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FishStix
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1 - 09-03-2012, 20:23
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Tribes Ascend, eSports, and my life as a Tribes fanatic

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Phew been meaning to write something for ages. On the airplane home from PAX, so just killing some time. Warning: this turned out longer than expected.

PAX was a blast, another exhausting 3-day marathon of too much boozing, too little sleep, and just the right amount of hard work. It was fun hanging out with Bart, APC, remiCs, my Twitch co-workers and various eSports superstars. Plus, when Seattle is sunny it is an awesome & beautiful city.

But that's not what I'm posting here to talk about. Today, I want to give some of my thoughts and feelings, all my own, about the current state of Tribes and it's diverse community.

Part 1: History

As you may or may not know, the Tribes community has been shrouded by a thick, dark cloud of negativity since early after the release of Tribes 2. The game was buggy as hell and suffered through weekly patches which often introduced new, worse bugs. T2 base implemented a 'speed cap,' eliminating the adrenaline inspiring speeds that were possible in Tribes 1.

Many top teams despised the game, but the community was large (the game sold ~500k copies) and, eventually, mods were developed to return Tribes 2 to what had made T1 so great. Tribes 2 went on to have a comparably rich competitive scene to that of Tribes 1, but the game was always marred by its release debacle and true T1 heads never fully accepted the game.

Three and a half years later, Tribes: Vengeance was released to critical acclaim, but suffered a similarly buggy launch as Tribes 2, notably lacking dedicated servers for the first week after launch. However, unlike Tribes 2, Tribes: Vengeance was never planned to be a successful title. T:V was the unwanted bastard child of publisher Vivendi, received piss poor marketing (I mean, just look at the box art), was launched among various triple A titles (Half-Life 2, World of Warcraft), and literally got no support after launch. The *very first* patch after launch was canceled after about 2-3 months of stringing along the community at large to the outrage of the competitive community.

Like Tribes 2, Tribes: Vengeance found salvation in a very rich user-made modding and mapping scene, and actually became my second favorite Tribes game after Tribes 1 base, the dearest to my heart. However, Tribes veterans were so wary after the massive failure of the Tribes 2 launch that the community simply did not buy the game. By some reports, an abysmal 47,000 copies were sold 6 months after the launch of the game. Tribes fans were first burned when the T1 expansion was canceled, second burned when T2 failed to meet expectations, and burned again when T:V's lackluster launch was made worse by a complete lack of support from the publishers.

At that point, as a Tribes player from the ages of 11 (1998) to 18 (2005), I had little faith that we would *ever* see another Tribes game. Though there were many mods in development to act as spiritual successors of the Tribes franchise (Legends, Legions, Rise, the list goes on and on), there was no way that any of these mods were going to revitalize the Tribes community, much less make it on their own as standalone titles. Legions came the closest, but InstantAction was 2-3 years before the Free2Play business model was figured out leading to the premature death of an otherwise promising platform.

Part 2: Tribes Ascend

Flash forward to Tribes: Universe and Tribes: Ascend being announced by HiRez Studios.

My first thoughts were something along the lines of "Holy ****, someone is actually dumb enough to try and reboot this ultimately niche game supported by a notoriously bitter and hateful community?" I soon learned the game was Free2Play as well, a model I at the time despised on nothing more than principle. I could already feel the thousands of grimaces across the world from Tribes fans who felt cheated, burned, and downright angry from the previous Tribes failures. I truly felt like some small unknown developer was coming to **** the undead corpse of my beloved franchise for profit. I was scared.

However, I had been obsessed with eSports for a few years at this point and had just gotten a job in the industry (at Justin.tv), and I simply could not ignore the fact that League of Legends was literally changing the face of eSports in front of our eyes with the F2P model. LoL utilized the Free2Play model to support their game as an eSport not just financially with huge cash tournaments, they also embedded info from and the live broadcasting of these tournaments RIGHT in the game client itself, tapping into their massive player base to make for record breaking viewership numbers and escalating the competition.

Maybe HiRez could do the same with Tribes Ascend? Maybe Ascend would be good enough that two weapon slots and no health kit wouldn't be a problem? Maybe Tribes in fact does have a future?

Part 3: Tribes Ascend post-launch

Tribes: Ascend was released in early beta and I picked it up right away. Of course I would, I played every iteration of Tribes (including Legions) and supported each as best as I could, Ascend was no different. After putting a dozen hours into the game I was having a blast. Hell, it wasn't my beloved Tribes 1 but it was by far the most fun I had had playing a new PC FPS since T:V and ET: Quake Wars. I reached out to Todd Harris through a mutual connection and expressed my interest in helping HiRez develop Ascend into an eSports title, promoting it through Twitch.tv, and sharing my rolledex of eSports organizers and personalities.

Todd was markedly more responsive than the majority of execs at game development studios I speak to. Bart Koenigsburg then moved from a analysis role at HiRez to the straight up eSports Manager of Tribes Ascend. This, to me, was proof that T:A already had a better chance than pretty much any other team based FPS at the time at moving towards acceptance as an eSports title.

There was a long drout period where there were almost no hard core focused FPS games being developed for PC or console, and literally no developers were thinking about keeping their games balanced and competitive at the highest level of skill. I mean, games like Halo & Battlefield literally have no spectator mode and it was impossible to get any kind of response from EA, DICE, etc (not for lack of trying!). So even though T:A isn't the "perfect" Tribes game nor does it have all the features you'd want for an eSports title, it is still Tribes, it is still fun, and HiRez has proven they support the game for competitions and leagues. To boot, the F2P model has and still does work well for HiRez, giving them capital to invest into things like eSports.

