Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

On the USPL front I'd like to encourage everyone in the neighborhood to come on down to the beach this weekend and check out the Huntington Beach event. Get loose on Friday if you can 'cus the Pro prelims are Friday pretty much all day on center court. If you are any kinda fan of big time tourney paintball you won't want to miss it. Besides, it may not happen again anytime soon. I hate being Mr. Negativity and I'd like to be wrong but with or without my rose-colored glasses (John Lennon style for you all old time hippies still living the dream) I just don't see it.

Over in Millennium Land the numbers are looking better. Malaga Beach is still about 3 weeks (or so) away and the CPL has 12 teams registered (with a limit of 16.) The SPL remains at 24 teams registered in a closed division of 32 max. And D1 made a big jump this week up to 25 teams in a closed division of 32/35. Thanks to Fred we learn that teams may be listed by the MS as registered without necessarily having paid in full. (Last week I was under the impression a team wouldn't be listed if they hadn't paid.) This complicates our efforts to keep track of how the MS is really doing but hey, it is what it is. One thing we know for sure is that the payment schedule deadlines have all passed. Whether everybody listed has paid in full is an open question.

For the upcoming MAO the PSP has 122 teams registered with 45 having already paid. Final deadline for payment is April 21st. Three weeks out from end of registration I'm a little uneasy despite the influx of team entries right at the end for the Phoenix event. D1 is looking thin and the new additions to semi-pro may prove to be a one-time thing. If so, the trouble building a solid upper division continues.
Regarding the release yesterday of the new reserve player rules for the pro division I would first like to thank the PSP for addressing the issue. I, among others, asked that the situation be reconsidered and it was. However, being the ungrateful bum that I am I don't find the change very helpful nor does it make a lot of sense. There was league resistance to simply changing the size of the roster. And apparently this isn't strictly an issue of cost to the teams because the new rule allows the teams to go to the expense of carrying a non-playing reserve player. For whatever reason the league wants the active roster to be 8. In which case they should have simply adopted the Millennium's CPL rules--since they appear to be going in that direction with the UPBF (and UCP) anyway.

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

As noted yesterday the two most common causes of failure for new businesses are under capitalization and misjudgment about the target market. I'm sure you've heard the joke about how to make a small fortune in paintball--start with a big fortune ... Unfortunately the USPL didn't have a large fortune to begin with, they had a relatively modest investment of seed capital required from each team--and not all that cash is yet in hand. Or the USPL bank account to be more precise. In essence the seed money was intended to get the ball rolling, pay initial expenses of the start-up, fund the auction purchases and offer some cushion for ongoing expenses.

Going in the USPL placed an early cap on the event of 160 teams (and I wonder if they thought that was a conservative estimate because it was, after all, an HB event.) Anyway, those numbers were revised down to the final 120 team limit which was not reached either and wouldn't have been come close to without pump teams and 5-man teams to bulk up the turnout. (But not so much the entries compared to 7-man prices.) The simple fact is this is (and always was) going to be a tough year economically across the board. Couple that with the real numbers of year-to-year decline in 7-man event turnouts in the NPPL and the notion that 7-man is (and remains) a viable national level format was always wildly optimistic. And if the league ends up needing more than token 5-man and pump turnouts to sustain the league isn't that a serious problem?

The owners group of pro teams is already divided but not in a way that is readily apparent. They are divided by commitment (or the lack thereof.) And beyond that a number of them are surviving on a shoestring budget. There is a core that is putting their blood, sweat and tears into the league and a group that wants it to succeed but is more or less waiting to see how it shakes out. Not everyone is a true believer and not everyone can afford to be a true believer.

The end result is not a recipe for success. With the decision to go this season the USPL also committed itself to a routine schedule of operating expenses independent of running events. That's month in and month out. Perhaps not normally a big issue but what if the USPL begins their season in the hole after running an HB event?
Nobody is predicting a profit. The real debate is over the scale of the losses. And just what does the USPL bring to the table on a regional basis? This is the offspring of a league dedicated to style and pizazz and that is where the focus remains. And in its last incarnation this conception of tourney paintball as spectacle and party the paintball part suffered. If you don't agree just look at attendance numbers. Something wasn't working. Either it was the format or it was the execution. And the USPL is using the same peeps, more or less, to do the same jobs predicated on the same conceptions.

Somewhere in this process the bottom line will be the need for fresh capital. That either comes from outside the company or from the owners group. While not impossible the likelihood of funding the league on the fly from outside sources doesn't carry the kind of odds you'd want to bet your future on. And a cash call to the owners will fracture that group as there are teams that are either unwilling or unable to pony up more money. Particularly in the face of a "plan" that is in constant flux because the original conception of the league had no realistic chance to succeed. (That last is, of course, just my humble opinion.)
What exactly happens when that cash crisis arises--and it will--is open to speculation but it won't be good, for the teams or the league.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Paintball Stuff

Looking at the pro brackets for HB I'm waiting to see if X-Factor will be scheduled to play Infamous first. You know, with 3 X-Factor(?) players on Infamous ... Sister teams (or those with obvious ties) usually play first in order to keep everything on the up and up. Just saying.

There's a question and answer version of Burning Question(s) over at Baca's Blog on the Big Bullet. Remember, it's Monday!

This week before I head for HB (Thursday) I will post a long piece on the USPL. This way it can't influence any part of the event itself and I won't be influenced by anything that happens or doesn't happen. The two single most common reasons why new businesses fail is lack of capitalization and an inaccurate assessment of the target market. More soon.

UPDATE: PSP pro division Reserve Player rule released. [Quoted verbatim]
A. Each team is allowed to have 1 (one) player designated as the reserve player.
B. The reserve player must be on the roster prior to the start of the event.
C. The reserve player can only be used to replace an injured player.

1. A reserve player may only be utilized if an active player sustains an injury.
2. The reserve player may not replace an injured player during a match however, may replace the injured player in the teams next match.
3. If a team replaces the active roster player with the reserve player due to injury. The team must notify the commissioner and make the roster changes at registration.

D. Once a player is replaced due to injury by the reserve player, that player will not be able to play the remainder of that event.

1. The reserve player does not have to be classified as a pro player, unless they already are classified as such. The reserve player can have the classification of Semi-Pro or D-1.
2. A reserve player will receive the classification of “Pro” if he/she plays in more then 5 (five) matches during the season.
3. The reserve player may be on an active roster in a lower division, however must still be listed on the Pro roster prior to the event as the reserve player. Example: A team that has an affiliated team playing in a lower division may designate a player on that team as the Pro teams reserve player and can be called up during an event to replace an injured player. If that player is pulled off the lower division’s roster to play with the pro team, he/she can not go back to the lower division and play during that event.
4. The team will need to have the proper jersey (name, number & color) for the reserve player to wear if they should need to be used to replace an injured player.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Enlistments for the Week

VFTD is pleased to announce the latest batch of recruits for the Deadbox Puppet Army. (What is the DPA?) This happy little blog would like to thank you all for taking the time and making the effort. I would also encourage y'all to drop me a line or post up some added info in the comments. I'm always interested in what parts of paintball the recruits come from.

