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Shepherd On Fouling

This was posted by Shepherd into the forum and quite clearly illustrates why fouling should not be abused. It might persuade a few would-be foulers to refrain from it a bit.

There's no way to say this nicely, so I'll just toss it out there and see what people think.

I was reading one of the Endless Fouling Threads (this one at the SG site), and there was the usual two-pronged argument: Side One saying that fouling could be crass and anti-fun, and Side Two saying that fouling was part of the game and if you don't like it, don't play.

Which got me thinking about why I stopped playing most online games.

Which has led to this rather long ramble about fouling.

See, there's an all-too-common breed of gamer called the "Spawn Camper." The name sources from back in the days when online first-person shooters would have a very limited number of places to be "reborn" when you are killed, called a "spawn point." A "spawn camper" just positions himself near that point, but in a hard-to-see location, waits for you to get "reborn," and shoots you before you have a chance to defend yourself. And again. And again. And again. You'd lose a game 16-0 because you just didn't ever have a chance to shoot.

Increasingly sophisticated games have made spawn camping pretty much redundant -- there are now dozens upon dozens of spawn points in most games, and most of them have a few seconds of invulnerability when you respawn to get you to at least get the camper to aim a bit.

But it's become sort of an epithet. And every game has its own breed of "campers" these days. These are the kids that spend 48 hours working out the exact location of every weapon on a map, knowing exactly which points to hit in what order, and exactly which "soft" parts of the map can be exploited.

Campers, see, aren't breaking the rules. They aren't hacking the game. They aren't "cheating." They've just found a point-of-least-resistance way to do maximum damage with minimum risk.

Unfortunately, the long-term effect of campers on online gaming is to reduce it to single denominators. You can only beat campers by getting to their spots first and shooting them... and camping. So you wind up taking a massively complex and fascinating game and reducing it to who-can-get-to-the-sniper's-perch first, or who-can-get-the-Redeemer-first. And the game, for me, loses most of its joy. Because it's not playing any more. It's competing.

There's a reason I'd rather play soccer with my pals than train for the 100-meter dash. It's because I want to play. And camper games just reduce any game to the single most effective goal and the single most effective method to get what you want as fast as possible.

That's what bothers me about heavy fouling. It's not that it's "broken" as much as that the only long-term way to deal with heavy-foul teams is, as the foulers like to say, "well foul me back, then." But then it's not a game any more. It's a competition to see who can foul the most the fastest.

I loved playing Starcraft before it became nothing but Zerg rushes. I loved playing Diablo II before it became a Race To The Chest At The End Of Each Dungeon. I loved playing UT2004 before it became a Race To The Redeemer. I still enjoy all these games, but I play them a lot less than I used to because somebody, somewhere, broke it down to an equation. Here is what I do to win the most games. And then they just repeat their mathematical equation over and over and over again, somehow deriving satisfaction by beating people through formulae rather than through the skillfull and creative exploration of an interesting and complex system.

To my mind, right now, excessive fouling = camping. It's not a "fun" way to play, it's just brutally effective. Excessive fouling means your idea of fun is to win through repetitive exploitation of a soft point in the game, rather than through the skillful and creative exploration of the possibilities of Blood Bowl.

If DP did not exist, and there were no fouling, then the campers would manifest another way, and there'd be Infinite Threads About AG4 Passes or something like that. I don't know what the #2 exploit of Blood Bowl is (although I suspect it's dwarves). But the campers will camp. That's what they do. It's what they enjoy. I don't get it, but I can't stop it.

Anyway, I just thought I'd try to throw out some more articulate philosophy about why too much fouling sucks rather than the standard "it's not nice" or "it's not sportsmanlike." It's more damaging to BB than non-nice, and it's worse than not-sportsmanlike. It's reductive. It reduces the game from one with a million factors to one with one factor: fouling.

That's why I don't like it.




Others on Fouling

Synn on Fouling
Plorg on Fouling
Christer on Fouling

Last update: December 12, 2007