Monday, August 2, 2010

Some More Talking Paintball

We's Talking Paintball some more, picking up on the excellent comments posted in response to the first post a couple days ago. It's more accurate to say that a generally accepted and understood paintball vocabulary doesn't yet exist. This runs the gamut from ways to communicate conceptual elements of the game and play as well as a paintball specific slang--which in paintball's case seems mostly to have been appropriated from other fringe activities. I'm beginning to wonder how much of a factor this limitation is when it comes to converting new players and helping to build a fan base. Perhaps counterintuitively I've always assumed while some understanding of the game is necessary it isn't critically important. Players play and fans enjoy--for whatever reason. My mom was a huge basketball fan at one time--she's more into baseball these days--but her enjoyment and appreciation of the sport wasn't predicated on a complex understanding of the game mechanics. Far from it. Over time she learned a reasonable amount about how the game was played and what was really going on when it sometimes looked like chaos but something about the game drew her in before she really understood the game. Does competitive paintball have a "natural" fan base or do paintball fans need to be educated? And if past efforts at educating a potential fanbase through prior televised programming haven't quite succeeded what's it gonna take?

Okay, so talkin' paintball is kinda tough but we still have the teams and the players. Sort of. Without continuity teams struggle to build a fan base and the players, most of them anyway, are virtually anonymous to much of the competitive paintball world. That was slightly less true when there were a fistful of printed mags but even then the mags tended to be starmakers or star-perpetuators and paid only scant attention to the rank & file pro.

Which is where traditional and new media have an opportunity to step up. (And have always played a role.) Although as was also pointed out in the comments it's difficult if not impossible for paintball media to act as disseminater of information, watchdog, friend of the game, etc. all at the same time when it's industry money footing most of their bills. (You might be surprised that cash paying advertisers don't like bad reviews or lots of pictures of the other guy's gear.) Of course if paintball specific media can't pull it off then maybe it's time sports media got involved. Oh, I know, easy to say but how to make it happen? (Coming later this week in the long promised league promotion post. Promise.) In the meantime part of the future is direct outreach. (Which we're seeing.) By the industry. Direct advertising & promotions. By the teams with videos and Facebook. Even by players with personal websites and social networking and other venues. By folks like Social Paintball and Traumahead. (What's the chance of the Traumahead TV shows being made available in alternative formats?) And MWAG & Derder do awesome work but part of their appeal as documenters of the sport trades on already established teams and players.

No wonder this talkin' paintball thing is hard.


Anonymous said...

There is a thing, Anon likes to call it "the content crush" that also affects fans negatively. Content crush means, that almost all plays and thus talk, happen in a short 4 day duration. Not even the players themselves remember what happened on friday, point 6 against team "who did we play against again then?". What do people remember then from the absolutely overpacked weekend?

Team popularity and interest is being dictated by finals and finals alone. Teams that make it into Sunday get various rather important advantages:

* Grandstand actually has people watching, since there is plenty of dudes who have played their own games and are out.
* Teams that make to these final games can actually showcase their play style, skill and determination to win. People like that.
* As we established, PB media is a joke and no one reads them, when you get actual people watching the finals, word of mouth how well or dedicated some team played in their prime is much stronger initiator of fandom. I heard about TBD such way.

To make a point sting, go and look how much talk this season has LA IM managed to gather. No one is talking about them, nor even asking what went wrong on their games on friday or saturday - why?

Not alot of people saw these games, maybe handfull, couple dozen perhaps? Who can answer then?

Why is no one asking? Interest dies fast, when its solely focused on finals at sunday.

"Gee anon, get to the point allready." Fine, then.

Here it is, no other sport, packs all its shit into one weekend and has month or more when absolutely nothing worth reporting happens. Then comes the tournament weekend and we do every game in so fast conjunction while the majority of people interested are themselfs PLAYING and not watching, no wonder there is not much to talk outside the sunday finals.

Its like, having 1/4 of NFL season in one weekend, while all fans are playing flag football. Pinnacle of the season.. err weekend is Superbowl. Just that no one watched any regular season games nor know the scores.

Thats not how you gain a large and long lasting fanbase, when fans have no actual means to watch the season and to care about their team, even if they wanted to support their local pro team. Let's look at HFboards, my favorite team:

thats just preseason discussion. You see everything from player evaluation for past and coming season, detailed talk about every regular season match, scouting of future prospects and all that interesting stuff, that can only happen, when people can see the regular season..

When talking about fandom and building it, helps when you can actually follow your team outside a scoreboard on the interwebs 4-5 times a year.