First up this week is Cartilos, aka Carlos Costa.

Followed by Rival Industries (Brad Thorne) You can check out the latest from Rival Industries by hitting the link. Looking good.

And this week's final recruit is Robert Smith. Welcome one and all.

Until next week.

Paintball Stuff

Tired of me harping on the possibility that the PSP might drop the top ROF to 10.5 bps? Feel free to call and lodge your complaint at 1-800-RAT-SASS. Or, you could, you know, drop the PSP an email query asking them to clarify. I'm just saying.
Of course I'm sure you realize that the non-response is, in fact, an answer. Plainly the PSP doesn't want to be locked into a position--which means they want to keep the option open of dropping the top ROF.

USPL HB is a week away. Registration is officially closed. Some of you are wondering why I have gone all Stepford on the USPL lately. Where's the criticism, I'm asked, that I busted out early on when the new league was first announced? A couple of things; one, I decided, due to my team affiliation, I had an obligation not to appear to be running down the league while it tries to get off the ground and, two, I like competing leagues and always have–even in this environment. I'm not sure it's possible but, hey. Anyway, after the event I will do a review of the league and its prospects.

PSP is putting the finishing touches on the language that will allow pro rosters to carry a reserve player, sort of. Official word should reach the pro teams shortly. It's not nearly as useful as a simple bump in roster size would have been and doubtless will include some new (and inane) classification rigmarole.

Picking up where Mr. Curious left off last time I wonder how the leagues will resolve the "is he or isn't he" a pro player dealio that is almost sure to come up some time. See, PSP only recognizes pro division Race 2-7 rostered players as "pros" but the USPL has a whole separate batch of their own "pro" players. In the past one league mostly ignored the other league's players unless they were forced to do something. However, this time they's all in the APPA database and if they play both leagues ... well, it could get interesting.

Stay thirsty, my friends

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The UCP Meets The Bass-O-Matic

To set the table recent UCP (Universal Classification Program) posts can be reviewed here and here. And if you are unfamiliar with the Bass-O-Matic ... Okay, enough silliness, this is important--even universally important--stuff, so it's time to be serious. (You are taking this seriously, aren't you?)

Before tossing the UCP into the Bass-O-Matic and flipping the switch I want to state for the record that I am not anti- the UCP. I am even cautiously in favor of the general concept and its potential to help organize and legitimize Paintball as Sport. My principle objection is the timing which I think has driven some of the details in ways that may compromise the sport. That's merely my opinion. The other concerns I have are primarily structural. So consider this a critique and not a takedown. My purpose is not to trash the UCP but to improve it.

Let's begin with some observations gleaned from reading the tentative UCP draft. The value of consistent classifications is systemic standardization, not so Little Jimmy can compare himself to other D4 players around the country. And while comparing ranking points across leagues is probably good for a friendly argument or two it's about as meaningful as Little Jimmy checking out the D4 competition. Universal Classification does however provide a functional framework for structuring a national championship event(s) that will answer all those questions on the field. The core value of the UCP is to provide a comprehensive and uniform structure to the competitive game and, er, incidentally build a grassroots network that will support the PSP. (More on this at some point as it won't actually work as currently conceived.)

After a quick and dirty review of the UCP draft there are a few things that seem either incomplete or simply don't make a lot of sense to me. Which is rather surprising as I typically expect the raehl faction to be scrupulously anal when it comes to details. (I'm pretty sure, btw, that last sentence is the very definition of a left-handed compliment. Oh, and the pairing of scrupulously and anal is, I admit, more than a little disturbing.)

Offered in no particular order I'd like to begin by rehashing an old complaint and by explaining my fundamental concern with this particular effort (the UCP draft) and the broad concept of the UCP, if you get the distinction. To rehash: I oppose the recent PSP movement thru classifications rules and the practice thereof and I oppose any version of that being embedded in the practices of the UCP. I've posted on it repeatedly--to everyone's great dismay, I'm sure--but if you missed them you can get more than enough of my argument by checking out the Logan's Run series of posts in the January '09 archive on the sidebar. Broad concept first: Why? What's in it for the locals and regionals? [Disclaimer--I was asked to offer input on the UCP and coordinate my impressions with the raehl faction. This post is not the result of that effort. I blew it off after 3 emails when it became apparent I wasn't getting paid enough--does zero even count?--and that the raehl faction's primary interest was to simply argue about everything. So please take that into consideration when you judge the validity of this post.]
Back on topic: What incentives exist to encourage widespread participation? It seems a simple enough question. Two examples of what I'm talking about. Imagine two statewide tourney series competing for teams. What's the payoff for one series to go with the UCP or for both to want to? Obviously there is the proffered National Championship--which isn't chopped liver--but remains very unclear. (More coming.) There's the I.D. card cost balanced by the eliminates sandbagging promise. There's the prospect of wholesale classification changes for the competing teams and questions like, do the format changes required impact in a negative way the logistics (and cost) of running one day events? Or what about 3-man? Are all local UCP-sanctioned events restricted to being D4 & D5 3-man events? (See the chart!) It looks swell on a chart but it's just not realistic. And why would a local promoter sign up for this when there is no apparent advantage to him to do so? Oh, wait, he gets a new income stream from I.D. cards! (More on this coming.) Particularly at the local level the idea is to keep it simple and cheap because most teams are looking for a fun day of paintball and nobody embraces change for change's sake. The UCP draft demands change and isn't offering much in exchange--that I can see--to the local, grassroots level.

Arbitrary regional ceiling at D2 Race2-4? APPA has more than enough D1 ranked players in its database to fill a regional division of 8 - 10 teams four or five times over. The problem isn't that this level of play is so skilled, so stratospheric there are only handfuls of such players--the problem is the leagues have yet to figure out to sustain the players that do exist. (And, to be fair, a lot of upper division players of recent vintage have unrealistic expectations given the current climate.)

How will UCP-sanctioned formats function as a one day event? It would probably be helpful if the UCP offered an addendum outlining alternative scheduling options, real numbers on matches played, how to organize past the prelims and so on so potential promoters would have something in hand to offer added confidence it its workability as well as provide answers for prospective teams.

The team count disparity. The promise is a shot at a real national title. How are the qualifying teams calculated? Oh, I know thy earn points--more on this too--but that's not my question. Say a regional league has 20 D2 teams competing over the season and a local or statewide series has 10 D2 teams competing. Do they both send the same number of teams to the Nat'l Championships? If they do then you undermine the regional by making the local more attractive or are we back to no local events can sanction anything but 3-man? At a minimum the UCP needs to define its terms and add concise qualifiers.

Qualifying. As referenced and elaborated on in the comments of the second post linked to above the process of teams qualifying for the Nat'l Championship is murky at best. And the suggestion/inference that total accumulated points somehow play a role in deciding the national champ is a terrible idea. The whole point of having a Nat'l Championship is to determine a winner on the field and you cannot accept all scores as equivalent regardless of the league they were achieved in. (Which brings us back, in part, to sanctioning leagues.) Additionally there is the matter of the bonus points assigned to teams competing in a PSP as opposed to a regional event. (Again, see post referenced above.) Are teams that competed all season in the PSP also competing in the Nat'l Championship or are they competing for something else? If they are all on the same competition track the PSP is undermining its own events by allowing a sanctioned route to the championship that will almost certainly be easier and cheaper.

