Thursday, August 25, 2011

Online show "MUD2MMO : The Children of Goldshire"

Tyger and Vel take on one of the biggest mysteries in World of Warcraft, the Children of Goldshire.

Trying some new things with this episode, and we'll see how well they fly.  Feedback is, as always, welcome.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Paintball Snipers

I think I've made this readily apparent, but I hate the term "paintball sniper". I put them in quotes because frankly, I still am convinced it's a non-existent entity. What I find interesting in all of this is that the burden of proof of something's non-existence is on me. In a way, I'm arguing to prove Sasquatch or Ogopogo does not exist. I can point at the lack of a body, lack of excrement, lack of more than a handfull of questionable tracks and hairs / scales, and yet, the lack of evidence is what makes people want it to be true. Those who believe, TRULY BELIEVE, will argue to the dying breath that it's true. I feel the same way here.

So, possibly not a fair argument. So-called paintball snipers can actually point to themselves and say "SEE! I EXIST!" Yes, you do. And I'm not going all metaphysical here to disprove your existence but rest assured I could bend your noodle over that. My problem is that your declaration of existance is meaningless. Let's begin with semantics.

"I am called a paintball Sniper"

Well that's nice. So my first question still remains unanswered. "How did you get the title?" I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that it was self appointed, or someone at a field called you that once and you liked it so much you kept the term. As far as I know, there is no paintball sniper school. I think D-Day had one once, but it was to earn a designation card and have special rules apply to you and you alone.

So how do you get the title of "paintball sniper" anyhow? If there's no classes to take, no correspondence course, and only one DVD that I'm aware of that's more pep talk than prep talk, how do you earn an exclusive title? The secret is you don't. So in itself, that makes the title absolutely worthless. It's like calling yourself "John Doe, Esquire" It has meaning in some circles, but nowhere else.

I've heard an argument that the title is earned for scenario games only. In that case, I'm a paintball medic too. I played a medic once in a scenario game, so therefore by logic I'm always a paintball medic. I don't have medical training other than basic first aid, and I certainly don't wear a big red cross on my MOLLE vest nor have I taken any classes in how to be a paintball medic, but since I did it once in a scenario game I should be allowed to call myself a medic now and always. Even if I can't heal my "wounded" teammates in walk on play... But it's just a title, right?

It's around this time that people start making excuses. "Well to me, a paintball sniper is..." Ok, you lost me. What this tells me is that in your own community, you can't agree what exactly you do or who qualifies for the title you share. Again, this means the title is useless. If I can redefine the term to fit my needs, I could wear a brigh tye-dye shirt and use a splatmaster to sprint down the field and call myself a "sniper".

But more often than not, I hear the term being used in much the same way "esquire" is, as a vain attempt to make yourself seem more important. I've said it before, paintball is an individual game masquerading as a team sport. Gear is sold to individuals as "get this stuff, own all your friends, and be the first picked in the sandlot!" So with that in mind, in a woods game, the fastest way to gain instant recognition is by calling yourself something. And nobody wants to use military rank for fear of offending military personell, but they're more than happy to use "sniper". "It's not always military!" I hear. Ok, so why use the term?


I made a video explaining this in full, but I'll rehash if you don't wanna watch it.

Essentially, "sniper" is a brand name that has more associated with it than just "guy hiding in a bush". It represents one hell of an american ideal. The lone soldier with a weapon that can stop an army single handed. In a way, it's the ultimate FPS fantasy. "Ramirez! DO EVERYTHING!" is nothing compared to the idea of "I can take you out and you'll never know what happened." It's trying to tap into fear and uncertainty to make your opponents not want to mess with you.

If that's not the case, then why use the term? Why not hunter or ninja as has been suggested? Simple, the "sniper" brand name is just so much sexier than anything else. And after you spend all the money on the gear, you may feel like you bought the title and you have the rights to it.


