Guest post by @A1GA_
Mzo's Disclaimer: Even though I disagree with a lot of this article, some of it strongly, I wanted to share his thoughts to foster discussion. This game has a ton of potential and we can all work together as a community to help it improve. I didn't want to inject my thoughts into the article for the most part as I have obvious bias's such as employment by ESL and a working relationship with Ubisoft. I've only made minor formatting and spelling/punctuation edits.
A1GA's Disclaimer: This article was written by me and me only. Now that I am not competing or associating with any pro teams for multiple months, I thought I will have a bit of an objective view on things.
This article serves the purpose to pinpoint certain talking points (regarding how to make R6 a legitimate eSport and more importantly, a better game) and expand on them.
Some parts of this are somewhat opinionated or possibly biased, but I am not forcing my PoV on anyone. This article focuses on R6 being played on PC and PC only, some talking points might not apply to competitive console play.
Another reason why I decided to write this is because I want to see the people who are trying their best truly succeed, but that wont be possible until the game has succeeded on its own first.
Something about me - I am František “A1GA” Kotačka, ex-professional R6 player.
- I competed in the first three Pro League (PL from now on) seasons, placing 3rd in EU two times (PENTA Sports, AERA).
- Attended two R6 LANs (IEM Katowice PL Launch and DreamHack France, Tours 2016) placing 1st in both of them.
- I treated R6 as my fulltime job for about half a year.
- I have also Grandmaster ELO in Overwatch and QuakeLive (FFA/Master ELO CA).
- I also reached top 1% ELO or better in SC2, Dota2 and Hearthstone
For my full list of competitive R6 achievements you can head to my ESL profile.
Now that I quit after S3 was done, I felt that I have to give something back to the game, devs and community. R6 has made me a better person ; competing at tier1 level for the first time in my life gave me a life lesson or two, I met some pretty cool people, it gave me a job for a couple months after I graduated design school and I got to travel to France and Poland for free.
In this article I will be quoting Rela numerous times.
Damien “Rela” Rudaz is a French BF4 ex-pro player, who is often praised (or hackusated on pubs) for his characteristically spastic aiming with ridiculous accuracy. Rela is also a pretty damn smart gentleman wrote two articles on legitimacy of BF eSport and how to improve them. A lot of what he said is universal truth.
My goal here is to transfer what he said into R6 terms and expand on them (I have been talking to Rela from time to time for months now).
Judging by the way the eSport industry has been evolving the past few years, it is very certain at this point that video game competition is the next big thing. With games like Dota2 having bigger prize pools than many prestigious sports competitions, and League of Legends LCS viewership being better than many real sports events. 76ers acquiring dignitas, Will Ferrell starring in a movie about eSports. With the fact that games like CS:GO can develop an entire market and a gambling venue ; basically a game creating a huge co-product and market on its own that has potential for advertising (even if now it has been closed down), there is no doubt nor wonder that everybody is trying to get a piece of the action. Because the generation that is currently gaming the most, so to speak people between the age of 14-28 mostly (a number pulled out of my ass), is the generation that will be playing and more, way more importantly watching eSports in their 30s and 40s - when the industry has fully bloomed and boomed. The way I see it, eSports is a market that is even easier to capitalize on than the real sports market in terms of advertising.
Rainbow Six: Siege was Ubisoft's first actual legitimate take (nevermind Shootmania and whatever was before that) at their piece of the action, and I am here to try to explain why it will not succeed unless many changes are made, a lot of them from within - and not necessarily on the game as well.
Gunplay with a massive skillcap is needed for pro players to become an ad for the game itself
Here is Rela trying to describe why BF3 was better than BF4:
“The gameplay was more likely to suggest to a spectator that he was in front of someone above the level of an average player ; someone who deserved some credit. In other terms, with a visibly skill based gameplay, someone who mastered this gameplay gave reasons to trust his claim of being a "top” player. Consequently, it gave reasons to give credit to the esport scene as a whole, as a really competitive space. In BF4, the problem of legitimacy behind the competitive scene is heavily linked to the absence of such a visibly skill based gameplay.”
Looks like BF4 and R6 share a very similar problem.
Because how is it possible that players like Elemzje or Pengu who have mastered defensive/passive playstyle to a pretty ridiculous level (and are miles ahead of the majority of the competition imho) are never praised by commentators/analysts the same way Olofmaister, Faker, Scump or Miracle- get praised in their respective games?
[Same example could be made on joonas (former PENTA Sports, GiFu) who mastered hyper-agressive, often over-agressive play with acog+3speed 1 armor operators (Ash/bandit in particular).]
R6 needs the environment for INDIVIDUAL skills and mastery to be displayed and paraded
First, let me describe and analyze the absolute opposite of what R6 competition is based on, Call of Duty 2.
I hold CoD2 in my absolute highest regard (and you should too), so much that even after the game was practically dead and it only had a couple hundred active 5v5 players on IRC (which some of them had legit +5k hrs clocked into the game), I decided to learn it to a decent degree to understand what was it that made the game so great - this was around 2013. And damn, that game is frickin good for someone with a highly competitive nature, for example me.
Call of Duty2 follows extremely simple patterns in terms of gameplay (unlike R6) when the game is played in competitive setting, and it is no secret that in CoD2, the team with the higher individual skill would win (unlike R6). The game promoted individual skill to such extent that if there was a team with 2 god-tier players and 3 totally useless players, and the other team had lets say 5 tier2 semi-pros, the team with 2 god-tier players had a real chance to win because the game offered environment where individual skill could shine so much that naturally, teamplay was toned down a lot (basic call outs, attacking in the same direction, sometimes peeking at the same time and that was pretty much it). I believe teamplay in cod2 was never fully explored but it didnt need to because it played an insignificant role, and who knows, maybe there wasnt even anything to explore.