APPA I.D. cards must be a universally recognized I.D. throughout the UCP otherwise it would rightly be viewed as simply an alternative revenue stream. Right now CFOA players need an APPA CFOA card and then when they play PSP they need a different APPA PSP card. All the info is accessible to either card as the player number doesn't change once established..The only difference is each league gets a kickback on the I.D. cards. Once all these leagues are united under the UCP there is no excuse to charge and re-charge for the same I.D. A reasonable alternative would be a revenue sharing arrangement that includes all UCP leagues.

That's enough for now and should get the raehl faction howling. There's more but honestly this should be enough to keep the UCPers busy for awhile. Or, you know, maybe not since it's so obviously perfect already.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mr. Curious

Mr. C is still curious about the possibility the PSP is planning on dropping the top ROF to 10.5 next season. So far not a peep from the PSP. (C'mon, Lane, you can tell me. Who would I tell?)

Mr. Curious is also disappointed in the lack of info from Kish Island regarding the UPBF. He was under the impression this was a big deal and an important step for paintball as sport and yet again--nary a peep from anybody. It's particularly odd as big time paintball has such a long and distinguished history of open communication and transparency.

Oh, and Mr. Curious would like everyone to know he is willing to part with some fat slices of sharp cheddar for a photo of Keely in a burkha. (Don't ask.)

Mr. Curious is also curious about Infamous and their game of musical rosters. The part that has piqued his interest is how all the roster hopping might be interpreted by the various rulebooks involved. Of course, the USPL doesn't have an official one yet (except the old NPPL one) but the PSP does and with the USPL using APPA all these roster changes should be reflected in the APPA database. Is there a potential conflict? What role do the shared sponsors have in all this? Mr. Curious needs to know. (See what happens when you're a no-life baller? It ain't pretty.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

Back with baited breath waiting for the possible big news? Yeah, well, not so much as it turns out. I've got a couple of things I'm biting my tongue on--maybe, just not today. Thursday. How 'bout Thursday? I can tell you if you were waiting to pay your entry on HB because you weren't really sure you can go ahead with confidence. The event is happening and HB is always a happening. Besides, registration is scheduled to close tomorrow. So, it's now or never, kids.

Speaking of the USPL there are (or, were, as of this morning) 92 teams paid including the Pros. And, as I said, registration is scheduled to close tomorrow--though, who knows, you might be able to slip in at the last, and past, minute. I heard a silly rumor this past weekend that Adrenaline Games had not made a field kit with the USPL's new jumbo U. I'm following up on that right now but I find it hard to believe and am only repeating it because it's so absurd you have to laugh.

Over in Euroland CPL registration is still 11 of 16. The SPL has bumped up to 24 of 32 and D1 has progress to 16 of 32 which still leaves it lagging substantially behind. If the numbers fail to improve within a couple of weeks the MS will be forced to consider damage control and alternatives to running locked divisions of 32. And this for their equivalent of HB.

PSP MAO registration is currently at 94 teams not counting the 13 Pro teams. Almost nobody has paid yet and the first deadline is next week, Monday, if I recall correctly. (And, hey, I sometimes do.) If MAO follows the Phoenix pattern numbers will be decent with a big late influx to result in a solid turnout. Who knows? Nobody. But we will see.

UPDATE: Okay, I can confirm the big "U" does exist and will be on display at HB. We've been simulating the "U" with a brick and two rockets (MT's) in practice so if there is a repeat of the customs delays that kept the half X's from making it to Phoenix there is an alternative. Just saying.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Paintball Stuff

It's Monday and that means there's a fresh new post at Baca's Blog over at The Big Bullet. It's called 'Children of Men' (not 'The Local Field') and while the tourney guys are saving paintball by lowering ROF and industry is saving paintball by finding better ways to sell stuff I thought maybe it would be helpful to offer ballers more–but not the way you think. Anyway, if you're interested, take a look.

The kids at Paintball Sports (the magazine) have launched a new website that will carry the digital version of the mag plus lots of extra features including photos, reports, news and some celebrity paintball blogs. Pax, of course, will have a blog but why ballers will want to hear Mike's fishing stories I don't know. And some guys named Cuba and Pony, too. Rumor has it Chris will also be offering helpful tips on scoring that jailbait action and Nicky will be doing his top 10 favorite smackdowns. (It will carry an adult advisory so it should be wildly popular.)
If you're wondering what's up with paintball media you must'a missed my two part series over at The Big Bullet. Look here to get up to speed and then take a tour of the new paintball media accessible in the links on the sidebar.

Tomorrow's Major League Paintball Held Hostage Update could have some big news. No promises but ... If you're thinking this is a cheap tease to make you come back tomorrow you are correct. But it's also true. (Have some experience with cheap teases, don't you?)

Field Design–Phoenix 2

Aight, you're gonna have to bear with me a minute as I hit rewind and go back to cover a couple of items I neglected last time--caught up as I was in doing a field-walking prep disguised as a field design post. (I'll get the hang of this blogging business before you know it.)
The first significant field design change--other than the no dog leg rule--occurred when competitive paintball ditched the woods. It was (drum roll please) the symmetrical layout. If you find this hard to believe or don't know what symmetrical means you haven't been playing paintball very long (Have you?) and you are (no doubt) the product of a public school education. Simply put it means the design is the same on both sides of the field. Each half mirrors the other.
Early hyperball fields were, in many respects, corrugated tube simulations of some of the bunkers and forms of the woods days. In relatively short order some hyperball and early airball fields tried to accommodate and reinterpret the woods skills set for a new kind of game wherein snakes and multi-level diamonds, for example, made crawling a part of the game again.
Since then change has mostly followed form as the conventions of a snake wire and a dorito wire dictated design thinking. In the last year or two some new ideas have begun to influence field design.

My version of these new ideas go like this: intentionally incorporate changes of elevation; minimize the defensive effectiveness of any single prop, encourage aggressive play and provide multi-directional movement options. For example, changes in elevation produce a more dynamic game by providing additional shot and control options. When the stand-up props--cans and rockets (Mayan temples)--are placed up field they function as lane blockers as well. There is also the added benefit of upfield stand-ups in that they become less defensively playable balancing out their potential offensive advantages.

