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Capture-3As I mentioned in the main disclaimer page of this blog, I am not responsible for people’s reaction to what I say. Each and everyone of you have control, or not, over your own emotions. That is not my problem. As I am talking about one player in particular, Rifleman71, I wanted to make sure everyone understand that I don’t have anything to settle with that player. On the contrary, I am in good terms with him. Whether he wants it or not, he’s some sort of legend in my current little circle of gaming and among the top BF3 players around the world. I was surprised not to find anything about him on the Internet. Of course, he’s not alone. But I happened to cross his path and he was somehow important in my progression, as a model player, and also because of his peculiar character. I do not know him personally and we never talked, since he’s not the kind of man to expose his private life easely, like I would, if I had the occasion! On the field, he’s dedicated to the game and he’s quite good at it. Here, I only recount my point of view about a few encounters with him. It goes from frustration to respect, and even close collaboration in a few games.

Frustrations

I remember my first encounter with Rifleman71, about a year ago, maybe more. I saw his name a few times before, because he always killed me with systematic efficiency. At the time, I was not aware he was one of the best players of BF3. I only realised that when I checked the leaderboards pages. On November 7, 2014, Rifleman71 was top player in the category Vehicles/Kills, with 307,922 kills, as shown on Fig. 1. Young (and quite pretty, if pic’s authentic) Russian player mihmei caught up and surpassed Rifle recently with 315,951 kills against 314,653, as shown on Fig. 2.

There may be some sort of race here between the two – Russian girl vs. American boy, but I don’t know for sure. Vehicules/Kills is only one category among many and there are different ways to evaluate the scores of a player. Check their personal pages to make your own mind. I only played once with mihmei. Tried to make contact, without success. But I played a lot with Rifle and «regular» players, such as TDHFernando, 22SAS-Puggy, AnotherKiller, JFSystem, TerminatorGT-850, ElRicco9000, Dirtiedoug, and many other merry lads with original characters (I mostly play on Armored Noobs – United Noobs server).

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Fig. 1 – Screen capture of BF3 Leaderboards taken on November 7, 2014.

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Fig. 2 – Screen capture of BF3 Leaderboards taken on December 13, 2014.

But lets talk about Rifleman71. At first, I thought he was too good because each time I met him as an enemy on the field, I didn’t last long. I was a beginner. I observed that he was kicking players from time to time. I did not know he was admin on the servers I played. I learned it the hard way! He was arguing with another guy about something I thought was not important. I did ask him why he was always kicking players out. He told me to mind my own business, which I did not, being naturaly resistant to any form of authority. Who was he to talk to me like that? I said « No, I won’t ». He then said, « OK, you’re next ». After he «killed» the player with a command, I was next indeed. Grrrr! Not funny and unjustified! How can he do that to me?

I did not got back in the game immediately but told him he was some sort of George W. Bush fascist acting like that. For me, it was the ultimate insult! Maybe for him too, I am not sure, but this time he kicked me out of the game. I went back on the server, frustrated, but just played the game as my frustration dissapeared rapidly. I did not meant what I said and regretted it. I find it stupid to engaged in this type of quarrel. I didn’t know the guy, his job as an admin, his life as a BF3 player. I did not blame him. It stayed like that, but not for long.

Respect (one way only…)

Many weeks later, perhaps months later, because I played less regularly at that time, Rifleman71 was still in the landscape and was still having arguments with other players. And he was always accused of hacking (see I !Votekick you, hacker!) About this, I wasn’t sure until I realised he was a top player, as I already mentionned. Other players such as gdogshankmasta also gave me the impression of being a bit too good to my taste. I was always telling me the same thing after an encounter on the field, mainly in tanks, my favorite vehicules : how the hell do they do that? But at the same time, my gameplay was improving, and I considered it was possible to become so good that it can appear as some sort of hacking or cheating to other less good players. I am definitively not there yet, but I call these guys virtuosos (see We are average players, the rest is shit!).

I don’t know why, but Rifleman71 seemed to dislike me for a while. Maybe he remembered my comment about Bush. At least, that’s what I thought. Yet, I did not insulted him since that event. I found him hard with other players and maybe I took their defence from time to time. He had high standards regarding the game and how others should play it. I remember being in the AA once. I was quite shitty with that vehicule then, but there’s only one way to improve your skills with it, it’s to use it as often as you can. I was in the Bandar Desert, near the Mountain Village (D), playing USA. I have been able to destroy his jet and kill him. It may be the first time I killed him – a rare occasion. On his next run, he crashed his jet on my AA, but jumped from it a few meters from impact, a technique often used by pilots to destroy annoying AAs. The vehicule was damaged. I saw him coming with his RPG ready to shoot me. He was too close from the vehicule, which was on fire and smoked. Cannon was useless. I jumped out of the vehicule but did not had the time to kill him. He got me first, repaired the AA – he’s an expert repairman, really – and took it. It was the end of the game.