Here are some cod2 fragmovies and footage to watch. I honestly recommend you watch them all, it is a sight to behold
Just a Hype - Solz
Jeplaaaaa - TEK9
Legendary - Unfinished beta
Demo of an official high level match from a single players PoV
[Before I go ahead and make my point, for those who are not completely familiar with the term meta ; meta stands for most efficient tactic available. Meta is the fashion of the current version of the game. Meta is defined as something that is usually 5-20% more stronger/easier to use/harder to counter on average than the rest of tactics available.]
R6 on the other hand has made mastering the meta (or countering it) and having impenetrable defensive setups and multiple fool-proof attacking plans (bomb site executes as we know from Counter-Strike) so important, that naturally, the opposite thing of what happened in competitive CoD2 took effect. And that is not what the viewers want.
Individual skill, even if its there, has been toned down a lot - so to speak, it has been given a lot less significance because having good, complex tactics proved overall way more better than having highly individually skilled players.
But teams having complex tactics doesn't create the show for the viewer (at least not on first sight) and frankly - a lot of the time it makes it very boring for the pro player as well.
Things like C4, automatic shotguns,an operator that is basically un-headshottable and only real counter is a flank (sometimes C4) which is sometimes impossible (often times against tier1 teams) and generally things that take very little effort to master or make highly effective (even when playing against someone way better) definitely did not help.
But the problem doesn't lie there. The problem lies within the fact that if a team wanted to play a style that is based almost solely on individual skill, they absolutely will be punished and demolished by top teams, no matter the region or meta differences tied to specific regions.
With so many options on how to counter good positioning (opening the ceiling above your head, cooking nades, bouncing flashes and basically creating a pop-flash (well known from CS:GO), explosives, drones, blowing up the reinforced wall behind your back, valkyrie cameras and more) and multiple options how to counter good aim/reaction time (shields, blackbeard, unusually big peekers advantage, drones, one way angles, most of the things listed above and probably some more) it is no wonder skill has been given less significance.
[Seriously, blackbeard was some stupid shit, let me tell ya]
R6 could be described as a real time, fast paced chess match or a board game match, where you are moving your pieces to make your opponent move his in a way you can predict and counter on the spot. Now, there is nothing wrong with that. I don't mind watching board games at all (I might just watch chess as well if I ever learned to play it), I used to play them quite a lot when I was younger. But we have to ask ourselves, is chess/board game a spectator sport for a wider audience? (so to speak, is it a sport where a lot of exciting moments are created for the viewer even if the viewer doesn't completely understand what is going on ; and even if he understands the basics, does it generate exciting moments on consistent basis?)
Most of the time, the answer is “of course no”.
You can make the point that R6 is not an “ego shooter” or a fast paced FPS ; in fact, it is trying to be the opposite - tactical, slow and based on team cooperation. Now I believe that is the case and there is nothing wrong with that, but that does not in any way correspond with the bottom line. How does the game try to appeal to its viewers? Or does it even try to?
Before I go ahead and make my next point, let me explain the simplicity CoD2 had, why it is so good and important at the same time and how other games apply the same formula.
CoD2 (competitive setting match) had:
- One movement speed (although you moved somewhat faster with a pistol in hand, same like in CS)
- Crouch didn't make noise
- All maps following the same exact pattern (triangle)
- One sniper per team available
- One shotgun per team available (smoke grenades go with shotgun only)
- About 4 viable weapons on each side
Even though that the weapons were basically narrowed down to a very few weapons, even then, the devs kept it EXTREMELY simple (the argument that the game is old doesn't make sense ; simple games get developed even today, for example CS:GO). Carbine and sniper rifle were the same exact gun, just with a scope. Both sides get the same exact shotgun. The only thing that varied was the automatic guns (thompson had high cadence, high recoil, a bit lower dmg ; so the german mp-44 counterpart was easier to handle, had higher damage per bullet, but shot less bullets per second and was not good very good for occasional rushing). Even the carbines had the exact same feel to them, just that lee enfield had 10 bullets in a mag and you had to reload it by 5 and the kar carbine you could reload each bullet separately and it only had a mag capacity of 5). Add the M1 garand and thats it.
I just described the entire arsenal used in 99% of CoD2 competitive matches by both sides.
How long would it take me to describe R6 arsenal and compare them with each other?
Damage model for carbines: one shot one kill. You managed to hit someone with a carbine/sniper but he didn't die? One bullet from pistol will do it if you don't let him heal up. Otherwise people usually die from one bullet from the carbine/sniper rifle.
See the simplicity? Now look at R6. Why is it that a game with so many cool features and mechanics can't truly succeed? And by truly I mean at least having more viewers on an average pro league night than Farming Simulator 2015. It is because the gunplay is unrewarding, boring and there is very little to master to someone like me, who has learning curve somewhere else than most casual or semi-serious players.
The only thing that gives gunplay some skill ceiling, some skillcap - is recoil ; a horse could handle the recoil most guns have in R6, and he doesn't even have fingers.
There is nothing really else to master, besides drop shotting (taking a gunfight and laying down midway through the gunfight, not letting go of mouse1+mouse2). A meta that might be abused in the future, but if it hasn't happened until now, I doubt it will ever happen, as players have probably already figured out it is only viable in specific scenarios.
mzo - I've seen a huge increase in dropshot usage among pro players. In discussing this with them they have mentioned adjusting their key/mouse bindings to improve their ability to do this. This skill is important as it is a potential counter to the headshot skill cap.
