Saturday, December 11, 2010

PSP "Rumors" Revisited

A few more thoughts on how the latest batch of changes will affect competitive paintball and those who play the game. First, I wonder if the PSP has locked itself into these changes by confirming the rumors on their official website. Sure, changes to the changes might be viewed as the league "listening" to its customers but at the same time wouldn't it undermine the league's credibility? It seems some percentage of the current discontent is over the fact the PSP can't seem to do anything but change.
It also seems that the average internet whiner is only quasi-literate at best. (I was going to say the average PSP-playing internet whiner but then it occurred to me I have no idea how many of the commenters have actually played a PSP event. That's not a prerequisite to having an opinion but it is a prerequisite to my paying any attention to that opinion.) The inability of so many to simply comprehend the PSP's stated changes is enough to shatter one's faith in our future generations--assuming one was foolish enough to have any in the first place. No more pit side coaching is NOT no more coaching. Adding ten feet to each end of a 150 foot field doesn't make it a 180 foot field. A larger field and restrictive design qualifications have nothing to do with reducing overall costs to teams/players.
Did you miss the previous rumors post? Scroll down the page or look here. The case for saving money by not releasing the field layout in advance is made there in two additional links. If you didn't (or don't) bother to look at it there, I won't bother to go through it again here. Suffice to say every other change the PSP has made to reduce costs has directly altered the game played on the field; fewer points, less clock, etc. Non-release doesn't do that. Nor does it keep teams from practicing how and how often they want. Instead it gives all teams an opportunity to re-think what it really takes to prepare and to focus on the players' strengths and weaknesses instead of paint intensive rote repetition. Non-release may not save the lower divisions all that much even--depending on how they choose to prepare but it will save the upper divisions a lot of money and make it less costly for serious teams to move up the ranks.
As to removing pit side coaching it looks to me like more trouble than it's worth. For non-PSP players who whine about coaching it's only half a job done, right? Will they suddenly change their mind because coaching is limited to the snake side only? And I am convinced that enforcement of the no-coaching will be inconsistent or Draconian and both courses will only serve to anger and frustrate teams/players already committed to the PSP.
The players the PSP hopes to bring back to--or into--the PSP with the change in field design and dimensions aren't interested--and don't belong. Like it or not the PSP has positioned itself as the league that promotes competitive paintball as sport. To undo that now would be counterproductive. And won't bring in the player the PSP is looking for. The player they are looking for and need now is the player they pushed out of the game over the last few years by unnecessarily forcing too many of them into classifications they hadn't earned and couldn't continue to compete in. If you want those guys back drop them a whole rank for each year they haven't played a PSP event with a floor of two ranks max. All current Semi-pro players would drop no lower than D2 while D1's wouldn't drop lower than D3. Get as many of them as possible back into circulation and begin to reverse the dumbing down process of the recent past by leavening the mid-divisions with good, competent players. The player they want to draw with the design and dimensions change is the player who should be the backbone of the next generation of local teams--not a national level competitor in D3 or lower.

As a practical matter neither of the major leagues is in a position to lower entry fees. They simply aren't. With revenue from the industry reduced to a trickle almost all the money to operate on comes from entries and related fees. What the NPPL 3.0 stumbled into may be the lesson the PSP needs to learn. Perhaps the league needs to scale back and potentially restrict the total number of teams that can compete if a combination of entries and calculated operational costs provide greater certainty of profitability from event to event.


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with several points in your post. Many of us have met shining examples of where Darwin's theory has failed; but it is a great concept, especially when applied to any sport model. If PSP is the recognized leader in competitive paintball and the species acknowledges that, then they must adapt to survive & succeed! ScothMonster @ Large!
My concern lies in the management of change. PSP needs to be more transparent in how the changes are decided-who are the stakeholders and what is the weight of their influence in change. Identifying this will help with a lot of the PR problems they are having currently. It might even develop soladarity within players, and most certainly help Lane.
So Baca, if the goal is domination, just how much influence do you have?

Baca Loco said...

As a general principle I would agree with you but it's easy to suggest for somebody else. That, and much of the paintball proletariat is a closed loop so I'm not sure how much the truth would mean.
Best of my knowledge--there's Dave, Lane and 3 other small shareholders. Lane makes the calls and only Dave holds enough of the company to override Lane.

As to my influence--I've no idea. But it should be more. ;-)

Cade said...

I love how you consider the average internet whiner as quasi-literate, but then use terms like Draconian to explain rules enforcement. Way to set the bar just high enough for us to bump our heads.

You have been involved in paintball for quite some time, do the off-season changes surprise you? This game continues to develop and change year to year (sometimes event to event), and it always seems that there is a large group of player/fans that will throw their collective arms in the air and say “this change will ruin the game we are used to”. Guess what, it never does! The Rules evolves, the Players evolve, the Equipment evolves, the Strategies evolve… The Game Evolves every year, while the league leaders try to forecast and navigate the swell without capsizing.

Baca Loco said...

I do not consider the average internet using paintball player illiterate--I can prove it. Go and read any of the PBN threads about the proposed rules changes. Half of them plainly were incapable of reading and comprehending the stated changes.
And if you don't feel up to the challenge of reading VFTD without me condescending to some part of the readership by monitoring myself--don't let the door hit you on the way out.

