining or forming one?
I am interested. I haven’t been actively pursuing the idea because I don’t feel I have enough free time really contribute much to a team, but that could change.
How much time do you spend playing Prismata on average?
Anywhere from 0-2 hours on weekdays, and as much as 6 hours on a rare completely free Saturday or Sunday.
Do you relate the game to your studies at all like some of the players using it for their thesis studies?
I’m not at the point in my studies where that’s a possibility, but I really like the idea of doing so in the future.
Are you the type of player that does a ton of analysis and calculation during a game or do you rely more on instinct and learned game knowledge?
I’m naturally the latter type of player, but I’m actively trying to improve my ability to analyze and make calculations.
Spreadsheets at all?
No, not so far.
Are there any other players you actively learn from either via chat or watching them play (in-game or twitch) ?
I feel like I learn something every time I watch Apooche stream. It helps a lot that he seems to very much be a calculating player.
Have you played against him much?
Yeah, late at night we get matched up pretty often.
Do you learn much from his commentary on your matches, especially what mistakes you might have made?
Well I always mute streams when I’m playing. (The distraction hurts far more than any commentary helps) I haven’t yet checked if he has VODs for his stream, but I really should.
Do you ever watch replays of other players games?
I usually check out replays that are posted to Reddit.
Do you think reddit works well for managing the community vs something like a traditional forum?
I like Reddit a lot, but I think there should definitely be a more traditional official forum eventually. Reddit can be confusing for people not used to it.
Have you tried to spread the game to friends/fellow students?
I have. A few friends have given it a shot, but they didn’t like the game enough to stick with it unfortunately.
Why do you think that is?
The general reason was that the game was too hard. I think the fact that they were outmatched in almost every game made it really hard to enjoy playing.
Were they playing Arena, Bot or Custom?
Arena. All of my friends really wanted to just play real players, even though I said the bots would be much better to get started.
Did they try playing each other?
Oh, I didn’t mean to make it sound like this was all at the same time. None of them really overlapped. Also, by coincidence, none of them really new each other. Just worked out that way.
Do you ever go back and analyze your losing matches for mistakes with replay/analyzer ?
Yes, I do that quite often. Usually I know I lost in the opening, so I go back to look at alternative opening paths I could have played.
How soon in the opening is the mistake usually? Turns 1-3? 4-6?
Usually, I think the biggest decisions occur between turns 3 and 6 (depending if it’s high econ). With alternative drones, especially Wild Drone and Thorium Dynamo, the earlier turns require a lot more thought and can definitely have mistakes.
Do you worry much about P1/P2 advantages in those early turns?
I don’t think about player advantage when I’m actually playing a set. Sometimes looking at a replay, I do feel that one side had an undeniable advantage, but that’s quite rare.
What are some units you find to be really fun to play by themselves or specific combos?
My favorite unit on its own is probably wincer. A fun combo to play is something like scorchilla/isos comboed with nivos, or anything else that makes for a very large burst threat.
Would you say you are more of a low or high econ player?
More low econ I’d say.
Do you have a preference for Red or Green units then?
Yeah, I do like playing red/green combos, especially with feral warden or protoplasm.
What’s your least favorite unit/mechanic in the game?
My least favorite unit is probably iceblade. Least favorite mechanic is likely breachproof, but that’s not a strong dislike. There’s nothing in Prismata I truly hate.
Do you go breachproof much then?
I do when I feel there’s no other option, but I’m generally inclined to try to beat breachproof with non-breachproof if there’s a decent chance of success.
How does that usually work out?
It works out quite often, but I really do only try a different strategy if i think it can work.
Do you react to your opponents a lot or focus more on your own strategy?
Definitely react to my opponents. I think that’s incredibly important, especially at higher levels of Prismata.
Is that more of a mind-reading/yomi sort of skill or more just looking at what they are likely trying to do based on what’s “correct”?
It’s like, “What do I think they want to do?”, which is usually based on what I feel is correct from their position.
Recent Prismata Updates
What do you think about the recent big balance changes in the most recent patch?
I liked almost all of the changes, especially sentinel, scorchilla, grenade mech, wincer, and asteri. The only one I really didn’t like was redeemer, but that was taken care of quickly.
Do you think they fixed the issues with it?
I haven’t had any time yet to test today’s redeemer update, but at a glance, it looks a lot more balanced. It may actually be too weak in most sets, but I think that’s fine since there are still situations where it can be quite strong.
What do you think of the 3 new units, Savior, Ferritin Sac, and Lancetooth?
I like the roles ferritin sac and lancetooth play, but I’m not quite sold on Savior. I don’t dislike the way Savior is balanced, but the unit just doesn’t feel very fun to me. Can’t quite find the words to explain why.
