Monday, June 14, 2010

Format of the Future?

Maybe, maybe not but an excellent beginning point to talk about the evolution of competitive paintball formats--and, according to player testimonials, it's great fun to play.

Are you drawing a blank? Hit the title for a link to the official Formula 5 website for more info--or just keep reading. I stumbled across this on the P8ntballer forum and was intrigued. In part because I've been, now and again, noodling over possibilities for the Holy Grail of tourney paintball, the spectator friendly format. Which isn't to say I'm dissatisfied with the current situation--though in a perfect world I'd rather play "real" xball, but then I'm not footing our paint bill so I grit my teeth and accept certain compromises. (Except 3 damn prelim matches an event! Never! A line has to be drawn somewhere or eventually we'll be paying our entry and flipping a coin to see who won. But I digress...)
I do tend to think however that future changes or competitive alternatives are more likely than not. And as an example Formula 5 has some good things going for it. Played on an airball field larger than the current standard the center of the field has two buttons, one for each team, that set a clock ticking. Pressing your button begins to accumulate time for your side, scoring one point every six seconds until your opponent can reach his button and turn the clock in his favor. That's the focal point and the results are immediately visible on the scoreboard as the two team's scores either get closer or further apart. You also score a point every time an opponent is eliminated or exits the field (having been removed as the result of a penalty or to refill air and/or paint. The other big feature is that players re-spawn (thus also attracting the scenario crowd. Or not.) Fresh players enter as others exit so long as no more than 5 live players are on the field at any one time. The game action is non-stop as there is a constant battle over control of the clock.
That's it in a nutshell. Sound good? Bad? Crazy? Not sure? If you want to know more check the title link and/or P8ntballer for more details.

And, as I said it's a good way to begin a discussion on future formats--do we need them? Want them? Or is 7-man or Race 2 the final frontier for competitive paintball? Later this week I'll see if I can keep the conversation going with Bacaball 1.0.

36 comments:

Missy Q said...

I think it sounds pretty cool.

Smart Parts should buy the format (or just claim it was theres already) and then spend big bucks filming it. Who cares if no-one watches, as they'll make bank by selling the DVD box sets anyway...

Am I right or an I right?

J-Bird said...

race-2 is definitely not the end. xball is the dream, race-2 is a good modification to make it affordable. hopefully xball will become THE professional game one day; but we're just not there yet.

Anonymous said...

For me somekind of race-2/xball format is the ultimate format.

This is a fight sport, actually unique team fight sport, right?

In all fights your aim is to beat the opponent down to the ground or in our world out of the game.
I don´t see that in this "formula 5" thing, wich in my eyes (not played) is only pumped up scenario/rec game.

I am sure it is fun but it lacks the satisfactory "knock out/tap out" ending that each point in race-2 gives. In race-2 other team is beated x many times by the other team. In this "formula 5" you hold the clock and then just defend it.

Race-2 wins for me.


Juice
team Urho
Finland

raehl said...

I would have more than one button, maybe one on each side of the field, or one on each side and one in the middle. Hit any of them and you turn on the clock on your side, or each button could be for one team or the other, so your points accumulate faster/slower depending how many buttons you control at any time. The downside is you lose the singular focus, but the upside is you can't win by just controlling one point on the field.

The big win with this format though is the penalties. No one plays short, so majors don't have a huge (and hugely variable) effect on the game like they do now, but you still don't want penalties.

I think I would make it one point per 10 seconds or so though so eliminations/penalties are a bit more significant compared to time, but probably something you wouldn't work out well without a lot of practice.



Now, that's what I think about it in terms of play. Logistics is a different animal. RaceTo-2 can be run with a stop-watch. Even RaceTo-4 can be run with a stopwatch in a pinch. This format you're going to need a lot more equipment.


And while this format might be a bit more fun than the current format, the format isn't the problem for tournament paintball right now, it's the cost. We're killing ourselves shooting $20/minute in paint per team.


So make it hopperball and you have a winner. Now you have a strategy (and stat) element - how many players eliminated before the player runs out of paint and has to reload? If you're using a whole hopper to eliminate one opponent and then have to exit the field, it's a wash - better hope that elimination kept your clock running!

