Welcome to PlayGrifball!

February 4th, 2018 by

Welcome home, Grifballers!

As many Grifball league veterans know, the past few months have been a tumultuous time for the Sport of the Future.  GrifballHub, one of the longest-running Grifball communities and the home of the AGLA since 2013, announced it would be closing its doors later this year after many of its longtime leaders moved on with new opportunities or found that life no longer allowed them the time needed to lead and manage such a large community.  The closing of GrifballHub, however, was not intended to be the end for the game itself, but rather an opportunity for a new era of Grifball, one that would be able to better meet the expectations and needs of the Grifball community.  Today marks the first day of this new era.

Several months prior to the announcement of the Hub’s upcoming closing, a large-scale restructuring of the community was announced, with the goal of revitalizing and expanding GrifballHub and its community.  One of the components of  this revitalization plan was a website redesign, which we had started with the intention of creating an entirely new website for the Hub that could meet the requirements of our upcoming expansion plans while also addressing user feedback from the current site.  As this project continued, the Hub’s shutdown was announced, and the site redesign soon became not just a new website, but also an entirely new community – a community that we are proud to welcome you to today.

Welcome to PlayGrifball.

For those of us continuing on the legacy of Grifball, PlayGrifball represents more than just a website and community – it is a fresh start, an opportunity for us to revisit every aspect of our leagues, events, and community and determine how we could best structure these things to meet the needs of our players and of the sport itself.  Today, with the launch of PlayGrifball, these structure changes primarily take the form of changes in leadership and in community guidelines.

Leadership

For those of you who haven’t met me, I’m Sonic (XBL: SonicNachos), the former Director of Development for GrifballHub.  In that role, I was responsible for leading the website redesign that came to become the site and community that you see now.  Joining me from GrifballHub senior leadership is Rage (XBL: Rage More Nerd), the former Director of Organized Grifball.  The two of us are the majority owners of PlayGrifball and will ultimately be responsible for its overall direction and vision..  Also joining us at the staff level is the AGLA administration team, comprised of longtime community leaders NOPLEX, The Piggies, and PoisonxPoptart.  With the AGLA making the move to PlayGrifball, their input on the transition has been invaluable, and they will continue to be involved with Rage and myself when it comes to general discussion and decisions about the management and direction of PlayGrifball going forward, in addition to their work as AGLA admins.

In 2017, GrifballHub implemented the “Grifball Trials Series,” or GTS, a committee comprised of several upstanding community members of varying degrees of skill and experience with the goal of discussing and testing potential league rule alterations and gametype changes.  Over time, this committee grew to become a broader layer of community leadership, and the input from this new community leadership level has also been greatly beneficial to the PlayGrifball transition.  As the new community moves forward, PlayGrifball leadership and staff will continue to work with community leadership to discuss potential changes and brainstorm new ideas.

Code of Conduct

One of the many things that was discussed during the transition period was the code of conduct for the new community.  As our longtime veteran players know, the history of Grifball has seen a wide variety of conduct rules.  Prior to the AGLA merging with GrifballHub, conduct regulations were fairly lax, while GrifballHub, with its focus on creating a safe, friendly, and welcoming community, was much more strict when it came to these regulations.  Both of these extremes brought their own challenges and criticism.  In developing the code of conduct and community expectations for PlayGrifball, we opted to take a more middle-of-the-road approach.

The full details on the PlayGrifball code of conduct can be found by clicking here, but here’s a quick rundown of the key points:

Offensive/discriminatory language, personal attacks, and harassment are all prohibited.  Trash talk and profanity are acceptable so long as they aren’t excessive and don’t violate these guidelines.

The big change comes on a topic that has been widely controversial since Grifball’s inception: statpadding.  Most Grifball players, even if they’re unfamiliar with the term, have likely encountered this in the matchmaking playlist at some point or another – the other team secures the ball and then attempts to spawnkill for the rest or the majority of the game while making no attempt to score the ball, thus letting them “pad” their stats.  Historically, this has been regarded as unacceptable behavior by the leagues, with statpadding banned in all league games/events and conduct rules requiring league players to refrain from statpadding in the matchmaking playlist if they wished to continue playing the leagues.  For PlayGrifball, this is not the case.  While statpadding in league games and events is still prohibited, matchmaking behavior will no longer affect eligibility for the PlayGrifball community or for our leagues and events.

