Not to go into the discussion of how it is the year 2013, and we are (or like to think we are) quite advanced in terms of technology... I think a lot of you will agree that GOTV is not as advanced as it should be, being a feature of a game released in 2012 and being subject to "regular" updates this year as well.
Most of you will know this, but if we compare GOTV to it's "predecessor" (Source TV), we'll find little to no significant improvements. The list of new features which have a notable effect on the spectating experience is limited to:
1. X-Ray mode
2. A revamped map overview with drawing support
3. New (some people say improved) auto director
As much as I like these features, I'm sure everybody has been annoyed by them at some point.
Yes, this gives the casual/novice/inexperienced spectator more insight into what is happening at the moment, and if he/she should expect some action soon. It also gives the possibility to a caster to easily be able to choose which player to follow next. However, the X-Ray mode creates two major problems:
- the spectator is not seeing what the player is seeing and cannot correctly appreciate the actions of the player
- it creates a confusion for the casual/novice/inexperienced spectator of the type: "he is right there, why doesn't he shoot him"
While both problems can be avoided to some extent by the caster, the X-Ray mode often ruins the experience of the spectator.
Map overview with drawing support:
I have mostly positive experience with this new feature. The problems come up only with inexperienced casters who don't know how and when to use it.
The new auto director uses the fact that the broadcast is delayed to switch to players/areas where the next action will occur. This sounds really cool and causes less action to be missed, which is why most casters started using it a lot. The problem happens when this feature is used in tight end-of-round situations such as possible clutches (especially 1 on 1). In these cases it kills all the suspense because if you know how auto director works (and you'll quickly find out) you know who wins the round (or match, or championship) before the round ends.
In no way I'm saying that the new features are bad. I think that all of them bring something to the table, but have to be used carefully to avoid degrading the spectating experience.
Let's move on to what this text is all about. We need improvements for GOTV which will provide real benefits to the spectator regardless of the experience of the caster. One of the people I respect (but most of you don't), Richard Lewis, often says: FPS games should be easier to spectate than MOBA games. Players are running around and shooting at other players. Plain and simple. The problem here is that when spectating FPS games we only see a fraction of the action and with no replay function we are left to the mercy of the video editors to see what really happened. This unfortunately often happens days (or weeks) after the action itself took place.
Yes, with the auto director you might see all the frags, but you'll never see the perfect flash/smoke being thrown, the perfect fake being executed, the insane boost, etc.
I'll finish this text with a few ideas that I believe will help going in this direction. All of them are probably already mentioned in a forum post, twitter reply, or in another way, and unfortunately all of them seem to be forgotten.
1. Advanced replay system
Although being able to re-watch the round which just ended would be a huge improvement, we should not settle for this alone. We should be able to see a timeline of events, filter by a team, player, event type... We should be able to watch it in slow motion, have an option to watch it without the smokes being rendered, without flashes blinding us... We should be able to save it as a video, publish it on Youtube, Facebook, share it via Twitter...
2. Clutch mode
As much as we like the auto director, we should have the option to turn a "Clutch" camera mode on and see the last member of a team try to win the round. Yes, in most cases he won't, but when he does the excitement will be really big. Combine this with a highlight feature (via the replay system) and you can make the excitement last even longer.
3. "1 on 1" mode
Why not have a split screen feature available for 1 on 1 situations, where you can have the views of both players onscreen at once, and possibly a larger map overview and stats for the two players above their views?
4. In-Game casting
How many times did I try to watch a game via GOTV and have a stream turned on in the background? Only once, since I realized that the stream comes with a delay and you can't really synchronize the two data sources. Why not have the possibility to select an audio stream in-game?
That is all I have to say at the moment. If you have any other ideas feel free to discuss them in the comments, and let's hope that Valve does the right thing and makes our spectating experience better. We know they can, the question is if they want to do that.