Thursday, August 26, 2010

MAG Interviews: Stylie77

No introduction necessary here, Stylie77 is easily one of the most even-keeled, reasonably thinking, respected posters on the forum. Here's our interview with him, even if he is a SVER-is-OP-thinker, and Valor Scum:)

Valor takes a lot of grief on the MAG boards, what's your take on it?

Most of it is deserved. Valor is the PMC of choice for new players according to the Beta 5.0 blog .  "The breakdown of PMC preference ended up like this: Valor38.7%, Raven37.2%, SVER24.1%"
 The percentages may have changed slightly over MAG's lifetime, but in my experience not by much.
What this means is for a majority of new players Valor is their first experience with MAG, considering the learning curve it is a tough and frustrating one. Valor will not get better until the maps are finally improved, as talented players have no incentive to stay, and veteran out in hopes of winning more games. That means a majority of Valor is always new players, many without mics or a willingness to listen to advice on how to play. These are new players that most likely played one of the other huge FPS titles and will attempt to use tactics that were successful on those titles. Those that are smart enough to adapt to MAG's play-style usually are rewarded and will stick around, those that are not will attack a SVER map, get beat down and rage quit. To maintain a positive Win/Loss record on Valor takes either a large clan or incredible luck, Valor is indeed the hardest PMC to play for.

Describe your first experience in MAG?

It was in the closed Core Beta, I was over at a friends house and he passed me the controller and said " Try this out." I was on a domination map, and it was huge!!! I had previously played 8 vs 8 and 16 vs 16, but this was crazy. The whole screen was shaking and there were so many enemies and airstrikes I didn't know which way to run. I spent the next 2 hours playing and by the last game I finally got over 25 kills. That rush had me
hooked and I haven't stopped since.

Who's you're biggest MAG nemesis, and why?

If by nemesis you are using the definition  "An opponent that cannot be beaten or overcome", then I would have to say YasuJack, a Raven player currently on Valor. I have played against him more than I care to remember and I usually lose. Most others I can say that I have been able to stand up to them, but not Jack... that guy has my number.

Why are you still an active MAG player?

At first I was attracted to this advertising line "The ever evolving Shadow War". Later I have come to realize MAG is "An ever evolving game" and that has great appeal for me. forum regulars may see many posts complaining about change, but for me watching and experiencing MAG's evolution is exciting and intriguing. With every patch and every change my interest in MAG steadily rises.

You're a pretty big adopt-a-noob, guy. Explain why.

You are quoting a thread I made on the forum prior to the retail release of MAG. It is a philosophy that I wanted to share with the community and tried to do so in an interesting and funny way. I knew from day one that the learning curve on MAG is steep. I only have to remember how lost I was when I first played Domination and Acquisition game modes in the Beta to be able to relate to the struggles of the new guy.

Ever since then I have tried to encourage fellow players and clans to go out of their way to teach and try to instruct new players. MAG is more dependent on having a large player base than most FPS games due to the sheer scale of the 128 vs 128 battles. Helping ease the transition from the 8 vs 8 solo play games to this huge team based game will encourage the new players to stick it out. The may have a rough start and horrible defeats, but sometimes just the memory of that one game where a Clan or Veteran took the time to share some tips and words of advice may be all it takes to keep them coming back, to stick it out and become a Maggot.

If you could have one dream "game type" what would it be?

It is on the Horizon, Escalation the 3 PMC "King of the Hill" battle mode. I think even Zipper employees have even said "Dude know what would be awesome?" and now here it is...

What do you think is responsible for the lower player numbers?

You know, everyone wants to blame patch 1.03's introduction of random bullet spread as the main cause but I disagree. That was the final straw for many who were waiting on content or elements to be added or fixed. I think that a majority of players that bought MAG right after release were expecting much more than what they saw. More of an immersive MMO/RPG universe, with a clan war system and skill tree in the order of what we will be testing in this latest Beta. Many quit due to certain maps or glitches that seems to only help one PMC. Back then grinding out experience to get a character to level 60 took 50-120 hours depending on the skill of the player, and that discouraged many that don't have as much free time on their hands as others. (incidentally, we agree 100%)

That explains the initial drop of players, since then the active player base has fluctuated between around 65,000 and 150,000 players logging in per week according to .  We will see if the changes in this new Beta can make the community grow rather than stay at it's current level.