No, off season changes don't surprise me. Ruin the game? Maybe not but it isn't close to the game it once was--and change doesn't not imply improvement--nor are the decision-makers infallible by default--and anybody who isn't prepared to discuss and challenge those changes in a sensible manner is just another sheep to be fleeced and deserves what they end up with.

Cade said...

Don’t get all defensive… :), I love reading VFTD. It’s refreshing to read articles that have some forethought and make you question the status–quo, makes me wish I still had my PGi subscription. I agree with you that change for the sake of change is not necessarily an improvement to the game, but I don’t think league leadership is in a position to make unjustified decisions.

Baca Loco said...

Still here? ;-)

Let me point out two uncomfortable truths. The league is where it is, in part, because of decisions made in the past. The justification for decisions made now is whether or not they achieve their desired effect in the future. League leadership is always in a position to make unjustifed decisions. Nature of the beast.

Anonymous said...

Well stated Baca-often the truth hurts, it's a part of growing. Hence my comment on management of change. Learning, when painfull is often indelible, this is what helps us from repeating our mistakes.
Cade, I can only assume you think the tide is stronger than the boat, I'm willing to bet there will always be a boat-size, shape & who steers is anyone's guess. The Captain will have to know both the water and their ship to best chart their course. Which boat do you want to float?
To all DPA members,I ask what is the anatonym of competition? You will find you have the choice of 2 viewpoints-like Lane choose your stand wisely. It will dictate your future.
Time for a peaty malt.

abc said...

You claim it doesn't change the game. I don't mind the change, but it certainly directly changes the game as it's played on the field. To say otherwise is to pretend that off field structural changes have no impact on what happens on the field. They do, as you point out. Therefore the game will be changed. Simply put, if you could have trained on a field 10 times before an event, you will play it different than when you show up at the event and get to play on it 3 times. A structural rule change that changes the way everyone plays the game, is a change in the game by another name. But I don't mind...

The Soviets, err, I mean Boston Russian Legion are celebrating in Stalingrad with this news release.

I don't know if anyone stands to benefit more from a style of play that requires a team to be excellent at:
- the individual fundamental skills of a paintball player
- adapting and modifying game plans after observing how another team behaves

The Russians, and those who follow their approach to professional paintball (to a certain extent Damage from what I've observed), will be better off as a result.

At least that's my prediction.

abc said...

Oh, I'd also add the change in no pit-side coaching will be much more effective if they move the snake to the pit side. That's where most of the sneaky stuff happens (or rather has the potential to happen).

The dorito side is so chaotic that all the screaming doesn't make a huge difference anyway.

The irony is though that if they did this, the crowds would not get to witness the splendor of sneaky snake action.

So we can see the real problem is the fact that the crowd has the ability to disrupt movement along the snake side. Few things are more exciting for a crowd (or as a player) in a paintball game than to crawl down the snake undetected, shoot the guy at the other end in the pack or face really quick and then proceed to shoot 2-3 other guys who didn't know you were there.

Yes, this kind of thing can happen now, but with everyone screaming it has to happen so quickly that you really have time to savor the anticipation. Anticipation is an important element to...errr..the climax of a paintball, if you get my drift.

Baca Loco said...

I'm assuming your first comment refers to no early release of the field layout although I can't find anywhere where I claimed it didn't have an effect on how the game(s) will play as a result.
Instead allow me to be pedantic for moment and suggest that how teams execute the game of paintball on a unfamiliar layout is not the same thing as a structural rule change.
Otherwise of course the fields will be played differently by different players and teams for a variety of reasons.

Re: the RL. The players will certainly be up to the new challenge. I'm undecided about the coaches. Their game-planning is very deliberate and is based on a relatively enormous amount of data.

Re: Damage. I am confident that our practices will keep us competitive.

abc (again)
So maybe you'll like the slower play we're likely to see from the longer more defensively-oriented layouts of the future.

abc said...

Baca - I get your point about the defense layouts. What paintball really is lacking and people have tried to fix (ESPN 1.0) was the concept of offense/defense.

That is a bit confusing that we're always on offense and defense at the same time. It would be interesting to see some kind of game layout where one side was on offense for the first half, and the other side on offense for the next half. What do you think? Would it work?

Each side takes turns for 8 minutes trying to prevent the other from scoring, while the other side -must- attack. And then the roles reverse. This might disadvantage the first-to-offense team so maybe they get to have a rebuttal couple of minutes if the score is within 1 point or something. I dunno, I'm just making it up as I go along. But so is the PSP, and if they're going to fly by the seat of their pants, give me some vision like the Xball concept was to begin with. As it is now they're just tinkering around the margins.

And I'm not complaining though, as I don't mind the changes. I also wouldn't mind something more revolutionary as it's clear the present formats are not "it" yet.

Baca Loco said...

I have yet to see a feasible way to break a game down into offense & defense. I do however have a way to make xball's similarity to basketball, hockey and soccer more apparent in the play of the game in a way that I think would be both exciting and suspenseful and allow for shifting transitions between offense and defense. It is, of course, called Bacaball. I'm still working out some kinks in the officiating system.