Why FAF competitive scene is dying

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Why FAF competitive scene is dying

Postby Petricpwnz » 04 Dec 2017, 11:11

If you are an FAF official or a developer or a top player or just a person interested in the high level scene I highly suggest you don't get scared by my wall of text and read through all of it carefully.

Hi, I'm here to raise an important topic, you guessed it, it's the current state of FAF comptetitive spirit.
If you don't know who I am (stop living under a rock), you can see my current FAF name listed. I've been a top player since 2013 and have seen FAF progress and regress in many aspects and unfortunately competitive scene is something that is consistently getting worse.
With some research and personal observations I will dive into the roots of this problem and touch on various topics related.

So what is this about? Well over the years we recieved enough statistical data suggesting that overall FAF playerbase is not declining and with the exclusion of the infamous server switch that broke the universe it's mostly growing. But when we break the playerbase into different bands based on their skill I see two trends that only keep growing over the years. Good players play less and less 1v1, including ladder, and good players play more of the alternative game types, mostly "meme" games. Why that? That I will discuss later by stating various problems we currently have, but first why does this even matter?

- You lose a solid part of your potential new playerbase. Some people join FAF to just chill with friends, some people join to discover the depth and beauty of complex gameplay FA offers. But when they sort the replay vault by 2000+ rating and see 50 survival games mixed with 50 sentons games (half of which are giebs all welcome) that does not exactly show a healthy competitive scene, nor does it offer any research/entertaiment content for someone who wants to get good at this game. Some players just quit early, some stay but never really get good.
And lack of new good players makes old good players bored. Lack of high level replays makes people who like to watch them bored. It's a vicious cycle that snowballs in on itself and if not shown some love and care it will reach the point where it's not savable, which I think we are VERY close to.

- You lose on the quality of balance. Yes I know you can do good balance job purely from numbers' perspective without being a top player, but you miss a lot of things if you don't have their perspective or can't play in your head all the possible abuses that will work in an even top level match.

- This puts community into a bad perspective. Even if a person is not interested in improving to high level of play a huge portion of playerbase watches casts and replays. It is mesmerizing to watch two players play at their peak squeezing maximum out of the game and coming up with crazy things if the game turns opponent's way. Not surprisingly most known players in the community are those who consistently crush their opponenents in casts and make minimal amount of mistakes. There is less and less of that, partially because we don't have anyone seriously covering high level scene exclusively (R.I.P TA), partially because we don't have good enough supply of replays for that. Again two things that go together and they are in the current situation because they were not cared for when they were still salvageable.

- You lose a big chunk of your most active part of the playerbase. Non-coincidentally top players are often the most active in any given community, whatever you might think they really love the game and deeply care for it, no sane person would invest brainpower and time into getting good at something they don't enjoy. A person like that won't quit on a whim unlike many new guys, and you should value that when making relevant community decisions.


Now that I've explained why this is an important topic, let's list the problems starting with those we have no or limited control over.
-Players move on with their lives. Understandable thing, maybe they found new game that inspired them, maybe they got a job or a kid. While none of these reasons alone is strong enough to force a player to retire with certainty, building up on things we can control they become deal-breakers.

-Age of the game. This affects the flow of new people, game is old and unless some Jesus comes out with FA ported on a modern engine no wagon of fresh players is going to appear no matter how hard we try to advertise.

-Personal issues. This can include any variety of minorities being screwed over. If you are in some small % of people who absolutely can't stand playing 20x20 maps but ladder pool wont remove them there is nothing you can do but play something else. Or quit. FYI I myself quit FAF once, as I thought forever, after implementation of engymod and other things I already forgot, but rejoined a month later after recieving a PM saying zep is no longer running FAF and we will have a fresh start(k a p p a).

Clearly we can't completely control what people do or what they want. But it's wrong to assume that nothing can be done at all and let the situation rot as it is.
So what are the things we have some control over and can improve on?
Let's list main motivators for a person to become good:
-They don't like to lose.
-They are perfectionists and want to master the game, not striving to improve is simply an alient concept to them.
-They want to reach some milestone, e.g. getting higher rating than their friend.
-They want to be recognised in the community, play with other top players or get casted.
-They want a shot at tournament awards.