And you cut the paint cost down to $5/minute/team.

68caliber said...

Interestingly reminscent of the first 'speedball' games with the bell in the middle of the field.

Actually, it IS speedball old style with one change: ringing the bell once doesn't end the game.

Have to say I'm kind of underwhelmed; center field focus is almost a guarantee of stalemates.

Anonymous said...

I read the rules on that new format site. It's pretty much not made for competitive play and is filled with stuff that is more about recballers pipedream into being a competitive baller. 280FPS limit, limits to available paint on the field, no ROF cap, etc.

That just smells so many potential abuses on the field its not even funny, putting a huge rof gun to push critical bunkers in and stalemate the game to hell and back after clock is on.

Regarding to the cost of tournament paint.. unless we change projectiles form, accuracy is only gained by volume. Hopperballs biggest issue is that luck becomes an massive variable when you can't compensate bad accuracy by volume. Same way as pump games / tournaments are more about luck than anything else. Who makes the shot is down to whos paint this time flies straight enough, since there is no high rof / volume correction of accuracy.

Put three markers on a vice, highend tournament gun, your flashy ccm pump and a some mechanical gun. Check accuracy. Notice no difference, notice horrible accuracy. Understand why people want decently high ROFs and fuck hopperball.

However, if we could (not likely) to change into an actually smart projectile that had enough accuracy simlar to current first strike rounds, we could heavily limit the cost of tournament paintball. As volume, would not matter as much as it does now. If shaped rounds similar to the FS became the standard, their price would drop quite fast to current levels and tournament hopperball would be viable. With current round paintball, no way.

Missy Q said...

If it was FS, there couldn't be hopper-ball, it would have to be 'magazine-ball', and if you have 'magazine-ball' you might as well make your gun look like an AK47. While you're doing that, how about swapping out the bunkers for sandbags and camo-netting. Hey, once that happens, we can all start wearing camo again, and hey presto - paintball is saved....

Anonymous said...

Wrong. You can create a better flight properties projectile that is fed into the gun by similar bulking manner that is currently used. Also, FS was used solely as intent to prove that superior inflight dynamics can be created. Also, external ballistics is a very complex science that paintball has not dabbled at all yet, and that will be the next step, regardless of your oh-my-god, it might have a different belt driven loader that actually alings projectiles in breach someway it is a NOW A GUN - logic that is so flawed that you can just stop poasting right now.

Or we can start a fest about projectile ballistic knowledge and judging by that comment, you don't know shit about.

Also, you are just trolling, or being stupid.

Reiner Schafer said...

Anon - Juice...Interesting, you comments about being a fight sport. I always thought of paintball as a tag sport.

Maybe that is why less people seem to be taking part in speedball these days; they don't want to get beaten down to the ground? Only a very small percentage of the population like to fight. Everybody grew up playing tag. Interesting perspective.

on topic, I too would see a problem with making one or two spots on the field the focal point that everyone tries to get to. Once they have reached it, all they need to do is lock it up, and keep the other team away.

J-Bird said...

"I don´t see that in this "formula 5" thing, wich in my eyes (not played) is only pumped up scenario/rec game."

maybe it's the best attempt at a cross-over for new players/woods ballers into tourney play? If I was a field owner who had an xball field with some old left over bunkers, id totally set this format up for the rec players. I worked at a field for a few years and we had two speedball fields and one mounds field, no woods, and we did really well at keeping people happy with playing 5v5 elimination. But one of the few complaints we got was that they really didnt get the point of the game after a few games, and it got kinda boring coming on and off the field every three min. This game would completely eliminate those two complaints.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem with Formula 5 is that people are going to judge it purely based on their imagination.

As this comments thread proves.

Mike said...