There are some other elements involved but let's start in on the Phoenix layout by breaking down the D-side of the field. A home shooter laning off the break has 3 basic options; inside the rocket expecting an edger, between the rocket and the can and wide of the can toward the corner. (Did I mention now would be a good time to have a copy of the layout handy?) Runners off the break have 4 basic options. The result is a good balance of clear lanes plus a lot of offensive options including dead zones and an opportunity to play aggressively gun up.
The second key to this half of the field is the placement of the two med. doritos inside the wire that effectively create a second avenue of upfield movement. This inner avenue offers a wire control option as well as an inside out rotation option and lastly, the proximity of the two med. doritos puts the player at risk of being run down. It created a really nice dimension to the play of the D.side of the field.
It is also worth noting that no individual position dominated the play either offensively or defensively and that balance of trade-offs does a couple of important things. It elevates the importance of movement and coordinated action and tended to turn the mid-game in more gun-fighting and less lane control.
For a more in-depth look at elevation in play all we need do is examine how the rocket played. Standing the player has vision from his mirror and along the full length of the D wire with some minimal line-of-sight blocks that weren't sufficient to deny the rocket's primary roll of containing wire side movement. (There is a difference between containing and denying.) But what happens if the corner temple (which I am liable to call an Aztec the next time) forces the rocket player onto a knee. Virtually all the avenues of movement open up instantly including the can rotation to D1. (If there is no paint in the gap--go. Or alternatively edge the kneeling rocket player off his lane using the angle of the inside med. dorito.
The only thing I might have changed on this D wire is to slightly reposition the small doritos to improve their playability.

Okay, enough for now. Remember, I warned you about terminology in the first Field Design post so if you have any questions about what I mean one place or another please ask. Also, I'm trying to avoid overanalyzing this but if you are a glutton for punishment and want to ask about one thing or another--go for it, but consider yourself warned.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Deadbox Puppet Army & Other Miscellany

There were no new enlistments this week (you lazy slackers) so I'm taking a moment to re-post the definition of the Deadbox Puppet Army.

The numbers suggest there are lots of new visitors to our happy little blog so I thought I'd take a moment to explain the Deadbox Puppet Army for the uninitiated. The DPA is intended--given my warped sense of humor--to be an ironic poke at paintball's penchant for generating lookalike armies and the impulse for everybody to be individuals in large groups. (Can you say, agg?) If you were hoping to park your brain at the door and march in lockstep with your fellow puppets I'm afraid you will be disappointed. There won't be any of that here. We are all just simple victims of paintball, friends with a shared insanity--no strings attached.

One week ago I posted a Burning Question regarding the possibility of the PSP going to a universal ROF limit next year of 10.5 bps. So far the PSP has failed to respond but that's okay because it's real easy for me to keep posting the question. I wonder if somebody would reply if I posted it over at PBN? (If you're wondering if that might be a threat I prefer to think of it as a promise.)

If you hadn't noticed the 2009 PSP rulebook is available on their website. (Link in sidebar.)

Check out the Pump Party--a new weekly feature--over at The Big Bullet (68 Caliber). It ain't tourney ball but it's good stuff. Disclaimer: I do have a pump but it ain't Old Skool, it's a converted Hybrid cocker and I seldom get to use it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Iron Laws of Tournament Logistics, 2

Imagine you are the impresario--the Big Cheese, you know, the promoter-- of a major league paintball tournament; what do you want? As many teams as you get? The more the merrier? More teams, more money, more profit. Right? Hmm, not so fast.
What's the format? How many games or matches can be cycled through one field every hour? Or every day? How much does each field cost to transport, set-up and tear down? What about crew? And staff, including the refs? Worse, nearly every expense is a qualified one. What I mean by that is there tends to be a range associated with the cost which is, in some ways, dependent on the cost of some of the other factors.

Remember the first post? (If not the title above is the link.) Tourney logistics are the coordination of all the material components of operating an event plus the time it takes to organize in advance, tear down afterwards, complete the event and the scheduling of the event.
See, the thing is the major league tourney formula is kinda like the porridge Goldilocks was after at the three bears' place. Too cold--not enough teams (for the number of fields, etc.) and it's a losing proposition; too hot--the economies of scale have a ceiling (that means at some point bigger isn't better any longer); and just right--no more tourney structure than is needed and enough teams to maximize the schedule.

Here's one of the little secrets of tourney logistics. Somewhere in the calculations for the major league traveling circuses (or is that, circusii?) there is a limitation which then cascades through every other calculation made about running the event. It can be available space that limits the potential number of fields. (Remember, the cost of the venue, along with it's suitability, is a critical calculation.) It can be, and always is to one degree or another, the projected turnout which is open-ended with the leagues guesstimating likely participation based on past turnout weighed against current circumstances. (Oh, in case you weren't sure that circus thing was just a bad joke. Lame etymology humor. Where've you been?)
The end result is a known minimum cost can be calculated for a baseline projected cost but the income calculation is up in the air until almost the event date. (Which is one reason why season sponsorships are a high priority. That, and in the past, sponsor payments are (were) mostly gravy.)

The result is the Iron Laws of Tournament Logistics apply two ways; they limit in a variety of ways what is possible with the traveling circus model and they can predict how far off target a tournament might end up–but not in time to do anything about it.
If that just makes you dizzy and what you really want to know is how all this nonsense affects your tournament–you're in luck. Riddle me this: How do you make a field more cost effective? If available you play more hours in the day or you reduce the length of each game. Since more hours in the day would require the added cost of more staff, more refs and rented lights, etc. that option would also increase costs. Shorter games on the other hand ...
Hey, don't get pissy with me for repeating the flaming obvious. I'm the one who told you at the beginning of this that it wasn't rocket science–or even brain surgery so if you're wondering where the big revelation is, well, d'oh, there isn't one. Unless this qualifies ...

Ever feel, as a player, like the leagues are putting the burden of paintball's future on you? Prices gotta go up. We cut a corner here, a corner there to help make ends meet and, amazingly, those corners are always part of your paintball experience. Funny how that works. But, man, things are tough all over. Just look at the hard times PBIndustry is struggling through. (Reorg, takeover/sellout, Chapter 11, hiatus, dirt nap) Still, how many times have the ramifications of other people's decisions been dumped in your lap? At least rhetorically. Whatever else it is, that, my friends, is misdirection. Sleight-of-hand. Prestidigitation. To keep you focused on what you want–to play tournaments and have fun.
I'm not saying the major leagues are jacking you up–though it may seem to have turned out that way regardless of the explanations offered. What I am saying is the current major league tournament model–how they do business and how they expect it to pay off–may have (may have) been sufficient once upon a time but it has clearly been stretched to the breaking point (and maybe beyond) so regardless of what comes next as long as this model remains in place it will dictate (or try to dictate) what the future holds for big time tourney ball.

There are iron laws and then there are Iron Laws. Obey or fail. (Baca's Hard Truth of Life #2)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Weekly Update: Major League Paintball Held Hostage

Registration for PSP's MAO just opened but the recent CFOA Race2 event (xball) drew 25 teams which seems like a pretty solid turnout.

The USPL is full speed ahead for their season launching Huntington Beach event the weekend of April 5th. When last checked--earlier today--54 teams were paid including the Pros. Today is deadline two with a price bump taking effect tomorrow so expect a jump today in those paid as they try and beat the price hike. Final registration deadline is March 25th so get signed up today.