What can be done:
1. Rewarding being good. There are 2 ways of rewarding people for being good. Recognition and tourney prizes. At the moment there is close to nothing you gain from being a good player.
- Recognition. We had divisions but those were scrapped and nothing was heard ever since. Rating is obfuscated by some magical "hover over this weird box next to your name" instead of being displayed directly in said box. Original FAF website actually had a cool section displaying top 5 ladder players right on the front page. Yes, we have leaderboards, yet I'm being amazed by how many people ask things like "who are good players to watch replays?" or "who is the best player on FAF?". Having not faulty rating would also help greatly (more on this later).
Some I'm sure are not easy to do, but some others are definitely worth the effort.
Another idea: Top level news feed/featured replay. Coding-required version: In the replay online vault, add a header with fixed positioning featuring one replay picked by some assigned person(s), changed with loose frequency from few days to a month. Here is a sketch of how it would look.
Spoiler: show
Image

Non-coding version: This would require more work in the long run. Run a news feed for whats going on on high level, showcase interesting replays, put in some taunting, make winning a good 1v1 game vs a strong opponent feel like a rewarding achievement. If you think it's a double-edged sword because together with showcasing a winner you will also show a loser you are wrong, good players play competitively to win and take publicity as a great motivator to improve in case they lose. Instead of just doing announcements for tourneys where good players play, make announcements for the results and highlights with links to various livestream recordings of casting and if players streamed themselves, their POV recordings.
- Tourneys and tourney prizes. At the moment competitive scene is only alive in tournaments, it's the only place good players still more or less consistently play and the only place their games get casted. But here is a fact, all tournaments are hosted by random community members who are willing to contribute their time/money or both for which I'm thankful. Discrepancy arises when we look at how FAF is being run. While we have been trending ourselves as a community project we do have "official" positions with hopefully official responsibilities.
Idea: Run official tournaments hosted by FAF "officials", as I have heard from previous dev calls FAF does have an excess in donation income and Sheeo already suggested putting it into the tournament scene. Official tournaments hosted maybe monthly would greatly improve tournament consistency and general activity. Currently tournament overseeing is kind being done by the player councillor so it's an appropriate job. If he thinks he doesn't have the time needed consider creating a tournament councillor position.

2. Ladder. I looked at all the people in a position to really do something good for ladder, being developers and councillors, and I managed to find that none of them actually actively play ladder or even more so, play ladder on a good level. Only exclusions would be Balance councillor and recently after massive period of inactivity Moderation councillor, neither of which are related to ladder. So I see how there is no personal motivation to improve the appeal of ladder. This however does not mean there is no issue present. There was a nice thread with some nice charts viewtopic.php?f=2&t=13449&start=30#p149475 this shows a pretty clear decline in ladder activity for 2016-2017 compared to 2014-2015. That post also links to another graph by Softly showing popularity of different game mods over time including ladder which shows the same decline in ladder activity over time.
Ladder being the main mode for competitive play is a pretty good representation of overall competitive spirit of the community.

What can be done?
- Ladder pool. Current pool leaves many people not satisfied, any pool will leave many people unsatisfied... or will it? I have already written a nice (salty) post describing the perfect map pool designed to satisfy absolute most people viewtopic.php?f=2&t=15110&start=10#p153945 and I would really like to hear the inherent flaws it has or otherwise I'm puzzled as to why there is no movement, being it even the slowest and slightest of them, done towards this map pool. Even if the chance of someone volunteering to work on it is small, if they have no idea the issue exists no progress can be made. I would suggest bringing this up in the next dev call.
- Ladder rewards. This was done with the division system, while it wasn't very relevant for top players it certainly had a positive effect on ladder in general. Checking the statistical data each 3 month "season" and giving out some avatars based on activity is a good start.
- Ladder connections. I can't say if it's anything easy to fix or not but it's a problem and I'm going to list it here. It has been with us for a long time now and up to this day I'm seeing messages in aeolus complaining about getting stuck on setting up automatch or connecting.

