Let’s Look at E-sports.

This is a topic I’ve wanted to talk about for a while but could never quite seem to figure out the way I wanted to present it.  After sitting on it for months, I’m finally ready to talk about the two things I think matter most when creating an e-sport, and it might not be what you think.

Balance.

The most important thing in an e-sport is of course the balance of the game.  Ever wonder why WoW arenas don’t get nearly as much attention?  Thanks to so much RNG being involved in combat, and the weight of stats, and the inconsistent  constantly shifting class balances, it’s hard to play completely fairly.  Games that perfect balance are more likely to get e-sports.  Balance is the main reason the original Starcraft took off so well, but Warcraft didn’t.  Both were RTS by the same company, but one had clear balance issues.  Starcraft isn’t completely perfect, but it’s closer than most.

Why is balance so important?  Because that is what defines the chances of your games.  Unfair games aren’t fun to watch or play.  If you put the globetrotters against high schoolers, it might be interesting once, but if that’s what your tournament is based around?   Bad.  Bad design.  There has to be competition, real competition between players, and not with the random number generator, or who ground the most experience points.

An interesting side note is including variety in balance.  The more unique options you can offer, and different builds/strategies, the more interesting the game can be.  If you can only play a character or team, or faction, one certain way, while the game is balanced, it’s less interesting, though better than an unbalanced game.

Presentation

This is something Starcraft 2 is getting much better at than most e-sports.  Mostly due to the love of the casters and the big events.  Making your game fun to watch is the challenging part.  It’s hard to see the skill behind say a lot of starcraft 2 builds, and announcers are picking up the slack there.  This is also the area games are weakest on.  Figuring out how to make watching entertaining instead of j ust outright showing the match.

Want a good example of how presentation is the biggest seller?  Poker tournaments.  When did they become interesting to watch?  When we started having the over the shoulder cams and very interesting people playing.  Poker itself is a game that has a lot of chance built into it, and despite that it’s popular because they made it entertainign to watch.  How a game looks, it’s pacing (god most e-sports and their pacing today x.x  the first few minutes of starcraft match?  Gaaaahhhhh BUILD MARINE.)  When we can figure out how to appeal to the audience while still making the game enjoyable to players is when we’ll have perhaps mainstream e-sports.

What are your thoughts on e-sports and what’s important?  I love discussion and feedback!

Presentation.

This is something we -really- need to work on when doing e-sports.  Presenting the game to the audience.  We’re doing a lot better but far from perfect, when developing an e-sport you have to ask ‘is it fun to -watch-?  how can we make it more fun to watch?’  We have to worry about things like pacing, which is something most e-sports

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