That combined with the points I made above (abuse of low-skill ceiling weapons and gadgets, equipment and mechanics) and you get a pretty good picture why R6 pro players are not exactly “widely respected” in its own community.
In CoD2 the feeling of getting a kill was pleasurable. The one shot one kill model was very satisfying because most of the time you were instantly rewarded for aiming more accurate than your opponent or having faster reaction/better game-sense than him (or successfully sneaking up on him and not choking on an easy shot) and it SHOWED. It clearly showed you either out-aimed him or outsmarted him (this can be also applied to getting one taps or just headshots in general in CS:GO as well as winning 1v1 / 1v? awp battles). Now how does blowing up someone with a c4 from below because you have a wallhack device show out-skilling your opponent? A silver3 player with enough hours on pulse is capable of doing that, and there could be a world champion on the receiving end of the C4, because such gameplay mechanics close the skillgap between a world champion and casual player so much - the same way blackbeard punishes people for aiming for the head (just think about that for a second ; a FPS eSport game that punishes people for going for headshots). You can make the excuse for the world champion that “that is not a common spot where pulse is underneath with a pre-planted c4/scanning the ceiling”, but that still doesn't nullify the facts I stated about skillgap. You could also make the counter-argument that in CoD2 people died to grenade spam even in the most competitive 5v5 matches, which is an abusable, low skill ceiling weapon. Well yes, but that is the only abusable low skill weapon CoD2 gives you. And even then, the nades in CoD2 weren't that abusable at all as they always landed in predictable spots 5-10 seconds after the round started. Well, 80-90% of them did. R6 gives you a massive amount of abusable weapons and equipment, and a lot of them are very hard to counter/play around in certain (many) scenarios, pulse was just one example.
By now you might be slightly tired about me praising CoD2's every aspect, but if you applied my description, doesn't it apply to CS:GO as well? Doesn't it apply to (almost) every FPS that was successful as an eSport on PC in the past 17 years? 1.6, CS:S, CS:GO, Quake, Unreal Tournament, CoD2, CoD4 are some of the biggest names. Walking/crouching in CS (as opposed to crouching in CoD2) makes you completely silent ; same sneaking mechanics in quake or UT. You get maps that all follow the same pattern with little twists to them (in CS the maps are not a triangle pattern, and 1v1 arena shooters didnt necessarily had to have a pattern), consistent movement speeds, and limited variety of viable weapons (competitively viable). I just chose CoD2 as the starting point because to me it seemed even less complex than 1.6 (less grenades, no real wallbang mechanics, less weapons)
So how is it possible games with such simplicity create such massive fan bases and have teams or players who are able to play the games for a living, having tens of thousands of viewers, today even hundreds of thousands or millions of viewers.
It is because the people who decided to play the game competitively wanted to be the best ; naturally. If you want to be the best, you will try to have the most efficient gameplay - meta.
And if there is no meta, you will create it while trying to be the best ; as long as you are smart/inventive enough. But it has to be meta that is based at least partially on individual skill or some form of mastery if they game wants to succeed as a competitive title.
Where R6 goes horribly wrong is that its meta is almost purely based on game knowledge.
The team that spends the most hours sitting on a teamviewer session thinking up tactics over a PDF document will often have a big edge over the others (I have done this personally). However, I did not say it is impossible to develop an infantry meta for R6
[Infantry meta = the way you move your character and shoot/aim your gun]
[Game knowledge meta = how many prefire spots you know, where to hide your drone to be almost invisible but really close to the bombsite, unexpected but effective frost trap spots and many many, many more things]
I just think that players dont explore that area, because there is so many possible tactics to use and abuse, why bother. Lets face it, competing in R6 ain't that much fun (at least for some of the better pro league players I know) - they are in it for the win, for the fame and money, the ultimate motivator - and if they spend time thinking up a better way to shoot people (which there may not even be one in the current version of the game) or move your character and they don't come up with something strong enough to break the meta, all the teams that have been studying tactics in the meanwhile will get miles ahead.
Now if you look at the games I mentioned before ; 1.6, CS:S, CS:GO, Quake, Unreal Tournament, CoD2, CoD4 - all of these have some sort of meta that is at least partially based on individual skill (most of the time its mostly skill based anyway), something that only very few people will be able to replicate just from watching a replay/demo or two and trying it once or twice. Lets do a practical example - Unreal Tournament and one of its weapons - shock rifle.
When the shock rifle was being first designed by the devs, probably around 1999 or even before that, they decided to make primary fire and secondary fire mode interact with each other ; when you fire a “shock core” which is basically a purple circle and you shoot that circle with your primary, its gonna explode. I imagine it probably went down something like this: “yo, lets make this shit explode when you use it together, gonna be cool.” Little did they probably know at that moment that they were changing the way (in a major way) the franchise is gonna be played competitively throughout its entire lifespan. Or maybe they did know what they were doing and what is gonna happen down the line, but I seriously doubt that ; whats important is - that doesn't matter.
Heres a 3 minute guide on the shock rifle if you arent familiar with it.
Here is a 1v1 match that happened at the devs studios (community event) from the latest UT (hypno is widely considered to be the best UT player in the world)
And soon enough, players came up with a specific shock rifle meta. They used the shock rifle specifically (but not only) to zone people out of armor areas when it was just about to spawn (that is just one purpose/example)
Heres how it looked in the original game (the first UT as an arena shooter)
So this basically spawned a mini-game inside a game on its own. A single gun that can be mastered to insane levels. Gun that has a hitscan with a kickback (you can capitalize on that kickback), projectiles, a combo potential (landing a combo mid-air on a moving opponent is a mini-game of its own), you can zone people out with it so that was the area-denial purpose etc.