3. Maps. This is in regard to FAF map popularity spread and ensuing consequences of it.
Disclaimer: Luckily we have a map spotlight run by JJ and I recently heard from IceDreamer about some ideas to feature maps directly in the client in some way. I just really hope those don't die at the stage of being just ideas.
Not a news that FAF playerbase is dominated by Gap, Thermo and Sentons games followed by Astro Crater and generic teamgame maps like Canis or Wonder. This creates an atmosphere that this is the "main" gameplay FA has to offer. And they are right. It is already not easy with ladder, but on top of that the situation with custom games is just as bad. If maps like Wonder or Sentons still offer deep and various enough gameplay something like Thermo completely misleads the player. It is important to note than not all players who have become good planned it from their day 1 of joining FAF. They met various factors that motivated them, they were fascinated with the depth of FA gameplay and wanted to tap into that. This is something missing from maps like Gap or Thermo. A player settles in, finds static boring gameplay, maybe he quits maybe he improves but hits an understandably low skill limit limited by said maps. It is silly to try and fiddle with tweaking the high level environment when the entrance to said environment is so obfuscated and obstructed.
Suggestion: Pretty much what IceDreamers idea is. Ideally in my opinion it would be something like this
Spoiler: show
Image
with said map changing whenever some new good one comes out or just to some good older map after some time.
Please note that I am not going after those Gap/Thermo maps or telling you to "force" players out of them. If a person joins FAF to play Gap they will play Gap but you have to see that not all players that play said maps are happy with them. Just a few days ago I saw a guy in aeolus saying he plays Gap just because there are no other games available in his timezone (Europe night time).

4. Balance. A topic even more controversial than ladder map pool which is why if you want to respond to this section please include your thoughts on other sections as well, this thread is NOT for balance rant and if you are a forums moderator please delete any balance rant posts if those appear. Also I'm a part of the balance team currently and most of this is something I slightly touched on and will discuss more with them but it's one of the problems and I'm going to list it.
It is absolutely certain that you can not please all people. And huge portion of balance complaints comes not from specific changes but from the concept of change itself. It is understandable that people get frustrated with having to relearn things, or having their favourite unit nerfed. But we are not here to talk about that, we are here to discuss what effect this has on top players.

First let's distinguish the kind of changes that are not to be blamed here, which are unrelated to high level play in their essence.
These are things the upcoming T3 nerf patch. Changes like these do not affect game depth or in this particular case affect it in a positive way by breaking the oh so stale T3 rush meta. Even if people hate the fact of change in itself it improves on the static state of gameplay and imbalanced state of units.
Now for things that do affect competitive play in a bad way.
Things like the bomber change. Why is it different? First what was changed: bomber was made much more expensive and slower to build, it's automatic behavior was improved while hover bombing was made much harder making it a strategy with the risk/reward ratio very high.

This produces several detrimental results:
1. Micro is made unrewarding. Absolute most of the time even the best players go for simple targetting instead of attempting hover bombing because the bomber behavior is so unstable and automatic one is consistent enough. This lowers available strategies, this lowers skill gap, this lowers interesting gameplay opportunities.
2. For the second result we have to go and look into the reasoning that was put behind this change. And the main reasoning was that first bobmer was deemed "too strong" for new players to deal with. This indeed caused some ruckus amongst people, some liked it some didnt and it wasn't a mechanic contoversial exclusively to low level players. But what a change like this did is catering to "lazy" players and shallow gameplay. Players who do not want to learn how to split their engineers and react properly, players who do not want to learn how to micro a bomber themselves. If the first bomber was too strong the reaction should have been to nerf it, not completely change and flatten the mechanic. So what is the second result of the bomber change? The opening strategies have become way more static and boring. First bomber is only seldom used on it's best maps like White Fire and never on "normal maps". Realistically I can only imagine myself losing to first bomber on a normal map because I simply don't expect anyone to build it anymore. But it doesn't end there. Air openings were affected all along. Second air has become a much more hard opening to use and more and more I see static openings of building countless land factories before air which eliminates early air raids, eliminates early gameplay variety, makes all games predictable and boring. There is a reason I fell in love with Forged Alliance and it's sure as hell not because it was casual or shallow.

