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Valve made a step in the right direction with the recent spectator user interface update in CS:GO, but the journey to please the spectators is still far from over. Although streams are, and will be the main way to spectate matches, they still need the support from CS:GO TV in order to help the game grow competitively.
First off, it must be pointed out that no real info on Valve's progress and plans regarding a spectator client for Counter Strike: Global Offensive is available to the public at this moment, so CS:GO TV (or whatever it might be called) could already be finished and ready for release at the time this article was published. Under the assumption that that's not the case, this article will point out why Valve should focus on getting that spectator client out there as soon as possible.
Since there is no information available regarding when, and even if, such client will be released all we can do is to infer from the facts that we do know. For example, we know that Valve recently updated the spectator user interface with health bars, weapons and other info. They also added one of Sal "Volcano" Garozzo's suggestions (X-Ray mode) from his blog "Improving the Spectating Experience", which could all mean that they are putting down the foundation for CS:GO TV.
Another hope giving fact was the release of DotA2's standalone spectating client a few weeks ago, which was mentioned in interviews with Valve spokesmen as a starting point for a similar feature in CS:GO.
On the other hand, we also know that they released the full version of the game without any kind of spectating client, which shows that it doesn't really sit near the top of their list of needed features. Also, a rumor coming from within the developers' camp that creating CS:GO TV is on an "if anyone has time, please do it" basis doesn't inspire much confidence either.
Some might say that such an approach is fine, that other things need fixing first, especially when we consider some requests that most players agree on, such as restricted movement, the money system, and maps not being suited for competitive play. But despite of that, in order for the game to turn into a real E-sport title, it will need to continually attract an audience, and to do that, it will need CS:GO TV's help.
Make no mistake, live streaming is the present and the future of the spectating experience in CS:GO and any other competitive game, but adding CS:GO TV would take nothing away from that, whereas implementing it to work together with streams (like DotA2's spectating client) could significantly aid the development of CS:GO into a true electronic sport.
What it's like without CS:GO TV
Although the game was only released a few weeks ago and there've just been a handful of tournaments, the "stream only" spectating scenario that we were exposed to so far has shown why we desperately need CS:GO TV.
The event that attracted the most attention so far was SteelSeries GO which featured NiP battling with some other Swedish teams. Even though the official stream had some issues, it drew a solid amount of spectators for a local event, especially on day one when around 7,000 people watched the Swedish superstars in action.
However, there were several problems for the spectators due to the lack of any alternative to the official stream, especially for the people who were unable to catch the action live. The main issue was that because the official stream had some problems at the beginning of the grand final, the first map between NiP and BuggIT now practically has no recording except for some bits and pieces.
Aside from a map lost forever due to stream problems (which granted aren't very frequent), some other faults were exposed too. For example, since two matches were played at the same time up until the final, the matches that were not streamed also have no recording of any kind. In addition to that, it was quite hard even keeping up with the scores from those matches.
Two conclusions can be drawn from this experience:
- Spectators need to be given a choice to watch whichever match they want if several matches are taking place at the same time.
Unless tournaments severely cut down the number of teams in attendance in order to prevent this, two or more matches being played at the same time will most likely happen at every bigger event. This can rarely be resolved by simply adding another stream channel, as good streams are hard to come by as it is.
Therefore, CS:GO TV is needed to mend this problem, even to the length of providing an alternative to the official stream, not just for the other matches, be that due to personal preference or a language barrier, giving the spectator a choice is important.
- Not having a recording (demo) of even one match from the tournament is unacceptable.
People might want to watch several matches that are taking place at the same time, but they are forced to choose just one, so they will later need a demo or a VoD of the other one.
And even though it was due to a different reason at SteelSeries GO, the fact remains that the first ever grand final of a CS:GO LAN tournament can now never be relived. Imagine having something similar happen with the grand final of ESWC, or DreamHack Winter. That is not acceptable and that's why we need CS:GO TV as soon as possible, before the really big tournaments commence.
