Overwatch has only a handful of maps, and on, like, half of them you start out in this weird spaceship room. While you wait for the match to begin, you can destroy things. Blizzard has filled all the Overwatch starting areas (and large portions of the map as well) with delightful little touches — like lamps, and books, and trash cans, and popcorn buckets — that you can wreck with your weaponry or fist while you're killing time or just taking a break from constant warfare.
But the spaceship room is special. This room has basketballs. And not just basketballs, but a basketball hoop, too!
Maybe this is a good time to talk about physics. Game physics are kind of my favorite thing. Ever since Half-Life 2 taught everyone how it was done, physics add joy and dynamism to games of all kinds. But multiplayer physics are hard. That's why single player Elder Scrolls games are physics wonderlands full of opportunity, while the Elder Scrolls MMO is just another MMO.
It's kind of obvious why multiplayer physics are hard: to make a game fair, you have to calculate all motion and actions on the server. Clients (the part that runs on your own computer or console) get to guess at what their inputs have achieved — did you get that headshot, did you make that jump, did you put a basketball through the hoop — but the server has the final say. Some calculations are easy, and involve simple note-taking on the part of the server:
"Hey server, I moved two feet forward, I hope you don't mind."
And then the server either says "Cool Paul, I'll go ahead and tell everybody else where you are, in case they feel like shooting you," or something like, "I'm sorry, Paul, but there's a wall there."
If I'm telling the server I'm walking through walls, I'm either a hacker or the game is seriously broken.
But there's a reason realistic (or, at least, reality-inspired) physics didn't make it into games until around 12 years ago: they're a lot more complicated to calculate than simple movement. It's the mathematical difference between figuring out how far a car can go in an hour, traveling at a constant rate of 55mph, and figuring out where a car would land if it flew off a cliff traveling at 55mph, and then how many times it would bounce, and how many flips it would ultimately do. The first problem is simple multiplication, the second problem is... well, it's physics.
So to do multiplayer physics, the server has to do all these complicated calculations for every player at once. The more physics, the more objects, the more mayhem, the more work the server has to do. Which, ultimately, means spending more dollars on servers.
Anyway, basketballs. One of the best ways to test your lag in Overwatch is to punch or shoot a basketball. It won't do anything until it gets the go-ahead from the server, because Blizzard, in its infinite wisdom, has decided it's worth simulating and sharing basketball movements (I've also seen a soccer ball floating around, but I don't believe in soccer) across all players in a match.
My favorite basketball is the one on the table
The moment I spawn in to one of these spaceship levels, I always start punching and shooting the basketballs. My favorite basketball is the one on the table, it seems purpose-place for making a shot. Sometimes someone else punches that basketball first, but thankfully there's a whole rack of basketballs near the hoop. Plenty to go around, people.
There's one map where you start out in a movie theater and there are a ton of popcorn buckets. The popcorn bucket physics aren't shared across players, according to my own tests using multiple Xbox Ones. Scandalous, I know. I love the popcorn buckets, but my true passion will always be these multiplayer basketballs.
I want to score a basket so bad. Sometimes I'm even a little late out the door because I'm so obsessed. Not super late. I'm not a bad teammate. Just a little late.
But I've never made a shot.
What I want to believe deep down is that there's an achievement for making a basket. That if I complete this impossible task, Blizzard will descend from the game clouds and give me a high five. I know there's no achievement, no officially sanctioned high fives. But maybe?
Well, there isn't. Sorry. You know how I know? I saw this terrible human being score a basket on Reddit.
Isn't that awful?
I guess I'll keep trying. But, like, what's the point? Just like Russia gave up on going to the moon after America beat them to it, you know?
Exactly like that. You win this time, Reddit user Vate_.