PC GAMER article about Elma and the community!

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PC GAMER article about Elma and the community!

Post by pawq » 12 Oct 2017, 14:01

I don't know if this deserves a new topic, but with all the talk of promotion and invigorating current players... Why the hell not.

We are in PC GAMER!!!

http://www.pcgamer.com/how-a-17-year-ol ... _pcgamerfb

Just as an example of the exposure that our community got: the article links to the WCup7 movie by iCS. The article is now 10 days old, and one day after release iCS noticed the movie got 5k views on youtube. Now it has almost 9k. No idea whether it will help any new players dig up the game, but I think we should be proud anyway! :)

Afaik this article was written in cooperation with Kopaka, who then secretly interviewed some select players without telling anyone, and we only found out about the article because dovad posted it on discord. One could argue that some more hype could have been generated about this in the community.......

Anyway, enjoy the read and discuss below! :beer:

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Re: PC GAMER article about Elma and the community!

Post by abruzzi » 12 Oct 2017, 14:16

nice. americans sach amazed that almost none plays from their usa
<Pawq> at a gym you have only 3 options: 1. have your eyes closed, 2. stare at yourself, 3. stare at others, all of which are either super boring or disgusting

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Re: PC GAMER article about Elma and the community!

Post by Zweq » 12 Oct 2017, 15:42

Just for the record it wasn't kopa who interviewed me at least. Richard asked me some questions via email and i answered. I tried to lean towards general info about the game, instead of world cup where I could. As an insider I don't understand why the fuzz about world cup and not write an article about more interesting things like the progress in internal lev styles and wr times. A good story writer could really make amazing story out of internals (a bit like king of kong document if you've seen it)

Heres the interview, it can also serve as the wc7 winner interview:

How do you feel about being crowned Elasto Mania world champion? Were you surprised at your first-place finish?

Well, I am happy to have won Elasto Mania World Cup 7 of course, but our community doesn't typically call World Cup winners as world champions. We have many contests in elma community and World Cup is just one of them. Sure it's probably the most serious one of external contests. I guess you could call it the elma olympics because the cup is organized so rarely, heh. Also, there's certain legacy to World Cup. When I joined the scene in 2003 World Cup 4 was on and I of course get nostalgic thinking about those old times. For that reason I feel like it's a nice achievement to win the cup.

Before the cup I had just had a 6 months break from the game and I started playing the cup without any expectations, so yes it was a surprise that I won. This was probably the key to success. I just tried to be consistent and do good result in every event, even if I didn't enjoy the ongoing event. Being consistent is definitely important in cups, you won't win if you win the first 10 events and skip the last 5 because you got bored. It's important to keep going on even when feeling bored, if you really want to be the first in overall results.

(Elasto Mania contests could be divided into internal and external categories. Internals are the very original built in levels that have been competed on for nearly 20 years. There are 54 internal levels. The neverending internal contest in my eyes is the absolute top and elite contest. If you can get a world record on one of the 54 levels you are elite and are either very skilled or very determined, or a mix of both. Probably determination is the most important attribute to have.

External contests could simplistically be divided into battles and cups. Battles are something people play everyday, all the time. For every cup event / battle a new level must be created. Cups are organized every now and then, and World Cup is the most serious one. Battles are typically 10-60min in length and cup events 3-7days)

How long have you been playing Elasto Mania? What has kept you around so long? And how'd you get so good at it?

I started playing in spring 2000, before that I had played action supercross since 1997, which is almost the same game as elma, but with a few physics changes. I've had a few breaks from the game but never longer than a few months. The complexity of the game draws me back. Only very recently I've started feeling like we are not finding new things anymore, although chain pop bug by bene is a relatively new invention, found over 15 years after the release of the game, although we still haven't proven if it's posible without tool assistance.

I guess I got good at elma because I've played probably over 20 000 hours total, I always really liked the game and I'm prone to getting obsessed at one thing at a time and not caring about the rest of the world around me.

Tell me about your World Cup 7 strategies. You tackled it very differently to previous cups, right? How did you approach the events this time? Why the change? I saw you mentioned TASing in a few of the post-event interviews. Is that important to your approach?