I'd love to try it - sounds interesting.

papa chad said...

hopperball is too few paintballs (to even throw down a lane at the breakout), but a hopper+3 pods adds money savings and dynamics. let's just do that and make the game affordable to even practice every weekend. maybe even go with 2 pods.

two/three pods means you have to make more choices-
how much should your team lane off the break?
should you lane?
how fast should you shoot, pending "ammo"?
make it uncapped semi, if someone wants to shoot 17bps with a bouncing gun, he'll pay for it when he drains through all of his paint and is effectively eliminated. limited pods makes it smart to shoot slow, and at other times, to shoot fast (breakout for example). and we get to shoot semi, with no need for presets (psp mode). once more, if someone is "cheating" by shooting too fast, they'll just be effectively dead because they've shot all their paint.

again, adding dynamics- if a player is out of paint, he'll have to get a pod from another who has a spare, essentially rejuvenating the sterilized player back into the game.

we could still play x-ball, playing point after point of strategic paintball. physical skill will still be important, of course, but this adds some of the strategy I feel the modern game-small fields with coaches- inherently lacks.

raehl said...

Wait, how is hopper ball suddenly about luck?

You don't have to make up for lack of accuracy by volume. You can make up for lack of accuracy by... (gasp)... moving and aiming! Look ma, real skills!

If you can't hit the guy from where you're at, move!

Alex said...

Ignoring the rest of the discussion, and pardon me if this has already been said/noted upon, but reffing would have to be done differently.

Instead of just pulling people out, penalties similar to those in hockey would have to be applied, and particular attention would have to be paid near the clocks to make sure that players don't play on, push the button, and then call out. Having refs (plural) watching the clock would do something like that.

Why hopper ball though? Assuming people can refill air and paint when they're out, wouldn't that just make people call themselves out so that a fresh teammate can come in? It just seems inconvenient. A limit on the amount of pods seems more playable.

Agreed on the uncapped semi proposed earlier, but bouncing guns should be penalized, as is the norm.

raehl said...

Hopper ball merely to cut costs. You wouldn't want to just blow through your paint and call yourself out to be replaced by another player because:

1) Leaving the field gives the other team a point
2) You'd give up any field position you had as your replacement would have to come from the back


And repeat after me:

There is no such thing as uncapped semi-auto

Your firing mode options are:
- Uncapped ramping
- Capped ramping
- Mechanical
- Pump

Uncapped ramping would be fine with hopperball since there is a downward pressure on paint use - each paintball shot effectively costs you 1/200th of a point.

papa chad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Missy Q said...

To the Anon guy that accused me of 'Trolling' earlier - wasn't ignoring you, just read what you wrote, and...
No, I'm not wrong. You're wrong. I qualify my statement in the first 4 words of the post (sorry, 'poast') which you have done such a poor job of understanding. I was talking about FS (First Strike) and my observations are about that round, which you had originally referenced. If you are now talking about a different, yet to be conceived round, then obviously thats a different situation. All I can reference is FS. My observation, and therefore my post, is therefore correct.

Do you need directions back to PBN or can you find it all on your own?

ollytheosteo said...

Having played three of these now, I'd have to say try it if you can, certainly before getting all pissy about the merits or otherwise of the format. It's a different game from X-ball or 5-man and for the guy who wants a LOT more field time for the same sort of spend it's fantastic. Everyone honks on about the factors that fail to attract new players or drive them away but I can tell you one that gets missed; telling someone they need to spend a large sum to have their first go at a proper comp which may then provide only a few minutes of field time if they keep getting clipped early. Even if your team wins getting hit on the break a few times then being handed a fifth of the bill is hard going. Play one of these and you get an hour of field time over four games, and if you keep having to run back when you get hit then at least you get another go. Players have to be able to play all positions as they move up the field and if you fancy going up the snake three times in one game then go for it. It's interesting about the hopperball idea; it was mooted when the format was first developed but dropped later, personally I think a hopper and say, two or three pots per entry to the field would work well.

ollytheosteo said...

Oh and Missy, if you're making poast can I have Narmite on mine?

Anonymous said...

>No, I'm not wrong. You're wrong. I qualify my statement in the first 4 words of the post

So you fully ignore the fact that all written was about similar ballistic properties and just think you have right to assume (contra to the words posted)?

