Monday, April 28, 2014

The Coming Storm

Okay, there is no storm. At least not that I'm aware of. (Blame it on 'Game of Thrones' and my willingness to generate traffic with deceitful titles.) Neither a real storm or a figurative one--insomuch as it might affect the big wide world of major league paintball this coming week. The weather at OXCC the next couple of days may be a little grim and damp but as of yesterday's reporting everything should be good by tournament time. I would recommend however you bring something extra to stay warm early and late as nighttime temps may be a bit chilly. They certainly will be for this Florida boy. (My blood is thin. What can I say? I'm not yet reduced to a sweater and rocking chair but the clock's ticking.)
Even without a storm there are some intriguing storylines at MAO. First and foremost is RaceTo MAXX. Will it succeed or will it fail? Could it do both at the same time? (I think it could.) Succeed as a scheduling efficiency but still prove unpopular with the teams? Or will it be another tempest in a teapot; the usual aggrieved outrage that sputters and dies out?
My personal top priority is will I have an assigned golf cart at MAO? (At Dallas I had to beg, borrow and steal the damned things and the fields at MAO are more spread out than Dallas's tight and relatively compact structure. It's even uphill both ways.)
MAO will be the first appearance of Art Chaos in the Champions division and that's certain to generate a ton o' interest and speculation. Will they deliver as expected? Do they immediately challenge for wins or, despite their experienced roster, will there be a learning curve of some sort to get them acclimated? Seems to me everyone expects virtual dominance from the get go but while I believe they are an excellent team I'm not convinced they are firing on all cylinders just yet. Should be exciting to watch though.
And what about Vicious? Or Heat for that matter? Or the Russian Legion? Was Vicious lucky or good at Dallas--and will a result at MAO tell us one way or the other? Will Heat vault back into the Champs division and if so who tumbles this time around? And is it time to say RL's glory days are past and start to wonder if the slide can be arrested?
And then there's the layout all this drama will unfold on. I will grant it's highly technical and demanding particularly on the snake wire but to hear some of the peeps carry on you'd think it was practically unplayable. I've seen quite a lot of paintball played on this layout and whether or not it's your personal cup of tea excessively long mid-games will happen, if they happen, by choice. While not as fast as Dallas fast points are possible and the typical point I'd put between 90 seconds and two minutes.
I understand the slow point argument but skirts are for Catholic schoolgirls not competitive paintball players. And the reversion to dragging out points when it happens is just an argument for the league to manipulate field design. Personally I favor--at least hypothetically--balanced fields that allow teams to play to whatever they perceive their strength to be but if the pros automatically default to slow play they are in fact asking for the league to act. Just saying.
Currently the crew is on site getting the fields ready and Ronald McDonald is still chained to his bench on Bethel Rd by the intersection of Old Telegraph so everything is right--and nearly ready at OXCC for this year's MAO.


Jeremy Rosser said...

I really think vicious and 187 will capitalize on this style of field.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Ofcourse teams won't slow play the field when they have momentum - that would be plain stupid.

But, I am venturing a guess we will see more points turned around from a 2on4 or 3on5 situation, to a win.

Thus, my money is on the teams with the best back line - "best" in this context meaning people who can stay alive and fight it out against superior numbers.

- and btw... I hope I am wrong :)

Mark said...

I have a feeling I will be cursing the moron who leaked that "fake" layout a lot this weekend.

NewPro said...

some storm, category 1ish???

Was this a fluke, jitters or the real deal coach?

Anonymous said...

Let's see... Maxx was a huge failure for some and no problem for others.
Chaos was a flop, Infamous got what goes around comes around.
Impact was more of the same.
Dynasty was the same old Dynasty as always, right down to the subconscious bias of the refs - not to take away anything from dynasty though.
The pro field had a swamp on half of it and I'm confused why the league didn't put down wood chips or hay or something.
The pits were overcrowded on the far end of the field. PSP outgrowing oxcc?

Vijil said...

Watched the webcast final games in a public setting. Disappointed for those who came to check out paintball. Consensus from all involved was that it was like watching paint dry and a pretty darn poor advertisement for the sport. It seems the pro teams want the league to act on layouts as you say.

Also concerned about pbaccess. Twice now they've made major last second changes to the pricing structure, and things are at present incredibly unstable. It may just be that high quality paid webcast isn't yet feasible. The next few events will be make or break for PBA.

