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A point of view about the current State of Competitive GOW Judgment

May 9, 2013

After the roadmap drawn and proposed to the community by FatalStrike, another extensive post by Midnite tries to summarise various aspects and issues of Gears Of War Judgment, starting from a retrospective analisys. Full article follows:

Hey all, I’ve decided to go ahead and make a thread outlining my opinions on some of the hot topics of discussion within the community, where I think we are heading and how we can improve moving forward.

The Downfall

July 2012 was the peak of the Australian Gears of War 3 community. We had a record number if teams signed up to the CG ladders (a huge 75 teams across all ladders), ACL Melbourne was a huge success and it showed no signs of slowing down.

By the end of July it had been almost 2 months since Microsoft and Epic announced Judgment.

It seems as though for the duration of June teams and players were more than happy playing Gears of War 3. Whether this was because a tournament was on the horizon or just because Judgment was going to be a long way out.

From the end of July onwards the game started to follow a downhill battle. Teams were losing interest, players were no longer dedicating the same time to the game as they had done before and it was at this point that our community took a turn for the worst.

I’ve looked at this time period and I’ve tried to pinpoint what went wrong. There are two key factors that I have attributed to this;?
1. Gears of War Judgment announcement left teams feeling as though there wasn’t much left to do in Gears of War 3.
2. With a slew of AAA titles on the horizon teams were anticipating their release and putting their time into other games.


Moving on from this we were presented with an opportunity from ACL to compete in an Online Qualifier for the EB EXPO Gears of War 3 Tournament.
This tournament was in effect the ACL 2012 Finals and was a huge deal for the community.
The Online Qualifier saw 17 teams sign up with 15 competing over the weekend. I was personally happy with this number. A higher turnout would have been great but it brought enough competition to the event to make it competitive.

The top 8 teams from this event were as follows:

1. Legacy
2. Team Supremacy
3. Team Lewis
4. Purity
5. Seraphic Nexus
6. Reborn
8. Ruthless

From this group of 8 teams we had seen SEVEN teams with players who had attended previous LANs yet of this only 4 teams showed up. We were joined by Paranoia and Flying Unicorns to make up a total of 6 teams competing.
In the eyes of ACL this was an incredibly poor effort and for me it was thoroughly disappointing.

Now, before I put the entire blame on the community I have to say that the announcement for the event was very late notice. Teams were left with roughly 3 weeks to book their trip. I completely understand that this time frame was not acceptable. However, I was able to come from New Zealand with that notice and I had been talking about a rough date for weeks leading into this. It was not acceptable to announce this so late but both Call of Duty and Halo achieved their maximum attendance with the same notice given.

From here on out there was a distinct lack of tournaments going on. A couple of community comps were thrown in the mix alongside the CyberGamer League/Ladder, which kept things flowing.

Triple AAA release season was upon us and a huge amount of our community went to dabble in both Halo 4 and BlackOps 2 multiplayer. Some did not come back to Gears but a good amount of us did. I had planned for these releases and tried to keep the community as active as possible to not interfere with these releases.

Alongside this we were released a mere morsel of information about Judgment. If memory serves me correctly we were given a release window as well as confirmation of FFA and OverRun.
This tidbit of information was enough to wet our pellets but it really didn’t do anything but shift attention further away from the game in our hands.

As the new year rolled around it was becoming harder and harder for teams to find scrims on any given night and it was clear that things weren’t the same.
A few members of the community tried to help by running events but it wasn’t enough to get people back into it. Everyone just seemed to be waiting for Judgment.

As the release came closer we weren’t given any more information. The game was a mystery to all. By this stage we knew of Team Deathmatch, Domination, Free For All, OverRun and the lack of Locust in traditional Multiplayer. Outside of this Epic were completely quiet and the community eagerly awaited more information.

When the game leaked a month early we were suddenly aware of the game at hand. 4 multiplayer maps. That was the key focus of our attention. ‘How could the game work with 4 maps?’ was a common question. The answer wasn’t confirmed until after release, it couldn’t.
I hosted an ‘Inside Gears’ live stream with Myksta and Durkaa. We did out best to cover the game, relaying information we had read to you all and explaining how we can make the game work. I felt pretty confident coming out of this and had hopes that we would make do with what we were given until the game was given the much hoped for life support (New maps + Gametypes) to get us through.