Lot's of complaints, not alot of fixes, I don't forsee regular paintball season with home and away games just yet..

Anonymous said...

Anon here again. This might be bit OT, but anon takes his chances of getting the banhammer.

Back when fans and fandom was driving and buzz was being created by long lost print media, I'm willing to argue that too much credit has been given to the mags about the phenomenon. Back then, aggressive play, tape control, methodical dynasty style play was fresh, new and above all, groundbreaking. It was easy to be and become a fan, pros did something that was pretty much unheard off as speedball crew from its infancy. Then came the kings of brutal practice and what money can bring, the RL. At that point, fandom was slowly being chocked.

Your average baller had realized, that they could do the same. That being a paintball PRO after the games basic idea was laid before you thanks to the pioneering teams, was more about giving your life to the game, personal sacrifice and on the field, doing everything little bit better than the average, good player.

PB as it is, being a PRO is more about mindset, life values and on the field, being bit better on everything than you random enthuastic hobbyist. Key word here being "a bit". Wait, before you rage on me, I'm fully aware that PRO players are actually quite a bit better than these enthuastic hobbyist around them, but in the eyes of hobbyist, the gap is not wide enough.

PB is a sport where you can too easily become too good for your own good. 2-4 years playing your sundays and if you have even a drop of talent, you are a local top killer. Too many players, in too young age, rival seasoned PROs atleast on their own head. No other sport allows this. PB is filled with talk how a 16 to 18 year old kid is faster than a seasoned guy at 25 or even 30. What a load of horse shit, for example, sprinters peak at 25 to 30, hockey players are raw meat until 25ish. Prime age of any sport starts at 25 careers ending at 35 or later. Athletic male has his prime muscle mass and condition at age of 30. PB still has not figured out whats wrong in the sport, if we think that such young kids could even attempt to play PRO or seriously challenge in any other way than random rookies.

So what gives? If a kid can play that well on such young age, this leads into thinking, that PROs in PB are not really that much different or better. Just dedicated, devoted, bit more better at everything. Its pretty hard to be a fan of something even an average baller can think of being or playing with. Avid hockey hobbyist does not even dare to enter ring in local farm level, and would die due hearth attack in NHL.

So what I'm saying, is that PB as a game, needs to become harder to learn, harder to adapt, harder to master, so that crowd below the professional level would start to appreciate, respect, envy and thus, fan of players they can not be, even if they tried hardest.

So GAP between (mind the gap, pun intended) PROs and hobbyist has shrunk as has fandom do following reasons:

1. Speedball has been figured out, no longer are people in ave what Dynasty or RL brought to the table in early 2k. And they mimic it with good results.

2. ROF lobby crew and how they won. Yeah you have your stupid "better" movement on the field, but you also inserted tons of luck to the game. Now stupid moves work with luck so often is worth taking the chances as lanes don't hold anymore.

3. Trickle down effect, alot of PB is about knowing few tricks and things, having brains and watching how other teams play. Adapting these plays to your own teams game, and you have just became alot better. Execution of PRO plays is too easy at your own level is too easy. Enthusiastic hobbyist should not be able to execute plays done in highest level of any sport and get away with it with flying flags, period.

"What a useless anon rant, only complaining and I disagree with half of it"

Yes, sure, I don't mind. But I have a potential fix, in the next post.

Anonymous said...

I have been saying this fix ah-so-many times to get told by people better than me to go back into pb nation and how magfed hoppers would turn this sport into AK simulation, but internet anon is relentless in his pursuit of V.

MPMMA = Make Paintball Markers More Accurate.

It takes decades to become a good, professional shooter. It's extremely hard, competitive sport that we have alot to learn from. Imagine, that we had even sliver of accuracy of a bow. Not only would better shooters reign on the field, actually dominating whole teams singlehanded, but the work to become a accurate shooter while moving around and while being fired upon, is intensive practice challenge that takes years after years of work. No more kids at 17 pushing around limits of seasoned PROs.

Whats best, even slightly better shooter not to mention a PRO who works on his skills daily, would actually be massively superior on the field against the Enthusiastic Hobbyist.

PB gun as it is, is so inaccurate as we have discussed before, that differences between PRO and Enthusiastic Hobbyist in terms of accuracy is slim to none. We use volume to compensate the laughable accuracy of PB gun and luck, is, has been and still is, the biggest variable on who hits and who dosn't, when it comes to fight between PRO and the EH.

Imagine, if your marker actually had a real, rifle like accuracy, flat trajectory and you are the one who has practiced with your marker thousands of hours vs the EHs. You would not dominate, you would annihilate. With spot on accuracy, worse shooter would be in serious downfall against anyone seasoned.