Missy Q said...

"It seems the pro teams want the league to act on layouts as you say."

LOL, this implies that it is a conscious decision of the teams to play boring paintball in order to get the layout changed. I drove slowly on the way to work today. Am I subconsciously letting vehicle manufacturers know that we all need slower cars? Of course not. Ridiculous. If the teams are telling us anything, its that they can be relied on to make the game super tedious if there is no penalty to playing that kind of game.
If a team can win by sitting, they will sit, 100% of the time. I'm not even sure it can be fixed by changing the layout. They will just find a boring and tedious way to play the new layout (if it means they will still win). If you want to get them to play, you have to change the system to benefit aggression - a bonus 'Power point' for a sub-1 minute point perhaps? Bring back the red zone and have 'bodies in the red zone' become a tie-breaker in the event of a draw or expired point? Or how about the guns switch from 10bps semi to 13bps ramping only once the 30yd line is crossed by the shooter, not before.
Maximum point duration is another one - Don't drag out slow play, it just makes it even slower.

I tried to get on PBA twice. Once I got on for free, the next time I couldn't get on at all. Doesn't sound like I missed much...

Reiner Schafer said...

I believe we have the technology to speed up the game and make any format more exciting to play and to watch. A little "out there", but possible:

Mark said...

The reffing has been so stupidly draconian for the better part of a decade that the teams vote with their feet, as in not moving them.

The penalty system is stupid too. A major or minor in MAO was in no way equivalent to a major/minor in Dallas in terms of points lost. The only way to even THAT playing field is shit can the penalty box and do what they do in the divisional game: 1 for 1's, 2 for 1's etc.

Anonymous said...

The key faster points is pretty simple though. Have a master clock and a point clock. Points expire at 3 minutes. Master clock stays the same.

If there is only 1 minute left in the "point", and your team is up on bodies or field position, you are strongly encouraged as a team to try to finish up that point by making moves.

If both teams are about even with 1 minute left, it means the teams are most likely going to hold out for another breakout and try to get a quick elimination.

The good thing about the dual clocks is it makes every point into a sudden death kind of thing. If there is just 40 seconds less, and you've got good position, you really want to close that out and sprint to the flag station in spectacular finish to get that point before the clock expires and your hard work was for nothing.

Nick Brockdorff said...

There is no need for rule changes, if the layouts are good.

All a play clock will do, is force people to make stupid suicide moves, and we will get much the same effect as when someone is coming out of the box... the opponents just maintaining lanes they know people will go through.

It will eliminate the most important skill in paintball... being able to out think your opponent.

Entertaining to watch, yes, but let's be careful we don't change this into pro wrestling.

However, the layouts need more careful thought put into them, and some guiding philosophies.

For instance:

- Don't put big bunkers in both corners AND allow them to control the wire.

- Make sure there are at least 3, preferably 4, avenues of attack on the field, if not end to end then at least from 30 to 30.

- Make important lanes narrow.

- Make sure every forward move to a 40, 50 or 60 gives you a new target

- Make sure the A is easy to progress from, rather than being a place you use passively to stop plays.

And so on.

It's almost as tiresome as what we watched this past weekend, to watch endless one dimensional wire battles.

MissytheQ said...

Nick, the fields have been changed to 'promote aggression', then, when that didn't work, they were changed again. Then, when that failed, they made them bigger, and changed the layout again.
We are now talking about changing the layout (again). At what point do we admit to ourselves that it is not helping? 2 more years? 3?

How about this - go back to a field layout that was liked, and people thought was aggressive, and just do that layout again. Should work, right? $10 says it doesn't. It's not the fields. Its the fact that the way to win a pro game is to take a body or 2 on the break, then wait for them to come, and cut them down. If no bodies on the break, get ready for a superlong point. Its boring as all hell, and its making paintball look really, really stale. I literally have no interest in watching any games...

It really is pathetic. This is supposed to be the pinnacle of the game. I would rather watch first-timers play. It would be more entertaining for sure.

Nick Brockdorff said...

First, let me just say that I am not debating the past weekends design, that was just downright defensive, and broke with the trend in design I am referring to - and made it worse :D

But, to comment on your post:

One thing is what something is "designed" to achieve, another is what it actually achieves.

