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Shiri
03-07-2013, 02:33 PM
Hello,

After discussing this subject in the site chat some I decided to post just in case there wasn't much awareness of how stat tracking warps how people play.

The Banner Saga Factions is a competitive game, but super competitive people are not the only ones that play it - it's fun enough and intuitive enough that even more casual players can understand it, and a lot of people really like the art and aesthetics of play too (or just enjoy a really well designed system, like me). That means some things that the former like having available can actually inhibit the enjoyment of the latter. The most important one here is the concept of leaderboards and stat tracking (especially WINSTREAKS). There are a lot of people who are severely turned off by this kind of thing.

If you're a competitive player, a leaderboard is great - you can see how much farther you have to go to catch up to the best in the game (ceteris paribus.) Especially if you're in the top 20 or something and your name is on there to show off. Cool! Unfortunately, for a substantial portion of the rest of the playerbase (not all the rest, though) having a number that shows how sucky you are relative to everyone else is actually kind of demotivating. On its own you might decide that this is an ok tradeoff and the competitive players deserve this one, although this is actually part of why games like League of Legends and Starcraft 2 now have tiny divisions/leagues. However, when there are results for winstreaks (particularly achievements) you A) create external rewards for things that shouldn't be rewarded in the first place and B) cause anxiety to people in danger of losing them and having losses recorded. Basically, the visibility and tension of these things creates a discouraging "stage fright" effect to no small amount of players. Telling them "it's optional" doesn't help, incidentally.

People won't necessarily stop engaging in bad patterns (people often create smurfs in free games specifically to play games they can 100% win even though that means they're not building a team) if these effects are alleviated, but I think hiding some of them and removing incentives from winstreaks will help some of it. Maybe someone will have a really compelling reason as to why achievements for 100 winstreaks are likely to be legitimately achieved in the most enjoyable way by the people who do it, but I doubt it. Anyway, discuss.

franknarf
03-07-2013, 02:45 PM
I agree. What do you think about keeping global Elo, but only maintaining a leaderboard for the other stats from tourneys (aggregated across tourneys, as raven proposed in a thread today)?

piotras
03-07-2013, 02:54 PM
Well, there are so many threads about that I lost count... BUT I wholeheartedly agree! The incentive there is to win and it can be demotivating for many, especially if players choose to abuse the weaker ones for rank-whoring.

Fortunately at the time of writing an update is planned which will require you to have at least 6 power for your elo to be tracked. Lets say that it's good for starters and we definitely going into the right direction, but what we should aim at is:

- get the veterans an incentive to stick around
- allow for the group who strive under pressure and competitive environment to have their kicks from wins
- prevent new players from being farmed
- allow for people to play unranked, so they can learn the game or practice new tactics without the fear that if they try to experiment they will probably loose

I love Raven's suggestion which would leave the tournament rankings as they are (i.e. resetting every week), but turn the 'general' rankings into an accumulated rankings from tourneys. All games outside of the tourney would be unranked for practice.

In that way new players couldn't be abused, all players of all skill levels could practice at their leisure and experiment, while when ready they could face other prepared players at tourneys to get their kicks from wins and other stats taken during ranked tourney games.

eAZy
03-07-2013, 03:07 PM
I agree with the points you make Shiri. This phenomenon of demotivation to play has been brought up for years in other competitive games like Starcraft, Starcraft2, Dota, and Dota2. If we look at these games as examples, and turn to the solutions created by the huge developers behind them (Blizzard and Valve), I think we can learn a lot about how to approach this issue.

The vast majority of players play for fun and not ranking, are anxious about stats and win/loss ratios, don't want to be reminded of how much they've lost, and don't want other people to see their statistics.

Blizzard has attempted to remedy this, and their dwindling playerbase by removing loss counters and giving more privacy to player profiles. Most recently, they've added unranked play.

Valve has taken a similar approach, no doubt borrowing on Blizzard's ideas. Dota2 doesn't have a ladder or ranked play UNLESS the player explicitly says they want to be a part of it. Loss count is only viewable by the individual player, and no other statistics are tracked.