Even having a Video-on-Demand available but no demo can be frustrating as well. For an example of that, we just need to look back to WCG 2006 and the grand final between NiP and Pentagram. Some moviemakers (and not just them) will never forgive WCG organizers that one of the best rounds in the history of CS, Dennis "walle" Wallenberg's 1-on-5, will never be recaptured or reinvented with an edit of the highest quality because they didn't have HLTV for that match.
This also brings up the question of highlight clips, which have bloomed in recent years, spreading all over YouTube and further popularizing the game. Those highlights are made from demos, as that gives the editor complete freedom and allows for best possible result, so there's another reason why we need CS:GO TV to exist.
Lastly, some minor online tournaments that have been held in the past months, even throughout the beta phase of the game, have been impossible to follow as most of their matches don't justify setting up a stream. That is also not acceptable, since there is a certain amount of people who would tune in, which would further help the development of the scene as spectators become more and more familiar with new teams and players.
What history taught us
Seeing how CS:GO is looking to continue where CS 1.6 left of, at least in the professional circuit as the main FPS title at major tournaments, it needs to learn from all of the previous versions of CS to see what else helped make the old games so big, aside from the gameplay.
And the main other thing that helped Counter Strike expand was that it established itself as a spectator sport almost from the get-go, with the first classic match dating back to CPL Winter 2001 between NiP and X3. Although its spectating client HLTV has been far from perfect throughout the years, it was a huge reason why the game reached the level it did. In the early days, HLTV was the only way for spectators to see the teams play and to enjoy the excitement live. Later, streams stepped into that role and improved on that experience, but HLTV still had an important purpose.
For example, ESWC didn't force stream-only broadcast of its final match, and that showed that a significant amount of spectators still prefers to control their own viewing experience. The 2010 final of the French event drew over 21,000 spectators on HLTV, while in 2011 over 16,000 watched that way (around 30% of total viewership).
Besides watching the excitement live, HLTV helped CS in another way to become such a prominent spectator sport and to build such a big community. It was the option to watch demos of the best teams and players as many times you want, to watch the best matches from anyone's perspective and to analyze every little detail of every match. That helped each new generation of players to learn quicker and better, and it also helped push the best teams to reach new heights since they were forced and inspired to invent new tactics and tricks all the time, which kept the metagame evolving as well.
Just how much of an influence demos have been we can see from some numbers in HLTV.org's database. When Valve created Half-Life TV (HLTV) in 2001, it certainly was a revolutionary concept in live broadcasting of computer games, but it was hardly expected that demos of those broadcasts would become such an important factor, so much that the best matches today sit at over 50,000 downloads. Furthermore, POV demos (recorded from a player's point of view) have had an even bigger influence and it's somewhat mindboggling that one such simple file could reach over 200,000 downloads.
Therefore it was truly a big surprise to see that when the official release of CS:GO hit the shelves, it didn't contain CS:GO TV and its POV demos were (and still are) practically unusable. Namely, even though it is possible to record a POV demo, watching it is a different story as it is bugged in several ways, having no HUD, often times displaying a blurred screen, and furthermore being rendered unplayable after every update to the game due to protocol version changing.
The reasons behind the omission of CS:GO TV and lack of effort in the POV demo department are unknown, and with no official hint that changes are coming anytime soon, we can't help but fret for the future of the spectators' experience in CS:GO.
Why it's so important
If Valve do in fact have plans to give CS:GO TV a good amount of attention, it could surpass everything we have known so far with HLTV. A DotA2-like spectator client where streams and the game are intertwined, and where the casual player can watch a professional match after just a few clicks within the game, could not only help bring the FPS genre back to its former glory, but revolutionize the spectator experience and establish CS:GO as a new big game on the block.
But with no sign from the developers, we don't even know if they really want CS:GO to become a major competitive title. So we must tell them that we do want that and that they should want that because this game does have potential. And we must tell them that we, community that helped shape CS 1.6, know what is needed for that to happen.
