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Perpetual Newbdom: The Scenes, Teamstacking and the Percepti

a guest Jun 13th, 2012 58 Never
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  1. There is a certain gloom hanging over the Tribes: Ascend community as of late. Opinions are forming and I see the beginnings of eternal discussion among the uninformed. The bandwagons are growing and I see blind hate and dedicated zealous parroting; a grey swath of gamers that descend on every game of some popularity. Soon this will turn into fundamentalist rabble and the community will consume itself.
  2. This too, is a symptom of Perpetual Newbdom, yet unlike before I will take a more serious approach to this subject. I will take great care in the detail of my argumentation. The topics of this article are not subject to baseless opinion as so many seem to think. Skill and competition are not things to be denied and forced to be ignored as a side effect of this game.
  3. There is no casual scene, neither is there a competitive one. There is the Tribes: Ascend game and we are all playing it on equal ground. I'll elaborate on this statement later, but first allow me to sketch our current situation:
  5.     It's noon, and recess is starting. Children flood the yard and group up. A couple of kids brought a ball and start kicking it around on the football field. Some older kids arrive and they want to play too.
  6.     "Hey, we've got enough for a match."
  8.     Quickly it's clear that the younger kids would rather just kick the ball around like they were. But they are stubborn and keep playing. After a while they don't seem to be that interested in the ball any more and just run up and down the field. At one point one of the younger kids finds himself in front of the goal and the ball rolls towards him. He picks up the ball and throws it the way a seven year old would - rather anticlimactic. The old kids, always serious, tell him that isn't how you're supposed to play, you can't pick up the ball unless you're a goalie! To which the already tired and bored seven year old starts crying.
  9.     "B-u-ut it's my baa-all!"
  10.     The ball is taken away by the bawling child and the match ends. The older kids are forced to get their own ball, that's the last time they'll try to play with the younger kids.
  12.  It'll get even more confronting after the jump.
  13. The Guise of Entitlement
  15. It's a fun word to use these days, especially after the Mass Effect debacle. So for those of you still wondering about this word let me be clear (this time I'm not making it up):
  16. Noun    1.      entitlement- right granted by law or contract (especially a right to benefits); "entitlements make up the major part of the federal budget"
  17. claim, title - an established or recognized right; "a strong legal claim to the property"; "he had no documents confirming his title to his father's estate"; "he staked his claim"
  18. law, jurisprudence - the collection of rules imposed by authority; "civilization presupposes respect for the law"; "the great problem for jurisprudence to allow freedom while enforcing order"
  20. I don't know when this happened. The last time I checked I wanted to play games because I wanted to be challenged. One of my first games was a 'Tiger' console with Mega Man on it. Took me two years to beat that game, I was probably a bit younger than the kid in the picture. Back then I didn't play a game to beat it, I played it because ... I did. I played it to see how far I could get. It didn't dawn to me for some time that games had an end to them. First game I ever finished was a Back to The Future Tiger console game. I think I played the whole last level while having a heart attack. It happened by accident, I had never gotten so far and suddenly it dawned on me that I could actually complete the game. It took me a while to top that adrenaline rush, the reason why it was such an achievement was exactly because I had failed to complete it for so many weeks!
  22. Now we live 'in a different world': the idea that a game can be played for fun, without an arbitrary goal set on the horizon is enough to have you burned at the stake it seems. Now there has to be an end, there has be meaning to what is done. Have we become so existentially and imaginatively weak that we need to be directed to our endorphin triggers without any interruption that could be considered slightly frustrating ? *gasps for air*
  23. Everything needs to be boxed in and the amounts of fun to be had need to be boxed in so carefully that I sometimes I get very worried that everyone is so fed up with 1984 and Brave New World references we might fall into some kind of 'Irony Singularity'.
  25. Now there are a lot of things to blame, but that would lead us too far. Games became popular, Consoles started getting shooters, games at one point traded playability with the crutch of realism and dying and losing didn't matter anymore. Oh, and everything became so linear it killed creative decision in gameplay to such an extent Crysis 3 actually announces its games with 'THERE WILL BE MULTIPLE PATHS OMG LIEK 3!'