Correct, I had a different strategy. Or probably the correct way to say it is: for the first time I had a strategy :P. I tried to play 1-3h every day even if I wanted to be somewhere else. There were days I wanted to play and there were days I didn't want to play, but in the end I just tried to play that damn 1-3h. Also I found it important to play every day, because sleeping helps on learning. If you try to pack 15hour play session just before the event ends you just dont get as good results as spreading the playtime on every day.

I don't have any good reason to give for changing the strategy or actually applying one. I just tried something new randomly and it worked out. TASing is very common nowadays, it's just a superior way to find styles. Previously we had to create training levs which wasnt too bad either. But the key difference is that with a tool you can save bike state during the ride so you can load the ride and continue it with the correct velocity and angles, while in a train lev you always start stationary and if your train lev is badly built (provides unrealistic velocity to the part you want to practice) it can turn out to not help at all or in worst scenario make you learn the part wrongly.

There is also one more important thing to say about world cup in general and try to give you a better idea why I actually did so much better this time: There simply haven't been many world cups and previously there were other things to do. This time the timing of the cup was perfect for me. World cup 4 in 2003 I joined half way in (oh well I was too noob back then also). World cup 5 in 2005 I was too hooked with world of warcraft to do well, World cup 6 in 2013 I was too hooked with path of exile release to do well. This time there were no other games interfering.

Which level/event was your favourite? Why?

It is very difficult to choose a favourite and this is of course very personal thing but I'll go for 704 by skint0r. The lev just happened to provide me the most magical feeling among all levs. There were some very neat weird gravity routes that were a bit slower than the eventual winning route. Why some levels feel better than others is a very delicate matter and cannot be explained, skint0r is just a good level designer and that's it. He personally greatly disliked his own level though :) typical elma player personality I guess.

Conversely, was there a level that you just struggled to get any enjoyment out of? I know some players were unhappy about the presence of a gravity level, for instance.

Yes I struggled with 709 by insguy all the way. I just don't like overly smooth levs with very high vertex density / amount. I prefer levs with long line segments (at least 2 wheel radius length or so), but this is just a personal thing.

Sune also mentioned that you submitted a few levels for consideration that weren't picked. Is there anything noteworthy about these? Are you more interested in playing or in designing levels?

Nah my level designing is very primitive. I make ugly and random levels. They are sometimes good, but they are raw and ugly. Hit or miss I guess :) I'm definitely mostly a style innovator/finder in elma, there are better players than me when measured in raw skill, but I think not many are better at innovating tricks if any. Sometimes I try to innovate with levels too but it's quite rare nowadays.

This was your first world cup playing on a team rather than on your own. How much of a difference did it make for you? Did you learn from or discuss much with your teammates?

Having a team for once was certainly a key factor to success and I should be ashamed for not mentioning it before. You always miss something on your own and it feels like the more active team you have the less "holes" your final route will have. We discussed a lot with team members, we had our own server on discord for sharing ideas and recs.

How do you come up with your more creative tricks and routes? Like one I thought was cool when I looked through the replays was in event 8 when you went up the island with leaves on it while upside down and in reverse — in order to gain momentum for a roll back down to swing and spin across to the next area. (Although I'm not very good at Elma, so maybe that's easier and more obvious than I thought.)

I guess it comes from extreme experience and a lot of testing styles to find creative tricks and routes. I do seem to have a good intuition in trying just the right things first and in that way saving testing time. But I do miss styles often too, we all do :) During the cup I was amazed more than once how people played completely differently than me but got almost the same times. I guess it just shows how complex game elma is. Sometimes I get the feeling that if you just polish your route and styles in a complex level to a maximum(play dozens of hours) it will be fast enough to compete on the top. A bit like specializing.

What moments were the highlights of World Cup 7 in your mind?

