Good things come to those who wait

by komododod @ 22.03.07 (13:55)

Over at bolted vinski has made a special response to my previous blog on this website.

vinski gives two reasons for why new players do not continue playing warsow:

  • The game is too fast, too quake-like and dare-I-say-it too hardcore.
  • There were not enough players to keep them interested.

One additional reason is given as to why the hardcore did not stay:

  • Lack of big events / prizes. (And thus the lack of ‘something’ to aim for)

I’d like to address these points.

When warsow was first brought to ESReality, by the world of mouth, the playerbase doubled overnight.

When warsow was on giga TV for the first time the playerbase grew exponentially overnight.

In the grand scheme of things, after the initial burst of hype had died down, these increases were found to be quite minimal. The sheer amount of people that downloaded the game vastly outweighed the number of people who continued to play it after one week. One could look at this as how many potential players we lost, rather than how many we gained.

After these events I recall looking at the server browser and seeing list after list of full servers. There were games going on all day, every day. The IRC channel was full and there was constant spam from people looking for games. They found 4 pm’s waiting in their IRC windows almost instantly. We had so many players that anytime you wanted a game it was easy to find one. The critical mass was there; vinski and Icaros. You can see the shell that it left behind in the plethora of empty servers. During these times; the argument that people left because there was no one to play is utterly absurd. The question then turns into: what made so many people leave that those who wanted to play could not get a game?

Of course, nowadays the situation is different. And your points are valid for todays warsow scene. But back then, during the time when the things that you advocate – advertising, tv exposure and regular cups (excello, inquake, bamboocha) resulting in a lot of hype – were all present. And the playerbase was huge. For a few days. So your second reason as to why casual players is largely debunked. That’s not to say that is it completely irrelevant, as noted it is indeed a large factor today. Yet will this same situation not be repeated when we reach out to a new crowd through a new medium?

Regarding the game itself turning players away – “too fast, too action-filled, colourful quake-like etc” – I think you are brushing against a deeper point, a point that affects more games than warsow. Warsow is a deathmatch game with a steep learning curve. As everyone has no doubt heard, deathmatch has been announced as dead. Dwindling numbers of players in the Quake series (and possibly the UT series? I’m not familiar with but I’d assume that this is the case) whilst games that players can pick-up-and-play have no trouble keeping their players. It’s my opinion that this is because you can easily hop onto a packed out ET, CS or DoD server (They got their critical mass of players and they kept it) and grab a few kills. It’s easy.. but importantly it’s instantly rewarding and most importantly fun. You don’t need hours of practicing movement, map knowledge and an understanding of the ruleset. You just hop on and have fun.

Herein lies the reason why I believe that warsow deathmatch is undersupported. Look at instagib – the most popular gametype – in which one person can jump in, press a few buttons and have a blast. Now WE, a subsection of the hardcore who understand the intricacies of deathmatch, all know that there is more fun to be had in timing a red armour to the millisecond and stealing it away from your opponent, or a well co-ordinated quad attack, multiple air rockets or a perfectly executed trickjump. They don’t. The amount of variables, rules and skill curve that players must surmount in order to have the kind of fun, that WE know to be there, to get those first few kills that mean so much, is too much for your casual player. The same kind of casual player that got attracted to warsow through GIGA, prize tournaments. That is, I propose, the reason why we lost our players.

Furthermore since those times, despite being mentioned on both these popular media for gamers, the playerbase has not changed. The third, fourth and fifth appearance on giga TV brought little to no change in the scene. It’s my opinion that we’ve courted the hardcore crowd by having a hardcore game. And the hardcore crowd is small. How many of our current deathmatch players have originated from games outside of the Q/UT series? I’m willing to bet that it’s a tiny minority (perhaps i’ll be suprised – post in the comments!).