None of the changes you are referring to, has IMHO achieved what they were supposed to (let's not get into the completely illogical notion that broadening the gaps makes for more aggressive paintball :D).

Problem is most of the field designers doing designs for the MS and PSP are not good enough (and don't get me started on bunker design, same problem).

The key to the "aggressive" type of fields we have seen the past years, is that they are one dimensional.

What I mean by that, is that they are completely designed for all the action to happen on the wires.

That is exactly what makes it effective to play defensive counter punch paintball.... you only need to control 2 gaps.

Now, instead remember when Dynasty was an Angel team, playing 7 man, and just storming down the fields... despite facing 2 more guns than today.

2 things were key:

1. You were not able to contain them simply by locking down the wires, because there were several avenues of attack inside, on both sides.

2. Gun technology made it harder to control a gap.

You stick todays Damage and Vicious, arguably the 2 most defensive PSP Pro teams currently, on a 7 man field from that time, and you will see all those very talented players cut loose and play exiting ball.

We are field designing our way out of what makes our sport exiting, and that is a shame.

The simplest solution: More bunkers

The right solution: Better field designers, with a design manual they need to follow - which requires the leagues to actually have an internal conversation about this stuff and making design policies that work as intended.

Missy Q said...

OK. So if a specialist expert field designer was flown in at great expense(after being created in some kid of lab), specifically to design the next layout. And he did exactly as you say, and that design didn't work - would you agree then that field design isn't making a difference, or would you argue that the expert was no good, and that a better expert needs to be found? What if you yourself did it (because surely no other 'expert' could come close to having your skills), and it still failed, would you accept it then?

What would it take? How many more times would you need to be shown?

Nick Brockdorff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Brockdorff said...

With that premise, ofcourse I would agree - it would be both stubborn and ridiculous to argue that point :D

But, fact of the matter is the good designs are few and far between in latter years, irrespective of the good intentions by the leagues.... the layouts and bunker shapes are not given the attention they should get... they should be 2nd priority after the reffing.

Paintball could learn from sports like golf, car racing, motorcycle racing, bike racing, show jumping, military, and a bunch of other sports where "field design" is an integral part of how the sport is "played"..... if the design sucks, the sport sucks.

I don't know if you know the people doing the designs these days, and that might be why you seem to take offence to the point I am making(??)

- but trust me, coming from the guy who created what was arguably the worst field design ever in a major (Amsterdam, Tomahawk field 2003), and learned from it... field design has a huge impact on how the game is played.

I fully understand why you and others make the suggestion about a game clock (or similar solutions), and I totally agree it will speed the game up.

However, it has a major drawback, which is that it forces teams to make illogical moves, and that takes away a lot of what this sport is about IMO.

MistyQ said...

I don't know the field designers Nick, I thought it was Damien, but could be wrong. I'm not defending the designers either, other than by claiming they are not really the cause of the problem, nor the route out of it.

And I actually like the pressure of the clock making teams make illogical moves. Its all the logical boring stuff that's making me fall asleep! Teams should have pressure on them to make moves. That's what provides excitement. If they make illogical moves under pressure, then I imagine that's something their coaches will want to work on for next time. The ones that work on it best will probably have better results next time around. This seems logical.

Surely making decisions under pressure is a skill, right?

Nick Brockdorff said...

You and I are talking about two different kinds of logic I think.

Being forced to go through 2 established lanes because time is running out, has a kind of logic to it, I agree - you are forced to do it out of desperation.

It will be like every point is the last in the game.... awesome.

Only, it takes away a lot of the skill of the game and makes it more about luck and speed.

If that entertains you to watch or is the kind of game you want to play - good for you.

I disagree.

I like paintball for being a game where you can succeed with skill and thought, and enlarging the "luck factor" does not make the game better in my opinion - it makes it worse.

We agree the game has to be more interesting to watch - we disagree on how to achieve it.

MistytheQ said...

seems so, yes.

It seems you believe the game can be changed by changing the environment around the players, despite all evidence to the contrary.

I think that this will fail to achieve the result you want, because the goal of the player and team is the same. To get 2 kills, and then sit. Unless you change the players mindset, and motivate the player to move, he/she will not.

