A View From the Road: Matchmaker, Matchmaker...

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A View From the Road: Matchmaker, Matchmaker...

Why would anyone complain about a matchmaking system being too good?

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A great counter-point to Shamus article. I also hope it helps clear some misconceptions about matchmaking.

Because I'm good at star craft and I don't feel like stomping 150 noobs before I get to a level where games are competitive. The noobs won't be happy either.

A few questions. Does the game automatically record replays? Is fog of war present in replays?

Xocrates:
A great counter-point to Shamus article. I also hope it helps clear some misconceptions about matchmaking.

Aye, its nice tro see the different points of view you both have on it.

Certainly got strong points and weak points. It does clear up some sort of views which I had on it

ark123:
Because I'm good at star craft and I don't feel like stomping 150 noobs before I get to a level where games are competitive. The noobs won't be happy either.

That's not how Matchmaking works in Starcraft 2. You play 10 games that will rank you into skill brackets(copper, bronze, platinum, diamond or something along that lines) of people around your level right from the get go. If you continue to dominate or slack in your division you'll be pushed up or down the brackets as needed.

dochmbi:
A few questions. Does the game automatically record replays? Is fog of war present in replays?

Yes for every match a replay file is saved.

No, when watching a replay you have the option of watching from any player's view or from everyones.

Slycne:

ark123:
Because I'm good at star craft and I don't feel like stomping 150 noobs before I get to a level where games are competitive. The noobs won't be happy either.

That's not how Matchmaking works in Starcraft 2. You play 10 games that will rank you into skill brackets(copper, bronze, platinum, diamond or something along that lines) of people around your level right from the get go. If you continue to dominate or slack in your division you'll be pushed up or down the brackets as needed.

Hmm 10 games sounds about right. Okay, I'm in.

Are the saved game files large?

ark123:

Are the saved game files large?

Nope, it's only a record of what happened that the game engine plays back again, not an actual video recording. Looking in my folder they seem to average about 200 KB.

Hmmm, you have good points. I propose a sort of optional mix between john's and Shamus' ideas: the matchmaking is the same, but if you want you can challenge higher or lower ranked opponents. Defeating a higher ranked opponent ranks you up faster, the opposite for a lower ranked one. Like the system in unreal, except it's completely optional and much more tailored to individual skill (maybe you could request matches against specific ranks, to customize it further).

I've noticed this since not too long ago (maybe I'm just blind), but I like the fact that your articles complement and counter each other. I've seen variations on the opening sentence "my colleague dadida.." and "in an article written by wooweewoo..." .. It's nice. It makes the Escapist feel more objective and broadly orientated.

Just wanted to say that.

That's a decent counter-point, however, I've noticed Shamus tends to write articles on exactly what I think of situations, and very rarely has he gotten my opinion wrong.

Sorry, John, Shamus has my opinion again :P

Slycne:

dochmbi:
A few questions. Does the game automatically record replays? Is fog of war present in replays?

Yes for every match a replay file is saved.

No, when watching a replay you have the option of watching from any player's view or from everyones.

See, this is quite cool. Back when I used to play Starcraft and got stomped, I used to just think it was people being better than me and bitching about it - it'd be pretty cool to see where I went wrong (or, more likely, where the other guy went right).

Chipperz:

Slycne:

dochmbi:
A few questions. Does the game automatically record replays? Is fog of war present in replays?

Yes for every match a replay file is saved.

No, when watching a replay you have the option of watching from any player's view or from everyones.

See, this is quite cool. Back when I used to play Starcraft and got stomped, I used to just think it was people being better than me and bitching about it - it'd be pretty cool to see where I went wrong (or, more likely, where the other guy went right).

Even without going into replays - when a match ends you are greeted with a number of stats that compare everything from average minerals unspent to amount of resources invested in your army. Blizzard is making it very easy for people who are not professionals to understand what they did wrong and learn from those mistakes.

yar ranked games shouldnt change if the match making is good. but its still nice to have to option to go random :D

koriantor:
That's a decent counter-point, however, I've noticed Shamus tends to write articles on exactly what I think of situations, and very rarely has he gotten my opinion wrong.