Obviously a point of heavy contention, but from where I stand it looks like *each and every* patch over the last 4-5 months has addressed concerns of the competitive community and made the game, overall, better. Sniper nerfs, chasing buffs, central servers, a cheap and reliable way to set up servers with unique rulesets, a spectator tool that goes above and beyond (altho still needs more) what 95% of other FPS games offer, tons of new maps. While this could have and was done by modders in the past, this is about as good as it gets in the modern day and age when it comes to developer/community response, and I have a decent vantage point to view this type of stuff.

Part 4: Recent Events and Conclusion

Most recently, we saw the CSN "Get Primed for PAX" Tournament which frankly yielded dissapointing results. Many of the games casted had slow, grueling defensive oriented styles without all that much flag play. We saw some crazy upsets, but in the end a very dissapointing result as Mono was forced to forfiet due to poor planning and poor luck. And with community 'leaders' like projectile and Mabel being *extremely* vocal in IRC & reddit, it's easy to feel a sort of unease and even buy into their negativity. And hey, it's not Tribes 1 with better graphics. But god dammit, what we have here IS a Tribes game with an active community, mainstream appeal, and developers who do care. We haven't had this since, well, 2001 with Tribes 2. And as a life long die hard Tribes fanatic, there's no way I won't do everything I can to support this game and this community for the foreseeable future.

Since this has gotten so long, I'd like to summarize with a TL;DR on things I'd like you to consider:
  • Tribes is a niche game with a rocky past, but Ascend has the best opportunity for success we've had and likely will have in the foreseeable future.
  • While the vocal minority of the competitive community may be outspoken, HiRez still is more receptive to "us" than the vast majority of game designer/publishers in the known universe.
  • We've had some snafoos, but I am confident that if we continue to support the game, HiRez will continue to support us. I've seen nothing to make me think otherwise.
  • I just ****ing love Tribes and it makes me sad to see all this negativity. If you like the game, play it. If you don't like the game, find something else to do with your time!!!! (I suggest collecting bugs, perhaps knitting?)

bonus points:
  • HiRez is a small *independent* developer of less than 50 employees. This means they do not have stockholders to answer to, they work on projects they want to work on, and are agile with development and business model. They *chose* Tribes, doubtfully as some kind of money making scheme (considering the "success" if previous Tribes games lolol).
  • Ascend as an "ESPORT" - how do you define eSports? I doubt it can ever become a huge eSports title, but we could continue to see more money in tournaments, better viewership on streams, and more top tier teams if we work WITH HiRez instead of demonizing them.

~FishStix
 
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AnubiS
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2 - 09-04-2012, 01:13
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cliffs ?
 
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T-Refried-455
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3 - 09-04-2012, 11:50
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cliffs: viciously continue kicking dead horse
 
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Firerizer
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4 - 09-04-2012, 18:42
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T:A still has potential.
Interesting and comparable point of view.
 
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DSEZ
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5 - 09-04-2012, 20:42
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For a moment i thought SuicideTaxi wrote this...
 
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~dickschnitzel~
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6 - 09-05-2012, 09:04
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Nicely disguised ass-licking message. And please don't argue, this **** has been discussed countless of times since alpha.
 
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Shoddy
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7 - 09-06-2012, 13:03
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drought
 
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Falhawk
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8 - 09-06-2012, 13:14
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T: a has given fishstix and blitz delusions of grandeur
 
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-Masqu3-
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9 - 09-06-2012, 14:03
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Games dead. Stop being ****ing stupid.
 
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Got Haggis?
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10 - 09-06-2012, 14:47
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Hirez has like 3 people working on Tribes now

smite has taken over
 
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FishStix
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11 - 09-06-2012, 15:10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Falhawk View Post
T: a has given fishstix and blitz delusions of grandeur
i am king
 
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Milk-Man
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12 - 09-06-2012, 19:15
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Dang, you wrote way too much.

Cliffs: T:A sucks more cocks in a single day than all the whores in Nevada do in an entire year.
 
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AnubiS
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13 - 09-06-2012, 20:08
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this thread sucks
 
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2good@tribes.com
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14 - 09-08-2012, 03:25
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ur a ****ing ******
 
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Rev_Night
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15 - 09-08-2012, 14:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2good@tribes.com View Post
ur a ****ing ******
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnubiS View Post
this thread sucks
Quote:
Originally Posted by Milk-Man View Post
Dang, you wrote way too much.

Cliffs: T:A sucks more cocks in a single day than all the whores in Nevada do in an entire year.
Quote:
Originally Posted by -Masqu3- View Post
Games dead. Stop being ****ing stupid.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Got Haggis? View Post
Hirez has like 3 people working on Tribes now

smite has taken over
Quote:
Originally Posted by Falhawk View Post
T: a has given fishstix and blitz delusions of grandeur
Quote:
Originally Posted by D4M45T3R 0FM41N View Post
Nicely disguised ass-licking message. And please don't argue, this **** has been discussed countless of times since alpha.
Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Refried-455 View Post
cliffs: viciously continue kicking dead horse
 
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~dickschnitzel~
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16 - 09-11-2012, 03:10
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jerry
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17 - 09-11-2012, 19:09
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neg repped
 
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lemon
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18 - 09-13-2012, 00:24
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flash forward
 
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DEFCON 1
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19 - 09-19-2012, 22:00
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woah, isn't op from demo?
 
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aNimAL
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20 - 09-23-2012, 22:46
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i take plane and tell online gamers that if they don't like T:A they should collect bugs or knit
 
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