Noob matchmaker queue

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I can go and put up a custom game with any of the modes and wait hours, and never get a game going.

At least we may have a change when you can queue for several types of game modes at once

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@BlackYps
I fail to see how anyone could argue astro craters is like sim city with a straight face, even allowing for the way in which many people here (as shown on this thread amongst others) seem to look down with disdain on those of us that play such maps (even though they appear to be the most popular types of maps on FAF, at least for custom games). There's more variety in the gameplay on astro than the majority of 1v1 maps on ladder for those not in the highest ratings , where in most cases for ladder it's a case of 'T1 land spam or die' (with having a good APM being far more significant than making good strategic decisions). Perhaps you've just not played enough astro games to appreciate the range of strategies on it (since if you're using your main profile you don't appear to have any games on the map).

I'd have also thought a focus on "the kind of players that faf wants to attract" (in the context of not wanting to attract people who don't like high APM play) very shortsighted. The more people who play faf (in a non-toxic way) the better its longevity/future prospects. Just using myself as an example, while I may play mostly astro I also sometimes play some 1v1 ladder. I doubt I'm the only person who has a favourite style of map such as astro/gap/setons but who also likes to sometimes play other maps or game modes. If all such players were to leave faf because we're 'not the kind of players that faf wants to attract' you get fewer people playing those maps/game mods you approve of such as 1v1 matchmaker.

I also don't understand the logic proposed both here and in the PC election thread for removing the global ranking system. If you had a team of rank 1500s on astro or dual gap against a team of rank 500s (global rating), almost every time the 1500 ranks would crush the 500 ranks. While you may have a greater variance in ability (especially at lower ratings) than with a 1v1 rating, the rating is still a far far better guide to how well someone will play than having no rating at all. Removing the rating just seems like a way of punishing people who are playing maps that don't meet the personal preferences of those suggesting its removal, especially given how bad opti-balance is at balancing a game when you have newer players. As for manually balancing based on knowledge of players, the majority of my games have been from where I've hosted an all welcome lobby, but on average I won't recognise the names of the majority of people who join, and even of those whose names I recognise I'll only know how well some of them play/favoured strategies (there's probably only 4-5 people I could think of off the top of my head where I know how they tend to play and how good that style of play is).

Going back to the OP, while I'd like the idea of an option to play 'lower APM' 1v1 maps (as opposed to currently where I can be given a 1v1 map on a map that's normally seen in the custom lobby as a 3v3 or 4v4 map), and think it would be a more gentle introduction to newer players, if implemented it'd need to be as an option on the existing matchmaker (e.g. you check the box for if you want to play 'new player friendly only' maps, and/or if you're open to playing the full map pool), or else you dilute the number of people on matchmaker even further.

Since as I understand it something a bit like this is meant to happen (I don't think it's working well if it is though), it may be easier to just improve the current system of starting with a small map pool and then adding more complex maps as rating rises.

The 'stone age' mode also sounds like an interesting idea for teaching the gameplay style that's required for 1v1, although I'm not sure how best it would be implemented (if as an option, people may just not choose it and/or it splits the pool of people queuing too much and makes finding games harder; if its as a tutorial mode with AI then people may not be aware of it and/or the AI may not offer enough of a challenge; if it's forced for the first x games then it could put off people who want to experience the full range of options and not be limited to the first tier).

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As an unbiased observer that dislikes both playing 1v1 and astro, I can heartily tell you that 1v1 has massively more variety in tactics than astro. You can quite literally win games by having your garbage player suicide on astro to give you dual base and there is absolutely nothing a dude of equivalent skill can do to catch up to you other than plead with his teammate to donate their base to him.

Yes, this is how I won the last astro I played btw.

Rating removal is predicated on changing the intended use of custom games on FAF and is part of a larger scale motion to shift cultural attitudes. If you make custom games an area for fun script maps and general casual things like ffa or sim mods, it no longer necessitates a rating system.

I really do not like the idea of using mods that artificially restrict the game to acclimate people to, well, the game. If anything people could make noob friendly versions of ladder maps that have things clogging the map up so that it is more comfy to play a la starcraft 2 style. People will argue that players already naturally restrict their game through turtle maps in custom games, but the thing is that they restrict them to get to the cool epic toys that the game shoves in your face in casts and promotional material. This would do the exact opposite and restrict you from accessing those cool toys.