Over in Euroland the Millennium Series is getting ready for their version of HB--Malaga Beach--scheduled towards the end of April. (I don't remember the exact dates and I'm not taking the time to look them up.) It is unclear to me but it seems that the MS expects teams to pay when they register so when a team is listed as registered for an event it also means they have paid. If this is correct (and I think it is) 11 of 16 are registered in the CPL while 22 of 32 are registered in the SPL. D1 continues to lag with only 13 of 32/35? registered. I make note of these in particular as these are the locked divisions and a failure to fill any of them is a more significant issue than in the open divisions. Also, I listed D1's total team numbers uncertainly as they carried extra teams last year that reffed so the full competitive bracket was 32 with 3 teams reffing each event--if I recall correctly.

Coming up this week (unless my ADHD gets the better of me--again) the second and final Iron Laws post, the next Field Design--Phoenix post and another installment of As The UCP Turns.

Baca's Blog

In case you missed it Part 2 of the two part series on paintball media was posted yesterday at 68 Caliber.com. Look for it every Monday--that makes Baca's Blog a weekly--over at the Big Bullet. Still paintball but not limited to topics that relate to the competitive game.

Mr. Curious

Mr. Curious has come up with one that has me scratching my head. And, no, it's not psoriasis and the kids are too old to bring home head lice--or come home at all. Anyway, all we heard in the off season was one theory or claim after another about how the paint producers got in the fix they're apparently in. From the relatively insignificant volume of paint tourney players shoot in the grand scheme to how ROF was being lowered to save paint or about how prices are too low or too few peeps are shooting too much ad infinitum. About the only thing everybody agrees on is that the paint producers are in a fix.

Mr. Curious wants to know why paint manufacturers keep sponsoring leagues if it's a losing proposition.

Nearly every league of any consequence is sponsored by one or more of the paint producers. Is it a self-destructive urge they can't resist? An inability to re-think the old ways of doing things? A desperate fear that their brand needs to be front and center even though the old media is gone and tourney ball shoots a negligible percentage of paint produced?

Mr. Curious doesn't get it and neither do I. What do you think?

Monday, March 16, 2009

PSP vs AXBL: Please God Make Him Stop

Have no fear. I'm done, mostly, with this topic. (If you missed the first two look here and here.) The point never was to try and convince anybody of anything and I'm not going to start now. And, of course, the audience to be convinced is about as exclusive as paintball gets and I have no expectations on that score. I just put stuff out there. (And circumstances eventually prove me correct. What can I say? It's a gift.)

I would like to take a moment and recap. The AXBL, drawing primarily from New York and Pennsylvania, has a two tier conference league of 40+ teams playing full on Xball with all teams paying a licensing fee and committing to the complete series of events. There is a promotion and relegation scheme in place and events are held at paintball sites. In ways the PSP isn't the AXBL is a model of consistency and stability. The question I asked was, why? And followed it up with; Is there anything in the comparison to be learned? The Raehl faction denied any relevance and chalked it all up to lower cost and proximity. While cost is always a consideration that alone doesn't prove satisfactory--to me anyway--when one takes into account a regional series like the CFOA operates more like the PSP than the AXBL and despite a significant cost advantage is experiencing some of the same concerns the PSP is. And how significant is proximity really? What is the practical difference between a 4 hour drive and a 2 or 3 hour flight? (Remember, proximity isn't about cost, it's about access.) Perhaps a bigger factor is duration--the length of the event--but again, there are counter-examples like the CFOA.
Regardless, I found it an interesting comparison. I will, however, confess that a large part of what I see in the comparison is further confirmation that the Pro Circuit is the way to go. The simple fact is the regional series can do things the national traveling circus can't. (Is it just my imagination or do I hear the Raehl faction squawking already?)

But before I call it a day, er, a post, I'd like to wedge some extra UCP comments in here. And since you can't stop me that's what I'm gonna do. (There will plenty more coming in the next "official" UCP post.) Here's a little thought experiment for you. The AXBL (or any random regional league) has opted to go full boat on the UCP (including formats, etc.) They have a 4 event season that will culminate--for the more successful teams--in a trip to the PSP national championships held during WC. Each event winner gets a hundred points towards their series total. The PSP, on the other hand, offers events that are worth double points towards a team's season point total. Tell me, what's wrong with that picture?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Burning Question

"PSP suggested ROF of 12, 10 and 8 for different skill levels, now agreed to use ROF 10 universally for all from 2010, MS will start already in 2009 with ROF 10."

The above is from what I described yesterday as a purported press release from the Millennium Series. There are a couple of things wrong with it beyond the awkward English--like the pointless inclusion of the 8 bps ROF which didn't see the light of day though it was initially intended. Even so, it suggests the PSP will follow suit in 2010 with a universal ROF at 10.5.

Today the MS website goes into detail regarding their move to a 10.5 bps standard (without mentioning the PSP alignment in 2010.) What I would like to know is has the PSP already agreed to this and are they simply practicing incrementalism in order to make the change more palatable? Wassup, PSP?

Saving Pro Ball: The Answer

At first you may not see it. That's okay. It is an out-of-the-box idea. It's also one I've suggested before if only semi-seriously. This time though it falls into the what have you got to lose category.
By the way, this isn't a post from the in-progress queue so I'm falling further behind my intended schedule. I realize it can be frustrating but think how I feel, the pressure I'm under to constantly produce new, interesting, vital and topical material. It's a cruel burden I tell ya. And if you believe that I have a fabulous opportunity just for you. Yes, I mean you specifically. It involves a lost inheritance and some very honest bankers in Liberia. Drop me an email. Could be your lucky day.

Oh, yeah, the answer. A sports book for paintball that only operates during events. See, it's brilliant. Gambling is what makes all pro sports exciting and entertaining. Last year nearly 400 billion, yep, that was billion with a b, billion dollars was spent on sports betting alone. Now I'm not suggesting the major league series start trying to make money from gambling--unless you happen to know some Native Americans (that's Indians, and not the Cleveland variety) who haven't started up their own casinos yet. It's not necessary. This first stage can work fine without real cash money changing hands. I know what you're thinking--if real money isn't changing hands it ain't gambling. And you've got a point but stick with me.

One other thing before I go on. I don't expect any remuneration for this idea because, you know, I'm just doing my part for paintball but a little token, down the road, when gambling saves the day wouldn't go amiss. Maybe name the series trophy after me, the Loco Cup, or if that's too much a tasteful statue would be a much appreciated tribute.

The PSP has already noticed the popularity of Cadenet1's Pick'em threads leading into events and now they's using him to help communicate with their audience. They are halfway there already. Now, ask yourself what the PSP wants (and needs)--besides a money tree growing in Lane's backyard. They want to disseminate their game to the paintballing public and, eventually, beyond. They want to build a growing pro following. And they want to do that, in part, with the webcast which reaches an exponentially larger potential audience than on site at an event will ever likely reach. They want to reinvigorate sponsor value. A Paintball Sports Book operating with, say, PSP bucks can do all those things.

Here's how it works. The Sports Book is set up by the Pro field. It only accepts wagers in PSP bucks. You can bet single matches, event winners, different multiples like who makes Sunday, even individual top killers and so on. Betting is limited to the pro teams only. Odds could be simply calculated based on current ranking position. Sports betting works on two levels; an opportunity to win and the bettor's sense that their success is predicated on their knowledge and ability to evaluate the teams and players. Ego gratification and cash.