Another argument made by Brett is a decent idea. His argument is that kids pretend to be gladiators with sticks and garbage can lids. Metric made a similar argument, basically stating in so many words "If they're having fun, who are we to complain?"

Well, I am for one.

What I'm reading in this is several arguments and insinuations. The first being that there's almost an admission of "poser" status. It's almost saying outright "we're dressing up in a costume to play" and not "I am trained in how to use this effectively." Second is the concept that these people just can not have any fun if they have to wear plain old boring camouflage to play.

Third is, and this is almost more disturbing to me, they need to draw attention to themselves by dressing up in a special suit to play a game.

Two words. "Sailor Bubba"

At this point I want to ask if we're playing a game, or playing dress up? I've often said that the tourney guys are playing dress up pretending to be athletes, so does that mean you guys play dress up to pretend to be soldiers? It's an interesting idea, to be certain. So the idea is that it's indulging in an immersive fantasy that they're something they're not? So why not just play the sniper missions in Call of Duty and save the money? Ok, RL games are more fun, I admit that.

The difference is that with two kids playing "gladiator" in the yard, they know they're not fooling anyone. Most of the "paintball sniper" crowd I've met are convinced, or they try to convince me anyway, that they truly ARE a different breed of paintball player. That what they do is so radically different that they are ENTITLED to call themselves something to set them apart. I've never heard kids insist on being called "Urthokk! DESTROYER OF LEGGOWORLD! outside of playtime. But come to think of it, that'd be pretty cool if they did.

My ghillie is better than your camo.

I hear this a lot too, that a guy in a ghillie suit is automatically a sniper. If that's the case the title costs $100 base and you haven't earned it as much as bought it. But in this article of clothing we start to really have problems with the concepts.

First of all, any ghillie worth its weight will bounce paintballs at any range. This means that most fields that allow ghillies have to modify the rules so that bouncers count, and at this point we may as well play airsoft. This also relies on the honor of the wearer to call themselves out on bouncers, and to be honest I don't trust any of you people enough to do that. I barely trust people to keep their goggles on, let alone play with an outdated sense of honor.

Yeah, I said it. Paintball has no honor, not anymore. The few people that do are rare to find, and a pleasure to play with because we can just play the game. But back to ghillies, I don't trust a guy who's spent more on his clothing than I have in my car to admit when they've been bested without proof. To that end, I've seen many an argument and MANY a situation go sour when a sniper gets lit up and won't leave because "I never felt it." Only to watch them get up and a half a case falls out of their suit. "Oh, oops."

But to the point, the problem I have here is that paintball has to change to suit them, not them changing their style to suit the game. They could simply not wear a ghillie, and play like the rest of us. But no, they throw fits and demand that they won't have any fun unless they can play their way and complain when they can't use their "special rounds" to shoot further. Speaking of which...

Reach out and touch someone

I have two videos to show you folks.

This one from Trails of Doom starts with a 350' shot. The video is not what I'm contesting, I have no reason to doubt what he did is legit. What I want to point out is that the ball bounced. Ok, he's shooting hanging paper not on backing, but still, it bounced.

Brett did the same kind of shooting, and actually I comment him for being resourceful in how he filmed it. Both of these guys did show they could get a ball out to distance, Brett actually managed to get breaks on solid surfaces at distance. So they've shown the ball can go that far.

I still have issues with this, however. Going back to branding, I thought a sniper should be able to pick people off at range, 1 shot, every time, OSOK right? That includes at these extreme ranges, which is what the pop culture sniper is supposed to be able to always do. I'll let this argument slide, as I know that in the real world military snipers have a hard time putting rounds on target at extreme range too because they have to account for windage, drift and so on.

The secondary problem is that Brett did this with a standard Phantom, and Trails with an Apex tip. Meaning that, in theory, everyone should be able to do the same thing with little to no cost. So, in working theory, there's no technological difference between normal players and "paintball snipers". Range is back out the window except for the case of "First Strike" rounds.