For me 708 was a top highlight in every way, because I've for a very long time wanted some tricky levs into the cup. Before we would just have normal levels and a pipe. But this time we had normal levels, a pipe, and a hongy uphill (yes we really call some levels like that, I guess it could be translated to "Uphills and hangs", or in this case it was more of a "Uphill with hangs"). To test player skill in bigger variety is a move to the right direction. Winning the event with such a large margin felt very special.

Seeing winning replay 702 was very special also. The spin in the end was just ridiculously nice :)

In general those moments when you got really surprised are the top highlights and things you'll remember. Another cool thing from the cup was start trick in 711. Very simple trick but our team just couldn't find it :)

Do you have any estimate as to how much time you spent playing the levels for this world cup?

Probably 150-200hours. Sune would be able to give the exact answer though because he has the access to the database :) Although there was some time spent offline too with tools to test styles which isn't recorded in database.

What would you say are the key ingredients to success in an Elasto Mania World Cup?

Depends what success means. If you want to win you need skill (5+ years practice, or 2+ years if you're Spef), determination and consistency. To get good result like top20 you just need consistency and determination.

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Re: PC GAMER article about Elma and the community!

Post by 8-ball » 12 Oct 2017, 20:52

Here's my full interview. Thought more of it would be used but oh well, the result was nice anyway.

- How long have you been playing Elasto Mania? What has kept you around so long?
I started when I found it on a school computer in 2002 and have been playing it every now and then ever since. Initially it was fun to compete with my friends but they all lost interest quite quickly. When I had beaten most of the original levels I felt I was doing pretty well and went online to compare myself against the world records. That's how I found out I hadn't even scratched the surface yet and there was still a lot to learn as people had these records that I couldn't believe were possible without some sort of cheating. But as I played more I naturally learned more effective moves and the records started to look more realistic. The simple but unique physics of the game and especially the bike allow for quite a wide range of impressive tricks and learning how and where to apply them lets you keep improving your best times again and again which can be quite addictive. I'm quite competitive in general so I guess the seemingly endless potential for improvement and the incredibly high skill ceiling of the game has kept me playing the most and since then I've been unable to find another game that would have the same effect on me.

- What do you like about designing levels in Elasto Mania?
The level editor is incredibly simple to use, within a few minutes you can create a unique level and the file is easy to share. It's always interesting to imagine what kind of tricks and techniques people will come up with for beating your level as fast as possible. A lot of the time the winning moves and routes are completely unintended.

- Tell me about your world cup level. Why did you decide to submit a level for the cup? Are you happy with what you created, in retrospect?
I had submitted a level for every World Cup since WC5 in 2005 so I just wanted to keep the streak going. I'm somewhat happy with the result as I tried to make a level that felt smooth to play and where you could quite easily get from any section to any other section therefore enabling a large number of potential routes to finish. I spent intentionally little time playtesting the level to avoid unintentional bias towards one route or another and to preserve an element of surprise as I waited for the results. While people overall did use quite a few routes I wish more of the possible routes in the level were viable to make it into the top-10 which all used an actually completely unintended route that turned out to be several seconds faster than any other. If I had playtested more I could have spotted it and adjusted the level to make other routes more equally viable. But the winning replay was still pretty impressive and according to the players the level was fun to play regardless so I was still happy.

- Are there different considerations to make when designing a level for a World Cup as opposed to regular play?
In regular play there are mostly levels played in short online battles that usually take from 10 to 40 minutes and those should be simple enough so people can finish them in such an amount of time. Then, the levels that are created for "level packs" should be generally complex and open enough to potentially have new tricks to discover in for years to come. The World Cup levels are played for a week each but much more intensely so they should also be challenging enough so that people are able to keep improving the entire time and so that winning replays are incorporating impressive, skillful moves and are entertaining to watch. The cup also requires a good variety of types of levels amongst the submissions to keep it interesting. Every time there's also at least a few quite original "concept" levels.