So in short: think 7 times before cutting the gameplay depth no matter how rational your reasoning might seem.

5. Rating problems. Why is this a problem relevant to high level gameplay? Becuse rating is the only real "statistical" tool players can use to "prove" their skill. Even if the main goal of rating is creating balanced games it would be stupid to ignore the fact that people use it as a skill reference. This also doesn't need to come directly in the form of rating but rating could be hidden with leaderboard spots based on it. So when rating has problems and isn't trustworthy the incentive to raise your own rating decreases.
The rating problem of guy playing only sentons/gap then joining other games and breaking the balance is well known, somehow other problems are not discussed at all.
I'm going to list the ones that in my opinion deserve recognition.
- Rating inconsistency based on maps. So the issue from above. It creates balancing problems on joining other games but on top of that it also creates a problem where a person playing say 1700 rating on this one map exclusively but 1000 rating on other maps is rated higher than a person capable of playing any map FA has to offer on 1600 level. If I were to be asked which player is "better at this game" I know I would pick player two because I'm certain of his game knowledge and consistency, I would know it's not just reciting a 20 minute map build order.

- Huge inconsistency of gameplay on lower level and abuse of big rating gaps. Also known as "Giebmasse" issue. This is not a callout or anything, but he is a clear example and I'm going to use his case, I just want to make it clear that there is an issue to adress. He plays exclusively Sentons and his current rating is 2344 while I would estimate his "real" rating as something along the lines of 1900. He hasn't broken any rating abuse rules but he didn't just gain 400 points by suddenly getting godly good either. He was previously playing with players of skill level similar to his, joining 1500+ Sentons games and so on and staying around his 1800 or so at the time. Then these games were too hard to get so he switched to hosting "All welcome" Sentons games where an average setup looks something like this.
Spoiler: show
Image

Here is where the problem comes:
- First of all huge game imbalances. While he does win less points than he loses when he loses the game, being the only good player in the game on a map like Sentons means that you are pretty much the only player capable of ending the game efficiently. New players learn how to open games first and not how to end them. You have a variety of tools to abuse when it comes to squeezing a win out or avoiding losing versus someone who just doesn't have enough experience to comprehend what's happening. After the change to make rating easier to change it is also easier to get a good streak of wins and stop without getting that one loss that is supposed to get a lot of your points.
- Massive inconsistency of gameplay on low level. You can expect 2000 player to win consistently enough vs a 1500 player, but 500 vs 0 rated is literally a coin flip. On low level like that there are a lot of players with low game count/specified and limited game knowledge (can play only one spot etc.). Combine this with the first point and you have yourself a randomly generated result of how your team performs + a huge impact you have on the game. This results in winning absolute most of your games pretty easily.
This undermines the trustworthyness of global rating and it's meaning. And as a result the motivation to gain it.

- Small ladder pool abuse. Something I promised earlier I would mention. Again, going to do a "callout", nothing personal, but an issue is present. Currenly we have 7 maps in the ladder map pool. I'm going to use keyser as an example and instead of writing anything myself I will let him speak for himself.
Spoiler: show
Image
Admitting yourself that you are unfairly overrated is something that takes courage so it's something to respect. The problem comes from picking map pool with the maps you are good at and avoiding map pools with the maps you are bad at. It is sort of like the "Gap/Senton" issue but for ladder. Consistency and adaptivity are unrewarded, instead preparation and patience matter more. This is a map pool issue hovewer and I've already written about it and it's solutions.

Oh boy, if you have read all of this, congratulations. I really hope this thread is not going to go unnoticed and ignored. These are real issues with real weight and real solutions to them. I hope it makes someone move, ideally I would love to see some of these things discussed in the dev call (why is it a dev call when at this point it should be FAF management call?).

