The Alliance Tournament Sucks (as an E-sport)

The Alliance Tournament has a terrible deficiency as an E-Sport because people watching it have a very hard time understanding what is going on. One can watch American Football and see if the receiver catches the ball or not. It is possible to see when someone gets sacked, if one player dodged another, and so on. Likewise, in European football it is always clear what happens to the ball. E-sports are the same. Take Starcraft as a successful E-sport. It is possible to understand when marines shoot something, when a tank blows something up, or when a laser cuts something down. EVE as portrayed in the Alliance Tournament is not accessible to viewers. This starts with the cameraman. In football (of any sort) a cameraman who does not follow the ball would be taken out back and shot. I do not want to see the back of some player’s head when a play is being made. I do not want a close in zoom of some shiny ship when pilots are actually maneuvering somewhere else. Taking some blame with the cameraman are EVE’s graphics. When you are trying to understand a fight in EVE you zoom out and it looks like this. The purple boxes are fighting the red boxes and the white boxes over control of the spreadsheets. Notice that the purple boxes and the red boxes do not have any scale indicating depth. In order to understand the three-dimensional positioning of the various colored boxes you have to rotate the camera view.  Unfortunately the cameraman like is not looking at the match that way. There is a *solution* to this in that CCP has included a small map of the battle in the bottom right with the distance overlay on. That little tiny thing gets a tenth of the screen or less but it is way more important than anything on the main screen. CCP would prefer that that we think the game looks like this. Check out the EVE_NT to see some better camera practices. PL-bump There is also no terrain as such. When you look at a football field (either type) you can tell where the players generally are. If the camera jump cuts to one part of the field, you can see what part it moved to. There are numbers and lines painted on the field and you can see the sidelines. When the AT cameraman picks a particular ship to zoom in on, there is no indication what he is doing. The AT suffers from having no reference points except for distant celestials. The spreadsheets remain here. In this case we have two lists of ships with rating bars, HP and ECM on display. Given the utter uselessness of the camera for understanding a battle this is the most important information on display. In fact, the commenters are sometimes totally lost watching a match so it can feel like this. But the two competing spreadsheets fail terribly at being an E-Sport by themselves. They are not visceral or exciting. They do not even adequately indicate why one spreadsheet is beating the other. Bars go up and down arbitrarily at times. The nuances of a tackle situation or the internal workings of an active tank must be inferred by a knowledgeable player. A novice is simply left in confusion. In League of Legends you can see when one Hero hits another one and when they miss. There are obvious sword swings and projectile attacks. In EVE, tracking is only visually represented by looking very closely at the ship model. But even then you cannot determine the quality of hits. The simple act of telling which ship is shooting at which other ship is sometimes impossible. If the camera man is looking at sparklies you might see a bar go down, but you do not know which ship shot the victim. The little overview in the bottom right may hint at something, but nothing there is labelled so the best you can do is, “I think that red box shot that blue box. I think that blue box might be pilot number 3, and I think that red box might be pilot number 4, 5, or 7.” Honest trailer guy complains that LOL is hard to understand. What would he say about the Alliance Tournament? Yes, I said earlier that the commenters struggle to understand just as badly as the rest of us. It is great when they cover relevant information that is not available to a novice, such as the strength of a Sleipnir’s active tank. It is not so great when they are reduced to saying, “What is this?” By the way, in that video the PL team used a Golem that could not be jammed as a drone assign for sentry drones. The Golem would attack something and the sentry drones would attack the same thing. As a result the team was immune to e-war. The Golem was in bastion and very hard to kill. This *simple* explanation is not something the commenters provided during the match. They did not figure it out while it was happening. Are they stupid people? No, they are quite smart, experts in various fields of PVP. That is the problem. Given the information available, the complexity of the game, and the opaque events are presented, even veteran players are lost.
Tags: alliance tournament, e-sport, Mukk

About the author

Mukk Barovian

Mukk is a long time skirmish FC with a penchant for overpropping his ships.

  • Johnny Twelvebore

    It’s not easy I agree but think more of F1, you can’t see all the cars at the same time but the health bars equate roughly to lap times etc.