Sorry, John, Shamus has my opinion again :P

That's the thing though, I'm not sure Shamus and I disagree. He's absolutely right that a game based around matchmaking wouldn't work so well if it were a FPS, but StarCraft is a different beast. Besides, there are plenty of OTHER tools if you don't want to use the matchmaker - inducing randomness isn't the optimal solution here.

Shamus:
I think it's a mistake to create a system like the one proposed on Battle.net where you can only play against people of your own skill level. Over time, you'll always win 50% of your matches. If you start to improve, the game will just find you harder opponents. No matter how good you get, you'll still have basically the same experience. There won't be easy or hard games.

Still a very valid point.

The_root_of_all_evil:

Shamus:
I think it's a mistake to create a system like the one proposed on Battle.net where you can only play against people of your own skill level. Over time, you'll always win 50% of your matches. If you start to improve, the game will just find you harder opponents. No matter how good you get, you'll still have basically the same experience. There won't be easy or hard games.

Still a very valid point.

Except it's ignoring the entire custom games that you make with friends or browse from a lobby.

If you play rated games, you should play at your skill level.

Maybe it's me, but this article didn't make a hell of a lot of sense to me... It seems to contradict itself a bit...

So then, if the matchmaking works so well, why change it? Is there something particularly wrong with players feeling exhausted after an intense gaming session? Can't they just, y'know, take a break? On Friday, Shamus Young offered his own take on the issue, raising some very good points about why a system based on matchmaking would have fragmented the community of Unreal Tournament. I can't argue with his conclusions there, but there's one problem: StarCraft II isn't an FPS.

Nor is StarCraft II a fighting game, a racing game, or any other game where playing somebody vastly more skilled than you can actually be a more entertaining experience than playing someone at your level. I completely understand the desire to test your prowess against someone better than you in these genres, but I wouldn't want to apply that same mindset that I have while playing Team Fortress 2 or Street Fighter IV to a game like StarCraft. This has nothing to do with the quality of the games in question; the conventions of their respective genres are just different.

...Why? What's the big difference between Starcraft 2 and TF2? Or BC2? Or Need For Speed Flavor of the Month? A challenge is a challenge... The idea is that challenging people of equal skill ALL the time becomes a bit monotonous. Sometimes it IS fun to face someone weaker, that you'll trample all over, it's an ego boost. Sometimes it IS fun to be pitched against someone who will eat your face before you blink. It's a challenge. Whatever game you're playing isn't relevant to the level of challenge you'll encounter.

A better player than you at SF4 will pose the same problem as a better player than you at TF2, BC2, Fifa20-nextyear, or SC2, or even real life sports, arm wrestling, card playing, or anything of the sort: He's better than you. He forces you to develop and adapt, or perish.

But this part confuses me more:

In TF2 or SF4, losing is a temporary setback at best. Taking a bullet to the face or getting hit by a combo is a minor loss, because you'll respawn a few seconds later and the combo has to end sometime, giving you another shot at things. It's a series of small defeats that leads to a greater loss, but alongside these small defeats come small victories. You feel a sense of pride when you manage to get a kill on the enemy - even if he's outshooting you 10-to-1. It feels good when you finally block that "unbeatable" combo and connect in retaliation.

Ok... This much is true... Not sure how this isn't applicable to SC2, but anyway...

Those minor victories and defeats are present in an evenly matched game of StarCraft, but nine times out of ten, a loss against a clearly superior player is going to involve one quick and decisive slash at your base: One attack, one kill, game over.

...You mean, like in the aforementioned games? 9 times out of 10, the guy that's THAT much better than you will trash you in TF2, or SF4, or anything before you get a chance to do anything. Ever faced a REALLY good sniper, scout, or soldier in TF2? Fight is over before it starts. You either get your head instantly shot off by a sniper, get double tapped with meat shots by a scout circling you before you can do anything, or just get bounced and airshot by a soldier. It's swift, it's decisive and 9 out of 10 times all you can do is watch the train wreck.