What new MAG content would you like to see?

I know Zipper has shot this down already, but a more expansive Training Mode that is mandatory. Where it walks players through the various tasks they will be doing in game. For example, Training mission "Airstrike" would be planting a charge on the Anti-Aircraft Array. Once destroyed, calling in a Precision strike on a frago'd bunker. The player would then be instructed to call in a Strafing run on inbound repair crews making their way to the AAA or bunker. In this way, MAG would indeed have an offline mode of some sort and would prepare new players for what is to come. Currently players stumble through the large game modes with out much idea of how the game play flows, nor an understanding of what their role is.

If there was one change you could make to MAG what would it be?

Clan Deploy available to everyone, not just one tag, so essentially a larger Group Deploy. I want to invite friends that are in different clans or simply not in a clan, so that we can all be in the same platoon. That is another thing that has held MAG back for so long, restricting groups to only 8 man squads and expecting a bunch of total strangers with language barriers to play complex large scale game modes together as a team.

Clan Deploy: Good? Bad? Indifferent?

Good, once a player has reached level 60 on 3 PMC's and hunted down most Trophies and Medals, what is left? What would keep a player coming back for more? Competition, and in order to keep the player-base steady and even growing, MAG needs elements like Clan Deploy, and yes even Clan Wars. The concern over Clan Wars was the effect it would have on the Shadow War game que's. Quite odd considering more than one Sony/Zipper employee has stated in the PodCast how the Shadow War is not a real priority for them or in their opinion the player base itself. Either way the simple fix is a cap on the number of games a Clan can play per week. Considering most often real life schedules will keep most clans from fielding even squads of 16, I think their concerns are unfounded and topped off with weak sauce.

What weakness hurt MAG the most?

The poorly thought out training mode in my opinion. Zipper Designer Ben Jones may be proud of it, but I feel not making it mandatory and focusing on creating one for each PMC is where they went wrong. Zipper should have had one generic training ground to instruct new players in the various modes and actions that they will be performing. The current one only shows you how to crawl, run, fire a main weapon and side arm, throw a grenade, resupply at an ammo dump, repair a turret, and plant a charge. Take the three PMC specific maps out of the training mode, and add a few cut scenes and you would find more competent players running around today.

What's your favorite game mode and why?

Acquisition. It has most of the elements of Domination from bunkers to airstrikes, and due to the mechanics of the gameplay, allows for more imagination in terms of tactics and strategies a team can use both attacking and defending.

Are you looking forward to Escalation?

Absolutely, this game mode will be much more successful than Interdiction if they do one thing, allow the game to start with 16 players from each PMC. The suppression mode launches very quickly due to the lowered requirement, and despite the objectives in Escalation, it really will boil down to Team Deathmatch / Sabotage tactics. With three PMC's involved even if one is undermanned, a few players can play the "spoiler" while the two PMC's with more players duke it out.

The key is to keep the queue wait times as low as possible, the long wait times for Interdiction is what has hurt the mode so much, 64 vs 64 and its only 2 pmc's so the third PMC must wait for a match to end before it is their turn, by then most have jumped into other queues. This will be my first suggestion to Zipper and I hope they listen.

Describe the MAG Community.

MAG's community is a mixture of FPS players from many different gaming communities. Most of the player base are attracted to the large scale battles or objective based play that requires team work.  As far as the Forum Community, whether you agree or disagree with their posts, most are there because of their interest and concern for the game. Despite what PMC they play on, or opinions on certain topics, I keep in mind that most of them want to see MAG be successful and the Forum is an outlet for any frustration or worry that they may have.

What's your opinion of Faction Neutral maps?

The Shadow War hasn't been fully supported as a concept by Zipper since March. Considering how the map designs for each PMC where originally focused around PMC weapon strengths, the maps are imbalanced by design. Rather than scrapping all the maps and totally redesigning them, I think map neutrality is a good fix for the problem. We have recently seen Raven's Domination map change, and in the future there will be more changes to other maps. Once done, map neutrality will give players a larger experience in the MAG universe. Some players have voiced concerns over PMC loyalty or Shadow War relevancy, in the end I think Zipper is correct on this one, it is a game, and the focus should be on fun.