I think, that the biggest advancements in PB that we must take to actually make this a harder sport to master, is to increase accuracy of the markers. We allready have the technology betas presented to us, such as ballistic rounds, first strike. It proved, that even with low 300 FPS velocity, you can have straight flight path, with much wider range and accuracy than current ellipse paint. Further development into completely unchallenged field of PB projectile accuracy could be exactly what injection of skill this game needs. Yes, we might have to design better loaders that can orient rounds right and further enhance ballistic properties of rounds similar to FS, but FS is there to prove we can change and advantages are there.

Actual sports, are not only about viewers and fans, they are also about being difficult to master. Nothing, would separate men from boys, Pros from EHs better than marker/paintprojectile combination that goes exactly where you point it, with bow like sharpness.

Thanks if you endured all of this rambling.

Reiner Schafer said...

Very insightful stuff, Anon.

The "content crush" is a huge thing.

Maybe what's needed (and I don't think the money is there to make it fly) would be home and away games (like regular sports) where the concentration would be on one game (or series of games, depending on format. This way more resources could be put towards that event (more cameras and editing) and then the finished viewable product put up as a Pay per View for fans to watch at their leisure before the next scheduled event. There would however still be the problem of not seeing the event live and most likely knowing the outcome of the game before being able to watch it. How many people would be willing to watch (and pay to watch) an event they already know the outcome of?

I also agree that there is not enough of a gap between a "good player" and a "pro" (really good player). Most of us watch professional sports in part because of the astounding athletic skills and abilities. When these extraordinary abilities aren't easily visible, we're not going to get too excited about the whole thing.

Sure, it might be fun to watch your kid or fiend play a sport in high level local sports game, but it's not going to fill a stadium with thousands of fans or have millions of people streaming the game on the internet. For that to happen, there needs to be noticeably extraordinary talent. If virtually anyone with half decent physical coordination can become a "Pro" with a few years of committed Sunday practices, what's the big deal?

be smart said...

Yeah, that's what paintball needs. . a more accurate, flatline shooting gun. Then we can have 40 years old Pro paintball shooters.

They could plop down behind a big ol bunker and hit anything that moved. Now THAT would really rachet up the excitement in the stands.

What the sport need are athletes, players who can do things that kids in the stands are wowed by. Having the ability to do things that fans, players, only wish they could do.

Last year i saw a player for Philly make a move down the tape, do a 360, shoot a guy in midair and dove into a bunker alive.

In Chicago, a player for Aftermath was hemmed in at the 30 pins by a center 30 dorito. He jumps up over the top, shot the player in the face and bounced out.

Just like the skateboard guys flying thru the air doing their tricks, the vast majority of onlookers are watching something that they only wish they could do. IF that 'something' is exciting to watch, there is entertainment value in that.

But why work be Pro? What possible motivation is there? Why work to get to the top of a sport that is shown absolutely no respect by its followers? Instead there is a constant tugging on it, not to elevate it stature, but drag it down where we can all be good.

Five years ago we saw a movement toward younger, more athletic players coming into the Pro ranks. But still, we see very few really good athletes. Rare is the Pro player who opts for paintball over college baseball for instance. There just isn’t enough incentive.

So whats left? Coaches publicly lobbying for watering down Pro to a Pro-am where 'less than' teams can get their shot at them. IF that move is economically based with no other option, that’s one thing.

But the loudest voices of people in the loop I’ve heard promoting this are NOT at the top of the food chain (perhaps not even Pro anymore). Such a move makes them relevant again. Just sayin.

Reiner Schafer said...

Good points also be smart. Are you suggesting though that those types of moves you described in your post would become obsolete with more accurate balls/markers? It would seem to me that it would have very little bearing to stop that type of athleticism. Or are you suggesting inaccurate markers allow for closer contact play and accurate balls/markers will hider closer play?

I think a game of accurate paintballs (something like first strike) at about 5 bps would highlight athleticism and skill and make for a much more entertaining game, from a viewer perspective (and probably also from a playing perspective).

Baca Loco said...

Thanks, Anon. Much appreciated.

Anon2--I'm gonna disagree with a couple of things but no raging (as I mostly agree with the place you end up even if I disagree with how you got there).
Development time of up-and-coming players who have some ability has been drastically reduced in recent years and teams and players have learned from the ground-breakers but...
At the same time not even the Russians have put in the focused training time to produce paintball pros. (They are too fitness and conditioning oriented, imho)
At one end you have "pro" players whose true potential is yet to be reached and at the other end you have some athletic am players operating in a very shallow competitive environment when it comes to team play and real knowledge of the game.

