COD Sam "RattlesnK" Gawn: Open letter to VALVE - Part one

ESH_VictorESH_Victor 2013-12-12 19:58:26

This will be a series of articles by EsportsHeaven resident columnist Sam "RattlesnK" Gawn addressing the problems in CSGO and how they could be resolved. Part one: Regarding future updates & developments of CSGO

There is a time and place for positivity regarding the updates we do get, but I really think some individuals within our community need to wake up and smell the coffee regarding what little has been provided to us so far. We are simply not receiving enough updates that are capable of changing the game that drastically over a short period of time. If we wait for VALVE to continue updating at their current pace we will be five years older by the time the game finally reaches a stage we can be happy with. I really think this is becoming a problem when you consider that VALVE's apparent priority is in developing the skin purchase system even further. Granted this provides our community with higher prize pools but I can't help feeling we've missed a stage in the development of CSGO. What happened to fixing the fundamental problems with the game?

For a start VALVE needs to offer far more transparency towards the current updates they are working on by providing more frequent information on their twitter account (@csgo_dev) and website (http://csgodev.com). This would hopefully relieve some of the conjecture from the scene about what the developer team is actually working on so we can have something to look forward to. I would advocate that a step further would be to open a planning tool such as trello to note down any tasks the dev team are working on every day. I can't think of a better way of keeping in touch with the community their trying to please. It would also assist players in letting them know whether they are wasting their time fixing trivial issues and instead allow them to spend more time on major fixes the entire community wants. This whole concept of transparency is one of the most important elements which I believe is currently lacking and if used correctly alongside player input could assist the scene in getting the updates we all want. After all if VALVE provide us with a carrot rather than a stick I'm sure we will all feel a lot more full.

Operation payback was a nice start - but we need to keep an eye on the fundamentals before the game can fully flourish.

Another plea I would make is for VALVE employees to come out of hiding and choose to support our game instead of the many other titles at their disposal. I know our community can be quite negative regarding CSGO's development but we take pride in the CS franchise and want you to develop it together with us. I had the pleasure of meeting VALVE at DHW 2012 where I was informed that each developer is permitted to choose which project they would prefer to work on. Whether this was DOTA2, CSGO or another game was up to them and their personal preference. I was told this aspect of their company was 'what made them different to others' as they had an influence on how much input a game received and the amount of developers that worked on each game. It appears that CS has fewer developers than other games currently and I would firstly like to thank those that are currently working towards improving CSGO with us. Without them I really don't know where we would be. I really would like to convince others to jump ship and start working on CSGO, so if VALVE does manage to read this piece I hope we can convince you that our game desperately needs your help in updating it to what our community wants.

Toward the current development I have one small gripe that stems from how feedback is currently being provided to VALVE. At the beginning many top figures of CSS were lucky enough to be sent out to Seattle to test CSGO and give their opinion of what changes were required. I really believe this was a great step and an olive branch out to the CS community and something that could have been extremely useful. Sadly it appears to have ended with not much feedback being taken on board because it was at such an early stage of the testing process. If this was repeated and the knowledge was taken on-board then perhaps some compromises could be made between VALVE and the competitive community that would allow for it to be useful again.

However, what we currently have is NiP being used as an official mediation between the professional community and the developers which really does not provide a large enough demographic to take into account everyone?s views. It isn't their fault and its probably because of their early success in CSGO that this occurred but I feel this is a very dangerous precedent to follow if VALVE are valuing their opinion over other teams. A little snippet from 'Fiskooo' highlighted this danger when a gun price was determined because the NiP players agreed the price at $2,900. That?s not to say the price is even wrong, I think it works quite well at that price and was the correct decision, its more that there is the potential for another team disliking a decision that is made with out their voice being heard. I hope everyone understands this isn't me having a go at NiP but instead showing exactly why I dislike one team having so much control towards the development of the game.