What's your take on the great KDR debate?

I am glad you asked. This is a Shooter Game, first and foremost. With that being said, there are many ways to inflate one's KDR. In the end it really boils down to where those kills are happening. Let's be clear here, this is a respawn FPS with Med-kits that fully revive incapacitated players. I can't count the times I have seen a skilled player down a whole squad over in left field, only to have one medic walk up and in less than 3 seconds there are now 9 players attacking an objective. That killer may have a great KDR at the end of the match, but did he really make a difference? He failed to bleed them out. Again it boils down to how they are approaching the game mode, are they playing the mode as it is intended, or is every mode team death match to them?   I respect guys that can put up big kill counts and have high KDR's but only if they are playing for the win, and not for their own stats.

What's the best thing about being in KEQ?

The sense of family and team work that the KEQ clan has. We have been around since the beta on MAG and many played together way back on Socom 2. My favorite part is watching brand new players we recruit improve daily. As they learn tactics, gun skills, maps and various game modes, I get to share in their experiences. This helps keep MAG new for me as well. Seeing it through their eyes, and often being reminded how awesome MAG really is after taking aspects of it for granted. I feel lucky to be in such a large clan that has stayed loyal to one PMC since the beta. For our members this means even if you want to chase your 3 PMC trophies, you always have a place to call home.

What's the future of MAG in your opinion?
The future is now. Many people talk about MAG 2, what it will be like. In my opinion the new beta is a glimpse at where MAG is going. I feel that the success of the Escalation DLC will determine how much longer Sony will continue this experiment. After patch 1.09 we will essentially be playing MAG 2. With these changes I think MAG getting back on course towards being something really different, I look forward to the possibilities that a mission based economy system brings. MAG had the longest Open Beta Period in the history of the Ps3, and now looks to rival WarHawk in post-release support from Sony. The future looks bright in my opinion!

Tell us about  the infamous TTT weekend (aka Pearl harbor here at SVER) few SVER's/Raven's had ever seen Valor work together so well. I think the other PMC's were shocked and surprised and caught off guard. Incidentally, SVER has a Coalition that's similar mowing through Escalation as we speak :)

Take The Transport Weekend (TTT) or "The Big Push" was credited to Yamomoto of the 6D9 Clan with the help of Kushmir of V-C and Harbie of the now defunct VE Clan as the main organizers. Honestly there were so many more that deserve mention, but they know what they did.

This was only possible due to the player count being at the lowest point since the retail release, lower than it is today.

Once word got out, clan members and leaders began spreading the word setting up lines of communication to get as many Veteran Valor players and Valor Loyalist Clans into the Acquisition queue all weekend long. Non-stop, nothing but Acqui.

Valor has great Clans just like the other PMC's but ignore Acquisition for the most part due to the faulty design of 1rst platoon, and the fact that groups mainly get placed into 2nd platoon, where mainly they aren't needed. The main pull to TTT was to show that the only reason Valor was successful in Acquisition during the Beta was the incredible amount of communication, teamwork, and huge clan deploys that were involved.

The map was and still is horrible, and when left to randoms to defend it is a joke, It lead to giving incorrect data to Zipper, and now after months of play in the retail release, it should be pretty easy for Zipper to see the difference between Organized Clan Play and Random Solo Play.
They announced a redesign in the works for Valor's map, so they see the problem now.

The most important thing I have noticed from this "Big Push" is how much Alliances of Clan can effect the contracts when the player base is so small, if we had Beta or February player counts, this simply would not have been possible.

Even then it took what... 16 or more hours to make the contract flip on the first night?

When SVER and Raven took notice it was too late, even though their clans tried scrambling to counteract the "Big Push"

-Raven clans absolutely gave up on Acqui and beat down on the Valor/SVER noobs left in DOM and hence won 1rst

-SVER clans apparently focused on Acqui and Sabo leaving their noobs to defend Dom vs Raven Vets...

Any Valor clan worth it's salt was nothing but Acqui all night leaving noobs in Dom and Sabo....

That was day one.

Day two was met with a much larger and more organized push by Raven and SVER in Acqui, problem was... new players.