We must tell them that we can't miss out on any ESWC or DreamHack Winter matches, especially not the grand final if the stream runs into problems and there's no backup. We can't miss a round-winning 1-on-5 because there is no demo. We need to be given a choice which match we want to watch. We need to be able to watch all previous matches, in order to learn from them, to improve ourselves and to bring our game to the next level. For all that we need CS:GO TV, and we need it right now, before any major tournaments begin.
Your opinion on this matter can help a lot as well, so don't be afraid to share it here in the comments and help us tell Valve what we need from them to help CS:GO become a major e-sports title. If you have a twitter account, you can also help us reach out to them by tweeting to @csgo_dev, and who knows, perhaps we get some info out on the plans for CS:GO TV.
Post edited 2012-09-12 20:44:42
The easy access to streaming (both delivering and watching) is probably one of the best things that has happened to eSports. It has made it possible for both organizers and private people to make a profit by doing live streams.
I can understand the request, especially here on HLTV.org, where providing HLTV access has been one of their main features since the inception of the site.
But I think the arguments for the request is not that valid, even though it is a long post with many points. I also see plenty of reasons why CS:GO don't need a TV-component, unless it is much more than HLTV ever was.
1. A TV client, unless it was released for free, just for spectating, would require everyone who wants to watch CS:GO to actually own the game.
This is not good for neither eSports or CS:GO, as it will not be able to reach the whole of the eSport audience, only it's own community. Reaching the masses of eSports enthusiasts and fans is critical for the success of CS:GO. See the fighting game community, it has really blossomed after getting their tournaments out there.
2. Unless it would allow the broadcaster to overlay the spectating view with video, the broadcaster can not get all of their production out to the viewers, the viewers would be limited to commentators and the spectating view.
This is not good for the broadcaster, who most likely would like to show more than just the actual games. They might have a production studio with a presenter, some post-game commentators, and most likely some sponsors they need to give some airtime.
3. For CS 1.6 you had two types of demos, a player demo usually referred to as a POV demo, that only showed the view from that specific player. Plus a HLTV demo that allowed you to view all players.
We don't need a HLTV clone to get HLTV like demos, what we need and what should be a lot easier request to comply is SERVER-SIDE-DEMOS, if we look at Quake, atleast the open-source versions (qw/q2/q3), they all have something called Multi View Demos (mvd). How it works is that for each match, the server records a demo with all the player info and match data, the demo is thehn available for download after the match.
Don't get me wrong, I love being able to watch matches with total freedom, but unless it can somehow combine spectating with streaming, then I don't think it is good for CS:GO as an eSport on the pro-circuit. For low league games, sure it would be awesome to be able to watch any match live.
My main point tho, is that I think the request is too demanding, as the only valid argument I could get out of the article, is that we should not lose more historical matches. I agree on that, but that is accomplished with a much smaller and easier to do feature, like the server recorded Multi View Demos.
Post edited 2012-09-13 03:35:09
Although I don't really see Valve reinventing their server side, so I would settle for something like HLTV demos, but hey, server-side demos would be an improvement, so no argument there.
However, about the rest of your post I can't agree on most things.
First of all, HLTV.org's HLTV service really hasn't been an important feature to us in the last few years, and CS:GO TV wouldn't be either. So that has absolutely nothing to do with this request.
You mentioned a few times how it's important for people to make a profit via streams and you imply that CS:GO TV would hinder that. But in my opinion, that is a very shortsighted view, because if you don't give people all the options, you can't expect all the people to care.
So, I think that we (viewers) need to have CS:GO TV as an option and that will in turn draw more people to watch and follow tournaments and also play CS:GO, which in turn will make streamers earn more in the future (if their streams are good more people will start watching them as more people get into the game).