"enough accuracy similar to current first strike rounds"

Meaning, similar accuracy, not form.

"If shaped rounds similar to the FS became"

Shaped, as in any other ballistic shape than almost ellipse paint.

A system where loaded paint is turned into proper facing in the breach does not require magazine. Also, how and why would any sort of belt driven feed that arranges shaped paint into correct alignment would turn us into milsim fest like you claim?

Regarding PBN directions, I find it funny that someone points out your inane stuff on the internet you take it as personally rather than talk about the issue in hand. So how exactly will even fin rounds turn paintball into AK war? :D

Raehl, take a look around a bit what in last three years people have discovered in paint trajectory and actual difference in markers. Basicly, any marker that has steady velocity and no dropoff will shoot the same, absolutely crap accuracy. When player has enough experience and practice (like majority of even remotely decent tournament ballers do) they will all shoot with similar accuracy when pressure and other psychological factors are not present.

Put couple different guns on a vice, shoot them down range to a large target with x/y and mark down the shot positions. Take couple accuracy vectors. All guns literaly no statistical variance in the vectors. Accuracy is so bad, that good baller is literally as good as best pro. What makes difference is the pressure ingame and techinique in the shot itself (how big is your profile vs others) but accuracy is the same.

So, in the end, even best tournament players try to avoid gunfights where they have to come out blind and try to push the other player in. Way too much luck is involved, your marker is in perfect alignment when you pop out, but you miss due paint inaccuracy and opponent hits. Luck becomes a major player.

Yes, you can be a better shooter while running or such, but thats down to posture and practice due the movement. The paint itself, retrains its inhert problem of flying like shit. And no one can compensate for randomness of paintball in flight. Thats why you apply volume and want high rof.

raehl said...

Uh, Anon....

You entirely missed the point.

You're right, the guns are not terribly accurate at 150 feet, and even if you hit the other guy at that distance, there is a good chance it will bounce. So more volume there definitely makes a difference.

At 100 feet, you can use a paintball gun to very reliably shoot and hit a person you have an angle on.

At 50 feet, you can use a paintball gun to very reliably shoot someone who has come out to shoot at you.

Now, if everyone is carrying more paint than they can shoot in the time they are going to be on the field, then it may make sense to stay 150' apart and shoot volumes of paint at each other and see who makes the 1% shot first.

But if you take away the "infinite" paint and cut everyone down to 200 rounds, then sitting in the back bunker is now bad strategy. It makes more sense to move up the field to a position where you have an angle on someone, and stop other people from doing the same.

I'm not saying you can play the game the same way it is played now with limited paint. But you can definitely play paintball with limited paint; it just changes up the strategies and skills.

Whether you think "who can shoot the biggest volume of paint" or "Who can to the best position first" is a better game is going to be a matter of preference, but I know which one more people can afford to play.

Steve said...

I would like to try it, but I think X-Ball (Race-to) is a more exciting format.

I am starting to come around the Chris' idea of limited paint. Not hopper ball, but maybe something where the TEAM is limited to a certain number of pods, say 15. A front might only carry 2, a mid might carry 3 and a back might carry 5 or something like that.

If limits paint some, but doesn't drastically change the game.

Maybe go to 10 bps too.

raehl said...

Steve, I was just having a similar thought, brought on by the format...

...what if you can carry as much paint as you want, but everyone starts empty and each pod you take onto the field costs you a point?

Could only keep track of pods originally taken so a player who is eliminated can bring the paint he already has back onto the field, or could do something where if you're eliminated, you have to put any paint that doesn't fit in your hopper back in the pile and pay another point for another pod to replace it - so if a team shoots out a player carrying three pods off the break, that team basically just eliminated three points worth of paint from the other team.

I'm also thinking instead of a point for each player eliminated, a team can have up to 5 players on the field at once, but has to give the other team a point each time they put a player on the field.

So you can send a player out with no pods so you don't lose any pods if he gets shot, but if he runs out of paint and has to come off the field to reload, it's going to cost you a point to do it.

Just thinking about all the strategy that could be involved....