Level 4 is all that is needed to jump in the Acquisition queue, and with all the clan flooding it, Acquisition was now available for the new players to try out.

They frustrated and complicated the games for ALL FACTIONS, as I heard nothing but "DANG BLUE DOTS!!!" in prox from both Raven and SVER, and all day Sat/Sun I saw pretty much all the Feb. antics we all now laugh about.

-Carjacking of strategically placed hummer's (a big problem on Valor's Helicopter side in a few matches all four were driven into the creek under the blown up bridge)

-Lack of medkits/repairkits

-Guys wandering around the rear team-killing

-Trying to rez people w/ repair kits

-Shooting rockets at friendly hummer's/turrets

-Trying to drive the Prototype out on the wrong side, driving APC's right up to two active bunker turrets or getting it stuck on obstacles

My point: "The Noob Effect" is such that half the battle is fought against the new players in your faction.

I am quite happy that the numbers are lower, the Over Powered/Under Powered map can always be trumped by a OP Clan Alliance

BUT, that's just it... increase the player count back to say... 30k a night and all the contracts will flip right back to what we are used to seeing...

Why? Well these clans then DROWN  in a sea of blue dots... they may be 100-0 and never lose... but they can't out do the blue dots.

Just ask the Dark Flock why they personally can't win the Sabo contract, or ask V-C why they can't personally win the Acqui contract. They will answer simply "For every game we win, the blue dots are losing four"

With literally dozens of games being played at the same time the Sabo contract is MUCH harder to effect due to the sheer number of Major Victories it takes to win.

During this three day event I guarantee you less games of Acqui were played than in ONE day of Sabo.

This "Big Push" did nothing but prove exactly how much of an INCREDIBLE amount of coordination it takes to overcome imbalanced maps.

If you didn't also get that conclusion from this player organized event, I am quite sure your level of denial is such that you would rather burn at the stake than renounce your views.

Valor was able to take first in Acquisition for the first time in five months, and was able to defend it for over 30 hours before finally taking 2nd and then 3rd.

This event spawned a huge debate on the forums about OP'd maps, OP'd players, some using Valor's success as proof that "It's not the maps, it's the players", the other side taking the stance that "It is the maps, look how many players it took to defend!!!"

Despite the different views on those subjects, one thing is sure, IT WAS A BLAST!!!


  1. Great stuff! How can I be featured on here? I send a PSN message to your name on the forums, check that when you get a free minute!

  2. Wow nicely said as expected from THE Stylie77


  3. that was the best one i've read so far, and they've all been really good.

  4. I believe, as long as we have level headed MAG players like Stylie77, this great game will be around for quite some time.


  5. The TTT strike was an interesting one indeed, I think I was the first to notice and attempt to gather a large force of Raven clans. STD was going into acq that night and I noticed Doceroc and English Snake's old clan tag as well as V-C and some other clans as we battled it out. Once we finished our first game of acq for the night we decided to do 2 which Valor went up 1 and a half bars on the scoreboard. After noticing this I contacted PHI, EYE, ~^~, and DOA, most of them shrugged it off as just one game, except the flock. They remained with us in acq until we both realized it was too late. Numb3rz of PHI brought it to our attention that SVER was vulnerable in domination and that we should capitalize on this, so most of the Raven clans began dominating the oil refineries. It's always nice to hear the other side of the story isn't it? lol

  6. Yes it is Cotten. I knew that is how Raven took that Dom contract, most saw the lead in Acqui and decided it wasn't worth the effort since their wasn't time to stop it.

    Again, this was at a time when the player base was at a record low, the Majority online was Clan Veterans. Even during the weekend which is "peak time" for random players, they mainly just annoyed us more than anything, due to the sheer weight of Valor clansmen in the queue.

    The winning recipe was doing 8 man squads rather than the super-groups.

    We spent less time grouping up in between matches, and our talent was spread out through games and platoons. Which led to us being able to find that weak bunker, and retain most of the leadership roles.

    That meant more strikes under clan control.

    Was fun wasn't it? Day two was the best, when all three PMC's were pouring into the queue trying to Win the second "flip" of the contract. Valor won by a hair. Then later that evening slipped into 2nd.

    By Sunday... the clans got tired of it and the dreaded blue dots took over. =(