So what would I suggest to resolve this? I would arrange for one person from each major team within the scene to become an ambassador to VALVE toward future updates. If they feel there is a gameplay change they are going to make then send an email to every ambassador asking for their opinion which could range from a detailed response to simply asking for a yes or no answer. This would provide VALVE with a way to gauge information quickly on what our community wants, whilst also giving teams a platform for discussion. The demographic would not only be larger, but it would also allow the ambassadors to get in direct contact with the developers on certain issues we all agree need updating and fixing. If this was done correctly it would allow considerable amounts of useful information to get to VALVEs hands that would help them make the correct decisions about our game. When several or all of the ambassadors keep suggesting the same fixes it should be clear to VALVE that this aspect of the game needs addressing.

Much like during Seattle meetings before CS:GO was even launched, we need a large group of pro's to give advice, not a select few. pic courtesy of esea.net

Another problem I had when I talked with VALVE was their differentiation between casual and competitive players as they considered both parties to require different changes to the game, which were not compatible. As I was told, the changes I wanted were not always possible because they wanted to keep certain things into the game for the 'majority' of casual gamers who participated in CSGO. It was a large stumbling block in trying to convince VALVE that any change would not impact too heavily on a casual player and make the game extremely hard for them. To provide some examples they didn't want to fix the deagle because they felt it would be too overpowered against casuals and they wouldn?t remove fog on maps or the AWP because it would make the game aesthetically poor. I felt it was all-more about pleasing the casual player as whenever I presented an idea to make the game harder to play and more skilful this was often rejected because it would make it more difficult for casual players. It was making me slightly angry having to try and justify my changes when I believed my adaptations were what the casual and competitive community would want.

After a year thinking about the subject I still believe I was correct in my view that the two are unified together and improving one improves the other. The competitive player is more informed about what makes the game more balanced and the changes required making it more fun and enjoyable for the casual player. When you first play the game you are unaware of the dynamics of the game and will adapt to how the game is presented to you. It therefore shouldn't be a problem that the game requires a high degree of skill to play because from my own experience casual gamers still find it appealing to overcome challenges in their chosen game. When I get hammered on games it makes me try that bit harder to improve and learn how to become a better player so I can hand out the punishment the next time I play. I think these are the qualities that gamers thrive on and make people want to continue playing as they know they have so much more potential. Not to mention that 'CSGO Match Making' should mean casuals slowly glide through the process of ranking up and playing against other gamers around their skill level.

I would further suggest that CS was not and should not be developed with the casual gamer in mind as there are numerous other series such as Battlefield and Call of Duty which cater far better for those types of players. I won't go into specifics as to why, but I really believe that generally most gamers would agree that CS was known to be a highly skillful and difficult game to get to grips with at a competitive level. I think somewhere along the lines VALVE have forgotten how and why the CS franchise developed into the most accomplished FPS of its time. I would ask those working on CSGO to take a step back and look long and hard at what they are trying to achieve for the greater good of the game. Gabe Newell: "If you don't have a good idea of what the player has going through their mind that's important, you're going to be a terrible game developer".

The next article in the series by Sam "RattlesnK" Gawn will address the issues involved with how the game plays. Stay tuned.

59 Comments
RattlesnK
Just to mention as I've seen a lot of comments surrounding this casual versus competitive idea I did state I considered both "casual" and "competitive" to be "unified together" and so improving the competitive side of the game will only improve it for casual players if the game becomes more balanced overall. I don't see what aspects of the game are actually trying to be tailored towards casuals apart from Match Making when you consider aesthetically the game isn't THAT great and generally it is trying to be like the other versions of CS. The fact is if you improve it competitively it will ultimately become better for casual players as well.

I see a lot of comments about how I've disregarded casual players. I have not, I'm stating that casual players are the same as competitive players in what changes they would want to improve the game. If you consider it to be necessary to consider them as different entities then you would need to ask why and whether this is really true. If they are considered as separate, which I do not believe they should be, then what changes do competitive players want that wouldn't improve the game for casuals? This was the point I was trying to argue.
moz-
I'm glad you wrote this article as it got the community talking. The problem is that most of those readers on reddit probably just don't understand why the fixes are better.

