About a week ago we held an online conference with more than a dozen War Robots players with different backgrounds to hear their opinions (as well as those of the player groups they’ve been representing) on the current state of the League system in particular and matchmaking in general. We glanced upon this event in last “This Week in Community” article.
Now it’s time to dissect main points we got from our meeting and also talk a bit about what we’re going to do to address these. Without further ado, let’s start.
Point: Matchmaking didn’t become much more transparent
“Why do I have both Gold and Diamond players in my match? Why do I get matched against squads without any squads in my team?” And so on — such questions keep appearing on and on.
One change we already implemented: now you get matched strictly against players of your respective league. Silver against Silver, Gold against Gold, etc. This rule doesn’t include Diamond and higher though: there’s much less players there, while strength disparity is much lesser, so we allowed ourselves to pit high tier pilots together to lower matchmaking time. Within reasonable limits of course.
Although this change made the system easier to understand we’re not fully satisfied with it. It make the search frames too tight and we want to introduce sliding borders. When this change is live players in Gold league might meet pilots from Silver I or Diamond III — this should make battles both more challenging and more interesting.
Champion league players are experiencing longer queue time than others, so we’ll be adding one little exception for them very soon. After you get past 5000 point bar, you’ll keep earning points the way you did before, but matchmaking-wise rankings will be shrunk to accord high rating disparity. This way we’ll ensure that similarly skilled and equipped players having, say, 6000 and 7000 points will get into same match way faster than before.
Squads are whole another story. It’s obvious that squadded players are much more efficient at achieving their goals than solo players, so matching them against each other should be a big no-no. So next step will be a revision of squad matchmaking rules to ensure that, say, 4-pilot squad is facing a 4-pilot squad, or 3/5 at worst with rating taken into account — everything will be announced in due time.
Point: There’s no way for veterans to play with newer players
Probably it is the biggest issue for people building their clans: before Leagues you could include lower level players in your group without losing much in efficiency. Now you simply cannot because everyone is playing on the same ground. If you squad with someone who has significantly weaker hangar than you, you’re putting your companion (and hence, your whole team) in disadvantage, because he’s facing opponents that are way stronger than him.
Custom match functionality we’re working on is going to address that — partially. With it you’ll be able to create your own match conditions (like, on which map you want to play and how big teams competing should be) and build both teams from scratch. This should provide clans with reliable training grounds, while also opening a new way of hosting team competitions. Custom matches won’t have auto-matchmaking functions though — you’ll have to fill both teams manually with your friends and friends of their friends. At least in the first iteration.
Whether we should open a new League-free environment — that is still up for consideration. We have a new mode coming up mid-summer, where, aside of many other things, we’ll be testing how two separate matchmaking queues will behave. We’ll see what’s next after that.
Point: Rewards for reaching higher Leagues? Not enough
Some players deliberately drop their rating to get to lower leagues with their high-tier hangars. This behaviour is called “tanking” in the community, and is shunned by many. It leads to lesser player base in higher tiers and also skews the disparity between players in leagues from Bronze to Gold.
Once we introduced the so called “leaver queue”, the quality of matches has improved dramatically across all tiers by our statistics. Tankers were put into their own separate realm, where they play with each other.
However, “leaver queue” is more of a band-aid fix rather than full spectrum solution to tanking. Tanking itself is a symptom of a much bigger issue: there isn’t enough incentive to climb higher in leagues other than bragging rights and moderate gold payouts.
What we’re going to do? There was a suggestion to increase silver rewards in higher league matches. Good news: we will add a silver multiplier. No exact timeframes yet, but that is in our plan.
Also unlocking robots and equipment is most likely to be tied to league progression. This feature was planned from the very beginning but with the current state of content it didn’t make much sense — when players can get Lancelot? What to do with robots, which are already spread across different leagues?
But what makes sense is this: the further you advance, the more mechanically intensive and skill-demanding robots and weapons you’ll get your hands on.
Point: Tanking protection is not obvious enough
The leaver queue (or “Leaver Pool” how we call it internally) was implemented in order to improve the gameplay for players who do their very best in each battle and it turned into a sort of a boogeyman for those afraid getting there by mistake. To remove any confusion we plan to introduce proper in-game notifications over the course of the upcoming summer.
Additionally, we’ll be turning leaver queue off for players under level 15. That’ll significantly reduce the chance of new players getting dismantled by high level tankers. To make things even tougher for those who spoil matches for others we will cut the battle rewards and freeze their rating.
Point: The game feels like a job, not a game
Before Leagues you received some silver for damage, some gold for beacons — and proceeded to the next match. No hassle, no strings attached. Not much changed with Leagues introduction aside from one little thing: you CAN lose something when losing — namely league points. It made some players much more anxious to jump into next game. Understandably so.
Most changes we mentioned in previous points will likely help here. Also we’re coming back to the previous post-match league point distribution, where top 2 players from losing team get points instead of losing them. Why? With new distribution we tried to enforce “be a good team player to go higher” idea before introducing proper communication tools to foster teamwork — and it didn’t quite work out. Most people basically stopped moving between divisions, being stuck in one place. Previous distribution did much better job in splitting differently tiered pilots between their respective leagues.
That’s not our final stop though. We’re still looking for better ways to measure player’s contribution and reward it accordingly. Most notably: we’ll start factoring capped beacons into the reward system by this summer.
Point: You cannot play as you want. Only most optimal builds rule
If you want to climb leagues it’s better to play the most powerful robot builds instead of those you consider most fun. And that kind of sucks, we agree.
What may change in this regard is the balance of robots and weapons like it happened with Rogatka. Not only that but we’re also working on the new game mode as we’ve mentioned before and who said that the current metagame will be applicable there.
We probably won’t stop just bumping up the numbers but of course we’ll keep you posted about the changes.
We’ve touched much more than that during the 2 hour meeting, but here we covered specific things that are already in production and will be shipped this summer at latest. Aside of code refactoring part, which of course will take significantly longer.
Later this month we’ll be running a big survey among most of the player base — including those not vocally participating in any War Robots communities. This will help us localize more specific issues and determine what else we’re going to target next. There are many more changes to come.
And for now, let us know what you think.