  27. So then a game like Tribes: Ascend moseys on in to the local circle-clusterfuck-jerk of warped opinions and test tube bred games... And then shit gon' get real up in this bitch righ' 'ere, nomsain!? Shii-iet.
  29. In a nutshell, people feel entitled (Blücher!) to receive games that are easy and accessible. Somewhere along the line the idea of a challenge has been equalised with boredom and 'the wasting of time'. Of course, when there are a few meaningless achievements thrown in here and there then suddenly the wasting of time is validated. The rat pushes the button.
  31. And yet Tribes: Ascend keeps on a-mosey'n and people are shutting their windows and children are picked up in the streets to be rushed to the nearest house to take cover.
  33. I was wrong. I really thought that it would be taken as a breath of fresh air. The chains of the regular AAA tripe shattered. Yet instead it has been received like a literal interpretation of the Dark Knight - The hero we need but chose to hate.
  37. I detest using borderline meme lines to frame something sincere in my articles, but fuck it works really well.
  38. The game is caught in limbo because of this, in a state where everyone seems to hate it. Surely enough this will also be driving developers up the walls. The ancient grizzled veterans just want everyone to stop playing T:A and go to Tribes 1 or 2 (depending on their level of fundamentalism - and how whimpering their inner child is) and people of high skill clash with bad players in terms of the changes demanded. This is where things get odd.
  40. Casual players are actively fighting better players!
  43. The Militant Casual
  45. I'm personally offended by people getting into the discussion of casual versus competitive on the side of the casuals. I really don't get you people. I don't even get term you use to describe yourselves. I don't understand your position because it does not exist. It is a figment of your imagination. The 'casual scene' doesn't exist. Don't worry, I'll explain:
  47. The casual scene is considered the (large) group of people who 'have lives' and don't want to spend '16' hours a day 'grinding' the game to get better. They are the majority of players who don't want to be part of the 'pro' or 'competitive' scene. Their arguments usually dwell in the realm of balance (automatics) and the gaining of experience, there is still a strong following of the 'Pay2Win' fallacy as well.
  48. They also 'just want to play the game' without being confronted with the good players of the 'competitive scene'. They are strong advocates of an ELO ranking system and are the main supply of 'The Generator' sacrifices.
  50.     Dear Casual Scene,
  52.     You are the death of Tribes: Ascend. Please educate yourselves.
  54.     Kind Regards,
  56.     Greth
  58. The problem with the members of the casual scene is really a simple one. They don't have a clue what they are talking about, but there are enough of them to form a unified front of ignorance that will soon start looking like a religious organisation.
  60. The first and foremost issue
  62. is that the largest part of the casual scene is bad at the game of Capture the Flag. This has several causes:
  64.     Lack of in-game tutorials. People get thrown into the game with several game modes that need no explaining. Only one has any real complexity, that of Capture the Flag. This is the actual game, this is where everything gets balanced around. This is something that not a lot of people seem to realise and quickly become members of the casual scene.
  65.     There are plenty of video tutorials around, but that doesn't help the mass of players who don't give a fuck about tutorials. They need to be slammed in the face with them before they ever lay hands on a spinfusor!
  66.     There is a new generation of players afoot, the last games of any note to sport CtF (which was considered a staple gametype for nigh on two decades) were TF2 and UT3, that was 2007. TF2 had a very wierd CtF game and UT3 ... well...
  67.     My point: There is a generation of players that have never seen anything more complex (team wise) than 'shoot all the dudes' and maybe blow something up or 'stand here until you win'.
  68.      'Public has always been awful in all Tribes games!' That's not the point I'm making here. The point is that the game is being blamed for being complex. There is hostility here, and I want to get rid of that with more focused hostility on the part of the informed.
  70. It all boils down to people not being prepared. There is a lack of understanding about what this game is and what it can be. This translates into confusion and frustration. The child starts crying because it doesn't understand the concept of rules and doesn't understand why rules make a game more fun.
