The Escapist Presents: Turning Black Ops 2 Into an E-sport

Turning Black Ops 2 Into an E-sport

Treyarch's Game Design Director, David Vonderhaar, talks to us about the e-sport features behind Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

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The only thing you need to do to turn a game into an e-sport is give away a ton of money into tournament prizes... look at League of Legends for example.

Lol@esports

Cross Assault proved that esports shouldn't exist.

mindlesspuppet:
The only thing you need to do to turn a game into an e-sport is give away a ton of money into tournament prizes... look at League of Legends for example.

Well, there is a bit more to it than that, to make a good e-sport anyway. Personally, I don't believe CoD would make a good e-sport, but I think that it becoming one is inevitable at this point.

Let's look at a few of the big e-sports nowadays...

- Starcraft 2
- Counter Strike
- Halo 3
- Smash Bros
- Street Fighter
- King of Fighters

and now the MLG is picking up League of Legends.

These are games that are well-balanced, that have massive fan-bases and developer support, and are more about skill and knowledge of game mechanics and the meta-game, than about gimmicks.

That's the inherent problem with CoD. It is a multiplayer shooter built around gimmicks. I could talk about stuff like the knives and hatchets, but individual weapons aren't so much of an issue since most e-sports groups outright ban a lot of the cheesy weapons to begin with. But then there's the killstreaks which are also a huge gimmick. They inherently unbalance the game. They look cool and can be satisfying to use, but they add a very large element of randomness and imbalance. I don't know about the statistics, but from my experiences, whichever team gets the most killstreaks, or gets to the really good ones (like gunships and such) first, tends to win.

However, I do think that CoD is going to become an e-sport whether we like it or not. There's no denying that the CoD fan-base is absolutely massive and that there are more than enough high-skill players to make pro CoD teams possible. There's also the fact that Activision has literal fuck-tons of cash to throw at tournaments. Even if the MLG never picks up CoD, Activision could just start its own tournament league if it really wants to get an e-sports brand going.

rcs619:
That's the inherent problem with CoD. It is a multiplayer shooter built around gimmicks. I could talk about stuff like the knives and hatchets, but individual weapons aren't so much of an issue since most e-sports groups outright ban a lot of the cheesy weapons to begin with. But then there's the killstreaks which are also a huge gimmick. They inherently unbalance the game. They look cool and can be satisfying to use, but they add a very large element of randomness and imbalance. I don't know about the statistics, but from my experiences, whichever team gets the most killstreaks, or gets to the really good ones (like gunships and such) first, tends to win.

It's worth mentioning that killstreaks play no part in competitive COD play. It's also worth mentioning the cheesy weapons aren't banned - in fact, Black Ops was a Famas fest. And when I say that, I mean I NEVER saw ANYONE use anything other than the Famas dual mags/extended mags.

OT: I don't see COD becoming a successful esport. Why? Because it's simply not exciting to watch. It doesn't have exciting gameplay and the skillcap is a good bit lower than in other games.

Team-based FPS games are inherently unsuitable for e-sports, at least for the audience.
There's too many points of view, and the action is too fast, to really capture what's going on.
It's already hard to deal with 2 perspectives in duels in Q3 arena.
That's why MOBA, RTS, and fighter games are better for spectators.

Never mind the fact that CoD is inherently unsuitable for e-sports due to its mechanics.
The killstreaks are designed to create imbalance.
Where a kill advantage is an advantage in of itself, the essence of sports doesn't really exist.

it's an esport in the sense that it will make young teen boys aspire and play to become something that doesn't exist.

Oh boy, the haters are gonna have a play day with this.

Oh boy! E-Sports! The very thing I despise the most about video games.

I really hope these modern war shooters fall out of style soon. Its a sad sight to see screenshots of 3 different games and your unable to tell the difference.
Either way, i hope this brings that day closer.

Shout casting... sounds terrible... especially with the CoD crowd.

I personally don't think I could put up with the sexist and homophobic rants... It'd make me lose the will to live...

As it is whenever I play CoD or Battlefield I mute most of the other players...

Eh I used to do some commentating for GW GvG matches, and I have been itching for E-Sports to take off.

COD has the popularity and the money to pull it off.