Where do PSP bucks come from? Here's where it gets good. From the vendors. You get X PSP bucks when you buy a case of paint or a T-shirt or whatever. Since most every team pays something for paint most teams and players will get some bucks to gamble without having to buy other stuff--initially. But there's more.
If PSP bucks aren't worth anything how do you win? On-site vendors accept PSP bucks up to some percentage of any purchase you might make and they can adjust as the event unfolds. For example, something between 5 and 15% maybe. Enough to have some value. So winning PSP bucks encourages purchasing paintball products. (PSP Bucks are only good for single events.)
How does the webcast fit? And does Sports Book reach beyond the event locale? Remember the down time on the webcast? It disappears. In it's place there's plenty to talk about. Recount past match-up results, previous player stats, rosters, up-to-date results and the shifting odds--all the same sorts of things sports fans talk about all the time. And for webcast offer prize give-aways based on Sports Book results. Now the league can charge a nominal fee for the webcast and simultaneously generate consistent more intense viewer interest because any and all results have a direct impact on the viewers.

There are a couple of potential concerns. There's the risk of counterfeit PSP bucks because they do have a kind of value. (Then the question becomes do vendors really care if it generates more sales?) There's the logistics of putting it together both on-site and on the web but neither one is that big a deal. There is also, I suspect, the possibility of running afoul of state laws depending. And the final problem I can see is that, from personal experience, a lot of paintball players aren't all that into sports.

There you have it, kids--pure unadulterated genius if I do say so myself--and I guess I just did.

Enlistments for the Week

This week's recruits to the Deadbox Puppet Army (What is the DPA?) are Caff, theone, Reiner Schafer and Bilbo. Greetings from VFTD.

Caff joins us from the northwest U.S. and comes from a rec/scenario background.

theone AKA Neo or as his Mama preferred, Justin, enlists with a clean slate.

Reiner Schafer is a field owner who brings a different (and welcome) perspective to our happy little blog.

And Bilbo (of the family Baggins no doubt) has made the long journey from Middle Earth--or maybe not. Dude.

Thanks for being here. Until next time.

UPDATE: theone reminds me he's really responsible for the AXBL vs. PSP posts--I knew the name was familiar but this onset Alzheimer's is a bitch--and since there's still one more coming please direct your hate mail to him. Thanls.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Special Report

VFTD interrupts its regular posting schedule to bring you this special report. A purported press release from the Millennium--which is not posted on their official site at this time but can be seen here--fills in a few of the blanks supporters of the European league have been waiting to hear. Apparently the MS will go to a universal 10.5 ROF with the attendant claim the PSP will follow next season. The other items attracting VFTD's interest was the announcement that Disney Paris will be an "Open" event and the briefest of mentions regarding gun teching at vendor's booths.
ROF got my attention only because of the claim that the PSP would conform next year. Regulars will know that while I favor lower ROF in the lower divisions I do not favor it has a competitive standard. For more on that look here and here.
The gun teching item is interesting because it appears incomplete. At one point the MS was planning on holding the ability to tech guns hostage to the level of sponsorship a vendor opted for but this makes it sound as if they may have quietly backed away from that position. If you missed it first time around there's more here and here.
Making the Disney Paris event an "Open" event with unique brackets and scheduling and results kept separate from the Millennium Series title it would seem to be an invitation, at least in part, to U.S. Pro teams. If so I fear the timing will conspire against much U.S. Pro participation. Prior to the season my team management had discussed this possibility given our expectation of a reduced events season over here but ran afoul of the locked divisions. With this option opening the possibility again the MS has scheduled the event for the weekend following the Chicago PSP event which will, unfortunately, make it very difficult for most teams with the resources to consider coming over given issues like managing player schedules and practice. C'est la vie!

In other news Paintball X3 is reporting that Gino Postorivo, formerly of NPS, will soon be returning to PBIndustry having fulfilled the obligations of his non-compete. While it is understandable that X3 is viewing this in a positive light VFTD thinks it's a bit premature. Among other things, NPS introduced the practice of discount online sales that undercut the profit margins of their own dealers network. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the industry responds.

VFTD now returns you to your (kinda) regularly scheduled postings. Coming up it the queue are the final installment of the PSP vs. AXBL series, the next posts in the Iron Laws and Field Design series as well as Notes on the UCP. I should get at least one of those out tonight sometime.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage

Days 63 - 69
The USPL's first entry deadline passed yesterday without any significant bump in teams moving from registered to paid. Registrations stand at 103 with 35 paid including the 16 pro teams (owners) as the OC Bushwackers finally made their participation official. Team registration is scheduled to close on the 25th and final arrangements with sponsors and vendors must fall into that time frame, at the latest, as well.
Is there a must abort date? You know, if things ain't working as expected is there a date where the league is prepared to cancel and re-schedule or does this go off no matter what? I ask because it's not looking great, is it? In terms of the future of the USPL and major league paintball in general would it be better to postpone or roll the dice now? Hey, it could end up being a completely moot point but realistically what happens if the pro teams are expected to pony up for event losses in order to continue?

Over in Euroland the Millennium Series is pleased to announce a full D2 division (32 teams) for Malaga--their first event of the season. What they aren't announcing is that the locked divisions aren't looking quite so positive--so far. The CPL has 9 of 16 teams on board. The SPL has 21 of 32 signed up and D1 has 11 of 32 in place. They have a bigger window given the event is scheduled for the end of April but there have been a number of spots in the locked divisions (CPL, SPL, D1) available for months with few takers.

Paint continues to be a serious concern and there's some interesting news from Euroland. Pharmagel is no longer producing paintballs which has forced Tomahawk to contract with the manufacturers out of Romania. (Which, I am informed, means there are only 2 paint manufacturers left that are based in Europe.) In a possibly related bit of info Tomahawk has yet to sign on as an MS sponsor. Over on this side of the pond word is Procaps has cut employees at both Archon and APS. And rumor has it that Procaps has reduced their production tooling from 12 machines to 6.
It would be interesting to know what current production levels are and what the max capacity of the remaining machines is.

On the international front I have no news on what, if any, advances were made on behalf of the UPBF amid the meetings supposedly taking place on Kish Island, Iran during the recent PALM event.

Rule of the Game

Baca's rule of the game #23: There are two kinds of cheaters in paintball, honest and dishonest. The majority of "honest" cheaters play out in the open where everyone can see and the bulk of the "dishonest" cheaters skulk around in the woods. There is a certain irony then in the fact it is the "honest" cheaters who are most often condemned. There is, however, a special corner of hell for the "dishonest" cheaters where Nine Inch Nails is the house band and they will be performing show tunes for eternity.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Field Design--Breaking It Down

Here's how this is gonna work. I'm going to try to put that nearly useless little top view of the PSP Phoenix Open layout grid to the right with an embedded link to the full size grid. (I've tried once already and the html looks okay and yet--no little image. If it's there you've just wasted a few precious seconds--you're welcome--and if not, you know why. It's nearly impossible to know less about how to do this than I know.)
With or without the image I intend to soldier on so you'll just have to make the best of it. This initial post will give you a method for breaking field layouts down, any layouts, and provide a framework for understanding how a layout will play and ways to exploit the available options. This information then guides everything from shooting lanes off the break to avenues for attacking and defending and all the rest of the actual playing of the game action. The next post in the series will then use this breakdown methodology to revisit the Phoenix layout and in the process describe how and why certain features played the way they did.