To your point #1, I really don't see the problem with requiring people to own the game in order to watch it in the best quality possible? The engine at least has to exist on your PC for that. Standalone spectator client is also fine with me. You say this like it would mean streams don't exist if CS:GO TV exists.
About point #2, as I already mentioned, look at the big picture. As pointed out in the article, ESWC final had about 30% of its viewership on HLTV, meaning 70% watched various streams. I say let those 30% watch HLTV, cause forcing them to watch stream will (in most cases) only be counterproductive and will decrease the size of the community. Part of the reason that happens is that most streams haven't been good enough (except ESL with Joe Miller, which has been accepted by the community) so a certain amount of people is lost that way. There's also bad internet for streaming in remote countries, language barrier and some other minor reasons for people not to watch. So I believe it's actually better to let those 30% (or however more or less) have the TV client to watch a match within the game, as it will only benefit the game in the long run. And besides, tournament organizers are the ones who (should) decide if they will force stream-only or not, the other option existing doesn't damage anyone.
And in the end you say that having only the server-side demos would be enough, but I ask you, what happens when there are 4 matches being played at the same time in a tournament? Will there be 4 streams in every language for each match, even if it's just group stage matches? Why should the viewer be forced to watch the match that is streamed, if he wants to watch his friends or his countrymen playing? Most tournaments won't have more than 1 official stream, and what happens then if two big semi-finals have to take place at the same time? And what about the minor tournaments that have no stream at all?
So I really don't understand how you can say that we don't need CS:GO TV. And all of what I wrote here is only referring to having some kind of equivalent to HLTV/SourceTV, which is very limited and would still be quite useful even like that. What is too demanding about something simple as that? Although the article suggests that we can (and should) get something much better. This is 2012, not 2001, so there shouldn't be any bugs and there should be much more features than what HLTV had, and I'm sure if Valve does make it, it will be improved and will be DotA2-like where streams are mixed in the TV.
And the main point of the article is that having no CS:GO TV and no demos literally stops the community from expanding, which is bad for everyone. I mean how can it expand when we couldn't even follow any tournament ever since the SteelSeries GO one (and there have been several online) and we won't be able to until ESWC probably. And when a lot of people don't even know that tournaments are being played, many of them don't even play the game. And I think I don't need to drag the CS:GO steam stats into this to show how it's not expanding. In my opinion adding CS:GO TV would help with the expansion to some extent. Of course, improving the gameplay would help more, but that's a part of a different discussion.
Post edited 2012-09-13 14:50:53
The reason I said that I would prefer the server side demos, is that this approach is much easier to realize. The data is already there, the client already knows how to show it, it's just a matter of saving the position and game data into a file. Of course I simplify it a bit, but it's a lot easier than making a dedicated spectating server and client. As you put it yourself, we need this, and we need it soon.
Also, this feature would make for a better spectating solution if they did release a spectating client at a later stage, as the data being saved to a file could also be streamed to a spectating proxy.
This is how it's done in QW, each server has a MVD streaming port. A spectating proxy can then connect to it and then "stream" the MVD data to multiple viewers. The reason a spectating proxy is used, is to avoid overloading the game server.
I'm okay with any solution, but I think that the server-side demos would meet the demand of now, and with the combination of a spectating client in the future (when more critical fixes has been attended to) would be really impressive. You wouldn't get any lagged or broken demos due to timeouts or high latency, as everything is saved just as it happens.
Oh, and my HLTV.org comment wasn't intended as it might have sounded, I know the HLTV hosting is now just a very small part of the features this site offer :D
My main concern right now is why these features is not there already? If Valve is really trying to make a CS version that is viable for competition, why do they release the game without having the features needed for it to be spectating friendly? Hell even the spectating UI wasn't added until after the release.
This make me wonder if all the "taking input from the eSports scene" was all just BS to get good PR.
If we take a look at DotA 2, the priority is completely different. This might be because their main designer actually have an understanding of the needs the competitive scene has.