Epic was overcome with backlash and promptly announced free DLC for 2 weeks after launch. This DLC brought back Execution (a huge win in their favour) and Haven, which turned out to be a great map.

This was not enough of a release to help shift the communities’ focus from all the negatives. The negative spread like poison and made no clear way for us to work with what we were given. Players were dropping off, some high profile players/ teams made the switch to CoD and those who have remained have tried to keep things positive and keep Gears alive.

Epic responded again by releasing more DLC. This map pack was lackluster. It offered a couple of decent maps but ultimately their lack of symmetry did not do wonders for the competitive scene. The gametype released was targeted for public play and didn’t help the competitive community in the slightest.
New DLC is looming, we will see some more maps come out, which Epic have said are more symmetrical and another new gametype should be on the way.

Epic still have the ability to redeem themselves and can give us an opportunity to grow this game to something more substantial than what we have now.

What Has Gone Wrong


There are three key aspects to what I believe has pushed Australian Gears across the line. There are other areas outside of this but these are the three things that I believe had the most effect on the Australian Gears scene.

The first is regarding Epic and how they approached Judgment poorly

Epic made a great deal of mistakes with Judgment. The biggest was not generating hype around the game. During the lead up to release we knew almost nothing about the game.
A big issue I personally have had is transparency. Epic has offered very little transparency into what they are doing. Recently they have started to be a bit more transparent but its taken so much work and I feel they are only doing this because the game hasn’t received the response they hoped for.

If prior to release they stated they were focusing on refining gameplay over content, with the plan of releasing more content after release it wouldn’t have been so bad. Something along the lines of; ‘Gears 3 was great but we want to make this even better. Your feedback from Gears 3 is being taken into serious consideration when making development decisions about the gameplay mechanics of the game. Because this has been our key priority we are choosing to ship the game with less multiplayer maps but we promise to bring out an addition 15 maps over the first 6 months in 3 map iterations.’

Something as simple as this would have changed this games first 2 months tremendously. We would have seen a more forgiving community and could have offered feedback and opinions based on what the game is doing rather than focusing on the lack of maps and how shit Epic are.

The second is regarding the community

One area of weakness has been the attitude of the community towards Judgment and their vocalization of the negative aspects of the game.

Throughout the life of Gears 3 our community has not been the most welcoming to newcomers. Newcomers have been abused or not welcomed into the community which in turn did not help us increase overall numbers. This issue was brought up when the decline of Gears 3 started and I saw a really positive change. New players were coming on board, there was less abuse towards them (as a whole) and it was all a really good improvement.

With the release of Judgment the community has not been shy to vocalize their concerns with the game. That is not the issue that I’ve had. The issue that I have with this is that its been such an unproductive and hateful discussion that comes off poorly.
If a newcomer joined the CG forums looking to take their game further and was welcomed with some of the threads and posts that have popped up over the last couple of months they’d probably be put off completely. This then has a snowball effect where their friends won’t join, whose friends won’t join etc.

I am all for expressing your opinion, but doing so in a productive way rather than how it has been discussed.

The last is related to me and what I could have done differently.

When Judgment was announced I became incredibly excited. I love Gears and have spent nearly 6 years of my life playing it competitively. The idea that another title is on the horizon to help prolong the life of the series was great news.
With Gears 3 the way it was (This was back in June/July 2012 – 75 teams signed up on CG) the potential for a new and improved version of Gears 3 was exhilarating. I feel that I had a leading role in helping grow Gears in Australia to where it was and wanted to expand on that for Judgment.

Where I made a mistake was putting too much faith in the new title when Epic themselves didn’t seem to have the same confidence in their title. The lack of announcements, information released and marketing for the latest title in a AAA franchise was underwhelming and it was an early sign that the game wasn’t going to be what I had hoped for.

I strongly believe that Judgment is the best title in the series to date. It has the most polished gameplay, the pace and speed of public matches provides a wonderful experience and I have enjoyed the majority of my time playing quick match.
Where the game falls shorts is maps and gametypes. The maps were designed for FFA. From a business standpoint I can 100% completely understand their decision for this. FFA provides a way for each individual to prove their own ability and with a group of friends it can be a great time. The game works extremely well in FFA.

