Andi blog: Delusions and reality
First of all, I need to introduce myself to the readers, so that you understood the reason why I speak about these subject. My name is Andrew Prohorov, I'm 28. I've been working in Natus Vincere since 2013. I began with Dota 2 guides, continued as CS:GO writer and now I work as an analyst of CS:GO team.
About the blog
I seldom share my thoughts with others, as I don't consider it necessary. In my opinion, one should speak out, when his or her interlocutor is ready to listen and hear what is going to be said. This time I decided to step away from my principles for a while and to write about the subjects of my concern. These are CS:GO and eSports in general. I will mostly speak about CS:GO, as I have vast knowledge and have analyzed it comprehensively. Thus I assume I have right to share my thoughts on this matter.
The blog doesn't aim to comprehensively cover one particular topic. Instead I will outline the main problems inside the discipline and those related to it, which I've been spotting for the past several years.
CS:GO: the most topical and problematic aspects
Introduction of changes in the game
Over three years have passed since the release of CS:GO. However, the initial aspects of game, which are of high importance, haven't been taken into account by the developers up till now. It seems strange to me to introduce the changes into the game abruptly, on the eve of the major tournaments or during the conduction of minor events. Furthermore, such introductions aren't often necessary. The developers sometimes showed their incompetence in the notion of the game. They'd change something and then modify it, focus on the minor things, change the weapon without understanding, what was wrong with it and what should be done for it to shoot. They'd add some strange maps instead of those, created by community, etc.
It's important to understand, that, introducing changes in any discipline (regardless it's CS:GO, Dota 2 or any other game) influences not only the community of gamers, but also many professionals, who are engaged in the tournaments and work a lot to prepare to it, including pro players, organizers and their staff. Each change requires time to adapt and the more thorough process of study of the changes, which include tests by professional players, specialists and their feedback.
Imagine for a moment, that offside will be removed in football (soccer - Am.) tomorrow only to see, how it will work, because somebody asked about it, while playing football in the yard with friends. Imagine positioning in basketball would be change only because it impacts the entertainment aspect of the game. That's what is happening with CS:GO. Matchmaking is of top priority for the developers and their main focus. However, they lack understanding of the root cause. It is rumored that CS:GO will transfer to the new engine, which will make the game more flexible in terms of changes and enable to implement ideas. In this case, why aren't there any communication with community? The process now relies on post-event feedback: the developers introduce changes, collect the feedback and keep the changes, which were accepted, while removing rejected changes.
Main problems in details
To substantially change the game and make it more comfortable for the users and of better quality, the following things should be implemented:
1. Get rid of forbidden programs (cheating).
The community watches tournaments of the pro teams and players on the regular basis, which are often followed by the news about the ban of a pro player for cheating at the tournament. And I am pretty sure that we'll hear some scandalous news in future... In this situation, what can we expect from the ordinary players on the Internet? When you have a possibility to acquire a program (even for free in some cases) and make anything you want in the game, will you resist the temptation? I envy Dota players, as they don't have such problems (though there was possibility for cheating in the first Dota).
2. Make tickrate 128 for all the community servers and adjust hitboxes.
These might seem minor changes, but they're not. I'll make it short and clear: I want to hit where I aim as fast as it is possible.
I was "inspired" by de_train to make "Competitive maps" a separate item.
Let's finally determine the maps, which must be included into the list of official maps. It is absolutely obvious, that map pool will be increased, that is to say some maps will be added and the system of map pick/ban before the match will be changed. Having read numerous discussions at /r/GlobalOffensive, I came to conclusion that map pool should be increased for more entertainment, while maps should be developed or created. Let's assume that the final map pool will consist of 10 maps, including 7 existing maps, tuscan and modified nuke, plus one more map.