The main reason I disagree with your point of view is that it has been tried so many times before. There is no evidence to suggest that changing the layout again will have any more effect than changing it the last time, or the time before that. The player remains unaffected, the reward remains with the defensive and the boring. The best way to lose, is to attack. This is what needs to change. I like a bonus (1) point if the team scores inside 1 minute. Teams that are down can actually get back in the game. I also like a max time on points, and feel that its actually necessary for this season, before we run 3 more yawn-fest events with competitive ball becoming less relevant at each one of them.

MissyQster said...

Forgot this one Nick.

You say that offensive moves at the end of the game are going to 'take away a lot of the skill'. I would argue that the skill of sitting and waiting for people to run across a line of paint is part of the problem. I think that today's Pro players have perfected that 'skill', and as a result, we are watching 10 players sit and wait, thus demonstrating this amazing 'skill' all the time, at the detriment to any other, more exciting skills.
Maybe we should influence the game so that this particular defensive skill is not influencing the game as much as it is now.
It seems like you want change, but all you're suggesting is that things stay the same , but that we heap blame on the 'field designers', the same field designers that we have been using for years, and that we were previously pretty happy with.
I wish I had known about these arguments in the PPP days - I would have been blaming those guys all along.

Anonymous said...

My understanding was that Damien + others designed Dallas and Baca primarily designed MAO.

Nick Brockdorff said...

I have to disagree that "the goal of the player and team is the same. To get 2 kills, and then sit"

First of all, because that is simply not how top players think.... what they think is "how do I win this situation".

Secondly because the determining factor in whether a player moves or sits, is the risk/reward ratio.

If a gap can be controlled while saving paint, it pays to sit - if not, it pays to move, because you are limited in how much paint you an carry, so you will eventually lose control of the gap because you can no longer shoot continuously.

It is all about angles and how wide a gap is.

Adding a point clock or giving out more points for fast point, does not change the risk/reward ratio, and there in lies the problem.

As soon as a team is up a point, you actually make it even more beneficial to sit, because like today, the opponents have to push.... only unlike today, they have to push fast, making it even easier to defend, when the layout allows you to do so.

You keep saying changing the layouts has not worked in the past.

That is simply not true... when we have seen a good layout, the game has been fast paced and interesting.

Problem is those layouts have been few and far between, and seem to have been more a coincidence than anything else.

It is absolutely my position, that the layout will determine how the game is played, and that none of the major leagues has ever given the area the attention it deserves.

So, your premise of "tried and failed" is simply wrong - leagues may have talked about it and tried to change it - but have apparently lacked the skill to do so with any degree of stability.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Your next post:

"You say that offensive moves at the end of the game are going to 'take away a lot of the skill'. I would argue that the skill of sitting and waiting for people to run across a line of paint is part of the problem. I think that today's Pro players have perfected that 'skill', and as a result, we are watching 10 players sit and wait, thus demonstrating this amazing 'skill' all the time, at the detriment to any other, more exciting skills."

No, I am saying that forcing players to make a move which is not there will only benefit those that sit and wait to an even larger degree.

I agree the game is boring to watch and play when everyone is sitting and rolling their guns - but that the reason they do so, is because the layout (and ROF and amount of paint carried) makes it too hard to move.

The risk/reward ratio of making a move successfully, does not magically change because you introduce a play clock or dish out more points for a fast win - you just force players to make moves they should not have made.

You then say:

"Maybe we should influence the game so that this particular defensive skill is not influencing the game as much as it is now."


But, unfortunately you then throw this little gem in the mix:

"It seems like you want change, but all you're suggesting is that things stay the same , but that we heap blame on the 'field designers', the same field designers that we have been using for years, and that we were previously pretty happy with."

Incorrect.... if you think I want things to stay the same, you are apparently not understanding what I am saying.

You may have been happy with the field designs for years.... I have not - and the reason is exactly what we saw this past weekend, and have seen at countless previous events.

The field designs in the PSP and MS are generally not good enough... It has been said countless times before, with little effect.... and THAT is the problem!

MissingtheQ said...

Well, if what you're saying is true Nick, then the PSP 100% need to hire you to design the fields from now on. It seems like no-one else in the industry is capable.

And you know what? For years now, people high-up in the industry have been asking; "if only we could find the creator of the 'Tomahawk Field' from the 1999 Amsterdam Millennium !! That would solve our problems".
Had I known that you were the guy they were all looking for I would have put them in touch a lot sooner....