For example, I had to work on an app and the way it was coded, it was dropping frames below 60 fps on the test device. The engineer didn't have an idea what I was talking about, so I had to explain how the expectations of users for that particular device demand fluid feedback. After showing some of the stock OS applications, he could see what I meant and went, "OHHHH" and then promptly optimized.

Thanks for the article! It's always nice to have more editorials. Just stay away from pooping on unscrupulous gaming organizations or gonzo will have your head :9
anab0licz
Yeah well said. Why does this version of CS have to be so easy and have a much lower skill cap than the previous games to be successful? Dota 2 is far from an easy game... if anything id say has a much higher learning curve and yet look how successful it is...

For me personally i get bored fast when a game is too easy and i dont feel like there is much room for self improvement and thats exactly how I feel about CS:GO having played the previous cs games for years... i never got that feeling with the older versions. In fact I recall having played cs for an entire year quite consistently and while i had gotten way better, I still had a ton of room to improve... I feel like in cs:go you pretty much max out how good you are gonna get way before that starting as a rank beginner... which is a joke for a game thats supposed to be a super skill intensive 'sport.'

I remember when I first started playing cs I was hopelessly bad, just playing on random pubs... but id often see guys who were way better than me and id get inspired by them to want to improve and be at that level too.... i think thats a huge incentive to keep people playing personally.... in dota 2 you have players like dendi who have that kind of affect on their playerbase... and keep them coming back for more.. who often get huge viewing numbers on twitch, which generates even more interest in the game.

CS:GO for me is like playing chess but you are only using the pawns, its massively oversimplified and dumbed down to the point where i have no interest in it at all... theres no depth to the gameplay like there was in 1.6/css...wheres my queen, my rooks, my knights... all the other stuff i had to master to be good? You just feel so restricted playing cs go due to its limited mechanics...

Its frustrating that more pro players arnt coming forward and saying this stuff.. i mean its blatantly obvious to an cs vet that cs:go is lacking... why arnt more people voicing their opinions about it? The fact that the devs only value nips opinions is just beyond ridiculous.

I honestly feel like this game could have 5x its playerbase if CS:GO wasnt made by a bunch of guys (Hidden path) who had so limited experience with regards to what made CS a game that was loved and stood out from all the other FPS games for so many years despite its old ageing graphics... Youd see so many players who like me used to love the game return... I'm still pissed that CS:S was utterly broken by this same group of devs back in 2010... forced 66 tickrate, awp/deagle nerfs, landing accuracy penaltys, broken recoil patterns, crappy crosshairs and all the other shit these guys changed without understanding how detrimental it was to the gameplay. And then these same guys are assigned to make the next CS game... its no wonder its turned out like it has. Big contrast to dota where icefrog worked with the dev team to ensure the key gameplay elements that made the game good remained intact....
xpero39
What changes would you then like to see personally?
I kinda think some of that feel of a game being easier comes from maps themselves, streets are often too narrow, mirage_ce and valves version are a great example, also train_ve and official version...Though map design trend is like that right now with CoDs ect.
MentalM
Do you feel maybe some of the problem might occur from you already have played a different version of CS? Of course it wont be as much to develop into when you have the knowledge from the previously released games or?
pauLo
It's a shame that this article, though not a work of literary genius, actually gives some good and agreeable points, but the CSGO Reddit is so naively far up vALVEs arse, they can't stop for a second to see that there are glaring problems that are quite simply fixed that havent been addressed since the beta.

They are even attacking RattlesnK for being bitter or jealous of top players, even when there are numerous mentions of the credit he attributes to vALVEs efforts so far.

There are changes to this game that could literally be solved by a change of a console command that haven't even been hinted at being fixed. I'm also getting a bit sick of the CSGO reddit acting like you have to be a game developer to slightly tweak recoil of a certain gun or adapt a map for competitive play.