  71. This is what creates a casual scene. A group of vocal players who expected something completely different from this game. They are forcing this game to be something it is not and expect to be rewarded for it. They aren't following the rules of the game and are angry when they lose because of it.
  72. Teamstacking and Tennis
  74. The internet is a place where I find people who act out their true selves. Whatever skills of social moderation they have seem to bleed away after only a few moments protected by perceived anonymity.
  75. I think a lot of people have been acting like twelve year olds since 1998, and then there are the actual twelve year olds as well.
  77. Teamstacking is the reason I started this article because it is the most 'in your face' display of the symptoms of 'casual scene'.
  78. In a nutshell: Teamstacking is the Tribes version of 'Obamacare' or 'communism'. It is a word that nobody really understands but uses anyway. It is the perfect intro to explaining everything that is wrong with public play and the way the casual scene acts.
  80. The actual phenomenon: A group of friends, usually high ranking players (because they have played long enough to actually build up a list) join a server on the same team. They then practice certain scenarios or generally just play the game. Because of this the amount of high ranking players is skewed to one team. The game ends quickly because the other team consists of 'public players' and members of the casual scene and they can't keep up with these competitive players.
  82. Which leads to the pandemic we see today. Each time an above average player ends up at the top of a team there is a cry of outrage. This also happens when a round ends in 5-0 or is over quickly. So 'good players' or 'competitive players' are asked to leave or go to custom servers so they can leave the bad players in peace.
  83. This is something I've tried to put into words for as long as I've been thinking about writing this article, I've physically hurt my brain trying to find the cause of this, a lot of it has to do with the framework I've sketched in this article already, but the actual revelation I had was hard to convey. So, I came to an analogy once more.
  85. My crying child analogy was very broad, it detailed the sentiment of the community on a more global scale. It is also a nice view on the breach imaginary breach between casual and competitive.  Now let me specify the issue with public games in a less subtle way. I arrived, at tennis.
  87.     Two teenage punks found a tennis field. They are throwing balls at each other, running around the court. It is clear that the object of their game is to hit each other as hard as possible, in the balls or face preferably. The game is rather silly, but they are having fun. They are keeping score of how many times they are hitting each other in the face. Double points for landing a 'ballbuster'.
  88.     In come two actual tennis players. They ask the kids if they want to play a double, they are met with a double middlefinger.
  89.     "We don't play tennis, we're playing Ballbuster. We're just here to have some fun."
  90.     The tennis players look at each other. "Okay guys, could you leave then? We'd like to play a game."
  91.     The kids ignore the players and keep throwing balls at each other.
  92.     In comes a referee. He sits down on the seat and signals the players to begin.
  93.     With a sigh the first player serves, one of the kids almost gets hit by the ball.
  94.     "What the fuck dude! Watch out where you hit that thing!" the kid screams out.
  95.     "We're trying to play tennis here..." the second player says with a sigh.
  96.     "Dude, no fair hitting the ball with that thing with the strings." the second kid says.
  97.     "Fifteen - love." the referee exclaims.
  98.     "What!? He didn't even hit me! No way was that a point!" the first kid shouts.
  99.     "That's not how the game works, I made a point. We're not playing your game. This is a tennis court, we're playing tennis." The second player says with some frustration.
  100.     One of the kids picks up a ball and throws it straight into the crotch of one of the players.
  101.     "Bam! C'mon ref, give us some points for that one! Right in the nuts!"
  102.     The referee just stares at the kids while the tennis player writhes in agony.
  103.     "What the fuck!? You give that guy points for not even hitting me and I get a direct hit on his scrote and you give me nothing!?"
  105.     The tennis players and referee leave. A week later they are playing on a court when the two kids show up again. The tennis players are ready to call security when the kids clarify that they want to try this game called 'tennis'.
  106.     In a moment of misjudgement they give the kids some rackets. They explain how the game goes, but it is clear they aren't really listening. They are holding the rackets wrong and are swinging incorrectly, but the players don't mind.