  • Longdrinks

    maybe u should get good noob

  • callduron

    When I started watching it was the ship names that bamboozled me. Kitsoon? Vigilant? Never heard of them.

    I was left with the impression that AT was hard to watch not just for non-Eve players but also for people who play Eve but aren’t absolute experts.

    • Warren Salzman

      As someone who’s been playing eve for 5+ years, i admit every now and again, i get confuzzled by what exactly is going on. Camera is definitely to blame for a lot of it, but also, they way they display everything is too. Unless you are running 1080p fullscreen, the indicators and status bars and text are almost always too small to read.

      That being said, I absolutely enjoy watching it every year, and if i haven’t had good pvp in a few days, i’ll watch a round or 2 to help with my blood thirst.

  • Bill Bones

    Well, it just feels like an ordinary nullsec battle report: “Hey look, someone somethinged somebody somewhere!”

  • wartzilla

    It’s honestly a badly thought through, unengaging event.

    It’s as if you took Dota 2 and stripped away every form of complexity it had, made you pick your items before the match, spawned everyone in mid and made it a single fight in the midlane to your death.

    Compare a 10 minute fight with no complexity whatsoever to a 40-minute Dota match, and you’ll see why it’s so incredibly boring.

    • LiberateRed

      At the same time, it is a great way to show EVE gameplay, sure it is confusing but it is the best way so far to show that you can actually make ships explode and pew pew things in the game.

      To be honest I largely prefer the 1v1 random modules-ship they do in the celebrity showdown, module customization is more visible and it’s easier to see and understand the action.

      • wartzilla

        I haven’t seen that, but it would make sense that this was more engaging.

        Other esport games with zero objectives and pure deathmatching, like Quake, UT and Painkiller all use the 1v1 format, because anything else would just be a giant clusterfuck with no wider tactics to it. Then again, even those games have maps which need to be navigated quickly and precisely in order to collect ammo and bonuses. Eve has no equivalent, and every time CCP has tried to make it, we end up with minigames like canspew.

    • l0rd carlos

      So you think an tournament match is simple?

      • callduron

        OK imagine you’ve never seen Eve before.

        You watch your first match. It’s a spreadsheet of ships with a zoomed out window at the top showing ships too small to see. The only watchable part of the screen is the 12 a side spreadsheet.

        Nothing happens for 2 minutes.

        Then a griffin dies and the commentators get excited. The word “snowball” is used

        Then nothing happens for 2 minutes.

        Then another griffin dies and the commentators get briefly excited before going back to talking about old players they knew 5 years ago.

        Then nothing happens for 2 minutes.

        Then a rook dies and one team is quickly rolled up in an apparently very one-sided game.

        It’s not that there’s no complexity, the feet of the swan are paddling furiously, it’s that there’s no visible complexity to the non expert and visually it’s all rather boring.

        • l0rd carlos

          That I can agree with!

      • wartzilla

        Compared to Dota? Yes, it is. And it’s not fun to watch at all.

  • JZ909

    I agree that the layout could get better, maybe use a zoomed out view with lines between ships showing EWAR or weapon use. Then occassionally move to a zoomed in camera view to show something interesting, like a swarm of rep drones or a frigate under someone’s guns.

    That being said, I don’t think it’s dull at all. The Alliance Tournament is a main reason I starting playing Eve at all. The complexity of it made it much more interesting to me than a football game.

  • Bam Stroker

    I think CCP need to take a moment and ask themselves *why* they do the AT. Is it to entertain Eve players? Is it meant to be end-game content for hardcore PvPers? Do they want to turn Eve into a mainstream esport? Or is it just the continuation of a “wouldn’t it be cool?” idea they had back in 2003 and no one has really stopped and thought about it much since then?

    I think as a concept it’s poorly defined and understood by the people who are responsible for producing it because it’s currently a little bit of -all- those things I mentioned above. It’s got an identity crisis and so it’s not as good a product as it could be. That’s why we players keep ragging on it – while we may watch it and enjoy it we have this awareness in the back of our minds that it’s not that great.