First of all.. a huge thanks to everyone for the overwhelming and passionate response that I have received! I have combined the accumulated knowledge from the 200 posts I've received in response to my recent 'fatigue thread' on TL. I'd like to write my opinions on the various hotly debated issues.
- » Tournaments need to develop their own identity, so that people may begin to discern between them. What is the meaning of winning Tournament A? Tournament B? It makes you the best player of what region, what category?
» Tournament organizers do not benefit from schedule clashes. Viewers who have decided they want to follow both events, suffer. They are not able to and feel stressed out, fatigued or troubled.
» Some sub-top players do occasionally benefit, since they get to be at an event where the best players aren't necessarily present.
» When the time zones differ greatly, occasionally some viewers do benefit, because they get a massive SC2 weekend with anywhere from 2 to 6 events running simultaneously. Some family neglecting may be the case here, but the SC2 satisfaction is guaranteed. These two groups are the only ones that benefit, I think.
» Tournament organizers don't like to roll over for another organization. Announcing your early is one way of staking your claim, but there are particularly juicy dates that everyone wants to have.
» Without a governing body, there can be bullying, or senseless competition over a date which ends up hurting both tournaments.
» A governing body would require authoritative power over all tournament organizers in order to work. They would also need financial stability (to pay out the people who have the hard work of keeping tournaments in line, and for other reasons), and all this body must be kept objective & fair, mediating and reaching compromises which everyone can be equally unhappy with (the golden rule of compromise). I think I don't need to tell you how hard it would to found an organization that has all these attributes, no matter how much we seem to want one - and therefore how long it'll probably still take for one to appear.
» It follows, therefore, that we can only work things out naturally for now. Step (1) Announce your tournament as soon as possible. Step (2) Communicate behind the scenes to inform other tournament organizers of your intentions - cross your fingers that they are honourable. Skip step 2 if you're unable to ascertain that.
» A note on prize money. Broad prize pool distributions help the eSports scene. Top-heavy prize pool distributions help a rare few champions. Top-heavy prize pools also occasionally help with hype towards the community. However, the community usually also instinctively feels that it's not that cool to have $50k for first, and $8k for second, for example. More and more, I think people are starting to appreciate a relatively well spread out prize pool, and this benefits the scene the most in many, many ways. WCS Europe is a great example of a relatively well spread out prize pool which gives every player some pay-off for their thousands of hours of hard work: 2012 StarCraft II World Championship Series/Europe/Finals
» I alluded to artificially reducing the amount of tournaments in the scene to help with viewer fatigue. Point 2 was the one that dealt with that, from my original post. After having considered all the responses, I believe that this is impractical, or even impossible. First of all because there is no governing body, secondly because it's basically a free market. I will explain the way to avoid Viewer Fatigue in the third paragraph.
2. Tournament identity
- » From what I've gathered from the emails, people generally seem to feel that tournaments should either be The Entertaining Type, which I'll call Type A - or The Professional Type, which I'll call Type B. HSC and ASUS ROG would fall under Type A, and GSL, IPL, MLG, DH and Iron Squid would fall under Type B. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that GSL Code S is probably Type A & B combined, since Tasteless cracks jokes and Artosis knows his shit. DreamHack's production of WCS Europe probably also fell under A+B. Forgive me for not evaluating the other tournaments thoroughly, it's not really the point right now.
» Without going into too much detail, people seem to have no limits on how much they think Type B tournaments should improve their quality. I think DreamHack's work on WCS Europe was a great example of ever-expanding production quality, and that's probably part of the reason why it had ~120,000 concurrent viewers. (It certainly can't hurt?)
» The Entertaining Type has an easier time in terms of how critical people are of its production, but I'm sure if the production wasn't good it'd annoy anyone, like disconnects, audio cutting out, or lags. The serious atmosphere is less important here, and people enjoy the camaraderie / social aspect of these events.
» Epic games from the players make any tournament more successful. More on this in point 4.
3. Avoiding viewer fatigue / viewer responsibilities
- » Limit your own viewing to those that you truly enjoy. By selectively consuming, you can reduce the amount of SC2 you consume and add your View to the events that really matter to you. A lot of the people who emailed me are already employing a system where they only watch League X or Tournament Y.
» Fighting for the viewership will force tournaments to improve production quality and their shape own identity.
