One of the largest obstacles preventing Counter-Strike from being as active in the tournament circuit as League of Legends and Starcraft II is the lack of interest in spectating tournaments. I believe a large cause of this dwindling interest is due to the shortcomings of HLTV/SourceTV and the limited amount of in-game information available to the spectator when stuck in a first-person POV.
In Starcraft II, the viewer isn’t locked into the eyes of one unit. The viewer is able to see all of the action unfold right before their eyes. Compare that to Counter-Strike. You might be watching a player throwing a fake in bombsite B on de_dust2, but while this is happening, you would be missing the intense firefight on catwalk. Often times, you wouldn’t be able to see the effect this fake had on the round at all.
It’s also extremely difficult for first time viewers to understand what is happening as they are placed in the middle of an unknown 3D environment. They are unaware of locations where enemies might be and unaware of which areas of the map are crucial. In games like Starcraft II and League of Legends, this information is much easier to absorb as the viewer watches an overview of the action. In those games, the spectator doesn’t need to know what part of the map is around the corner as they can already see.
Shoutcasters do their best to capture all of the action they can with the tools they are given, but it isn’t easy at all. Watching the large map overview is great for seeing a round unfold, but once the action is about to start, it is extremely difficult to spectate the player you would like to follow. Generally, the overview is shown at the start of the round when nothing interesting is happening at all because the shoutcasters can’t risk missing all of the action. Additionally, you can’t see the affect of grenades in the overview and as we all know, grenades are a huge part of competitive Counter-Strike.
With CS:GO on the horizon, here are some ideas to help improve the spectating experience.
Make the map overview interactive and more informative
- The map should allow the player to use a mouse cursor. This would enable the director to highlight over a player marker and left click to switch to full first-person POV mode of that player.
- A health bar should be visible for every player on the overview map.
- Hovering over a player marker on the overview should display a pop-up panel listing the player’s HP / Armor / Guns / Ammo & Grenades.
- The map should show a white circle inside of the player’s marker. The opacity of the white circle would match the power of the flashbang on the player’s screen.
Ability to see more than the player in POV as a spectator (X-Ray Mode)
- Allow the spectator to press a key which toggles ‘X-Ray Mode.’ This allows the spectator to have more knowledge of the situation at hand than the player. [Note: Only available when spectating through a TV server]
Uniformity in display
- Switching POV’s should acquire new POV’s flashbang status. Spectators must be able to see the same exact flashbang as POV target.
- Switching POV’s away from a flashbanged player should remove the flashbang effect from the spectator.
- Smoke grenades must render exactly the same on the spectator’s screen as the player’s screen.
- The HUD of the player currently being spectated would appear just as it does for the player. The spectator would be able to see HP, armor, ammo and money.
- Pressing ‘M’ would toggle the large overview map.
- While in the large overview map, left clicking on a player would automatically switch to their POV.
- Pressing ‘X’ would toggle X-Ray Mode.
- 0-9 keys would switch to the players in their order of appearance at the top of the screen.
These solutions would make the spectator experience much more enjoyable. Between being able to use shortcuts to navigate between players more efficiently while also getting more information from the overview, the spectator is much more equipped to be in the right place at the right time. Being able to toggle to ‘X-Ray Mode’ during a tournament stream during a clutch situation and allowing the audience see that the enemy is waiting right around the corner would be extremely exciting. While improvements like these alone are not enough to help CS:GO reach the level of popularity that LoL and SC2 currently have, they are definitely a step in the right direction.
More thoughts to come in Part II. Stay tuned!
Photo courtesy of Jaako