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Brawl Stars The challenges and benefits of a casual approach in esports • Eurogamer.net

Brawl Stars The challenges and benefits of a casual approach in esports • TECH GAMING REPORT

Mobile games are often considered widely “casual,” but some people just trace the surface of mobile games and don’t casually play. Your aunt has 50,000 hours in Candy Crush. Other Eurogamer writers have been eating beef for many years at Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp octopi. You’ve probably spent more time this year on one fan-made calculator than anything else to maximize Gatchapur in the K-pop management game BTS World.

Still, it’s a leap from there to esports. Professional competition on both small mobile screens and the global arena. So, at the Brollstars World Final in Busan, South Korea in November, we talked with the developers of Studio Supercell and the winning team of the championship about taking the game eight months ago really seriously. did.

Brawl Stars is a recent entry into the stable version of Supercell’s intensely playable smartphone game. As the name implies, it’s about facing a bunch of goofy characters in a small arena. It plays a bit like a twin stick, and it can feel chaotic at first, but there’s a lot to learn to learn if you want to excel.

“You can’t plan an esports game,” says Frankie Emberg, game leader at Brawl Stars. “[But] He recalls the story of a company-wide event before the game was released, and they hosted internal competition in early builds.

“We were sitting in this big room on the big screen. One of the community managers and one of the game designers commented … It seems that 150 people were competing in the company … … a waiting staff who was furious at some point in the competition and had never seen a brolster [had] Stopping waiting, they just stared at the screen. ”

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“I was convinced that this would be a big deal for esports,” said community leader Ryan Ryton, citing the same moment. However, he explains, he was waiting for players to take the lead, watching the creators of community content establish their league. After supporting these grassroots initiatives, they knew there was a demand for first-party competition.

“It’s pretty strange if people who haven’t seen the game can follow it,” says Keenberg, a tournament that captivated hotel staff. However, maintaining that accessibility for both play and viewing is an ongoing challenge. “Our overall philosophy has removed the confusion to make the game very … approachable,” says Keienburg. “It starts with a simple thing that others may not think of at all. [For example] Our file size is very small. Then keep your UI simple, clean, and responsive. “

However, when players join, there are lines that are difficult to walk in trying to interact with different people. “We have a lot of players … maybe some guys on stage and some players play several times a week. [at the World Finals] They said they would play 6 hours a day. So it’s really diverse! Ryton laughs.

“Without a character with a high skill limit, more aggressive and hardcore players can quickly get bored. However, too many hard characters can upset casual players who have just logged in once a week. Because they feel that way, they can’t win with this, so it’s a very delicate balance. “

He says some of the solutions are regular updates. “I don’t have a constant rhythm, but I see it about once a month.” And the team isn’t just about balance, it’s about whether things need to change a bit. “Sometimes it’s more interesting to modify the meta than to create the complete meta. You can claim that everything is well balanced because it can become obsolete after a while, but it’s boring to play. And if it’s boring to see, it’s not good. “

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Using characters that span different skill caps, esports players are naturally attracted to tricky players who are at high risk of higher rewards. This escalate the difficulty of the viewer, who is now a less knowledgeable player. “Not only will it allow more casual and less skilled players to access the content, but it will also be relevant and interesting to highly skilled basses. [is a challenge]”.

As with any competition, many of the solutions come down to commentators. “[Brawl Stars World Finals casters] Lex, Woody and KairosTime are great at incorporating very high levels of intense gameplay and making it understandable to everyone. All three have a background on either YouTube or Twitch, and I think it’s very helpful, “says Lighton.

Brawl_2

World Finals winner Nova Esports EU may not be the people intended for these accessible broadcasts-but they are still seeing evidence that they are working. (The team consists of three members, Tom “Cerlian” Green, Thomas “Tom” McLaren, and Spencer “Pen” Hendry, but I decided to talk to me as a unit. Before yelling on the screen. “I’ve never played or seen the game,” they said. “They liked to see it, not just because we were there.”

But it’s only eight months since Brawl Stars was released, so all the developers I talk to are honestly saying that this isn’t a complete solution yet. (“We are often mistaken for celebrating failure. We are celebrating learning, not failure.”)

One issue is the simple nature of the game. Great if you’re waiting for the bus, but not so good if you’re on the world stage. “Short content makes it difficult to manage the rhythms and rhythms of esports competition,” says Cho. “[Other] Esports games tend to last as long as 20 to 40 minutes. There is a unique challenge of starting the game, which can take up to 3 minutes. In the case of a brawl, it can be as long as 50 seconds. “

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Keeping viewers’ attention during these short rounds is not easy, especially as they look closely from their cell phones. “It’s very easy to turn on Instagram and games at the moment their level of interest drops.” (Sit in the back of the Brollstars World Finals arena, right in front of you. You can see the phone screen of the person sitting in. They are playing Brollstars.)

There’s also the simple fact that Brawl Stars has only been released for eight months (although it was in beta for 18 months before that). The competition scene has not yet been established, and they live and die in stories where they can talk about their players to invest in their fans. But Cho points out that it can be difficult to market excitement because of the lack of history. “Players and newly launched tournaments have some aspects of awareness that are problematic,” he says.

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Again, this is something that broadcast commentators can help. “Woody, his research is being done at all these events … he has a small book on the background of all the teams and how they reached the World Finals. And he You can sprinkle this information along the way … it’s really useful for people who are just in sync, “explains Ryton.

Nova’s story is pretty good. All three players have participated in the beta, but Spen has the longest competitive history. He had some success and was subsequently signed to Team Nova, but his career was confused as the tournament became regional. He was teamless “for quite some time”, but met Cerulean and Tom on the Discord server, eventually joining them as Nova Esports EU, and of course winning the finals.

However, despite the talk of overcoming obstacles, the instability surrounding Brollster (and all esports) is still emphasized. And while more contests were being held, Nova players had to “return to everyday life” in the meantime. “Pen is back at work and Cerulean and Tom are back at school,” they say.

So even the best players in the world don’t know how to describe Brollstar. “Even after making such a great trip, it feels like a kind of casual thing.”