Famine's Domain

Famine's Domain

Developer / Street Fighter / Beast

ETL System Flows

Ralph Kimball covers some great topics on ETL System Flows in his book The Data Warehouse ETL Toolkit. This week, I wanted to share some of those details on Horizontal versus Vertical ETL System Flows.

Kimball talks about two types of ETL System Flows. You have ETL that is organized either horizontally or vertically. He goes on to talk about how you would determine whether your ETL system should be either horizontal or vertical.

ETL System Flows

The ETL System Flow is the definition of how your data starts and ends within your data warehouse. Data originates from one or more data sources, they are cleaned, conformed and eventually delivered. The ETL System Flow entails all the processes and sub-processed that make up that flow and in which order they are executed to achieve some end result.

Horizontal ETL System Flow

With Horizontal ETL System Flows, your processes or sub-process are not linked together. They execute side-by-side independent of one another until they are complete.

Horizontal ETL System Flow Diagram

For example, if you have an ETL system on customer orders, the ETL job could run to completion. However, if you have another ETL job on inventory tracking with those customers, the ETL job could fail to complete. Customer orders and inventory tracking processes are not linked and could be inconsistent with one another.

Vertical ETL System Flow

With Vertical ETL System Flows, your processes or sub-processes are linked together. Each job must run to completion and wait for the other jobs to get to the same point. Using the same example with horizontal, your inventory tracking job must wait until the customer order job is completed. Once that ETL job is completed, then it can proceed to run until it’s completed. If any failures happen, then the entire ETL fails.

Vertical ETL System Flow Diagram

Determining ETL System Flows

Ralph Kimball explains how there are two main variables when deciding whether your ETL system should be horizontal or vertical. Those variables are:

  1. Detailed data dependencies that require several ETL jobs to process through the steps in parallel. (That is, if the inventory tracking job fails, maybe the customer orders job could have undefined product codes.)
  2. The sensitivity the end user community might have to partially updated data (for example, orders being updated but shipments lagged by a day.)

My Thoughts

I’ve designed both of these types of ETL System Flows in my time. When I’m doing horizontal ETL, I’m trying to load data in parallel with one another to decrease the load time. In theory, I’m trying to split the problem into smaller manageable pieces and load them together as opposed to one big chunk. This is very effective in scenarios where you have to load a large amount of data and then clean and conform it.

When I’ve developed vertical ETL, it’s because my decision makers need data to be fully updated before it gets to their hands. If any part of the ETL process is incomplete, they do not want the data. It’s either all or nothing in their minds. Thus, I focus entirely on ways to ensure data is ready to be loaded and design ETL systems around the various types of failures I could see. This makes designing vertical ETL harder than horizontal ETL.

Ultimately, you can do a mixture of both. ETL is not just one process. While the ETL system may be referenced as one big data flow that gets data from A to Z, it’s likely made up of many processes that have various conditions per process. Nothing is stopping you from taking a large chunk of data, breaking it up outside the database and loading it in parallel. Nothing is stopping you from them linking each piece of that data once in the system to ensure it’s being loaded vertically.

 The Data Warehouse ETL Toolkit

As always, Ralph Kimball has great insights and I encourage you to read up more from his book, The Data Warehouse ETL Toolkit.

 The Data Warehouse ETL Toolkit

What is Data Engineering

 

Have you ever thought about what is data engineering? Here are my thoughts as the data architect who works in data and analytics within a performance marketing company. I will cover some of the core aspects of data engineering starting with what the role is, how you can get into data engineering, and then end with some topics on data engineering skills and tips.

Data Engineering Infographic

Data Engineering Infographic

What Is Data Engineering

Data scientist will sometimes want to paint a picture that tells a story. The data engineer is the person who helps supply the colors neccessary to paint that picture at scale and then helps create the frame that holds it on the wall.

If you think about that analogy, you can truly understand what the data engineer truly is. They are the professionals who are helping build and manage the data infrastructure that supports the enterprise data plan.

When it’s all said and done. The data engineer is a good mixture of disciplines that include computer science, database development, and information technology. They work in both code and infrastructure, both science and engineering, and both data processing and data security.

Where one discipline may end, they often begin.

How to become a Data Engineer

If I had to become a data engineer tomorrow with limited knowledge and no experience, I would start with research. I would try to understand all the opinions–including my own–of what the data engineer is and does. This would include searching online and checking out books that may cover the topic well.

Data Knowledge

The next area of focus would likely be applying the knowledge gained from that research on the side. I would start new projects that included the different expertise and skillset needed to become a data engineer. This would include learning new languages like Python, learning new tools like those for ETL process, and learning how to take advantage of the popular cloud computing services like Amazon Redshift.

Data Projects

I would likely turn these projects into a collection of my best work. This collection would become my data engineering portfolio that I could use to help sell me to potential businesses. I would try to work and evolve these data projects, try to solve real-world problems, and really proclaim my passion for becoming a data engineer.

Data Jobs

If that still wasn’t enough, the best option that has always worked for me is just getting in the door. I would start small like finding a job I could get hired for within an organization that could employee me as a data engineer eventually. This would allow me to gain the domain experience needed and potentially the chance to work indirectly with related fields. Then I would use that to my advantage to transition into the role I wanted.

Data Scientist vs Data Engineer

Data Scientist vs Data Engineer

Data Engineering Skills

There are a vast number of skills to consider with data engineering roles. The ones off the topic of head include:

  • Advanced Analytics (Forecasting, Machine Learning, etc)
  • Big Data Platforms (NoSQL, Data Streaming, etc)
  • Databases (RDBMS)
  • Data Warehousing & Data Marts (Kimball versus Imnar)
  • ETL Development & Processing (SSIS, Informatica, etc)
  • Cloud Computing (Amazon Web Services, Azure, IBM)
  • Programming/Scripting Languages (SQL, Python, R, Java, Scala, etc)
  • Visualization (Excel, Tableau, Matplotlib, Seaborn, etc)

Sub areas may include:

  • Compression
  • Networking
  • Hardware
  • Security
  • Real-Time

Then of course focusing on a particular domain goes a long way. I chose digital marketing and video games.

Big Data Engineering

I would do you wrong if I did not talk about big data engineering. This is the most common relationship data engineers have when they are out in the field. They are commonly tagged as being specialized in only big data platforms. This simply is not true.

While it’s true, there are a lot of jobs that are labeled as the big data engineer. Big data is still a very vague topic that really has more marketing value than real value for most organizations. Data engineers are deployed to solve problems.

Big Data Funneh

Big Data Funneh

Sometimes that problem involves an issue that is tied to what many refer to as big data problems. Whatever the case, big or small, data engineers can work anywhere that takes their data seriously. Don’t fall into the marketing hype that is big data.

Data and Analytics

Most of the data engineers I know work pretty closely with analytical teams. They focus on filling the technology void within the data and analytics teams that are tasked with various data projects. While there may be other technology roles in the organization, data engineers are often times assigned as dedicated roles with data scientist.

Data and Analytics Big Data

Data and Analytics

They are tasked with solving complex data infrastructure and processing problems that data and analytics teams face. This is commonly where the big data connection comes from the most with data engineering. They often faced with those so-called big data problems that may involve better ways to automate, clean, and computate large sets of data.

Focus On Solving Problems

The best data engineers in my experience are the ones who hold true what being an engineer is all about. They focus on using what’s available to them because they understand not every organization has the same budget or resources. This means you may be faced with times where you cannot invest in the next bleeding technology some marketing guy is selling you.

Focus on solving problems with what you have. If you’re a Microsoft shop and have invested in SQL Server, then focus on leveraging what you have before you start pitching some hot new scalable DBaaS solution that requires major overhauls.

If change is needed that involves major infrastructural or system wide change, then don’t be knee-jerk about that change. Research, test, plan, and then pitch. Exhaust all your options before making a decision on change and make damn sure it’s the right choice for the business before you deploy.

Work As A Cohesive Team

If you manage to work as a data engineer, you will likely run into similar positions that work as closely to the same areas you do. This is not uncommon, especially in large organizations that have database administrators, business intelligence developers, SQL developers and so on.

Data Engineer

Don’t Silo Yourself

You may find that the only thing that separates you is title and the team or project you work on. Instead of trying to silo yourself from other data professionals, aim to work in collaboration, even across teams and projects. You should not go into this alone and there is normally a wealth of knowledge you can benefit from by involving your data colleagues.

Disparity Is Bad

The one thing to focus on that you should avoid is creating further disparity within your organization. This can be anything from disparate data infrastructures that don’t align with the enterprise data strategy to overstepping your boundaries with existing data infrastructures and systems that were not built by you or your team.

Bridge The Gap

It’s critical to understand that data engineering and the concepts around what you do are not entirely new. Learn to bridge the gap, work together, and build great things that push the business forward.

Final Thoughts

I don’t think I’m particular the most avid expert in this field. I don’t even particularly think I’m good at what I do. But one thing I do know is the people I work with and the business itself has put a lot of trust in me as a person.

xkcd Code Quality

Code Quality (xkcd.com)

While I’m not the smartest person in the room, I try to focus on looking at the big picture and solving problems. Teams rely on me to help them through that problem solving process that often relates to data. That’s the value I add and the return on my investment is learning new things, experience, and doing something I’m truly passionate about–data.

Using Python For Data Analysis

I really enjoy using Python for data analysis. I wanted to write a post that covered just some of the reasons why I enjoy using Python when trying to convey a story over other great tools and languages.

Cleaning Data With Python

When it comes to tools that you are using to visualize data with such as Tableau, they are really good at connecting to data, but not exactly great at cleaning data. Python allows you to load data from multiple formats, clean it and get it ready for use. You’re able to create a number of data sets in Python that can plug into basically anything within one environment. This is key because having to go outside an environment could mean additional tools and resources to complete your objectives.

Data Modeling With Python

Similar to cleaning data, you can also easily model data with Python. You have Python packages that are available to you like Pandas, which allow you to clean and transform your data into data frames and series.

