Friday, December 12, 2014

Latest Changes From The PSP

VFTD interrupts its current pro paintball history series to comment on the latest off season surprises from the PSP. So far most of the changes are aimed at the pro teams. If you're hoping for some insider gossip or even an explanation for why these changes--other than the official reasons offered--you are out of luck. In the generous spirit of the season I'm opting to not speculate. (Feel free to read between those lines all you like.)
The only change at the divisional level (so far) is the move to a 10.2 ROF cap. Given this was done last year to the pros divisional teams should have expected this to happen to them too as it wasn't hard to guess that was the plan. (Everybody wants to be like the pros so if they do it first everybody else will want to do it too! Or something like that.) Of course it isn't true. What everybody really wants is consistency. The status quo--except for a few desiccated OGs who harbor fantasies of playing pro until they're fifty. Right now there's a general hue and cry opposing the reduced divisional ROF but then there's always objections to every change when they're announced. Eventually it dies down and everybody falls in line.
The pro changes are no sideline coaching, no early layout release and *true* semi-auto play. As in uncapped. Regarding no coaching I don't see how that can be policed. Last season limited coaching was sorta kinda allowed mostly because they couldn't effectively police the restrictions. Now they claim it will be stopped altogether but I'll believe it when I see it given the current definition of sideline coaching. *Real* spectators can yell whatever they want--including team codes and player names--but anyone directly associated with a team can't. Is that really no coaching? Are they gonna start throwing out paying customers? And how long, if it can made to work, before divisional teams start demanding the same treatment? I'm not opposed to the idea but wishing it were so doesn't make it happen.
Next up is the no early layout release which I have been advocating for years. I believe this will be good for the teams and players and force them to train differently and tilt the desired player skill set back toward some of the intangible creative skills. Which of course begs the question if it's good enough for the pros why not everybody else? How do you develop the next generation if you make them play a different game?
(I have heard from one team so far that already assumes that the pro teams that can come in early on Thursdays will also see to it the layout is set-up at a local field nearby so they can get at least some practice time on the field. I guess we'll see.)
And then there is uncapped semi-auto. First, the league is relying on the gun makers to independently provide "legal" software supporting so-called true semi-auto. Okay, maybe but we've been here before and it didn't work. Then there's the issue of adjustability. Give me a gun with a microswitch and I can make it dance even up to the point where I'm not really pulling the trigger--just twitching it--and in that state I can shoot me some serious semi-auto. Is one extra paintball per 6 or 8 shots okay? Per 10 shots? Or maybe only 12 or more? Failure to put some cap on this ill-conceived attempt will only lead to a return to the wild west past. And if I can't tune my marker I am left with a gun that may very well provide inferior performance to another manufacturer's gun. (Some of you will remember when some of the manufacturers tried to police themselves and how clunky some of those markers were. In practice when you set up an electro-pneumatic marker to be unambiguously semi only the performance will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer unless they are all relying on the same hard- and soft- ware component parts.) Unless the league can categorically say all the markers regardless of manufacturer are equal it won't be some newly recovered player skill on display. And they can't say that. Okay they probably can but it will prove to be untrue.
Lastly let's discuss enforcement. A rule is only as effective as your ability to enforce that rule and there is presently within competitive paintball no tool that can enforce uncapped semi, one pull one shot. The old NPPL robot was a joke and the only other thing that was ever seriously debated was the use of high speed cameras. You know, to count trigger pulls. Of course that would require matching trigger pulls counted with paintballs exiting the barrel. Perhaps the league has come up with another alternative. (Using some sort of counter attached to your board or solenoid isn't sufficient because those methods can't confirm trigger pulls only trigger actuations. In any case it will be necessary to match paintballs shot to intentional trigger pulls in order to police uncapped semi and I seriously doubt it can be done in a live action time frame that will allow referees on the field during a match to call gun penalties.
If I thought you could keep fan participation and ban coaching I'd be all for it. Consider me skeptical. I'm foursquare behind not releasing layouts in advance--even if a team or two may get three or four hours on the layout in advance. And I'm okay with true semi-auto but I do not see how that's going to happen unless there is some new technology introduced that will allow enforcement. In fact I'd be willing to lay a modest wager no comprehensive plan exists or has been tested in game situations. As a consequence I predict that semi-auto will be capped before this coming season is over and things will be more or less the way they were only everyone can say they're playing semi-auto now.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Late layout is positive for sure.