In December 2014 the developers added de_train on the list of Vanguard operations, followed by introducing the map to the list of competitive maps. When I first entered A on this map, I saw a field, rather than a place for tactical maneuvers. It was obvious from the very beginning that introduced map required modifying. Eventually, the changes were made, two wagons added. That's the reality of the game.
de_train first version Old de_train
When I started working as an analyst, I watched about 500 games of Europe's top teams in 2 months, de_train among them. I wanted to see the following statistics: to which bombsite and how often the attacking side goes. At least 10 rounds of 15, the attackers would go to A plant, while B plant was often protected by only one player. That is to say, removing the controller of B would enable to take over B easily. However, a team wouldn't be able to hold the bombsite, even when your team has advantage in players. Players learnt to play, but the problem remains: the map requires modifying, though the professionals play on it. I'm very interested when de_train will finally be modified (as it used to be with "one-way" de_nuke), how much time it will take and what map it will be replaced with.
Frankly speaking, I don't understand much in maps creation, but I clearly understand, what they must contain. The example is the current de_cache, created by Salvatore "Volcano" Garozzo. The map still remains extremely balanced (with a slight advantage to the defenders, which is normal), with minimum of unnecessary details, and it hasn't been modified substantially since its creation. Volcano also created de_train_ve, which however didn't become popular (except for American leagues). Later the Americans had to give up their initiatives and stick to the requirements of the official list of maps.
Summing up, the maps shouldn't be created by John White and approved by Jack Brown. Instead this process should be done by or in cooperation with professionals. The maps should be tested in a separate client and acquire positive feedback and only afterwards released for the community.
The changes of the weapon is one of the most mysterious thing for me. Meanwhile it angers me most. The first word, which comes to my mind, when I think about the change of weapon qualities in the game, is "imbalance". The second one is the unjustified power and exceeded increase of indicators of one weapon today, and the other tomorrow. Once again, in which rough form are the changes made? Before the grand tournaments!
There's one regularity in the introduction of such changes:
enforcement of Tec9 — nerf of Tec9;
enforcement of CZ75 — nerf of CZ75;
Desert Eagle was unprofitable — it was made a bit better.
What the developers think about M4A1-S & M4A4 is a great mystery. I am sure that we'll have to wait for the changes of these types of weapon, and this will mean that the introduced changes weren't necessary at all. As I see it, the weapon, which changes other, should contain bright features. For example:
- should have lesser recoil when spraying
- if it has lesser recoil when spraying, it should have the respective magazine, which is 30 cartridges;
- parameters, like reload time, rate of shooting, the prices shouldn't change from the respective parameters of M4A4.
- great shooting power, that is, for example, with M4A4 you should get to the body 2-3 times, while you need to shoot 5-4 times with M4A1-S;
- since great damage is brought, the recoil while spraying should be bigger than that of M4A1-S.
The player should have right to choose quality weapon, each weapon type having bright characteristics, so that he or she could choose between 2 powers, rather than between two evils. It's bad, that obvious things are implemented only after longtime.
Suppose the basic changes, of which I wrote above, were introduced. The players enjoy the game and their quantity is constantly growing. We face the problem of indicators of game level. Currently, a rank in game don't show the real level of a player due to the rank limitation and incorrect system of determination. Anyone can get Global Elite in any way. In my mind, Global Elite are the professionals of the scene, namely the top level of the players.
In such case I can't play on their level, since I don't have sufficient skill. The most effective MMR system is that of Dota 2. Surely, some players, who have 5 500 MMR, correspond to this level. However, substantial part of weak players are separated. The more points a player has, the bigger is the level of the player. Such system should be introduced in CS:GO. It will also enable to create high quality ingame streams, where users with the highest quantity of points can be seen. This will enable to track the players with the highest individual skill on a global level.
I'd like to emphasize on a particular delusion of the community. Today, none professional team has a coach. Considering that a person coaches a team is delusion. You can name a person, who is with the team, anyhow, but don't consider him a coach. This person can be responsible for particular things, team's assistant, but he's not a coach.
A coach must be responsible of all the processes, connected with a team. Coach trains and players implement and play. In eSports, people, who hold this position, are limited in their duties. They have to base on the ideas of players, which is self-deceit. I will keep my thoughts about the coaching for myself, but I'd say that eSports is ready for such positions. It's the matter of time and of organization, which will make the first step followed by others.