Pandas is extremely powerful when slicing and dicing up data on the fly. You can take one data set and turn it into dozens of different data sets that all feed into individual visualizations or all merged into one.

The one really cool benefit is that you are able to do SQL type processing with Pandas. They have a great SQL comparison guide that shows you the common SQL query task and how it’s accomplished in Python with Pandas.

If you think about that, this allows you to become both the SQL Developer and the Data Analysis in one. You don’t have to depend on that SQL Developer like you used to when you can slice and dice the data yourself directly in Python with Pandas.

Visualization with Python

When you actually have data that is cleaned and modeled, you can also use Python to visualize your final results. You have a number of wonderful packages that you can tie into like Matplotlib, ggplot, Seaborn, Bokeh, Plotly, and more.

Using Python for Data Analysis

Python (Plot.ly)

Looking at the imgage (gif) above, you can see just how powerful and even interactive Python can be with Plotly. Python allows you to quickly tab into those powerful visualization packages to quickly data on screen or in your web browser. Python also allows you to tap into a tremendous amount of customization that sometimes is hard to find in other visualization tools. You can create some really powerful visualizations that really help tell the story while using Python for data analysis.

Explore Data With Python

I’ve read some comments in the past that stated that Python is not really aimed for exploring data. That using tools like Tableau are better suited for such tasks. Well, I have to disagree with those statements. Exploring data with Python is very easy to do.

For example, I can load up The Jupyter Notebook, import some packages like Pandas, Matplotlib, and Seaborn, and then start exploring data in real-time in my web browser. I know that may sound like a lot, but it’s really a few lines of code.

What I love about being able to explore data with Python is the fact I can run quick information functions on the data. This is truly what I mean by using Python for data analysis. For example, I can quickly call something like df.info() for Pandas.DataFrame.Info in the code above to quickly see all the fields and data types of the object. I can also zoom in and examine each field in that object to understand what exactly I’m analyzing.

The Jupyter Notebook

I can’t begin to tell you how awesome this tool is for on the fly analyzation of data with Python. It’s even got amazing usability for presentations of your final analysis and can be shared in various formats including my favorite, HTML. The best part is, it’s step-by-step on everything you did from start to finish.

A glimpse of JupyterLab

JupyterLab: the next generation of the Jupyter Notebook

You can walk everyone in the room on how you loaded your data, cleaned it, transformed it, ran tests against it, and eventually visualized it. You can show your entire methodology around your story that leaves very little to question. That’s because you’re basically showing your hand where in other tools, all you’re seeing is the end result.

Final Thoughts

I really am just scratching the surface with Using Python for Data Analysis. There are so many great benefits in using Python for your next data project. The language, the packages available, and the tools that support it are growing every day. The best part about Python is that it’s mostly all free and the language is not hard to learn. It’s great for beginners who are either looking to become developers or those looking to become data scientist.

So, what are you waiting for? Go, explore, and tell meaningful and immersive stories with your data!

Creating Data Dictionaries

The data dictionary is a collection of descriptions of the data objects in a information system such as a database. It can also include a collection of business requirements surrounding those objects such as the users, security, and space allocated to support those objects. It’s everything you need on a logical level to begin the next phase of implementing the physical level.

Data Dictionary Tools

There are a number of different tools that help you. I personally just keep things simple and rely on the common business tools that most everyone has available to them on the first day of their job. Tools like Microsoft Excel, Visio and even open source tools like MySQL Workbench.

For example, I typically create a data dictionary in Microsoft Excel. It allows me to define the Entity Relational Diagram (ERD) of the database and it’s objects, the relationship between those objects and easy to follow format that anyone can follow to either implement or follow up on a implementation of the physical model.

Elements of the Data Dictionary

The information within the data dictionary should entail specifics about the data objects. If this is for a database, then it should specifically call out all the tables, all the fields of those tables, the data types of those fields, the default value of those fields, the max values of those fields and if those fields are required. It should also include your keys, both primary and foreign keys. It should define the indexes, both clustered and non-clustered index. It can even define the actual data files, their location and how you will handle growth of those files.

My Methodology to Data Dictionaries

As I said before, I stick to the basics. I primary use tools like Microsoft Excel to start the core of my data dictionary. I’ll start by creating a Excel document where I will have a introduction tab that quickly highlights all the objects and their relationships. Each row will entail for example, a table name with a link to a tab where the tab itself represents the entire table, it’s objects such as the indexes, keys and relationships of those keys. It will of course include a horizontal list of the attributes, data types, lengths and other specifics of those fields.

Data Dictionary

Partition Your Data Dictionary

I’m a big believer in not putting to much information into a document. This is because I came from the video game industry where design bibles would be hundreds of pages long. It contained everything the designers, programmers and so forth needed to make the game. Creating and maintaining those bibles were ridiculously silly. Therefore, I do partition out my documentation, especially for the data dictionary, across a few different pieces of documents for readability and manageability.

That being said, I typically split the users, security, and other information in their own documents that relate to the support of the data objects in another document. This can either be in a Word or Excel document depending on your needs. If you have a company wiki, those are great for these types of projects where the entire company can contribute or view. The one thing to remember here, is not to confuse these with your business continuity plans or disaster recovery plans. These are not replacements for those plans.

Data Dictionary Are Business Requirements

Your data dictionary is apart of your business requirement documentation. If you’re designing a data warehouse, the data dictionary will be the highlight of those documents, but not all the documentation you need to make a data warehouse. You should also have other documents that define the requirements outside of the data dictionary for example. That may include other requirements that could live separately like disaster recovery and operational plans that have nothing to do with the actual developers implementing the data warehouse.

No, this does not mean I am suggesting you create a business continuity plan with each project you take on. But, if you do not have one and you’re business is thinking about investing in a new project that may involve your first data warehouse for example, then it’s in your best interest to make a requirement to either develop a business continuity plan or make amendments to existing plans as part of your business requirements that exist outside the data dictionary.

I assure you, no one will hate you for saying, “Hey, what happens if X happens? What do we do? Do we have a plan for that?”

Until next time!

Using Common Table Expressions

Let’s talk about Common Table Expressions (CTE) with Microsoft SQL Server. These are temporary data sets within the execution scope of a single SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE or VIEW statement. CTE’s only last for the duration of your query or connection and can be self-referencing more than one time in a single query for uses like recursion or a general view.

The reason I wanted to talk about common table expressions (CTE) is because it’s something simple, easy to learn and pretty heavily used in analytical tasks. I keep getting stuck on deciding what to write about because we are now in a world where there are millions of pages of content out there. It’s pretty overwhelming when you think about it because like most, you get stuck trying to talk about something different. You start focusing on bigger ideas that take more thought and prep work.

Well, I’ve given up on that idea and figured I would talk about the basics too. I’ll focus on the use cases of those basics and try to show how I’ve used them in real world situations that generally apply to analytics, data science, data engineer and so on.

CTE Syntax

So, what is the basic syntax of the common table expression (CTE)?

Example

It’s really that simple. It can be even more simple than that, but look at what is happening here. You’re basically creating a temporary result set on FactProductSales. When the outer query is executed, so is the inner query. You get similar effects when taking that inner query and making a sub-query. In theory, they should be similar performance. However, the CTE can be used recursively where a sub-query cannot. Outside of that, many may chose to use CTE in replace of sub-query because they favor the syntax and structure clarity better.

If the CTE is referenced more than once in the outer query, then you risk having the inner query executed multiple times as opposed to just once. This is ultimately decided by the query optimizer. This is why others may opt for alternatives unless they are doing specific recursion use cases. One option may just be using a temporary table where they can index and have statistics for example.

Stacking CTE’s

In this example, I have two inner query definitions targeting two sets of data at different points in time. The outer query is then using a UNION to join both of those datasets together similar to what you may do with a sub-query. You can obviously still just use one inner query here and just SELECT within the range of both groups. Then when you create your outer join, you just filter the dates with your WHERE clause. The concern however is that you will select more data than you need.

That being said, there is nothing stopping you from going the UNION route in the first inner join. Like in many cases in SQL, there are a number of ways to skin a cat. Try the various ways, see how the query optimizer treats those different ways. Don’t just be refined to CTE’s. Pick the best option for the use case. I typically use CTE for smaller datasets and take different approaches for larger datasets.

Using CTE with MERGE

Outside of the common recursion examples, CTE’s are commonly used with MERGE statements in order to create a filtered view. That filtered view is used to compare staging data with primary data or easily understood as old data with new data. The MERGE statement helps make that comparison and then provides you with a series of logical actions you can take such as INSERT, UPDATE or DELETE.

In my real-world example similar to the query below, I receive data in 24-hour increments every night in batch. My primary table that I wish to target with these new records has an clustered index based on time stamps. Using the CTE with a MERGE statement allows me to INSERT those new records from the past 24-hours on top of that table and on top of that index.

While I can just use a simple INSERT statement to achieve the desired results, what happens when there is a republish of old data? I will either have to alter the INSERT statement or just simply use a MERGE with a CTE that filters the inner query based on the new data I received. That way I only target the primary data–that may be filled with billions of records–I want to read.

Here you can see how I used the CTE to filter the primary table where I want to INSERT new records that do not match the filter from the CTE. You can expand on this more by adding a WHEN MATCHED clause to the MERGE statement to also UPDATE records where certain fields have changed.

In the above example, you may have noticed the reference of the columns in the CTE are missing (i.e.: PrimaryData). You do not have to define your columns after you call AS. It’s good practice to define them for the end user to get an understanding of what fields are available from the inner query.

Common Table Expressions Termination

I was taught to always start my Common Table Expressions with a semicolon (;). That’s because if you have a Common Table Expressions in a query where there are other definitions above the Common Table Expressions , then the Common Table Expressions will fail to execute and give you an error when you run the query. While always putting the semicolon before you begin the Common Table Expressions (for example:  ;WITH MyCTE…) does ensure the Common Table Expressions will run, it’s a poor practice. Every statement above or below the Common Table Expressions including the Common Table Expressions itself should always be terminated with a semicolon.