Anon3--gonna disagree with accuracy idea as well. First, players can improve well beyond today's norm with current markers but it isn't a priority for most.
My real objection though is that sport remains about the human accomplishment and not the tool. All that is required is that tools of the sport are near to identical for everyone. Consequently I don't see rifle-like accuracy as a surefire improvement. Truth is, given the dimensions of current formats, markers are sufficiently fast & accurate enough. Failure rates aren't about the tools, they are about the players 98% of the time. (Percentage offered is guesstimation and not the result of statistical analysis.)

be smart said...

What I'm saying Reiner is that the ability to... lets say run and shoot accurately is part of a skillset that is developed. IF we have point & shot guns that are marksman accurate, it would further water down the needed skill.

Guns now are plenty accurate, some have more 'lob' to them than others, but at the end of the day, the adjusting for that should be in the hands of a player.

papa chad said...

the sport already has athletes. the aforementioned "sweet moves I can only dream of" are more game smarts or just knowing how the game works, then executing the moves.
simply more athletic pros will not make these openings happen any more than they do now. if you see the move, the opening, you go. sometimes it looks cool. but it isn't something amateur players must dream of. they are very capable of those moves as well, albeit they might not have the game smarts to see the opening/go make the move.

game smarts- AKA experience. it seems to be the biggest gap between Am and Pro players. and like Anon pointed out, you can get really good at paintball if you go out and play every weekend for a couple years, really fast. and then you just went from a nobody to a killer in a couple years. shouldn't it take longer than that? Anon up there has the right idea- there should be a higher skill ceiling.

I would like to see game elements implemented that allow players to not hit "pro" until they are around 25-35 yrs. old. something that would make the game, at top levels, a truly pro experience.
one of the reasons I feel this way is that no one is ever going to take our "sport" seriously if it consists of a bunch of kids.
there should be a golden level of play that adults hit when they've been around long enough.
maybe it's more accurate guns. maybe not. I think I like the idea. I don't know if it's right. but we need to raise the roof, so's to speak.

on the spectator side of things, I'm just gonna say what I've said before, and that is more visible paintballs would make the game much more fun to watch.
I can tell what a player is doing if I can see where his paint is going. I've always found yellow paint to be the easiest to see mid-flight. it would be a great thing to spectate a field and actually see the war of paint flying back and forth instead of just more or less hearing the guns. so there's that.

be smart said...

i could hardly imagine say jason trosen (and i liked the guy) pirolueting down the field based on paintball smarts.

So when your a 25-35 golden level player and an 18-22 year can out run, out gun and outplay you, then what do you do?

Mark790.06 said...

I also disagree that the average pro does not have skills far enough ahead of the average divisional player if for no other reason than the game is not played player on player, but team on team.
Probably the last thing the average divisional player learns, if ever, is teamwork, and for that to do him any good he'd need at least 4 others to have the same epiphany.
As far as proper names for plays, moves, tape blowings, TD's, bunkerings, muggings, run throughs, gog'ings, stabbings, and M-M-M-M-M-Monster kills!!! is that they'll only last until the next generation comes along, which is like every 2 years in this sport, and refuses to use the same terminology put forth by some old farts.

be smart said...

Baca, what’s your take on the idea of an age limitation? I watched a 15 year old play in the Finals for you.

Does he need another 10 years to be good enough to play on the Pro field?

Anonymous said...

Be smart, you don't really understand what they are talking about. An athlete male reaches prime ability at age of 25 and continues to upkeep or improve until age of 30, when decline starts. For some its rapid, some can keep up bit longer, its down to genetics. Each generation or two you might have a prodigy that rivals this, such as Bolt whos main rivals are aged closer to 30 than 20. In your vision, paintball is filled with child prodigy and every prodigal son ever created ends up into pb.

Thing is, there is not enough to learn in PB, why teens can rival males at 25 so easily, is not because they are faster, stronger or harder. (this would be physically impossible for majority of athletes, except for prodigy-cases, See Bolt) Male body is at its prime at 25, not 18.

So. What they are trying to say is that, there is not enough to learn in PB to sustain long enough learning curve.

Hence you see so many people quitting early 20s, there is not much more to do, you can see yourself among quite many PROS right there.

Same goes for Mark, teamwork is not something individuals respect or you can create fandom on. No AM or good hobbyist ever gave a flying finger about your teamwork, if he can bunker like pro, shoot like pro and act like pro on a field, hes good enough.

