Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What Will PSP Pro Look Like In 2015? (part 2)

Okay, let's review--and expand. No sideline coaching could create the occasional moment of high suspense for the audience but it won't be predicated on new displays of player skill but on ignorance.
Imagine two opposing snake players nearly side by side separated by a Wing and neither aware of the other. Definitely suspenseful for the spectators but not a showcase for talent. Conversely two snake players in mirror positions both aware of the other produces another sort of suspense for the educated viewer. Each player is calculating his next move. Is he close enough to run down his opponent? Wire or highway? How well defended is he? Which way is he looking? Sit tight, defend myself, make a move or keep working the inside and crossfield for kills while relying on my support? From my point of view being successful in the second scenario is considerably more difficult but to each their own.
But without sideline coaching players can make (more) successful bunker runs and live (more often.) Given the tendency of even the pros to overrun their targets while often displaying poor technique and the fact the runners are most often shot by someone other than the player they are running down I think it unlikely. The exception being situations where the players involved are isolated on a portion of the field from teammates and opponents alike. For example a three on three where each team has two players on the snake wire and one each in the doritos. In that scenario a game changing opportunity exists on the d-wire. How often does a similar scenario arise in which sideline coaching would make a difference? Not too often.
While it will probably prove to be correct that we will see more diverse breakouts early in events because of the unreleased layouts some other factors will influence results as well. The reason teams might try unique plans is because they are calculating their opponent won't be prepared for it. But the calculation then proceeds to the next question: Does successful execution provide sufficient reward to take the risk? Did we blow up their play, get a couple of quick kills and generally cause havoc? It's all good. Did we lose a body and end up in inferior field position? Not so good. And since no one will have played the layout (much if at all) the answer will likely rest on a couple of other factors. Is the team/coach predisposed to take chances and is the team normally inclined to be more defensive or aggressive? Note that neither factor has anything to do with the actual layout. The point is that in a scenario where a number of the elements are unknowns teams and players will revert to their normal tendencies and probably shade toward the defensive given the uncertainties involved. This would definitely happen at the divisional level but a larger percentage of pro players, even those on nominally defensive teams, are liable to overestimate what they can do in uncertain situations and so may be more inclined to try. And there are a handful of players capable of intuiting these environments more successfully than most but even they are hampered in this situation by the field itself. Whether or not the teams "know" the layout they understand how the game is played in the current environment of a 150x120 field with around 50 props arranged with 2 wires and a center A--and they will prepare accordingly. Will this prove to be a playing environment that encourages aggressive play? Only if the players are aggressively-minded to begin with and should that aggression fail to win points for now it remains an open question how long the aggro efforts last. Finally it's far easier to play defense as a unit than it is to organize and play offense as a team in a playing environment filled with unknowns so even if best case this effort frees up some players to "display their talents" in won't be as a result of superior team play but rather unique individual efforts. (Which may or may not matter to anybody.)
The crux of Xball has always been the balancing act between ROF and movement. And one of the defining characteristics of the 'pro' player was to evaluate, understand and act effectively under the most adverse of circumstances; high volumes of concentrated paint. The pros didn't sit in their bunkers all day when 15 bps (or more) were flying around the field. Nor did they necessarily run all over the place when the ROF was reduced to 10.2--though that is what should have happened if the ROF was previously overwhelming and depressed movement. The move to "true" semi-auto is simply another step in the same process. Of course it is also true that at some ROF restriction it all breaks down and players would then be able to run around almost at will. But would they? Only if it proved to be a winning tactic. [In Dallas I expect to see Ironmen, Shock and X-Factor attempt to push the envelope the hardest--and give the PSP what it wants--but their success will depend on the other pros preparation and the layout.]
Apart from the impact of "true" semi-auto on laning (fewer eliminations?) will be its impact on other aspects of game play; gunfighting, running & gunning, gap control, lead support and more. If players are at a distinct ROF disadvantage running & gunning will they do it anyway? The point is there are dozens of these individual repeated situational scenarios that varying proficiencies of shooting "true" semi will impact. And while it isn't unreasonable to suggest the players get better early on at least game play will be heavily weighted for a "skill" whose impact is only being guessed at presently. If for example snake players are heavily out-gunned routinely with the new firing mode it alters the risk/reward and if support players are less effective in keeping their leads protected it alters the risk/reward for pushing that lead forward. How much that sort of situational change will impact general game play is unknown but as the unknowns stack up the cumulative effect isn't likely to persuade players to be more aggressive and unpredictable.
If the league really wanted to open play up they would stop penalizing aggression with the confetti of red flags that routinely discourages taking any chances at all. 


MikeM said...