The same is applicable to SF4 where a "pro" player will just spend the whole match combo-ing and canceling you to high hell.

Again, what's the big difference between that one shot you manage to score head on in a shooter, or the epic combo breaker you manage to pull, or the one attack on your base you manage to foil, or that one attack you manage to pull off to destroy your enemy's building?

It's harder to learn from constant defeat in a game like StarCraft than in TF2, because the genre deliberately obscures your enemy from view.

Why? If anything I'd argue the exact opposite. As mentioned before in this thread, SC2 gives you a replay file you can watch after without fog of war. You can review it as much as you like and study your enemy's moves step by step. You can literally watch every action he does and how they affect him. You can see the bases he makes, the units he builds, etc, etc.

How is this any different from recording a match in SF4 and studying your enemy's moves? Hell, a game like TF2, or most shooters really, is far less transparent. If you're lucky you can see what your enemy does in the miliseconds right before he plugs you. If you wanna study his strategies you'll need to find him and ask him for a demo/record, or at the very least get a server demo. By default all you get to study are his exact actions before he sends you to the respawn screen.

As for the Matchmaking... I think Greg and Shamus put it best.

John Funk:

If you play rated games, you should play at your skill level.

The reason the "disagreement" seems to be there is that you appear to be saying that "It's right", while Shamus is saying "It's not fun".

Like a lot of these games, I'd rather play for fun than prestige. And the matchmaking as it stands does the old DRM trick of waving that flag for cheaters to try and prosper, while the non-cheaters grind ranks.

What you'll be left with is a hardcore crowd and a casual crowd that will never intermix, and that's bad for a games longevity. Brilliant for competitiveness (if they can keep out the cheaters - and you know people are gearing up for it) but with the tactical play that can already be d/l'd off of YouTube, aren't we building an elite already?

From what seems to be implied, you'll have a similar situation to Eve Online where the giants play their nightmare games while the casuals ignore the ranking completely because the sheer effort to rank will be grinding the same level of play again, and again, and again...

What appears to be happening here is the same as has happened in most MMOs, where the only way to play the game is the official way, and I think that's a sad thing.

But...like I say...it's not for me anyway.

Slycne:

Chipperz:

Slycne:

dochmbi:
A few questions. Does the game automatically record replays? Is fog of war present in replays?

Yes for every match a replay file is saved.

No, when watching a replay you have the option of watching from any player's view or from everyones.

See, this is quite cool. Back when I used to play Starcraft and got stomped, I used to just think it was people being better than me and bitching about it - it'd be pretty cool to see where I went wrong (or, more likely, where the other guy went right).

Even without going into replays - when a match ends you are greeted with a number of stats that compare everything from average minerals unspent to amount of resources invested in your army. Blizzard is making it very easy for people who are not professionals to understand what they did wrong and learn from those mistakes.

Oooh that's cool. The more I hear about it, themore interested I get in Starcraft 2. It may be the first RTS I actually try to do well competitively in. Gotta say, a lot of that is due to the buzz round here, thanks guys :)

It seems to me that the main points of both articles are completely correct and are in fact in agreement when it comes to not increasing the randomness of the matchmaking.

There seem to be to main truths here, the matchmaking system is here to stay because it is the best way to set up "ranked" ladder games (I highly doubt we'll see custom games being "ranked" in any case) and that some players want to base their match-ups on things other than just their skill levels.

The result is the Blizzard should keep it's matchmaking system as tight as is possible AND put some energy in developing their social networking tools. Developing both styles of play to their fullest extent.

Regards,
Jordan

Finally. I am so sick of hearing people whine about the really good matchmaking. If you want to play someone who's way better than you, make a custom map saying "Seeking Gold/Platinum players". It shouldn't take all that long for Obs matches to be reintroduced.

I think it's very easy to forget the simple pleasures of gaming past. This new Western approach of equalising the battlefield is going to decrease the diversity of the gaming experience itself. It reminds me all too easily of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and the complete lack of real challenge or ease in the game because everything levels with you.

