Another Derby Extra: The RollerCon Seminar

another-derby-seminar-rollercon-2013-2

Didn’t go to RollerCon this year? Or maybe you were there, and you couldn’t make it to Another Derby: The Seminar.

Well, that is egg on your face. Those who went saw something special, as evidenced by these actual testimonials:

• “That was a fucking AWESOME seminar, thank you!”

• “At least there are people thinking about the big picture. Thanks for continuing to care, WindyMan.”

• “Simply amazing – people who weren’t there don’t know what they missed.

• “Thank you for doing this!”

Regrets? Fret not. Now everyone can get in on the best kept secret in roller derby: Roller derby itself.

Find out the hows and whys of the game, from the pack, to the pivot, to power jams. Discover what all roller derby rule sets, past and present, have in common. Then see how this knowledge can be applied to the modern game in a way that benefits everyone. (WFTDA, I’m looking at you!) Even if you know derby—or rather, if you think you know derby—get ready to love the game you love in another brand-new way.

The 75-minute seminar has been enhanced with full diagrams and video overlays, so you’ll know exactly what’s happening through every concept and video as it’s happening.

Check it out below:

Thanks for watching, and thanks for spreading the knowledge. Knowledge is power!

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lyxar on 18 August 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Thank you for uploading this, and doing so on youtube (this way, i can DL it, and thus watch it years later even when “the web” has – given it’s short memory – already forgotten).

    Reply

  2. Posted by Lyxar on 19 August 2013 at 11:46 am

    One more thing – late in the seminar, you mentioned how significant starting positions can be. Now, of course there is always the option to “mix it up” by law or gameplay neccessity.

    BUT, the janepese approach here kinds sticks out. It is totally predefined with little room for “opportunity/randomness” (except of a few feet, which can be very important). So, regardless of their quite different game, as i see it they are the only ones who have “standardized starting positions” that are balanced. Sure, in their case, it is balanced for their game (powerjams). But, can’t this be adapted for general play somway?

    Like, you line up blockers of team A inline, blockers of team B outline. The pivots and jammers, you line up exactly opposite to that. And, on each jam, you switch the inline/outline bias.

    Reply

    • BUT, the janepese approach here kinds sticks out. It is totally predefined with little room for “opportunity/randomness” (except of a few feet, which can be very important).

      Not necessarily. Jam starts in RG Japan are rolling pack starts, and this creates an interesting play between the teams during the pre-start sequence, which is just plain weird. They do a sort of “installation” lap before the jam begins in anger. You can see a good example of it here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/31977537/highlight/349289

      Even though the defense can sprint away to avoid being scored on, the offense can counter fact by delaying their entry into the start box. In that jam, you can see the defense (purple) really far forward in their start area, and the offense (red) swerving behind to slow down and stay back a bit. Since the jam can’t start until all 8 players are in the start box, the forward defensive players are forced to hit the brakes to stay inside of it, or else they get a warning/penalty. This slow down kills their forward momentum, letting one of the offense players streak in front of them thanks to a full running start.

      The flip side is if the offensive blockers start too far forward to try to hold back more of the defense, more of defense can counter by starting further back to try and gang up on the jammer and force an early end of the jam. In that case, the offense is trapped ahead of the play since they can’t go back to help. So there’s plenty of opportunity here, particularly because the start boxes (and the track itself) are much longer and wider than you think, at least in the flat track version.

      Sure, in their case, it is balanced for their game (powerjams). But, can’t this be adapted for general play somway?
      Like, you line up blockers of team A inline, blockers of team B outline. The pivots and jammers, you line up exactly opposite to that. And, on each jam, you switch the inline/outline bias.

      Oh sure, you could do something like that. But then again, that idea doesn’t work, or work as well, if a team doesn’t have a jammer and/or pivot on the track due to penalties. A fair jam start must be fair in 100% of game situations and scenarios. Particularly on the flat track, where the inside lane is extremely valuable real estate.

      A team with their blockers on the inside would always have the advantage in that case, since coming out of turn 2 they’ll probably be more towards of the front of the pack no matter what. I’m noticing USARS still has this problem sometimes, even with the pivot start box. Sure, a team will have a pivot up there, but they’ll have three or four opposing players directly behind by the time they enter turn 2. Not exactly fair or equal, albeit better than two 4-walls.