This is one of the core reasons players quit game early, why fanbase for PRO teams is so weak and why every generation that comes, pushes PB like it was their own little toy to chew and spit out when they get good enough.

We need more complex sport that has much much higher learning curve to become "as good" as the PROs are. And I'm not talking about being actually as good, but good enough in your own head.

papa chad said...

@be smart- I would change the game so it isn't "just for kids" anymore.

be smart said...

I understand clearly. It consists of some drivel about what my 'vision' is, to which you have no clue.

Having coached, evaluated, complied data on every current player in the Pro Division, picking up, cutting, assessing players for the last five years. I’m pretty sure I can speak as to who gets it done.

And the blanket statement that 'the sport already has athletes'. . . hardly.

As someone who evaluates and writes about SEC football recruiting, paintball is not even close to where it should be athletically.

And just because there are those who think getting juiced helped makes you one, that’s delusional.

Look, I don’t care if we had different views that fine with me. But your saying that having markers accurate enough to where "better shooters reign on the field, actually dominating whole teams singlehanded" is the way to go?

A 25 -35 year old Pro Division is part of the fix?

That muscle maturation and peak performance ranges are what determine how successful a Pro paintball should be?


Still waiting to hear from Baca on the player age thought.

Anonymous said...

Do you want a sport or a game? Last I heard, being an athlete was part of the grand picture.

You are the one who wrote how teens outrun grown men in their prime. By huge majority, teen athletes are no where near in terms of speed or overall performance to a grown up athlete. They might be in PB, but that was kinda in the crux of the problems, it should not be, ever. PB needs a deeper and longer learning curve and thus athletes that can actually push teens around on their whim.

Currently, the skill gap between excelent teen in PB is not large enough to allow this, sure PROs are better, but not by large enough margin. PB is too fast to learn.

I think, that actually having markers that have great accuracy but decent projectile speed, such as 300 fps (like FS, it keeps flying at high velocity longer, giving the straight flight path, etc) would still allow players to use reaction and movement, but skills like running and gunning, pushing people in, etc. would require alot more skill than they do currently. Hence, making the practice era of PB longer, so you could not sunday ball for 3-4 years and end up bloody brilliant.

Sport is something that you do 3-5 times a week, to become good at. PB is not yet there, because its not required. I hope it is and this game actually becomes even more requiring to be among the best.

If you have even better ideas, why not share them? Its not like trolly internet anon just had end of all revelation on a blog comment. All I'm saying, and it has been said by others too, that Gap isn't wide enough and teens should not be able to play as PROs, not due their age but lack of progression. Progression is not long enough and progression you get older does not matter enough. Average age of NFL player is 27 years.

Baca Loco said...

In most physically active sports the players--at all levels--do most of the same things--the real distinction is to be able to do them effectively against the most skilled opponents--when you can do that you can qualify to play pro. The fact a D3 kid can bunker somebody and run down a wire doesn't make him the next big pro prospect. The skill ceiling is plenty high--it's simply that the average player, much less the average spectator, has no real conception of what they're looking at or where the distinctions exist.

I know I'm gonna hear about this but take Vicious for example. An excellent, winning divisional team all the way up the ranks and WC semi-pro winner yet the fact is they cannot compete right now in the pro division--and the odds are they are better players today for having gone thru a couple of pro events. Have they hit their ceiling or will they be able to make the necessary adjustments to be successful? I don't know. I do know that 99 out of every 100 players/observers has no idea why they aren't better given their past. After all, they've always looked the part.

With respect to the maturation process, physical strength, etc. then fine--upper 20's into the 30's somewhere is optimum and that corresponds with numerous sports and I could see it working out similarly in paintball if...if similar conditions existed. Right now they don't. It's easier to get dedicated, athletic kids than it is young adults. But the game's potential has not been reached, not even close.

If you want to test a player's pro potential dial your ROF up to around 18-20 and see if they can still play effectively.

Be Smart--no, he doesn't. At the same time we didn't pick Jacob up because he was the equal of the guys we already had. We picked him up when we did because I thought the timing would help maximize his potential and parts of that calculation were the presence of his brother, his willingness to learn, his desire to succeed, the maturity of his basic technique.

Mark790.06 said...

Teamwork enables wins. Wins garner fandom. Regardless whether an AM or good hobbyist recognizes teamwork or not. As a former player on a novice (D2 of today) team that had a .400 win percentage against pro teams of 8-10 years ago, I can say that the gulf has considerably widen between the 2 equivalent divisions of today.