The Isolation of Random Matchmaking

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The Isolation of Random Matchmaking

StarCraft 2's match-making could leave players out in the cold.

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I got a 404 Error: File Not Found.

Is it working for anyone else?

same here

Edit: All better now

took me three times to get to the article but I read it

I disagree to an extent
I think that you should play anyone who is about three or four levels from you

this way new players wont get their asses handed to them and veterans will still get a challenge

Honestly, I've found that the game is really at its best when you're playing someone at your skill level. When it's evenly matched, and could go either way, it's an incredible - and exhausting - experience.

I see the benefits of letting people kind of skew it one way or the other, though.

I like your argument, very convincing.

Many times I get frustrated in online games because, even in team-based modes, it's every man for himself. The best matches for me are the ones with friends, where we can chat and laugh and actually coordinate our goals.

I have a highly experimental idea. Why not combine the two? There should be a game with both options: matchmaking or specific servers. In Matchmaking you could be paired up with people of your skill level, or you could choose your own server where your community likes to hang out.

Or - new idea - create matchmaking with three different settings: easy (seek out players with lower skill), normal (players with same skill), and hard (players with higher skill). That way you could go for a challenge or wail on noobs. Perhaps there would have to be a limit set for the number of consecutive easy games you could play in...

I never really saw an issue. I tend to avoid RTS games like the plague, unless they have "campaign co-op", so this never hurts me.

And in shooters, see Johnny Gat said in Saint's Row 1.

"Bullets still kill mothafuckas, right?"

Fighting games could DEFINITELY use better match making, though. Dear god. The pain!

I sorta thought that's what the ladder was for back in SC1, if you wanted competitive play, you could always hang out in the Ladder channel and setup games. Granted, it wasn't perfect but it provided some sort of metric. Does SC II even utilize any form of ladder system?

Maybe there just needs to be a secondary matchmaking option that allows open (random) matchmaking as well as a the standard matchmaking efforts. Doesn't really affect me, I only play SC with people I know.

What I don't understand is why not do both?

Sure it would cost a lot of money, but then again this is Blizzard, who most definitly has the money to do this.

No way does the comparison between UT and SC work, because :

1. You can turn your mind half way off and still play at least decent in UT. Playing a "decent" match in SC means you need at least a hundred apms and brain power to keep thinking what and how to proceed next. After a 30 minute match of SC with a opponent on par I, at least, feel a bit tired and if I want to keep playing I probably won`t go for a second helping of brain melting exercise.

2. Playing with far better opponents, especially the way SC2 is evolving, is not going to be any fun because if you have 100 apms and the micro to go with it and you are playing against some Chan Chi Mao dude with 400 apms and direct brain interface to all his units you are not just going to lose, you are going to lose for ever and ever because not all people can play this game the way pros do it.

The idea of getting to know the competition and all that seems nice though.

There is a straightforward solution. Allow lower ranked people to play against higher ranked people if they choose but don't allow higher ranked people to choose to play against lower ranked people.

And of course the higher ranked people would have to allow the lower ranked people to play against them since that would prevent the noobs from "griefing" the pros by wasting their time in a match that doesn't have any rank benefit.

works for FPS well enough but in RTS not so much. as long as they keep the User map settings option ill be happy. i almost never play rank games. ill play the first few games, lose for the first time, and never play it again.

Dont like losing and isnt a competitor. Im the coop against AI guy (yeah i know thats weak sauce) but id rather watch a competitive match than to be in one.

Is the matchmaking the only way to play on Battle.net? Surely you have some sort of friends list, or the ability to create a private game and invite specific players, if you find some sort of group to hang out with. Are you basically looking for a ranking system similar to UT that allows you to join a totally random game, regardless of skill level, even if it has little to no effect on your ranking if you win? It seems like you still have the group aspect of it.

i think it should show you all the matches, say, within 10 levels of you. then you pick a match, then the person you're picking decides yes or no, meaning you could choose to fight someone alot higher, but not you a 30 vs a 5, and it would be engoyable for all.

There's a bit of flaw in the whole argument at the moment, though. Yes, it works for the ladder system, which will be in live, but at the moment that's all we have in the beta. There's going to be more social tools that will allow you to play non-ladder games against anyone of your choice instead of just random people at your skill. Even now, you can still do that to an extent with the friend's list, grouping, and inviting people to your non-ladder games. Live should make it even easier to face good opponents in scrimmage matches, though it will require their consent instead of just "a newbie joining a pro server" as described for UT.

