User:KoreanRedDragon/Is WA in Its Prime
From Worms Knowledge Base
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Forums and Community Involvement
- 3 Actually Playing the Game
- 4 Where Have All the Schemes Gone
- 5 Conclusion
This is my would-be reply to a forum thread over at the TUS forums which suddenly became way too complex and then their website also went down, so now I'm putting it here and linking anyone who can be bothered to read it to this page instead.
A Bit of Background
Now, I'm not going to exclude the possibility that I'm seeing WA's past through somewhat rose-tinted glasses. After all, I'm the first to admit that I loved the CL2K times because it was only then that I really got involved in the online community. It was those forums where I felt my opinion started to matter for the first time and so I found it hard to move on to FB after CL2K's time was up. I know the feeling and I understand why those for whom TUS is what CL2K was for me would favour it over all other leagues and the periods that they marked, despite what anyone else has to say. But reading some of the replies here, by some of the people who I know have been around for a very long time, I just can't shake the feeling that after all we've seen the game go through, we should be capable of approaching the subject a bit more objectively, with less of the unfounded optimism that permeates this thread. It all just sounds too much like the final chapter of the WWP league CBC, when everyone was slapping each other's backs, congratulating one another for a job well done, for crafting a community that's so much cooler and so much more mature and friendly than WA's and so on. We all know how that ended.
Okay, WA right now isn't that far gone, but there's a bunch of cracks and gaps in the mechanisms that the community historically used to sustain itself; it's clearly going to take a far more level-headed approach than this if they are to be addressed. Yes, this is going to be a history lesson. Pointing out that the people on this game once knew how to deal with the problems that we're faced with right now (old players leaving without passing their knowledge and projects on, new players hardly speaking English and keeping to themselves, clan ladders becoming stale, slowly trickling updates, the lack of standard scheme files...) is simply my way of disagreeing with those who say things have never been better on the game. And at the same time my way of getting the ball rolling, in case anyone's interested in taking up the fight.
Forums and Community Involvement
To me, likely the most important and obvious way in which things have gone downhill is the general apathy on and toward community forums. Easily over half of WormNet right now doesn't even know they should be here, while many of the more experienced players who have finally come here are happy to just pass the time without ever taking some initiative on anything. Of course not everyone is going to have the time and the desire fix things for everyone else in a major way, that's perfectly understandable. It's the trend of fewer and fewer people doing it that's worrying. Just take this topic as an example. Would a claim as outrageously provocative as stating that no aspect of this game has ever been more advanced during its long, rich history have gotten away with just two, maybe three people politely disagreeing, had the same thing been posted on the CL2K or FB forums? Of course not. Komo, regardless of whether he was right or wrong at the time, would have been ripped to shreds for blasphemy, for insulting a bunch of interest groups and for using barely any solid facts to support his claims.
If the Team17 Forum is more active than the main community league's, and the Worms Reloaded forum on Steam a lot of the time more interesting to read, we have a problem. Let's not kid ourselves.
Furthermore, while I'm on the topic of forum activity, despite the exciting times that we live in as far as WA development is concerned, the level of interest in these matters is at an all time low; back on CL2K, Deadcode used to be able to turn to the community for opinions, ideas and inspiration. I'm sorry to say, but especially here on TUS, you've lost touch with that side of the game completely, even though getting involved has never been as easy as it is today. We've just had two betas in quick succession, a development blog was launched, the plans for version 4.0 were made public, many of the solutions will need to be discussed and finalised before they can be implemented, the player base is growing... and yet many people here seem a bit surprised that the game is still alive. Urg?! It just sets a pretty poor example for the rest of WormNet if the players in the game's only international all-around league can't even be bothered to keep their copy of the game updated. Or pay money for it in the first place.
But yes, the game has progressed technically over the years, rough edges have been smoothed out and a bunch of features directed mostly at less hardcore players has been added. I just wouldn't consider that an achievement on the part of the community, because obviously every next update is going to make things better, not worse.
Actually Playing the Game
I could probably preach about the sociology of forums and WormNet for another hour, but in the interest of staying awake, let's move on to something more exciting. Let's talk about the actual level on which the game is being played now and see if we can find a way to compare it to past times a bit more fairly than how it's usually done. While I agree that players who have stuck around through the years have, obviously, progressed (especially in the number of schemes they're competent at, as DubC pointed out) I don't really find this a fair comparison. I mean, you're basically stacking people with 10 years of experience up against their past selves, with 2 or maybe 5 years under the belt.
Comparison of Players
Would it not be a lot more accurate, if we're going to compare skill during different eras of the game, to take players who came online around the time TUS was launched and compare their achievements and how they've progressed to those who were active between, I don't know, 2000 and 2003, which is roughly the same time period. Compare apples to apples. During that time, for example, Dextah090 became a universally respected individual capable of playing pretty much any scheme at a high level, the leader of a couple of successful clans, a fun forum poster and the person who provided the community with its first public voice chat server. Does the TUS era have even one individual like that? Case's Ladder, WACL, CL2K, WL and FB had a bunch each, and that's just the bigger main leagues.
