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Druski
02-21-2013, 10:07 AM
Hello all. There are multiple active threads right now regarding ranking & matchmaking, and several ideas out there to improve it. I think we can all agree that we want Factions to be the best game possible, so please read on.


Several valid points have been brought up recently about rankings and how there are a few negatives in their current form. Those negatives are things such as:

players not being encouraged to experiment with their teams
Players encouraged to abuse matchmaking in order to play against lower ranked/lower stat teams
Stats/rankings becoming inflated due to playing against newbies and not teams on equal ground (like my own)
Unbalance of units (we tested/balanced in an environment of full teams, never with rank 0 units involved)

and so on.

However, rankings do give the community a lot of positives like

Being able to set goals to overcome (whether it is to reach a higher rank or bring down a top player)
They are the primary way for a player to judge if they are improving or not.
they add to the longevity of the game
they can encourage players to purchase renown (which, lets be honest, is a good thing if we want the devs to continue to make the game awesome)

and of course there are more there too.

Some of the solutions on the table in the forums here either involve cutting out the rankings (which loses out on the positives along with it) or creating new brackets/leagues (which run the risk of being an overly complicated system) So far it seems to me that stoic likes simple solutions. After all, the game itself is simple, yet brilliant.

My solution:

First I would like to ask the devs what they believe the real game of factions should be. If they WANT to see teams of unequal strength facing each other than really, no changes are needed. However due to our beta testing teams that are entirely rank 1 units (as opposed to the current starting rank 0 units), it seems to me that stoic believes the real game to be when one team maxed with promoted units faces off against another team maxed with promoted units. It is here that the units are balanced, and the game is at its most interesting, and players win or lose based on skill.

So, assuming that stoic believes the real game begins when both sides are equally matched with promoted units, I propose that we have a new ranking list that ONLY counts games in which both players had fully promoted teams.

This ranking list would only include matches in which both players had maxed out teams and should be the primary focus of the top players (instead of farming newbies). This means that if I decide to level up a new unit and have a less-than-max team, my games will NOT be on this list. If this list were the primary goal of top players,

It would allow more players to expand their teams with new, rank 0 units without fear of losing their ranking since it would not be reflected on the master list.
It would encourage play vs people of equal strength teams
It would not be inflated by people playing in uneven matches (like myself currently in the existing overall list)


What about the current ranking lists? I do not believe we should toss out the other lists either, because they give stats and goals to new/low level players, along with other positives. The current 'Over-all ranking' may need to be renamed/repurposed, but it is still nice for new players to have some sort of numerical ranking to judge their progress. Perhaps if this really does become the focus, then we would need 'max level only' w:l, streak etc. rankings. But it is still nice to have these lists for non-maxed too, so new players can see how they are doing. I just believe that a player like myself really should not be #1 of the over-all ranking due to having been primarily playing against newbies. That's not earning; that's farming.

Yes, this would mean that when you first start out, you have a long grind ahead of you before you get to play vs the big boys with a full team in a game that matters, but, isn't that a good thing? The vast majority of the incoming public players really do not need to be getting crushed by the experienced beta-ers.

Look at league of legends. When a player first starts out, there is a massive grind before they are at max level and able to play in true ranked matches. It took me weeks and some of my friends years to reach max level. During that grind, a lower level may often find themselves vs a higher level. However, no one complains about that grind because once they reach the max level, they stay there and only the max level really counts. The grind served as a learning process, so that hopefully by the time they reach the ability to play ranked, they will stand a chance. In addition, players who are impatient can purchase boosts to speed up the leveling process, and yet no one complains about league of legends being pay-to-play.

I really feel like our goal should be similar: Let players learn the game as they grind up to a max team. They can purchase renown along the way to speed it up, but the game really does not start until they reach that max. Think the grind is too long?

I chose the grind and had a maxed team in 1 1/2 days.

Yes, I had a lot of free time to do it, but the fact of the matter is, in around 40 games (most were wins, with expert mode on), I had my team and I spent no $$.

Again, no one complains about the league of legends grind or claims that it is pay-to-play, yet on average it takes about 200 wins (but maybe as many as 400-500 games if you lose a lot) to reach max level without paying for boosts. individual games can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour+, now that is a grind. But again, once maxed you really don't even think about the grind because the real game is just beginning! Once at the max level, you can then choose to play ranked games or unranked.

Essentially we could be doing the same. If you want your game to be on the master list of competition, you play with a max team vs another max team (up to stoic if they want to implement a separate matchmaker for such things, right now I am suggesting a list that only records the match if both teams are maxed)

Naturally people who are first starting out do not view the 'endgame' as the full game. They would complain all the more about the grind or pay-to-win. But if we already have people with maxed out teams 2 days into the launch, that grind really should not be the focus. I do not believe stoic should be worried about balancing the grind, rather they should balance the 'real game'. Eventually, everyone will reach the max. When they do, they will finally be on equal (balanced) terms with their opponents. It is only then that their matches really should be counted.

