Tag: community issues

Why Dota 2 is considered more hardcore than League of Legends

Last night I posted a new video discussing why Dota 2 is considered more hardcore than League of Legends. The video and MP3 are available at the bottom; directly below are the show notes:

Hello and welcome to an opinionated eSports piece about why people consider Dota 2 more hardcore than League of Legends.

So first, as someone interested in all of eSports, one of my goals is to be impartial and appreciate all genres and aspects of eSports. So when I loaded up Dota 2 after significant time playing League I went in with an open mind. I’ve also spent some time watching Dota 2.

So why is Dota 2 considered more hardcore? Well first, if we look at the companies and their games from a non-gameplay perspective, they seem very similar. Valve is known for developing competitive titles, nurturing the competitive communities (at least to some degree, CS fans might disagree), and maintaining their games for the long term. Riot is also very supportive, arguably even more so, but they haven’t been around long enough to see how loyal they are to eSports. Both games are designed with competition as a core aspect, both have features for supporting eSports like in-game match spectating and advertising events. So basically I’m not interested in comparing companies or the interface or the programming behind the games. This evolves, both seem supportive, it’s not worth considering in my opinion.

What is worth considering though, is the strategic elements since this is generally what makes a good competitive title good. StarCraft 2 is incredibly deep, with serious meta elements to consider, and evolving strategy. Even something like Quake Live which seems very simple, is so pure that the strategy happens through the players and can be surprisingly deep (reference my QL strategy video). But what about Dota 2 and LoL?

Well it seems pretty obvious once you join the game that Dota 2 must be more strategic simply because there are more elements to consider. To say otherwise would be foolishly arrogant. For instance:

  • Movement varies between champions altering playstyles, used for balancing as well
  • You can manipulate your own minion wave which allows you to manipulate lanes
  • You can deny creep by stealing last hits
  • Most items have an active effect + more useable items like pots/bonuses
  • Orb walking in Dota 2, seems controversial if it exists in LoL (animation canceling)

Because of these differences Dota 2 seems less forgiving, more difficult, but with deeper strategy. However, there are consequences to this and I think it explains why League is more popular than Dota 2:

  • It seems less exciting to watch since shallower games tend to focus more on action
    • Remember people think movies like Transformers and The Avengers are “really good”, meaning that they like to be visually rewarded, not intellectually rewarded
    • Analyzing gameplay in Dota 2 is probably too difficult/time consuming
  • In League champion survivability seems much higher meaning team fights are longer
  • Higher entry barrier to new players, higher requirement for strategic knowledge
    • This problem was addressed in a previous video I did about competitive FPS
  • I think the movement variation will turn people off, especially the delay
    • The delay makes the game feel slow and thus slightly more boring
    • In League it’s cool that players can “dodge” skillshots

One question I have for viewers, that I couldn’t easily find, is “in League it seems games often tip towards a team fairly early on and if you understand the strategy you can usually tell who’s going to win. Is this the same in Dota 2? Or with the deeper strategic elements, do you find teams improvising more and pulling out of these holes?”
I would think so, since teams have more choices in how to reverse the scales and regain momentum, but the enemy team also has more choices. How does work out?

I also feel like League is more visually appealing than Dota 2 since it has an almost WoW look to it, something friendly and cartoony. Dota 2 looks more serious and polished, but I wonder at a statistical level how many players might choose a game that “looks better”

  • Example, say just 1% of MOBA gamers will choose LoL over Dota 2 because of visual appeal, that could be ~400-500k players if the MOBA base is 40-50 million players.
  • This isn’t really relevant, but just another thought I was considering
  • I really like the look of Dota 2 though, especially the interface

All-in-all the games are both fun and cater to different communities. I think it’s safe to say that Dota 2 is more hardcore than League, however I don’t believe Dota 2 will ever beat League in popularity. League is easier to get into thus will be many players first MOBA and the one they’re loyal to. I also think it’s more fun for people because there isn’t all the subtle challenges they face in Dota 2, like learning hundreds of active item effects and movement variations. Dota 2 will also suffer from the same fate that SC2 suffers, having no “fun mode” for new players to get sucked into the game. There will be that high frustration and ladder anxiety that stops a significant percentage of players from enjoying the game. This is a very serious problem too, since eSports needs larger audiences to grow. If we select games like Dota 2 and SC2 for the premier competitive titles, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. We need games like League to open the doors for new players, especially since people who play a specific game or sport, tend to get really into spectating it as well. For instance, people who’ve played soccer or football personally, will often times be more attached to spectating it than non-players. eSports will be no different.