Semi I can take or leave, but as you've pointed out it really should be capped...

Anonymous said...

Nppl did well at 15 cap, I thought. They bitched if it was waay bouncy, like full auto accidentally or shooting 2 constantly over the chrono. Also it's more straight forward than one shot added per X pulls. When you start to bounce the gun just ramps up to crazy sputtering speed. With the cap set low (15 or less) it negates the fact that people pulling 10 are hitting 20. As long as the gun doesn't start ramping at some silly low number like 5 or 6 bps who cares? The goal is to eliminate all the damn one fingering. When it's bad enough a ref can't stop noticing, they would bitch. It's all about how much you need to ride that line, because of your slow ass fingers.. it forces kids to tune their gun and if you do have fast fingers then your clear advantage is not having to test the refs. Yeah it's not an end all ramping type solution and human error blah blah shut up and learn to shoot fast so you won't have to get a flag for cheating

Divisional layout release seems like a money grab to force divisional teams to buy the webcast. Also the rich teams will be able to practice starting the week they get back. That will pressure everyone to grind each layout till they are little robots, lining the mfg pockets

Seems like moves to help the industry float. I worry that they will suffocate the player base with all these $$=competitive edge type moves

Anonymous said...

Completly agree with you on the gun rule. It seems that people making this changes are not knowing the game, have no experience or memory.
Why we capped rate of fire, allowed ramping...
why all changes are not applied to all divisions?
Regaridng fields, by having them set at 11am, it is not 3 or 4 hours of practice you can get but between 8 to 10 hours if you are smart.not event speaking if you are playing friday afternoon.
to finish, no coaching on teh side line is possible. it was the case in Europe 15 years ago and it works. the only problem that it means like in Tennis nobody is allowed to make noise.
i personnaly think is very bad for the atmposphere.
Anyway, all theses changes can not be police prperly and will create unfairs situations.

Unknown said...

It's as if someone was reading my mind when they made these changes.

Layout practice and coaching mitigated the value of smart and creative players and these are the guys who should be at the top of the game - not the robots. I understand the difficulty of enforcement but since this is a hobby game, the players should learn to display some discipline and respect the game. Golf can do this, so can we. Cheering is great, but it's pathetic if you feel the need to cheat from the sidelines. The crowd can police themselves if they want the integrity of the game to be elevated.

Enforcement for RoF will be an issue, but it should easily be recognized by refs and all they have to do is grab the gun and test it themselves. If a ref can't recognize a bouncing gun, then train them. That's really not hard at all. Penalize the snot out of violators so harshly that players and teams will end up policing themselves. Did they detail the penalty for a bouncing gun? Would a player really want to risk a championship with a questionable setup?

These rule changes are awesome for the game in my armchair back center position but I share your concern.

I think you are wrong about the need for rule consistency (perhaps I am misunderstanding you). I think this does two things:

1. It makes the Divisional player's easier to control initially while they focus on the Pro's and work out the kinks with the best refs in place.

2. Change in paintball should be the norm. It's a hobby sport that will probably never reach mainstream. Anyone thinking otherwise at this point is quite delusional to the realities and economics.

I am really excited for this year as a spectator and wanna be old guy who wants to play again.

Baca Loco said...

Unknown
You are mistaken when it comes to the guns. A set-up I can make bounce isn't necessarily replicable by anyone else and vice versa. And if you're going to start giving out penalties for what you think as opposed to what you know it will prove to be a very bad precedent. Of course there is also other than simple mechanical bounce to consider as adjustable software settings also influence bounce but bounce isn't the only consideration. Manufacturers aren't going to start programming all their guns to fit PSP pro specs because the majority won't want that and we haven't even discussed aftermarket or look-a-like boards or the ability to flash boards with software modifications and if you think all that sounds like science fiction the reality is we've been there before and capped ramping was the only way to provide a level playing field.
Any kinda sorta almost enforcement is a joke and rightly makes a mockery of the competition. Which is why they will eventually cap their semi-auto and pretend it's all good thereafter.