No rate of fire limit, no equipment limit. One point per elimination but give up one point per pod. You could even start keeping stats like kill-per-pod ratios.


Players would have to learn to reload without dumping half their pods on the ground though...

Baca Loco said...

Missy
I'll have you know my boxed set is still in its original plastic wrap as I wait for the day I can make a killing on ebay.

Thanks everyone. Good comments. I'll try to get involved tomorrow--was on the road today.

Reiner Schafer said...

Raehl, the pay for pods idea has some merit. Sort of a hybrid of what is now common at most tournaments (unlimited paint allowance) and limiting paint amounts. No actual limitations placed on amounts, but penalized for using more than the other team. The point structure would obviously need to be worked out, so that there would be a value in conserving paint and utilizing other strategies.

One of the big problems that non tournament players and non playing spectators seem to bring up a lot is that tournament paintball is boring to watch (many who try it also say it's boring to play, but that's another topic). This would definitely add different layers of strategy that would make the game more interesting to play and more interesting to watch as a spectator. If done right, it would also be cheaper to participate with a lower paint bill.

Anonymous said...

Close, but missing the point of what we know collectively about concept control and formatting.
Creating formats and games isn’t difficult. What’s difficult is attributing every factor of space, distance and time into the equation. And then paying for it. We are a working piece of artistic math and athleticism- not to admit these attributes would be dissociative of what’s really going on in competitive paintball.
Players work their ass off to win, not because a format is cool or attractive, but because they feel the need to be challenged, take on that difficulty and prove they have mastered the technique. There is so much focus drawn into the “this” or “that” argument without any tactical consideration for what a competitive league actually “does” and what their placement in the general realm of our sport “is”.
The current state of our tournament and competitive structures are completely askew. On the one hand, we have formatting and promotional efforts that aren’t able to appeal to paintball players with any sort of media that is profitable, yet bare bones franchising and repetitive placement and format practice run the show. On the other hand, we have a league that is prominently media out letting and promotional, but is unable to capture the risks, pace and speed of an X-Ball or X-Ball “lite” so at the end of the day, comparatively, players feel ripped off, even if their friends get to watch the show for free, no one is showing up. Both formats are fun to play, but they’re ultimately lackluster and un-mastered concepts of very narrow and specific athletic goals we have yet to ever achieve. And yet, we unrealistically expect our athletes, our best friends mind you, to deter their lives and energy away on formats with incomplete answers; it’s like failing a test because there are words missing within the question…
Now take that ideal and multiply it by PSP Regional, NPPL feeder, localized concepts of national formats and other nationally created, but locally implemented format structures. We’re talking a lot of players being affected by either “this or that” rather than experience the full potential of what paintball has to offer.
There just aren’t enough apples in the same basket to move 1,000 or more competitive players in the right direction. And the really smart apples- they don’t get along because they’re still sour at each other and realize there’s money to be made in a manufactured feud, so even if they could get together, it wouldn’t be logical to do so.
The next big thing in paintball will be the ability to manage, create and develop new formats at the flick of a switch. Not only that, but the space and distance between what we know about paintball and what we have yet to learn will be covered on the greatest scale to date in only a few short years.
All this pretending like “science saves” and that hopper ball isn’t the stupidest idea in the world has those making strides very worried. Are you even going to want what they’ve worked tirelessly on when it’s ready? I doubt it; because we aren’t asking the right questions. There will be a point soon where we will work collectively to find an identity befitting of a next generation and classic sport- where we will find only emptiness.
The answer is easy- but finding the right questions is difficult. There’s also only about 10 people on the hunt for this intellectual “treasure chest” we have in the sand right now, and the pool is getting slim. Let’s just hope the right person figures it out first…
The bigger question: is it worth risking the PSP and NPPL?
That’s up to you.

68Caliber said...

Here's another variation: event paint only and a limit on how much a team can collectively spend.

I don't care what the brand is or what the pricing is - have say, three grades available, but each team can only spend X dollars throughout the event.

