Thursday, October 7, 2010

Measuring Skill Revisited: Movement vs. ROF

No worries. The last post, Skill is not enough, is still coming but in looking over the other "skill" posts the measuring skill post left out a fuller review of the movement vs. ROF debate that helped inspire these posts in the first place. (I was gonna address it in the next mailbag.) Instead I'ma revisit that discussion here and now and see if I can't explain the dynamic in such a way that y'all will go "D'oh!", slap yourself upside the head and quietly promise yourself you'll never disagree with me again. A tall order, I know.

First thing we must recognize is that movement versus ROF is not an isolated equation but it is the governing equation. All that means is that other factors play a role, too. Like the number of props on the field and the dimensions of that field. Imagine standing out in the open on an xball or 7-man field shooting at your opponents while they do the same back at you. With that many guns blazing away at such relatively close distances moving around may keep you alive for a bit but not for long. Not what you had in mind, is it? Expand the dimensions of that imaginary field a few acres and suddenly things have changed rather dramatically. Now you can wander about and if you're still or squat down or even lie down on occasion you may spot an opponent before they spot you but once the shooting begins--assuming you are within range--the ROF still quickly overwhelms the ability to move. So add some bunkers, perhaps something near 100, to your imaginary field. Spread them about. At a few acres though it's still an enormous field and the bunkers have quite a distance between them for the most part even though there are more than twice what you're used to. To our ability to move and shoot we've added cover. It's utility is admittedly limited because once a player gains cover on this big field there's not a lot of reasons to keep moving. Maybe it's time to shrink the imaginary field a bit. Is one acre still too big? How about the size of a football field? That field can be (mostly) covered from anywhere allowing for shooting paint like it's coming out of a mortar. On this field long range shooting really is like rain coming down. Back in the day we kept the paint coming and while we were aiming long range shooting was still mighty random. Of course the ROF was slower and less consistent, too.

Are we there yet? There was a time in the competitive game's development when the fields were around that size though 100 bunkers is too many. In fact, in 2001 at World Cup there were less than half that number of bunkers on any of the fields, including the hyperball fields. Bunker numbers were ballpark with current layouts only with more space between most of them than on the current field layout. Stay with your imaginary field just a little longer and imagine moving between bunkers in a game situation against guns ramping at 12.5 bps. Depending on the range of (and the number of) the shooter(s) it's manageable. Just. Some of the time. But as soon as the players are too close to each other the gaps between bunkers become almost insurmountable. And there aren't many, if any, blocking bunkers. Making a move on this field is a run out in the open. (Oh, yeah. These were 10-man fields. When you start trying to figure the ability of those guns to counter movement with their reduced ROF remember how many of them are on the field.)

Enough with the imaginary. The real debate, if such actually exists except in the minds of the stubbornly deluded, is if there are different combinations of the relevant factors; movement, ROF, #s of bunkers & field size that result in something like identical degrees of difficulty in playing the game. My position is that ROF is the controlling factor.

One last thing. A different approach. Why is movement considered a skill in paintball? [This is where you actually answer the question for yourself. Go on.] If you answered something like because there's really quite a lot involved like sliding, diving, running while gunning, crawling, timing and so on I have another question for you. Why does movement in the game entail all those variations? [Yes, answer this one, too.] Being a lazy slacker you might also have answered simply because it's difficult to do. And in answering why is it difficult we get to the crux of the issue. It's difficult because people are shooting at you. The more shooters and/or more paint flying about increases the risk of being hit and eliminated. Therefore the skill required to move is directly related to the degree of hazard posed by the opponents--and a significant part of the the risk is posed by the ROF. The less the risk the less the skill involved in making any move.


papa chad said...

thus, the most skilled players (or, the toughtest game of competitive paintball)played (as)15bps X-ball with two 20 minute halves. right?

Reiner Schafer said...

Sounds pretty good Baca. So you are a advocate of the less skilled players (lower divisions) using a lower ROF then? Leave the highest ROF to the most skilled players. As skllls increase, so should ROF.

But if we do that, all we get is endless whining.

Anonymous said...

In movement of players, the most important skill is not how a player runs, but the decision to move or stay put. In high rate of fire games, there are fewer realistic options to move. The decision to stay put is made obvious to the player.
When rates of fire are decreased, more options to move exist. Thus, all these skills are used more often.

raehl said...

Baca ALMOST has it right, but almost is so wrong.

Depending on how big a field is, how many bunkers there are, and how fast and for how long the guns are shooting, moving becomes easier or harder. But along with moving becoming easier or harder, STOPPING movement becomes easier or harder in the opposite direction.

If the field is 100x100 and there are 4 bunkers on it, any idiot can stop an opponent from moving from bunker to bunker. If the ROF is 20 BPS, most any idiot can stop an opponent from moving bunker to bunker.

If the bunkers are 5 feet apart and players are using pumps, any idiot can move and preventing movement is pretty much impossible.

Somewhere in the middle is a happy medium. Actually, there are probably a few happy mediums.

High rate of fire definitely makes movement difficult. But it also makes stopping movement easy. That's why, when Baca's team picked up pumps to practice with in his infamous example of why low ROF doesn't work it didn't work - his team is made up of players who are very skilled at moving under high rates of fire, but have no skills at stopping movement with low rates of fire. So he had a game of high-movement-skilled players against low-stopping-movement-skill players, and the result was as expected.

Cutting ROF will make movement easier. But it won't make the game easier - it will just shift the skill set from avoiding lots of paint to stopping movement with less paint. You know, players learning how to hit an opponent on the run again, instead of just shooting a lane of paint and waiting for the opponent to run through it.

Anonymous said...

High ROF can stop movement.
High ROF can aid movement.
It's not the dope in the gun, it's the dope BEHIND the gun that'll decide things.

steve davidson said...

Oh my. Guys, it's none of the above. It is the BALANCE between the two that we're looking for and, unfortunately, you can't get that balance on open, arena style fields (well, there are exceptions but if I mention them Raehl will go off and that's not the point here).
I do agree with this: "You know, players learning how to hit an opponent on the run again, instead of just shooting a lane of paint and waiting for the opponent to run through it.", because I disagree with this - "If the bunkers are 5 feet apart and players are using pumps, any idiot can move and preventing movement is pretty much impossible."

If you'd played back in the day of indoor mazes and outdoors woods ball tournaments, you'd know that's not true. Because -

you're discounting the psychological AND experience elements when making that statement. When there's time in the game to actually talk to your opponent (or listen, or watch, or hide, or crawl past them...) the ability of a player to do a whole lot even when on the opposite side of the same tree from an opposing player is potentially huge.

You guys seem to be arguing over a very limited experience set and are unfortunately (seemingly) confining your solutions to that limited experience set. (I'm not saying your experience is limited, just the boundaries of the discussion.)

Just one example to illustrate what I mean: one loud-mouthed a-hole, shooting infrequently, moving back and forth amongst two, three or four pieces of cover, drawing fire and being demonstrably annoying, while one of his teammates goes on a 60 yard crawl and, in the last second of a game pops up and shoots one opponent, gaining just enough points to move his team past the others in the standings, ultimately leading to the tournament win. Real story, real example of maneuver vs fire, totally impossible today and, in fact, completely outside the boundaries of the discussion.