Friday, June 18, 2010

Tipping Point

As I'm enjoying the format discussion instead of adding comments I'm going to focus on a couple of items of interest and see about extending the dialogue with some additional related posts. This will, once again, delay the regularly scheduled posts including the series posts you may or may not have given up any hope of ever seeing. I haven't forgotten them--I've gone high tech with Post-It notes. So as long as the adhesive lasts I'll have colorful reminders decorating my computer.

While I'm all for talking new formats and debating ways to "fix" or "improve" the existing game but no change occurs in isolation and every change needs to be examined with respect to the other parameters of the game. The idea of a "tipping point" suggests there is a harmony or balance in the status quo (otherwise it would be in a state of constant flux) and the tipping point is reached when some aspect of the existing balance or harmony shifts sufficiently to change the status quo. Fo purposes of this post and in a game application the Tipping Point is reached when a change, any change or series of changes sufficiently alters the nature of the game so that the game itself becomes something different. I bring it up because one tangent in the comments is discussing the various virtues of Hopperball and/or other measures of limited paint. (Of course the current game also uses limited paint but what the restrictionista mean is even less paint. And along with the cost savings being promoted less paint will mean more movement--both of which are viewed as good things.

Since VFTD long ago pointed out the correlation between ROF (volume of paint) and the potential for movement I have no objection to the concept. Same goes for cost savings. (Who would oppose making the game more affordable?) But--

It's more complex than that. The current relationship between ROF & movement as the game is played now is a function of field dimensions (and field dimensions are tied to effective marker range, more or less.) Imagine a field three times the current xball dimensions with everything else being the same. In the game on phase movement isn't inhibited at all and that doesn't change (much) until the proximity between players closes to ranges within our current field size. And now you may have the issue of bunker relationships--did we begin with the same number on a larger field?--how close together or far apart are they? Too far apart on the same dimensions we currently play and we've altered (again) the balance between ROF and movement.

Once upon a time (I think I've used this illustration before but I like it so you're getting it again) at team practice we decided to play 5 on 5 on a speedball field with pump guns instead of our regular markers because, you guessed it, we wanted to limit our paint usage, save some money, focus on accurate shooting and so on. However, our best laid plans didn't survive the second game as the team that lost the first game realized a couple of things and thought they could take advantage. The first thing they realized was that OTB everyone took up primary positions that covered lanes but also restricted visibility. The other thing they realized was that the dimensions of the field in play meant that a pump's ROF was too slow to control movement. (Given they were old field rentals.) With the next game on one team broke out normally--given they way they were thinking about playing the game--and the other team simply ran them down using speed to counter the pumps ROF and the other team's conception of the type of game they were playing. Once it became clear that the size of the field created an insurmountable imbalance between pump guns versus foot speed the plan for practice fell apart.

The rather long-winded point is twofold; sometimes there's no telling exactly where the tipping point is until you experience the result and when you start making changes in the parameters of the game they cannot be made in isolation without risking running full speed ahead into the nearest tipping point--and who knows how many unintended consequences. By all means let's keep the dialogue going but maybe try to keep the Big Picture clearly in sight during the process. (Of course, the notion of new formats at a minimum implies new, or at least different games from the one(s) we play now.


Reiner Schafer said...

Baca, I'm sure I've got it wrong (I know you'll point it out to me), but your agrument in the pump example is that lower ROF made movement a tactical availability, and once you discovered that, it was determined that was not going to work?

Sounds like you gave it a two game chance using crappy pumps that the guys weren't accustomed to and probably couldn't hit anything with. I could see how you would abandon this idea rather quickly if your objective was to create some paint savings while still practicing for your regular style of play.

But I think the talk in the new format section had more to do about new formats. New formats would be just that, not necessarilly slight variations of current formats.

The PSP nor the NPPL are not going to throw their product out the door and pick up hopperball or any other drastic paint limitation format. We all know that and those playing those formats need not worry that their beloved game will be tossed.

If/when a new format recieves big picture attention, it will come from a new source and it will rise up, if and only if, it is popular with the players (not necessarilly the players playing current formats). It will be economically driven, as almost all change is.

sdawg said...

So you gave up after two games? I don't that makes a strong case, especially if you are using crappy old rental guns (Tracers or whatever) with barrels that have never been cleaned and that probably can't hit a target from 50 feet away.

Set everyone up with some good WGP Snipers with high-quality barrels or late-model CCM guns that are as accurate as any other gun out there. If your players still can't hit someone on the run from 75+feet, they really *do* need to work on their accurate shooting.

Regarding your other game format discussion, it seems that when it comes down to it, paintball is really just about shooting the other guy and not getting shot. That's what we fans want to see. The strongest argument I've seen for the race-2 format is that it's a competitive version of how recball is played: two groups load up on paint and air and play back-to-back games. The team with less paint on their face at the end of the day is the better team.

Ultimately, the format is so much frou-frou. What I want to see, as a fan, is a Damage snake player pull some sick move diving into the 50 and then shooting five of Canadia's best in the back. MWAG is not going to produce slow-mo videos of K-Fed pushing a button, set to avante-garde punk music. If you want to add other stuff in, like hanging a flag, ringing a bell, score/time limits ... whatever. As far as TV is concerned, paintball is never going to be more than a curiosity that shows on ESPN2 occasionally, in between timbersports and competitive eating.

BTW, I agree with your review of the college champs from a couple posts ago. We need to hear more on the on-field chatter and gunfire, a la Rich Telford in H4AD. I learned more about communication in paintball, and how to watch a game correctly, from those scenes than from any other paintball videos out there.

Baca Loco said...

I was unclear or else left out too many details. It was a speedball field made up almost exclusively of plywood Xs. Without playing over the top there is no cross field visibility and as is common at most rec type fields no real consideration was given to the placement of the bunkers. Figure a field about Xball sized with 35 or so Xs on it.
Further the point nor the particular game require diagnosis--from the perspective of the post's point the issue was the unbalanced interplay of ROF, size of field, speed of the players, visibility and so on.

raehl said...


You have seen people play pump on airball fields before, haven't you? Like, real pump teams who practice pump and play pump frequently?

It's just speedball with more movement.

Baca Loco said...

You're still a moron.

Anonymous said...

We have used "3 ball" format in drill games.

Format rule: you are aloud to shoot max 3 balls per side of the bunker, then you have change side and shoot min 1 max 3 balls on that side before turning back to other side. Same rule applies in movement between bunkers.

Goal: encourage to change sides of your bunker, and by doing so get more view/understanding for the game situation + communication with your team
And naturally this opens the field for a lot of movement.
And even trains ones accuracy.

This works for us and naturally everybody have to understand this is only a drill not a actual playing tactic. But while doing this drill you find out how possible restrictions to rof or paint usage might affect the game.

team Urho