Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Inside the Merger Talk & Rumorology

Actually not so much really. At least not enough to merit that post title but it got your heart racing, didn't it? (Most of you excited, fewer of you horrified.) [I'd gladly apologize for leading you on except of course I'm not sorry 'cus I think it's kinda funny. In an admittedly cruel sorta way.] Rumor has it stuff like revisiting ROF and notions like limited paint have been part of the discussions. And I don't mind saying I find it a little disconcerting. Mostly because too many of the people at the table have no business being there unless you count enormous egos, entrenched opinions and self-interested motives as appropriate first principles. Did I sugarcoat that too much? Do I need to be more forthright? Was that really necessary? Naw, but I enjoyed it--and frankly, it's the truth. Hey, I always say once you start digging a hole, dig it deep!

As you might have guessed the real subject is paint usage. And as it happens I have some numbers available. But first I want to offer for the record, again, that there is no data that supports changing the ROF as a paint saving measure. (We've had ROF changes based on the notion that it will trickle down to local recreational fields and/or that it will lower the threshold to tourney entry. How's that worked out? We've had the PSP change their ROF three times and if there's any data to demonstrate those changes made any quantifiable difference in paint usage I haven't heard about it.) Now of course if the change is substantial enough, 12 bps to Billy Ball, yes, there will be lower paint consumption as a result. But with that significant a change you're also playing a different game too.
Uncertain? Other paint usage factors include pack size, pod size, (total paint carried) bunker placement & game time. Without taking the other factors into account how can anyone categorically say--and possibly change the game again--on the basis the change will somehow save paint. Will it really? If so, how much? And what consideration is being given to potential peripheral consequences? If you really want to save paint leave the ROF alone and open up the OTB shooting lanes. If laners OTB increase their kill percentages you are guaranteed to save paint. First that eliminated player won't be shooting the paint on his back and when you remove 20% or more of your opponent's players off the bat the game transitions into a close almost immediately. Of course doing that may not make the current player base particularly happy, but hey, it saved paint.
The same applies to limited paint--which is a practice already in place. Everybody plays with limited paint. What is meant is a restricted by rule limit to the maximum paint allowed on the field at any one time. However, depending on just how limited an amount of paint is being discussed it will, without any doubt, alter the nature and play of the game. In the lower divisions this isn't necessarily a bad thing but it would a terrible decision at the pro level as it would dumb down the game considerably. (See the link to an old post below which discusses this in more detail.)
And now for the numbers I promised. For the sake of round numbers let's say the current ROF is 12. Let's also agree that a hopper (loader) holds 180 paintballs. And let's use D1/D2 Race 2 format of a 15 minute game Race 2-5. The game parameters then is fifteen minutes of game time or first team to 5 points with a max number of 9 points played per match. At 12 bps a player could conceivably shoot 10800 paintballs in 15 minutes. A team of 5 could shoot 54000 paintballs. In practice that potential is limited by the number of pods a player carries. If we assume an average of 7 pods--which is probably a little high--plus hopper a 5-man squad is carrying 5100 paintballs; around 2 and one half cases. How often does a team shoot that much paint in a point? (Almost never.) And what are the game conditions that promote heavy paint use?
At 12 bps a player empties his hopper in 15 seconds. At 10 bps the same player empties the same hopper in 18 seconds. Is that 3 seconds a hopper fill going to save paint? (No.) Does it reduce the amount of paint in hand? (No.)
Take a moment and revisit the PSP Galveston event where an attempt was made to both encourage older, fatter, slower players into coming back to tourney play along with a field layout that would promote faster points. (Faster points equal less paint shot per point potentially.) How did that work out? My point isn't that the league screwed up. My point is that making singular changes alone, especially the ones being discussed, are unlikely to achieve the results desired unless the change is so dramatic it changes the game too--and even when an effort was made to "improve" the pace of play the desired results didn't occur because even with the best intentions and best efforts the complexity of the game wasn't properly evaluated or understood.
The last thing a newly unified league needs is a host of changes the results of which can't be predicted with anything like certainty.
For more on ROF and its relationship to how the game is played today read this post from the archives. (I'm feeling more lazy than usual today and didn't feel like repeating myself. Again.)

In other rumorology there's lots of behind-the-scenes talk about the off season musical chairs of pro players already--along with some speculation about the future of a few pro teams as well. It's too soon to start talking names and details because as far as I know nothing (much) has been finalized just yet. But as soon as these rumors start turning into near factoids I'm sure Mr. Curious will have the skinny. (And I don't mean Kevin.) Okay, here's a taste; could be some Ironmen on the move and apparently Yaya is dialling up a serious phone bill calling ballers.