      In RG Japan, the blockers on the inside had a positional advantage. But the blockers on the outside had a material advantage: An extra player and the ability to score points. These contrasting advantages makes the jam start fair; the fact that they lined up within the same general starting area in the same general way makes it equal.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Lyxar on 19 August 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Not necessarily. Jam starts in RG Japan are rolling pack starts, and this creates an interesting play between the teams during the pre-start sequence, which is just plain weird. They do a sort of “installation” lap before the jam begins in anger. You can see a good example of it here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/31977537/highlight/349289

    My browser (1 years old – yeah, wtf happened to webstandards becoming permanently obsoleted every 2 months?) with most recent flash, jaba, JS and cookies enabled, and any adblocking and popup-blocking disabled, can’t play ustream videos.

    Same if i DL most recent portable opera and firefox (i.e. no need to install into the OS) with latest java, JS, flash and ad/popup-blocking disabled.

    So, yeah, sorry – but fuck ustream. Meaning, for my reply i’ll have to rely on reading your textual response very closely, and having no compatible video footage. (This is part on how roller-derby – generally – tends to make it hard for me – as a non-us fan – to watch any footage. First i have to hunt down anyone broadcasting anything beyond just googling (because, relevant hits dont appear on google). Then, in 80% of cases, it just doesn’t work for me, and in 90% of cases they only stream live, not after the fact (TIMEZONES, anyone?). So yeah, i’m a roller derby (not roller wall – aka WFTA/MRDA – fan. Yet it’s hard for me to watch any footage of non-wfta content, that is not behind a paywall. It’s like, they don’t want to make it easy for anyone non-US getting fringe footage).

    But i’m drifting off. Back to the topic.

    You wrote (i don’t know how to quote properly on this blog – please tell me how to (bbcode doesnt work), so that you don’t have to fix my posts): [I have to fix your posts! - Windy]

    Even though the defense can sprint away to avoid being scored on, the offense can counter fact by delaying their entry into the start box. In that jam, you can see the defense (purple) really far forward in their start area, and the offense (red) swerving behind to slow down and stay back a bit. Since the jam can’t start until all 8 players are in the start box, the forward defensive players are forced to hit the brakes to stay inside of it, or else they get a warning/penalty. This slow down kills their forward momentum, letting one of the offense players streak in front of them thanks to a full running start.

    The flip side is if the offensive blockers start too far forward to try to hold back more of the defense, more of defense can counter by starting further back to try and gang up on the jammer and force an early end of the jam. In that case, the offense is trapped ahead of the play since they can’t go back to help. So there’s plenty of opportunity here, particularly because the start boxes (and the track itself) are much longer and wider than you think, at least in the flat track version.

    All of this seems – in the end – quite similiar to flat track or even pre-2013 banked track rules, where things like just positions of your team, in the inside of the track, can influence starting positions. BUT, as you displayed it in that diagram, there are seperate parallel starting boxes for both teams. So, assuming both teams have enough pre-jam time to position in their boxes – how the hell can this be abused? I just don’t understand? You have your own box, cannot leave it until the whistle – so where else can you go? (I’m STRICTLY assuming a standing start, NOT a running start!)

    Oh sure, you could do something like that. But then again, that idea doesn’t work, or work as well, if a team doesn’t have a jammer and/or pivot on the track due to penalties.

    Again, my proposal wasn’t to be valid for such circustances. Of course, if you have exceptional gameplay circumstances, they require exceptional rules – just like the japanese did, for powerjams.

    I was just asking: Assmuning a non-powerjam. Just a normal gamestart without exceptinal circustances: Can’t the japanese approach be adapted for this?

    A team with their blockers on the inside would always have the advantage in that case, since coming out of turn 2 they’ll probably be more towards of the front of the pack no matter what. I’m noticing USARS still has this problem sometimes, even with the pivot start box. Sure, a team will have a pivot up there, but they’ll have three or four opposing players directly behind by the time they enter turn 2. Not exactly fair or equal, albeit better than two 4-walls.

    Good points, i don’t really have a “fix” for that.