Begin with a full page version of the grid. With a ruler and pen (or pencil if you're detoxing again) find all the shooting lanes for sweet-spotting off the break. It is highly unlikely you will use them all, or even most, but this is a guide to checking all the possibilities.
On a separate grid--using the same ruler and pen--graph all the likely shots from the back bunkers. The result will begin to look like an antique mariner's chart and explains using a separate grid. By the way, you're going to need two more grids. One for the snake side of the field and the other for the D-side as you graph out possible shots working up field from bunker to bunker. If this sounds convoluted and confusing it's really pretty straightforward. The six (or however many) lines radiating from say, the snake corner bunker are the basic shots available from that position--as indicated by the grid. (You will, of course, find that sometimes the real thing isn't quite the same and one shot or another isn't what it looked like on the grid.) A handy tool for getting a visual sense of how some of the angles will appear and what shots might or might not be available if you're uncertain is the virtual field, when available, over at Warpig.)

Once completed you will find the shot grids give you an immediate and clear idea of which positions, if any, on the field offer dominate offensive options and which ones offer the best defensive options. You also can quickly see all the critical relationships between positions on the field. For example, which positions can shoot Snake 1 as well as which positions are at the greatest risk from a player in Snake 1 and so on. While D2 has good angles on the snake corner what positions is the player in D2 most at risk from? It's all on the shot grids. Instead of learning the shots, angles and positional relationships--and often missing a few--only after getting on the field the shot grids let you confirm information you already have.

One additional step that is often neglected is the follow-up examination for deflected (or bounce) shots, blind shots, unusual not-direct-line-of-sight lanes, blind spots to be played. Most of these can be ascertained from the shot grids as well though they need to be tested on the field knowing what you're looking for in advance is another time safer.

All the above is really mostly rudimentary field-walking done prior to actually walking the field. You're looking for the same information with the intention of putting it to the same uses. This method simply offers another level of efficiency to the basic process.

If I've used any unfamiliar terms--have you ever noticed different places around the country have different names for everything--don't hesitate to ask for clarification. Additionally, if you have any questions please ask. In an effort to be both brief and concise--despite a tendency to yammer on endlessly and wander off on tangents--I'm sure some things have been lost in transmission.

For the record I managed to get that worthless little grid image embedded but couldn't wrap the text around it so I gave it the boot. No, really. I did. And as you can see in my determination to avoid too much tedious theory there wasn't any at all. Instead it was a primer on prepping to walk a field. Next time, more theory using examples from the PSP Phoenix Open layout.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Intro to the Iron Laws of Tournament Logistics

Finally, and especially for Geoff (so you can knock off with the threats left on my answering machine)--here is part 1 of the 'Iron Laws of Tournament Logistics.' If you were expecting the long build-up to result in a brilliant post, think again. This isn't comparable to revealing the mysteries of the Illuminati or exposing the truth about Area 51. (Which, if the NSA is listening in, I know absolutely nothing about.) This post is not going to be anything like 12 Easy Steps To Organizing Your Own Tourney. Nor will it be anything like Complete The Following Checklist And You Too Can Be A Successful Event Promoter. While I'm at it there won't be any specific laws, iron or otherwise, but it sounded really good and I couldn't resist.
Relax, would you? Don't be getting all fidgety and impatient on me. This is progress. Knowing what the post isn't is almost as good as knowing what it is. Narrows the focus.
And, hey, since I just thought of a couple it turns out there will be some iron laws of tournament logistics after all.
But here's the thing–and the reason for all this what-it's-not. It's not a mystery or a secret or a how-to. It's mostly just a few common sense observations of the yeah, well duh sort.

Tournament logistics refers to all the essential physical equipment; netting, poles, bunkers, etc. and all the equipment necessary to set-up and tear down. The non-physical component is time. Here time refers to the length of the event, the scheduling of matches and team participation and also to the pre- and post event time used in set-up, tear down and organization.
Why all that before and after the event stuff? Because the critical calculus is cost to revenue and you can't get an accurate handle on cost without the before and after stuff. And the time stuff sounds kinda confusing. Not to worry, it will be explained in detail. This post is mostly a simple outline and a teaser that gives you a head start, if you are so inclined, on working out an understanding of the subject on your own. (Then you can skip the rest of the series.)

Law 1–No aspect of the event functions independently of any (and every) other aspect.
Law 2–What you don't know costs more or at least creates a range of uncertainty.

There is one factor in all this that makes a crucial practical and cost difference. It is the difference between an established paintball venue and the construction of a temporary event site, hence the renewed interest in using established paintball venues as event sites. The bulk of the continuing series will focus on the traveling national series type of event but will also juxtapose those events against the fixed established paintball venue.

The purpose of these posts is to provide a framework for forming slightly more informed opinions related to operating paintball tournaments. Despite the fact it ain't rocket science it appears, from the vantage point of VFTD anyway, there is an awful lot of ill-informed opinion out there (present company excluded, of course) and it is hoped these posts might go part of the way toward a remedy.

Next up will be the first of a possible long-term series on field design offering a breakdown of the PSP Phoenix layout. Talking field design theory is, I fear, an excellent way to test your loyalty to VFTD but it is a topic I want to discuss. By discussing the most recent layout played I'm hoping to match-up real world experience with theory in little, bite-size pieces. If it seems to be working--or I just like doing it--it can be turned into an ongoing series of recently played tournament fields.

Monday's Baca's Blog over at 68 Caliber is about the demise of the old paintball media and the rise of the new paintball media.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Again with the UCP

Next week, probably about mid-week, I will have a substantial follow-up on my UCP query from last Thursday. I'm a bit disappointed in the lack of comments because this is an important issue and this is a legit opportunity to express an opinion that will be heard. On the other hand I can see where some of y'all directly involved would be a bit reticent. Please consider doing it anyway. And if you know somebody who operates tournaments at their local field or runs a regional of any size take a few minutes to aim them at these UCP posts because I'd really like to hear from as many peeps as possible. I've spoken with a few but the wider the sample of views the more valuable the result.
Truth is in the blogging universe most readers, even loyal regulars, aren't typically commenters but this is one of the rare occasions where I sincerely encourage you to make the effort.

Tomorrow, Part 1 of the Iron Laws of Tournament Logistics.

Trauma's Back

At least for the MAO and, hopefully, the rest of the season. I'm looking forward to seeing the kids again. Cheerwine and Carolina burgers for everyone. Or, perhaps Starbucks and Subway would be more suitable.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Enlistments for the Week

This week's recruits to the Deadbox Puppet Army (What is the DPA?) are Chris L., Matt Pelc, Steve Davidson and Greg Helms.