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Imo Astro/gap is a self fulfilling prophecy. People play it because a lot of people play it and therefore you know the game will fill at a reasonable time. That was my experience anyways. I never thought I myself “hey playing Astro crater sounds really fun rn”, instead I though “hey playing a bad map is more fun than lobby sim so I guess I’ll go join that 5/6 Astro game”. Popularity doesn’t imply preference.

What I really want to see, and what would have been really awesome to have when I was just starting to play faf would be a teammate matchmaker where you can queue for team games on lesser played maps. We’re getting close to this now, and I hope enough people will want to queue for it to make it a viable option for new players to learn the game. I think when you have big team games you naturally need to focus on fewer things since as a team you benefit from your allies APM too. So I don’t think that such a matchmaker would also need a simplified map pool.

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@maudlin27
I'm not looking down on Astro players and this is not what this is about.
I wanted to make the point that there will always be wishes to change something and you have to check if these changes fit to the spirit of the rest of the project. Just because some people want does not necessarily make it a good idea.

Having said that, I think it is a good idea to have a casual game queue with fun and quick game modes.

I honestly don't really get this complaint, that ladder maps are "too high apm". Yes there is more to do than you can manage, but there is no apm requirement. Ditching maual reclaim completely and limiting your move orders will enable you to give all important commands with really low apm. If you invest more apm it is because you choose to do so. I understand this is a mental challenge, because it feels like you are losing out on opportunities to gain an advantage, but I am sure that with this method you can easily get 1200+. That is already better than the vast majority of players. The game is stressful because you choose to make it stressful, because you really want to win. But if you consistently play "easy mode" your rating will adjust and you still have 50% winrate.
The only difference I see with astro and crowded teamgames is that there is so little to do that even with low apm there is literally nothing else you could do, so the self-induced stress goes away.
Especially in the beginning you need time to think about what you should do, reducing your apm until you feel overwhelmed even further. I don't think we can realistically create a map pool for a queue that can achieve this, that at the same time creates a competitive environment.

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@FtXCommando Your example is actually a difference in tactics that 1v1 doesn't have available though :p.

I thought I'd have a look at my recent astro and 1v1 ladder games to check I'm not going off faulty memory to illustrate what I mean when playing at my rank (around 800 in 1v1 ladder; 1400 global although opponents ranks will vary wildly due to being all welcome games):
Astro last 5 games - notable tactics used by winning team:

  • Guncom
  • T2 firebase; Sparky drop
  • Com+T1 bomber rush; Monkeylord
  • T1 land raid with range (no dps) com; Early strat; Nuke
  • Range (no dps) com; Mercy snipe; T2 Arti (to counter fatboy); Strat snipe (of SMD) combined with nuke

1v1 last 5 games (winning player):

  • T1 land spam; T1+2 land spam with guncom;
  • T1 land spam with Guncom
  • T1 land spam; T2 turtle (PD, Arti, shield); T3 land spam
  • T1 land spam; T2 firebase;
  • T1 land spam; T2 bomber snipe

I had to go back 8 games to find one where initial T1 land spam wasnt a winning tactic in 1v1, and it's only if T1 land spam isn't enough to win the game outright that the game opens up enough to allow other tactics. My memory of being a new player to 1v1 was also similar (although then the games would end before T2 because I'd usually be the one dying to t1 land spam)

Probably veering a bit off-topic now though. My initial experience of looking for games I wanted to play was also similar to that of Ask-a-holic's - I wanted to play a game, and was tired of waiting (although I was also getting tired of t1 spam), so joined custom games that seemed popular. Initially that was Setons, but I found I didn't like how games would typically go on for a long time, and could be decided a while before actually ending; I tried dual gap briefly, but struggled both due to not having a great CPU at the time and not liking how the large number of players meant what I did had far less of an impact; Then although put off by the look of the astro map I eventually gave it a try.

However, I'm not sure I'd see the 2v2 matchmaker as a good option for a new player wanting to learn the game. From my own experience it involves very long waits (much longer than 1v1), plays very similarly to 1v1, but you've got the added worry of a teammate being more likely to get mad at you for not playing well. By contrast, dual gap shields you from this due to the large number of players, while astro does to a lesser extent by allowing your teammates to easily take over your old base.

I think the casual party game matchmaker idea (linked by harzer earlier in the thread) has more potential for working, even if it wouldn't be the best way of teaching a new player how to play 1v1 ladder, since it could (if it proves popular enough to allow quick matching games) allow variety in game styles, access to a game where people are more likely to be inexperienced (and hence people may be more forgiving of mistakes/learning the game), and sounds like it'd be marketed as a casual option (so again more relaxed/about having fun).

