Matchmaking

I have played a bit more Overwatch, and the only time the matchmaker seems to put me in a game with even levels is weekend prime time. As I mentioned earlier, either I am good enough to get matched with players 200 levels above me, they are just that bad despite time spent, or the matchmaker algorithm is just saying, “Sure, this is fine, why not?”

This post from Jeff Kaplan has a lot going on. There is a very good bit here and a “eh, whattya gonna do” bit, where the latter is frustratingly fair.

If I were to summarize match results into 5 broad buckets it would be these:

  1. My team won. We beat the other team by a long shot.
  2. My team barely won.
  3. My team barely lost.
  4. My team lost. We lost by a long shot. It wasn’t even close
  5. It was a broken match somehow. Maybe someone disconnected, was screwing around or we played with fewer than 12 people.

(of course there are more cases than this – I am overly simplifying here)
Most players will say that they want a match to be either type 2 or type 3 as I described above. Those sound even. Barely win or barely lose. But I believe when psychology comes into play, most players actually expect type 1 or type 2 to be the result. Even an amazingly close type 3 match can turn into a highly negative experience for a lot of players. And if you keep “barely losing” it’s not a very fun night. Winning is fun and good. Losing is less fun than winning.
So waiting a really long time to lose by a long shot is obviously not good. But waiting a really long time to barely lose is also a negative experience. And if we assume that your chances of winning are 50%, that means that even waiting a really long time for a “better” match means that you’re going to wait a really long time to probably lose half the time…

There are some rather good insights here.

First, we say we want 2 or 3 (a good fight), but in practice we want 1 or 2 (to win). 2 is always good, but all things being equal, most people prefer 1 (big win) to 3 (narrow loss). And we all like to think we are above average and should win more than 50% of the time, even though perfect matchmaking would lead to 50% 2s and 50% 3s.

Second, most people will feel bad about a 3 or 4 and good about a 1 or 2. Despite our ideal of wanting 2 or 3, many (most?) people would probably rate a 3 about the same as a 4 in terms of how much fun they had. Winning is more fun.

Third, given that, the matchmaker really does say, “Sure this is fine, why not?” Because there is no perfect game for you once all things are factored in, and if it were perfect you would have a 50% chance, so why try to wait several minutes to find that perfect game when odds are you are not going to find it any more fun? And you still have multi-minute waits, so how much longer do you want to wait way outside prime time?

There are other good thoughts in that post, like how many random variables there are in the game, notably if you are a highly ranked player because you are a great tank and you feel like playing a sniper tonight. Most of my ranking must be based on playing support, but I don’t always want to play support. Overwatch is probably worse for that than other games; having a couple dozen classes to play introduces more noise.

But again, players like shiny, noisy, and random. Most people would be unhappy with a game where the more skilled player won 100% of the time. You are not the most skilled player out there.

: Zubon

Heroes Alive?

Friends at a LAN party were hitting Heroes of the Storm hard, so I joined them. Quick version: it is still a weak LoL clone that replaces the toxic community with one that is silent. It is hard to tell whether the skill ceiling is that low or players are just that casual and disengaged. When you play support frequently, you really get a sense of how random folks can be.

I assume it still has a significant playerbase? I have found multi-minute wait times for quick play, which to me would imply “dying,” but maybe my account is at a weird point in the population density.

Overwatch feels similar, a shiny but somewhat clumsy TF2. Again the silent community and surprisingly long wait times. I assume the latter are not caused by my account level; I assume there is no matchmaking at all, given that I will end up in games with level 100+ pre-made groups, despite being relatively new.

Blizzard codified the trope of “soloing together,” and this is what it looks like in a team game. On the other hand, if you can get a few people working together, that will wipe the map. Fish, barrel.

: Zubon

Differing Perspectives

Blizzard has announced Overwatch, a sci fi FPS. I’m not sure how you do Overwatch:TF2 :: WoW:EQ, given that TF2 is already a cartoony FPS minus the parts you hate, but let’s not dwell on that.

Our friend Keen says it will almost assuredly be something he’ll enjoy, but he’s a bit grumpy about it.

Our friend SynCaine is just grumbling about interns and “where’s the real Blizzard?”

And that’s not unfair. Is the current Blizzard “the real” Blizzard? I played Torchlight instead of Diablo III largely under the premise that the key people behind Diablo II made Torchlight as the spiritual successor, and Diablo III went in a bit different direction in terms of many game design decisions. Hasn’t WoW had something like 100% turnover? How much developer continuity do we have from WC3 to SC2 to WC4?

There is something to be said for perpetuating corporate culture so that the company can be consistent even if the staffing differs. I just don’t know.

: Zubon