Enforcement issues aside (this is a thought experiment) if COST is the deciding factor, peg the budget at a reasonable estimate of what the average team can afford per event and see what happens.

My guess is that just about every team will choose the "mid grade" paint since it would represent the best match between perceived accuracy and providing enough rounds to pull the trigger.

***

Speculations on formats are one thing (agreed, try it before you criticize), but speculation on the effects of rules on tactical game play are justified. If you have a "single focus" in a game of paintball, teams will ultimately devise the best response, which can't be anything other than controlling that focus.

You can go all the way back to the Spartan 300 to see this effect in action on tactical deployment. The greeks didn't scatter their forces all along the coast, they concentrated at the choke point cause 'duh', it gave them their best overall chance of victory (or of avoiding defeat).

Similarly, "center flag" formats concentrate the action at the "choke" point and many, many, many of the tactical options end up devolving to 'control the middle', which leads to slow stalemates.

It's the exact same thing that happened with tournament woodsball. Most teams 'used' to set their options up as squads, with an element left behind to "guard the flag". Once an unsung genius realized that the game was over if someone got behind you, all successful teams concentrated on 'skirmish line' tactics, as there was no tactical sense or advantage to NOT having all of your guns concentrated on your opponent. All tactical play evolved from that concept from that point on. Skirmish lines ended up in middle of the field, stalemated slugfests. Tactical play eventually caused the evolution of the 'best chance for success' option and, once everyone understood that, there was little or no incentive to engage in the risk of doing anything BUT that.

If you want more movement on the field (which we had a little of when we were in the woods using pumps) you have got to -

give the teams more than enough space (postage stamp field doesn't do it) so that a 'skirmish line' does not stand a good chance of holding it

reduce the effect of fire so that movement for advantage is at least as effective as shooting for advantage