I'd also favour making 1v1 matchmaking more friendly to new players by increasing the extent to which rank determines the maps available. E.g. players with fewer than a certain numbrer of games and/or below a certain rank (not sure on the best thresholds, e.g. 10 games and <=400 rank?) only get 5v5 maps, and those maps are weighted towards ones with fewer lines of attack/more choke points, lower levels of reclaim, and lower levels of expansion (i.e. lower APM maps).

Then as the rank and games goes up, the larger and harder maps start getting added to the pool (more open style maps; more reclaim; more expansion points; navy based maps; larger sized maps, etc.).

That way, new players should have an easier introduction to the play style, and will still need to get to grips with the basics of using t1 land to do well, without being as overwhelmed.

Another point as well to helping the new player experience - at the moment there are tutorials with build orders for specific maps intended presumably to help newer players learn how to play. However, those maps aren't in the ladder pool, meaning they're of significantly less help to a new player starting out (potential solutions being to include the maps in the ladder pool even if just for lower ranks, and/or pick a couple of maps that will always be in the ladder pool and refresh the tutorials for them, although that would involve more work).

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Also it's not true that ladder is 'T1 land spam or die' you can do basically anything in lower ratings if you do it somewhat well. Once when I was around 900 rating my opponent went T2 almost immediatly and utterly crushed me xD

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@ftxcommando We need the rating system because people don't want to play stacked games. They really, really don't. If they didn't care about rating, they would just ignore it. Anyone is free to host a lobby where teams aren't balanced based on rating. Nobody does that and just about nobody would join, if someone did.

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@maudlin27 you claim to see a greater variety of strategies on Astro compared to 1v1 ladder, and it is because of this:

@blackyps said in Noob matchmaker queue:

you can do basically anything in lower ratings if you do it somewhat well.

Generally speaking, high level ladder is played at a much higher level than "high level astro" (if there even is such a thing). The strategies used by top players on ladder are refined and optimized over collectively tens of thousands of hours of experience, and lower level players will seek to emulate those strategies. You see a preponderance of strategies on Astro because it is being played at a much lower level and literally nobody knows what they are doing. If there were top players motivated to play astro as much as ladder, you'd likely see a set of "optimal" strategies emerge, and as lower level players sought to emulate that you'd likely see a decrease in strategic variety.

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I also don't understand the logic proposed both here and in the PC election thread for removing the global ranking system.

I think it makes sense that fun and casual game modes such as Astro crater, FFA, Phantom, etc. are unranked. Imagine those game modes actually contributed to your rating. People would exploit those game modes to gain rating! Imagine being able to host an All Welcome Astro crater lobby, put any 0 rated players (that is, the 1500±1500 player with no experience) on the other team, and have a teammate just give you his eco; if you are a half decent player, you would probably win almost every game and gain a large amount of rating while doing so.

Oh wait—that already happens. I saw this player with 2300 rating a while back, and I wondered who he was. Must have been a great player I somehow missed, so I went through his replays. Turns out, he had played Astro Crater all welcomes exclusively, and every single game had his ally dump him mass for a very fast all-in Czar rush. I don't even think that strategy is particularly good; if you know it's coming, and have 1 teammate give you his eco, it's pretty easy to counter. But he was able to get to 2.3k doing only that. Come to think of it, if I played a ton of all-welcome astro craters, manually stacked the lobbies, and had both my teammates walk at the enemy after giving me an initial set of buildings every game, I could probably get to 2.5k global or more.

It's just an easily exploitable system that decreases the integrity of global rating as a whole. In theory global is already pretty useless for balancing on astro or in general because of how easily exploitable it is, but thankfully right now most people aren't like this guy or Suzuji (who got 3k rating from playing Dual Gap all welcome). In my opinion it's probably better just to keep these unranked so people can actually play for fun, especially since they aren't being played very competitively anyways.

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@BlackYps Fair point, I expect I could get a much better variety in 1v1 with lower APM if I forced myself to play more relaxed and use weaker strategies (by virtue of my rating dropping giving me weaker on average opponents). That said though I'm naturally competitive so find it hard to avoid trying to play as best as I can to win.

