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Thread: Systems approach to the paintball player population

  1. #1
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    Systems approach to the paintball player population

    Warning: This is somewhat a philosophical question about what you feel the "best" form of paintball is. Personally, I design things with "speedball" in mind and prefer that playstyle, because I think it's the biggest, purest "rush", and the closest thing to a competitive sport. I enjoy "big games" and sneaking about in the woods, but oftentimes woodsball fields that haven't been well thought out stall games easily, and you're left trying to make long shots work, which, FSR excepted, they just don't. I also think that woodsball and Milsim play are an itch that can be scratched nearly as well by airsoft, which is somewhat problematic given the much lower costs of entry and play for airsoft.


    So, when I think about how paintball has contracted since 2007, I tend to think, first and foremost about the speedball player population. Generally, most people who are introduced to paintball actually are introduced to woodsball, and then cut their teeth there for a while, and maybe eventually try speedball. However, I tend to suspect that for many players their first speedball experiences involve getting run over by more experienced players.

    My feeling is that improving the initial exposure in paintball to speedball with build a more vibrant player base. But, how to accomplish this? My mental model is roughly as follows:

    LEVELS
    0. People who have never played and have limited information to paintball.

    1. Introduction to paintball (groupons, outlaw ball, birthday parties, corporate team building, lessons?)
    -------Initial Interest and Positive experience, retention, maybe buying beginner gear----
    2. Recreational Players - woods, milsim, biggame, speedball
    -------Buying some gear, playing a few times a year ----
    3. Habitual/Tournament Players
    ----Playing every weekend, joining a team in most cases, spending a lot of money but may be partially sponsored----
    4. Burnouts
    ----Players who have quit or scaled back to 2. based on time and financial commitment.


    The question is, how do we improve the experience of players, at every level of experience, to make paintball's 'player ecosystem' healthier?

    Suggestions:

    Initial Exposure (recruiting more players):
    I think lessons are a great idea - talking about angles, walking the field, body control, etc. I think that the more people recognize competitive paintball as a complex strategic game, the more intriguing it will be to them. I also think that rec-ball should probably decrease the ramping ROF to something like 8 bps, just to reduce the fear factor.

    Also, having GOOD rental guns, that's huge. No one is going to have a fun time with a chopping marker. I don't know what the best solution is, but the closer you can approximate, right away, the feeling of using a NICE setup out on the speedball field, the more players are going to want to re-live that experience.

    Placing players in competitive games of roughly equal skill seems important too. I don't know how to codify this because it seems almost like a 'picking teams' in recball problem.



    Rec Ball level (helping players that play some now play more):
    I find this to be the trickiest one, because it's the category I fall into myself. I think part of the problem for me is that often there is little middle ground (around here at least) between casual woodsball, which is OK, and playing with teams whom are practicing, which can be significantly above my skill level. This seems like a local field level issue; if there were more places I felt were 'about my speed', I suspect I'd play a lot more. Then again, people int his category are also usually pretty busy.



    Tournament Level (keeping the players interested and playing):

    Fields need to be improved to encourage movement, somewhat, at all levels, but I think that this would particularly be helpful to people who play very frequently. I hesitate to artificially limit paint consumption beyond the ROF reduction we already see, but the stagnant nature of certain PSP layours is encouraging people to shoot a LOT of paint. There's always something to be said for 'rolling your guns', but I can't help but wonder if incentivizing movement would help players avoid burnout. Proposed format changes (like vball) could be interesting, but I also think maybe a system where winning a game FASTER awards more points would help. If you could score 3 points by blitzing the other team, that would make comebacks more likely, and discourage the "up-off-the-break, choke them out" style some teams have used very successfully.




    Anyway, what do you guys think of thinking in this way? can we, by breaking down the populations into transformative steps, gain insights on how to grow the sport?

  2. #2
    I agree with your statements for the most part. I also see the need to grow the sport and the need to actively seek new players. I represent the other end of #2, the woodsball player. Most woods fields in my area were not properly thought out prior to inception and promote long balling. They need to be designed to promote movement instead. I also agree that the ramping cap should be lowered to keep first timers and young ones from being scared to death, personally I don't mind it being where it's at but I can definitely vouch for newbies being scared to move and play with the sound of full auto-like fire.