FS rounds are paintballs with a fin, for all intents and purposes. The idea is it's supposed to fly further and straighter, and I've seen videos for and against this. I've gotten some offers from players to send me a tube, but to do real world testing I want more than a tube. And I'll be using my normal gear. I can't justify spending hundreds of dollars to shoot a specialty round. It reminds me too much of the "Safety Paintball" from many years ago.

DT Safety Paintball

At least the sniperball was an attachment to a normal paintball. Too bad they didn't sell the fins separately, I think they could have had something with that.

My point is that they have no special weapon to have any longer range. They have to obey the safety rules like the rest of us, so if they're getting bonus range I'd like to know how. Hop-up barrels and heavy paint aside, there's no way to do it. So the "sniper" brand again fails in that there's no bonus range, or more correctly no discernible advantage they carry into the field for range.

And I'll put this here too, because I can hear it already. "FS rounds go further!" Ok, never seen one shot anywhere but at a target, so I'm not gonna pass judgement. The reason I've never seen them is frankly every field in the area is FPO, so I can't bring them onto the field. And the arguments have been made "Well get the field owner to stock them!" or "Ask them if you can bring your own!" Both of which are so selfish and self serving that it makes me ill.

If a "paintball sniper" gets to bring his own rounds, or can get a field to stock his special round, then I demand that they do the same for me. I want them to get me a case of heavy paint. Something like an old school Wax Zap or the first gen Diablo Midnight in weight, and we'll talk range. And once we do that, everyone will want similar treatment. What gives a "sniper" the right to ask for special treatment?

Special Treatment

This brings me to my final argument. I've had this feeling for a while, but based on this latest round of debate it's pretty much solidified my opinions here. For the most part, emphasis on MOST, the paintball sniper community are selfish. It's not about everyone having fun, it's all about them having fun only. Change the rules, let me bring my own balls, change your business, I wanna play my way or I'll badmouth your field for not letting real woodsballers play there.

Again, emphasis on MOST. One or two have actually been cool, and they get it. But for the most part, I was critical of an event in video, and the sniper community took it as a PERSONAL attack on them. Not snipers, THEMSELVES. And this leads me to my current opinion.

It seems to me that for most of these guys, they have a personal stake in the "sniper" branding. I can't say if they're using it for the fear factor or the mystique that comes with the name or if they want to stand out in the parking lot, that's not really my place. But it seems to me that they're screaming for legitimacy, and not doing much to earn it other than scream that they deserve it.

I just perform this way.

So am I saying that being stealthy has no place in the game? No. Not only no but HELL no. What I'm saying is that it's a fantasy world that clashes with my reality.

What you guys call sniper skills I call "good woodsball skills" because we've been doing them for years. Just becasue a segment of players have never bothered to learn some skills does not mean you are special. It does nto entitle you to have more fun than I do, it does not entitle you to having special paint brought in for you or the rules changed becasue you can't play your game without your special boots on or whatever.

A few days ago I got a fun letter from a "paintball sniper" accusing me of discouraging newbies from playing paintball. He said they would want to be snipers, and my videos are discouraging them from playing. He then said I had bad sportsmanship and I'm bringing the game down. I prefer to think that I'm bringing a healthy dose of reality into a game that needs more than I can inject. the sport is VERY good at selling fantasies. Almost too good. And this is yet another one to add to the list.

I want to close on one thing here. Every argument of this ends up with "agree to disagree" which, to me, is weak. It means "I still think you're wrong, and I won't budge from my opinion, so screw off." Either that or it ends with a declaration of victory thruogh impossible means. "I exist! PRove I don't exist! You're wrong!" Meaning that they won't justify their position other than to flail thair arms around and scream louder which, as we all know, is how to win any argument when you're 6.

I still want justification for use of the term. I still wanna know where you get paintball sniper certified. I still wanna know why they get to wear bounce factories and I get ridiculed by them for wearing bounce jerseys. I still wanna know why they feel like the field should allow them their own paint and I gotta pay $110 for white box. And yet, I hear no justification for this, only excuses. "If I'm having fun, who are you to complain?"