I think that was all I wanted to say.
Last edited by Petricpwnz on 05 Dec 2017, 03:13, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Why FAF competitve scene is dying

Postby Exotic_Retard » 04 Dec 2017, 11:44

hi. im going to write a wall of text here too and address some things, add to others and maybe give some interesting info. but i dont have time for that shit right now so you get what you get xD


one thing i want to stress is about player statistics: Using the powers bestowed upon me as a moderator,
i have discovered that FAF gets ~100 new player registrations per day
thats insane (and 70% of those have steam links so they are pretty much all legit, for whoever is about to complain about smurfs, we check these thoroughly)

but the important part is, thats insane. its 3000 new players per month. now given fafs monthly playerbase is ~13000 per month, that means they make up 25% of faf. The conclusion is that our player retention is utterly terrible. Utterly. Terrible.

Now, if you are 1800+ you are in the top ~1%. That means we should be getting 30 1800+ players every month. Somewhere within those 3000 players are these 1800+ that never see the light of day due to not playing the game enough to get to that level.

now of course there are lots of things we could do to get top player scenes more active again but looking at the numbers, i think this is a pretty good place to start. if we got just 10% of those 30 potential 1800+ we would get a nice 3 new players monthly and that should be enough to make a big difference.

TLDR: i would focus on this issue. if there was something to throw money at, better player retention would be it. everything ranging from better tutorials, nicer looking client, whatever. the point is that all top players were once new players. top players are leaving and our gpg reserves are running dry. new top players arent arriving because faf cant seem to keep most of them for more than a month.

oh also one more thing to consider is that 2000 now is not 2000 4 years ago - its a relative term, and also rating system has changed between those two times so you cant actually make direct comparisons. players of the same skill as 4 years ago will have a lower rating due to how the new system does things. but imo this isnt as important as the player retention thing
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Re: Why FAF competitve scene is dying

Postby PhilipJFry » 04 Dec 2017, 11:51

imo this has a decent bit to do with how easy it is to get the game (low price on a regular basis on steam), old copies being around etc and a fairly different RTS experience (strong focus on icons and zooming out instead of looking at pretty laser weapons making pewpewpew)
issues with connections (most people don't know/can't forward ports on their router) and performance (laptops/bad desktop pc cpus)
not sure how many ppl get turned off by hostility but i don't assume it's that many since you'll find annoying people in other gaming communities as well...
not finding ladder games and thus waiting too long to get a game might turn off lots of new players but that is kind of a chicken - egg dilemma
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Re: Why FAF competitve scene is dying

Postby Cuddles » 04 Dec 2017, 11:54

yea, what petric said about ladder map pool, working zep version.
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Re: Why FAF competitve scene is dying

Postby moonbearonmeth » 04 Dec 2017, 12:03

Exotic_Retard wrote:top players are leaving and our gpg reserves are running dry. new top players arent arriving because faf cant seem to keep most of them for more than a month.


Not sure how much of this is realistically a contributing factor but if I were to guess a large part of it might come down to 'false advertising'.
In general if you tell your friend about Supreme Commander you're going to tell him all about that epic RTS game with the 1000 unit cap and the giant death robots and the poster-child casters (And I am not necessarily blaming for this) certainly do push this. So it kind of fall short of expectations when you get here and you realise 90% of your early 'career' in faf is going to be spam t1 for 10 minutes and win. One of the most common questions I kept getting asked in my limited experience helping new players with the ropes (I refuse to call it training) was 'when should I get T2, when should I get T3, I'm not really good at micro but I am good at eco (he isn't) so would rushing a monkeylord work?'. So where does a new player go from there they either learn to love their teeny weeny t1 tank, find the subset of the community that enjoys wanking in a canyon for 40 minutes and then play Paper Scissors Rock with the enemy team (I still don't think we should ban Gap/Pass) or they leave.