Recursion Example

In most cases I deal with, recursion is used when I need a function that calls itself and when I need to divide and conquer a problem by taking the original problem and dividing it into smaller (easily solved) pieces. For example, the Fibonacci sequence is a common example where you have to reference what happened in the past to output the future:

Fibonacci Sequence

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13

0 + 1 = 1

1 + 1 = 2

1 + 2 = 3

2 + 3 = 5…

With Common Table Expressions, you will need to reference the CTE within the CTE. Confused? Take a look at this basic recursion example.

You n number in this case is not a variable, but the alias selecting the number one (1). The UNION is referencing that first n alias again and adding + 1 to the result. This keeps looping until the filter of WHERE n+1 <= 10 is satisfied. In this case, you should get a result of 10 records that go from 1 to 10 when your outer query select n from numbers.

In the Fibonacci sequence example with SQL, the same approach is taken where you SELECT n, but you also select the previous number + N in order to get the desired result of

 xn = xn – 1 +  xn – 2

Now lets look at how you can accomplish that rule in SQL.

The end result with be desired results of 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 all the way to 701,408,733.

Wrapping Up

That should cover a good bit of the Common Table Expressions and some examples. Feel free to share your thoughts on the CTE and of course, if you notice any incorrect information above or errors. I am not a master at what I do, but I get by.

Analyzing Video Game Data

Getting a chance to analyze some video game data is a good opportunity to use your skill-set on a domain that is fun. That’s what I got to do with a side project that I have been working on called, “Devil’s Silence”.

Come play with us! (dsmud.com port 5000)

Devil’s Silence is an online text-based video game referred to as Multi-User Dungeons (MUD). If you ever played Massively Multi-player Online Games (MMOG), then MUD’s would be the predecessor that made MMOG’s what they are today. They were free open-source text-based games that commonly were developed as role-playing games (RPG) for nerds who needed their Dungeon & Dragons fix whenever they wanted.

Video Game Data

The game I’m going to analyze is a well established game that has been online since the 90’s. I actually played this game when I was around 16 years old. Today, I’m 33 years old and helping as the programmer. So, you could say I have a long history here.

The data itself is not easily accessible. It’s stored in flat files, has very little standardization around it’s structure, is broken up into many segments that feed the game engine and will likely be a little dirty. Ideally, we will have to leverage our skill-set and tools to extract, transform and clean the data to fit our needs.

Data Methodology

The methodology is simple. We will answer these key high-level questions with our data analyzation:

  1. What will we take away?
  2. What are our recommendations?
  3. What is the impact?

How we will answer those questions is by defining a key set of business questions we will ask of the data and then answering those questions the best way we know how–identifying, extracting, analyzing and reporting on the data.

Data Questions

I’m about to embark on some game balancing of both classes and races in Devil’s Silence. The balance is focused around the player-versus-player (PvP) system for the game. It’s not as fun for the players right now because the classes, races and even item system has gone astray. Therefore, my questions will be centralized around the classes and races first, maybe some of the code data second and some of the PvP results last.

General Questions

I always start out my analysis with two types of questions from my main methodology — general and deep insights. General questions are those that will help me get a feel for the data and deep insight questions are those that will help me drive actionable and meaningful insights.

  • What is the most popular and least popular class in the game?
  • What is the most popular and least popular race in the game?
  • What is the most popular and least popular race and class combo in the game?

Deep Insight Questions

For my deep insight questions, I generally start out with one, but towards the end of the analyzation, I end up with a few more based on my discoveries. It’s good not to limit yourself right off the bat because who knows what you may find when you start down this path of data discovery right?

  • What is truly driving popularity in our classes/races and why?

General Overview

To answer these questions, I’m going straight to the player files of the game. They have structure, but do not have a standard across all code systems. I will need to develop a script that rips through every player file (one file per character), extract the data I need to answer my questions and spit out the results to a single file that I can analyze in another tool.

Go, Go, Python!

I took a brute force approach here, sue me.

This did the trick when reading a player file that just had attributes per line with non-standard terminators and formatting. The script just went from top to bottom per file while applying a very rough rules system to catch whatever. When data was found, the script just appended it to an array and then slammed it into Pandas. Easy, peasy.

Player Class Overview

Okies, let’s jump into iPython or whatever name they call it these days. Forgive me for not having a iPython enabled site, I will add this soon in the future to make things easier I hope.

At this stage, we’re loading some basic modules we may or may not use later. For now, we just want to get our data loaded from our CSV file into a Pandas data frame for analyzation. The first task is to just take a quick peek at how many players are playing what classes in our game. We can visualize that really easy with Seaborn.

Top Player Classes (Tier 2)

Devil's Silence Total Players By Class

It seems we’ve spotted our first issues with the data. Wizard, Mage, Shaman and Gladiator are all classes from other tiers. They used to be tier 2 and tier 1, but they were switched just recently and we know the tiers on the player files will not adjust until they log into the game. Nonetheless, it doesn’t change the fact of who they are. We can just overlook them for now.

Our top 5 classes are pretty clear. Morphs are dominating the popularity for tier 2. Ninja’s and Paladins on the other hand are likely our least popular classes of the game. Without a doubt, I can make the assumption that Morphs are only popular at this time due to the fact they were just added. Players are experimenting with them. I can also make the assumption that Ninja’s and Paladin’s are not popular because they are not powerful in PvP.

However, these are only assumption’s. They should be treated as such until we can back them up with facts from our data.

Player Race Overview

Same thing as before, but we switch to Races and switch our axis to make this easier to read.

Top Player Races (Tier 2)

Devil's Silence Top Player Races

Here we see that our dragon races are pretty popular. Sonic, Storm, Swamp and Dracolich are topping the charts. Our legacy races such as Treant, Banshee, Drow and so forth are not doing too hot. With the recent changes, we can make the assumption that the new introduction of dragon races has sparked a lot of interest. We can also assume that due to the insanely powerful stats, racial abilities and so forth with dragons, they will likely stay that way, especially for Sonic and Storm Dragons.

Player Class/Race Overview

Now we take a look at the player class and race numbers by creating a pivot table with our raw player counts. This should give us a better picture of the popular and not-so-popular race and class combinations in the game.

Top Player Class/Races (Tier 2)

Devil's Silence Top Player Class/Races

Right off the bat, we can see from our higher values here (dark) are our dragon races and classes that showed in our previous charts as being popular. Morph’s in the first example are obviously popular, but not only that, they are popular in the Sonic and Storm Dragon races too. Something triggered players to pick one of those two races. But why? We cannot answer that question with a simple heatmap.

When we look at our legacy races (anything not Dragon), we can see there is some distribution across different classes. We can see a Cyclopes Wardancer, a Beast Blade, a Dwarf Battlemage and so on. The actual number of players is still low. Why are these players still playing not-so-popular races with popular to semi-popular classes?

Taking a look at our two not-so-popular classes like Elder and Paladin, we can see they are all sporting the new dragon races. This means they are fairly active and trying a new race with an old class that is not really popular among the players. Why did they choose those classes? What about them is keeping them playing where so many others have not? Again, we can’t really answer those with this heatmap or the other charts. We have to dig deeper to understand.

Conclusion

We have just scratched the surface here. We got our player data extracted, cleaned up a little bit and have dived into some of the numbers around classes and races. We have a decent overview of what is popular and not-so-popular. Yet, we really don’t have a decent understanding into why. We will need to dig deeper into the other features of the dataset to unearth some deeper insights into why these classes and races are popular and not-so-popular.

As we dive into PvP and other aspects of the data, I think we might find a correlation. Maybe we can compare kill-to-death ratios, item values and more with our races and classes to see if there is any reasoning to why. Maybe we can dive into the code and extract raw skills, spells and other statistics to understand what each race and class has to offer and then compare it to other features that may form a stronger link in why players are making these choices.

We will do all of that in our next installment of Analyzing Video Game Data.

Daigo, Momochi & More Predictions

Being I had good feedback from my last post from the Ultra Street Fighter 4: 2015 Tournament Analysis, I figured another one should be in order with some predictions on next match placements for Daigo, Momochi, Kazunoko and Tokido.

EventHubs Driven Data

Before I go into the predictions, let me clarify the data being used. All data used for these predictions were provided by EventHubs. The data only entails results when a player places particularly high in a given tournament rather than placing particularly low. That means if a player get’s dead last place in a tournament of 200 people, EventHubs is not likely to report on the result and therefore not likely to be in my data set.

So, I’m not working with the full holistic picture of how players are doing on their good days or really, really bad days. But, it’s better than nothing and these predictions should at least give you a good understanding of what may happen next.

The Algorithm

I won’t bore you too much on the complexities of the algorithms used for my predictions, but I will note them for reference. I used a ARTXP algorithm and ARIMA algorithm. The tool used to run these algorithms uses each algorithm separately to train the model and then blends the results to yield the best prediction for a variable number of predictions.

 

Daigo Umehara Predictions

Daigo Umehara USF4 PredictionsMy first prediction is with Daigo Umehara. I used his past tournament history from 2014 to 2015 in Ultra Street Fighter IV to predict his next placements in the future. Each date on the chart represents a major tournament like CEO, Final Round, Evolution and so forth with the actual placements Daigo Umehara achieved.

Being I did this prediction with a few other players at the same time, I ran into some issues where some of those players did not compete in the same tournaments. Thus, gaps in the data are apparent because not every player, including Daigo, attends every major tournament in the world.

I closed this gap by including all major tournament dates regardless if the player attended or not. I simply copied over the previous tournament placement the player did attend over to the next tournament where the player didn’t attend. In Daigo’s case, you will see on 6/26/2015 that he placed 17th twice. This is because he attended the event on 6/26, but not the next tournament in 7/13.

My prediction for Daigo is that he will place between 9th or 12th in his next tournament. Being he has made good strives this year with great gains tournament-over-tournament, he will also likely trend in more top 8 results going forward.