What is considered critics today, is not only helpless, but also corrupting for the community of any discipline. For about ten years I haven't seen critics of players, organizations and tournament organizers. If I were criticize I'd be grateful to this person, as he or she would make me better by enabling to see the things from another perspective. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.
"Critics is analysis, estimation and assessment of phenomena of any sphere of human activities".
Never have I read comments to news or a post, which would contain analysis of what is happening, outline the ways of solving the problems grounding on the knowledge. I've convinced that many professional players are capable of accepting critics. What is necessary is the ability to convey your thoughts while criticizing and have knowledge in eSports.
Cicero said: "For it is from knowledge that oratory must derive its beauty and fullness, and unless there is such knowledge, well-grasped and comprehended by the speaker, there must be something empty and ahnost childish in the utterance"
Nowadays, videos with Colin Cowherd from Fox Sports 1 are very popular. Cowherd critisizes eSports on his show and claims he would never casts the games of such competitions. That's bright example of childish efforts, since this person doesn't understand a thing in the matter he speaks of on TV. Can one take seriously the words of a person, who doesn't know a thing about the matter he speaks of? Here's one of such videos:
Gordon Hayward sticks up for eSports and video gamers — The Herd
To criticize one needs to have comprehensive knowledge. That's why the players don't listen to the opinion of the community, as mostly it can't criticize. That's why players don't accept casters of the matches in various disciplines. The casters speak too much, though they practically do not understand what they're talking about. The players do not need remarks, instead they need faith in them. Without motivation and support the players won't be so powerful as they could become, as they should become.
Where are we going?
I'd like to finish my blog by contemplating about the future of eSports and trying to understand, if there is any.
When it comes to the future of eSports, I ask myself: what I'd like to obtain from this future? What eSports would I like to see? How do I imagine this perfect and working system? Do I make enough for the eSports to be what I want it to be?
It's not important if eSports will become a part of sports or not. The progress is inside the audience. I don't speak of any particular age group. I speak of people of any age, who like to watch the tournaments, teams and players, etc. The audience does grow, but sooner or later we'll see how the growth stops. The reason is that eSports will take the maximum of the existing working things.
When I look at separate branches of eSports, it seems that people, who work in these branches are guided by the principle: "why should I do better, if it is good as it is?". We can assume that ordinary employees of the organization, who don't influence substantially, think so, but what if developers, who influence a game, will think so?
What will really bring eSports to the large audience? What step should be taken?
1. Unified federation of eSports, which would be able to control all the processes related to the gaming disciplines, is needed. Federation shouldn't depend on the developers. Instead, its representatives must know how to connect with the developers. Otherwise, we won't be able to get an independent system. Vitaliy "v1lat" Volochai used to say that in one of his interviews.
2. The developers should find the ways to solve the topical in-game problems and those related to it, so that people of any age could play games. The men will always be interesting in shooters, competition, etc., while women will always be interested in men (and games, though to a lesser extent. The average age of the players should be increased. I assume it can be done by means of the game improvement and control over processes of the game.
3. The tournament organizers must present eSports favourably, namely as a grandiose thing with all the details thought through. These details should not be limited to the flight, accommodation and prize pool. In this case The International is an examplary event. The organizers make it better every year, enabling viewers to enjoy the show.
4. Organizations and teams are the face of eSports: they work with sponsors, create or attract professional players, who become icons for others. Each pro player must understand that first of all he is the part of organization. That is why his personal interests should be secondary to those of the organization not only during the official matches, but also during the whole period at the organization. The organization and its ideology should be prior.
Having written and read these 4 items, I understood that the key to everything is responsibility for your work and personal development. It's rather hard to modify something, which works, but it is worth modifying, isn't it?
I'd never think I'd finish with a motto, but I wish it didn't seem to you minor at the moment.
Esports begin with you!