To be clear, we at PlayGrifball aren’t condoning statpadding.  It’s unsportsmanlike, hurts the reputation of the game, and in some extreme cases scares players away from the playlist, or even Grifball in general, for good.  With that said, however, it isn’t our responsibility as a third-party community to police this behavior in matchmaking, and the logistics of performing such a feat is ultimately nigh-impossible.  Banning statpadders from playing in the leagues is just forcing those players to choose between statpadding and playing in leagues – while some of those players might turn away from statpadding to play in the leagues, others will not, and there can sometimes be bad blood created between the leagues and those who do.  When the enforcement of statpadding rules becomes too zealous, that bad blood can and has caused large rifts in the community, doing more harm to our community as a whole.  In addition to this, such policing of our players’ matchmaking behavior is ultimately ineffective – all a player has to do to circumvent the restriction is to create an alternate gamertag to statpad on.

The end result of these types of restrictions is a set of rules that are easily beaten and that, when they do work, have the potential to cause unintended side effects on the community.  By not policing our players matchmaking behavior, we’re able to take the time and energy that would be spent trying to enforce these easily-circumvented rules and apply it to work and projects that will better benefit the overall Grifball community.

The AGLA and Other Leagues

As mentioned previously, the American Grifball League of America will be making the transition to PlayGrifball from GrifballHub.  The AGLA will continue to use the bidding system for forming teams that has been in place since the original merger with the Hub.  For those unfamiliar with the bid system, players register for the league individually rather than as part of a team.  A set of captains are then given a set amount of credits to use to bid on players and form their team.  Players who aren’t bid on for the Pro league will fall to the Legacy league, and players who aren’t bid on in Legacy fall to the Amateur league.

Specific details as to the next season of AGLA will be announced here at PlayGrifball in the near future, so keep an eye on the News page for the latest updates.  The AGLA page will also display the latest AGLA news and articles at all times, for those who are only interested in seeing AGLA updates.

The PlayGrifball leadership team has had lengthy discussions with community leadership as to other leagues.  Various ideas have been floated around, from the “classic” team-based setup to a draft-based format to a sort of hybrid system like that used in the Veterans Division for the last season of the Good Games League at the Hub, where players can still form teams as they choose but within a set credit cap, with player credit values determined by a committee.  Other suggestions have included just running the AGLA bid system all the time, possibly with lengthier regular seasons and/or a slightly longer offseason between seasons.  These discussions are continuing to occur and more will be announced at a later date.  We ideally want a second league with a team-based setup in place for Halo 6, though at this time its difficult to make any sort of plans based around the next title in the Halo franchise with next-to-no information on the next installment currently available.

TL;DR

The PlayGrifball community has a number of differences from what the community may have been used to at GrifballHub.

Longtime AGLA leaders and former GrifballHub directors Sonic and Rage will be overseeing PlayGrifball as the majority owners, with the top level of staff being filled out by longtime community leaders and AGLA admins NOPLEX, The Piggies, and PoisonxPoptart.

The community leadership team that was formed from the Hub’s GTS will continue to be involved in many leadership discussions going forward.

PlayGrifball code of conduct is a middle ground between the original Grifball community from the Rooster Teeth days and the stricter rules of GrifballHub.  Personal attacks, harassment, real-life threats, and offensive/discriminatory language are still prohibited, but trash talk and profanity outside of these categories will usually be acceptable.

While PlayGrifball leadership doesn’t condone statpadding, statpadding in the Grifball matchmaking playlist will no longer result in league bans or suspensions.  Statpadding in league games and in other PlayGrifball events is still prohibited.

The AGLA will be transitioning over to PlayGrifball from GrifballHub, and for the time being will continue to use the bidding system that was in place since the original Hub-AGLA merger.  Detailed information on the next season of the AGLA will be announced in the near future.

PlayGrifball and community leadership have been discussing a variety of concepts and ideas for a team-based league to alternate with the AGLA here, but no firm plans have been made at this time.  We would ideally like to have such a league ready to go before Halo 6.

If you have any questions about PlayGrifball or the GrifballHub to PlayGrifball transition, please feel free to reach out to myself, Rage, or any of the other staff members (NOPLEX, The Piggies, or PoisonxPoptart).  For any questions about the new site features or to report any bugs or site problems, please get in touch with me either via private message here on PlayGrifball or via e-mail.

Here’s to the beginning of another great age of Grifball – see you all on the court!

 

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