Although it is doubtless that there are plenty of players out there who love having their stats tracked and putting them on display for everyone to view, this is a small number compared to th majority. You can't have every player on 30+ game winstreaks with 30-1 win/loss ratios, obviously.

A ranked matchmaking option would be a great idea, but it would separate the community which is never good. Instead, how about having ONLY tournaments count towards a leaderboard? This effectively creates an opt-in program for those who want to be on front pages, and gives them the freedom to experiment with builds risk-free.

Regarding the issue of Elo rating, this should only be used for matchmaking purposes. Referring to Blizzard and Valve again, this rating is invisible.

Finally, regarding renown-gain, I don't think this should be a big issue. This game and the developers have made it clear that Factions isn't meant as a cash-shop/microtransaction -first game: it is a medium to share singleplayer progress with friends by providing great multiplayer. As such, renown-gain shouldn't be an issue in unranked games: it should stay as is. For that matter, friend-matches should also give normal renown, as I don't think the possible abuse of "farming" renown/kills would affect the game very much.

I hope the devs read this and share their thoughts; I think this game has the potential for a far larger player-base if they want to open it up.

Shiri
03-07-2013, 03:12 PM
Ok, I posted this right before a big update to the elo system. It seems now you can only get winstreaks at team net rank 6, which is a definite improvement, and it also means new players aren't scared off by being ranked before they consider themselves ready. It may be that they want to KEEP not being ranked and thus have to stay with 5 advanced units and 1 base, but that's at least not as dire as the earlier situation. Will see how it goes.

Slimsy Platypus
03-07-2013, 03:30 PM
Shiri, Some of your points really struck a chord with me. My first reaction to the leader boards (during the beta) was a resounding ughhhh, because usually they are only cool to the most competitive players. I don't think they are necessarily a bad thing, but I think we should recognize that for many players it's simply going to be a dark alley eye sore.

I definitely think something should get adjusted with the win streaks. As providing any incentive for the most experienced players to not play in the most experienced matchmaking brackets is not good for the game. Obviously there are several approaches, probably the most straight forward is to not have displayed Elo / stats for players until they decide to play using rank 1 teams. How to exactly put that into practice, I'm not sure about.

Another thing I really liked that you hinted on is the incentive to keep playing for non-competive players. Possibly future "progression" achievements could be viewed in the Hall of Valor and players that didn't care about rankings could go there to see what they should and could do next. Achievements like "get a Shieldbanger promotion of each type to rank 1" or "have 4, 8, 12... different classes hired" fall in that category. Non renown rewards like titles, variations, things for our banners, or unique units that came with a name and stats that we couldn't adjust would be cool as those are things that feel awesome to get and go after (and doesn't really complicate existing systems or require new ones)

I don't necessarily think that this game is devoid of incentives to play for people who don't need to be the absolutely best players, but I do think the existing systems could be easily to developed to help give them a a feeling of progression. As always, my comments are simply food for thought.

(EDIT: I took a really long time writing this and posted this prior to reading the majority of what is posted above)

Shiri
03-07-2013, 04:21 PM
Just to add something to this that occured to me, it's not ONLY that the whole idea of winstreaks encourages trying to sandbag, it's that there's basically no legitimate way to do it for 99.5% of players to begin with because if matchmaking is doing its job, everyone except the very best couple of players in each timezone should be given 50/50 matchups as often as possible. And, like Elo for these players, it heavily disincentivises just trying out new builds for fun, something you'd probably see more if losing was a throwaway event that happened after a potentially fun game, instead of a depressing streak-ending, ranking-ruining disaster. This applies to win-loss ratios too, especially when you can see other peoples' (absurdly high) ones.

Bloodaddict
03-08-2013, 06:43 AM
Ok, I posted this right before a big update to the elo system. It seems now you can only get winstreaks at team net rank 6, which is a definite improvement...