Mr Funk, it really comes down to whether you enjoy equal matches or random ones. Some people like equality. Others don't. Some like a chaotic (read: realistic) battlefield, where they will sometimes face geniuses and sometimes other newbies. Others don't. No matter what the developer's approach, except if they get off their butts and provide dedicated servers and private server capabilities for everything, they will alienate half the audience.

More importantly, skill in games is hardly a consistent thing, especially within the lower tiers. People might have an amazing, flawless game on one day, then forget that we need a villager to create a building the next. Humans aren't easy to throw into matches on the basis of "skill level" because we're unpredictable. We try new things constantly, especially before we've found a style that suits us perfectly (for some, no such style is ever found). In this sense, matchmaking is a random process anyway, because it will never adequately match up "equal" players. It is silly to expect perfection from it, so the need for adding a random element to it was indeed dubious - just not for the reasons you thought of.

It's just incorrect to say that RTS games have more reason to have this orderly approach to matchmaking than FPS games do. Yes, you can recover in an FPS, but this can also happen, in higher games, between good players in an RTS. At lower levels, it's true that it's hard to recover and win against a better player, but that doesn't mean that it's not an enjoyable experience to lose spectacularly. There are plenty of masochistic players in the RTS world, and plenty of sadistic ones too, and if you destroy that part of the experience by making them unable to engage with people on a different level, this creates a sense of neutrality to both of these groups, and a loss to the atmospheric idea of how wars really work. Ergo, several layers of enjoyment are lost for these audiences.

For me, this equal matchmaking would make for a very "samey" experience. Part of the fun in the Age of Empires series, Warcraft, and Total Annihilation was in facing opponents who were much better than me. If I had curb-stomped all opponents like I usually did on the N64, then there would have been little point. Even if you cannot see your enemy and thus never learn from your defeats, part of the community fun and atmosphere in competitive play is enjoying the fact that you had your butt handed to you.

You have "bliuzzard" in your tags.

That aside, I have to agree that you want more even matches for competitive events. As long as you're capable of setting up custom matches, it shouldn't be a problem.

The thing that still bugs me is the lack of LAN support. I just see no valid reason for dropping it. If I have to rely on battle.net to play online, I'm probably never going to get Starcraft 2. Anyone who thinks battle.net will be ready to handle the load needs to seek professional help(because you're completely delusional) or has never played a game on any Blizzard server, especially not a battle.net server. I've never played a game on battle.net where lag wasn't a serious issue. Even when I played WoW, lag was an issue and the WoW servers are leagues better than battle.net has ever been. Most of the older battle.net games were supposed to work over dialup but I have 3MBit broadband. I know, it's not the fastest connection but it should be able to handle a dialup game.

Caliostro:

The idea is that challenging people of equal skill ALL the time becomes a bit monotonous. Sometimes it IS fun to face someone weaker, that you'll trample all over, it's an ego boost. Sometimes it IS fun to be pitched against someone who will eat your face before you blink. It's a challenge.

One of the main points being made in this article is that players are free to play against worse or better players all they want using Custom Games, without messing with the ranked matchmaker games.

And I completely agree. The matchmaker is currently great for people who want to always be against someone at their skill level, adding in a chance to be stomped by someone better or to stomp someone else will take away from their experience. Meanwhile, you could keep the matchmaker as strict as it is now and people who want to have the option to play against someone worse or better than them are still free to play in non ranked matches.

I think something to keep in mind is that many people would like to CHOOSE when to play against someone worse or better than them, but there is no choice when it comes to who you are grouped up with in the match maker. If you want to only play against people who are at your level, then the random chance for that to not happen will be annoying. If you want to play against people worse than you, then the matchmaker will only have a random chance at it and will likely be far less successful than looking for noobs in a custom game. Same for trying to play against someone better than you.

There are currently two options that give the best of both worlds. I see no reason to change one in an attempt to partially cater to one group while annoying the other, especially when the group being catered to already has an option that seems to be better than the proposed changes in every way.