When we started the next one, he took the time to write me that note : thanks for the AA pico. I did not answer. Why would he tell me that? Why underscoring other’s mistakes? Mine, at least. I did not understand. But I had a better image of the person behind the character. It seems he had something against me. I am not paranoid, and honestly I don’t care about people who don’t like me, even for nothing. I do not need others to know what and who I am. But I kept wondering.

One day Rifle mentioned something about my gameplay – I did not had the time to see the comment pass on the chat, except for my name that was written partially in caps : PICObubble. I took it as a troll. Pico means very tiny (one trillionth of something, here a bubble…). Why caping that if not to make me feel tinier? These things simply don’t work with me and my only reaction was to ask him why he was on my case. I got no answer. Even with these small events, I respected him and, as I mentionned, never blamed his attitude towards me. After all, in BF3, we are only pixels of light and a bunch of ones and zeros.

Since the beginning, I had the impression he was older that the average BF3 player. Mid 40, maybe closer to 50. Family guy with grown ups, but strict and stiff, as if he was a military. That was my theory, anyway. Some of these facts were confirmed later by himself in public chats. Curiously, I always felt he was disappointed by nearly all other players.

In a match on a Death Valley map, I killed him and destroyed his tank, which I was never been able to do before. Probably a lucky shot, because even today, I would not last long one on one against him. He told me something like, you play it hard now? I took it as a compliment. Remember however that I am a french speaking guy and may not understand all english terms or idioms. But, somehow, his attitude about me changed since then. That was around last spring, if I am correct.

And from one match to another, I think I got some respect from Rifle. I was glad in some way. Even if he’s sometimes a little grumpy, I do respect the guy behind the computer. Eventually I even got in some tank rides with him. Most people hate that when he ask them to « get out » of his tank! I understand perfectly why he prefers to be alone in there and he don’t have to explain. I adopt a different attitude when players come into mine. I welcome them, even if they jeopardize our stealthiness. What they don’t always realise is that each time they shoot the tanks’ guns, we show on the map. As Rifle is always on the run fighting and repairing, I understand he’s reluctant to take people onboard. And I guess that, like me, his tank was «stolen» a few times by fellow teammates as soon as he got out for repair or shoot RPGs at a dying tank. I had my share of frustrations when that happened. I once got out 30 seconds to try to shoot down a helicopter with SAMs and the first thing I realised is that my tank was going away! Come on guys!

Rifleman71 is often working in pair, when possible. That’s brillant and I did expect that from other players even at the begining. However, it never worked. No one listened to me. Working like raptors to chase and kill ennemies is efficient. From my observations, his best body for that is the discret (he never comment on the chat), but also highly efficient SrCupcake. My impression is that they know each other personaly, and they’re maybe about the same age. Why do I say all these things? For fun and because I like to write and I it makes me feel good. Simply. Why write a blog otherwise? Anyway, my advice is that if you meet these two at the same time in the field, get the fuck out of there if you can and call reinforcement!

Change of heart

One day, to my surprise, Rifle did ask me to work with him. For me, it meant that he was aware that I got better with time. Probably that, on this match, there were not any other high ranked players agile with tanks. And Cupcake was not there. We did a few matches like that for some time on a few occasions. I was stressed. He’s a killing machine and I had more pressure playing by his side. I played one of my best games working with him a month ago, on November 13, 2014, as shown a Fig. 3. That was quite a match!

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Fig. 3 – Screen capture of one of my best matches on November 13, 2014.

But I was stressed to work with him for two reasons. First, he’s not easy to follow, running fast from one flag to another, swiftly fighting and killing ennemies along the way. I have a different gameplay and after a few times, I realised I prefered to follow my own way, with my own pace. I felt I was only following another will. There are many ways to help the team. And there are plenty of better tank operators than me, of course. Maybe my attitude dissapointed him after a few occasions, I don’t know. And that’s OK! I like learning from pros but don’t feel at ease when too close to them. That’s the second reason. I still make stupids mistakes and bad jugements in many situations. I am really not as good as I think I am, after all, and I still have to learn my chops for hundreds and hundreds of hours more…

So, these days, when we are in the same team, we’re not collaborating as well as a few weeks ago. My fault, if any. I would say it’s just a game, but there’s obviously more than that in BF3. The challenge to master our actions and make the best moves and decisions in a fast paced environment is quite real. I do my best most of the time, but I know I can’t live to other’s expectancies, especially if they have thousands of hours of experience in the field.

So, that’s it for now. Lets see what happens in the future. As Riffle mentioned recently, BF3 is dying, and when it will be over, I am sure that his name will stay among the true legends of gamers of that period of history, whether he wants it or not.

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