Generally speaking, everybody likes the rating system and the game quality indicator as defined by people preferring to keep it or change it than simply play without it. It's not perfect, but it is good. One of the weaknesses of the game quality indicator is that it seems to underweight teams with a large rating difference. For example in 2v2 TMM, a 500 and a 1500 will generally lose against two 1000s significantly more often than the other way around. I propose a novel solution to this problem and a general issue to team balancing: Handicaps and bonuses.
Let's assume that the game intends to balance everybody to 1,000 rating. Players below a rating would be assigned an in-game bonus (perhaps +build speed and +resource generation) to bring them up to the same strength as a 1,000 rating player. Likewise, players rated over 1,000 rating would have a similar penalty to make them about as capable as a 1,000 rating.
This would solve two problems:
1- All games with equal numbers of players on each team would be balanced because, with handicaps/bonuses applied, all players would be approximately equal strength (~1,000 rating).
2- By removing the game quality indicator, the aforementioned issue with high rating differences between same-team players causing the game quality indicator to be inaccurate would be removed.
Here is a suggestion of specific mechanics for the balance/handicap:
- Possible target rating (raise/lower all players to this rating): 1,000
- Possible bonus attribute: Build speed and energy/mass production for all units
- Possible bonus degree: 5% per 100 rating, multiplicative.
- Possible effect of win/loss on rating: Same as before
Example 1v1 match under handicap system: 800 player fights a 2000 player. 800 player receives (1.05)^2 multiplier (1.1025)bonus to all mass and energy production and all build power. The 200 receives a (0.95)^10 multiplier (0.59874) penalty to all mass and energy production and all build power.
Potential downsides to a handicap system:
- May not be suitable for tournament environments
- May disrupt gameplay intuition (8 minutes may be a standard high-skill strat bomber on Setons. A handicap in build time could lower this time.)
Potential alternative handicaps aside from build time/resource generation:
- Health and damage bonuses/penalties
- Vision and radar bonuses/penalties
- Deflection chance (For every hit received, 1 in X chance it does no damage.)
- Starting with pre-built bases
In closing, I encourage people to consider the idea in the above idea not as a replacement for game quality indicator, but as an alternative option that hosts may select in custom games or may be used in TMM.