Tokido Predictions

Tokido USF4 Predictions

Looking at Tokido, he has an interesting history in results. He had a pretty harsh Evo 2014 with Daigo and then had another bad placement with 25th at Final Round in 2015.

My prediction for Tokido is between 5th and 8th place in his next tournaments going forward. Unfortunately, this analysis shows a huge increase in placement therefore after in his prediction steps. This has Tokido jumping up 29th place and then 44th place in the next tournaments after that.

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Kazunoko Predictions

Kazunoko USF4 Predictions

Taking a peek at Kazunoko, he has been performing quite nicely over the past year. He has been consistently good and will likely continue to be consistently good. Not much more can be said about Kazunoko’s performance except fear the day you have to go through him in order to get to top 8 in Ultra Street Fighter IV.

My predictions for Kazunoko is his continued success in achieving between 7th and 9th place in his new tournament. The algorithm has him improving over time between 3rd and 6th place with a slight decrease in placement to end.

Momochi Predictions

Momochi USF4 PredictionsMomochi, our Evolution 2015 Ultra Street Fighter IV champion, has also had a good year in tournament placements. Similar to Daigo, he didn’t make it out to every tournament, but he did attend a lot this year in both Europe and North America. Momochi has consistently placed high and will likely continue to dominate the street fighter scene.

My predictions for Momochi is similar to Kazunoko. He will have continued success with achieving between 2nd and 4th in his next tournament with a decline to 4th and 5th place therefore after.

Prediction Comparison

USF4_MomochiTokidoDaigoKazunoko_Prediction_2015

Looking at the players holistically, you can see they how they compare to one another going forward. Momochi will continue to dominate over these players, but could be stopped dead in his tracks by Kazunoko. Daigo and Tokido will likely continue to place on the edges of top 8 and beyond with a bad game here or there for the two if their unlucky.

 

Ultra Street Fighter 4: 2015 Tournament Analysis

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated the old blog. Today, I wanted to share some analysis that I did on Ultra Street Fighter 4 with the major tournaments and players who competed in those tournaments leading up to Evolution 2015.

That being said, I wanted to toss out a small disclaimer before you read my analysis going forward. Everything in this post was collected from the good people at EventHubs. While I’m confident in the accuracy of the data reporting, there are still holes in the data simply because EventHubs as well other fighting game media sites do not report on all tournament placements for all tournament competitors.

Nonetheless, I collected as much data as I could (bearing in mind, my wife just gave birth to our second son on Tuesday, July 21st, 2015) and had some fun. I’m no data wizard, but I can do some cool things with data here and then.

Average Placement Value (APV)

Before diving right into the analysis, I wanted to explain with Average Placement Value (APV) is and why I used it so much in the following graphs that you’re about to review.

This is simply the average placement a competitive player may have over the course of his or her competitive career. To put it simply, I take the total placements a given player achieved over all the tournaments he or she played and then I divide that total among the total number of tournaments he or she entered. If the player is consistently placing in Top 8, then that average value is going to be low where poor performing players will have high average values.

Low is good, high is bad. Yet, not having all the data skews these averages, hence the disclaimer at the top.

Why do I use the Average Placement Value (APV)? It just helps paint a better holistic picture of how that player has performed when factoring in all the tournaments he or she entered. It also helps me alter that average depending on how certain variables like other players, location and so forth impact that players average placement.

Top 50 Ultra Street Fighter IV Players

Top 50 Ultra Street Fighter IV PlayersThe first analysis I did was simply to find the Top 50 Average Placement Value (APV) and total tournaments entered for all players in Ultra Street Fighter IV.

Right off the bat, you can see how the result from this analysis shows certain players with low APV who did not have a high tournament entry amount and or did not place high in the amount of tournaments they entered. This is not exactly an accurate depiction of the top players in order, but it does show who those top players may be.

Based on tournaments entered, Momochi is likely the prime candidate we want to hone in on along with Kazunoko, Snake Eyez, Pepeday, Bonchan and more. These are the top players who are consistently entering tournaments and consistently placing high in the tournaments they enter.

Top 50 Ultra Street Fighter IV Players (> 1 Tournament)

Top 50 Ultra Street Fighter IV Players (>1 Tournament)

Using the same analysis as before, we can refine the results down to only players who entered more than one (> 1) tournament and who are within that Top 50 Average Placement Value (APV) result set.

We can see our results are more reasonable on who the top players are and how they are also CONSISTENTLY doing well. We know this right off the bat because our current USF4 Evolution 2015 champion is no. 1 in these results. Momochi has consistently placed high in a number of tournaments and it’s reflected in this analysis.

Other top players include Kazunoko, Snake Eyez, Pepeday, Bonchan, Xian, Mago and even 801 Strider (in that order). These guys have consistently performed well, at least as much as our data allows us to see, over the course of many tournaments from CEO to Final Round to even Shadowloo.

(Note: Remember, EventHubs does not report all placements for all tournaments. They only report on top 50 or lower.)

Momochi versus GamerBee

USF4_Momochi_vs_GamerBee

The next analysis is between Momochi and GamerBee. These two amazing competitors met at the grand finals at Evolution 2015 in Ultra Street Fighter IV.

Unfortunately, Momochi ran into some uncontrollable issues that paused the match and made some question whether or not he should have won the match against GamerBee and (spoiler alert) first place at Evolution 2015.

My analysis shows a great trend in both players consistency to win. Momochi has put in the work just as GamerBee has over the past year and some months with Ultra Street Fighter IV. There is no doubt they are both consistently placing high to a point that it’s not a matter of opinion, but a fact that either one of these players deserved first place at Evo.

That being said, I did call out some problems that GamerBee faced over the year that made his performance (APV) lower than Momochi’s when looking at both players holistically. GamerBee faced some demons of his own against Tokido and Infiltration at both Final Round and CEO.

Regardless of a couple of bad placings, or at least bad to their standards, awesome for scrubs like me. GamerBee overcame those demons at Evolution 2015. He defeated both Tokido and Infiltration among beasts such as Daigo, NuckleDu and Pepeday.

GamerBee’s Difficult Path

Interestingly enough, if you were to look at the total Average Placement Values (APV) for all the players GamerBee defeated versus the same values for the ones Momochi had to defeate, GamerBee easily faced a harder line of fighters who consistently win. Unfortunately, it does not matter GamerBee actually defeated greater and more difficult players. All that matters is that he got to winner’s finals and how he performs in the last few matches.

Your pools and match-ups specified for you matter so much in these events. GamerBee saw the hard road he had to face and still succeeded beyond expectations.

Total APV Change

USF4_Total_APV_Change

My final analysis is to see the Average Placement Value (APV) change from tournament-to-tournament in the order they happen over time. The trick here is that Average Placement Value (APV) is only factoring in every tournament that happened up to that point in time and finding the difference in change from the last tournament in date of appearance the player may have or may not have entered.

This analysis helps me see the gains and losses in their averages over time regardless if those averages are high or low. If someone is placing 30th place and then jumps to 5th place the next tournament, this analysis is going to show a negative number, which means a positive gain.

(i.e.: Going from 10th place to 5th place equates to -50% change.)

I do this for every tournament in my database and then total them together to show how much gain or loss the player has made over the course of all tournaments. Negative is good, positive is bad once again.

Daigo showed that the most throughout the year. He went from 49th at Evolution 2014 last year to 5th place in 2015. This was a huge gain for him in example. Tokido, did the same with going from 33rd place to at Evolution to 4th place at SXSW.

KBrad on the other hand went from 13th place at CEO 2014 to 49th place at Evolution 2014 back up to 9th place TFC and Shadowloo to only fall back down to 17th place at Final Round and NCR. The analysis is clear that KBrad is not really being consistent, and after this years Evo results, has only increased the amount of loss he has endured.

But it’s not all right in the world. Smug is NOT showing good results in this analysis either. Looking at his data, he has consistently performed well, just had a bad event or two in the mix. If you were to drop just one of those tournaments, he would not have as bad of a score as others. Then again, like Momochi, he likely would not have had huge gains or losses either because some players just consistently trend the same every tournament without huge leaps from good to bad.

Is Mike Ross Good?

Recently, Mike Ross shared his opinion on the best and worst characters in Ultra Street Fighter 4. He listed best characters in the sense of Evil Ryu, Yun, Rose and Poison. He also listed worst characters in the sense of Deejay, Honda (his main) and Blanka.

However, something struck a nerve with me from that article on EventHubs. Some of the community had shared their opinions on how Mike Ross is actually not good enough to actually share his opinion on what characters are bad or good in the first place. So why should we care what he thinks?

Here is why you should care what Mike Ross thinks:

Good Performance

Besides being one of the communities brightest stars from his contribution to the hit series of CrossCounterTv, he has performed well in competitive play. To argue that is to say that you have slept under a rock for the past 5 to 10 years.

CrossCounterTv - The Entertainment Network for Fighting Game Fans.

The Entertainment Network for Fighting Game Fans.

Yes, it is true that Mike Ross as well many other players do not always win every major or even place within top 8. That does not make them an automatic disqualification from sharing their opinion on the game nor make them bad at the game overall. It would be silly to think that every player has to continue to dominate every tournament in order to stay relevant for today.

Consistency Is Hard

Despite what you may think, consistently winning major after major is pretty tough. It’s not impossible as Daigo Umehara has showed us in the past, but it’s pretty hard. There are a lot of really good players out there that are both known and unknown to the masses. These good players, as both Mike Ross and gootecks have mentioned on CrossCounterTV, are growing as the game matures.

Daigo Umehara before his major upset to poongko.

Daigo Umehara before his major upset to poongko.

Those that are known are susceptible to bad days like any professional athlete. You cannot always win the gold every year. Mike Ross as well many others cannot always perform well where they are at least getting top 8. Even when they don’t, it doesn’t automatically make them a bad player or in a sense, discredited from sharing their expert opinion on the game.