And of course here is the actual video:

And as requested via the YouTube chat, a link to the MP3 download of this broadcast.

Other Tags: LoL, MOBA, ARTS, Dota2

Having Realistic Expectations in eSports

Last night I published a short opinion piece about having realistic expectations in eSports. Specifically it was in regards to getting paid from eSports positions and the Major League Gaming Fall Championship.

The first point I went on to make was my theory about why such a small percentage of people get paid from eSports. It’s because these organizations, while appearing large and successful from the outside, are actually operating on razor thin margins. This instability in a volatile market means we need to treat them like start-up companies. They are only able to hire the absolute best candidates because a single bad employee could literally put the company out of business. And we see this every 6-9 months, with another organization going under. So as an individual interested in pursuing eSports professionally, understand that you have a long road ahead. You must prove your worth by creating value over a consistent period of time. Only then will they consider paying you.

The second point I wanted to make was that as fans we need to have proper expectations when dealing with tournaments. I saw a number of angry Tweets on Friday and Saturday from HD purchasers who said they would never buy MLG again. This saddens me because 1. they are giving you a free pass for the next event and 2. this industry is really young. eSports has only been around in its current context for ~12 years and the technology we’re using make everything possible only 3-4 years. No matter how much money someone throws you, hosting an event at this stage of the game is going to result in problems. MLG took a risk by switching streaming partners (I’m assuming because of a better deal or simply to “test the waters” and take power away from Twitch), which results poorly. It’s going to happen as things evolve. Please give them a chance to grow and support whatever they do so we can have a bright future. Of course I should also clarify by saying that complaining and holding people to standards is a good thing, just don’t count them out completely.

Here is the full video:

Other Tags: MLG, TwitchTV

Why are the Koreans so damn good at StarCraft?

The other day I released a video called “Why are the Koreans so damn good at StarCraft?” In it I discussed my thoughts regarding work ethic and how it impacts eSports. Foreigners seem ill-equipped to deal with the strict training regimens Koreans and other Asian countries are currently employing. Instead American players are spending more time “branding” themselves by streaming and developing personalities. While this can be very entertaining and enlightening in regards to strategy and other topics, it shows at tournaments. So many of our international venues are dominated by Asian players who consume the top 5, top 10, and even sometimes the top 15 spots. In the most recent MLG, Naniwa, the last foreigner hope, was beaten out at the 13th-16th Ro6 slot! While this might not be a problem for some who closely follow the GOM or KeSPA tournaments, it is a problem for most. Having a more even split gives many fans someone to really root for and tournaments would be infinitely more exciting if our “home team” was competing at the end.

The other problem mentioned in the video is one of speculation. If Koreans are training ~12 hours / day, and foreigners start to catch up, what would happen? Would the Koreans start to train more? And if they do, what happens if being a pro gamer means you dedicate virtually ever waking minute to training? I can see a future where an elite group of highly disciplined gamers dominate every tournament because they use polyphasic sleep to achieve a 4-hour daily sleep routine and spend the rest training. Can we stop that from happening? Or is it even possible for the mind to achieve that level of focus?

Just some thoughts to mull over, here is the video:

Other Tags: MLG, SC2, StarCraft II, Brood War

The Problem with Competitive FPS

Today I published a new eSports opinionated piece called “The Problem with Competitive FPS”. Within, I talk about some problems plaguing the dying competitive FPS scene like a lack of developer support, a poor spectator experience, a lack of novel complexity (or whatever you want to call it, refer to paragraph below), a high required level of strategic knowledge, volatile communities, and a lack of unifying support. All these come together in a perfect storm of total destruction that is killing the once fruitful and exciting genre of FPS eSports.

I also forgot to mention the idea of the “illusion of strategic knowledge” that MOBA/RTS games give viewers. By focusing on resources, player movements, and other interface related details people may have the illusion that they understand what’s going on, but actually don’t and wouldn’t be able to answer the tough “why” questions.

Other Tags: CSGO, CS:GO, MLG, Halo, FPS, First-Person Shooter

eSports in the Olympics

I’ve seen a number of Tweets today sharing links and thoughts about the Olympics adding eSports. There’s even a petition you can sign to voice your support. Pretty neat, so I thought I’d comment on it myself and address a few points that have been brought up.