I'm not sure how you would fix it but I think fixing the image of FAF would go a long way in solving your 'retention' issue even if it means that those half a dozen people per month that stay are they only people that actually join.
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Re: Why FAF competitve scene is dying

Postby Turinturambar » 04 Dec 2017, 12:46

Some thoughts on Zep pool.
Just judging from the (old) post you linked cannot see for sure if you also want to include the option, where the system picks (33% chance if I remember right) a map of the "most popular" pool, which I heard consisted mainly of 5x5. Im against using that option if Zep concept would be used.
To the overlap->small combined mappool could be fixed by adding an option where you can disable overlap.
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Re: Why FAF competitve scene is dying

Postby biass » 04 Dec 2017, 12:50

PhilipJFry wrote:not finding ladder games and thus waiting too long to get a game might turn off lots of new players but that is kind of a chicken - egg dilemma


we had this suggestion down to an easy fix, but some random point about rating economy was thrown in the way and was shunned in favor of a long term system that never came along (almost a year ago!)

"why can't i get a game its been hours" is still an issue that is around 5 times a day and if we just let them find people of lower ratings at the start then we might actually see a playerbase again..
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Re: Why FAF competitve scene is dying

Postby JoonasTo » 04 Dec 2017, 13:03

Long time ago I was a noob who wanted to gain rating to get into those epic high level games. Now?
I've been inactive for around two(maybe three?) years, only playing a game here and there with friends, if they didn't play this game, I wouldn't either.

From my perspective as a somewhat above average player(1500-1800) the number of players in my rating range(1300<) has decreased. I can't fathom to why this particularly is but I can tell you why I don't play more.

Maps, maps, maps and balance, balance and players.
The game is not fun on these 4v4-8v8 turtle maps. All I see is Gap, Canis, Hilly, Dual Gap, Astro, Thermo, Wonder and Setons. Out of these I consider Setons and some versions of Wonder interesting gameplay wise.
As pretty much all of my friends play almost exclusively Setons my game list is full of it so I really don't care for anymore than I already get. Which only leaves some versions of Wonder and the odd actually interesting map(like Maridia, once a month, woo!)

So balance should be short, everybody who matters has already heard my stance on this. I don't like the current path we have been on for a while that cuts options with overly aggressive measures(hello first bomber, early strat, firebeetle) and seems to do it haphazardly(bomber vs intie physics, Hover nerf.) I like my options in a game. I find macro the most boring thing in FAF, this game has no good macro mechanics to make it rewarding. Give me something to do instead of just staring at that e/mass bar and pausing stuff/sending engies to reclaim.
Beetle snipes(quadruple yeah!), early bombers, strat rushes, comdrops, tac-com duels, factory capture drops, combombing enemy inties so your mercies can fly in for a kill...this kinda crap is what makes this game interesting for me.

Then we have a problematic playerbase at this level as well. A lot of the players are outright assholes who don't give a shit about their teammates. They will quit a 4v4, 5v5 game just because they can't accept some people can be worse in this game they are(Air is noob GG.) Or they will ctrl-k everything they have in a full share game when they f*** up(Just quit it's not rated yet.) Or just in general be assholes to people in their team(or in both teams.) I've got a list longer than the sexual harassment claims one in Hollywood by now. These are people I simply refuse to play with since I'm not interested in sitting in a lobby for an hour to only have the game end in the first five minutes because some people can't realise there are more players in a team game than one. This kind of poisonous bullshit has been becoming more and more common and my list is getting longer and longer. Even if I find a map I'd like to play, chances are, there's an asshole in there and I won't join anyway.

So why does this all matter? Because even if you manage to get those new guys to play their first game, they will never get up to that 2k+ if they can't farm me(and others like me) for points. They'll never get good enough to even dabble in games with these high rating players, if they can never get a decent game in this rating range going. They'll be stuck at that <1500 level where scouts are a mythological creature only heard of in tales and stories of ancestors long gone.


Also getting games is hard. If someone wants my points, I could donate half of them away(by moderator consent ofc.) to someone in need. Getting games with rating this high is a pain.