  3. #3
    i agree as well but I'll add some of my thoughts as well. what keeps me in the sport is the thrill of the speedball. but a woodsball tourney is amazing as well. I think that most fields use what natural cover is availible when designing their fields and build from there because it's the cheapest to do. promoting movement on the field makes for a more exciting game, but not one sponsors make the most profit on.

    maybe it's just me. i feel burned out with how much a lot of things cost. maybe it's also with the amount of equipment that is on the market. It seems the people that were making the products to make the sport better are all gone, and the ones that are left are doing it just to make money. i think the marker that really made the sport explode was the ION. cheap enough that everyone could get into the sport at a reasonable price and can be used for anything without any issues. if i could make a gun without paying 3 diffrent companies royalties for trivial patents and beable to keep the price down under 200 that has a regulator, eyes and electro pneumatic operation the gun would be a instant hit with people getting into the sport.

    what made the ion do able is the machined parts were simple to make and there were very few of them. The frame was cast and the parts that needed to look good were molded. the electronics were very simple.

    I think the only part of the sport that hasnt been really promoted is the at home modifications that could be done to a properly designed marker. why not design a gun like an ion with a clear lexan body, allow the user to paint the inside of his own style to the gun and seal it so the paint will not come off. use clips instead of screws to secure the body to the rest of the gun so it wouldn;t be cracked from over tightening.

  4. #4
    ramping has killed the art of the gunfight.
    social conservatism: the mortal fear that someone, somewhere, might be having fun.

  5. #5
    Interestingly I think the Ion is the marker that killed the sport.

    From several sides.

    It destroyed margins for most stores. Yes they sold a lot of them, but didn't make much money on each sale. I think it is fundamentally important that manufacturers, fields, and stores can make decent money so that they can stay in business and provide good (if not great) experiences to new players and old alike.

    It meant that more people were ramping, shooting more paint and blowing up new (and old) players at the fields which is fundamentally what I believe to have stopped more people coming back to play again than anything else. Selling the game to new players by ramping and paint sales was the worst thing we could have ever done.

    I stopped going back to the Long Island Big Game because of all of the overshooting (mixed in with quite a few bad attitudes) every one of the players that over shot me was shooting an Ion. Maybe they would have been doing it anyway with a different gun, but the Ion was so accessible that it was everywhere.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Simon View Post
    Interestingly I think the Ion is the marker that killed the sport.

    From several sides.

    It destroyed margins for most stores. Yes they sold a lot of them, but didn't make much money on each sale. I think it is fundamentally important that manufacturers, fields, and stores can make decent money so that they can stay in business and provide good (if not great) experiences to new players and old alike.

    It meant that more people were ramping, shooting more paint and blowing up new (and old) players at the fields which is fundamentally what I believe to have stopped more people coming back to play again than anything else. Selling the game to new players by ramping and paint sales was the worst thing we could have ever done.

    I stopped going back to the Long Island Big Game because of all of the overshooting (mixed in with quite a few bad attitudes) every one of the players that over shot me was shooting an Ion. Maybe they would have been doing it anyway with a different gun, but the Ion was so accessible that it was everywhere.
    the ion is a symptom of a bigger problem, the obsession with firepower. ramping is also a symptom of this problem.

    i have talked to lurker many a time on the topic, me being a long time pump player, and him not. and eventually, it was just a couple of months ago just broke down and said "i get it" and i was like what? and he was like "i get the whole pump thing"

    i think "the whole pump thing" can be accurately summed up not with accuracy, not with movement, not with skill over firepower .... i think its just letting go of the arms race. letting go of the firepower domination. once you let that go ... paintball fundamentally changes.
    social conservatism: the mortal fear that someone, somewhere, might be having fun.

  7. #7
    Very true.

    I like all forms of paintball, but in the right place and at the right time.

    I am having more fun playing with an Autococker and Pump right now than I have in ages.

  8. #8
    Insider PBSteve's Avatar
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    The trick is going to be finding something that gives players an edge over massive fire rates, which guns with massive fire rates can't take advantage of, without hitting them in the wallet. Until that happens it's going to be difficult to convince people to walk onto the field at an inherent disadvantage.
    I work for the company building the Paragon...once we figure out a name

  9. #9
    That is why I have always loved Vipers rules for Pumps.

    Pump guns can shoot 300fp. Semi's 280fps.

    I think that kind of advantage should be a standard rule at fields and it's a great way to encourage people away from high rates of fire. They get a range advantage instead.

  10. #10
    Insider Dayspring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cockerpunk View Post
    ramping has killed the art of the gunfight.
    That's why I got out of playing competitive paintball. It used to be that fast shooting was a skill - same as snap shooting and gun fighting. Now, you can stand behind a wall of paint with the ramping guns out there.

    In the end though, ramping has (IMO) made the sport somewhat safer at a competitive level - everybody is on the same playing field of 12.5BPS instead of people trying to cheat the system. I don't think it should be allowed anywhere except on the tournament scene though for reasons that everybody here has mentioned.

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