Shamus:
I think it's a mistake to create a system like the one proposed on Battle.net where you can only play against people of your own skill level. Over time, you'll always win 50% of your matches. If you start to improve, the game will just find you harder opponents. No matter how good you get, you'll still have basically the same experience. There won't be easy or hard games.

This annoys me. Right here. ^^^^^^^^^^ in case you don't catch the hint. Why?

Because it isn't speaking straight. "There won't be easy or hard games"? This is false, because all the games will be hard to the person playing. The other player is just as likely to beat you as you are to beat them. You will get better when you fight someone who is close to your level, because you will need to tweak your strategy to win.

If I end up fighting an easy opponent, I will stomp him. I will do foolish things that I could never do with a opponent of equal step. I will not learn anything to help myself, I will goof off, because it is so easy for me to win.

If I fight an opponent who is...Lets say more experienced than me, he will stomp me in the ground, and I won't be sure what happened. Yes, I can see how he built and things like that, but then when I try this build, I get stomped by someone who knows it, and counters it quickly, and stomps me again.

I don't have a problem with losing, the problem is that I would have to lose a couple matches before I could learn anything, if I even managed to put up a fight to an experienced player.

With the way it currently sounds, no matter what happens, you will be fighting someone who you have a chance of beating, who you can be sure you will be able to fight somewhat, and learn from your mistakes personally, rather than needing to observe your failure in a replay just to see what went wrong so fast.

The_root_of_all_evil:

John Funk:

If you play rated games, you should play at your skill level.

The reason the "disagreement" seems to be there is that you appear to be saying that "It's right", while Shamus is saying "It's not fun".

Like a lot of these games, I'd rather play for fun than prestige. And the matchmaking as it stands does the old DRM trick of waving that flag for cheaters to try and prosper, while the non-cheaters grind ranks.

What you'll be left with is a hardcore crowd and a casual crowd that will never intermix, and that's bad for a games longevity. Brilliant for competitiveness (if they can keep out the cheaters - and you know people are gearing up for it) but with the tactical play that can already be d/l'd off of YouTube, aren't we building an elite already?

From what seems to be implied, you'll have a similar situation to Eve Online where the giants play their nightmare games while the casuals ignore the ranking completely because the sheer effort to rank will be grinding the same level of play again, and again, and again...

What appears to be happening here is the same as has happened in most MMOs, where the only way to play the game is the official way, and I think that's a sad thing.

But...like I say...it's not for me anyway.

...you really don't seem to understand what the system actually is. How will cheaters prosper? By stomping on newbies in Custom Games where there's no indication of skill and your ladder rank has nothing to do with it?

If you want a random match against whoever, do custom games. That functionality is still there. If you want a good match that's guaranteed to be even, hard-fought, and very challenging - no matter if you're pro, an elite who's studied all of the strategies, or (in Shamus's words) an RTS chimp? - then do the matchmaking.

You don't get any benefit from being higher other than facing better opponents and seeing the number next to your name increase (well, decrease). There's no incentive to "grind" other than what the player puts into it. You're pulling facts out of nowhere.

Good god... again, right now e.g. in the Beta the Matchmaking DOES NOT work "too well", in fact it barely works at all, I dunno why Blizzard would say that... maybe out of the same reason they said a Trilogy is needed. Whenever you click "Find Match" it displays "Looking for Players" in the Top middle of the screen. After about 5-10 seconds it displays "Expanding Search" (this almost always happens), whenever this happens you usually get matched against an opponent that isn't at the same Skill Level as you. There's also an easy way to check this out, if you for example lose too fast/they were too good or if they were too easy just "Add Friend" your opponents at the end and you can see in what Leagues they are playing, I've already got matched against a lot of Silver/Gold and even Platinum people.

Also refer to the thread called "The expanded matchmaking is backfiring": http://forums.battle.net/thread.html?topicId=23767542850&sid=5010

John Funk:
How will cheaters prosper? By stomping on newbies in Custom Games where there's no indication of skill and your ladder rank has nothing to do with it?