    Reply

    • Meaning, for my reply i’ll have to rely on reading your textual response very closely, and having no compatible video footage.

      Try YouTube, then? Here are a few videos showing/explaining the jam start.

      So, assuming both teams have enough pre-jam time to position in their boxes – how the hell can this be abused? I just don’t understand? You have your own box, cannot leave it until the whistle – so where else can you go? (I’m STRICTLY assuming a standing start, NOT a running start!)

      It’s a rolling/running pack start, with a standing jammer start. (Japan, you so crazy!) This means blockers have some ability to “cheat” the start by timing it to their advantage. However, both teams have the exact same options, meaning there’s nothing a team can do that the other team can’t do themselves or counter. That’s why it’s a fair and equal start!

      I was just asking: Assmuning a non-powerjam. Just a normal gamestart without exceptinal circustances: Can’t the japanese approach be adapted for this? … Good points, i don’t really have a “fix” for that.

      You’re looking at this the wrong way.

      The Japanese “approach” is the application of one of roller derby’s universal/fundamental game concepts, tuned to fit the unique circumstances of their version of the game—which are just more than there being one jammer on the track, by the way.

      This is why you don’t have a “fix” for what I pointed out. The fix is to line pivots, blockers, and jammers alternating and equally. Period. The details come in how you write the rules to force teams to line up alternating and equally based on the particulars of the game in question.

      For example, in RDCL (banked track) rules they did more than just put the pivots in a separate start box ahead of the blockers—the pivot is now a mandatory every-jam position. Since both teams will always have a player at the front of the pack, both teams will have the same equal presence at the front of the pack, whether it’s a regular jam, power jam, full pack, or highly-penalized pack. Pivots aren’t active scoring players like they are in traditional roller derby, meaning RDCL play is still all about 4-wall defense. So now, both teams have (roughly) an equal chance, and certainly a fair chance, to get into/prevent a 4-wall. Because no matter what the situation, they have to go through the other team to do it.

      Remember, because both teams play offense (and defense) at the same time in roller derby, anything you try to do to give one team an artificial start advantage will automatically put the other team at an artificial start disadvantage. We can’t have that. Any advantage must be earned. This is why they qualify cars at the start of an automobile race; the cars at the front earned their spot by doing something better than the cars at the rear. But they all started qualifying at the same starting point, didn’t they?

      Reply

  4. Posted by Lyxar on 19 August 2013 at 7:35 pm

    WARNING: This is a fucking wall of text and background blahblah. If you are not in the mood for this – go ahead and skip this entire post. Because… this post is gonna be a long of “backflash” and blahblah.

    Okay, let’s talk roller-derby in a more generic sense (and in doing so, you might understand more why i made that “approad” in my comments above).

    As you mentioned in the seminar, there is a difference between just knowing the rules, and playing engineer INSIDE those rules – and, well understanding why the game is the way it is, and engineering (DESIGNING) from that POV.

    Now, a bit of backstory about me. It wil be really short and boring and seemingly trivial, compared to what you did so far for roller derby. I’m lilving in germany. Just like most other countries, all i have – locally – is wfta rolly wall copycats. Yeah, sure, we got the berlin bombshells and stuff…. yeah, they might even – inside wfta rules – be pretty good…. but you know? I don’t fucking care. Heck, you know, i live in DRESDEN, home of a bigass student community, and this city as giant skating events multiple times a year. Yeah, i should be happy to be here? I’m sorry, but this ain’t ROLLER DERBY. Yeah, i got a pretty big skater culture right next door, but you know, either they actually SKATE, or they play…. ROLLER WALL. Just like everywhere else internationally, we got no roller fucking DERBY!!! We just got wfta, and i dont care about that. I’d rather watch our regulr skater events, than anything pseudo-derby related, because you know, people SKATE over here in anything else BUT pseudo-derby (just like anywhere else internationally. We got lots of skaters, but nothing amazing or *trailblazing* in regards of DERBY!!! We’re stuck in WFTA/MRDA slump, just like everyone else internationally.

    I in my prev post already mentioned difficulty, of accessing any non-wfta footage internationally, so, i’ll leave this topic right there for now.