Mike Ross Is Relevant

Regardless of the opinions on consistency defining a player or not, you have to ask yourself. Is Mike Ross an expert in Ultra Street Fighter 4? I think the answer to that question is, “yes” because of past performances. Although he may not be the best player in the world, he again, has performed well in his competitive career within Street Fighter. Well enough that I would consider him a threat in my pool and well enough that I would think betting on him to win is not a bad bet because he does hold the power to win.

He may not be as consistent as he or his fans may like, especially lately, but I feel he has done well overall. Well enough that Mike Ross has a higher chance of being successful in any major he enters than most of us because of his skill level. Now, that still may not be enough for some, but it’s surely enough for me because to be that picky on who can and cannot speak on the game would be completely ridiculous. It would be to say that only Michael Jordan is allowed to speak on the game and is a good player where Karl Malone is not because he does not have any championship rings.

Top 8 Mentality

I of course am not trying to pick on Mike Ross with this article, but I think he is a great example. Achieving Top 8 to stay relevant is also something that I find pretty ridiculous. That’s one of the reasons why I made this video about Daigo Umehara a year ago because people were sleeping on him just because he has hit a lower point in his competitive success.

Did Mike Ross defend his face's honor? Find out in EventHubs UFN Fight Night results!

Did Mike Ross defend his face’s honor? Find out on EventHubs UFN Fight Night results!

Umehara does not need to consistently win anymore. He has already proven himself many times over as being the beast. Just because he has lacked that consistency recently does not mean he is not going to strike fear in you when you play him. He will surely still dominate more than half of the players he faces, just maybe not everyone like he used to due because of the maturity the game has seen since the release of Street Fighter 4.

Mike Ross Is Good

Of course, I’m not saying that Mike Ross has achieved or walked the same path as Daigo Umehara. But, neither has Karl Malone compared to Michael Jordan. The point I’m trying to make is that we have all different levels of amazing in our community. They are not all winning Evo or placing top 8 consistently these days. Those that are, would likely face some bad performances or tough competition in the future. It’s not the end of the world nor a sign that you have lost your good player card to me.

The Dynamic Duo of Mike Ross and gootecks.

The Dynamic Duo of Mike Ross and gootecks.

To close, all the Mike Ross’s of the world: continue doing your thing and ignore the haters. We won’t forget what you have done, what you are currently doing and what you will do tomorrow.

 

Daigo Umehara: The Beast

It’s been a year since I made a small tribute video to Daigo Umehara on YouTube. The video has been picked up by EventHubs and viewed almost 30,000 times by the public since it’s publication. In celebration, I just wanted to highlight the video once again and talk about the reasons behind the creation.

Daigo Umehara the Beast playing Street Fighter

EventHubs features my video, Daigo Umehara: Forever The Beast. Check out the article by clicking on the picture.

I’ve been in the scene for some time now as a casual spectator. Although I played Street Fighter off and on, I never really took it serious enough to compete. My passion for the game grew stronger after every tournament I watched on YouTube or on stream. Daigo Umehara was a big contribution to that passion because his playing in tournaments around the world drew me closer to the game and to the community.

Due to his amazing playing and amazing commitment to the game, I decided to put together a small collage of video clips to pay tribute to the 2D god. Although he is not my only favorite player in the scene, he is one of the most influential to me. His passion, focus and amazing game play really attracted me to his competitive career. Everytime he plays, my eyes are glued to the game and to his style in attempt to pick up something to make my playing better.

Fighting Game Fanboi

Call me a fanboi or whatever, I think paying tribute to those who do the work is important. I feel it’s almost as important in the fighting game community because the scene in comparison to other genres of gaming is not all that big. I feel my video and many other contributions to other amazing players in the scene is what keeps said players playing. Because we all know it’s not about the money. We are not as lucky as some eSports titles where bigger prize pools can keep people sticky to the competitive life.

Creating RYU Mix

One of the reasons I made the tribute was because of this amazing cover by Zack Andrew. It gave me the idea to sort of show some of the low points in Daigo’s fighting game matches because the song itself was softer and more mellow. The only thing I needed next was to combine Zack’s cover with a more rocking upbeat song to drive home the high points in Daigo’s matches.

So, I’d hope that my video and many others shows the competitive players our gratitude for sticking to the game, to the scene and to us, the community.

Ultra Street Fighter 4 Tier Lists

I have had a strong opinion surrounding tier lists in games such as Ultra Street Fighter 4 for some time. This is mainly because so many players put so much stock into them that they forget to really explore the game and characters true potential in the right hands.

I want to emphasize right hands because it’s important to note that tier lists do not consider the human factor. In Justin Wong’s case, that may even be the Wong Factor when he steps up to the plate.

Human Factor Changes Everything

Regardless, the point I have consistently made is that although tier lists give you an idea of where a character may fall on a quality scale, it’s not the entire picture of said characters. Many other factors play into the potential of a character that can dramatically change in the right hands.

To make my case from a tournament a few weeks ago, take the recent NISHIKIN (Blanka) vs Bonchan (Sagat) grand finals match during the Isshuu Sengeki Cup 2014. Blanka is said to have somewhere between a 4/6 matchup in favor of Sagat to an even 5/5 matchup.

Bonchan is by a good amount of peoples opinions, one of the best Sagat players in the world. Even if the matchup was 6/4 in Blanka’s favor, you could argue that Sagat in the hands of someone like Bonchan, the tides will sway.

Winning Despite Tier Lists

However, that’s just it, the matchup changes in the right hands. NISHIKIN (spoiler alert) wins against Bonchan with his Blanka (3-2 win). He won with a character that is considered bottom tier, even a joke character by some opinion. NISHIKIN has and is currently continuing to achieve good wins with Blanka even though the character is bottom tier if not one of the worst characters in the game.

Mike Ross comments on his best and worst character list in Ultra Street Fighter 4  with EventHubs.

Earlier in the week, the people’s champ spoke with EventHubs about his TFC performance and his days as a competitive player. Tonight, however, EventHubs has a special treat: Mike Ross tells EventHubs who he feels are the best/worst characters in Ultra Street Fighter 4.

Does that still make Blanka bottom tier? To many, it surely does. And because of that, many will not continue to play low tier characters despite what others do with the character in tournament. But for me, I think I will continue to play low tier characters like Blanka. It’s not because of where he falls on the tier chart. It’s because I feel that in my hands, he is my best character regardless of the matchup. I feel that my experience and continued growth in skill will always be the determining factor of the match. Not some list that exist on the internet.

New Blanka Costume – Ultra Street Fighter IV

The new Blanka costume released in the Summer Vacation DLC for Ultra Street Fighter IV does not look that appealing. But then again, this is the summer pack too. The costumes reflect the summer activities including what I would assume are hobbies as well just some of their personal flavors standing out in the pack.

Thoughts on Blanka Costume

For me, being the huge fan of Blanka, I cannot get into any costume that does not reflect some level of intimidation. Regardless of the backstory, gentle or hostile of the beast, I still crave the well, beast in Blanka. Anything else is really trivial in terms of what I’d expect from a Blanka costume.

The new Blanka Costume for Ultra Street Fighter IV

Nonetheless, the costume itself is not all that bad in terms of quality. Some of the other character lineup received some outfits that really didn’t seem that great in that department. Blanka’s includes a hawaiian shirt, a Lei (garland) around the neck, red shorts and matching red bracelets/cuffs around the wrists and ankles.

Outfits for Ultra Street Fighter IV

My quam again, is just the immersion of the outfit with the character. I feel outfits like the Blanka costume released in the Summer Vacation DLC for Ultra Street Fighter IV breaks that immersion for the character. It’s more appealing to me to have something that does bring out that inner beast or represents move of the characters background than just something of a hawaiian shirt with a Lei.

Blanka Balance Changes – Ultra Street Fighter IV Gameplay Demo
 

Of course, I could just be too picky on my expectations. But then again, a good portion of us play the characters for the looks, feel and how the character represents us both in-game and even out-of-game. Blanka is my character. A scumbag of a character that represents my scumbag nature as a player. Therefore, I want that scumbag looking costume that is going to add that extra umph when they see that beautiful green face appear in the loading screen.

Call Me Old Fashion

Call me old fashion or just a silly player, but I really have enjoyed some of the other Blanka costumes in the past. I really just want more of the same if not something that takes the character to the next level in terms of sick looks. I mean, you have to admit that Blanka is already dead sexy. How could you possibly ignore that sexy face?

Annnyywayyys.

Check out the new Blanka costume in the latest DLC or the sneak peaks from Eventhubs.

Eightarc Fusion Synthesis Review

I recently picked up the Eightarc Fusion Synthesis joystick as an early birthday present to me. Beforehand, I had the Madcatz Arcade Fightstick Tournament Edition “S”. With the new stick, I wanted to do a Eightarc Fusion Synthesis review on my personal thoughts on the new hardware for fighting games such as Ultra Street Fighter IV.

Eightarc Fusion Synthesis Appearance

What can’t be said about the Synthesis from Eightarc? It’s absolutely stunning to look at with the lights turned on. It’s got a semi-transparent matte (dull without a shine) finished case that provide subtle hints of the hardware inside, a clear ball on a Sanwa JLF joystick and matching 8 Sanwa OBSC-30 clear buttons.

Eightarc Fusion Synthesis Dark

The faceplate is nothing to be too proud of, but it does add a nice touch to the stick. The sleek design and branding of the Eightarc logo built into the base of the joystick and japanese lettering add a nice touch to the look. But, the lack of any real lighting sort of makes the stick almost disappear into the darkness when the lights go out. You are left with a dim blue light for the player indicator in the top right corner of the stick that does add a nice touch to that particular side.

Joystick Feel

The feel of the stick is what I look for the most. Take away all the glitter and glam of a stick. All that matters is how it feels and how it performs. The Synthesis has a good feel when resting on the lap and when wrists are laying parallel across the base.

The Sanwa JLF joystick has a especially good feel that was pretty familiar to the Madcatz Arcade Fightstick, but with a little more noise during interactions. Both are very similar in sound, but the Synthesis has a little more crackle to it’s pop versus the other. Maybe that will fade in time, but for now, it’s kind of alerting when you first hone in to the sound.