That won't be cheating. Strategies like crystal harassing, Mothership rushes are already up on YouTube, so squashing newbs in custom matches is easy.

What I'm talking about is the same cheats that are available in Modern Warfare 2, Diablo or Command and Conquer where the matchmaking system is cheated.

You don't get any benefit from being higher other than facing better opponents and seeing the number next to your name increase (well, decrease). There's no incentive to "grind" other than what the player puts into it.

But the ranking system is based on grinding. As Shamus said, you're always battling against someone as good as you (allegedly), and you'll be spending a large amount of the time just trying to maintain your own rank. (Without the problems of disconnecting/ragequitting)

So, those who want to rise in ranks not only have to constantly fight for survival, but fight constantly, so they don't get left behind.

You're pulling facts out of nowhere.

They're opinions based on the evidence I have. I think Dexter111 has the facts.

Dexter111:
Good god... again, right now e.g. in the Beta the Matchmaking DOES NOT work "too well", in fact it barely works at all, I dunno why Blizzard would say that... maybe out of the same reason they said a Trilogy is needed. Whenever you click "Find Match" it displays "Looking for Players" in the Top middle of the screen. After about 5-10 seconds it displays "Expanding Search" (this almost always happens), whenever this happens you usually get matched against an opponent that isn't at the same Skill Level as you. There's also an easy way to check this out, if you for example lose too fast/they were too good or if they were too easy just "Add Friend" your opponents at the end and you can see in what Leagues they are playing, I've already got matched against a lot of Silver/Gold and even Platinum people.

If anything that seems like an issue with the beta not having as many people, so it's less likely to find players at your exact skill level. The expanded search is obviously meant to go outside your skill range, so claiming it "doesn't work" when that's exactly how it's intended to work seems strange. It searches in your skill level first, then searches outside it if it doesn't find anyone.

I'll check the thread you linked once the forums are back up.

edit: Yeah, I'm not seeing where the matchmaker isn't working... that's exactly how it's intended to work. There aren't a lot of copper league players in beta, so anyone at that level is going to have a hard time finding equal matches. It's a choice between getting in an uneven match or waiting a minute or longer for the someone at your level to show up.

Either way, I'm not too sure this is what the article is talking about.

...make me a match,
Find me a find,
Catch me a catch.

Dammit Funk, now that song is going to be stuck in my head all day.

OT: There is also the problem of facing the exact same opponents over and over again. If you get matched up so precisely and there doesn't happen to be anyone at your "level" then wouldn't you always be in the "oh crap not this guy again" situation?

This is entirely theoretical for me since there won't be any RTS chimps I can play against. But I can see how some imprecision could enhance the experience. You don't ever want a battle where your odds of winning are near zero or near 100% but in a 65/35 match you should easily last long enough to have a game, and by staying in this bracket a while you'll get a chance to get to know people and see yourself improving. If you're locked into 50/50 matches all the time you won't have any appreciable sense of progress. If this is a ladder system then it just means there needs to be a decent space between the steps.

Ehra:
If anything that seems like an issue with the beta not having as many people, so it's less likely to find players at your exact skill level. The expanded search is obviously meant to go outside your skill range, so claiming it "doesn't work" when that's exactly how it's intended to work seems strange. It searches in your skill level first, then searches outside it if it doesn't find anyone.

I'll check the thread you linked once the forums are back up.

edit: Yeah, I'm not seeing where the matchmaker isn't working... that's exactly how it's intended to work. There aren't a lot of copper league players in beta, so anyone at that level is going to have a hard time finding equal matches. It's a choice between getting in an uneven match or waiting a minute or longer for the someone at your level to show up.

Either way, I'm not too sure this is what the article is talking about.

Yes, the Beta has mostly 5000-10000 players online at once on the EU realm, but there's not really a "choice" involved, you can just click "Find Match" and it'll always go into "Expanding Search" after 5 seconds, without a tickbox that you wanna wait more but "matched better" or anything similar.