Reiner Schafer said...

Yes Baca, no major paint savings are ever going to take place without the game changing majorly as well. It comes down to whether or not the current players are interested in the game changing to that extent in the interest of saving paint and how the market would be affected overall by major changes.

Those now playing the game are playing the game because that's what they want to play. They are not interested in playing down some watered down version. That's not what they signed up for. They want the full adrenaline package, not some wimpy substitute.

The answer to the second question is unknown. Some market research could be done, but I have a feeling the research would not be dependable. Why do I say that? You could ask 1,000 people if they would play competitive paintball if it were cheaper (less paint) and less intense (less paint) and a certain number would say, hell yes. But we all know that when it comes to sign up time, those people will not all be standing in line signing up. It's easy to say hell yes to a market researcher. It's not nearly as easy to actually make the time and financial commitment. So it stays an unknown.

Human males being the macho, testosterone driven beings we are, if given a choice between the high octane and low octane version, we are going to choose the high octane version. Choosing the low octane version would make us look weak in front of our other testosterone driven males and also the females we do our dance for.

The only way we would ever find out for sure, if a different, less paintball, style of competitive play would be participated in more heavily, would be to eliminate the high octane version completely. Take that choice away. Most of the players that are currently playing competitive ball, would probably still choose to play, given that there only other choice would not to play competitive paintball at all. Then there is the chance that others , not currently playing because of cost and/or intensity level, may take part. The overall number of competitors could be higher.

But it's all hypothetical. There is no guarantee. The only thing guaranteed is that those taking part now, would bitch. Loudly! Therefore it will never take place. There will never be major changes changes in the paint usage department.

Missy Q said...

blahblahblah Fox news of paintball Blahblahblah laaaaaame, blahblahblah why don't you get a life? Blahblahblah why not offer solutions, etc.

Wow, I didn't realise how much fun these anono guys have been having..

Matthew said...

What are your thoughts and opinion on what I believe was called the PanAm League (as far as restricted paint is concerned)? I used to read all the time from people who said that the restricted paint format helped "teach" teams like the Ironkids how to play and then go on and "dominate" professional paintball. I never put much stock in that but it seemed true to a lot of people back then.

Missy Q said...

the PanAm, aka Great Western Series, was a great series and well supported. It was run by Dan Bonebrake and his manager, Shawn Walker. The league eventually was bought by Shawn Walker, who renamed it XPSL, which became a feeder league for the NPPL, and then, Shawn took over as NPPL President for Pacific Paintball and as far as I knw, dropped the XPSL. It's a good format for teams starting out. I am a fan of LTD paint, it doesn't actually limit teams as much as they assume, but does make budgeting a lot easier for organisers, teams, paint suppliers etc. If LTD was to be used in the PSP it woudl have to be tiered through the divisions, where the Pro's get more paint to shoot then D1, etc.
People cry about LTD paint, but I think the people that do have never actually tried it. It adds another layer of strategy to the game which I actually like, not that you were asking me, but...

Mark said...

Limiting paint sales to those (lower divisional teams) who more often than not pay real money for each and every case throughout the year in the hope of increased turnout doesn't sound very, well, sound.

raehl said...

Yes, far better for them to be broke and quit paintball after three events.

What's not sound about it? If that's the field owner perspective, charge 'em $15 admission instead of $10.

Missy brings up that limited paint helped teach players... that may be true, but I think entirely missed what was really important.

How many of the ironkids would have made it through several seasons of paintball if they had to spend 4x as much on paint for the duration?

Balls of gelatin are not free. The less of them we use the more participants we have.

Baca Loco said...

That was a lazy effort.

Back when the PSP was considering similar options I was not opposed to either a lower ROF or limited paint in the lower divisions for the very reason you mention. I have no doubt at all that either or both of those options would prove to be beneficial for developing players.
Of course in my ideal competitive universe the lower divisions don't compete on the national stage either except at Cup so there you go.
(And when the PSP tried dropping ROF to 10 bps forget the limited paint there was a significant hue & cry.)

And the point you continually fail to grasp is that when there are choices the majority of competition-oriented players don't choose pump, a return to mech guns or limited paint even if you and I would agree that it would probably be a better choice for everyone all around.
On that score Reiner is likely correct in suggesting you'd have to kill the former to promote the latter--which is sorta what happened with the introduction of Xball.

Missy Q said...