Regarding your statement that “Money and mental images are the thing that draws the silent majority” I’m not sure whether that is true. They money was, and is, there for quake4. And WE were ALL there for quake4. I challenge anyone who has been involved in the deathmatch scene to say that they wern’t hoping that quake4 could bring the magic back. However the game itself failed on a number of accounts which we are all aware of. At first glance, todays quake4’s scene isn’t much bigger than warsow’s (although don’t go nasty on me and check gamespy player #’s). We have similar numbers signed up for Euro/open cups. The money is there, the prizes are there, the game is now supposedely (I stopped playing after the first CB TDM season) good. So why doesn’t q4’s scene dwarf warsow’s?

Although I do agree that symbols and image are very important. Fragmovies are, imvho, our greatest weapon WRT converting casual players into our ‘world’. The image of a game in which the very best have 6 figure contract deals, supermodel girlfriends and travel the world playing games is a very potent one in today’s commercialized, heavily consumer-orientated gaming climate. Yet that image is not what brought about ‘pro-gaming’. Pro-gaming came from the underground, it came from people having the times of their lives fragging around on qw servers with 56Kers. The QW scene, which you could argue as being the starting point of both deathmatch and pro-gaming, was not heavily advertised, it was not heavily supported by corporates.. it was just fun as hell. Everything was new. It wrote the rules as to what players could do in online games, as to what the potential of such games could be. It was innovative.

It’s my opinion that a free, indie game does not need to be hyped, commercialized, or attempt to brainwash the audience with continual marketing in order to be successful. It just has to be fun. For everyone.

I do agree with you that Warsow’s release versions do totally downplay the state of the game itself – and it’s not a major issue within the team. I’d say that around 0.4 time (polished CA, wswtv) we should switch to 1.0 and make a real push by getting onto websites such as digg. The label 1.0 is a real buzzword and will generate an awful lot of publicity for sure. However in my opinion we must ensure that there are modes for casual players by having an extremely polished clan arena with multiple maps, better tutorials, tips of the day, newbie cups amongst other things. You know why? Because the vast majority will slip through our fingers otherwise.. in exactly the same way that exposure to the casual crowd has done in the past. That is why, for the time being, I propose that we keep a low-profile.

18 comments

  1. law:

    my opinion is that for warsow to be a big success, it needs a new, DMish, accessible, exciting to spectate, very fun and competitive teamplay mode.

    Teamgames is where modern gamers get their kicks. Our current team games are pretty much exactly the same as they were back in QW, thus people that have been playing these gametypes for years have a huge advantage, not to mention that the mechanics are quite abstract to some1 that has never heard of timing…more so than duel even…

    warsow should be the game to bring DM gaming into the 21st century, and right now, that isnt the case, as our core gametypes are nearly identical to each DM game that came before it.

  2. vinski:

    Actually we see the scenario in very similar view. Our strategies just differ. Some notes though.

    – If you would base your opinion, which I’m not saying you are, about something’s success for [i]avoiding net loss[/i], that would quite much make all forms of advertising from word of mouth to huge commercials incredibly unsuccesful. With this principle the efficiency of not advertising would outwave the efficiency of advertising, but it would also prefer net gain 0 over net gain 999999999.

    My answer in the first post for the main reason of people not playing withing the warsow as a game was: quality of irreplaceable or almost irreplaceable sorts, a largely subjective opinion. The main difference between us is that I think we lose more players with the lack of advertisation than gain by waiting and polishing. The main idea was to make them stay, and this doesn’t happen if they don’t like the coregame – which I think is the main reason people quit. My idea was to make the next version the big bang, because the time is right with ut3, severity, etc coming on the way.

    – Excello, inquake and bamboocha are not CPL, ESWC, WCG. Excello’s first prize was a mousepad. Being succesful in the latter can achieve you a great wealth, some kid can even have a bigger outcome than his/her parents. They wrestle in so different weight classes that can’t possibly be evenly compared, which i’m not saying you are, the way you are presenting it just makes that image.