You can clearly see in the first seconds of the duel to usage of the shock rifle as a zoning tool.
There is also specific movement meta in UT. If you double tap any direction key (W,A,S,D) you will “dodge” e.g. you will perform a jump in a certain direction. When devs designed this feature it was probably meant to dodge rockets/projectiles ; it is named “dodge” after all. But the players discovered dodging is the most efficient way/fastest way to move around the map, dodging and bouncing off walls etc. creating a specific meta in terms of movement.
Same example could be made on wallbanging on 1.6 or rocket jumping and maintaining speed/velocity in quake, bunnyhopping in CS:S or jumpshotting/reload peek with kar in cod2 etc. All these things are skill based metas that influence either how you shoot your guns or move your character around the map (or combination of both ; so the speak the “infantry meta” as defined before). And all these things were discovered and mastered by players who were trying to be the best and have the most efficient gameplay, thus displaying that desired level of mastery for viewers. In these games, when they were watching a pro match, it was very, very clear that these top players have reached a level that is not easy to reach and it was visible upon spectating a match just for a few minutes.
Here are some videos to check out
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qkb_RSvtkUA 1.6 n0thing wallbang
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTwKXEOhN_U 1.6 n0thing wallbang
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDgKAPisrWo You already know what this is ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw7xztglYyw Quake3 rocket jumping (here is trickjumping but similiar mechanics were used in competitive play, here it just looks cooler)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWQq1gOeiz0 BF4 movement (jumping)
And many more examples could be made
Here is also a video by Rela on the same topic that I recommend you to watch very much (13min but the first 4 minutes are the most important)
“Why are new games worse than their predecessors (among other reasons)”
To quote Rela in one of his articles:
The “Scream” effect
If a game possesses players who symbolise an absolute mastery of a high level gameplay, it will bring hype over the game itself. I'm convinced that someone like Scream, the CS:GO player famous for his headshot aim, did something the most rewarded CS:GO players in the world didn't do. He convinced a lot of people that the CS:GO head aiming could be mastered at an insane level. And that's something extremely important. Because he gave many newcomers a reason to trust the game, he was the living proof (or lie, it doesn’t matter) that you could trust the effect of a hard training over your aim in CS:GO, and that you could get recognized for it. That a hard work on a skill based gameplay could pay off in Counter Strike. And this trust in the game, in the possibility to rise above everyone by tryharding, to shine through talent, is what brings a numerous players to get interested into a competitive scene and into the game on which it takes place.
I do firmly believe in the current scene there are some players who have mastered certain things, but R6 does not provide an environment where such skill could be displayed, even if it is somewhat there.
This is pretty much what I said in the start of the article, but now I have described and in-depth analyzed as to why it is the way it is, and why other games were basically better as competitive titles.
Simply put, if the game has the ability to show a clear level of mastery (or at least somewhat display it) it will bring hype around to those who display it best, and those players will be the advertisement for the game itself. That and also it will trigger interest of many more players to transition from being casual/semi-serious to fully competitive
In another sense, the game needs its own version of shock rifle/bunny hopping/rocket jumping. Now it is time for me to propose suggestions on how to make the game better eSport (and point out some more problems).
Lazy game balance
Now, there is absolutely no denying that R6 game balance has been extremely lazy (and as a result very bad for competitive high level play) throughout the games entire lifespan so far. Each DLC operators are stronger than what was before them, probably because Ubisoft wants to push the new operators into the meta. They want all the pro players using their new content. That is not wrong at all. What is wrong is that they literally FORCE them to use the new operators because they make them batshit overpowered, and what is even worse is that they make them more overpowered with each DLC - let me show you.
Frost when it first came out was one of the most broken things I have ever seen. The shotgun had the ability to kill or injure people in one shot at ridiculous ranges. People were not used to look out for frost traps, therefore they were much stronger than they are now. Combine that with the fact frost had a C4 and you gotta ask yourself what did the devs smoke when they designed this. Buck at first wasn't really used, but now it is a very common operator for any vertically oriented attack plan (opening floors). Blackbeard and Valkyrie were both more powerful than anything that was in the game. Blackbeard completely broke the game and Valkyrie had the best auto-shotgun in the game, 4 cameras and a C4. Again, you gotta ask yourself, how do they manage to balance things so badly when this game was clearly build from day 1 for competition. But it doesn't stop there. 3rd DLC, Brazilian ops, again Capitao is batshit good of an attacker with too much utility. I literally haven't seen any half decent team not picking Capitao in competitive on attack ever since it came out. Well there's no denying Caveira is low-tier op, but that is mainly to poor (but imo cool) design. 4th DLC, again Hibana is more powerful than any operator from the base game or the 3 previous DLCs.
Combine what I said with the fact that there is little to no effort in balancing the original operators from the base game, and you got yourself some real problems.
Proposed fix: Simply hire a competent game balance designer/consultant. Whoever you are paying right now is not doing a very good job. I really dont know what else to say, its not a game problem. The problem lies within the personnel who OKs the new operators (and maps) as competitively viable and balanced.
2) Very incompetent ESL management and admins
Now I will not be naming any names here, but..