Too econ focused?
It’s more the fact that you econ for so long and then the game deteriorates extremely rapidly. It makes the pacing feel very odd. I could get used to that in time though.
What tournaments have you played or are playing in currently?
I’m playing in Masters League currently. I’ve unfortunately had prior engagements during every PAWC event so far, but I really want to play that. I know I’ve played some other player run tournaments in the past, but no names are coming to mind.
How has the Masters League been so far?
Well I’ve had fun playing, but it’s been pretty tough. I was especially impressed by dbelange’s play when he beat me 3-0. I made some tactical mistakes for sure, but he pretty soundly beat me in strategy which I feel is usually my strength.
Have you been able to use what you learned from that?
I think so. I’m definitely improving over time, but so is everyone else, so it’s mind of hard to tell if I’m actually making any progress.
Learning to play
How did you go about initially learning the game?
I watched Lunarch’s introduction to Prismata video, and then just started playing bots. I beat Master Bot fairly easily (it was way weaker back then), so I started playing players fairly quickly. I remember watching some streams early on as well that helped some, but I think most of my improvement came from just playing.
How did you deal with losing a lot initially?
I’m not sure if there were more new players when I started playing, or if everyone was just weaker, but my earliest replays show a roughly 50% win rate, which didn’t feel bad at all. I didn’t experience ladder anxiety at all until I was highly rated enough to show up on streams and top live games. I got used to feeling like I’m being watched fairly easily though.
Does that make you nervous and affect your play?
It used to. Not anymore.
Do you ever do any streaming?
Yes, occasionally. Usually if I have one of those free days I mentioned earlier in the interview where I can play like 6 hours, I’ll start up my stream. This is unfortunately rarer than I’d like though.
What do you think is the #1 thing new players need to learn to be competitive?
Probably how to learn from your mistakes. This comes in two parts: first, finding mistakes by looking at your replays, and second, not making the same mistakes in the future. If anyone has trouble with the second part, I’d recommend keeping a list of the mistakes you commonly make, and have it in front of you while you play. I used to do this with chess, but never needed to with Prismata.
Do you ever play matches with the specific intent to practice a certain skill/strategy/mistake learning?
I do this with bot matches sometimes. Never with ranked matches.
Would you play an unranked (casual) arena mode?
Definitely! Ranked would still be what I mainly play, but sometimes I just don’t feel like playing completely seriously. Currently I use my smurf for this, but casual mode would remove the need for a smurf.
Future of the game
What do you think the game really needs most right now?
A better new player experience, and more new players playing. I know the devs want to have the first ready before really focussing on the second, but I imagine it’s really hard for the new players we get right now to enjoy the game.
Having been a new player at one point, what do you think would have been the most important part of that experience?
Well for me personally, all I really needed was the feeling that I was playing on equal grounds with other new players. I know a lot of others would greatly appreciate a proper tutorial though.
What do you think about the future of the game in general?
I think it’s impossible to tell until we leave closed alpha state. I have faith in the devs though, and I really really hope the game takes off.
Are you planning on spending on the current monetization cosmetics/shards at all?
It’s really tough right now (don’t have funds to spend on anything gaming related). When I start working again, possibly. If I do, it would be more out of a desire to help this game succeed than any real need to win more cosmetics.
Does the reward system feel pretty fair right now?
Yes, it does. Clearly pay to win, but that’s completely fine.
Do you find the current Master Bot useful now?
Yes. It’s decent enough for practicing against, especially if I limit myself to bullet time limits. I’d like to see it become even better in the future.
What is it weak at right now?
It’s not great at planning ahead. Burst damage usually beats it pretty easily.
Do you ever use the Analyzer tool?
I do, yes. I’d like it to be removed from the game, but as long as it’s around, it seems silly not to make use of it.
Do you use it during live player matches or just bot matches?
Only live player matches.
How does that affect what time limit you play at?
I mostly play longer time limits (45 or 60), but this was true before I taught myself to use the analyze tool as well. I generally open the analyzer to just check one specific line, and it’s probably quicker than thinking it out manually.
So you mostly just use it to check if something seems like it would work or not?
Yeah, sounds right.
Why do you think it should be taken out?
Like I said, it’s quicker (for me at least) than thinking a line out to it’s conclusion, but I’d prefer actually having to think things out if I knew it was the same for my opponent. Maybe that’s a bit selfish of me though.
Do you ever really know or sense if your opponent is using it?
Sometimes, I think they are or aren’t, but it’s impossible to know for sure.
Any Final Thoughts?
Nothing comes to mind. You did a good job covering anything I’d like to talk about!