Epic attempted to reinvent their competitive multiplayer aspect to the game with OverRun. OverRun is an excellent addition to the game. They have made some mistakes (lack of spectator mode and only 5v5) which has caused the majority of problems for competitive. These mistakes have been acknowledged and Epic have said they will address these in a future update.

What I’ve been doing is overlooking these flaws. I can see the good in this game and I can see that Epic are trying to right their wrongs. I’m not sure if they can do this fast enough but at the very least they will have learnt from their experience and can hopefully apply this new knowledge to future projects.

Gears of War 3 vs. Gears of War Judgment

Since the release of Judgment there have been a number of discussions, a huge amount of private messages and talks over Xbox Live discussing the possibility of switching back to Gears 3.

From a public perspective I have not gone into detail about my decision to stick with Judgment. I want to take this opportunity to do so and to also cover why I haven’t brought up the idea again.

The initial reason for not going back to Gears 3 was to give Judgment a chance. Gears 3 was an incredible game and I didn’t want the sudden change to Judgment to be a reason for people to go back. By giving Judgment a chance players were able to get a feel for the game and see how the game actually was after getting through their first impression.

2-3 weeks into Judgment players started to get bored, the maps were growing stale and there were too may frustrations with the game (melee as one concern). Epic were keeping relatively quiet and hadn’t really discussed anything other than the free DLC pack.
This gave players doubt that Epic were still interested in the game and made some of us wonder if going back to Gears 3 was going to be on the table again.

What little know, is that yes, it was on the table and it is something that I seriously considered.

The biggest issue with going back to Gears 3 is we would find it extremely difficult to attract new players to our community. Gears Judgment would keep the casual gamers at bay with quickmatch and the superior game mechanics while what was left of the competitive community would scrim on Gears 3.

This reason alone put me in a very tricky spot. I could A) drop Judgment in favor for Gears 3 effectively killing all potential growth or B) continue with Judgment, waiting for Epic to release a critical Title Update addressing out concerns.

The short term advantage of option A was that the existing community would have a great game to play with no support from Epic and very little room for growth. We would also shift back to Judgment when Epic fixes it and readjusting to a new game for the second time.

The long term advantage of option B was that Epic are working on Judgment, they want to fix it and we would have huge potential for growth. This would have a period of next to no competitive play but a potentially prosperous future.

As you all know, I chose to go with option B. This decision was not made lightly and it has not had the best reception from the community. I still stand by it, however I am open to shifting back to Gears 3 if the time comes when Epic are clearly not helping Judgment as a competitive title.

Some members of the community have suggested that we open up a Gears 3 ladder alongside the current Judgment ladder. I am strongly against this idea and think that it will further harm our already fragile community.
If you look at the Judgment playlist count you will see a small number of players online. This number is then separated down to a ridiculously large number of playlists. By having this number of playlists we are greatly restricting the number of players in each playlist bringing more and more bots into each game.
My fear for adding in a Gears 3 ladder is based on the same principle as this. We have a very small community. It will be counter productive further separating the players with multiple ladders.

Several players have promised that we will be able to get x number of teams to a Gears 3 ladder and that x number of players will come back from CoD or from other titles. I don’t doubt that this is the case however I don’t believe that the numbers you have said are accurate.

If you want a Gears 3 ladder back please run a Gears 3 tournament to give us an idea of how many teams will sign up for a ladder should be bring it back.

As it stands we can’t afford to separate the community any further and we would have to see a huge number of teams compete in a Gears 3 tournament to risk separating our community further.

I hope that this has opened you all up to my reasoning behind staying with Judgment and how difficult the decision to no go back to Gears 3 has been.


This section will be relatively short, by comparison to the previous sections.

The ruleset with Judgment is one that has been discussed quite openly with the community. The admin team and I have made our intentions extremely transparent and given the community a huge say in how we have set the rules for competitive Judgment.