Mark said...

I sure hope they keep a tight handle on the print out of the these pro field grids, because without it it will make it difficult to correctly duplicate the pro layout.

But not impossible....

A half an hour with a couple of 300ft tape-measures, a pencil and a pad of blank field grids will defeat the desires of a return to the old-school "field walking" days, and usher in the new skool "field measuring" days ("race to measure" has a nice ring to it). A smart phone app will be close to follow if the PSP disallows measuring tapes on the field. Once measured, everyone high tails it to the nearest local field to set it up and practice it. All except the "numerous pro's" whom requested this brilliance and will no doubt abstain from this unenforceable cheat for the sheer purity of the game. :SARCASM:

Of course the top divisional teams would be fools to not want to take advantage to have a spin or ten on this renegade layout, (especially after play concludes on Saturday) defeating, yet again, the purposes and intent of these BRILLIANT changes?

It matters not a tinkers damn if any of this actually helps a team win, all that matters is that there is another perception that your team will have a disadvantage if you don't, and so goes another burden on money spent to compete.

Unknown said...

I did preface it with the "Enforcement for RoF will be an issue" caveat.

Are there details on what they define as illegal or is it as nebulous as the other rule changes at this point?

If the PSP can get agreement from the engineers who make the software, this is a solvable problem - or at least somewhat more manageable than you may understand at this point. It needs to be seen to believed of course.

We can go into the technical aspects of this as I think it is an important subject.

Nick Slowiak said...

Hey Baca,

Where do they say pro will be uncapped? I felt that part was a little fuzzy and not clearly spelled out.

Kirk K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk K said...

Wish they kept the layout release the same for everyone and made the divisional teams have to get the new layout at the event.. Sure at the divisional finals, the teams will have to walk the field and the better team at that will most likely prevail. And it's a level playing field because both teams have to do it. But how would those two teams of done in the prelims against others teams who could walk the field better but didn't have the money to spend every weekend for a month+ to play the layout... Isn't that why they did this for the Pros? Well the same thing happens in the lower divisions too, believe it or not...

Or those two teams make it the finals with coaching and no longer get coaching. Are they still one of the best teams and should be playing for 1st and 2nd without coaching now? Some teams in divisional have 30+ people on the sideline yelling. While other teams just have their roster at the events.. Could those two teams of made it through the tournament without coaching? I've seen a good number of players in my day who can do work and wipe a whole team out when being joysticked, and then can't even get into the snake or down it without a snake coach...

I don't know. To me, it kind of defeats the purpose of having a set of rules for majority of the tournament then have them switched at the finals. Especially rules that could potentially help a lesser team make it through to the finals where the new rules could of helped the better teams to begin with. I'd like to the see the best teams going at it in the finals on the webcast.

Baca Loco said...

Unknown
Fair enough but the devil is always in the details. To the best of my admittedly limited knowledge this decision was taken in the last few days without any prior examination, testing or even coordination with any of the relevant parties not present at the meeting.

Nick
The announcement doesn't say one way or the other but presently the intent is uncapped.

MikeM said...

Only enforcement method I could foresee being effective is draconian punishment after-the-fact.

Okay, you were caught with a cheating gun. Your team is eliminated from the tournament, and/or from the next one. And you still have to pay entry fee (hefty fine) for the event you're suspended from. Would someone really take the risk then? If someone is willing to take that risk, now how would you catch them.

Your team practiced before the event? Same as above. Your entire team is suspended from the event, or the next one, and can't return until fine is paid.

Try to coach from the grandstands after a warning? Here our security officer and an actual police officer will escort you to our nice staff here, show them your ID, and have you not only ejected from the stands, but banned from future PSP events if you are registered on APPA. Sure we'll keep the money for your wristband, or maybe give the money back, either way you're gone.

Vijil said...

Thing is - even if "semi" is a true skill and adds to the game, and even if the game really is better when there's no coaching (I'd say it's different but not necessarily better), the simple fact is that both of these add a significant administrative burden in order to combat the two additional ways to cheat that you've just introduced.

The question is, is the burden worth the payoff?