I'm a paintball player, just like you. No fancy titles, no entitlement to special rules, just another player.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Suicide and the internet wake

I posted this over on another blog, mostly of non-paintball players, but this should be here too.

I'm going to start with a photo, and explain why it has power at this moment.

A helmet on a rusty old gate post.  If it looks like a memorial for a fallen soldier, there's a reason for that.The helmet is one that belonged to a friend of mine.  We all called him Borg, his real name is Danijel Jagodic.  He lived in Croatia, barely.  And this morning, he was found dead by his brother.  He committed suicide last night.

He posted on facebook about 24 hours ago "This is the end for me. I'm sorry, i can't live like this any more. I'm just not strong enough. I'm broke, my fiance left me. I apologize to all of my subscribers. Sorry guys, no new vids any more. I WAS BORG! Remember me."  Most of us figured he was just retiring from paintball, not taking this route.

I heard about his death through the comments to my latest show update, and looked in on one of the forums Borg always hung out at.  As of now, the thread of "RIP" is about 16 pages, all of which are fans, friends, people who's lives were somehow affected.  This in itself is kind of amazing to me, because of circumstances.

As I said, Borg lived in Croatia.  He was also an avid paintball player.  To do this in Croatia is not cheap, easily he spent 4X the amount that anyone in the states does to do the same thing.  So he made do with what he could, and started making videos showing how you can do the most with the least.  They became insanely popular, his personality shining through the videos easily.  He had a way of infecting you with enthusiasm, and it came through.

One group of players helped him get to the US for a week to play at a big event.  He already was a big fanboy of the USA, and this really sealed it.  I got him addicted to Mountain Dew, he had greasy pizza and hot dogs, and spent 4 solid days playing paintball.  He loved every minute of it, and was genuinely grateful.  They helped him get to the next tow year's events as well.  CPX was almost a second home for him, in a way.  Since the Croatian government wouldn't let him being some things into the country, it was kept at this field for him.

So that's his helmet, the one he used in the states.  His Tippmann is in storage there too.  He joked on his show that he "buried it" near the field.  "It's a tippmann, it'll be fine."  I guess you would have to hear him say it to be funnier.  The owner of CPX snapped that pic today and posted it on facebook, and now it's quite literally all over the paintball forums.

When the news hit that he had killed himself, the reaction was immediate.  Shock, surprise, disbelief, and ultimately sadness.  Predictably, being the internet, many are badmouthing him in death, but overwhelmingly it's people remembering the good things, his show, his tips for players, his sense of humor.  Many are trying to organize something good from all of this, a memorial, a fundraiser, something.

It has the feel of an immediate wake, really.  We all know that we're not gonna get to Croatia for the funeral Friday (In theory, today there), so we're holding it virtually.  Funerals, virtual or real, are for the living.  I can't help but think that most of this is immediate grief, and that in a week most of these people will forget about things.  The big event will be around May of next year.  I'm hoping that his memory will not only still be there, but will be there in strength.

In the short term, I'm looking at this with sadness but also a sense of marvel.  20 years ago, I probably would have never met this guy.  10 years ago, I may have -emailed him but that's about all.  Now...  Now I'm happy to have met him in person, something that never could have happened not that long ago.  It's also a marvel of technology that he could say goodbye to us all.

We really are a global tribe now, different customs, different backgrounds, different everything, but if nothing else technology has shown me that in the end, we have a lot more in common than most are comfortable admitting.  I just wish I could see it more often in times of happiness, and not in times of tragedy.

So to bring this full circle, paintball may not be warfare but we all feel as if we lost a brother in arms.  So when the owner of CPX took that picture, I'm not certain he knew how much of an icon he'd be creating or that he'd be tapping into imagery like he did.  But, he did.  We lost one of our own, and we cry in anger, we cry in remorse, we cry to figure out what we could have done and we cry because deep down we know there was nothing we could.  but mostly we cry because a friend was so far away that we couldn't help him, and yet so close that we would have tried.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

More info on the "Top Paintball Sniper" update

Ok, I guess since I can do this here, I'll go into some depth.