- Admin being on a team playing a cup with prize pool money, being also the one that disqualified some teams (his opponents if I remember correctly)
- Head admin(s) not having PL results written in their excel sheets properly (this happened on the last gameday of S3, we found multiple errors in 20 minutes after they send us the screenshot of their spreadsheet)
- Team accidentally getting kicked out of PL qualifiers
- Using Go4s as PL qualifiers with some shady stuff going on
- Having an admin that almost every single (tier1/PL) team hates or despises. Everyone has a bad opinion of him. Some admins are hated by its competitive community because they have to make tough decision that not everyone, if anyone will like. But this is not the case/reason.
- Banning snookens team for altering his moss because of a suspicious clip, then later unbanning him (and his team) because he was innocent.
- Serenity's team (ACN) being knocked out of PL qualifiers by a hacker and not getting a chance again
And this is just what I remembered on top of my head, I could make a list if I asked all the pros that would probably have 40 things on it of similar caliber (and I mean literally 40)
This point here, “Very incompetent ESL management and admins” is the biggest reason why tier1 organizations, lets say dignitas for example (it doesn't matter), don't touch this game. Can you imagine if dignitas was paying their players salary and paying them to go to events, and their R6 team would accidentally get kicked out of PL qualifiers and dignitas didn't qualify because of it? Easiest lawsuit ever, thousands of dollars lost in advertisement value and business opportunities as well as potential winnings up to 30,000$. Too bad the team that accidentally got kicked out of the qualifiers wasn't under a solid organization, I would have loved to see this potentially taken to court.
I have a very nice example of how much the admins care, story time:
Remember when after the first season, devs were promising how Go4s aren't gonna be qualification for PL in S2. Well yeah they were. That I did not care that much about, although it did piss me off - being lied to for the I-don't-even-count-anymore-time by the devs/admins. What pissed me off way more is that they banned all the teams who were qualified for the S2 or for the relegations because of their S1 results from the Go4 that served as qualifications for S2. They did not bother to tell us until about an hour before the cup started. Wondering how such a mistake happened with S2 qualifiers already being somewhat of a disaster, I msged the head admin on skype. Asking him why we aren't allowed to play the qualifiers (I was on AERA at that point of time and they were already qualified for the relegations), he said that we would beat the teams that have a real chance of qualifying and the qualifiers would be inaccurate. I kind of understood that logic but at the same time they can just take whoever is the best overall seed after the people who are already qualified even if they played the cups. I was angry because I wanted to play the Go4, its 100 EUR for first place plus you get to qualify for top8 monthly final with 500 EUR prizepool ; to be fair I did not even care about the money, more than the fact that it was supposed to be a 6-8 hours long scheduled practice that me and my team cleared their schedule for. Frankly, it seemed pretty insulting that our time/schedule is treated with such “importance”. My teammates could have been spending time with their girlfriends they dont see that much because they go to work and then we practice 5-6 hours a day on scheduled days. This of course goes for all the teams that got kicked out of the Go4s because they were already qualified for S2/relegations, as well as not being able to play the next 3 Go4s therefore going an entire month without ESL cups as well as missing monthly finals, therefore missing out on 900 EUR of potential winnings and 5 tournaments essentially. When I told him that we are missing out money and practice, he said that he will create extra cups for practice and later on tournaments will be held to compensate for potential winnings lost. Nobody cared about the extra cups because we could just scrim with the already qualified teams. I will try to recreate the “dialog” that followed after this (I dont have the skype logs but I remember it pretty clearly):
tell me, how much time did you have to create a cup with name “S2 qualifiers” so we could play go4? [and he didn't do it]
admin: a couple weeks
at that point out of sheer disgust I had to take a breather
It clearly shows how much the admins care about the players well being, good condition and happiness. Oh and those promised cups to compensate for potential winnings lost never happened if you are wondering.
Proposed fix: personnel change (or give PL to MLG?), I don't see a way out at this point. I competed in all seasons that happened so far and I can say with absolute safety I was not happy with the admin/management personnel in any of them (EU PC), and that I would assume goes for a lot of players. You put 75,000$ on the line per season but cant pay a decent admin to give two shits about the players well being. Not necessarily well being, just being treated fairly (and with respect) and without fuck ups (that make the whole thing seem shady and make players generally anxious) is enough.
Keep it mind that this was just one example that I expanded upon. There's tons of stories like this out there, go ask snooken ; or ricki (lol) ; or ask any player who was at the PL Launch in Katowice how great was the veto system they introduced 1,5 hours before the matches started and was fundamentally different from the one we have been using since the very start, since the very first community test cups ; etc. etc.
3) Better ranked system with more incentive to grind
Right now the ranked system is working pretty ok as far as I know, but after you reach diamond, which is not hard at all, there is no real incentive to play.
Proposed fix: Add more ranks after Diamond, Such as Master and Grandmaster (name it whatever you want) as well as possibly leaderboards. I lot of these things have been sucessfully done in other games, all thats left it to copy them and give it a R6 twist.
4) Advertising high level competitive play better through in-game features
The spectating features are already there, so just make them public (I am well aware it is not that easy) and put them ingame. The games with the highest average elo will be displayed in the main menu with a button “spectate now” or games where known pro players are playing could be highlighted as well, you get the idea. similar to how dota2 does it
5) Make the game readable (which will naturally lead to the game seeming more simple)
Give players information on what exactly they are working with. This especially goes for damage charts. BF1 does this very well where they even show which distances are the most effective for each gun, how does damage drop off play a role etc.
Example could be a damage chart for ump:
- ump with this and this attachement
- does this much damage to a 3/1 operator when you hit his leg
- does this much damage to a 2/2 operator when you hit his leg
- does this much damage to a 1/3 operator when you hit his leg
- (including the variations rook armor brings to the table)
- Damage/distance graph (how much damage drops off over certain distances)
Do that for different hitbox areas, for all possible variations of all guns.