» The better players are treated, the better they usually play. If tournaments improve player conditions, they are also more likely to create a situation where outstanding plays from players becomes more commonplace. This will make it more interesting for the viewer.
» Contribute. I've found that people who contribute in some way besides just watching gain a personal kind of satisfaction. If you like a certain tournament, see what you can do to help them. It may be that you purchase some of their product like subscription or tangibles, but it can also just be to update the Liquipedia page that pertains to that tournament. I get a sense that the Liquipedia people are a great team of enthusiasts who provide a spectacular service to everyone. Liquipedia can still improve, though! - more on this in point 5.
» Give a tournament you've never watched or stopped watching a chance now and then. They may have improved, and may pleasantly surprise you.
» Oh, and lastly, on the topic of emailing sponsors... Emailing sponsors with positive feedback, especially those who sponsor your favorite players & teams, IS useful, if for the only reason that they also receive negative feedback from a very small witchhunting minority. I'm not saying these witch hunter people are necessarily wrong in every (extreme) case; sometimes a player does push it too far, and I think players have been getting away with too much outrageous stuff without punishment for too long. However, it does not create a positive atmosphere for sponsorship/eSports for "us" to focus on the shortcomings of players/teams only - and to email the sponsors straight away without first seeing if the team itself will take punitive action. For the positive-minded people: you can't stop those emails from being sent, but you can balance it out by showing that there is also appreciation and maturity. (of course, sponsors do care about sales and conversion, but my above point is very valid)
4. Player responsibilities
- » Honestly, a lot of email responses just lamented the fact that the various regions over the world are not proportionately represented. By each country's playing population, we should have more stars from USA, Germany, France, Russia, etc. Players who are consistent and confident, and beat Korean top gamers consistently and consecutively. There is no one way to force this to happen, but it's good to remember that the fans simply want someone to step up and perform. To give them someone to believe in.
5. Encyclopedia Galactica: Liquipedia
- » Isaac Asimov himself would be proud indeed: the Encyclopedia Galactica for SC2 eSports is being developed, anthologised and treasured by the population itself.
» There is nothing like Liquipedia around as far as a collection of coverage of tournaments goes. The only thing that could make Liquipedia better, is by being even better and more well rounded than it already is. It almost seems too much to ask, but I think it's only a matter of time that this will happen. What am I getting at?
» For example: interaction to be possible on Liquipedia items (comments).
» For Liquipedia to get "Liquipedia TV" which is a show that would combine all the results of the past week into a nice consumable TV show
» For Liquipedia to start listing all of the replays & VOD's for all the events consistently.
» The entire community wants a one-stop place for finding everything about every tournament.
» For Television, we've got the TV guide. For internet, we have Google. For eSports, there is Liquipedia. I used to think that it would be enough if Tournament X or Organization Y had a personal TV guide/schedule for their own programs, but this isn't enough. There would still be 10 different TV guides to keep up with - an impossible feat for your average Joe.
» The more people contribute to Liquipedia, the better. It requires passion and hard work, but it will be much appreciated. If it requires funds, I'm sure TV guides also earn money from the TV channels eventually for helping consumers consume the products(their channels).
» Alternatively, I'm sure many people would feel grateful enough to Liquipedia to donate. I just looked for a donate button myself.
» NOTE: It is possible that we might other objective media besides TL/Liquipedia; in fact, it is likely. I don't see it happening yet, though, because there are no financial incentives to do so yet. If running a team is a hard way to earn money, then imagine running an active, comprehensive, independent news / coverage website. Our scene is growing, but it is still kinda small in the sense that we need a lot of volunteer work. ESFI seems to do decent enough work, but I don't know how many people visit them.
» Media should refrain from functioning like TMZ. If there is a story, or a rumour, check sources. Ask all involved parties their story. Never write about just one side of the story. Integrity is the longest path, but ultimately the most rewarding.
6. Blizzard's responsibilities
- » PART ONE: Keeping the game competitive for hardcore gamers. The authenticity of a game as an eSports is derived from four basic elements: FAIRNESS. DIFFICULTY. LOGIC. MASTERY.
» Fairness: the game must be relatively balanced, and the design philosophy must be sound enough for both players AND fans to feel that everything a player does is significant in terms of influencing the outcome. The races must feel equally strong, and the game mechanics should feel exciting and have enough variance.