Dexter111:

Yes, the Beta has mostly 5000-10000 players online at once on the EU realm, but there's not really a "choice" involved, you can just click "Find Match" and it'll always go into "Expanding Search" after 5 seconds, without a tickbox that you wanna wait more but "matched better" or anything similar.

By choice I was talking about it being Blizzard's decision to add expanded search to the game, or leave it out and have people wait a while for matches. But now that you bring it up, an option to turn it off would be nice.

Caliostro:

Again, what's the big difference between that one shot you manage to score head on in a shooter, or the epic combo breaker you manage to pull, or the one attack on your base you manage to foil, or that one attack you manage to pull off to destroy your enemy's building?

It's harder to learn from constant defeat in a game like StarCraft than in TF2, because the genre deliberately obscures your enemy from view.

Why? If anything I'd argue the exact opposite. As mentioned before in this thread, SC2 gives you a replay file you can watch after without fog of war. You can review it as much as you like and study your enemy's moves step by step. You can literally watch every action he does and how they affect him. You can see the bases he makes, the units he builds, etc, etc.

How is this any different from recording a match in SF4 and studying your enemy's moves? Hell, a game like TF2, or most shooters really, is far less transparent. If you're lucky you can see what your enemy does in the miliseconds right before he plugs you. If you wanna study his strategies you'll need to find him and ask him for a demo/record, or at the very least get a server demo. By default all you get to study are his exact actions before he sends you to the respawn screen.

As for the Matchmaking... I think Greg and Shamus put it best.

It's very difficult to explain in words, but from my experience with TF2, SF4, and now StarCraft 2... it's a mistake to think that just because you're playing someone with equal skill, that it isn't intense, and isn't incredibly challenging, because it is. StarCraft 2 is also easily at its best when you're playing someone on your same level. And to be frank, the reason that the "small victories" doesn't apply to SC2 when you're playing someone superior to you is because those small victories will not happen.

You will MAYBE attack his base, you will almost certainly be crushed. Far more likely is that your opponent will steamroll into your base without you building anything more than a handful of the first tier units. Again, it feels like you're never getting to experience the full game in a match like that.

And even the information provided to you by the game can be hard to decipher, because the game itself is so complex. "He built a Vespene Refinery so early on. Why did he do that? I don't understand that at all." You might be able to understand WHAT they do but not why, and it's a lot more arcane than learning why the enemy sniper in TF2 was sitting in that one position right there. (Just ask Jordan).

I've had fun playing people vastly better than me in TF2 and SF4. SC2 feels different, an the only way to really explain that is to have people play it for themselves.

Silva:
I think it's very easy to forget the simple pleasures of gaming past. This new Western approach of equalising the battlefield is going to decrease the diversity of the gaming experience itself. It reminds me all too easily of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and the complete lack of real challenge or ease in the game because everything levels with you.

Mr Funk, it really comes down to whether you enjoy equal matches or random ones. Some people like equality. Others don't. Some like a chaotic (read: realistic) battlefield, where they will sometimes face geniuses and sometimes other newbies. Others don't. No matter what the developer's approach, except if they get off their butts and provide dedicated servers and private server capabilities for everything, they will alienate half the audience.

Being put on an equal playing field does not make the game easy by any stretch of the imagination. "The complete lack of real challenge" is only when you're playing someone worse than you. An equal match is a challenging one. And there IS an element of chaos, because even equal players can screw up, or sometimes your tactic will fool people and others it won't.

RTS games have never used dedicated servers - ever - and you have "private servers" with Custom games. I don't see the hangup there.

More importantly, skill in games is hardly a consistent thing, especially within the lower tiers. People might have an amazing, flawless game on one day, then forget that we need a villager to create a building the next. Humans aren't easy to throw into matches on the basis of "skill level" because we're unpredictable. We try new things constantly, especially before we've found a style that suits us perfectly (for some, no such style is ever found). In this sense, matchmaking is a random process anyway, because it will never adequately match up "equal" players. It is silly to expect perfection from it, so the need for adding a random element to it was indeed dubious - just not for the reasons you thought of.