Chris L. is a certifiable paintball junkie desperately in need of the paintball equivalent of a methadone clinic. He runs a few competition teams out of the western Pennsylvania area.

Matt Pelc is a homeless baller from New Jersey. Normally, three strikes and you're out but the DPA turns no ballers away.

Steve Davidson is the living history of tourney paintball. Or a decently sized chunk of it, anyway. A founding member of the original NPPL and founder of the original USPL Steve can currently be found over at 68 Caliber and his paintblog, 68 Caliber 2.0

Greg, a Florida boy, joins us from within the long shadow of The House of the Mouse. Some say Obama is the Antichrist, some of us know it's really Mickey. Greg fights off ennui by competing in tournaments and working at one of the Orlando area's paintball fields.

Thank you all and welcome. Until next time.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mr. Curious

Mr. Curious doesn't have anything to contribute to the UCP post--he's trying very hard to be a paintballer (lazy slacker)--but he does have an interesting question.
Do players who compete in more than one series that use the APPA system have to pay for multiple I.D. cards? And, if so, why?

And I'm trying to be a paintballer too--so I'm gonna rely on Mr. APPA supplying the 411.

Universal Classification Program

If you haven't checked it out yet, or don't remember any of the details, I encourage you to look over the UCP, universal classification program. The reason for my request is that I'm looking for answers and I need your help. (Mark it on your calendar 'cus it's never gonna happen again.) What I'm curious about is the general appeal of this concept and what, if anything, y'all don't like about it. I'm particularly interested in what event promoters think but don't let that stop you from posting an opinion in the comments.
It's one thing to devise a plan and another thing altogether to get people to jump on your bandwagon. Being a natural pessimist with an abiding mistrust (and dislike) of authority, any authority, I'm about the last guy to see this objectively--which is why I need your help. Tell me why it's a good idea (or a bad idea) and why it will work (or why it won't.) I have some ideas but I'm gonna wait for your comments because I don't want to unduly influence you with my negativity. Knowing the sort of lazy slackers paintballers tend to be your comments could very well have an influence on the final outcome of the UCP project. And if that doesn't motivate you to take a few minutes to participate, well, I'd offer cash but, you know, times are tough.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage

Days 59 - 62
A wire service headline caught my eye this morning. The Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked by gunmen in Pakistan. It attracted my attention because the Ironmen and various representatives of the PSP and Millennium Series are currently in Iran. While Iran isn't Pakistan it is a grim reminder there is big, often ugly, world out there where sports and athletes don't get a free pass. On the other hand I'm not particularly concerned--I don't even like the Ironmen all that much.

Word is the the agenda includes organizational meetings of the UPBF aimed at international recognition. Rumor has it Dye has a separate business opportunity it is pursuing and there has been some speculation the PSP is using the opportunity to seek backing from international sources.

Speaking of gossip and speculation it appears the routine gamut of rumor, gossip and speculation is being weaponized. Elements inside the USPL seem to think the PSP is using a campaign of rumor and innuendo to try and sabotage their efforts and I'm wondering if some of the weekend gossip is the result. In either case I don't know who is responsible or what is true but I do know that trying to undermine "the other guy", particularly in this uncertain time, is a fool's errand.

At 1 pm EST the USPL's Surf City Open had 84 teams registered and 26 paid. The cutoff date is March 25th and March 9th is the last day to pay before the entry prices goes up.

If you skipped yesterday's Baca's Blog piece at 68 Caliber you missed out on the thumping delivered to the mil-sim crowd. The only thing missing is some irate comments from frothing digital camo commandos as they spew Red Man all over their keyboards. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

More Baca, More Places, More of the Time

Starting tomorrow I begin a new (fresh) (cool) (sweet) (awesome) weekly blogging feature hosted over at 68 Caliber. It will appear every Monday and, fingers crossed, should give me a chance to alienate the rest of paintball in no time at all. The first piece is called, It Came From The Woods. Check it out.

Moonbats, Drillbits & Semiauto

I'm not normally one to let the (gross) stupidity of others agitate me. It can even be entertaining but there is one subject that drives me to the brink of gleeful homicide--the blindly willful utter nonsense spouted by the "semi-auto" advocacy crowd. By the way, this includes a few friends of mine so y'all please feel free to delude yourselves that little bit more and believe I mean everybody but you. No. Really, I do. Thanks.
It started when I was skimming a long thread at the Nation--yes, I realize I brought it on myself--devoted to speculation about the (then) upcoming changes at the PSP. More than a few posters just had to toss in the opinion that what the PSP needed was preferably uncapped semi-auto (just like those other guys who went bankrupt!) "But it wasn't because of semi-auto." No, that was just one in a long list of boneheaded decisions.
Everybody is entitled to an opinion--even an idiotic one--but this particular brand of paintball superstition is like being a member of the Flat Earth Society and really believing the Earth is flat. Or participating in Renaissance festivals because you are convinced you really are Richard the Lionheart reincarnate.
Hey Tulip, you're nutty as a fruitcake!

If you've been living in a cave maybe I better explain. Like Knights of the Round Table (or in this case, Empty Head) there are some die hard fantasists forever chasing the semi-auto Holy Grail of one pull, one shot. True semi-auto (as if such a beast existed in the era of the micro-processor and electronic gun) is a swell dream but fails – no matter how often the faithful insist--to correspond with reality. The truth is the majority of diehards don't actually understand how their guns work even if they can use the right words to construct a seemingly coherent sentence. If they did they wouldn't be Knights of the Empty Head. For starters their trigger pull doesn't actually discharge their marker. The proprietary software in the micro-processor on their board 'reads' a signal from the switch--which can be any one of a number of different types of switches--and decides what to do about the received signal and the result can vary as widely as the parameters of the software allow. And, of course, within that process the micro-processor tells the gun when to shoot, not you. Then there are the assorted forms of actuation that are 'mistakes.' Stuff like bounce, both mechanical and switch. Every software package in the business has filters designed to minimize, to varying degrees, the 'mistakes.' But guess what. All you semi-auto is a skill clowns set your filters to the lowest possible 'legal' setting because, miraculously, your skill improves when the filters interfere as little as possible.
And it's even worse than you know because there are (and have been) manufacturers who swear on your mother's life that their software is pristine and innocent and would never intentionally add a shot or three or six. After, of course, offering the standard pious disclaimer about user error. Yet it does--and many of you like it that way because you've worked ever so hard to develop your "skill." Still, these disciples of the true semi-auto continue to insist that semi-auto is pure paintball and that ramping is an evil corruption despite the indisputable evidence that all electronic guns add shots and the only real quibble is over the definition of intentional and unintentional.
One thing we can agree on is that if such a thing as true semi-auto existed in the modern game it would be better than capped, ramping guns. But the place you gotta start to see that happen is with sufficient standardization across the manufacturers so that the gun you're shooting is essentially identical to the one Joe Bob is shooting. At that point you can reintroduce the idea of skill again. And trust me, most of you semi-auto worshipers aren't gonna like that one little bit.*

*First appeared in issue #9 of Welt