Onyx Oblivion:
I never really saw an issue. I tend to avoid RTS games like the plague, unless they have "campaign co-op", so this never hurts me.

And in shooters, see Johnny Gat said in Saint's Row 1.

"Bullets still kill mothafuckas, right?"

Fighting games could DEFINITELY use better match making, though. Dear god. The pain!

"No! Oh god! OW! NO DON'T! GAH! Wait! Ayane doesn't have a fireball attack! *Gurk*"

Rematch? Y [N]

One thing MM does hold over servers and communitis though - it makes it harder for friends/clans/teams to lure in or roam around and beat up on PUGs.

With regards to the sense of community and continually testing yourself against the same opponents. Once you have been ranked into a skill bracket, those brackets are broken into divisions. It seems that when possible it will match you against these people first, then people in your skill bracket and then move outward as needed.

I would totally back anyone who make a chimpanzee league for terrible Starcraft players such as myself, I severely doubt I'll be much better with the second one.

Meh...
I never really play strategy games online. I tend to stick to multiplayer. So... whatever system Blizzard uses for multiplayer, I'm not going to care so long as the single player is good.

In fact I'm not really sure why I'm posting this...

Idea:
Bring back the "Easy, medium, hard" options and apply them to the ladder. Allow the players to choose what tier they want to face, and thus what challenge they want to have.

I tend to disagree here. Generally speaking the big arguement being made was that not everyone wants to face an endless series of evenly matched, gruelling play. However I feel that if your not interested in that, then you shouldn't be doing competitive online games.

Truthfully I think what is happening is Blizzard is beating around the bush the same way they have with balancing WoW and even Diablo. What they are basically getting at is that it's fun to be a bully, and they feel that if they remove this aspect of the game it will drive away the bullies and griefers who pay their money/buy their products for that experience. You know the guys who pop into message boards or shared vent servers and like to say "hey guess what happened when I met this n00b today....".

At any rate the solution to the problem is very, very simple. All they need to do is create ranked and unranked matches. Be draconian about skill in matches that are ranked. When it comes to unranked matches make it entirely random.

Of course then again part of the problem with this is that a lot of players are going to shun unranked matches.

What's more along with bullying part of the issue is a related point that when "competitive" players play, they want good rankings. So if they wind up in a loss streak in those 50-50 games, they want to be able to be able to smack Newbs around to get the numbers back up enough to a 1337 enough level, something that to me destroys the entire point of rankings.

The bottom line is that Blizzard isn't entire sure if it wants to design a competitive scene with integrity. I think they should, but I do understand their thought processes.

One thing I will mention though is that under no circumstances should Blizzard make it easy to put another player on an "avoid" list. While doing fighting games I found that pretty much every player I beat wound up putting me on "avoid" for unsportsmanlike conduct <WTF?>. I'm not the only one with this problem. You put a system like that into place, and you'll see players simply putting anyone they feel could challenge them in their ranking climbs onto an avoid list.

Onyx Oblivion:
And in shooters, see Johnny Gat said in Saint's Row 1.

"Bullets still kill mothafuckas, right?"

Dude... I... You just got some massive respect points from me, right here. Everyone and their dog has played Saints Row 2, but I have a hard time finding anyone who's played the first one, let alone quotes it!

OT - I welcome anything that forces good players to stay away from me while I'm still trying to learn the game. Battle.net is still the biggest hive of scum on the internet as far as I'm concerned, and it'd be nice to be able to go online and not get a barrage of comments that seem to imply that I'm some kind of "nub" (which I always thought was the bit on the end of a pencil, live and learn I guess) and that they want to have sexual intercourse with my mother which, well, I don't think I could allow because they seem like twats.

If the system somehow forces me to keep playing against players of my skill level (which at this point include hampsters, trees and the clinically dead), I might actually be able to improve slightly.

scifidownbeat:

Perhaps there would have to be a limit set for the number of consecutive easy games you could play in...

Not necessarily; It just always pits you against those who selected "hard".

One thing that equal ranking doesn't take account for is "Those off days". Days when you couldn't catch a cold, never mind beat off a Mothership. On those days, you really want to play at a level you can cope with.

But, if you log on on those days...you're met with an "equal", and you'll get butchered - which means that on the days you're feeling ugh...like with a cold, headache or something where you just want to splurge in front of the screen...it's the worst time to play.