This information needs to come from the devs themselves and they need to be accurate and they need to be in the actual game, not on some reddit chart / spreadsheet done by someone from the community.
This could also be applied to grenades and any kind of info that is relevant to them (speed they fly at, how long do smokes last, how long does fullflash last before it starts to fade away etc.).
Being able to display current speed would also be very helpful, considering how many different speeds your character is able to move at in R6.
And many more things..
6) Training tools, how to develop a culture of efficiency (or “efficient, rationalized gameplay” so to speak) and spread it to casual players as well (not only competitive players)
Here is another video by rela, just watch it (he compares BF4 and CS:GO but it applies to R6 as well)
tl;dr: Training tools need to be provided for players to be able to exercise certain aspects of their gameplay
7) Bad first weeks, poor anti-cheat, Clever scandal, Ricki not being detected
Let me quote Rela here:
The importance of a game's first weeks for the birth of an eSport scene.
The first weeks of a potentially competitive game are the most important, unless the game serie has such a huge pre-existing competitive base that it can afford to be a failure at launch (CS:GO could, not Battlefield). [Or R6] The decision of teams or players to invest time on a game depends of their first impressions. There is a short window of interest for the game after the release, but if it doesn't feel good, if players can't feel any possibility for a skill-gap in the gameplay that would advantage them, they won't launch themselves into a potentially extremely frustrating experience.
Just check the number of teams during the first go4's on bf4, you had more than 140 :
2 months later you had 26 teams.
Two years later you have between 15 and 20 teams at most.
If bf5 wants to have a bigger place in esports than bf4 did, it needs to be playable and fun from the start. I'm not saying perfect, I'm just saying playable with a palpable skill based gameplay.
It's a very important topic, because I can tell you what it's like to have huge hopes for a game, and to see everything fall in ruins. When bf4 was released, a huge number of bf3 players were literally depressed and had no idea what to do anymore. They had trained a lot at the end of bf3, made plans, and what they had was a broken game for at least 6 months. BF4 esport story has been the (failed) reconstruction of the competitive community that had been completely destroyed at first.
[I also had very high hopes for R6 myself, but after so many cheating scandals, ESL management being straight up trash often times and many other issues, I gave up. And many more players who were widely considered to be the best gave up as well (Prime example was KRYPP/Ovie after winning S1).]
The example Rela made applies very well to R6 as well (First Go4 had +200 teams, now its usually like 25-40), with the only difference being that the games launch wasnt ruined by its feeling of “unpolished-ness” and bugs (even though there was plenty game breaking bugs). That wasn't the main problem for R6. What was the problem was the anti-cheat that was pretty much non-existent for the first 7-8 months or so.
It was absolutely ridiculous that the system couldn't detect even the absolutely most blatant hackers (I'm talking aimbotters going outside the second the round starts and one-tapping the entire enemy team ; this kind of stuff), and it was like this for 7-8 very painful months, making ranked totally unplayable even at the lower ranks.
This drove away a massive amount of potentially very capable competitive players, which most of them are probably playing overwatch now.
What was even way worse was that the fact that people would be hacking fairly blatantly and remaining undetected in ESL despite being monitored by in-game anticheat+moss+esl wire and none of these cheating-prevention-tools came up with anything, not even a whiff of foul-play.
Clever was a very good example of how somebody can cheat without being detected, and clever was a god damn dumbass who wouldn't have even gotten detected (until much later, if ever) if he didn't stream himself hacking. This makes you question how easy it was to hack (and possibly still is) for somebody at least moderately smart in ESL (much like the Belorussian/Russian team did it, I don't remember the name they had at first but later on it was eMpathy)
The case of Ricki, a French wallhacker who even after his account got fairfighted (and at that time, you had to be using some really blatant shit to get fairfighted, this was like pre-season1 PL, when the AC was still really bad) devs didn't take action and ban him from ESL, they let him keep playing for several weeks before I had to create a petition myself to pressure the devs/esl to exclude him from competitive play ; things like this scarred R6 competitive legitimacy and much like BF4 “the eSport story has been the (failed) reconstruction of the competitive community that had been completely destroyed at first.”
In both cases (and both regions) it had to be the pro players taking action in order for devs to even do something, which created an environment where it felt like justice was hardly ever going to be served, thus discouraging many highly potent players from diving deeply into the competitive scene.
8) Demo system
I don't think much needs to be said or explained here, copy the demo system cs:go has and all its features. Introducing demo system will also have a huge side effect of high quality fragmovies being much easier to produce (it is almost impossible now) thus spawning another way for the game to promote itself.
That being said, here's an example of how it could look thanks to panixes hard work and editing as well as amazing plays
It will also give a huge boost to the competitive community population because semi-serious teams will be able to easily replicate strategies the best teams in the world use. They will not have to sit hours and hours on several different maps thinking about their own tactics.
Could be compared to the same way semi-serious puggers on ESEA (CS:GO) copy the newest and flashiest ways to throw a granade or wallbang spots they have just seen in a pro match (notable examples would be n0thing wallbang on overpass from T spawn towards B, just before the tunnel/sewer ; or olofmaister boost).
9) Console to enter commands
This goes hand in hand with point 5) and 6), but it will also make pro-players life much easier because they will be able to execute configs through console without having to post their settings somewhere online and them manually recreating them after they arrive on LAN.