- Tell me about your World Cup 7 playing strategies. How did you approach the events? Which level/event was your favourite? Why?
I was initially aiming to finish in the top-10 overall and try to win an event if a level felt "right" for me. While I firmly believe I had both the skill and the experience to achieve both, where I lacked was commitment and perseverance. After a few events it became clear my chances of winning an event were extremely slim as the top competitors were very highly committed in addition to being much more experienced and naturally more skilled. Around the same time there were a few levels that I didn't enjoy playing at all and as a result my motivation dropped and I ended up quitting a little over halfway through to avoid starting to hate the game. Due to other commitments there was quite a limited amount of hours I could dedicate to playing the cup and seeing other people around my skill level outplay me was quite demotivating. Sadly it's not like I'm in my teens anymore when I could just go "all out" and commit completely. My favourite was the 8th event by Ramone. The route-finding process was very fun and even though my route had difficult tricks and as such I didn't manage to finish anywhere close to my potential I still had much fun trying to do it. In addition, the winning replay blew me away as I hadn't even considered the route taken there. I think Zweq's skill level is currently completely unmatched by anyone else.

- Conversely, was there a level that you just struggled to get any enjoyment out of? I know some players were unhappy about the presence of a gravity level, for instance.
The first level must have been the most frustrating actually. It featured a fairly obvious shortcut that I just couldn't find the exact moves to pull off consistently, often failing to gather enough speed and missing the required longjump by a pixel or two, never managing to do it and ending up having the 2nd fastest non-shortcut-taking time.

- Were you surprised at all by the results, be it in terms of your own placement in the standings or that of others? (23rd overall on your part seems to me like a pretty good achievement, I should note, even if it was well off the pace set by Zweq and Zero at the top.)
I was aiming for top-10 and had a pretty close rivalry with Pawq and a few others for a while but since I quit midway through I wasn't surprised I dropped quite a bit in standings. Zweq winning was no surprise, I knew that if he was at all motivated then no one else stood a chance. I was happy for my teammates adi and talli who placed 3rd and 6th, I think they could have placed even higher if not for a drop in motivation at certain points in the cup.

- What moments were the highlights of World Cup 7 in your mind?
Seeing the winning replay for event 8 which beat the 2nd place by 8 seconds was quite incredible. My team tried that route and decided it's impossible to pull off but Zweq found a string of moves that made it barely possible that look quite obvious in hindsight but obviously were not. It solidified my view of Zweq being years ahead of anyone else skill-wise. Link: http://www.recsource.tv/r/swkvgybtip

- What would you say are the key ingredients to success in an Elasto Mania World Cup? Will you ever try to win one?
You need perseverance, raw skill and reasonable goals. Without any one of them you're bound to get frustrated and quit. Personally I was a little short on the first of those for this cup. As long as the highly skilled veterans keep playing I don't see myself winning one personally. Maybe if I find motivation to improve a lot in the future, who knows! But I will still make levels and casually participate in all the future world cups regardless.

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Re: PC GAMER article about Elma and the community!

Post by insane guy » 12 Oct 2017, 23:53

awesome! I would have liked to see more info about the scene and the game in general, still was a good read.
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Re: PC GAMER article about Elma and the community!

Post by Bludek » 13 Oct 2017, 10:18

Great read, great interviews. I was actually quite surprised that all the questions made sense. That Richard dude did his homework and learned the stuff about elma nicely.

I liked how you answered in such way, zweqik, so Richard (or potential non-scene reader) would learn the most about elma scene in your answers, even though he didn't exactly asked about it :)

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Re: PC GAMER article about Elma and the community!

Post by kuchitsu » 13 Oct 2017, 16:43

This is very nice to see. The guy clearly did some research and tried to understand the community, which must have been kinda difficult since there isn't that much stuff written about the game even on our site. I've read one PC Gamer (Russian edition) issue around 10 years ago and it seemed like a serious magazine. At the time it was very fashionable to be a cynical smartass among Russian gaming journalists, but PC Gamer was kinda different I think.

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Re: PC GAMER article about Elma and the community!

Post by bene » 14 Oct 2017, 13:13

interview mentioned bene article didn't mention bene as always i'm not mentioned where it matters
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Re: PC GAMER article about Elma and the community!

Post by ile » 16 Oct 2017, 01:04

bene wrote:interview mentioned bene article didn't mention bene as always i'm not mentioned where it matters

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