We KNOW there's an added burden, but good luck proving there's a payoff let alone that it's worth it.

Baca Loco said...

MikeM
Sounds like an episode of 'Cops'

MikeM said...

Baca
"But my baby's name is 'Weasel Three'!"

Unknown said...

Not sure why I keep coming up as "Unknown" but I'm Bruce for the record (ask Hunter).

Re; Vijil. Yes I think the burden is worth it. With an understanding and agreement between the league and the manufacturers (as well as a draconian enforcement after the fact) this is a solveable problem. In the past things such as shot buffering and allowing far too much control to the user regarding how the software operates created the illusion of speed. This needs to change at the core level.

Technically the software was allowing the player to cheat, not the other way around. People from Virtue and Tadao and others used this aspect to sell their product. Any undergrad level electrical engineer can understand signal processing and combine that with the physical limitations of the shot mechanism, additional balls firing that shouldn't have existed, did. Transparency of the system as well as more restrictive filtering and removal of shot buffering will go a long way to help the issue.

The second aspect of this is the players and teams themselves. They should be motivated to police themselves as much as possible simply for the integrity of the game (the same concept should apply to sideline coaching - especially at the divisional level).

I fully understand the lure of getting an advantage over the other side. It's pure Sun Tzu and applies also to online gaming (which many of you should be fully familiar with): finding an "undocumented feature" or other unknown aspect in a game that was unintended can give the player a potentially game-breaking advantage. It only serves the individual and actually hurts the system. For those trying to lift this sport up with the desire to go past the hobby aspect, this is absolutely critical to the longevity of the game; as long as people are willing and capable to game the system - with no recourse or no engineered controls to combat that - we will never see this game advance.

It's time for players to adopt a level of honor and integrity in how they approach the game. The PSP has given you a huge gift this year by forcing the issue:

1. layouts - no longer available to practice weeks at a time. For those who want to cheat and try to get the layout ahead of time, you are the problem. Just man up and learn the skill of field walking. Otherwise you are what is keeping the sport from advancing. Stop being a douche.

2. unlimited semi - this is always the ultimate in paintball in my opinion. This also requires the players to have honor at an individual level.

3. no sideline coaching - this elevates the smart players and further reduces the competency of the joystick tards. Again, honor is required from the friends and family in the stands. It is up to them to take pride in the game or literally shit on the system as a whole.

I love this because it will bring out the true sportsmen and reveal the chumps.

Chris Williams said...

For the record, Virtue never made cheater boards, but adjustable ones with no shutoff modes so it was verifiable what the gun was doing. Advantagepb marketed cheater boards but when I came over the first step was to rebrand the company to virtue and get away from cheater boards.

As an aside, advantagepb was started (before I was around) after some local recball players started playing against industry sponsored players on NYX (Dye sponsored I believe) who had special modes. These rec players bought a high end gun to get the same speed, and found out that there was a special chip that activated the modes they needed (supplied to those with an insider hook up). It's an aside, but in all the recent press relating to rof, I wanted to point out that virtue's origins were in response to the cheaters and at some level were attempting to equalize the rof gap, that was already driven by various elements in and peripheral to the industry.

Mark said...

Bruce,

1) Tell them they are the problem and keeping the sport from advancing when they're on the podium. Better yet try to convince the teams not on the podium of this.

2) Ultimate WHAT? And of those with no honor?

3) Yes because counter coaching was so honorable, but now that there is no coaching for 20% of games played at PSP events honor will suddenly reign supreme?

Baca Loco said...

Thanks Chris for the clarification. I certainly didn't intend to unfairly intimate anything about Virtue--or anyone else for that matter. I don't even think the return of cheater boards is the biggest issue with an attempt to return to real semi-auto.

Chris Williams said...

Just a response to Unkonwns last comment, nothing you said.

Jeremy Martin said...

