Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The (NPL) National Paintball League

There is an announcement about the NPL in the News section at PBN. There is also the NPL website here. First order of business is to suggest perhaps a less generic name for the league as it turns out lots of nations have national paintball leagues. Just an observation. Second, I want to separate the NPL vision into two parts; the game format and league structure.
Let's begin with the game format. While I'm not a fan of swapping offense and defense I will limit my concerns to problems not opinions. The principle one being uncapped semi-auto marker operation. A serious league cannot validate a mode of operation that cannot be regulated. And since the only way the defense can score a point requires elimination of the flag carrier in his/her end zone the rules also encourage illegal modes of operation. (And if refs start penalizing teams and players for things they think but can't prove happened it opens the league to unnecessary conflict and controversy.) Also, no where is the league's field set of props outlined by numbers or type. And, as with other forms of competitive paintball this will directly impact the nature of the game as it plays out as will the layout(s) used. (Though one might assume a NPPL style bunker set given the field dimensions although that would prove problematic from a game play perspective.) The other thing of note is the apparent requirement to provide scoreboards, time clocks and scorekeepers able to keep track of all the game records as matches are played. One assumes these are built in costs that a local field operator must commit to before the league even gets off the ground in his "region." If there was a simplified way to run a match it would make it more attractive for fields to opt in and give it a try.

As mentioned in passing in a previous post I think a rigid adherence to the structure as currently outlined is counterproductive. While there needs to be some sense of how all the pieces fit together as the league grows the important part, especially in this formative stage, is that it grow period. And as with any developing venture there will be growing pains and as more people and regions become involved there will be more and more diverse opinions about what ought to come next regardless of what's written down already. If the outline of the future league structure is taken as a set of guidelines instead of set in concrete the league becomes flexible enough to deal with issues as they arise. That said there are numerous incongruities and conflicts in the current details. The following is just a sample, not a comprehensive review. (And if it seems confusing I'm responding to the Rule Book and Players Guide so you're only getting half the "conversation".) For example, "regions" are defined essentially as local fields which is okay but confusing. Not okay is that local field owners are also team owners and regional directors. (Each region is supposed to comprise of 6 teams--unless it's eleven--but don't ask me how that works 'cus it isn't explained anywhere--and the field owner also owns those teams and essentially runs his little corner of the NPL too.) Regional directer--yes. Team owner--no. In part because only the Regional Director can approve trades but since that same person is all the team owners he's "approving" decisions he instigated in the first place. That's not oversight, that's nonsense. Get more local people actively involved who have an interest in the outcomes and success of individual teams. The rankings "system" given is a mess and if a region actually operated the combine completely unnecessary. The combine demonstrates talent and the teams draft eligible players. Some outside source of artificial ranking is completely unnecessary particularly given the NPL's definition for pro and semi-pro players. But seriously while sounding cool the combine and draft are a no go. (Only authorized NPL professionals will be allowed to be involved in testing and evaluations? And just who will be an authorized NPL professional and what is the criteria the league will use to determine that status? Really?) Best of all just jettison the combine (drug testing?) and the draft and the rankings because, according to the NPL, they are all Amateur players. Some teams will be better than others. So what? The Regional Director controls who plays and who doesn't and can provide competitive balance. Meanwhile not so good teams will have a reason to work to get better and recruit new players, etc. There's more but this is enough for now.
Finally there is a sanctioned NPL paintball. Why? If the idea is competitive balance that's fine. If it's part of a funding scheme for the NPL then less so but understandable. (Minimum event day purchases.) But then how is the league funded? It isn't actually outlined anywhere though there are hints in the section on registering players in which pros, semi-pros are apparently expected to pay a pro and registration fee while Ams only pay a registration fee. Otherwise how will the league afford its commitments to the regional teams once the playoffs begin? Did anybody crunch the numbers? Where will the national championships be held? Lots of partially formulated structures, short on some of the details that will matter to the players and teams.

The simple fact is if the league has any chance to succeed it needs to focus on getting local fields participating and making it as simple and easy for local players to get involved. Bottom line, the game may appeal to lots of players but it's going to have a hard time getting off the ground with all the extra unnecessary baggage its lugging around.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

have you actually played the format? This leauge isnt designed for the players youre writing to in this. Your aspects are extremly one sided and this "new school" form of paintball is getting bashed worse then an Ion at a Ego Convention. Listen, Individual players are going to be able to afford playing tournament paintball. They are going to individually grow, and as a team of other individuals grow together. Try and look at it through a vision that your PSP is not the best thing ever.

Take a look at last years NPPL final match, and tell me what the hell is going on during it.... cause im pretty sure even matt marshal didnt know, and I think that guy knows a little about paintball.

The gameplay is directed to improve one thing about paintball, and thats gameplay.