I think the first place we should start is an entry level issue for some people: is eSports a sport? Many will immediately discredit competitive gaming as non-physical, thus not a sport. Most definitions even emphasize “physical activity” as a fundamental aspect. If we look at the definition for “physical activity” we get something along the lines of “any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness” [Wikipedia]. Now to a degree this is a point against eSports, right? It’s not necessarily physically demanding outside the stress of enduring long tournaments. However, if we look at some sports, we find that they focus on specific human attributes like physical strength, endurance, or finesse, but not all together. The athletes choose to be well rounded athletic individuals not because their sport demands it, but because they demand it. The point I’m trying to make here is that a well rounded athlete could utilize competitive gaming (i.e. improving reflexes and dexterity) to be a better, stronger athlete. eSports should be considered a sport because it meets the requirement of challenging the body, even if it’s not in a traditional sense.

London 2012 Archery

The top London Olympic archers don’t look overly fit (wikimedia.org).

Next we should talk about what sports are currently in the Olympics and how they argue for or against eSports. My initial reaction was that games like League of Legends and StarCraft 2 might take too long. Most Olympic sports seem to be highly specialized and focus on exact skills like running, throwing, jumping, flexibility, etc. Video games are played out in matches and don’t feel the same in that regard. But then we must remember that basketball and football (soccer) are included now. So clearly that isn’t a hurdle to getting them there. One argument against eSports I will concede to is that some sports may deserve priority over it. The Olympics only had 26 categories and 39 total disciplines. That’s not very many when considering how many could be added. Then we must ask ourselves, in the interest of fairness, are there sports that deserve to be included before eSports? For instance, Wind Surfing, Pole Dancing, Skateboarding, Softball, Equestrian Vaulting (which made me giggle), Rugby, and road racing were all petitioned for. Thus we must development an argument for why eSports deserves to be there over any of them.

One of those arguments, and a benefit I consider the greatest eSports has over traditional sports, is accessibility. Anyone can play from anywhere in the world. Have you ever heard anyone say, “yeah I love watching [soccer/football/tennis/etc] because I played it in high school and college”? This is what eSports has going for it. A world of gamers, playing these games, having fun, and developing strong connections with them. I see eSports taking off because the vast majority of the world will feel instantly connected to them. They’ll understand what it takes to be good and how skilled the professional players actually are. Not to mention the fact that eSports doesn’t require difficult scheduling and logistics. You can load the game and be competing within minutes whereas traditional sports are limited to your ability to find interested players, schedule a time to play (that doesn’t conflict with 10-15 other people), and then actually travel to the destination. Professional gamers will be able to spend more time practicing and competing than traditional athletes on top of a massive pool of new amateur talent.

Another benefit to eSports is safety. In the United States there’s been news articles expressing concern over football players and the amount of concussions their suffering. The constant banging of heads and bodies is resulting in brain damage to some players later in life. There’s also “disappointing injuries” like Raphael Nadal has experienced recently. The star Tennis athlete has had to forfeit his US Open matches due to a knee injury. This does happen in eSports as we’ve seen with someone like Liquid’s TLO, who took a break from gaming to nurture a serious carpal tunnel injury. But when compared, I would expect the numbers to be significant. No more would we hear depressing stories about college athletes who “almost made it”, but hurt their shoulder and had to retire.

So what’s holding us back? I’d say the biggest factor is simply public opinion. In this article on Forbes, the author argues that eSports could be in the Olympics by 2020, but personally, I’d be shocked if that happened. From what I’ve learned in life, 8 years is far too quick for a culture to accept something new. Yes, yes, I know eSports has been around for over a decade, but for most people it hasn’t. For most people eSports has been around for a year or two. And I believe this is the marking point for measuring how soon major events are going to take place. Not to mention that we need an entire industry to develop long before the Olympic committee considers us a serious candidate. Hopefully I’m wrong.

But in my honest opinion, I consider eSports the future of competition. It’s accessible and highly competitive, it’s an intellectual sport for an increasingly intellectual world, and has potential to completely crush any physical competition. I truly believe eSports will be the biggest change in the sports landscape in all of history, and I think it’s just around the corner.

UPDATE: someone on Twitter mentioned technology being a barrier for many countries to compete thus eliminating a number of potential athletes. This is definitely an issue, but I’m not sure to what degree. Technology is accessible virtually everywhere in the world and since we’re considering the best athletes, those who need the technology to play will find it. I think the biggest determination in this regard would be the amount of people that could participate within their country. For instance, in the US we’d have millions of gamers to choose candidates from, whereas a smaller country like Botswana or Nepal would only have thousands of potential candidates. But I’m not sure how much that matters since many of these countries only send a handful of athletes anyway.