Anything negative towards vALVE on that forum is downvoted into oblivion; you would have to be a complete moron to ignore their contributions to the game, but equally so for thinking the game doesn't still need some obvious improvements.
anab0licz
Yeah, I had a similar experience on reddit when i posted my views on how the game isnt in the kind of state it should be right now.... its somewhat similar on the steam forums too... The problem is the CS:GO community a lot of it is made up of players that are completely new to the game and are ignorant as to why the game is lacking compared to the previous versions. I mean i personally knew hundreds of people who played CSS at a high level and not a single one of them plays CS:GO because its gameplay is so inferior... most moved onto other games like i did (DOTA 2) You would see so many more familiar faces from CSS and even 1.6 if this game played better at a competitive level.

That forums a joke anyways, ive never seen the attraction the layout is beyond awful, it reminds me of 4chan... far better forums to discuss stuff online IME...

The thing is CS:GO number base has grown to a level where i think is higher than CS1.6 and CSS ever was on steams stats... but this isnt because its a better game... its because steam userbase as a whole has grown massively... the games constantly being given away for nothing in steam sales.. gets free marketing on twitch etc (something 1.6 and CSS never had the luxery of)... so it sort of creates a situation where it looks like on the surface CS:GO is a really good game and perhaps better than the previous CS games, if you don't take those things into account. IMO with those advantages all games being sold through steam and being streamed on twitch have if the game-play was of a higher standard to it would be even more popular...which = more profit for valve selling skins or whatever else...
ono
what do you expect when half of the reddit users will be american.
moz-
To be fair, most of the "negative" comments are knee jerk reactions that came from people that seem to work in a development shop. If you weigh memory leaks vs say movement, movement will lose almost every time as current movement will be marked as functional. "Easy" and "Simple" are usually cringe-worthy words in any field.

While there are some issues that have been on the table for a long time, I've been pretty happy with the amount of updates we get from their small team. Hopefully csgo gets large enough that a dedicated team is placed to help filter the passionate community feedback.
Syphon-
I agree with pretty much everything you have written, I think you have summarised the thoughts of many in the UK scene, and the wider scene in general.

The point about just 1 team being given unilateral control over significant decisions is spot on, this notion of 1 team's opinion is fundamentally wrong and I think there should be a centralised forum for raising possible changes to the game. The only issue i can see with this, is the various opinions which exist in the game; put simply, what do they fix first?

Also you have to look at the money making potential of CS:S and CS:GO. Most people paid their $20 (or whatever it was) and got the game, for me it was back in 2004. So for me, Valve made roughly $2 per year for me owning the game. This is not a very profitable business model, but offering a market place where Valve get a cut of sales, makes for a very lucrative prospect. At the end of the day, developers have to answer to the bosses, and the bosses care about the bottom line of a company more than the comments fromt their users.

It depends on how we go about raising changes to the game, i think the first step is what you iterated to earlier about getting an issues list from valve so we know not to bug them about existing issues they are already aware of. Even still, we need to clear about the difference between:

- Bugs
- Improvements
- New Development

There are 3 big areas where i am sure valve are working on already, we need to give them a helping hand in defining what we really want, and what we need in each area. I think if they were to have a committee of individuals per country or per geography to represent the interest of gamers, it would help crystalise the important issues.

The only concerning point I have with this entire discussion, is that two of the worlds best teams recently posted regarding Valve's version of Mirage and the suggestion to remove it from tournaments. The pressure tournament organisers must be under to conform to Valve's standards must be great, so it is with Valve to set the tone in these matters. The fact they havent yet heeded the comments from teams regarding Mirage is a bad omen for future changes.
RastaSammo
Good read, I agree with all of it. I have nothing against NiP but steam have to approach more teams to make GO the best game for casual and competitive players.
Atheista
Nice Article and well said...
RobM
There are some good point in here, but I've got to be honest...it's an awful read. Some of the spelling and grammar is pretty poor and not purporting to the image I imagine this new website is trying to achieve. I understand that Sam's spelling and grammar might not be great, but don't the editors proof read articles?
Lockers
So er, when is part 2 coming out?
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