10) Xbox support
Now this might be a bit controversial and of course Xbox players will not like it when I say that Xbox pro league shouldnt even be a thing. I don't understand how is it a wise business decision (it is very likely not) to host pro league on two different platforms. Microsoft probably offered a big amount of money, but even then it is not a wise decision for building eSport for R6 for the long run.
Couple reasons why Xbox pro league shouldn't be a thing:
It makes the game look horrible. When I recommended one of my top ranked overwatch friends to watch PL night and he saw it was on one day, he decided to watch. He ended up closing the stream after watching for a few minutes because the gameplay simply looked horrible for something that claims to be a “top level competitive play”. Of course he did watch the xbox pro league, when I told him to watch the PC one, he didn't bother anymore.
It is no secret that Xbox PL is a running joke between all the PC pro players.
Another very important thing to look at is how it splits the (competitive) community and partially its viewerbase/fanbase
PC vs XBOX and then also XBOX vs PS4 because PS4 doesnt even have any competitive tournaments at all.
This may seem like an elitist or arrogant PoV on things, but FPS eSport on console will never ever work (CoD/halo is an exception to the rule)
I will not expand on this topic because I am not competing anymore, go ask some of the better pro league teams why 6Invitational is a very poorly constructed idea (well good idea, really bad execution so far, and the tournament has barely even started).
Bad format is one of the main reasons I decided to mention this, considering there's a lot of money on the line (more than PL which seems a bit ridiculous/questionable decision).
12) Communicate to pro players better
And actually listen to them and letting them influence your decisions on game balance. Now it is no secret there is a private subreddit established that only the devs, community managers and pro league players have access to. I let myself get kicked out by posting a shitpost because it felt like what we say in the forum had no real impact on the game despite the devs responding in some of the threads. This was before I announced my retirement from competitive R6 after S2. Halfway through S3 I got invited back to PENTA Sports (and despite already retiring I accepted) and one of the first things I talked about to my newly acquired teammates was if the devs finally started listening. The general consensus was a no. I will not reveal which one of my teammates said this, anyway what he said was: “I told them to ask me about anything anytime, and over the course of several months not a single question was pointed at me. they don't give a shit”. I believe that is the experience of majority of the pro players (or at least was at that point of time, things could have changed since I stopped competing)
13) Absolutely horrible community management
Ever heard of an eSport scene where when people cheer for a team (even in a totally polite, subtle way such as spamming duck emotes when PlayingDucks are playing) in twitch chat during an official Pro League stream, they get timed out/banned?
And if god forbid pro players/managers/coaches do it, they get Penalty points (losing money essentially). Well now you did.
It makes absolutely no sense why is the community being managed in a way it is. It is almost like Ubisoft or ESL is trying to (Ubisoft if you condone/endorse this crap you are insane) make you not give a shit about the teams competing. And if you don't care about the teams competing, what is the point of watching anyway unless you wanna absorb and copy high level strategies, which majority of the community doesn't.
Can you imagine what would Dota2, LoL or CS:GO competitive scene be like without all the twitch chat memes, people cheering for teams, making fun of players throwing/choking, fans making meme related signs at LAN events and pointing them at the cameras in between rounds/matches/during pauses etc. etc.?
And don't even get me started on ESL admins handing out PPs (Penalty Points) for absolutely ridiculous reasons ; if you want to hear the stories go ask the pro players themselves.
Either way somebody has been reading too much 1984.
14) Poor map design
It is no secret amongst the competitive community who tryhard a lot and try to abuse the maps to its fullest potential that a lot of the maps are poorly designed and often certain bombsites favor attackers (or defenders) heavily
[It is very clear by now (or at least thats what I think) that when devs design new operators, they dont take into account the maps they are gonna be used on. They just go “this is a good/cool concept, lets make this into an operator” and that is pretty much where the train of thought ends.]
The only maps that I would consider viable without the need of a major overhaul (although still needs small changes) would be club house and oregon
[It is no wonder club house has become the trademark of so many top level teams across multiple, different patches (Yunktis, PENTA and more). Club house should be the staple for all competitive maps developed in the future that focus a bit more around turtle strategy ; on the other hand Oregon should be the staple for all competitive maps (not just competitive though) developed in the future that focus a bit more around agressive strategies]
[[To expand on why Club House feels so good to play even in the most competitive high level matches, it is basically because it makes the game feel somewhat more “fair”, “pure” and skill based. It is because many of the low-skill ceiling weapons and mechanics are not as abusable here as on some other maps. The map also doesn't feel as exploitable by lurkers as for example consulate, although it is that much better of a surprise tactic if the opponent gets lazy with droning. See Ubisoft, this is where less is more. Instead of giving lurkers an easy time to be effective with map design, let mind games and teams reading into each other tendencies play a part]]
Maps that need some pretty big changes, but are not absolutely atrocious would be consulate, bank, chalet, hereford base, border and kanal.
And then there is Favela, Yacht, Plane, Kafe, House (and quite possibly Skyscraper) which are just plain bad (for competitive play but just in general) and there's no way around it
[Keep in mind that this is my personal opinion on these maps]
Proposed fix: stop trying to make the maps cool and original (or resembling to real life locations ; it is a video game, video games are supposed to be fun in the first place and the majority of people, the competitive community included, does not give a hoot about realism), and instead make them balanced. That will make them feel more fun. The wow effect wears off very soon after a new (impressively looking) map is released and then you are left with a bad, competitively non-viable map.
I understand this is hard, to design a map that will be balanced without ever having several pro players test it in its early stages, however solution to this is pretty simple: don't let new maps into the competitive map pool (this should have actually happened with favela and yacht, because they are poorly designed maps) as soon as they are released. First seek the approval of the competitive community and if the general consensus of the pro league players and competitive community is that the map is viable, use it in the next season.