As I understood the release notes, this is not true. ELO is not changed with team rank below 6, but WinStreaks are still counted with lower level teams.

raven2134
03-08-2013, 07:35 AM
All hall of valor stats are only recorded for all rank 1 teams only

Yellow
03-08-2013, 08:12 AM
I like having all the current leaderboards as they are right now, i am after all, kind of a competitive player in most games i play, but as a competitive player i also like to see real skills taken in consideration when it comes down to leaderboards and otehr similar stuff that keeps track of ur records and those of other players.... Right now leaderboards fail to provide that, i quote myself from here (http://stoicstudio.com/forum/showthread.php?1254-Build-1-6-21&p=17105#post17105):



One thing that i would like to see, maybe not right now, but in a near future(specially when something on this (http://stoicstudio.com/forum/showthread.php?1199-Unit-Cap-Idea-Suggestion-Request) regard is implemented, is all leaderboards to be reseted(exept the tournament ones and maybe "most games played?")...

Why? u might ask.. well, with all the changes to how matchmaking works, to the ELO system, the new rank units, and hopefully the new unit Caps that should/will be implemented, it would really make more sence if everything gets down to 0 again, so that everybody has a real chance now to make it to the top, not just as it has been until now, with 80% if not 90% of the top 20 on Most of the leaderboards specially "Win Streaks" been people:

- Using All Melle Builds.
- Exploiting new players at power 1 teams.
- Having a hugge advantage becouse of previosly playing the beta when the game came out on steam, so having it super easy vs players who had just joined.....

the combination of those 3 is how 90% of those with 50-100 win streak made it there.

DISCLAIMER:
Am not jelaus of any of them, i am myself ranked 50(+/-) on "Over all Ranking", and ranked 10(+/-) on both "Most Wins" and "Most Games Played". Sure it will be a bitt of a pity to loose what i have archived until now, but well, thats a sacrifise i am willing to take in order to have a real leaderboard based on real skills and not just on exploits of the system...


SO, my vote is, keep the leaderboards, but give them a 1 time re-set so that all players have a chance, the game has been out on steam for like 2-3 weeks so by this time there should be enought "OK" and "Advanced" players skill wise + with the resent changes to the ranking system and elo, it makes a perfect timing to such a thing.

raven2134
03-08-2013, 08:54 AM
Note, I did suggest the idea of all-time ranking aggregating tournament rankings, but I also mentioned that tournament games form a small fraction of the total play achieved in the game, and this may obscure/abstract the sense of purpose and progression of the game further, if there isn't something to track games outside of tourney. (That was a horrible run-on sentence, I know).

Now, what to track and how to track outside of tournaments, is the question I'm pondering.

Arnie
03-08-2013, 10:50 AM
Hello,

After discussing this subject in the site chat some I decided to post just in case there wasn't much awareness of how stat tracking warps how people play.

The Banner Saga Factions is a competitive game, but super competitive people are not the only ones that play it - it's fun enough and intuitive enough that even more casual players can understand it, and a lot of people really like the art and aesthetics of play too (or just enjoy a really well designed system, like me). That means some things that the former like having available can actually inhibit the enjoyment of the latter. The most important one here is the concept of leaderboards and stat tracking (especially WINSTREAKS). There are a lot of people who are severely turned off by this kind of thing.

If you're a competitive player, a leaderboard is great - you can see how much farther you have to go to catch up to the best in the game (ceteris paribus.) Especially if you're in the top 20 or something and your name is on there to show off. Cool! Unfortunately, for a substantial portion of the rest of the playerbase (not all the rest, though) having a number that shows how sucky you are relative to everyone else is actually kind of demotivating. On its own you might decide that this is an ok tradeoff and the competitive players deserve this one, although this is actually part of why games like League of Legends and Starcraft 2 now have tiny divisions/leagues. However, when there are results for winstreaks (particularly achievements) you A) create external rewards for things that shouldn't be rewarded in the first place and B) cause anxiety to people in danger of losing them and having losses recorded. Basically, the visibility and tension of these things creates a discouraging "stage fright" effect to no small amount of players. Telling them "it's optional" doesn't help, incidentally.

People won't necessarily stop engaging in bad patterns (people often create smurfs in free games specifically to play games they can 100% win even though that means they're not building a team) if these effects are alleviated, but I think hiding some of them and removing incentives from winstreaks will help some of it. Maybe someone will have a really compelling reason as to why achievements for 100 winstreaks are likely to be legitimately achieved in the most enjoyable way by the people who do it, but I doubt it. Anyway, discuss.