  107.     Eventually one of the kids manages to get a ball across the field, but the ball was out.
  108.     "What!? I go though all that effort and practice and now you tell me I have to hit inside the field, fuck that shit."
  109.     The kids throw away the rackets and start throwing balls at each other.
  111. The game is capture the flag. The game is designed around roles. If one of these roles is missing the game will be skewered greatly towards the other team. Tribes is a game of moments. A single person in the right location, or the absence of that person can make all the difference. Even if the game is not yet perfect and to the standard of many still shallow compared to its predecessor, there is such a depth in this game. That depth cannot be fenced off.
  113. If someone sits in the generator room the whole map, kills everyone in it, but then complains of teamstacking when his team has lost 0-5 'because he was doing his job and nobody else was' but his job was throwing balls at people's crotches when really he should have been serving the ball across the field.
  115. And in one aspect of all this Tribes: Ascend has made one mistake. The scoring system is abominable. It encourages people to throw balls. Someone with 50 kills can be top of the team could have contributed exactly nothing to the team. The throwing of balls in peoples crotches is encouraged this way. I am all for removing killcounts completely. For the people who enjoy having a sore scrotum, there is always team deathmatch and capture & hold.
  117. The community also needs more helpful players who will explains this. http://sandboxclan.net is always looking for people who are willing to take up that gauntlet, to simply go into servers and try to explain to people how to play the game. It is a thankless job, wear a cup.
  119. To Hi-Rez I say this: it is time to implement actual tutorials, or at least link to existing community tutorials. This is a game that needs maintenance of the community. It has been too long since a game like this has existed. There are too many people who don't understand what is going on, and the general mood of the internet leans towards frustration and hostility. Tutorials should have happened yesterday, there is no more time to delay this.
  120. Making casual friendly upgrades instead of making people understand the potential of this game will kill off any lasting appeal. The last patch is dire in this respect.
  122. To the casual scene I say this: Don't complain you're losing when you're not actually playing the game. If you care about winning, then there is no excuse for you not to educate yourself in how the game is supposed to be played. If you think you know everything without ever having played an actual match then I laugh at your arrogance.
  123. It is simple. If you play for fun then don't mind losing and being bad. But if you expect to win games by not playing the game, it is time to buy some tennis balls.
  124. Also, why hate those better than you? How about awe and aspiration? Forget about those? If I see a player better than me, I'm going to try and beat him, even if it is only once. I take pride in that. If you manage to score against a clearly superior team there is pride in that. Don't act like a seven year old. Winning isn't everything, it is the process of playing the game that is important. If you always win without any effort, any danger of losing, then what is the fun in that? And if you keep avoiding the better players then how will you ever become better? And if you don't want to get any better, then don't cry if you lose. You can't have both, this isn't kindergarten.
  125. Exponential decrease of effectiveness leading to the assumption of teamstacking:
  127. I'll just add this to explain why teams in publics seem to fall apart so easily and why single players have such a gigantic influence on a public game:
  129. The roles of Tribes: Ascend are as followed:
  131.     Capper
  132.     Offence
  133.     Defence
  135. There is no need to add nuance for the sake of this explanation. The chaser lives in the dank crevasse between O and D.
  136. Everything else is bullshit. Everyone in the generator is a lost cause, those randomly shooting people in the midfield are pointless. I am talking about people playing their role effectively. I'm not talking about 'my first HoF' who feels like chasing after infiltrators. I'm not talking about offence players who are camping a turret for the TCN to arrive to try and repair it.
  138. Let's say Blood Eagle with a dedicated capper has a default chance to win of 50%. If Diamond Sword does not have a dedicated capper then the win/lose chance of the team with the capper suddenly swings to 75%/25%. Now add in a competent defender for Diamond sword and we're back to 50%/50% (Assuming there is no D what so ever for BE and the llamas will eventually make it to the random spraying of idiots in midfield).
  139. A game where there is a capper and two offence players versus a single capable defender is going to end very badly and the defender will probably exit the game in an angered state, not to play again that evening.