@archsimkat Re your point on variety being due to a lower level of play on Astro, while I acknowledge ladder has a far higher skill ceiling than astro, the variety difference isn't simply due to a lower level of play on astro. E.g. For astro if I want a reasonable prospect of winning I'll need to scout my enemy regularly, micro key battles, determine my opponents vulnerabilities and exploit them, and determine how to counter my opponents strategies; by contrast 1v1 ladder most games around my rank my opponent will be doing t1 land spam, and I can do reasonably well initially if I just do t1 land spam (and am likely to do poorly if I don't do t1 land spam), with my strategic options reduced more to thinking where do I send my com and where do I try and raid and/or send my land spam based on where their land spam is.

Re the global ranking, your post actually highlights the value of the ranking system. If someone is consistently winning with a strategy (in this case having a teammate who gifts you your base on astro) then their ranking rises to indicate the strategy/strategies they use are likely to win. People will naturally look at ranking and expect the opposing team to in aggregate have a similar ranking to balance out, and the better the opposing team the less likely such a tactic is to work. People also generally join a game to play it, not gift their stuff to their teammate, so it's likely such a player will play with the same person for alot of those games making that other person's rank also increase (in turn requiring a better opposing team to avoid an unstacked game).

If by contrast you remove the ranking, that 2300 ranked player will appear the same as a low ranked player, allowing them to easily stack the game in their favour, resulting in far more unbalanced games and alot of inconvenience for people that want to play non-stacked games (who now have to resort to outside analytical options on each person that joins the game to figure out how good they are, and if you join the game as the last person or just dont want to spend ages ahead of any game researching your opponents, you're far less likely to realise you're about to waste your time on a stacked game against you). As arma mentions, people don't want to play stacked games, and on average you'll get fewer stacked games with the rating system than without.

E.g. glancing at a few replays of the highest rated astro player I could find (Harper, about 2.2k), in those games with good game quality (90%+) the games didn't appear stacked and Harper won some and lost some. If anything you're at a disadvantage at such a high rank, as there's not much difference between a 1600 player and a 2200 player on astro due to the lower skill ceiling, but there's more of a difference between a 600 rated player and a 1200 rated player.
Contrast this with the few replays I could find with a <50% game quality (there were far less of them), the team of higher ranked players crushed the team of lower ranked players.

All this is showing that the ranking system is a better than nothing guide to avoiding non-stacked games (even if it's not perfect), and also demonstrably not pretty useless (if most low GQ games are won by the high ranked team, and most high GQ games played by someone have them winning some and losing some, I'd say that's useful not useless). Most people don't like games being stacked against them, and I'd also consider it a bad new player experience.

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@arma473 said in Noob matchmaker queue:

@ftxcommando We need the rating system because people don't want to play stacked games. They really, really don't. If they didn't care about rating, they would just ignore it. Anyone is free to host a lobby where teams aren't balanced based on rating. Nobody does that and just about nobody would join, if someone did.

We already don’t rate all the games I just mentioned so I fail to see the point to any of this. There is no real way for FAF to rank ffa unless we homebrew our own MMR system.

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@ftxcommando
FFA literally used to affect rating on FAF, with the winner generally getting a whole lot and the losers each losing some... The wiki even still mentions a little detail about FFA's working with the true skill system... That code should still exist (and not need to be created from scratch).... If you think the amount that FFA's used to affect rating was too extreme, I'd imagine it would take less than an hour to make FFA's give a scaled-down effect on rating (ie: divide the quantity of rating change by the number of players in the game or by a more static value, etc).

PS: I'm not arguing for or against rating FFA's at this time.

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@ftxcommando said in Noob matchmaker queue:

There is no real way for FAF to rank ffa unless we homebrew our own MMR system.

Wasn't TrueSkill made with FFA in mind and even works faster there?

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@ftxcommando Just because a person plays an unrated match doesn't mean they want to get rid of global rating. From what I have seen, the vast majority of unrated matches (with humans vs. humans) are balanced based on people's rating. Even for games involving AI, like survival, the rating is used by the host as information for what the settings should be.

"Rating removal is predicated on changing the intended use of custom games on FAF and is part of a larger scale motion to shift cultural attitudes. If you make custom games an area for fun script maps and general casual things like ffa or sim mods, it no longer necessitates a rating system."

Why do we need to "shift cultural attitudes" away from people playing dual gap or astro? Let the people play.

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Just my two cents as a relatively new (joined 9 months ago) now 1.6k global player:

A large part of what makes our favorite game so fun and rewarding is its complexity. Sadly, this complexity is also one of the biggest hurdles for new players. I mean, even playing sim city is hard!