Okay so there seems to be a couple things going on here. Let me start by explaining our ideas on the HoV (Hall of Valor).
It's simply your stats page. Would people not want their wins or win/loss or etc...tracked anywhere? What if we provided people with a stats page? Would they ask us to take it down? I don't think so. The problem is that when you can see how you are faring against others in the game then you feel pressure. To handle this we ONLY allow people to see the top 19 players, everyone else is hidden and basically for your eyes only. I am ranked something like 1347 right now, but no one knows and it's just fun for me to see my stats and I find it interesting to see where I sit in the game since it's just more info. If, however, you are visible on the rankings boards then guess what...you are probably pretty competitive.
For the competitive players, perhaps sometimes they do not want the pressure of certain match because they simply want to experiment this time to see if something works, but they're worried that they'll lose ranking? I could see this.
One idea that comes to mind is a button on the versus Banner that you can click on and off depending on whether or not you want to be ranked this match. Kind of like the Expert Mode icon.
Stoic will call a council and convene to discuss these matters.
Thanks to everyone for expressing your views on the matter. :)

franknarf
03-08-2013, 11:02 AM
Well, if/when you add a per-player stats page, you could track the particularly disheartening stuff (like winstreaks) there and not keep a leaderboard of it. You'd have to click through to a player's stats page (after a battle, through the leaderboards or through the friends list) to see those things. And the player could even choose (http://howdypedia.com/Wanted_poster) to put their proudest achievements on their public stats page, while keeping other info to themselves, sort of like a more detailed version of the banner.

(In case that link is misbehaving, here's another (http://web.archive.org/web/20111221031417/http://howdypedia.com/Wanted_poster).)

Jorgensager
03-08-2013, 05:50 PM
The problem is that when you can see how you are faring against others in the game then you feel pressure. To handle this we ONLY allow people to see the top 19 players, everyone else is hidden and basically for your eyes only. I am ranked something like 1347 right now, but no one knows and it's just fun for me to see my stats and I find it interesting to see where I sit in the game since it's just more info. If, however, you are visible on the rankings boards then guess what...you are probably pretty competitive.


How about the people who get ranked higher than they feel they should be and get stage freight through that? I can imagine this group is small and membership is temporary, but it's still not a very nice position to be in.. ^_^

Also, could you clarify the following [extract of a] post (from the 1.6.21 build thread)?:


Win Streaks: I can't believe, even playing new players, someone can get 100+ win streak.

Was that meant as "I am super impressed of the skill involved in that" or "accounting for fishy builds and power exploiting, this still shouldn't be practically possible"? Because, as Shiri has pointed out - assuming the matchmaker is doing its job well - any long (> 10... or 15, maybe?) win streak is statistically very unlikely.

So, with this in mind, what was the idea behind the 25, 50 and 100 win streak achievements? For the "completionists" (i.e. people who want to get all achievements) this will undoubtedly cause endless hours of frustration. For the rest of us, it's an annoyance in that it encourages cheesy builds to farm wins. Is removing the win streak board altogether something that is considered [possibly too drastic..]? Maybe keep a private win streak counter in the HoV? (Just throwing some ideas out there..)

.. just noticed that some of this was already suggested by franknarf in the post above.. ^_^ My support to that!

Vexbane
03-08-2013, 07:34 PM
I do not like the idea of a click to enable rank match. People will be able to farm elo/wins this way. If they see a favorable match-up they will click rank. If they do not they will uncheck it. The only way this would work is if you did not see the team you are playing against first before hitting the rank/unrank match.

Jorgensager
03-08-2013, 07:43 PM
I do not like the idea of a click to enable rank match. People will be able to farm elo/wins this way. If they see a favorable match-up they will click rank. If they do not they will uncheck it. The only way this would work is if you did not see the team you are playing against first before hitting the rank/unrank match.

I assume the idea would be to toggle it like we can toggle expert mode ~*i.e. on the vs. banner before going into the battle queue.