The Sanwa OBSC-30 clear buttons on the other hand is the most disappointing feature of the stick for me. They are especially sensitive, which is an improvement to my previous stick. However, the feel of the clear buttons is what really brings the stick down for me. They have a very noticeable rattle at the slightest touch. This makes the buttons feel loose and adds additional noise just by resting fingers on the buttons or in execution.

Synthesis Performance

The performance of the stick is rather good. The sensitive Sanwa buttons combined with the Sanwa joystick make the hardware a tool of precision. My only qualm with the performance is the fact that all the buttons have the slight rattle, which doesn’t impact the performance as much as the feeling of the performance. It’s like shooting a basketball with bad form, but the ball still swishes every time. Something just doesn’t feel right even though you just bodied your opponent in Ultra Street Fighter IV.

Now, you might say that the feel of the buttons has no place here, but I would say otherwise. The feel also impacts performance. Not so much in the hardware, but in the person using the hardware. Good feeling hardware is like a moral booster to the body and mind.

Other Features

Without putting to many words here, these are some other good bonuses:

  1. The weight of the stick is not too heavy and not too light. It’s just right. (9.5 lbs)
  2. Smooth curvature wrist rest is nice if you use it.
  3. XBOX, PS3 and PC compatible out the box, which is also why I purchased the stick.
  4. USB cord built in the side, not the top with a compartment/latch for storage.
  5. Felt bottom with rubber feet for stability.
  6. Very cool packaging both for the shipping box and the case box.

Final Verdict

I give the stick a good 8/10 with the case look, style, compatibility and Sanwa joystick taking the cake. However, the buttons, although stylish and sexy, really bring down the rating 2 points due to the rattling and the aftertaste in your mouth after said rattling.

Other than that, I feel happy about the buy and will continue to use the stick. Check it out directly on Eightarc website.

The TriForce Hate

An interesting question came up on the On Blast Show that I wanted to try and answer. That question was, “Why does everyone really hate TriForce?” Well, to some it may seem easy, but realistically, no one has really came forth and provided a solid argument to why TriForce is this bad guy. I mean, there has been bits here and there, but normally, no one is actually explaining the details behind the malice. They just slam him and we accept it.

Having thought about this for some time, I think I have a pretty solid answer to that question from the public perspective. It may not be as pretty, but I think it’s a honest answer that makes a lot of sense from what I’ve seen in the scene.

Putting Yourself First

Many people in the scene have constantly slammed TriForce for putting himself first. I think that’s the biggest reason so many people hate the man. They think he is out to get paid, out to get just his or whatever from his current lineup of players in Empire Arcadia.

I think this is true and false. TriForce needs to get paid for what he does for his players and for his organization period. If you think that he shouldn’t, then you really don’t understand how this works. In order to survive, player or management, someone has to eat. The only way to eat is to get paid. The only way to get paid is by earning that money. TriForce is pretty passionate about what he does. So much, he provides a place for players to sleep, helps them try to land sponsorship (even though this doesn’t really work out) and put money in their pockets time-to-time according to Sanford Kelly.

On the other hand, I do think he puts himself first when it comes to the spotlight behind his organization. Now, this may get twisted from what I just said above, but I mean is purely from a marketing perspective. To provide an example, what face(s) do you see when I say Empire Arcadia or EMP? Now, what face(s) do you see when I say Evil Geniuses or EG?

For EMP, I see one face and one glove. For EG, I see a few, including this years current UMVC3 Champion.

Whether that was intentional or not remains to be answered, but the fact is, TriForce is that face of the organization. As fickle as the mob is, they can hate you just for the way you look regardless of what you did.

Big Mouth

Another big reason people hate on TriForce is because of his mouth. Due to being in the forefront so much with his organization, TriForce actively speaks out about a number of different topics. As such, people tend to hate that which they disagree or simply do not want to hear.

I do agree with this, but not on any particular topic specifically. TriForce simply likes to get into heated debates on a number of communication channels, both public and semi-private. He is loud and proud.

To give another example, I was watching the movie Patton last week. It reminded me of why having a big mouth is not a good look. General Patton was a beast. However, he also had that big mouth too and told it like it was. Unfortunately, just because you’re a good general doesn’t mean you can’t be hated for what you say or how you said it. Patton learned that pretty quickly after slapping down a coward suffering from battle fatigue when his troops were suffering from what the general considered “real” injurers.

Although TriForce may be a good general, sometimes having a big mouth accumulates a lot of hate just in disagreements of what you say. Speak less, lead more. This may be a good option to reduce that hate.

Associations with Bad Deals

One more reason for all the hate is associations with bad deals or even shady brands. The main one, if not the only one, would be the Video X Games (VxG) event that happened last year. Many people hold TriForce as well the head guy behind the event responsible for it’s failure. This has only adds to the pile of hate towards TriForce.

To be fair to TriForce, he is actually not primarily responsible, if not at all responsible for the event failure. I believe TriForce was hired to promote the event, not create it, run it, fund it or even really organize it. One person was responsible for those areas and that was Rolando and Co.

Similar to the previous two topics of discussion I brought to the table, TriForce put himself in the spotlight to promote the event and had a pretty big mouth about it. This automatically puts the blame on you when you make those decisions regardless if you’re really doing all those things or not. That’s because you are one of the only faces we can attach to that failure. When you already have a reputation for hate, regardless of it being true or not in your eyes, amplifies new hate for this failure even more.

Picking your associations wisely would have been a good look here. As well understanding that regardless if it’s your fault, when you are the face of a failure, unfortunately, you’re getting the blame. That’s the responsibility you take when you choose the limelight.

Not Performing Well

Lastly, I think a good bulk of hate comes from simply not performing as well. What I mean by that is the organization as a whole not being able to provide as much as people want for the players. Especially to a point where they are not all jumping ship because the organization is just not working out for their specific needs.

Sticking up for TriForce again a bit here. Running a team in the fighting game community is not easy. Many people could not even do this for a few months let alone a few years. TriForce is facing a uphill battle regardless of any other issue mentioned here. Due to that, many players have spoken out about the organization and the leaderships ability to perform well in that area. Thus, I feel many hold that against the organization as well TriForce as if this was all easy. Unfortunately, regardless of the complexity of what TriForce as well many others are doing with their organizations, results win people, failures well, you know.

In Closing

To summarize this all up, here is why the hate exists in my mind:

  1. Too much spotlight for the leadership.
  2. When in that spotlight, they have big mouths.
  3. Associations with bad brands and shady deals.
  4. Not performing well for the players or in the eyes of the people.

Here’s how I would resolve this hate if you chose to accept it:

  1. Remove yourself from the spotlight more, not from the leadership.
  2. Speak less for your organization, let your players do that for you.
  3. Make wiser decisions, but it’s understandable that we all make mistakes.
  4. Form a new plan of attack, share it and attract new players that can help.

Then lastly, I wanted to say this for the peoples of EMP:

Spend less time figuring out why or who hates you and more time trying to fixing the problem. You will drive yourself mad trying to figure out if the hate is legitimate or not. It really doesn’t matter. All that matters is the hate is real. In any other circumstance, especially in media, it doesn’t matter on the why. Follow the same principles and work from there. Hate is hate, it’s going to happen. Keep pushing forward.

Good luck! I hope you guys pull through regardless of the opinions.

Capcom Decline in Quality

Capcom is on a very rocky path as they revise their sales forecast on a number of their hit brands for 2013. If that wasn’t enough, they may react to the decrease in expected sales by increasing DLC tactics for future games or worse, cancel some upcoming projects or more as they look at internal restructuring.

Source – Eurogamer.net

With the new revisions in their sales forecast for the year, Capcom has identified three reasons for the further revisions as noted by Eurogamer: a “delayed response to the expanding digital contents market”; “insufficient coordination between the market and the game development divisions in overseas markets”; and “decline in quality due to excessive outsourcing”.

As someone who worked in the video game industry, Capcom will likely try to circumvent these bumps in the roads in what they call “countermeasures”. Ideally, if retail sails fall short of expectations, then something has to pick up the slack. Capcom thinks increasing DLC is the way to go along with shifting to internal R&D and evaluating work-in-progress games as part of a business restructure to pick up the slack.

What Does This Mean For Capcom?

Cancelled games or upcoming updates for one. They could cancel a number of work-in-progress games or possibly even upcoming updates on the block that we know or don’t know about. Yes, this could very well mean the upcoming changes to Street Fighter IV or even anything else in the pipeline for new fighting games regardless if they are outsourced or not.

I say this because one may have to do with the other when you cancel contracts with external studios and bring more development in house. There is a reason it’s outsourced and that’s more than likely because Capcom does not have enough resources in-house to do everything they want. That means internally, a shift in production that could pull resources  of in-house development that may or may not be working on the fighting games to meet the demands of this restructure.

However, this entirely depends if they continue to develop the games they pull from external developers too. They could very well just cut ropes on current projects and complete everything else the promised this year. It’s all up in the air until we know more about the result of their business restructure and what that entails.

Increased DLC or even new forms of DLC for future or current games. SFxT already had a bad start with DLC. Even today, you have to buy DLC just to play the game in most instances because you can’t unlock all the characters for free nor attain all the gems when purchased. We could see more of those types of tactics going forward on an increased scale or worse, new forms of DLC that have not been tested in the current market that could piss even more existing or new customers off. Therefore, if you were hoping to not be nickled and dimed with future Capcom games, then think again.

Whatever may happen, I hope Capcom comes out of this without increasing DLC or cancelling any projects for their fighting game segments.

Major Movements For EMP

This week has seen some pretty crazy news in terms of the North Carolina Fighting Game Community and the overall fighting game community. You wouldn’t know too much about what’s going on because most of the fighting game media outlets have failed to report on the movement yet again. But, no big suprise there as the news does not involve Level|Up, CrossCounter, UltraChenTv, a famous Japanese player or the West Coast right? So sad, but that’s life.