» Difficulty: If the game is not difficult enough, the fans will not respect the players' skill. I have respect for a piano player (One-handed Pirate of the Carribean - By Wibi Soerjadi) because I admire what I cannot do. Blizzard does not need to dumb down the game, because that won't get the casuals back. Improving the Used Map Settings / Arcade will get casuals. They just like to play Tower Defense, DotA, Footmen frenzy and so forth - and in between look at Tournament streams on the BNet 3.0 in-game client.
» Logic: There needs to be logic in the gameplay and application of units. 2 years ago, I logically suspected that Forcefields could become problematic because you can lock off the opponent's ramps with it. I also knew that Protoss' defensive strength will be balanced around FF, which meant that Protoss would be doomed never to be able to take a secret expansion. 1 year ago, I deduced that Infestors logically should be the single strongest unit in the game. Yet, it wasn't seen as such yet. Why was that? Because players' skill hadn't caught up yet. People were still attack-moving Infestors into the opponent like so much disposable tissues, after dispensing with their energy. However, we still logically should have known that the Infestor could cover all angles for a Zerg player. That of course creates the problem that Zerg without the Infestor would be doomed to suck, since Zerg would eventually be balanced around it (see recent Fungal buffs and how this is true).
» Mastery: When superior and ever increasing skill leads to increasingly impressive results, we are speaking of reaching 'mastery'. It is normal that this level skill is unattainable for 99.99% of the scene's playing population. That is why we watch the pros at work. "Mastery" is said to be failing when, after 4 years, the top professionals are still losing repeatedly to easily executable strategies. I don't have much to add here, because I don't think the game has run for long enough yet to say that we have already reached Mastery. IMMVP, SKT1Rain and Stephano are showing some strong evidence of achieving certain kinds of Mastery that currently are difficult to replicate by other players.
PART TWO: Make the game fun to be involved in for the casual gamers.
» When making the game more accessible, why do we only consider 1v1? Most casual people will have ladder fear no matter what. No matter how simple it is, or how many workers are shown to be working on a Nexus, or whether the workers start automatically or not.
» The WarCraft 3 pro scene was partly successful because of DotA 1 being popular. While never having played 1v1 or competitive WC3 players, DotA 1 players could still enjoy WC3 pro games because the game play is similar enough for them to understand it.
» Blizzard needs to clean up the custom games section, or "The Arcade". Joyfully, they announced something to that effect for HotS & WoL: UI Updates
» Blizzard has done so well in the past by taking the community's ideas and making it their own. "Top vs Bottom" from Brood War is a term coined by the community; they proceeded to make it into a game mode. People wanted in-battle.net tournaments; Blizzard created regularly scheduled Ladder tournaments. People like DotA 1; Blizzard at least tries to make their own versions of DotA.
» We need casuals playing games we (the hardcore players) don't necessarily care about, so that they can watch us now & then and enjoy themselves.
» Conclusion: Blizzard is not perfect, but in the long run, they have never disappointed. Every expansion in each of their franchises has always made the game better. Brood War made SC1 playable, War3: The Frozen Throne made War3: Reign of Chaos playable. Do not lose faith now, ye of little hope! Of course we are worried, and we're right to be so. We criticize because we care. But we need to give credit where it is due. It's not easy being Blizzard, but they did go ahead and give us some of the best years of our lives. Let's continue to keep faith.
Tl;dr: watch what you like, and no more. Be mature. Give positive feedback to Blizzard and Tournament Organizers. Give teams a chance to punish players' inappropriate behaviours before calling up a mob. eSports media should find out all sides of a story before publishing. Tournament organizers should continue to improve player treatment and production value. Supply & demand will sort itself out accordingly; good quality will be rewarded with good viewership, and poor quality will be rewarded with poor viewership.
» Email sponsors with positivity and real feelings about why you appreciate what they do, this may help offset the witch hunters. Here are my sponsors:
Twitch: Streaming platform. @TwitchTV on Twitter Twitch on Facebook
BenQ: Gaming monitors. @BenQAmerica on Twitter BenQ on Facebook
Sony Xperia Ion: Smartphone. @SonyXperiaUS on Twitter Sony on Facebook
» Warning: contributing may lead to satisfaction.