No, I know this. I know this very well. Obviously, SOMEONE has to win the game, and that tends to result in them just outplaying the opponent. Whether that's through mistakes or luck can vary. But the matchmaker does its best to put people on as much of an even playing field as possible.

For me, this equal matchmaking would make for a very "samey" experience. Part of the fun in the Age of Empires series, Warcraft, and Total Annihilation was in facing opponents who were much better than me. If I had curb-stomped all opponents like I usually did on the N64, then there would have been little point. Even if you cannot see your enemy and thus never learn from your defeats, part of the community fun and atmosphere in competitive play is enjoying the fact that you had your butt handed to you.

Only.. it doesn't. There's nothing "samey" about the experience other than for the most part, almost all of your matches will be challenging. You WILL get your butt handed to you if you don't take it seriously.

Dexter111:
Good god... again, right now e.g. in the Beta the Matchmaking DOES NOT work "too well", in fact it barely works at all, I dunno why Blizzard would say that... maybe out of the same reason they said a Trilogy is needed. Whenever you click "Find Match" it displays "Looking for Players" in the Top middle of the screen. After about 5-10 seconds it displays "Expanding Search" (this almost always happens), whenever this happens you usually get matched against an opponent that isn't at the same Skill Level as you. There's also an easy way to check this out, if you for example lose too fast/they were too good or if they were too easy just "Add Friend" your opponents at the end and you can see in what Leagues they are playing, I've already got matched against a lot of Silver/Gold and even Platinum people.

Also refer to the thread called "The expanded matchmaking is backfiring": http://forums.battle.net/thread.html?topicId=23767542850&sid=5010

Because right now, in beta, they have the matchmaker tuned to get people into a match ASAP rather than get them into the most balanced match. Because they're trying to, y'know, test the actual game. Since there are only ~10,000 people on at once AT MAX, and most of those are playing games, it would take much longer to find a perfectly balanced one.

And it *still* works really well. I've had outliers here and there, especially with the influx of new blood, but for the most part almost all of my matches have been exceptionally close and well balanced, and the same goes for the folks here at Escapist HQ.

The_root_of_all_evil:

What I'm talking about is the same cheats that are available in Modern Warfare 2, Diablo or Command and Conquer where the matchmaking system is cheated.

Which is... how? Throwing matches to lower your rating to stomp on newbs? You can't actually "cheat" without risking getting your game ID banned, you can't make new accounts without buying new copies of the game. If you're just throwing matches to win on newbies, guess what? Your rating will go back up. And then you'll have to throw some more matches.

But the ranking system is based on grinding. As Shamus said, you're always battling against someone as good as you (allegedly), and you'll be spending a large amount of the time just trying to maintain your own rank. (Without the problems of disconnecting/ragequitting)

So, those who want to rise in ranks not only have to constantly fight for survival, but fight constantly, so they don't get left behind.

But ... there's no point to rising in ranks. You don't GET anything out of it. There's no grinding. You're just playing the game like you'd be playing it otherwise. You don't have to do anything differently other than just play the game normally, and if that's your definition of grinding than you and I are on *way* different pages here.

They're opinions based on the evidence I have. I think Dexter111 has the facts.

He doesn't.

Proteus214:
...make me a match,
Find me a find,
Catch me a catch.

Dammit Funk, now that song is going to be stuck in my head all day.

OT: There is also the problem of facing the exact same opponents over and over again. If you get matched up so precisely and there doesn't happen to be anyone at your "level" then wouldn't you always be in the "oh crap not this guy again" situation?

Hasn't been a problem. In a month of beta-ing, I've maybe run into the same team ... ONCE. And it was like at 4 AM. So when there are hundreds of thousands of players on the actual game, it won't be much of a problem.

But even if that did happen; if the game tried to match you up with a group of 100 or so similar-skill players, wouldn't that be the birth of an impromptu community, too? Why couldn't you add them as friends in the game if you had good matches?

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