  141. The math really is that harsh and simple. Sure there are anomalies where players will do something right at the right time, but the exponential effect of 'teamstacking' only increases with a player's skill level. This is why the competition players are always pointed at as witches that need burning. If one player is better, then his influence will obviously be that much greater. Yet the more people actually fill in the roles needed in public the less the influence of a single player will be by the simple fact that one man can not be everywhere at the same time. If a team has a functional O, D and capper it is much less likely for a group of 4-5 people to dominate. I've seen it countless times over and over again. A single capper going about his business capping out a map in under five minutes and then the cry of teamstacking filling the chat. It wasn't that, it was simply the complete lack of O, D and capper on the other team! But good job, the generator was down the whole time!
  143. And now I turn to those few casuals who are left reading this article, those fuming with rage or already typing up a comment. Those casuals who actually have some semblance of skill and fall into the category of pub-cappers who are mingled into the plebs of newbies and are trapped in limbo. Those who crave for a 'good game' but still don't want to 'be part of the competitive scene' or 'go pro'.
  144. To them I say, look around there is a better world out there! You are absolutely wrong in your prejudice! So you can stop fucking crying already!
  147. The Competitive Scene
  149. Last time I checked this was 'The Internet'. So international networking, even in Belgium of all places. Right, now, try not to snort at the next statement:
  150. Why is it that even in a world with instant global communication and the ability to gather people together for a single project or idea that we always have the need to retreat into tribes (snort)?
  152. No really. I blame whitelisting myself. It was a segregation that was instigated because the organised community wanted to use and contribute the game as early as possible. The idea was a good one. Beta test the infrastructure asap and breathe life into clans/tribes that can then start to function as a community.
  153. The downside was that this segregation continued and remained fairly closed even after whitelisting was over and done with.
  154. In reality the competitive scene got mixed up with the pro scene. Namely a core group of highly skilled players that come from other games (or old tribes games in this case) and intend on being 'serious' teams.
  156. Because of the whitelisting and the small amount of people involved both competitors and 'professionals' were one and the same group. Couple that with a lack of infrastructure beyond obscure IRC channels and mumble servers (obscure to those never venturing outside of Tribes: Ascend to play the game) and we have a very messed up 'scene'.
  158. Both /r/tribes, Gameshrine.org and Spinfusor.org have initiatives going in popularizing competition, mostly PUG/Scrim format. Sandboxclan.net will also be providing 'anyone can join' ladders simply to get people to play. Really competition is simply the action of getting 14-16 people together on a custom server and play. It doesn't matter what level you are. So really anyone organized enough to get a team of 7 together is part of the dreaded 'competitive scene'.
  160. This 'closed off group of elitists' that people seem to see it as doesn't exist in such an explicit fashion as one-liners on reddit might have you believe. It is simply a part of the game that is in its early stages of development and needs all the help it can get in order to make the game survive. You can even be part of 'the casual scene' and participate in PUGs and Scrims, but with the understanding that you might be told not to hit people in the face with balls.
  161. If Tribes: Ascend is allowed to grow then the 'competitive scene' will simply evolve to be the normal way to play this game if you want to get something more out of the game than just sitting in a generator room. The construct of PuGs/scrims is needed because Hi-Rez has not provided a viable alternative, so back to '00 we go!
  162. Public versus Competitive Matches
  164. Just a quick note here explaining the exact difference of these two types of matches. Their differences are quite marginal, I'll elaborate further in the next topic.
  165. Competitive tribes is simply a public match boiled down to the players who actually fill in a role that is needed and play the game as it was intended. Rulesets are then used to cover up glaring issues with the game now that people aren't running around like morons half the time. It really is the sea pulling back to reveal all the squirming fish right before a tsunami is about it hit.
  166. When you are a pub player who fulfils his role dutifully then the transfer to a 7v7 game is almost not noticeable. The only difference is that for the first time communication becomes important and people actually respond to one another as a team. What will also happen is that after a very short time of coordinated play you'll improve considerably, because for the first time you can get actual feedback from players (they will yell at you really loud if you fuck up).
