Steph Curry’s Destiny: Warriors’ Exotic Weapon Keeps Firing
As far as games go, basketball as it’s played in the NBA is governed by a fairly robust physics engine – it’s called physics.
The ball weighs 22 ounces, the court is 94 feet long, the hoop is ten feet high. These dimensions provide obstacles and opportunities to be overcome or taken advantage of through a blend of sound strategy and pure physical ability. Competitive balance is achieved through a mixture of trial and error and planning; the hoop is ten feet off the ground for no particular reason other than James Naismith nailed the peach basket that high, but something like the 3-point line has moved in and out, in an effort to create an ideal threshold that can prevent average players from regularly making the shot, but enable excellent shooters to benefit from the additional point offered.
Steph Curry is threatening to ruin that hard-won competitive balance. This is a thing that happens in the world of professional video gaming all the time.
To create a truly competitive eSports game, developers need to craft a game world whose rules and restrictions – on movement speed, jump height, weapon accuracy, etc. – create a system where the chief determiners of outcome are player skill and strategy, just as it is in the real world. The problem is that in creating these worlds, developers sometimes slip and create loopholes, elements of the games that become what gamers call “overpowered” or “OP.” Examples include the Blue Shell from Mario Kart, the pistol from the original Halo and basically anything that hardcore gamers could call a “win” button.
Or consider Destiny, a currently popular video game in which players roam the solar system getting angry at Destiny. Rewarding your hoarding and self-improvement impulses like a good role-playing game while simultaneously stroking your itchy trigger finger like the best first-person shooters, Destiny pits you either against teeming alien hordes in player versus environment (PvE) modes, or against other people just as hopelessly chained to their Xbox Ones and PlayStation 4s in player versus player (PvP) modes.
One of the major problems Destiny‘s PvP modes dealt with in the game’s first year was of its own making: one of the game’s best weapons was not just really, really good – it was actually kind of breaking the game. At the top of the loot chain in games like this are the vaunted “exotic” weapons, and Thorn, an exotic hand cannon acquired through a long path of convoluted requirements, was at the top of that class. In addition to a truly foolish amount of range for a pistol, it would also poison whomever was hit by it, meaning an opposing player could tag you a few times and then walk away secure in the knowledge that you – now half-blind and frothing at the mouth – would be a puddle of goo in moments.
Once people started figuring this out, it was pretty much all anyone was getting killed by. You either got it and used it, or took a moral stand knowing you were consciously handicapping yourself. Forums and messageboards were swamped with all-caps cries for a rebalancing that would bring Thorn into line with the rest of the game’s weapons: “THORN OP PLS NERF.”
You can probably see where I’m going with this.
Last night, Steph Curry defaced the Minnesota Timberwolves, racking up 46 points en route to a 129-116 win in which he was only really attempting to score maybe 50 percent of the time. He took 13 3-pointers and made eight. The Wolves as an ENTIRE TEAM took nine. All I could think was, “Steph Curry is OP, pls nerf.”