He also mentioned literacy, which is an interesting issue. One of the barriers to eSports is a persons inability to understand what’s happening in complex games like StarCraft 2 and League of Legends. Even traditional sports like basketball and football (soccer), which are both in the Olympics, are easier to understand than the intricacies of most competitive games. And now compound that with a lack of gaming technology in poorer nations and it really becomes a problem. The only hope here is probably the proliferation of cheap gaming technology to these countries over the next decades.

Another Twitter follower asked where does it stop? If eSports is added, then why not “rock skipping” or “long distance spitting”? First, I’d like to say thanks to this guy for holding a very respectful and interesting conversation. I was worried when I first sent my Tweet that I’d get into a pissing match with some troll or “hater”. Quite the contrary. Second, this is an interesting question because I feel it represents a number of people. Our society often simplifies concepts we don’t actively participate in. For instance, with sports in general, non-competitors may perceive sports to be much simpler than it is. We don’t take into consideration the magnitude of minor decisions and the strategy that goes on behind the plays. Take American football, which may appear to be relatively simple. We have each team on the field, one with a ball, they run different patterns, throw it around, and try to make it across the field. This where much of the game may end for most people. They don’t consider all the thoughts and actions that professional athletes take into consideration when determining which play to run, whether or not to throw it, and factors off the field that might effect them. We just simplify it because we don’t need to know everything to enjoy it. With eSports it’s no different. The mind games, strategy, and decisions are even more complex than traditional sports. It’s like chess, except people enjoy watching it. That’s why I believe it’s the future of competition because it’s a fresh and intelligent approach to sports. The problem with rock skipping and long distance spitting is that they aren’t compelling. Plus I should probably mention that it doesn’t need to be fair anyway. The committee decides what constitutes an Olympic sport and they already don’t include hundreds of potential candidates. Thus worrying about where it stops is somewhat irrelevant.

 UPDATE 2: Another potential benefit to eSports is the lessons it might teach people. There are the obvious ones like a general appreciation for competition, learning to work as a team, understanding the intricacies of strategy, and the importance of subtle decisions. But there are also other potential lessons and rewards to eSports. For example, after learning how to program, I gained the ability to think more abstractly which has proved extremely useful in helping expand my mind. With eSports I think we could see the same thing as people delve into the complexities of competitive gaming and begin to understand just how much depth is involved in every decision. They may also use eSports as a catalyst for addressing issues in their own life since ignoring them may cause a mental barrier. If someone is depressed but also motivated to become a professional gamer, then they may begin the path to self-improvement. This of course applies to many things, but should not be lost on eSports.

eSports Mini-Lecture: Kickstarter, FPS scene, DayZ, and Shout Outs

Now that the eSports bulletin is well underway, and I have a smooth method for producing them, it is time for the next step in my master plan of eSports awesomeness! This new show is a chance for me to talk about things I find interesting and share my personal opinions. I’m going to try and keep things interesting by talking about drama, rumors, controversies, exciting announcements and things of that nature. I’ll also preface topics with a history of what happened, why it’s important, and then delve into my actual thoughts. I’m also considering bringing on guests if the topic warrants it, although I’m not sure about being a host (the pressure *shudders in horror*).

In the pilot episode that’s embedded below, I talk about the recent Kickstarter controversies, conflicts within the FPS scene, and assholes in DayZ. I also close with some shoutouts to my favorite eSports websites.

Lastly, be sure to check back here for the latest episodes of this show and the eSports bulletin! I’ll also have summaries of what’s covered, share relevant links, and even publish full articles detailing specific topics. That way if someone prefers reading or wants something to reference, there’ll be a nice articulated version as well.

Oh and the title of the show is still undecided. For now it’s the eSports VLOG, but I don’t like that…any ideas?

Other Tags: CSGO, CS:GO, ArmA 2, ArmA II

Sexual Harassment on Cross Assault

I just wanted to share the various articles and video relating to this issue since it’s being brought up here and there.

On EventHubs they published this short blurb with lots of comments to read. You should get a general idea how the FG community is reacting.

There’s a much lengthier article on shoryuken about it. Again, many comments to read. And another article from SRK.

ESFI’s article. Level | Up has published a statement.

Penny Arcade, Giant Bomb and Kotaku have articles. Ars Technica added an article.

Videos: Day 1: Sexual Harassment on Cross Assault, CROSS ASSAULT – DAY 5 – BBS HQ (1:45:00 is the argument), Cross Counter Live 120 Part 2, The Fighting Game Community takes sexual harassment very seriously UltraChenTV – Women in Competitive Gaming

It was mentioned on today’s episode of The Executives by Complexity Gaming.

I’ll update if I find more sources of info.

Other Tags: FGC

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