  168. That's it. There is no magical world of competitive play where everything is magically different, just the classes being used to their intended purpose.
  169. In a competitive environment the most efficient classes and loadouts will be used. because of the limited number of players allowed - to allow for an easier organisation of teams and events - not all classes/weapons will be considered 'competition viable' because their role is too specific or simply not worth losing certain utility over. That, and the fact that when faced with opponents of equal skill, certain loadouts simply fall apart because they are just bad.
  171. Tribes: Ascend was intended to be a skill based game. A game you can get better at. It is written in its very genetic and historical code. The game itself is simply a competitive environment. You play this game to win. Playing a match is no different from gathering up some friends to go from kicking a ball around to keeping score. It is simply a step up and the way the game was meant to be played, or at least the way it should be played.
  173. For those of you in public servers who don't want to 'waste time' on a game. Well, then why are you bothering playing in a public? It really isn't that big of a commitment.
  176. The Perception of Balance
  178. And now we come to the conclusion of this 'Iliad'. A point I could only make after going through the whole ordeal of this article. Because people who jump on the argumentation of what I'm about to say are always so very persistent with non-arguments and fallacies.
  180. The most discussed topic everywhere is balance. And oh what a fickle topic it is. But okay, here we go.
  182. Take into account everything I have said in the above article.
  184.     Most people don't even play the game right
  185.     You can play the game for fun, you can have fun while playing to win, but you cannot win while only playing for fun. It is just not that kind of game and HI-REZ! LISTEN! If you change the game so everyone can win or make every imaginary role 'viable in pubs' then THIS GAME IS DEAD! It will become an abomination that doesn't fit anywhere. There are no sides to pick. If you disregard skill you rip out T:A's last remaining cerebral lobe.
  186.     Capture the Flag is the game. Arena, C&H & TDM should be fixed through server flags (class/weapon limitations) or through careful additions to non-competitively viable classes (don't, is very hard). But when talking about balance they can't be used as valid feedback.
  187.     A casual player's opinion (A person that is not good at the game and does not play 'the roles as intended') cannot be used to balance the game.
  189. I know that even after this whole article I'll still have to elaborate further.
  191. Tribes is a game played in seconds and moments. Tribes is a game that plays around with the laws of probability it makes my skin crawl. In the blink of an eye a pointless decision can be turned into a game changing event. A momentary lapse in concentration is the difference between winning and losing.
  193. The values in Tribes are completely different than in any other game. Killing is important, but can also be of marginal influence when faced with comparable skill of coordination and timing, of positioning.
  195. Doombringers and Raiders are touted to be overpowered killing machines because they are. Their role is to kill other players. Other roles will actually have nothing to do with killing and they will be equally necessary!
  197. Now don't get me wrong. The raider was too effective in what he did. Competition players all agreed that the raider needed to be reduced in the damage he could do. But in the same breath it was said that it was imperative that this class was not overly nerfed! There is such a fickle balance between classes. Raiders need to be good at killing, that's what their role is.
  198. Doombringers need to have great damage output as they have to deal with being focused down by raiders. There needs to be balance, but the roles should still remain viable.
  199. What happened in the last patch was horrendous for the game. The Raider was nerfed just right, the only issue is that everything else got buffed considerably. Most changes were good, but the fact that now the Soldier has once again regressed to the Ranger makes most changes irrelevant (And Seriously fire or at least flog until bloody the guy who let the 120 damage TCN gun slip, what the fuck!?)
  201. The careful interaction between these classes cannot be seen in a vacuum. Every single thing needs to be considered, and it needs to be considered at the highest level. Why? Because at a casual level these interactions are skewered and might not even present themselves.
  202. A possible complaint by a casual player cannot be taken seriously because it might simply be a case of misunderstanding a role or being in a situation where victory was simply not possible - even if skills were evenly matched. The issue presented by a casual player might not even be an issue at all as it might not even affect the game being played.
  204. There are so many things happening in a game of Tribes that are completely irrelevant to the outcome of the game! Even in a highest level competition game! This is what makes it a game of such potential. The series of events required to bring a flag home is so fickle it makes for great viewing.