Chris, I never actually said anything about teaching players, nor did I miss what was important (unless you surmise that, unless an individual writes something into a short blog-response-post, it's never actually occured to them.)
Apart from that, well, there wasn't anything apart from that, so everything you said (where it relates to my response), was in fact utterly wrong.

That felt pretty good.

Mark said...

Yep that's me "Soak the poor!" Except paintball players aren't poor (they never have been), but if the game as it is played right now is making them poor, well then they're idiots too. Albeit dedicated idiots.

Look I'm not of the grandious impression that my opinion is going to sway the powers that be in making the decision to change this or that in this game. According to Lane the PSP had a good year, perhaps one of the best. If a merger brought in just half of the teams currently playing in the NPPL, next year should be better still. I just don't see where changes need to be made that drastically alters the game as it is currently played, especially if it would entail players picking up paintballs off the ground 2 minutes into the game.

And I could give a rats ass about the ironkids, but I do know those 16 & 17 year olds were playing 10X more paintball than I ever did (let alone could afford) in the same era, long before a limited paint league ever came about.

raehl said...

@Baca: You're right, the current competitive player chooses the current format because anyone who does not like a high volume game has quit. Paint use didn't get to where it is in one step, it was a gradual increase as technology advanced and no one drew a line on the technology. That does not mean, however, that more people want to play the current way than another way. More people currently playing the current way? Sure. Or at least, if you ask them, that's what they think. But even if they absolutely love the current format, it doesn't matter if they can't afford it.

Side note: Pump and mechanical guns are poor ways to try and cut paint use. They expose a player to far more technical tinkering than the vast majority would care to. Lower paint use is a natural consequence of that equipment, but if your goal is to limit paint, the best way to do it is to just limit the paint.

@Missy: I apparently moved comments from one poster to another in my brain. But, I'm pretty sure Shawn ditched limited paint in XPSL, and XPSL was running until the Pacific Paintball bankruptcy brought down the whole thing, and... well, I wanted to specifically mention that limited paint makes it far more likely that players can actually keep playing paintball for years without financial pressures being a factor.

But happy to up your spirits.

Baca Loco said...

If "Paintball" whatever that might be, were serious about "fixing" itself wouldn't it be more useful and productive to begin at the rec level with the local field than alter the game played by the acknowledged minority? Isn't increasing the pool of all players a better solution than altering the current competitive environment in the hopes that during a weak general economy you might attract more players because it's both cheaper and easier to play?

And if your response to that is that "Paintball" can't control what happens at the local field level but can at the fringes like tourney ball I do not the find the answer "because they can" sufficient to assume they should.

raehl said...

False dichotomy. Regardless of paintball as a whole, tournament paintball would be better off with lower paint consumption.

Mark said...

False dichotomy?
Like the ironkids playing hither and tither?

Anonymous said...

I nominate 5-Man, pump, RaceTo-7.

You want "skill" when it cones to shooting a paintball gun, there ya go. Lower paint usage, more paintball, and more athleticism.

Im sure it'll never happen, but that's my dream league anyway.

raehl said...

That's another good point... skilled are you if it takes you a few hundred shots to hit anything?

Don Saavedra said...

More skilled than the guy who takes a few hundred shots to hit nothing?

Baca Loco said...

If tourney paintball would be better off why have you expended all your paintball energies in the last decade to promote and support the current game? Seems to me you're prepared to tell everybody else how they ought to play while you take advantage of & promote what you obviously don't believe in. Sanctimonious much?

Besides, it isn't a false dichotomy. I never suggested it was an either or situation, I simply suggested that if a serious effort was to be made to modify the way peeps play paintball today wouldn't a much more effective option be to change grass roots paintball?

You set it up and we'll be there. It's gonna be open, right? My guys shoot way more paint and miss way more shots than the average D3 team--so we're good to go, yes?

Baca Loco said...

Oops! The first paras of the prior comment are aimed at Faction (raehl)--of course.

raehl said...


So if I don't think the current way most tournaments are played is the best way, I shouldn't have anything to do with tournaments at all?

I think limited paint would be better. That doesn't mean I don't also think we needed a better registration/classification system.

Where I can, I push limited paint. NCPA High School is limited paint, for example. I unfortunately can't just tell other leagues that they have to be limited paint, and "Change to limited paint or I quit!" would be the epitome of childish.

Anonymous said...


Open pump RaceTo-7 sounds good to me, it would be an honor to be able to get my ass handed to me by your Damage boys. :)

Missy Q said...