Grind Intentional Losses

MPQ I previously used a bit of understatement to describe Marvel Puzzle Quest’s match-making algorithm as unfortunate. “Horrible” might still be an understatement. The game pushes towards asynchronous PvP, and the only way to face reasonable opponents is to intentionally, repeatedly lose. This is not a bug or emergent gameplay; this is how the game is actually designed. If you win, you face opponents who also won. If you are good, you will keep getting better opponents until the level-based numerics make it impossible to win against a squad of level 100+ enemies. You can boost your numbers further by buying boosts, and then get harder opponents, and so on until you run out of money and/or go back to intentionally losing.

Because the game is still live, I presume that a fair number of people went with “spend money.” Because the sheep fed into this system cannot stick around long.

This is an improvement over a period of time when the game did something similar in PvE. If you won a fight in a PvE event, all the PvE enemies leveled up. Repeat unto level 200+ in a game where your heroes mostly cap at level 40-85. Imagine that in your MMO: for every monster you kill since you last died, every monster attacking you gets a stacking buff to damage and resistance. Actually, that could be an interesting challenge for instanced content, except that MPQ left it on for all their PvE events for weeks.

: Zubon

8 thoughts on “Grind Intentional Losses

  1. Tesh

    The PvE level scaling still happens. It’s just not quite as strong as it was a couple weeks ago. It’s… bad design, and as simple as those two words sound, it’s a Big Deal in my book. And yet, it’s not all that far removed from autoleveling enemies in something like Morrowind. Of course, I hated it there as well, but some people like it.

    I prefer the old RPG method, where enemies stay at certain levels, and as you get stronger, part of the fun is going back and stomping them into paste for past transgressions.

    *shrug*

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  2. mbp

    I am confused. Surely every PVP match has a winner and a loser. How can it ever be “impossible to win”. Doesn’t somebody win? Surely the people who beat you are themselves moving up to higher levels. I would have thought a system which progresses you up the ladder when you win would eventually stabilise at a point where you win 50% of your matches and lose 50%.

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    1. Zubon Post author

      Someone must win 50% of the time, but that happens in huge swings because the match-making system is subject to manipulation. The description at the link is brief, so perhaps a metaphor?

      Imagine that you are a college team, and your regular season schedule is determined by your performance in pre-season scrimmage matches. If you play harder teams and throw matches during the pre-season, you get to fight high school teams during the main season, with only a few other college teams in your bracket that did the same thing. (See MPQ forum discussions of tanking during Lightning Rounds to see how to do that.)

      A system looking to create good fights would try to pair sheep with sheep and wolves with wolves. By letting serious players time their losses so they can have easier opponents when it matters, MPQ has devised a system that spreads wolves throughout the sheep.

      As a developer, if the wolves are your paying customers, that seems like a pretty good plan in terms of revenue. If you are a casual player rather than a whale, that presents difficulties in playing.

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    2. Zubon Post author

      I will say that the system would work as you expect were it not subject to manipulation and timing. But that is to say putting a firing range in a day care center would work perfectly fine if the children would stop wandering into the line of fire.

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  3. bhagpuss

    I have this memory of playing an MMO once, or maybe I just read about it, where monsters would get more powerful every time they killed a player. I vaguely recall that the idea was for, say, a wolf to become a veteran wolf then a champion wolf (to use GW2′s nomenclature – it certainly wasn’t GW2), eventually becoming the equivalent of a Boss. If the monster ever lost it would respawn in its lowly, base form and the whole cycle would begin over again.

    Anyone remember what MMO that was, or is it something I imagined and now have a false memory of experiencing?

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  4. SynCaine

    I still don’t see a real reason to spend money on this game, as you seem to get plenty of two and three star heroes often, along with the paid currency to expand your roster. I wonder how successful the game is in terms of getting people to spend.

    That aside, the latest event I was actually ranked #1 for a few hours, because for whatever reason the game matched me up with lvl1 people for 4-5 matches (I have a few heroes at 50 and 40, one at 79. Lots of two and three star heroes in the 30s and 40s), so I was able to farm points and wins very quickly, very easily. Of course it caught up and then I was matched against lvl 100+ heroes, and now I’m dropping in rank.

    It’s still a pretty fun game, with a good mix of luck and skill, and doesn’t take too long to make daily progress.

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  5. Tesh

    I still like the game for the core puzzle battle gameplay, but the progression and balance are messed up, and I hate the cover lottery. I see no reason to spend money on it as is, but if they ever make a reasonable single player offline version, I’ll probably buy it.

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