  205. The balance lies in those events that are of actual importance to the chain of events leading to a cap. These are the things that happen constantly in a competitive environment. The game is streamlined for these events to occur as all players are focused on a single goal.
  206. In a public game these events will also occur but with less frequency and they will mostly likely be discarded or worse still become a wrongly attributed symptom of a problem that is irrelevant.
  208. Furthermore, an issue which presents itself in a competitive game might only happen in such an environment as it might be so specific to a role or map that lower level players will never even notice the difference or it will influence the game for casuals significantly yet still contribute nothing to the eventual outcome of the match. (NOW THAT IS A SENTENCE!)
  210. As an example: An buff is implemented on a class that would make it fill a very specific role in competition and can now be used for the first time. This now makes this class an absolute monster in public generators. Is this a problem? It shouldn't be, as the influence of the generator is marginal. People shouldn't be in the generator en-masse which will make it unprofitable for the class to stay down there. Making kills in the generator room is pointless anyway as it doesn't help your team at all!
  211. If people like playing in generators and are appalled that their imaginary role is no longer possible then this is a good thing. Will you lose people because of this? If they are so fickle in their fancies as to make this an actual issue, then I don't think these people are your target audience anyway.
  213. Imagine with me a second a full public server that follows competition rules. 4 cappers, 6 O, 6 D. The glorious carnage that would follow! Suddenly you will see the game it its glory and see the glaring issues it has today.
  215. What hurts my brain about all of this is that it should be common fucking sense! The minds of gamers today have been so warped ... It saddens me.
  217. Because yet again I know there will be plenty of arguments I will have to face with disbelief.
  220. To the Developers
  222. I have been writing this article over the course of a week now. And over the course of that week I saw all the topics I discussed pop up again and again. And now, as I end this marathon, I read the patch notes.
  224. I appreciate what you have tried to do for this IP. You tried to pull it into this century. It was a bold move to revive Tribes: Ascend, and you're giving it a good shot.
  226. But it is time to be honest here.
  228. You are a company, not a very large one at that. At the end of the day you're here to make money, and a F2P game is always a big gamble.
  229. The last patch solved the issue that people were complaining they couldn't unlock weapons, you said that in the video. The only problem with this fix is that it was rushed - the models tell the story. I can't honestly believe that half these items were tested properly. You simply dunked the equivalent of a hydrogen bomb on the wet paper outhouse of balance this game had and hoped that the atoms would randomly arrange into fully furnished three bedroom house. Or even worse, you had two development cycles run side by side and didn't even consider the consequences of the 'eSports' changes meeting the 'whining casuals' changes.
  231. Your inspiration is League of Legends. A casual game. But you picked what used to be the epitome of the skill shooter. You attracted the attention of the 'good' players. You have the potential to create an eSport that walks tall beside Starcraft and Quake.
  233. You tried listening to your community. The mix of loud casuals and competitive players cried for changes long enough for you to realise initial design mistakes (Hitscan and, you know the list) But it also killed Bella Omega.
  234. There is a point where you need to admit that the perspectives of a group of high level players, most who have experienced high level play in several games and have seen the flaws and near misses of many other games are not only good enough to be considered but need to be listened to. They cannot be interpreted loosely. Again, changes can be minute and have devastating consequences.
  236. I won't say that gathering this information is easy. Opinions and argumentation can differ from player to player depending on the roles they play or how a team sees things. The US / EU split is a very good example of that. But considering you are only such a small studio it is imperative that the effort is put into harvesting those resources. Many of the people offering their insights in balance at the high level really do know what they are talking about.
  238. Time here is of the essence. I know for a fact that bombarding the game with weapons when competition has started, ruining balance and metagame in one fells swoop and in the meantime providing bad interpretations of Tribal Council ideas delivered a significant blow to the already shaken confidence of high end players.
  239. These guys won't stick around forever. Low end competition can function fine, but it is the group of players who are in this for publicity and sponsorship, the ones you build your esport on, that are now wavering in their resolve to get involved.