IMO the problem with games like CoD as an Esport compared to Smash Bros and fighting games is that it often lacks a way for viewers to get an overall 'commentator view' of the game

But its an FPS game - its a brown and grey FPS no less - so watching it from a spectator mode would honestly be... well... watching a lot of brown and grey run around

that's just that interesting IMO.

but hey, I could be wrong

Too bad COD doesn't actually have the really high skill ceiling required for an esport.

rcs619:
snip

Denamic:
snip

Having played in a couple of community run CoD leagues with my clan, it's worth noting that killstreaks have NO part in competitive play. In most you have certain perks disabled as well as things like rocket launchers and grenade launchers. It's really a lot of fun. S&D becomes a sweat inducing experience in competitive play, especially against a strong opposing team.

SL33TBL1ND:
Too bad COD doesn't actually have the really high skill ceiling required for an esport.

Pretty much this.
I thought that e-sports were supposed to be all about the individual's skill, and COD is innately devoid of any skill.
Oh, your avatar's awesome, by the way.

King of Asgaard:
Oh, your avatar's awesome, by the way.

Thanks, buddy. It's always nice when someone recognises the guys.

Brace yourselfs, a shitload of COD gameplay videos are coming to youtube, even more then the shitload that would come even without this glorified spectactor mode

I'm sorry I've played the old CoD games in a lot of scrims and playing the newer ones they are even less suited to an E sport than the old ones. They had to ban half the stuff in different rules for CoD 4 just for normal scrims. Killstreaks banned was standard

It may have the popularity and the money behind it to do it but it does not have the mechanics weapon and gameplay wise at the moment to do it but we'l see with the new but I doubt it is up to it.

You know your game isn't suited for eSports when half the game mechanics and elements are banned and disabled in order to play it "competitively.

SmashLovesTitanQuest:
Snip.

Combine this with the fact that they shove players into buying a new $60 iteration every year, with different balance, you lose all continuity. A good esport this does not make. That's like if the NHL decided that every year they shuffled the teams and did a fantasy draft.

If they start thinking about skill required to play the game MAYBE CoD could be an esport. But as it is it may get numbers like LoL but LoL at least has some difficulty to it albeit a small amount compared to the difficulty of something like starcraft2(Which is often spoken as dumbed down original starcraft)

I love how they're putting so much effort into trying to convince us that Black Ops 2 is in fact a legitimate game, let alone a potential e-sport.

rcs619:
That's the inherent problem with CoD. It is a multiplayer shooter built around gimmicks. I could talk about stuff like the knives and hatchets, but individual weapons aren't so much of an issue since most e-sports groups outright ban a lot of the cheesy weapons to begin with. But then there's the killstreaks which are also a huge gimmick. They inherently unbalance the game. They look cool and can be satisfying to use, but they add a very large element of randomness and imbalance.

High levels of randomness doesn't really make the game more or less balanced or more or less skillful. The fundamentals of good Poker play is to acknowledge the randomness inherent in the system and make plays where the odds are in your favor. Call of Duty multiplayer is virtually the same, but in this case instead of calculating explicit odds of hands and draws you're estimating implicit odds of what you think your opponents are most likely to do based on how most players play the game.

The sheer amount of options your opponent has makes guessing what your opponent will do harder, which means it requires a higher level of skill and more experience to make reliable and accurate estimates that consistently pay off and allow you to rack up large killcounts. There's basically no other way to rationally explain how some people can consistently get ridiculously high scores, unless you make the claim that it's 100% luck which is a pretty big stretch.

rcs619:
I don't know about the statistics, but from my experiences, whichever team gets the most killstreaks, or gets to the really good ones (like gunships and such) first, tends to win.

So the team that gets more kills tends to have a higher likelihood of winning. Not sure what that has to do with balance. Positive feedback loops don't really affect balance at all, they just change the optimal play-style slightly; the fact that small advantages can snowball into bigger advantages makes mistakes more punishing and conversely good play more rewarding.

For example, League of Legends has a killstreak-esque system; it rewards champion kills with gold, giving the killer an even greater advantage than before. That just makes mistakes more punishing than they would normally be.