I am a fan of most of the rule changes, but I see a huge logistical problem enforcing a true semi auto. As a player and a ref I felt it was a great equalizer to move to PSP ramp. I remember the Wild West days of NPPL semi auto and have no desire to see it return. I agree with Paul that a cap will happen. But, how do you enforce it? It was easy to listen to a gun while it was shooting to see if you needed to check it. If you did, you just shot it over a chrono or Virtue clock and you had your answer in black and white. Now, who is the “official trigger puller”? How many shots does he take? When does he take them? Before, during, or after the point or match? Does the same person do this for all fields and all divisions? How can they be at more than one place at a time? If it is multiple people how do you enforce this consistently? How much bounce is okay? How do you define bounce? If you do allow a little bit, why have semi at all? Won’t it be sort of like PSP ramp with a player making few more trigger pulls per second? How will you really know that you actually pulled the trigger 8 times and 9.5 balls came out?
It’s a joke to say that manufactures will make semi only boards and think that players in all divisions won’t have the desire or ability to manipulate them to push the boundaries of the rule book. 10.2 ROF cap was a step in the right direction. It seems to me that the time and energy spent to police semi are not worth the pay off.

Anonymous said...

Tried to answer these in order, good questions i think that a lot of refs are probly afraid of the unknown here.

Official trigger puller is any ref that notices bounce (ie at the chrony it double fires a few, or on field it's blatantly sputtering). He shoots it enough to determine if the gun is in fact blatantly bouncing, could be half a hopper or just ten shots. you test guns in the chrony area (actually shot over a chrony by the ref, not over the clock by a player) then again after the point if you think there's a violation (if a gun just takes off you can pull a guy right there). Any ref can do a bounce test, once you think you have a gun that's pushing the line tell the head ref and a penalty is assesed. It's not about catching every added shot, just about shaving the biggest cheaters off the top, you are looking for blatant undeniable cheaters. Well bounce is defined as the recoil of the marker adding shots, electronics have pushed the definition to include added shots by the microswitch and the nature that it works (easily preventable by a user but also openly available to adjust and ride the line). You allow a little bit so that players can showcase skills like sustained rof, peak rof (I don't believe in peak I support a cap 15 or less, once bounce kicks in it just takes off), sliding and shooting, reloading and shooting and anything one handed. It's harder to just gorilla grip the gun and one finger. A few would imply 3 shots.. no. Sustain rate for psp is 3 bps, if someone is bouncing and pulling 6 bps you will know SO EASILY. It will sound like their natural finger speed (think the difference between a capped gun steady buffering shots in the current ramp mode, and a more natural 6 bps ie imperfection) but when the gun bounces it quickly adds one or two shots at a ridiculous bps. You would here the tut..tut..tut..tuttut..tut..tut..tuttuttut.. easily at "a few more trigger pulls per second" than the current 3 pulls per second to sustain ramp. Also you can count to 3 right? Drum the trigger the 3 shots (ie top finger-middle-top) quickly (10 or 12bps ish idk that's a nice round slow number) and listen for 4 or 5 to come out. That is bounce... we don't care that 9.5 came out at 8, we care that you are catching the dudes pulling 10 that are hitting a sputtering 18.

My only drawback is I hope they enforce a cap. At 15 it already gets tough to hear the difference when they are pulling 10+ and hitting 15. At 12.5 it's easy and at 10 the guns are capped so low bounce would be ridiculously obvious. Uncapped the grey area is too big, even trained ears have trouble when it's over 15.

It's not that players shouldn't push the rules, it's that they need the skill to tune the gun to not get caught. Also have to learn to shoot fast or be in danger of a penalty because you are pushing the limits. Maybe your gun will be the first one they notice or the only one in a while and they make you an example... well shit luck for you, shoulda just learned to shoot the damn gun dick head.

Anonymous said...

Oh and one big point here that negates psp mode all together. I shoot in semi capped with what I consider a very bouncy trigger set up. I like to have more control but the rules do technically state that I should be shooting 3 shots a second to keep ramping buffered. Definitely not the case since my gun can bounce on the first shot. Funny thing is that has been deemed acceptable by refs, if it wasnt.. you'd have to check for bounce on psp settings still. Funny people forget "ramping" rules still talk about the first shots being in semi auto

Bruce said...

Mark,

1) It's not going to be without growing pains - who knows if it will work but the concept is going in the right direction IMO.

2) Ultimate as far as rate of fire control. It adds an additional layer of skill IF they can police it properly. Again, a tough sell because of the issues that we have had in the past.