Let’s start with a breakdown of what’s happened in the past few days.

FightNation EX (FNEX)

Empire Arcadia Teams With FNEX

Anyone worth their salt in the fighting game community knows Empire Arcadia and their leader, TriForce. They have a long history in the scene that’s both bad and good. FightNation Ex (FNEX) on the other hand is a bit different with there new up-and-coming force who thus far, has a great reputation in the community, especially here in the south.

Both organizations are looking to strengthen their position in the scene with a big emphasis on expanding the Empire and helping the North East as TriForce has mentioned in one interviewEmpire Arcadia will focus on the flagship players of their organization and big picture movements where FNEX will focus on everything else, likely player management of the not-so-big names that are trying to make their mark in the scene. At least, that’s how I understood everything as a whole while referencing how Empire Arcadia operates their organization.

di3mini0n

Di3mini0n Leaves Broken Tier

With the partnership of FNEX and Empire Arcadia, in comes the departure of Di3mini0n from Broken Tier to REJOIN the ranks of Empire Arcadia. Di3mini0n is a very powerful player who will only continue to do amazing things, leaves Broken Tier with a serious loss to their organization as a whole. On the opposite end, Empire Arcadia will receive a huge boost due to this new acquisition and strengthen their position at majors all over the nation, if not the world, with a pretty solid lineup of serious contenders.

That said, there has been some speculation on this departure. Broken Tier by right is no small contender themselves. Without Di3mini0n, they still boost a solid team of Yipes, Viscant, MarlinPie and Clockw0rk. With such a heavy lineup, you could imagine the team is likely not the reason for the departure. It seems (as in me speculating) the exit is mainly due to the funding and the support of Di3mini0n on their team to compete competitively. Therefore, it seems Empire Arcadia is able to provide that funding and support that Di3mini0n seeks as he comes to end of his Broken Tier contract.

VXG Sponsorship

Now that Empire Arcadia have made some major plays in the past week, you may be wondering why and most importantly how? I think the why is pretty much obviously, but the how may not be as obvious. Everything that’s happen seems to not have happened without some power behind the throne as they say. The Video X Games (VXG)–the crew hailing out of St. Maarten–is now either sponsoring Empire Arcadia or directly sponsoring select players from Empire Arcadia. My guess, VXG is sponsoring the entire organization where TriForce decides who gets what and when. How big that sponsorship may be in terms of actual dollars is still unknown, but it’s enough to reactivate Empire Arcadia from it’s known suspension mode to temp both FNEX and Di3mini0n as well possibly more in the next few weeks to join the empire.

Why The Sponsorship?

That’s still mostly up in the air until more and more information comes out. As with any sponsorship, it’s about driving some type of awareness, influence or return. Many companies, including the ones I’ve worked for spend thousands-to-millions a year in influence marketing among other types of marketing for their products and services. VXG is likely looking to do the same for either the resorts, their new event or maybe even the entire island itself. The more control they can have over you as a consumer or a gamer, the greater the chances you may buy into what they are selling. How they make that happen is selected specific community influencers (like TriForce) who act as brand ambassadors who recruit other ambassadors who you love and follow. They all tie together in one big circle feeding the players, feeding the organization and feeding the sponsors in hopes of some type of tangible return. What that return may be, is what will slowly become more clear in the coming months.

predictions

My Predictions

When you look at this from the outside, you see a old video game organization that was riddled with many problems over the past few years receiving a good financial backing to restructure and reorganize for the better. You also see a new sponsor coming on the scene that’s both trying to help their own major event, trickle that love outside of their community and possibly even promote assorted brands, products and services in between.

However, this is only the beginning from what TriForce and Co. have teased already. There is still much more to come down the line. What that may be is still very much unknown. Both Empire Arcadia and FNEX have been very silent on what their next moves may entail. Thus, here are some predictions of my own.

Mike Ross CrossCounterTv

Empire Arcadia Acquiring More Players

My best guess is the empire will still headhunt some more quality players for their lineup. One in particular could be Mike Ross simply due to TriForces recent tweets to Mike Ross in terms of meeting and discussing the future.

[pullquote2 align=”center” textColor=”#ffffff”]@ThatMikeRossGuy I don’t know either, I just said I’m interested in getting you on board our new division. But you know this already. –TriForce[/pullquote2]

Whether or not Mike Ross jumps on board is up for debate, but money of course rules all in this scene. I’m sure for the right sponsorship, Mike Ross or other big names if not him particularly would be happy to jump on board if that meant free rides to majors. Regardless of who specifically, my best assumption is that we will see more movements on the empires end in terms of getting those big names on the team to try and take the scene by storm.

 

TriForce Empire Arcadia

Repairing The Bad Reputation

Empire Arcadia does not have a very good reputation. You can tell from the recent interview with Di3mini0n that VXG knows about this reputation and they are still moving forward with sponsoring Empire Arcadia. My assumption is that VXG will focus on damage control and helping repair that bad reputation by trying to steer everyone towards looking at the bright new future rather than the shady past. Thus, expect a dramatic change in Empire Arcadia’s attitude, maybe even in a re-branding that’s focused on repairing that bad reputation to focus on the new empire.

New Swag

I can’t imagine all this new money coming into the scene without some type of return on either side of the fence. Let’s be real here, VXG may not see the benefit of promoting in this scene. The empire will have to capitalize on this as much as possible with decent revenue streams just in case of fire. They will likely look towards expanding to new product lines like t-shirts and other swag items like everyone else. I’m sure we will see a new line come out from Empire Arcadia or VXG featuring both FNEX and top player names like Di3mini0n and Sandford Kelly.

Pending Doom

Pending Doom

I can’t help but think about the negativity that might happen in the foreseeable future for both Empire Arcadia and their new sponsor VXG. That’s because I work in marketing, especially in the video game industry where I worked on AAA multi-million dollar games for mass consumption worldwide. Therefore, when I try to look at everything that’s been revealed thus far, it’s hard to see a good return on investment for VXG (whatever that may secretly be for them).

Besides all the negativity towards the empire, I’m mostly referring to the fighting game scene as a whole. The average fighting game consumer is not spending a lot of money on their hobbies each year. You can see that as Empire Arcadia as well many others struggled to retain and keep sponsors for their organizations. What influence they bring, is simply not enough to really temp most companies to sink some investment into their pockets. So, it’s hard to see that being successful for VXG too, at least for fighting games.

In Closing

Don’t get me wrong, I have high hopes for all those involved. I hate to see any fail regardless of any reputation or any personal feelings towards specific parties involved. That’s because if VXG and Empire Arcadia fail, it impacts innocent bystanders like FNEX and other critical elements in the community. Thus, I want them to succeed in building the community and in return, give them some type of return whether that’s more spending or simply awareness that VXG exists.

Whatever the case, if you’re looking to expand, don’t hesitate to call me up too.

Tournament Tracker

I had this really great idea when I was working on a website for one of my side projects. The idea was to create a tool that could be used to track players progression in fighting game tournaments worldwide. The tool itself wouldn’t be tied to the tournament itself, but to the player who enters said tournaments and wants to keep a good record of how they place in said tournaments. The core of the tool would track those tournaments through player profiles that only works if the player reports their progression tournament-after-tournament. From there, players can popular the tournament stats and allow the tool to display those results to everyone as well do some thinking on it’s own.

Player Profiles

I don’t foresee the tool being that complicated to make while utilizing PHP and some Javascript for the front-end. Players could register, fill out some base information about themselves and have a tournament recorder forum at their disposal. After each tournament, they can fill in the tournament name, date, location, placing and earnings they acquired. The tool stores that to their profile and a global profile that allows us to compare everyone against each other to give a high-level overview of how the tournament scene is doing.

Fighting Game Tournament Tracker - Profile

Informative

Players will also be able to fill out their contact information, sponsor information and keep a honest record of their progression that they can take with them wherever they go. I think this is a good thing because the information about some of the good players in the scene is almost non-existent. It’s extremely hard to find say MarlinPie’s record and see how he has progressed over the years. It’s even harder to gauge how much earnings some of these players are making at any given tournament to possibly attract new fish into the scene.

The Best-of-the-Best

I kind of look at this tool as something entirely community driven. If the players don’t take the time to record their progression, then the tool would become insanely useless. It’s like a Wiki, you have to put forth the effort consistently in order to make it work. When that comes together, we will be able to see who the best players are in terms of statistics. You know, who is placing the highest consistently to who is potentially earning the most yearly. If enough players get involved, we may even be able to break those down by territory and get a good honest overview of where all the killers really reside outside of Cali or Japan.

TO Friendly

One of the fail safes I have for this tool is making it tournament organizer friendly. That means specific players who signup are able to designate themselves as TO’s in the community. This will allow the tool to provide additional features for those special profiles to report on everyone who entered their tournaments. For example, let’s say Joe the gamer doesn’t use this tool. When he finishes the tournament, he does not let the tool know he placed 2nd in Marvel. Dan the TO can report Joe’s progression for him and the tool will auto-generate a profile for Joe if he has never used the tool. That way no matter what, we have fail safes for TO’s to always report on what they are doing in their specific areas as well helps ensure the statistics are correct.

As you could imagine, some players may lie about their stats. TO friendly features can help keep that in check. If you submit incorrect information about a specific tournament, then the TO provides information that does not match up to what you provided, then the TO’s word is greater than yours. What the TO reports will override your report and you will be flagged in some manner as a cheater (or similar system to be determined later).

Fighting Game Tournament Tracker - Main

Wireframe

If you’re wondering what the sketches are above, they are called wireframes (click either image to see full concepts). They help web designers mock up a website before they begin work. As this tool would be a web based tool you could access in almost any browser, I put together a wireframe to help visualize what the tool would look like before I began work. Ideally, that’s what the tool should look like in terms of the finished product. If you have any feedback on the concept, then please feel free to reach out to me.

When’s Release?