A 'bad' example of that might be requiring hits on a limited space on the body (not suggesting that, just one method that might work).

~~~

You guys talking about volume through accuracy would have been laughed off the field back in the day. Very few good teams would have had you playing for them if you couldn't shoot out someone with an AIMED shot at close to 200 feet. Some of you guys are so blinded by today's tech you've got absolutely no clue as to how accurate a paintball gun can be; you're operating on the 'everyone says so', rather than going out and seeing what you can do when you can't shoot a string of 20 balls and hope that one of them hits. If forced to take single shots, a lot of you would probably just give up the game.

Go shoot some SMALL targets at 150 feet - one shot at a time. Do a case a week for a couple of weeks, you might find some skill.

Missy Q said...

Anono-yoda - To clarify for the 2nd time. You mentioned FS. I spoke about FS. I didn't talk about a pie-in-the-sky idea for a revolutionary new round, based on ballistic theory, which now appears to be what you are now talking about.

David said...

Um yeah not really sure what that guy is talking about above me, BUT I think an xball format with a team pod limit of 12 on the field at any givin time would make it cost effective and fun to play/watch. Basically 5 guys, 12 pods of paint per point.

instead of watching people hold lanes until they catch someone trying to move, you will have to go out-smart that person whilest having to be conscious of your paint supply.

papa chad said...

"reduce the effect of fire so that movement for advantage is at least as effective as shooting for advantage"

movement for advantage exists at 15bps.
watch tournament paintball. the games aren't stalemates because of ROF. players still get angles and play aggressively to win games.

and Tom Kaye said "accuracy by volume." and Tom Kaye is my dude.
-accuracy by volume means that we can't have a hopperball tournament. there is a point where slow is too slow- where accuracy by volume doesn't work. if you shoot fast in a hopperball tournament, you are already out of paint. also, we are accurate shooters, but the shots are there for a half second, and players now have the skill to dodge paint and snap shoot while presenting a small target that lasts a milisecond. that's why I can't pray my one ball will hit. I need a few to compete with the tiny-target-paint-dodging-due on the other end. but there is also a point of overkill. 15bps was overkill. 11-13bps is the sweet spot. thus, hopperball should come with 2/3 pods to accomodate the fact that paintballs aren't accurate and we sometimes do need to spray a little paint-WITH a gun aimed properly. also, why does everyone hate lanes/sweet-spotting? it is one of few dynamics in our sport. laning at 5bps is boring and unfun. we should think to keep elements like sweet spotting.

also, I'm pretty sure everyone can aim. can we stop pretending that people have a hard time aiming, now? or that people are "bad" at it? com'on, stop daydreaming about your sniper scope and autococker.

"Similarly, "center flag" formats concentrate the action at the "choke" point and many, many, many of the tactical options end up devolving to 'control the middle', which leads to slow stalemates."

no one pays attention to the flag in modern paintball. the flag is to be hung as an afterthought. it's very much a 5 vs. 5 deathmatch.
even in the NPPL, you can get points for grabbing the flag first, but the games don't center around the flag. they center around the ~50 where angles and kills come from. 7man is still a 7 vs. 7 deathmatch. it's usually after one team kills all other 7 that the flag is paid attention to (hung). it's hardly a focal point. but it would be if there were/were more points attatched to grabbing it first.

Ben Davis said...

A league in Canuckistan (with ties to NPPL) has been succesfully running a multi-point 7man format in its top division. No coaching, race to 3, and its seems like it has some fans.

Implementing new formats involves risks, certainly the PSP faced a backlash when it changed the format. Hopefully leagues won't be afraid of change in the future.

steve davidson said...

One thing that it seems that some commentors don't have a handle on is that when some of us are talking about "best strategy", we're doing so not from an observed results viewpoint but from a game theory viewpoint.
Game theory analysis can show you what the possible outcomes of a set of rules would be and can help you determine which strategies have the highest percentage chances of winning; we all do this during play (risk analysis) but probably not on a formal basis.
Any set of rules that focus on a single objective (a center flag, for example) will yield a set of strategies that are better than others. In the case of paintball, those strategies are mostly mutually exclusive and devolve to: control the flag (whether you capture it or not).
Then there are other factors that enhance (or detract from) the tactical variations used to implement the strategy.
For example - a really wide field (center flag) might encourage some teams to try wide flanking manuevers. A field with very few bunkers might encourage a team to long ball, etc.
Another thing to consider is that much of what actually works in paintball is counter-intuitive. When asked how many bunkers are needed on an arena field ti encourage movement, most folks immediate response is "lots", when in fact observation over years has shown than there is a critical upper limit in bunker density, after which "lots" actually slows the game down. Correspondingly, 'fewer' bunkers, down to some lower critical limit also encourages movement.
One thing that the arena has taken AWAY from the game is the ability for teams to play the 'trade space for time' game. Arenas are so small these days that the number of times you see a player backing up successfully are virtually non-existent.
Being able to count on eating up the other team's advance is (or has been) a great encouragement for aggressive play: knowing that if your plan does not succeed, you are still in the game makes folks more willing to try interesting things.
Another thing that it does not allow (although some might argue that snakes are an answer to this) is the prevention of communication across the entire field. Some of the best woodsball fields were not much bigger than arena fields, but the terrain features prevented visual and audible communications across its width.
What the arena essentially does, in its present form, is to lock the game into a 'forward movement only', very limited set of "winning" strategies.

Baca Loco said...

I've got to disagree with Steve's last post (part of it anyway) but I don't have time to comment. Hopefully tomorrow.

Baca Loco said...

OK, the part I want to disagree with is mostly the last paragraph and mostly with the implication that the current game has fewer things going on with fewer options. I think that is categorically incorrect. A workable analogy would soccer (futbol) compared to hockey--a lot of strategic and tactical similarities in the way the games are played but hockey happens at an accelerated speed.

raehl said...

Steve, centerflag itself doesn't necessitate any particular strategy. Unless there are points for getting the flag before eliminating all the other players, it has no bearing on the strategy at all. And even then, unless the points for getting the flag first are significant, it's still generally an afterthought. I can't remember a single time when any team I've played for had any strategy other than eliminate all the other opponents unless we knew we were less than 20 points short of guaranteeing an advance the final game of a round.

The only real difference between centerflag and two-flag is cutting cutting out jogging one length of the field at the end of the game.