For the few weeks leading into v1.0 of the Australian ruleset everything was looking good. We were receiving a great deal of feedback, adjusting settings as needed and giving as much to the community as we could.
A number of players wanted us to wait for the US ruleset to stay in line with the global Gears scene. It was clear that we would keep an eye on what they were doing but would only adopt their ruleset if it was going to be the best for the Australian Community.
?The biggest hurdle to overcome with the ruleset is trust from the community. Our actions are constantly questioned and we often receive criticism for the decisions we make.
This lack of trust from the community has made it difficult to have a firm ruleset in operation.

We are currently still running the ruleset that we put out early April. This ruleset has stayed in place, despite FatalStryke releasing the US ruleset because we don’t have the playerbase on the game. The number of matches on the ladder is minimal, the majority of the teams are inactive and we have seen a number of players move on from Gears.
The US ruleset has been posted in the Ruleset discussion thread and little to no feedback has come back from it.

We will continue to run with our ruleset until the next major Title Update from Epic. This TU will hopefully address a number of issues still present within the game and should also add in some DLC including new maps and a new gametype. This gametype will hopefully cater to competitive 4v4 and the maps will hopefully be smaller and more symmetrical.

It is at this point that we will assess the ruleset and make changes, as we deem necessary.

One largely requested change to the ruleset, the player cap, will have been actioned by the time this has been read. I still stand by the initial decision to reduce the player cap HOWEVER at this point in time there is no need to keep it minimal. We need players playing the game and there isn’t enough competition to be focusing on improving teams.
The player cap has been increased and teams will now be able to have up to 6 players on their side.

Gears of War Judgment – Changes / Improvements Needed


This section is 100% my opinion only. It is going to offer an insight into the areas that Epic should be focusing on and what I think should be adjusted to make this game work competitively.

Firstly, I want to draw some attention to the master wishlist the US community put together. It was a remarkable effort to compile that list of suggestions and I have a lot of respect for the folks who put that together.

I agree with almost everything on that list. Below I will be bringing up my opinion on the biggest priorities Epic should be focusing on.

The lack of maps was one of the biggest disappointments to this game. Epic shipped Judgment with 4 maps that simply did not work well in a 4v4 match. The maps are not symmetrical, they are uneven, teams have distinct advantages on different spawns and it just doesn’t work.
The maps were designed for Free For All and they just don’t work on team gametypes in the way that they should.

Epic has quickly remedied the lack of maps by pushing out a number of new maps. These maps are much the same in terms of playability. There are issues of balance, lack symmetry and poor layout. They work well in public and especially well in FFA.

What Epic need to do with the next DLC is to bring out some small, symmetrical maps, focused and tested for team-based gametypes. Weapon swaps need to be even, there needs to be an adequate amount of ammo boxes and picks across the map without overcrowding it.

Epic should be looking at the most popular maps from Gears 1 through to 3 and looking at the similarities and determining why they were such great maps.

Gears 1:
Canals, Fuel Depot, Gridlock, Mansion, War Machine

Gears 2:
Avalanche, Blood Drive, Jacinto, Pavilion, River, Security

Gears 3:
EXE: Checkout, Clocktower, Cove, DryDock, Hotel, Old Town, Thrashball
KOTH: DryDock, Slab, Rustlung, Trenches

All of these maps are symmetrical, they are almost all small maps with lots of angles (for rifle play) and tighter sections (for close quarters combat) creating a excellent balance and offering a diverse amount of gameplay.
The maps were all based around power weapons that were viewed as a target by teams and would be the main focus of the map.

Judgment simply does not have these qualities to their maps and I think that is why they are not working in competitive. Even after the weapon swaps made in the US ruleset, we have no been given a good base to work from.

In all honesty, there is very little that should be changed gameplay wise.

The areas of weakness to this game can be narrowed down to these things:

Grenades – Epic changed things up by allowing players to have a grenade of their choice at spawn. This has caused a great deal of controversy amongst the community and despite all of the grenades being even and having their own counters it is something that should be addressed.
I believe that by eliminating all grenades except for the Smoke and Spot grenades we will see a great increase in strategy used and teams will once again have to earn their grenades (from map pick ups).