Granted everything after CoD4 had some terrible balancing problems, but that was because they chose to leave the game as is and when they did balance stuff (read: code the subsequent games in the series) they didn't think anything through... and the fact that Activision keep changing who's actually making the games.

Glademaster:
They had to ban half the stuff in different rules for CoD 4 just for normal scrims. Killstreaks banned was standard.

They didn't have to, they just chose to in order to make it more like every other shooter, i.e. ONLY about just shooting people better. Basically instead of playing Call of Duty 4 they played a counterstrike knock-off, which is why nearly nobody in the Call of Duty community gave it any notice and it never got big.

King of Asgaard:
Pretty much this.
I thought that e-sports were supposed to be all about the individual's skill, and COD is innately devoid of any skill.

Let me guess. You aren't any good at it and therefore rationalize it by claiming it takes no skill.

Or you could be one of those walking contradictions who is actually so ridiculously good at the game that you win with KDR's of 10.0+ but somehow at the same time conclude that it "takes no skill", which is to say your consistently high performance was apparently 100% luck.

DjinnFor:

rcs619:
That's the inherent problem with CoD. It is a multiplayer shooter built around gimmicks. I could talk about stuff like the knives and hatchets, but individual weapons aren't so much of an issue since most e-sports groups outright ban a lot of the cheesy weapons to begin with. But then there's the killstreaks which are also a huge gimmick. They inherently unbalance the game. They look cool and can be satisfying to use, but they add a very large element of randomness and imbalance.

High levels of randomness doesn't really make the game more or less balanced or more or less skillful. The fundamentals of good Poker play is to acknowledge the randomness inherent in the system and make plays where the odds are in your favor. Call of Duty multiplayer is virtually the same, but in this case instead of calculating explicit odds of hands and draws you're estimating implicit odds of what you think your opponents are most likely to do based on how most players play the game.

The sheer amount of options your opponent has makes guessing what your opponent will do harder, which means it requires a higher level of skill and more experience to make reliable and accurate estimates that consistently pay off and allow you to rack up large killcounts. There's basically no other way to rationally explain how some people can consistently get ridiculously high scores, unless you make the claim that it's 100% luck which is a pretty big stretch.

rcs619:
I don't know about the statistics, but from my experiences, whichever team gets the most killstreaks, or gets to the really good ones (like gunships and such) first, tends to win.

So the team that gets more kills tends to have a higher likelihood of winning. Not sure what that has to do with balance. Positive feedback loops don't really affect balance at all, they just change the optimal play-style slightly; the fact that small advantages can snowball into bigger advantages makes mistakes more punishing and conversely good play more rewarding.

For example, League of Legends has a killstreak-esque system; it rewards champion kills with gold, giving the killer an even greater advantage than before. That just makes mistakes more punishing than they would normally be.

Granted everything after CoD4 had some terrible balancing problems, but that was because they chose to leave the game as is and when they did balance stuff they didn't think anything through.

Glademaster:
They had to ban half the stuff in different rules for CoD 4 just for normal scrims. Killstreaks banned was standard.

They didn't have to, they just chose to in order to make it more like every other shooter, i.e. ONLY about just shooting people better. Basically instead of playing Call of Duty 4 they played a counterstrike knock-off, which is why nearly nobody in the Call of Duty community gave it any notice.

King of Asgaard:
Pretty much this.
I thought that e-sports were supposed to be all about the individual's skill, and COD is innately devoid of any skill.

Let me guess. You aren't any good at it and therefore rationalize it by claiming it takes no skill.

Or you could be one of those walking contradictions who is actually so ridiculously good at the game that you win with KDR's of 10.0+ but somehow at the same time conclude that it "takes no skill", which is to say your consistently high performance was apparently 100% luck.

Actually, I've never played it, but I attempted to watch some competitive matches, and it was all no-scoping, and similar things, which doesn't really take much skill to do.
And before you condemn my OPINION because I don't play COD, bare in mind that one doesn't need to have played something to understand where its potential lies, and COD does not have the potential to be an e-sport.
I believe there's a reason games like Quake Live are, or were, e-sports and that's because each individual player had to rely upon their reflexes and manipulation of their environment (jumping to avoid shots, finding shortcuts and hidden weapons etc), not just their capability to get ten head shots in a row.

 

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