I think a prime example was how CS:GO did it with overpass. First the map was tested by its community and it took a while after its release before it was added to the competitive map pool ; and despite the map not following the standard CS:GO-map pattern, it is imo one of the best maps CS:GO has ever had.
15) Trademarked skins
Now this is just a funky idea that I had more than anything else, but you could have trademarked skins the same way Dota2 has voice packs (portal voice pack, rick and morty voice pack etc.)
[I would have personally loved to see some weeb skins or The Shield skins]
To develop this idea further, each pro league player each season could suggest one skin concept or idea and the community would vote which one they want the most in the game. The top3 skins ideas would be passed to the devs. Upon releasing these skins, a small % cut from money earned by selling those 3 skins could be given to the respective player who came up with the idea. Or a bigger % cut could be added to the pro league prizepool (or something like that).
16) Fixing the actual gameplay so that an “infantry meta” could be developed to an extent to show a certain degree of mastery as defined before
Disclaimer: I am not sure if proposed solution should be introduced to only competitive play through game/playlist settings or to public play as well, I think public play (casual/ranked MM) should stay the way it is but that could create a slight barrier between pro scene and casual community but that is OK (MM settings and pro settings differ in a lot of games slightly).
The easiest way to make people focus more on how they shoot things and move their character [Without changing the games foundation it is built upon] is taking away a lot of the things that the game currently has that distracts its players from said infantry meta focused gameplay.
Proposed fix: Tone down equipment a LOT. Literally half everything besides reinforcements maybe, that will already make people focus more on the purity of infantry gameplay.
- Instead of attackers having 10 drones at disposal, I think 6-8 is enough (teams get to chose who doesnt spawn with an extra drone). Mute should only have 2 devices. Valkyrie should have 2 cameras. Bandit/Jaeger should have 2 devices. etc. etc.
- Also limited count on barb wires, grenades for attackers (one set of nades per team, one set of smokes per team, one set of flashes per team ; these could be tied to specific operators or not, however they have to be limited to 1 set per team imho.)
- Acog sights should/could also be limited to 2-3 per team
- etc. you get the idea, limit everything to a considerable degree so teams will put each thing in (what they think is) its best possible spot to have impact on the game and help them win
Also something to consider is removing the speed/armor system completly and turning rook into “take 5/10/15/20% less damage” operator. tl;dr: make stuff simpler
This will not only bring infantry meta upfront, but it will also give way more meaning to how pro players (and public players alike) actually use their devices/deployable equipment, meaning there will be put more thought into it. Again, Ubisoft - less is sometimes more.
I could be writing more points but I have spent way too much energy and time on writing this, so lets head into the finale.
To quote Rela:
To conclude, video-game series are not a democracy.
A clumsy attempt at explaining how important it is for experienced players to try to be heard over other players. The answer to what gameplay could suit casual players the most is often not to find among casual players themselves. The mechanisms behind a "fun" gameplay are complex, and having fun on a game doesn't mean understanding exactly all the parameters behind this feeling. I know it can be read as the expression of a radical overconfidence in competitive or experienced players, and I try to [I somewhat tried here as well] explain why it's not.
Rela talking about BF here but it is easy to apply to R6:
The phenomenon is the same in the case of players' advices about what would be the good improvements for a game like Battlefield. A very experienced player may actually have a more doubts about what is good or bad for the game than a guy with a reduced experience. Because his vision of what makes a gameplay good is complex, while the other guy's vision is simplistic because he has a reduced number of facts to synthesize, and also a reduced horizon of comparison with other FPS games. In consequence, it's very possible that the less competent player will be the one with the most visibility and confidence in his feedbacks. That’s why, if developers' gameplay choices are influenced by the number of players making a remark rather than by the experience of these players, the consequences can be disastrous. Was it the reason behind some of the gameplay choices at the release of Battlefield 4 ? In any case, players with a big experience and training in video games must be the priority counsel in the evolution of a game series.
If you read the whole thing I hope your sanity is still intact.
I tried to explain my thought process and PoV on things the best I could so everyone can understand
I would also like to apologize for some of the harsh words used and poor editing - this articles main focus isn't to be featured on Kotaku or Polygon but rather get important points across to the developers and community alike. It is also meant to be read out loud.
mzo - I'd like to think BreachingSiege will get there 😉
Also, English is not my native language and if you are a native speaker, you probably found like a hundred grammar mistakes, my pardons for that as well.
I hope this article will gain at least some traction. I showed it (before releasing it to the public) to a couple of top level pro players (and even before that I showed a very early version of the article to pengus viewers) and their general consensus was very positive and I sincerely hope I can find a similar reaction within the R6 community.
I very strongly feel that R6 devs and everyone who shapes the game need to take a lot of things said above close to heart if R6 wants to still be a thing in 2018 and not just because they will shovel consistently bigger and bigger amounts of potential winnings (and broken, overpowered DLC operators) down pro players throats.
- https://twitter.com/A1GA_ (DMs open)
- ESL profile (competitive R6 achievement list)
- Youtube channel
P.S.: Ubisoft, if you read this - and I know you will if this gets over a hundred upvotes on reddit, you can take take this as my resumé. I probably would be interested in flying to montréal and helping you balance the game.
Heres the reddit post incase you wanna upvote or downvote or participate in the discussion
Update: 18 hours after releasing the article many pro players, even if they said that “they don't agree with everything” have commended my work and agreed on many, many things said here. I believe this document needs to be read out loud in the Ubisoft offices in Montréal.