However this is nothing new, it's only during the past few years, that game developers have started to design their games with competition in mind. All the big titles of the past didn't have these features to begin with, they were all developed later by the community. Like Quake3, it didn't even have a competition mod when it was released, all that work was done by dedicated community members.
As a CS fan I feel cheated, as Valve has so far, failed to deliver.
Post edited 2012-09-12 20:54:22
We'll vote on it
We deffo need the TV side and also have in game streams like DotA2
.. and new players wouldn't know the difference as they've never experienced anything else..
I think tweaking the money system would be one of the easiest things to agree upon, really.
Also some people won't bother switching - just look at new maps in the CS-scene and how few people bother to play it. Generally through the times the CS-scene has been pretty lazy and I doubt this would be any different, would be great if it is tho.
People who won't bother switching (I take it you're meaning back to the old system from 1.6 and CSS) are probably not amongst the competitive group. As for how people reacted towards new maps, there's a big difference between how the EU and NA scene reacted to it both in CS:S and 1.6. I can only speak for the game I've played in recent years, which was CS:S, where new maps were introduced in several leagues over the years.
The biggest problem is finding a good map though, there aren't many mapmakers out there being used by leagues which is something that should happen all the time, in my opinion.
Also, CS:GO has a competitor getting released soon.
'cause if you mean csp then your definition of "soon" differs a lot from mine :p
Anyway,first of all we need gameplay updates.
Post edited 2012-09-12 22:19:21
P.S dota2 is too beautiful
But yeah, I agree, it needs to be done soon, and they need to make it so servers can opt to advertise in their GO TV, or what not, to give monetary motivation to the tournaments :P
are we havin csgo tv or not ?
The spectating client release was just the Dota 2 beta with everything locked except the TV module, so that people that did not owned the Dota 2 beta could watch The International. They didn't changed anything, as far as I know there isn't much left to add to Dota TV, so if the CS:GO devs are working on something, their job wasn't interrupted/put on hold by this client.
And I highly doubt that this means that there will be a standalone TV module version of GOTV, since the Dota 2 "spectating client" will be transformed into the beta/full game when the person gets in the beta, or the game is available to download.
What CS:GOTV needs:
In-game statistics from Dota 2
Pre-game overview options (draw on the map)from Alien Swarm
Post-game statistics from Alien Swarm
Picture-in-Picture from Portal 2
There are lots of non-CS:GO players throughout the world. 1.6 players,source players and the most important above all non steam players.
Hell there is even 1.5 players.
CS:GO TV needs to be a way to reach those people.
There has to be a way to reach those people.
Or else everything will be in vain.
This GO-TV should be something like in DOTA2 or League of Legends (I will speak from LoL pov). That spectateing engine is almost perfectly done, as you have options to autodirect the camera to where the action is going on and have the coice to chose where to spectate yourself. Even more, it has the "replay" option, as you could go back in time and see what happened if you accidentaly missed some action. Even tho this would be hard, because CS is not a game like LoL, and I mean that the action is going on from the start to the end, but would be very nice to have such an option and I bet most of the people will get used on how to use this feature.
And as an add, this spectateing engine could be automaticaly installed on every war server, exactly like an Anti-cheat program is installed on most CW servers in the world so that you could spectate any game you want. More than this, the main-menu from this game should have a section for "spectateing" and top 5/10 (by an individual ranking system) matches (mixes, oficial, gathers WHATEVER) going on could be spectated by anyone.
I know this is a bit futuristic, but it can be done.
Then a couple of fixes here and there, and we're good to go. :)
Post edited 2012-09-13 09:50:36
Post edited 2012-09-13 12:27:19
but yes i hope they will make csgo tv.
Imagine that you are on a café or just chilling with friends but not near a pc, you could watch any game on the go.
Post edited 2012-09-13 16:48:18
Imagine you want to show a full tactic to your mates, that is not possible if the streamer doesn't/didn't show it.