    – My claim about no-one to play against certainly wasn’t absurd! The TDM/CTF/INSTAGIB scenes still lacked players – on the peak of the earlier versions these gametypes were kinda dead and the 1on1 was in fashion. These games were more played within smaller groups, someone trying it out with one’s friend or inside some social circle, rather than being more ‘public’, in a sense. Although I was referring to the scenario today, which lacks the player for 1on1, too.

    – The existing playerbase isn’t a static resource waiting there kindly, they also get bored to play the same people all the time, the extended time not gaining new players results in losing existing players. Like I had to quit PK, an amazing game, cus there simply were no-one to play, there were no ‘public’ scene. I don’t want to quit warsow for the same reason.

  3. vinski:

    And I still think the next version should be wsw 1.0 . The one with WSW-TV included would 1.1 or 1.01.

  4. Phunky:

    You make some very good points, i am a casual Warsow player im trying to learn all the steps one by one.

    I’ve got most of the movement down to a tee, i’m starting to understand how powerful it is to control the MH and Red Amour, but on the flip side it can be really annoying when you start out and cant do a thing due to skilled players.

    Im hoping i can tempt more people to play Warsow at our upcoming #mEm.Lan

    We will be hosting a 1v1 Instagib event with a nice prize for the winner and im hoping people will go away with a nice new game that they will want to play more.

    So if your from West Yorkshire, and free on the 13th-15th of April come down to #mEm.Lan and have a bash at Warsow with us 🙂

    http://www.mem-gaming.co.uk/lan/ for more info!

  5. pillemann_bms:

    “How many of our current deathmatch players have originated from games outside of the Q/UT series? I’m willing to bet that it’s a tiny minority (perhaps i’ll be suprised – post in the comments!).”

    hldm+hl2dmpro here! ;-D

    “And I still think the next version should be wsw 1.0 . The one with WSW-TV included would 1.1 or 1.01.”

    agree

  6. Esk1motroN:

    I’m in agreeance with vinski on the argument that we are losing more (potential) players by waiting and waiting rather than advertising and drawing a crowd.

    I think it is better to continually reach to a large audience from the start of any project, because otherwise the people who find the project from the start will find it hard to stick with the game due to the under-populated scene surrounding the project.

    Also, agree on the version too — when wswTV is ready, version 1.0. 😉

  7. niceguy:

    you have too much time on ur hands chas 🙂

  8. jannis:

    i played cs like a year before i started with warsow. it had seen quite a lot of painkiller coverage and it looked awesome to me to play a fast 1vs1 game. maybe i saw the warsow link on vo0’s site.

  9. combatvagina:

    imo the majority of todays gamers r the ppl who play cs style slow bullshit, and even if warsow might seem attracting to them after seeing some streams or movies, its way too hard for them. way too fast, needs skill to even move properly, not enuff boxes to go sit behind and camping ur ass off will do nothing but get u pwned. not to mention all of the other aspects of the game. therefore most of those ppl will just quit after trying.

    about those “hardcore” gamers who have pld qw/q3/ut/whatnot: warsow is different. difference for hardcore = bad. they dont want to learn new games, they want to play same game which they alrdy have pld for years and know well. and they also like to spam some pr0gaymer forums about their opinion and fanboys like to listen pr0gaymers. and bcus of that, fanboys dont even bother to try unless their idol decides to tell em to do so.

    ofc theres ppl in all those “categories” who aint scared of the difference/can keep themselfs motivated untill they master the new game, and those r the ppl warsow should b advertized for. more publicity => more of those ppl will hear about it => more players who dont quit after 1 week.

    imo.

  10. Solidius:

    I hope the devs will do a publicity stunt or something, before we become endangered species and the community will exist out of a bunch of elitists that’ll brag about their cocksize against eachother. 🙁

  11. Perfect1on:

    Elitists 4tw.
    Bumped.