EDIT: I guess I should add I am not a competitive FAF player, nor have I ever aimed to become one.
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Re: Why FAF competitve scene is dying

Postby PhilipJFry » 04 Dec 2017, 13:17

biass wrote:
PhilipJFry wrote:not finding ladder games and thus waiting too long to get a game might turn off lots of new players but that is kind of a chicken - egg dilemma


we had this suggestion down to an easy fix, but some random point about rating economy was thrown in the way and was shunned in favor of a long term system that never came along (almost a year ago!)

"why can't i get a game its been hours" is still an issue that is around 5 times a day and if we just let them find people of lower ratings at the start then we might actually see a playerbase again..


i don't recall anyone shooting down suggestions to improve the ladder queue
can you please link that?
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Re: Why FAF competitve scene is dying

Postby surtsan » 04 Dec 2017, 13:26

We like this topic, not the first time I see it these last weeks (or around it), but that's a good one anyways. I'm just going to add a few ideas and insists on a few points. I agree with most of it though.

Going to start for the most unusual one.

Work on server side :
From my dev side, It is impossible to work on the current server, due to a lack of information/docs. For example I spent 15+ hours on trying to have a fully working test server (which is essential and can't work on the server without it), but it ended in a server which was running but who had 20% of the features (=> useless). I am not the only one who tried to do that, someone else in the past tried too but gave up like me because it is just a waste of time and better work on other things.

So it is impossible to work on server side. Unfortunately that is where most of the important work have to be done : team matchmaking, rating issues, trending map...
So if you wonder why nothing is being done this side, you can fully understand why now. The only way to work on the server is to work on the 'maybe future java server' which will probably replaces the current one (but no eta).



3. Maps :
I feel like that the maps pool in custom games seems to have worsen compared to a few years ago (more gap..and so on).
And that is a really bad circle btw:
new players come => see these usual maps => play it => try something else, doesn't fill => go back to these usual maps => play it more and more.
So the playerbase on these maps is increasing. And to be clear, I'm fine with them playing it, but not all of them want to play it and that's the issue. And also it has other consequences, some players will get tired of the game much faster than usual, because when you play 1 or 2 maps in the end it is always the same things after a while, which gets repetitive => boring => bye. And they also don't have the chance to see how fa can be played too since their vision of fa is restricted to these few maps (maybe they would even enjoy it ?)

But what other choices do they have ? Play an unusual map and wait x minutes? or just join it and have a game full within 2/3 minutes? The choice is easily done and obvious.
And I did this choice too, I tried 2/3 times to host a very unusual map, waited even once for 1h29, back to my 'shitty' maps where within a few minutes I can start playing.

5. Rating inconsistency based on maps :
Maybe unrated these games ? For example if there is a 1k+ difference between highest and lowest then unrate it ? Since the 1k+ guy will just dictate the game. But that is a random idea, didn't really think about it since nothing can be done for the time being about it (server side work hi).


500 vs 0 coin flip : nothing can be done about it, not enough data to judge his skill so.. (he could be a gpg player, could have stopped for years and make new account to see his new level, a real new player, an experienced player on rts...and so on)

- Small ladder pool abuse :
People don't play ? Their rating decays. Like that the issue is less abused. But as usual, nothing can be done for the time being about it (server side work hi)


Toxic behaviour :
Not the first time I see someone talks about it..just saying
They should be punished (or maybe it is already the case? I don't really know, we don't have this info anymore with the topic about the last bans and reasons and how long), and if it is already being done, get more harsh I guess?
+ maybe make a news in what' news tab about it, reminding people that you mustn't be toxic in game or even on aeolus. You want to give the best experience possible for players, not a game where everyone is toxic. It starts by not being toxic. Or maybe remind it in the client, when you want to joina game for example...I don't know what would be the best about this idea.

And for players who leave before it is rated, report them (of course it happens when you can crash or something, but it becomes obvious if they often do it). I'm pretty sure that's an offense since you ruin the game of all the other players.
surtsan
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