This complexity is I think what many people misattribute, imo, to "APM". It's not that you need a lot of clicks per second, like in starcraft, it's that you need like two correct clicks per second.

One thing that immensely helped me when starting out was to just copy the build orders and general game plan of better players so that I at least knew what to for the first 10-20 minutes, even if I didn't yet know why.

Not only was I playing semi-competent and fun games fast, it also allowed me to learn the ropes much faster compared to me just "winging it".

This was only possible though because I could choose the same map, and preferably slot, in a custom game.

In general I agree with the slow move from custom games to the matchmaker queue.
It's almost certainly the right direction for the game and its players, even low rated ones, if the "lowest common denominator" game mode becomes a chill 4v4 matchmaking queue.

The thing I'm worried about is the people who, like me, want to reduce the game's complexity via map choice.

If the only way to play ranked multiplayer were to become a 4v4 queue with 6+ maps and randomly assigned slots tomorrow, I would stick around, because by now I have actually learned the fundamentals of the game well enough to adapt.

If that would have been the only way to play 9 months ago, I am skeptical that I wouldn't have just been completely overwhelmed for 5 games and then left, never to come back.

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Yeah, I know FFA was rated. That was terrible. Why are you telling me this?

TrueSkill was developed for Halo 3 multiplayer where an FFA functions like several dozen permutations of 1v1s (players heal up to full hp in like 10 seconds in Halo). You also respawn meaning that the FFA last place is the dude that kills the least amount of people possible over a definite set interval. This is not how an RTS works. Especially one so honed in on the importance of scale like FA.

TrueSkill is not going to work in an rts FFA and you will need to entirely restructure how it reviews games to actually make it even remotely feasible for FFA.

And yes, I literally mean several 1v1s. If you’re 2k and lose to 7 300s walking into your base to com bomb you then as far as TrueSkill is concerned, you just lost 7 1v1s to 7 different 300s. Assuming that you are the first one to die.

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@arma473 said in Noob matchmaker queue:

@ftxcommando Just because a person plays an unrated match doesn't mean they want to get rid of global rating. From what I have seen, the vast majority of unrated matches (with humans vs. humans) are balanced based on people's rating. Even for games involving AI, like survival, the rating is used by the host as information for what the settings should be.

"Rating removal is predicated on changing the intended use of custom games on FAF and is part of a larger scale motion to shift cultural attitudes. If you make custom games an area for fun script maps and general casual things like ffa or sim mods, it no longer necessitates a rating system."

Why do we need to "shift cultural attitudes" away from people playing dual gap or astro? Let the people play.

The first issue isn’t really an issue as it could be solved by some form of showing a player’s ratings in other game modes. If they only play unranked custom games and are 0 then they would be 0 in both of these situations so it’s irrelevant.

There is more to FAF cultural attitude than just playing dual gap or astro. What about the absurdly anal balance farming where people refuse to launch sub 92.279% games. What about the inability to “take a risk” and play with someone that has high sigma. What about the variety of expectations that every subcommunity has on what X rating should play like which creates massive aversion to any transitions between said communities.

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I see, so Halo FFA is more like a lot of 1vs1 in a row.
I don't think ranking FFA would be useful for beginners anyway, it's more of a novelty game mode in RTS games.

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I think that the problem with global rating is that you can not rely on it. Last seton's game I played with ratings all over the place (from 500 to 1700) my air player was 1100, where as the other air player was 1000. I had to take down the first three T3 strategic bombers myself as beach player.

As Tagada mentioned - you have to balance depending on what you know from people. The rating is at times irrelevant. Whether or not it should be removed or hidden is another story - but I personally don't use it to gauge my allies / opponents.

And that is why I don't want to see the ladder maps and / or rating changed. It is one of the most reliable tools to determine whether someone understands the game. Soon there will be more queues (3v3 / 4v4, woop!). A casual queue that has been suggested for alternative game modes like phantom or a survival is already being worked on content-wise by biass, madmax and myself.

And to those that say they have to wait hours on hours in a lobby: you're approach is odd. You can find people by looking at who played map X or Y by checking the replays. Then socialize on discord by just sending them a PM and check if they're up for a game. If they're not, discuss if / when they would be. Maybe you'll meet more people through them. It takes a few minutes, but that way you get to know the community more and you can study / work / do exercises until you're at the agreed time. It is not perfect, but a whole lot better than waiting in a lobby all day.