Or on those days just after the school/office when you just want to relax, you're fighting for your life...which is when the ragequits come in.

I can see for skill-building that an equal match is gonna be a godsend, but sometimes you just wanna kick back and kick butt, without...Oh crap...there's a bloody Zergling swarm coming.

I disagree.

While I agree that you learn something from pitting you self against a more skilled opponent, I have a hard time imagining that I'd learn much from being crushed by some super pro guy before I have even build my vespene gas refinery.

Competing against someone slightly more skilled, certainly that will be a learning experience.
Competing against someone who could beat me blindfolded... not so much.

So quite frankly I think this matching system is a good idea as long as I can set up matches with friends as well.

Dorkmaster Flek:
Is the matchmaking the only way to play on Battle.net? Surely you have some sort of friends list, or the ability to create a private game and invite specific players, if you find some sort of group to hang out with. Are you basically looking for a ranking system similar to UT that allows you to join a totally random game, regardless of skill level, even if it has little to no effect on your ranking if you win? It seems like you still have the group aspect of it.

There are custom games, you can easily set up a party with friends and just play games together - or join as teams. It works really well.

Therumancer:
I tend to disagree here. Generally speaking the big arguement being made was that not everyone wants to face an endless series of evenly matched, gruelling play. However I feel that if your not interested in that, then you shouldn't be doing competitive online games.

Truthfully I think what is happening is Blizzard is beating around the bush the same way they have with balancing WoW and even Diablo. What they are basically getting at is that it's fun to be a bully, and they feel that if they remove this aspect of the game it will drive away the bullies and griefers who pay their money/buy their products for that experience. You know the guys who pop into message boards or shared vent servers and like to say "hey guess what happened when I met this n00b today....".

At any rate the solution to the problem is very, very simple. All they need to do is create ranked and unranked matches. Be draconian about skill in matches that are ranked. When it comes to unranked matches make it entirely random.

Of course then again part of the problem with this is that a lot of players are going to shun unranked matches.

What's more along with bullying part of the issue is a related point that when "competitive" players play, they want good rankings. So if they wind up in a loss streak in those 50-50 games, they want to be able to be able to smack Newbs around to get the numbers back up enough to a 1337 enough level, something that to me destroys the entire point of rankings.

The bottom line is that Blizzard isn't entire sure if it wants to design a competitive scene with integrity. I think they should, but I do understand their thought processes.

One thing I will mention though is that under no circumstances should Blizzard make it easy to put another player on an "avoid" list. While doing fighting games I found that pretty much every player I beat wound up putting me on "avoid" for unsportsmanlike conduct <WTF?>. I'm not the only one with this problem. You put a system like that into place, and you'll see players simply putting anyone they feel could challenge them in their ranking climbs onto an avoid list.

Ranked = ladder. Unranked = the custom games section? Kinda, anyway. Or, just play in a bracket you don't care about, like FFA or the like :P

I know no-one likes being talked at, so I'll try and keep any criticism as nice as I can

With my limited time with the starcraft 2 beta, I have been mightily impressed at its ability to match me with players who definitely can offer me a challenge, while still giving me a chance to beat them. The game seeds players in their respective leagues by giving you 5 throwaway practice matches and then 10 placement matches. I liked this introduction as it gave me comfort to know that if I lost in a practice match, It was purely a learning experience and if I lost a placement match it just meant I shouldn't be playing someone of that calibre anyway.

While many players will certainly see their score as the major thing to take away from their matches, people forget the real fun comes from playing the game. The game will never be more fun than that one time you lost your whole base and rebuilt on the other side of the map before your opponent realised where you were, or that time when you killed your opponents whole army only to have him hold you off for ten minutes with whatever units he could make as you slowly ate away at his base, until he... and so on.

The most satisfying matches are the ones you have to fight for, the ranking of your opponent is the arbitrary factor, how a game plays out is the real reward and the matchmaking system is set up to more or less deliver that chance of an awesome win or loss.

I'm a mid level player with a some talent for RTS games but I do have one thing to say to all the people here putting themselves in hamster class.
Pretty much everyone I know puts themselves in that class, even when they shouldn't. People who don't visit the forums, who never set out to master the game, and who consistently underrate themselves. I'm confident that come Starcraft 2 there'll be a massive amount of people who find all the parts of the game as difficult or easy as you do. Especially the cuddly fluffy wheel-runners :3

The main problem with RTS games is that they are tiring unless you hold back, but the main problem people seem to state is that no-one out there could possibly be as bad, as slow, as unaware as they are (I've been talking to a lot of my gamer friends recently about SC2 because of the beta, and while plenty are keen to try, I must have heard every excuse in the book). It's sad that a simple matter of self-confidence is what keeps some people away from a type of gaming that is as much fun (to me) as single player campaigns, fps servers, adventure games, fighting games, turn based strategies, third person action/adventures and the like.