3) I'm just saying that honor in the behavior of players as well as fans has an opportunity to grow from this rule change. If the players don't want this, and fans make it impossible to control then we don't deserve to have an honorable game as far as this rule change goes.

Anonymous said...

The bounce issue has a pretty easy fix.

1. Set a minimum trigger pulle force, easily measured with a device like this

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/220725/lyman-trigger-pull-gage-electronic-digital-0-to-12-lb

2. Set a minimun tirgger pull distance, for example 10 degrees
(fairly easy to measure)

3. set a minimum electronic debounce setting (for example 10ms). This is very difficult to measure without some extensive equipment (would require feeding a known lenght pulse to the board by passing the actual switch)

Even just #1 if heavy enough will take care off the problem well. Though everybody will be shooting slow....

Anonymous said...

The last comment is interesting because it suggests a tournament world where the average rate of fire shot is in the 8-10bps range, where even sustaining that "low" rof would be difficult.

I wonder how the game would be played in that world. I think we'd see a lot more movement, even though the 10bps rof would be the same as it was last year simply because you'd only have access to 10bps streams intermittently.

Gun battles and snap shooting would probably also become more important.

As it is now, all the new rof rules suggest to me is that we'll see:
- more accusations of guns shooting too fast too easily, especially on the breakout
- faster rates of fire than before as guns are setup "on edge" that is really over the edge

Unknown said...

Yes PSP needs to really work on the definition and limits of the trigger pull and shot mechanism. In the past, shot buffering was allowed and that should be the first casualty of the rule changes re: unlimited semi.

If the system is not ready to fire another shot, your trigger pull should just be invalidated. This would increase the technical aspect of tuning, but I think that is something that is interesting and unique about paintball that ramping has really thrown out. It used to be an advantage to have a finely tuned gun - especially during the pre-electro days.

It will be interesting how PSP manages this issue because it will be a hot button on and off the field.

Old-in-402 said...

Why don't they institute a trigger travel requirement. Example, "all markers used must have a trigger which travels the length of "X"mm before actuating or causing a paintball to fire in anyway. Such measurements should be taken from "X"mm from the top of the trigger." Another concept which has been discussed before is making all boards either bluetooth or wifi capable which would allow the league to "see" inside, also allow only approved software. Literally, software that is made by the PSP for license to manufacturers at recoupment cost. Simply because an activity is highly technical does not mean it is devoid of league control. However, I doubt the PSP has the balls to force manufacturers into compliance.

Reiner Schafer said...

Old-in-402, I don't think there would be a need to force manufacturers into compliance. All the PSP has to do is make the rule change (with plenty of lead time) and get one manufacturer to get on board and then any manufacturer that wanted to sell to PSP or PSP wannabe players would jump on board.

I like the minimum trigger travel idea to decrease the number of paintballs shot.

Baca Loco said...

Reiner
There is no lead time--well, until March and if you think the league would risk the last handful of industry sponsors not continuing to sponsor the league you haven't been paying attention. And of course if the league is gonna say which gun can or can't be used they would lose untold numbers of teams and players too.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty confused about the justification for no cap at all.

The Pro division was 10bps last because everyone agreed it was good for the sport not to have guns blowing people up on the field as everyone trying to be like the pros.

Now we're going to capped guns for the non-pros and uncapped guns for the pros? Different firing modes based on division?

I realize that people say 10bps capped semi is basically ramping semi, but it really wouldn't be any harder to have 10bps capped semi than unlimited bps capped semi from an enforcement standpoint.

I definitely like the idea of trying to force the players to at least put some effort into shooting their guns. But seriously, why are we uncapping it? It makes no sense within the framework of the other divisions...

Unknown said...

I also would like to hear the justification for the rof change - especially without any remarkable details.

I agree with a previous poster indicating that if the TRUE semi auto rate of fire was enacted, most people would be hard pressed to get above 10bps. This adds another dimension of course to a player's value - if they could legitimately pull that fast they would have a place on a team easier than someone that didn't.

Kind of like that 3pt specialist in basketball perhaps? Either way, it will be very interesting to see how this is policed and adapted to on and off the field.