    Now, i might not identify much with my country – i all the time in my life gave a crap about “what *i* am supposed to be like, according to my country stereotype*. BUT: Even while ignoring all this, i tended to develop some…. preferences…. things i tend to be good at (doesn’t mean i trump others with similiar orientations).

    Anyways, i started to learn a lot about…. how things are connected. Cybernetics, interfaces, organization (yeah, all the “booring crap”), game design principles (someway, in intentionally avoid to mention the term “philosophy” in here, because that term has become to mean so many things, that it kinda means nothing anymore).

    So, yeah, that’s a lot of blahblahblahblahblah.

    What the hell does this have to do with roller DERBY?

    Like a handful of other people of my age, i’ve seen Rollergames. But well, that was just scripted wrestling on saktes.

    Like a much smaller amount of people of my age, i saw Rollerball. I thought about the philosphical consequences, and yeah, the action scenes were cool, but who the hell in action sports would be willing to play a game, in which he or her would be killed in a matter of 2 years?

    Like a lot of 80ies videogame kids, i OF COURSE played speelball 2! Yet, of course i considered it as just science fiction!

    And of course, i got in contact with a bunch of related fictional concepts – like…. who the hell remembers this? Grand monster slam.

    But you know, all of this was cool, but all the time (i was born in the late seventies), i just ever dared to consider even the base idea of such a sport FICTION. I never ever had any idea, that this kind of sport, has a precedence.

    For a long time.

    Actually, just up to… 2012, i was completely ignorant to roller derby history. Yeah, of course i frequently – in my imagination – thought about what kind of sports count be invented around that… fiction. But you know, this to me alway was just “mindgames”.

    So yeah, i’m REALLY NEW to this derby thing. Yet at the same time, pretty old but ignorant.

    Now, another path of …. abilities…. i DID follow on, was……. video games!. Game design. User-interface design. Cybernetics. Political and cultural stuff. Financial stuff (i’m beyond capitalism and communism, and consider both the ‘right’ and the ‘left’ as retarded children, who do not understand, how two very imporant aspects REQUIRE each other, to function efficiently, or even satisfy their…. premises! Yeah, this goes down into synthesis and related obvious philosphical paradigms).

    Bleh, i’m still talking too much without getting to the goddamn point. Kay, last wake-up call for me, for this post:

    In your seminar, you put quite some pressure on how all the things in the history of roller-derby are interconnected. And also how – from an DESINGER-POV…. and not just some naive lowlevel “i just saw this, so i cape up with an idea – and you know, every ass has an idea, wow~”

    The first time i saw real derby – so, knowing “WTF? There actually is a sport of this kind?” I immediatelly went “wow! cool!”. I didn’t give a damn about it being chauvinitically (YES, thats right. Remember? Chauvinism by definition, is a bias in believing in the superiority of your own kind. This IS, what WFTA even if inofficially, blatantly proclaimed, for a sportsgame which…. THE IRONY… was initially based on GENDER EQUALITY, LOL!). Again, drifting off – so lemme just make this clear: I DONT GIVE A FUCKING FUCK ABOUT MEN AND GIRLS!. I just care about if they’re awesome! Sure, by me being a man, there is some “attractivity” to girls acting cool and awesome (then again, apparently some guys have issues with this. I don’t fucking understand what drugs they are on). Yet, at the same time – me being a guy – of course i also felt that it was awesome when really talented guys were acting…. you know, awesome. So, i didn’t really prefer a gender in this sport at first, as long as either players of either gender, had something going for me.

    Blah, how many fucking kilobytes long is this post by now? What’s the goddamn point i want to get at?

    Well, okay, lets go tl/dr and really consense:

    – wow, this has some really cool underlying concept going for it!
    – but somway, sometime, along the line, it got…… WTH?
    – but, just this weird messed up aspect of it apparently is now….. popular?
    – but everyone seems to be complaining about its effects.
    – other past aspects of it, which did solve such aspects, are considered “old and obsolete”… or “renegade/outcast”
    – so, “we suck, but we are too full of ourselves, to learn from others, who figured our issues out already long ago!”

    I could elaborate on this, but i thin i’ll… just finish on this *deserved* punchline.

    Reply

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