Last week I was shown a "Top Sniper Competition" web site.  The site was well built, but the rules were pretty bare bones.  This is what served as a red flag for me, as I've seen this before.  Huge money promise, very bare on the "what you gotta do to earn it".  It was pretty reminiscent of the past two events I've been talking about, the Big Rubout and the Island game.

When I posted the video, I was kind of surprised (but not really) that the sniper community got all uppity about it.  Then again, they're the most hyper-sensitive group in the sport next to the tourney guys.  You throw a pebble at them, they respond with tac nukes.  So I found it interesting that most of the response wasn't about the event, but about themselves.  Not all of them, but a majority and enough to color my opinion of their subset.

One guy asked me alst night about the rules, and I had a look.  A few things had happened from 24 hours ago, the biggest being that the TPS website overhauled.  The rules are now pretty much fleshed out completely, the ranges are brought down to a more realistic paintball distance, and there's actually explanations of what to expect and practice for.

This is the fundamental difference between this event and the other two I'm talking about.  Paintball Island never addressed specifics, and neither did Rubout.  Both of which were vague with everything.  This event actually responded, which is something I really didn't expect.  So cool they did, and made changes.

I did think about this, however.  The last event is now a 50 minute crawl to get from about 300 feet to 100 feet from a human target to shoot them.  Points for getting closer, but they're eliminated if they get spotted.  Personally, I think the event would be better if they gave the spotter a paintgun and unlimited ammo.  And let him shoot at the snipers.  I think that'd be a much more interesting event.  Your'e out if you get HIT, which would showcase that long range shooting they're so happy to brag about but the points would reward guts to crawl into the barrel of a gun.

However, the whole thing is really highlighting a problem with paintball.  The irony meter is going haywire with these guys.  They say it's about having fun, not being milsim, and yet they're happily calling themselves "snipers" and wearing ghillie suits.  You can't have it both ways.  And why not?  Well I'm saving it for a video but suffice to say for the short term that it sends mixed messages.

Anyhow, a lot of these guys are now challenging me to PROVE that what they do is not being a sniper, and that I need to prove that "paintball snipers exist!"  Umm, no.  See, I call most of what they do as "fundamental woodsball skills."  Camo use, cover, concealment...  Yeah that's just playin' in the woods, not sniping.  And asI said in Q&A 5, there's no certification course so there's no minimal training so ANYONE can use the ter therefore diluting it's meaning.  And most "paintball snipers" sit back at the flag and are a useless waste of 2.5 square feet of space on the field.  They'd be more useful at the front, but that's taking a risk I guess.  A risk of being hit, oh noez.

As far as I'm concerned, this isn't over.  Not by any means.  The bit with TPS is resolved, and that's cool of them to address it.  But with the "sniper community"?  Yeah those guys for the most part spit in my face while screaming at me to "respect what I do dammit!"  Really classy, sure.

So here's what I'd like to see.  I want to see a "paintball sniper" do a show.  5 minute show on how to do something "paintball sniper" related.   Put it out on youtube, let the world see it and critique it ont he same open forum that you critique my stuff and let the world do to you what you're happily doing to me.  I'm just saying, ya know.

Five songs you should listen to (with videos)

I originally put this over on TGWTG blog, but may as well put it here to give an idea what kind of stuff will be here in the future.

Just a quickie list style blog, just to put it out there.  This is stuff that I liked over the years, and wanted to share with everyone.  And yeah, this is a list of older stuff, I may do a more modern one later.  This isn't an ultimate list, I just want to toss it out ther as stuff that you should take an hour out of your life and listen to this stuff.  And I'm going a little "hipster obscure" here, because I'm assuming most people have HEARD a song by Rush before so I don't need to get into them.  Or I may have to do another of that kinda stuff too, no clue.