Luckily, Baca is working for the PSP now. I have no doubt that he will already be petitioning the PSP to employ you, at whatever crazy rate you feel you rightly deserve, so that all their field design problems will go away.

You should post your address here, that way people will know who to send the flowers to, to thank you for saving major league paintball.


Nick Brockdorff said...

As usual Owen, you are completely misreading intentions and situation.... and seem very fond of lowering the debate to a juvenile and snide level.

First of all, I never said I was the only one that knew how - I know plenty of people that are absolutely able to do the job.... they just seem to have not been employed for it thus far, and there in lies the rub.

Secondly, I have no hidden agenda, I simply want to watch entertaining paintball.

You might very well be on the job market, I don't know, though it would not surprise me..... but I am very well employed, thank you very much, and I am not looking for any kind of payday.... nor for any kind of steady involvement.... management is time consuming, if you know how to do it right ;)

The help I choose to offer, or not offer, is free of charge, and given because I love paintball.

I hope your motivation is the same....

Anonymous said...

This is really strange. Back in the day, we used to have "technical" sitting teams (All As) and aggressive teams, Image/Shock.

Now people are upset that the preferred style of play is the All As style. Do you think if we returned to the fields of yore that all the current pro teams wouldn't find a way to sit? Hell, 10man pretty much consisted of shooting at each other for 10-15 minutes and then closing out the game in a couple minutes or less.

So I don't fully remember this super fast paced paintball yall are speaking of unless, you're referring to the days of the NXL where guys were shooting 15bps full auto on the break, or before that, when guys were shooting cheater guns at 20+bps full auto...

Slower rates of fire do slow the game down. They don't open the game up for more movement, but allow you to get to your spot and lock down the field.

Now, I am actually glad slower rates of fire are here for other reasons (paint consumption, safety, etc.). But this does mean we end up with a slower game (on average).

Dallas was certainly pretty fast paced, so obviously field design can help. Like Baca said though, teams that can sit, will sit, so more designs like Dallas would be warranted if you want a fast field.

Nick Brockdorff said...

I played for one of those sitting teams, and the reason teams played like that, was simply lack of skill.... that's why Dynasty was such a revolution to the game - they showed the first glimpses of what was possible.

Had I possessed the skills I learned later in paintball life, in those days, I would have flown down any field with ease.

Not because the designs were good back then - they weren't - but because of the slow fire rate making even long bumps possible, had I known how to execute them properly.

So I don't agree slower fire rates make for a slower game (quite the contrary) - I think lower skills make for a slower game.

Anyway, you are talking about a time where field design had a much lower impact than it has today, because skill sets were so much lower, that in terms of this debate, I think those days are kinda irrelevant.

Paintball needs to realize the layout is the absolutely largest determining factor in how we play the game, barring messing with fire rates some more, and more care should be put into how fields are designed and what they are designed to achieve.

That is ALL I am saying.

Only thing not mentioned yet, is the draw back to speeding up the game: It will require a lot more of the refs.

When the game moves faster, they need to make calls faster, which will invariably cause more mistakes.

Missy Q said...

Nick - regarding your last post aimed at me. Let me set you straight. I've had 2 jobs my entire life, and have more current offers than I could ever interview for, should I wish to. Its been a very long time since you had any idea what I do or how I operate. Unless you truly believe you are more educated about my life than I am myself(this would not surprise me)?

I chose to mock you because you're superiority complex is so out of control you really believe you have all the answers, and that all anyone has to do is listen to your wisdom. You really don't. You never have been that guy, and your dogged determination to be right at all costs is what makes people think you're a total douchebag, and what has had you repeatedly banned from forums around the world. You don't listen to reason.

Personally I like you, right up to the point where you turn into a bitch. That last post turned you into a bitch again. There's a difference between harmless banter and bitch-talk. You have never been able to find that balance. Perhaps you should have your bitch-valve examined. You could have a dodgy seal in there.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Pot calling the kettle black - you get the "ironic post of the year" award :D

Weird that you like me btw - I never liked you.... but there you go :)

MissyQFTW said...

I like everyone. I'm a nice guy. Its how I've lasted 27 years at the sharp end of the industry.

..and thanks for the award. I'll try to make some space for it.