Melee – The melee has been overpowered since day one. I never could understand how it was missed in play testing and why it was addressed sooner.
There are a couple of issues with it that need to be tweaked. The overall damage and the speed at which you can melee.
The initial damage of melee at launch was 50% of a player’s health. This percentage is far too big and it needs to be toned down. Epic has adjusted it since release, I’ll give them credit for that, but it needs to be adjusting a smidgen further.
Because of the faster, more fluid gameplay the speed at which you can melee feels too fast. It is now faster to shoot then melee than it is for someone to get two consecutive shots off. This promotes less gun-based gameplay and ultimately creates problems.
By adjusting the delay of a melee (before or after hit) adding in a consequence for using a melee or decreasing the successful hit window of the melee it will become a last resort action again.

Reticle – I personally do not have an issue of bullets not coming from the center of the reticle but I can understand why it causes some people to believe their shots aren’t killing people when they should. Epic should either adjust the initial spread/firing location of weapons to come from the center of the reticle OR they should increase the size of the reticle to accommodate the weapons and their firing patterns.

Matchmaking – Epic need to reduce the number of playlists. It has to happen. There are no excuses for having the number of playlists that Judgment has.
Possible fixes include, completely eradicating the VIP playlists. VIP players should earn 2x XP in ANY GAMETYPE/PLAYLIST just like those who buy 2x XP do. It would still be possible to stack and would reduce the number of playlists greatly.

It is most likely too late to do this but the game should treat DLC differently. If all the players in a match have DLC then DLC matches should come up. If a player doesn’t then it won’t. Rather than creating a DLC playlist (that features non DLC maps also…) that further separates players. This should have been put into effect.

By following these 2 points Judgment would have 2 sets of playlists. Quickmatch and Ranked. This would bring players together and we wouldn’t be stuck with bots the majority of the time.

Some of these points have been addressed by Epic in their recent server-side update, which is wonderful. I’m not going to to into more detail about what I think needs to be adjusted as a lot of it can be found in the below spoiler tag.


The key changes from above are all addressed in this update. We are getting maps that are more suited for Gears, we are getting improved sound and weapon balancing, the melee is being addressed and best of all, Epic are offering more transparency.

Community Improvements


It concerns me that I need to be bringing this up again, but it is what it is.

Our community has taken a turn for the worst. Our game isn’t the way it used to be and as a result there seems to be a lot of hate going around.

There are a number of things that need to change with Judgment in order for it to be a suitable competitive title. Epic is working hard to make it right. We need to be working hard to ensure that our community is ready when that time comes.

The majority of what needs to be taken into consideration is common sense. We need to be polite, keep extremely negative thoughts to ourselves and we need to remain civilized.

As I’ve mentioned above, newcomers coming into this community will not feel welcome, they won’t think its a nice place to be and they won’t become a part of our community. We MUST improve the image of our community if we are to grow and bring new talent to competitive gears.

I don’t want to go into detail about this but please think of the effects your post may have on the community and potential members before posting. If you want to vent towards someone or something message me. I’m happy to have a read and offer a response when needed.

Thank you to those who read through this entire piece. I’ve spent a lot of time putting it all together and I hope that you enjoyed it.
It is a very difficult time at present. Judgment isn’t quite where it needs to be to work competitively, the community isn’t thriving the way that it used to and its really sad.

Gears of War is my game of choice. I started competitive play with Gears 1, competed at WCG in 2007 and played it right through until Gears 2. Gears 2 was incredibly enjoyable despite it being a heavily flawed game. I enjoyed competing on CG and getting to know a bunch of Gears players in public.
Gears 3 was the best game from a competitive standpoint. I dedicated a great deal of my time to helping make it as great as possible. We saw regular LAN / Online Events and it was so awesome finally getting to meet some of the people I’d played with for years.
Judgment is the most refined Gears experience to date. There are a number of flaws but despite that it is a good game.
I will be incredibly sad if the competitive side of Gears dies and I will be doing everything that I can to help keep it going.

Please remember that myself and the Admin team love Gears and if you disagree with our opinions try to keep in mind that we want this game to work and have the best intentions moving forward.

Thanks again for reading,


Source: CyberGamer


Very first Administrator of this community, anonymous by definition. The entire fan community somehow is hidden behind his generic title.

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