#5 : Masayoshi Takanaka : Plumed Bird

One of my favorite "who is this guy?" guitarists ever. Hiis work goes way back to the 1970's, but I believe this is him in 2009 (I think, I can't read Japanese).  I stumbled into him at a video rental store when I found "Rainbow Goblins Story", and then proceeded to scour the record stores for the CD.  Yeah, it was a long time ago.  Amazing player who really deserves more recognition outside of Japan.
This song is the climax of the album, which is a concept piece in itself.  If you can find Rainbow Goblins live at the Budokon, listen to it, it's well worth an hour of your life.  It's actually introduced me to his later work, which is more jazzy and blusey, and I wish I could show you some of that but most of those vids are down off of youtube.

#4 : The Uninvited : What God Said

One of the throwbacks from my college days, but still worth listening to.  I can't find anything other than this live version, butat least you can understand the lyrics which is good.  I really don't know a lot about the band, but I just like the simple message and the happy sound of the music.  That and it's kinda fun to thumb your nose at religion and do it in a way that won't make too many people angry.

#3 : Steve Goodman - The 20th Century is Almost Over

Its been said that to live in Chicago means you have to have a very skewed and somewhat fatalistic sense of humor.  Being a Cubs fan myself, I understand this mentality.  The last time that the Bears made it to the Super Bowl I remember driving home to see no less than 3 broken TV's on the curbside.  So you either laugh at it, or break televisions I guess.  Steve Goodman laughed at it.
This is a live show, I'm guessing from "Soundstage" or a similar show, and very obviously a 70's song.  But it's got that Chicago sense of humor, and some excellent wordplay.  And how he gets himself into the song is amazing.  It's almost refreshing to see someone who genuinely seems happy to be playing a song he's done dozens of times before, having seen bands like U2 doing lifeless renditions of other stuff.

#2 : Queensryche - Suite Sister Mary

Ok, wow.  Epicness on an epic scale.  Queensryche's "Operation Mindcrime" album is another concept album, which is pretty presumptuous when you think about it.  And this is the big closer to "act 1" on the first side of the album.  The turning point of the story, and it's got everything.  Angellic voices, power chords, guest singer, and of course long haired gys prancing around in skin tight clothing.
How 80's.
And when they do it live, yeah the epic-o-meter pegs to the right so hard that it breaks the glass.  All things being equal, I still want that "Bastard" jacket.  I love the album, it's one of my "crank it up" albums when I'm roadtripping.  I like the band, Empire is a fantastic album.  Just sometimes, they had a tendancy to go so far over the top they've missed it on re-entry.  And the "Livecrime" tour was cool, but just a touch over the top.

#1 : Bobby Gaylor - Suicide

When I first heard this song it caught me off guard.  It was on the RADIO.  It's one of those things that grabs you violently and shakes you around, but I think that was the intention.
Bobby Gaylor is a comedian who made an album of spoken word music.  This is the first song on the CD.  As I understand the piece, it was written as he was driving to visit a friend who called him up and said "I'm going to kill myself."  Bobby got his friend to promise not to do anything until he got there, but he spent the drive thinking "What do I say to this guy?"  And this came out of that.
I think it's the brutal honesty of the piece that still gets me.  That and how grounded Bobby Gaylor seems to be on the whole album, and in person.  Never met him, but I did e-mail him once to just say "thank you."  I got a reply some time later.  "You're welcome."  Hey, it was more than I thought I'd get.

So is THIS thing on?

Some of you may remember way back when I had a different blog here on blogspot.  Well, that's being abandoned for several reasons.  Mainly I'm not 100% sure I can get back into it.  So, we're re-opening the blogspace here.

So what's gonna be here?  MMO stuff, paintball stuff, humor columns, and other writings.  Think of this as a forum monolog, but way, way different.  It'll be the stuff thats' too long for twitter and facebook, more in depth articles and stuff.

Or, simply put, stay tuned for more.