"If the league really wanted to open play up they would stop penalizing aggression with the confetti of red flags that routinely discourages taking any chances at all." Amen.

If they want movement and aggression it has to be legislated in or rewarded externally. UFC has KO of the night and submission of the night bonuses for this very reason. The crowd wants to see opponents finished.

Mark said...

I'll second that Amen!!!

Unknown said...

1. Determine the aspects of the game that we most enjoy.

2. Create rule system that actively encourages these aspects.

3. Profit.

Anonymous said...

1. We don't know what we most enjoy in life and certainly not in paintball. Fast points? Over and over gets boring. Long points? More than occasionally is boring, but sometimes interesting.

Unknown said...

You understood the point: until we know what we are trying to do, we won't ever know how to get there.

Anonymous said...

Well, frankly, the process is seems to be more like

1 find a way to make (not lose) money ( psp IS a business)
2 try and make paintball a spectacle to gain viewers
3 complete 1 and 2 while convincing customers that what psp wanted, is what they wanted too

What customers want is to compete for on a level playing ground, for minimum $ and have fun around the edges as much as possible. Which is not necessarily the only thing the game needs to grow. If they started aiming more at just growing the game that would make me happy. Creating a spectacle is part of that, I'm sure. I like the changes. Really, paintball will always be fun and everyone will always deny change due to fear of not being able to predict the outcome (ironically, change is the topic and fear is the tone of this post). I think they are looking down a good path to enhance viewership. I also think they could focus more on making the game grow from a cost standpoint. One thing at a time I assume.. maybe we will see some things like limited paint and camping for cheap at events start to happen too. Maybe an airport shuttle for cheap if enough people buy into it. Idk I'm talking out my ass here, but you can see the type of changes I'm getting at. They don't seem to think in this way often. For divisional, 10.2 was good.. then, in the same breath, they do super early layouts, which is bad

Anonymous said...

Why couldnt I just put my gun in normal semi capped at say 11bps??? Wouldnt the gap between every shot be more than 0.80ms??

The only difference between the two modes is that True Semi disregards the second pull within .80ms and real Semi would just store that pull and fire immediately after the set cap time limit happened. Is there any way to regulate this?

cash said...

Really enjoyed this post (and the last), kudos sir.

I've been saying it for a while now but the PSP is looking at this all wrong. If they want to make gameplay more exciting and create aggressive play, they need to incentivize that style. Give teams the opportunity to score 2 points if under a set amount of time (30sec-1min) and up the overall race-to limit to 10. This would help alleviate the "dreaded 3 point" spread by giving teams a way to come closer to evening the score with their opponent.


Mark said...

I think up until now the one thing we all should have learned is that it is nearly impossible to establish a set of parameters on paper and expect a certain result on the field (I did say NEARLY now). The players will always find a way to mitigate any risk they're not willing to physically take on the field.

It's like devising a drill for your team and there is that one player that always seems to miss the meaning of it all and finds a way to jam that round peg into the square hole without cheating the parameters set forth. As the drill designer you protest his actions, but he simply responds with "you didn't say I couldn't do that" and you explain the purposes were to teach X and he responds that he saw that Y would work better and by then the team, bored, has drifted off to do some 4 on 4 scrims and the entire point has been lost to the cosmic ether.

It is infinitely harder to legislate behavior than it is to officiate it.

And none of these changes has anything to do with a better webcast to watch.

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes Mark, the infamous Kobayashi Maru test, without which we wouldn't have the likes of James Tiberius Kirk.

Promote that player and find him some green women.

Anonymous said...

Coach, care to weigh in on deflategate as it might apply to enforcing rules in pro paintball?

It's interesting how mild the talk of potential penalties seems at this point in the controversy. In paintball, the team would be banned and ejected.

Baca Loco said...

500 Anon
Okay. Plainly equipment rules need to be enforced but those rules also need to be relevant to maintaining a level playing field otherwise it just becomes more minutiae for the refs to remember and another pointless penalty.
(In the last couple of season some equipment rules were re-done for exactly that reason--we didn't want to pull bodies during play for stupid stuff like losing your hopper or having the mud in Chicago suck up one of your cleats.)
In the case of deflategate I don't know how meaningful the rule is. Since separate kicking balls are held by the refs (with more air in them) the psi has some influence over the football. How much I've no idea. It seems the refs didn't notice during the first half and the Pats played with legal balls in the second half so in terms of results it doesn't appear to be a huge business.
And then you have the differences between college and pro with college having the highly visible white rings. Is there a good reason the pro ball should be harder to see? If they dipped the ball in butter before each play would the NFL suggest it was done to better display the players talents?