Just to be clear, I of course realise that online RTS gaming is not for everyone.

One of the best parts about returning to that Unreal server is that it gets you in your comfort zone. You know what to expect from the players on that server and that can never come when you play matchmaking. The only way to be comfortable in matchmaking is to expect an evenly matched game, and pray it all works out in the end.

tl;dr: The greatest thing people lack when they play RTS games is confidence. So many people will be dabbling with SC2 that it'll be worth checking out if you think you might like it. Oh and a fun match is what matters, not what your opponents record is.

I think its a great system, from what I've heard. It stops people just squashing noobs all day. This does more than just pad stats for bullies, it alienates new players. I imagine there are a lot of people who tried RTS, got repeatedly crushed by someone with "uber micro" and never went back.

I don't mind losing if I have a fighting chance.

You have custom matches if you want to try new strategies or relax and mess around. Leave the new kids to learn and develope without smashing their confidence.

Have any of you guys played Dawn of War 1? You know, the one with the good multiplayer.

It had a "autoplay" feature that was almost completely unused after the population of players began to decrease. So instead I'd join a game and have everyone's record's available to everyone else. The autoplay games affected a ladder score (ripped right out of starcraft 1) and "custom" games just affected your win-loss record. That game obviously had a population that was tiny compared to what SC2 will have, but the custom matches actually worked fairly well. Even with cripplingly bad community tools I still met a bunch of decent players who I'd have a great time playing with. It was pretty frustrating early on though. A new account meant playing some terribly crappy games for a couple of weeks until I got enough wins for the big boys to let me participate.

So basically what I'm saying is that the custom-game approach can certainly work for RTSs as well (note though that DoW games are a LOT faster than SC games...)

That being said I don't have any trouble with auto-matching as the main game assignment system. I understand that sometimes it would be nice to force a really difficult game, but if you're not being challenged by the auto-matches then it won't be all that long until you're automatching against the pros all the time. As long as the ranking system is pretty accurate (i.e. more complex than just wins and losses) and as long as I have the option to play some custom match-ups on the side that aren't ranked at all, I'm happy :)

Lets face it I'll just be happy as soon as I get to play that darn game. Blizzard saw fit to ignore all of my emails promising bribes for beta status. The jerks.

I think they really should have a way for people to join specific "areas" like a chat room or lobby or such that can be created by players and altered to there whim. This will encourage community and group behavior. I also feel that players should be allow to pick their game, (so they can play with people they know), but I also think the random matchmaker should still be included. Random matches will thrust people into a different environment with new people and force them to interact. Combined with other groups, it will also bring together people of diverse interest and introduce new people to existing groups. On top of that some poor smucks, like me, don't have friends and don't relate to people well so being with random people will diffuse the tension of walking into a room where you don't belong, nobody belongs in a random game.

I have the felling in the pit of my gut that I'm going to need an opponent with an IQ equal to shoe size to have a fair match too. I like Starcraft but suck at it so very much.

You, sir, struck just about every point I was looking at when I read that Starcraft II was too good at matchmaking.

Randomly fighting an opponent who can wipe the floor with me, after I just won a hard fought match? What did I screw up?

I'll never know, because the game just decided to throw a random superstar at me, then made them vanish.

I would love to see some clans on there. I sometimes feel like playing a professional game....but a lot of the time I like to be a little bit crazy. I'll try just using a lot of DTs to destroy my enemy's willingness to move out of their base. Or, I'll just make a huge, basic army. It would be fun if I was in I could hang with a group who would just try random strategies that would normally fall flat on their faces.

But alas...I am hopelessly convinced that Starcraft has become a game of professionals. And in the game of professionals, I am just a bump in the road.

Killerbunny001:
No way does the comparison between UT and SC work, because :

1. You can turn your mind half way off and still play at least decent in UT. Playing a "decent" match in SC means you need at least a hundred apms and brain power to keep thinking what and how to proceed next. After a 30 minute match of SC with a opponent on par I, at least, feel a bit tired and if I want to keep playing I probably won`t go for a second helping of brain melting exercise.