Thanks for reading my heartfelt wall-o-text.

tl;dr: propose a new ranked list of only teams that are maxed level vs other teams of maxed level. If you play a game with a non-maxed team, its not recorded on the list. This list would be the top/primary ranking to strive for and discourage farming of newbies in unbalanced games.

raven2134
02-21-2013, 10:11 AM
I like it...:)

mrpresident
02-21-2013, 11:01 AM
I like the idea of a period where new players don't have to worry about winning and losing, we don't want players to make a first account where they learn the game, and then have to make a second account to reset their W/L ratio and play "for real" this time (on that note it might be a good idea to have annual "seasons" with some stat resets, or something along those lines). And I also agree the game is at its best when both teams have all promoted units.

The biggest issue with the system you propose though is that anytime someone doesn't want a match to "count", they might just throw a base unit on their team for that sole purpose, even if they have other promoted units they could use. For example, you have a new strategy you want to try? Throw a base unit on your team so that if it doesn't work out it doesn't count against your record. Which, while successfully preventing the game from going on your record, playing with a base unit on your team isn't exactly an effective way to test new strategies. I guess you could make it so as soon as a player has 6 promoted units this no longer works, but in that scenario you'd get some weird situations where players may want to stay at 5 promoted units until they feel they're "ready" to have all matches count.

Ideally, there would be a "normal game" and a "ranked game" mode, but stoic doesn't want to split the playerbase. Hopefully, with or without normal/ranked games, having a larger player base will fix the problem. Either by having enough players that we can split normal/ranked games without drastically increasing queue times, or players will simply be able to be matched up against other players of equal builds/# of base units instead of what's happening now.

I know they're planning on making promoted units vs unpromoted units factor into matchmaking much more than they do now. Hopefully they get that in before launch next week.

piotras
02-21-2013, 11:12 AM
Interesting and could work at rank 1. But after introduction of rank 2 and 3 it might take too long for the player to start participating in ranked matches.

The suggestion you mention about involving removal of ranking meant only the general ranking, while making the tourney matches count into the ranked games. I think both ideas have the same premises - rank only the players who are 'ready' and upgraded.

Druski
02-21-2013, 11:15 AM
The biggest issue with the system you propose though is that anytime someone doesn't want a match to "count", they might just throw a base unit on their team for that sole purpose, even if they have other promoted units they could use.

Except that is what the current matchmaker is for. If someone were to play with a base unit, they would/should be matched up against a team who also only has 1 base unit.

The bigger concern is when you do not use a base unit but rather just subtract 1 point from an advanced unit so that you play vs a lower level team while still keeping your advanced units. With this proposal however, if you were to do that and 'cheese' the system, your win would not go up on the 'real' list. So people would not spend much time doing it (I can see it being used for renown farming, but again, this is no different from the current system already in place. You can farm the newbies for needed renown for your main team)

League of legends also has plenty of people who have maxed characters and choose to play vs newbies on new accounts, but again, those games do not really count for either the veteran or the newbie (though sure, the newbies are not really enjoying themselves). Would this system solve that? No. But it certainly would mean that, like league of legends, the vast majority of people want their games to be ranked and count. So they play at max level.

Basically im looking for a solution that is not a total overhaul, nor is overly complex. If there is a max-team-only list/league/ranking, and it is properly presented as the goal for players to strive for, then the majority of people will do so, and play their main games with max teams rather than farming newbies.


Interesting and could work at rank 1. But after introduction of rank 2 and 3 it might take too long for the player to start participating in ranked matches.

Honestly I believe that the devs are trying to balance rank 2/3 abilities with rank 1 due to them costing more WP to use. Yes higher ranked abilities would be more powerful, but they can be used less. If this is true, and the devs believe the higher ranked abilities to be balanced with lower ranks, then I would still have the same rank list, including all ranks 1-3. The goal is to not have base units because those simply cannot be balanced vs classes with abilities

Dysp
02-21-2013, 11:38 AM
I like this distinction. I think for many players, being rated immediately and having a glorious loss-streak recorded can be off-putting. For new players I think the emphasis really should be on gaining kills, and not worrying about winning matches, because hey, they need to learn the game before they'll likely be winning many matches. It grants new players a sort of immunity.

With ranked players changing their lineup to -1 ranked unit, there could just be a switch in place that leaves them in rankings after they've filled up a team. Or, if they are matched against a full team, neither are recorded. Hmm, that does sound trickier to manage properly.

As piotras said, once rank 2 and 3 are in the mix, the issue of mixed teams in ranked matches will re-appear.

I guess the other option would be to remove any sort of rating ladder for normal matches, and just have the ELO rating ranks in tournament mode. For the casual player, losing and having a low leaderboard ranking may be similar to receiving a low mark in school or performance review. They'd be much less motivated to proceed on their own volition if they're receiving straight Fs just because they're new and haven't understood this complicated game.

franknarf
02-21-2013, 11:49 AM
Hi Druski. I think the uneven teams are a temporary issue, thanks to (i) too few players and (ii) Stoic's not having released the build where they redefine team power yet. And if base units are really so much weaker than promoted units (which I agree they are), why not just tweak the power calculations to reflect this? If it works (as I think it will), this would have to be the simplest solution.