Although I think this tool would be rather simple to make overall, it doesn’t mean the tool won’t be time consuming in terms of scope. I don’t foresee this tool being done in the next month, but you never know. I’m a extremely busy person lately with a full-time job in similar fields. But, I do spend a lot of time after hours creating and playing on the interwebs. I hope to get this project started rather soon and finished as quickly as possible that way the tool can basically manage itself without too much hands-on. If you would like to help out, then again, please reach out and let me know what you could contribute to the project.

Bad Attitudes in Fighting Games

For the past month, I’ve noticed something interesting about some of the attitudes within the fighting game community (FGC). I haven’t had much time to write about it lately because I have been unemployed. When you’ve been working for so long in one industry, then you find yourself unemployed and having to look for work in a new industry. It can be a real toll on your life and your passion to do other things like playing games to writing on your blog that no one even reads. But luckily enough for me, I found a new and well-paying gig in the marketing field to help me get back into my passions.

What Does It Mean?

However, let’s not make this about me. We were talking about attitudes in the fighting game community (FGC). More specifically, the bad attitudes within the scene. What does this mean to me? Well, I’m not referring to the bad attitudes you sometimes see when a scrub gets beasted on in a tournament. I’m referring to specific community leaders or community influencers who have a strong reputation within the community and who also have bad attitudes.

Street Fighter Cry Baby

I’m mainly referring to the attitudes that are way more childish—like 15 year old childish with high school drama mixed in between little crazy fits about why they exist and why others should take notice or something. I’m talking about attitudes—when you hear it—makes you feel completely bad for the person and maybe even the community overall. The types of attitudes you would expect to read in a video game from some 15 year old kid who is both bad and trolling the hell out of everyone he or she encounters in said game. You know, the attitudes you can’t ever defeat because all logic is out the window.

These types of attitudes exist in the fighting game community as they would any community.  However, when it comes to community leaders and community influencers, that’s another story. You don’t really expect those heads to be the ones with the same types of attitudes as the anonymous gamer troll you may ecounter online.

Bad for Everyone

Before I get into a specific example that made me write this article, let me explain why I think it’s bad for the overall community. Bad attitudes like the ones I’m referring too just make the person with the attitude bad as well the part of the community that person may represent. I don’t think those types of attitudes ripple the entire community, but they are surely out there for someone to find if they happen to look close enough at the community. So, if I was a sponsor or someone wanting to sink more investment and time into the overall community, I feel these type of attitudes would only turn me away or at least leave a very bad taste in my mouth about the competitive scene for fighting games.

The OnBlast Show - Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Tekken, MvC

With that said, the reason I’m writing this is because I’m a frequent watcher of the OnBlast Show that airs every Tuesday at 10PM EST/EDT via TwitchTv. The show covers the fighting game community and interviewing big name guests all the time. It’s like a more raw take on CrossCounterTv, but with more coverage on real topics impacting the fighting game community and of course drama. I almost characterize the show as the more tamed version Jerry Springer for the fighting game community due to the crazyness that can happen show-after-show with the drama.

OnBlast Working Hard

I have nothing against the show or it’s hosts. It’s a great show and you can tell those behind the camera want to build a good communication outlet to express their passion for the community as well help bring some awareness to those out in the scene, especially the Mortal Kombat players around the world. As expected, they cover some pretty interesting and dangerous topics for the community too. Because of that, it brings out some interesting characters who talk about these topics and who really show their ass as I mentioned before, particularly one person who really defines the bad attitude of this article that I will not name who may or may not also wear a power glove in the shower.

Fighting Game Gangster in Street Fighter

Over the past month or so, I’ve caught a few shows where there were some pretty heated discussions. One in particular, that I can’t recall the specific topic, but really made me feel bad for those involved as well made me almost look down on the community. That was because of the overall attitude from specific community leaders and community influencers and how badly they sounded when trying to prove such retarded points that didn’t even matter. You know, like who did what first or who was real or fake or something you would expect from some wannabe thugs trying to prove who had the most money when you know damn well both of them fools are broke as hell.

Stop Bickering Plz

Hearing such bickering on the show made me stop and think to myself, “I’m way too old for this drama and these types of people, but I love fighting games and want to help the scene too much!”  I know that may sound dumb, but when you’re my age and you’re seeing such retarded arguments like who is the realist thug on the block, it makes you think seriously about being apart of something. I mean, it really looks bad from where I’m sitting and I can totally understand why it’s so hard for the scene overall to thrive with leaders or influencers talking like they are still 15 year old kids fighting on who said what.

Maybe that’s just me though. Maybe that’s what should be expected out of the community. Maybe attitudes like that is what keeps the scene interesting and unique. I mean, it’s already expected for community leaders to leech off the fans for things like free donations so they can simply stream at their houses other than buying it themselves with a job or pay for competitive players to fly around the nation because they are too broke to do it themselves. So, why would bad attitudes be any more harm to the scene when no one really cares how it makes the community look outside the bubble.

But, maybe it’s just me…

World of Tanks the MOBA!

For the past week, I’ve been playing World of Tanks in my efforts to grind up for the Patton within the American tree. As always, I have found World of Tanks to be a fantastic game that’s both challenging and rewarding for the PvP junkies like myself. However, something has always bothered me about the game in terms of their marketing or what others consider this great game of tanks. That’s the pitch where someone proclaims this game is a Massively Multi-player Online Role-playing Game (MMORPG).

Now for the record, I love this game. I’m not trying to smash the game or it’s developers. As above, I find the game very addicting and fun in short bursts with every match that I’m able to blow people up. But, there is this nagging reminder in the back of my head to write something about the so called marketing messaging surrounding this game as something it’s not.

To me, World of Tanks is NOT a MMORPG. Why? Because I’m one of those logical thinking guys who believe a MMORPG can only be a game where MASSIVE amounts of players can play simultaneously on one server, instance and ETC together in a ROLE-PLAYING GAME that’s also a PERSISTENT WORLD.

[pullquote3 quotes=”true” align=”center” variation=”pearl” textColor=”#b5b5b5″ cite=”Wikipedia “]A persistent world (PW) is a virtual world that continues to exist even after a user exits it, and to whose state user-made changes are to some extent permanent. The term is frequently used in the definition of massively multiplayer online video games and can be considered synonymous with that class of game, including other narrative forms of a media franchise.[/pullquote3]

World of Tanks, as well many others, have no more than 30 players (give or take) per server (or match) in a non-persistent world. You know, the total opposite of what defines a MMORPG at the core. Therefore, just on the ability to host more players in a persistent world is enough to define the game as not a MMORPG.

With that said, if you consider World of Tanks—a fantastic game—as a MMORPG, then you might as well throw other well established games with multi-player components into the mix too. You know, games like Halo, Diablo, Street Fighter or whatever because they also have massive amounts of players playing multi-player matches together in a non-persistent world too.

World of Tanks is by far a lot closer to the RTS sub-genre that’s making a huge impression in the gaming market known as the Multi-player Online Battle Arena (MOBA). Now before I get punched in the face, hear me out. MOBA’s are basically defined into the ever popular DotA that was developed upon the RTS genre. Unfortunately, it’s less like a traditional RTS and more of a new hybrid that includes more of a battle arena style mixed with RPG and competitive player-versus-player elements on top of the traditional base destruction game mode.

[pullquote3 quotes=”true” align=”center” variation=”pearl” textColor=”#b5b5b5″ cite=”Wikipedia “]Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), also known as action real-time strategy (ARTS), is a sub-genre of the real-time strategy (RTS) genre, in which often two teams of players compete with each other in discrete games, with each player controlling a single character through an RTS-style interface. It differs from traditional RTS games in that there is no unit construction and players control just one character. In this sense, it is a fusion of action games and real-time strategy games. [/pullquote3]

To me, MOBA’s are becoming so big and separated from their RTS root component that they are able to detach themselves off the tree and form their own branches. As apart of those branches—or sub-genres—World of Tanks would be great placement among similar games that have similar battle arena concepts.

Why? World of Tanks is a multi-player online battle arena with tanks. It may not have all the same elements of progressing your hero per match with items to help you along the way, but it does have a striking similarity in game play when it comes to the battle arena elements. Enough for me that I feel World of Tanks as well games like Bloodline Champions or even Forge could have a more suitable placement among other battle arena type games that built their business models off similar MMORPG concepts like the F2P business model.

What is a MOBA? League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth and WORLD OF TANKS!

But wait, wouldn’t that also mean Diablo, StarCraft and even Street Fighter are also MOBA’s too? Well, no. I think a clear separation from MOBA’s and those games is the fact they were ideally not just built for massive online gameplay as say, League of Legends was built originally. In short, games like Diablo were originally developed with single player in mind with multi-player extensions to spice things up. Although that extension may be widely popular, there is still that single player component that roots Diablo as the action-adventure role-playing game—regardless if that single player mode is online or offline. League of Legends (LoL) and similar games were made from the start with multi-player concepts in mind and disregarded any intentions to develop a single player component unless it was for training.

So, World of Tanks is a MOBA to me. No, I’m not trying to say they are exactly like DotA or trying to be like DotA. I just think World of Tanks fits more inline in that genre now that said genre is becoming more established. If you want, you can say World of Tanks is a sub-genre of the root genre for it’s slight differences in comparison to DotA. But, at the end of the day, it’s still a online battle arena with multi-player elements rather than anything else in my humble opinion.

With the downward spiral of MMORPG’s and the booming success of MOBA’s, I would assume that would be okies with the marketing guys? But, I guess the players would really flip out on that one because in their minds, MOBA is only DotA and clones of DotA. World of Tanks can never be a DotA right? Back to square one… 😀

Ace Unlimited Interview

Check out our latest Podcast interview with Ace Unlimited, winner of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 at NeCXIII! In this podcast conducted by ReSeTourney.com, Ace gives a bit of his background, how he got into competitive scene, his thoughts on NEC and NC FGC. Thats not all though, we get first insight on his thoughts about the negative and positives comments that has been surrounding his win, how he trains and how he personally prepares himself for big matches.

You don’t wanna miss this juicy podcast exclusively on ReSeTourney.com!