And even then, it could be said that getting good at the game is quicker now than it used to be, what with replays and movies and the centralised repository of knowledge on the WKB and the generally more helpful and open community. So me, personally, I wouldn't even concentrate on evaluating absolute skill at each scheme, because back then, much of it actually still had to be invented: tricks, strategies, knowledge about the details of the engine and also ways to best handle keyboards and other hardware, to name a few things. Who's to say MPH and Dope wouldn't have adapted to the Elite strategies that are employed today in a matter of days, if the competition forced them to? Instead, what I think better sums up how "valuable" a player is for the community is looking at their enthusiasm, their willingness to improve, their courage to challenge the top players as well as their readiness to pass the knowledge on when the time comes for a new generation to take over. In this regard, I'd have to say that much that was already part of tradition in the past had since been lost and that we're far from anywhere that could be called a prime right now.
Clans You Shouldn't Forget About
A couple of weeks ago, as part of a discussion that was going on, I compiled one of those alphabetical lists of old clans off the top of my head again. You know, as you do. As it happens, the majority of them were active during that 2000 - 2003 period I mentioned above, so I'm reusing it here:
ab, AC, BB, BnGK, BUD, CKC, COW, CsC, DD, DFA, DwI, eF, EiF, feds, FLU, FWH, GiT, HEX, HoS, IwC, JeW, -ll-, LoR, MAFIA, MwC, NBR, NnC, NoX, OSW, OTB, PpZ, PROD, PSU, PURE, qp, RRp, SfX, SiX, SUSUII, T17, T5X, TdC, TEA, ToP, UpP, VW, WAW, WoN, WwA, WWW, x2x
That's around 50 mostly large clans with lots of members, each with its own story and reputation, many of them tightly connected with a scheme or several schemes, some even responsible for having invented them or at least for watching over them, a bit like NNN watches over Intermediate now. Far from all of them were focused exclusively on roping. The list doesn't really require much commentary, that sort of variety just hasn't been present on WormNet in the past few years, right?
Where Have All the Schemes Gone
Sure, a few neat schemes have surfaced in the past couple of years, Hysteria has managed to break through into competitive play, RubberWorm has matured enough to spawn a league and Elite could be said to have regained a bit of its former glory (think official ranked channel, OSW, WEL, ESL/GigaLiga) lately, but why is everyone forgetting about so many of the things that were lost in the process?
First and foremost, Warmer is but a shadow of the social driving force that it once was. Huge reputations used to come from just your skill at this one scheme, whereas now, the best you can do at it is win a style contest and not even that will save you from getting funny looks for not using a boring box of a WxW map when you next host a public game. How the mighty fall!
Important League Schemes
Likewise the greatness of BnG, one of the four holy league schemes which was once responsible for breeding a generation of WormNet gentlemen, fits now into a box of matches. Even if you leave the matches still in. It's plagued by messy, contradicting sets of rules in leagues and considered boring in funners by everyone but a select group of people who weep each time someone suggests that their ideal scheme should just be taken out of main leagues and left to be played by those who understand it. Something that has already happened to Intermediate, by the way, arguably the most diverse scheme of them all. Team17, a favourite among many of the game's historically relevant individuals and clans, looks like it's the next to follow. Heck, Rope Race, a totally fair, unique, stylish scheme of limitless depth and many ways in which it can be played, barely gets hosted outside league games and challenges today, despite the much more populated WormNet compared to when the scheme was at its peak. And Roper, the de facto roping scheme, is doing worse still.
Even the schemes that could really have benefited from the features added in the updates (large, colourful maps, RacingStuff) like Fort, Battle Race, Boom Race, Walk for Weapons, Capture the Flag and others have more or less faded into obscurity recently. What good is an awesome platform for user-created content if BIT maps from 10 years ago actually play better than the vast, vast majority of PNG maps on WMDB today? It's great that the potential is there, but surely it's not unreasonable to expect quality map making tutorials to pop up for each of these schemes in all this time.
I make things sound worse than they are, but it's to illustrate the point that I'm making. Over the years, huge amounts of effort went into inventing and supporting the various details that make this game so much fun to play and its community so much fun to be part of. By waving much of that history aside and being generally happy with how things stand in the 2008 - 2011 era, I feel we'd be failing to live up to some sort of legacy of always evolving, striving to be better. Or something.
If this article just states the obvious and the points raised in it are something you took into account when coming to the conclusion that Worms Armageddon and its community are in their prime now, I accept that as your opinion and won't dispute it further. When I decided to write this gigantic blob of text down, it was mainly because I felt important bits of history were being forgotten or weren't assigned enough importance in people's assessment of the game's present vs. its past. And we can't have that, can we... not on my watch!
Things Left Out
List of things I wanted to include in the article, but didn't find room for in the end:
- Community member interviews. This is something that happened from the very first days onward (The Allotment did many), was loads of fun and a good measure of how active and interesting things were at the time, atmosphere-wise. Who would we interview today, on TUS for example? Not saying there's nobody, just putting the idea out there.
- WormNet used to be a great place to crash, find a random person to play with and strike both an interesting conversation as well as find a worthy challenge. How can you in the same breath admit that this doesn't really work anymore because nobody uses the chat now and still think WA is a better game today than it ever was, even without this defining quality? Has the organised competition really improved enough to make up for it?