  12. law:

    vinski, u make a few wrong assumptions. first of all, sure, some of the players came from UT/Quake, but i actually think most come from CS style games, such as myself, i was a hardcore CS’er till i saw the CPL WT finals, gave Q4 a go, then found warsow and now im involved with the w§w dev.

    to really gain new players, i think we need to make them want to experience a totally new type of FPS gaming, and the best way to do that, would be to use fragmovies.

    CPL winter Q3 tourney did create lots of interest in Q3 from gotfrag people etc, but in the end, i dnt think the game experience is different enough for them to keep playing it. we need to show warsow off at its best, and that means showcasing how warsow can be played (moving and shooting)

  13. AlexMax:

    I think I agree with the OP. CS is accessable, generic WW2 fps is accessable, Warcraft 3 is sorta accessable. 90% of warsowians, though are people who migrated from Quake/UT and are looking for something fresh and a free alternative that they don’t have to pay money for. The OP nailed it when he said that there wasn’t anything that could keep the masses happy. The exposure on magaznies only kept the people for a few days and then they left. And besides, even if we could keep the masses happy with a watered-down unique game mode, that would just keep the masses playing that watered-down game mode instead of “graduating” to dueling like some people think would happen (take a look at Natural Selection for example, they added Combat mode to introduce noobs, but then you get tons of people who just play Combat and nothing else). Clan Arena in 0.3 is probably the closest we’re gonna get to a newbie mode, I guess we’ll see what kind of retention it has.

    So what should happen? I like the way things currently are, there are not a lot of players, but there are a lot more than there was a year or two ago, and every day or two we get noobs in a server or on #warsow asking how to play. The ones that stick it out will tell their friends and get them started and so on and so forth. I’m still a noob, and I still get stomped pretty badly, but if I can continue to play and enjoy myself, I’m sure other noobs can. 🙂

  14. vinski:

    Law I believe you were speaking about few assumptions? You only gave one. I didn’t assume anything about playerbase’s background, what I was referring was the concept, e-sports oriented fps. What you was referring to probably was my assumption who would be most likely to suck into the marketing concept. Sure from cs’ers, wow’ers, civilization’ers to il sturmovik’ers people might find it attractive. I linked a thread where I asked this question from the players, the results seem a bit mixed game-vice, but what image i get is that these players seem to be more “performer” players rather than “experience” players.

  15. jal:

    I’m in full agreement with chas. DM games need to be renoved for 21st century. They were astoundishing at the eighties and early nineties, cause they were the very first multiplayer modes, but they got surpassed now. If DM games want to get any audience from outside the DM comunities (which are smaller each new year) they need to evolve. There’s nothing bad with evolution, and it will, in fact, give out better and more exciting games. Warsow should really attempt to give that important step, it’s not that hard, and it’s not going against the dm games spirit, but just adding more ingredients to the joy.

  16. jal:

    And of course Warsow should never go into 1.0 stage before being ready for welcoming a general audience. Otherwise it will be declaring it’s intention of locking itself to the conservative dm players and loose all it’s chances of evolving.

  17. O'kRn:

    I totally agree with the first post. W§w is a very cool game, but is hard indeed. I’m playing it since a couple of months and i’m getting good satsifactions, and very awful losses. But i still keep training to get beside the “pros”. But pple are different, so you need to create a game (looking forward for serenity) which has “different levels of application”. I mean a game in which even the noob can start playing and get some free action without being overpowered. But you know, what is the most funny thing for a wannabe pro (just like me)? Pwning noobs (sry the i wrote it). I mean is fun sometimes getting in to a server, and start overpowering a guy who has just started. So it’s not only a prog side problem, is also the community pple which should encourage new players (just like i’m doing in the italian community since i’m almost the only one decent player in my country). Btw i still look forward for a better 0.3 and an ass breaking 1.0. W§w ftw…

  18. vinski:

    I wrote another piece about the same old topic again :D, check the url

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