2. Playing with far better opponents, especially the way SC2 is evolving, is not going to be any fun because if you have 100 apms and the micro to go with it and you are playing against some Chan Chi Mao dude with 400 apms and direct brain interface to all his units you are not just going to lose, you are going to lose for ever and ever because not all people can play this game the way pros do it.

The idea of getting to know the competition and all that seems nice though.

From what I've read about shamus playing UT, he puts at least as much thought into playing an FPS as an RTS. Just because some people play purely on instincts doesn't mean everyone does.

Shamus Young:
Experienced Points: The Isolation of Random Matchmaking

StarCraft 2's match-making could leave players out in the cold.

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Have you written about difficulty levels like this before? The five skill levels of gaming thing seems to ring a bell...
I think if i'm seeing recurring topics come up from reading nearly your entire archives... I probably need to find something better to do with my time too.

An excellent article. I have a general sense of unease about the matchmaking system, and I think this clarifies why - and extrapolates.

Then again, maybe I'm just mad because Battle.net will never be able to find a suitable StarCraft opponent at my level unless Blizzard lifts their strict "no chimpanzees" policy.

I feel the same. I love RTS. I grew up on it. But I'm simply terrible at it. I'll play with you. :D

Haywire:
I'm a mid level player with a some talent for RTS games but I do have one thing to say to all the people here putting themselves in hamster class.
Pretty much everyone I know puts themselves in that class, even when they shouldn't. People who don't visit the forums, who never set out to master the game, and who consistently underrate themselves. I'm confident that come Starcraft 2 there'll be a massive amount of people who find all the parts of the game as difficult or easy as you do. Especially the cuddly fluffy wheel-runners :3

While embarrassing to admit, when I confess a lack of proficiency with RTS games, it's a statement made from experience rather than intimidation.

I cannot remember having ever won a match of Starcraft. Against anyone. Not in the regular game. Sure it's possible I'm forgetting a win somewhere, but I think I'm getting the point across.

I often can't beat the computer on low difficulty settings in regular game modes. >.>

Basically I'm good/great at micromanagement - I can be fairly successful with a small group of units against a larger force - but I'm terrible at big picture, base progression, infrastructure...basically everything else involved in most RTS games. Starcraft doesn't work if you play it as though it were Dawn of War 2 or Myth where there's no base to worry about, just the guys you have from the start and some limited reinforcements later on.

Just a counterpoint that some of us who provide extremely modest self-critiques of our RTS abilities...um...aren't actually being modest. We're being honest. x.x;

That said, I enjoyed Starcraft's single-player campaigns which weren't designed as equal base-building competitive engagements. There was a set of objectives to complete and strategies to employ against whatever encampment the AI had to start out and little hero units (which I abused horribly - see above on small group management) that make things significantly different from straight up multiplayer matches. I had fun replaying some maps just to build the base differently and set up lots of defensive structures and take my time strip-mining the whole map. All kinds of random stuff...just none of it useful for competing against other players who knew what they were doing. Oh well. Fun is fun.

Still probably not picking up the sequel, though. No real use for it.

I've been put together with people 2-3 leagues above me, so I don't know how it doesn't have the "random component", I know this because I've added some of them to friends after playing with or against them and they were in the Silver and Gold ladder...

Might just be that there are only several thousand people in the Beta though and I'd just have to wait that much more if it doesn't do that.

Oh yes, for people that probably don't know what I'm talking about:

StarCraft 2 has a Ladder-System, they go as follows: Copper, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum (and Pro), each Ladder is split into several "Divisions" with a group of 40+ people around the same level you are you can compare to while playing against people (mostly) in the same ladder e.g. Bronze oder Silver or wherever you got placed after playing the initial 10 "placement matches" against random people.

There's different ladders too, 1on1 obviously, 2on2, FFA (Free For All) 3on3 and 4on4 (the last two aren't available in Beta). You can also form a "party" and play with someone you know and you get into some sort of "team ladder" where you either play against other teams or 2 random people, in each of these you first have to do 10 "placement matches" for the game to gauge your skill level.

There's also an Option for "Custom" games, where you can open a lobby, invite friends or "Open" the Lobby and wait for people to join. But right now playing through the Ladder is a lot more Effective cause you just have to klick "Find Match" and it does it, in Custom games you have to either invite or wait for people (that might never come). There's also no Chat-System where you can set up matches or Game/Server-Browser like in WarCraft 3 just yet.

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