  241. If it is not your intention for this game to become a serious game, then admit it. There is an army of salivating casual players waiting who will toy around with this game for a few months and spend a few bucks on shazbucks now and then.
  242. This will be a safe and easy road until you get more involved with Smite and prepare to not quite take on Valve and Blizzard on the turf of the MOBA.
  244. You need coverage, you need an active top end 'pro' scene in order for your game to stay popular. You don't just have a flavour of the month IP here. You have Tribes of all fucking things.
  246. It is time to consider these things deeply. If you truly believe in making this thing as big as you possibly can, then give us a call. Stop listening to an audience that doesn't really know what it wants. Arm yourselves to the new age of ignorance. What you need to be fighting is not the Trolling and Bile of Tribalwar, but the ignorance of those who have grown up with games that play themselves. The time is now, as patience is growing thin. I've heard it from the horse's mouth that many competitive teams were simply tolerating the game's flaws in hopes of improvement to come soon. I fear that for many the final blow has already been struck. It is time to panic if you indeed want to salvage what is now left.
  248. Early on in the beta I said that you needed to be aggressive with your marketing campaign. A slogan I proposed was "Prepare to lose." and things along those lines (cool lines in the Blood Eagle announcer voice - No mercy this day!). "The hardest shooter you'll ever play."
  249. I like to think the little post I made back then inspired the Llama Island video, do let me dream.
  251. When people understand that skill is not only an option, but something that is quite easy to obtain, by playing a game the right way then you will see the game we all want to play emerge.
  253. I'd like to have a response, however small. I put a lot of effort into this, I poured out the frustrations I had and I did not censor it for the benefit of communication. But I'm sure I don't have to tell you that my use of language is mild compared to other opinions currently floating around the internet. It is my final word on the subject, my arguments have been made.
  254. In closing: Perpetual Newbdom
  256. I think it is funny that all of my previous articles were sometimes taken seriously. People actually believed I wasn't kidding (I'm not kidding with this article). And I understand why.
  258.     new·bie
  260.     [noo-bee, nyoo‐]
  262.     noun
  263.     a newcomer or novice, especially an inexperienced user of the Internet or of computers in general.
  267. Whatever happened to this word? At what point did people defend the fact that they were bad at a game? Am I that old? 'In my day' people who were bad at the game were told to become better. They were newbs and they were the scum of the earth. A lot of newbs never got better, and they weren't worse off for it. They had opinions, but we laughed at them, because they were newbs and they were wrong.
  269. This is where the industry went wrong. They catered for the bad player, that was fine. But they also catered the high skill games for the newbie as well. It started with an easy mode, then hard mode became easy. Then multiplayer got easy too.
  271. And I bet you that all of you newbie casual players never had a moment that had your heart racing. The joy of clearing out a server, to be the last man standing in a match, to kill off every single player on an enemy team by yourself. To beat a player twice your skill level in a game of Starcraft because the planets aligned and everything worked.
  273. Have you had those moments? To improve in a game is not a curse, to seek more difficult challenges is what humans do, if something is easy there is no reward.
  275. My youtube channel is filled with Starcraft videos where bad players play against each other. They are called 'Casual Video Reports' or Vidreps. I ridicule them for being terrible, and it is funny to watch - don't take my word for it. You know what's funny? These players actually send in these replays so they can be ridiculed by me. They want the world to see how bad they are.
  277. I used to train people in Brood War, and I told them this: If you aren't prepared to lose 50 times before you might win a match out of sheer and utter luck or your opponent having an aneurysm - then don't start.
  278. These players were bad, but they didn't cry about it. They got better, and some ended up winning tournaments. And along the way to becoming better? They lost, and they laughed, because they didn't care about winning. They cared about the journey and the company.
  280. Some of those people are still with me. They founded Sandboxclan.net in my name, we help people get better and show them that it really doesn't take that much effort, just the right information and a decent teacher. It's not a case of dedicating your life to something, just don't pretend gaming isn't part of it.
  284. - Greth
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