Supposing that there is a meaningful way to determine whether a match belongs to the ``real game,''** this sounds like reserving rankings for ``serious matches'' between ``serious players.'' Don't we already have tournaments for this?

EDIT: I also like the idea mrp brought up, of somehow having an early period (say, the first 20 games) in which players are not assigned a ranking. Apparently, this sort of thing is common in Elo systems.

** I really dislike the implication that the rest of the game is a grind.

Druski
02-21-2013, 11:56 AM
With ranked players changing their lineup to -1 ranked unit, there could just be a switch in place that leaves them in rankings after they've filled up a team. Or, if they are matched against a full team, neither are recorded. Hmm, that does sound trickier to manage properly.

As piotras said, once rank 2 and 3 are in the mix, the issue of mixed teams in ranked matches will re-appear.

Basically, the way I am thinking, is if both teams that are matched together are max teams, then it goes on the rank. If you opt to not have a max team, it would not be ranked for either team (and after all, the match maker would be prioritizing putting you with a team who is also not maxed)

As far as the rank 2/3, check my edit in the above post and see if you agree. I feel that if the devs are balancing rank 2/3 abilities with rank 1 based on a higher WP cost, then I am fine having them all together. But again, only if they really are being balanced. If the higher abilities are meant to be a straight increase in unit power, then sure, they would need to be on a different playing field

Arnie
02-21-2013, 11:58 AM
Excellent thread. We have some exciting upcoming update to the system that should clear lots up.
Huzzah!

Druski
02-21-2013, 12:12 PM
** I really dislike the implication that the rest of the game is a grind.
Well, that's why I prefaced the entire proposal with wanting to know the dev's intent. If they feel that the real game is when players are playing with all advanced units and an equal playing field (like how beta was), then yes, the game leading up to that point is a grind, but once that point is reached, the game begins for real.

I pointed out that I completed that 'grind' in less than 2 days and not paying anything. I also pointed out that the most popular free-to-play game on the planet right now (league of legends) also has a grind before the 'real' game, but, that grind takes weeks if not months to complete. Both games also offer ways to pay to speed up the grind, but those boots are meaningless once the max is achieved (and league of legends is not accused of being pay-to-win)

basically I'm asking for people to look to the future of the game. Sure, no one likes to grind, and I imagine everyone complained about it in league of legends too. But look at it now that its been years since its release. The game is going strong, and everyone plays ranked because that's the real game. Here too, eventually everyone will be maxed. When they are, they will want to know that their ranking is vs other maxed players, not vs players who inflated their score by playing against newbies.

The grind really is not that bad, and serves as a learning curve. Also it was fun to play with basic units and get a feel for the more basic roots of the game. At the same time, if the 'real' games count only when you play a max team, then everyone has the same starting line.

franknarf
02-21-2013, 12:20 PM
I get that you're saying it's not a grind unless Stoic want it to be.

I am optimistic that Stoic want the game to be fun at all team-power levels (so that there's no such thing as the grind-vs-real-game dichotomy), seeing as how they are not making TBSF to be a standalone cash cow. I want there to be plenty of players years down the road too, but ... are grindy entry barriers really key to success?

EDIT:

Huzzah!

http://media.steampowered.com/steamcommunity/public/images/avatars/09/09c4b6804914e8af9ed611eff3378276b2b0b1aa.jpg

Janus
02-21-2013, 12:35 PM
Great to hear stoic is on this issue, Arnie! I'm really happy with the openness of the development process and the readiness of the devs to aknowledge problems.

I agree with most of Druski's points. The reason why I suggested a league system is that once higher ranks are unlocked, the "grind" (that word has a terrible sound to it) to a maxed team will be much longer. And even when I have a maxed team, I might want to play some competetive games on lower ranks...

Anyway, let's see how stoic tackles the issue!

raven2134
02-21-2013, 12:42 PM
Some good stuff Stoic has in mind...which I've gotten privy to :). Can't say any more than that. Janus, I think you will worry much less once they finalize if they'll go through with some things :).

mrpresident
02-21-2013, 01:08 PM
http://media.steampowered.com/steamcommunity/public/images/avatars/09/09c4b6804914e8af9ed611eff3378276b2b0b1aa.jpg


This is now the thread's official themesong. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKRCbGdiLLQ)



The bigger concern is when you do not use a base unit but rather just subtract 1 point from an advanced unit so that you play vs a lower level team while still keeping your advanced units.

Stoic's stated they're changing this, I believe they said a promoted unit will be adding +2 to your team's power? So including the additional point that brings the total to +3 points per promoted unit over a base unit? I could be wrong about this, I believe that's what I remember them saying.

This change + a larger matchmaking pool should help the problem significantly. Hopefully one day we can also do normal/ranked play so that those that want to rank up can do so, while those that just want to play for fun/experiment can also do so without worrying about ruining their rank.

Grits
02-21-2013, 10:09 PM
Yeah, I can't wait till they fix that. From what I've heard, they found a perfect solution. Looking forward to it. Glad we found this early. When it was first discovered, it seemed like a strategic move (Or countermove to your sneaky opponents :/) but then it became obvious that it was just broken. I think I might not play until it's updated.