Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rating kills the rated BG

The PuG update: we couldn't go raid Monday because not enough DD wanted to come. If you are in a social guild with no tanks and healers, come to tank and healer paradise and enjoy the nearly unlimited access to tanks and healers! Just read the rules.

This is the situation when I happily say I told you! I warned Blizzard against the "normalization of deviance", the behavior when you see something theoretically wrong and accept it as normal just because it's not terribly broken. It will break, or more likely someone will purposefully break it. If someone carelessly build a system on this "working" one, that will collapse spectacularly.

I proved that Wintergrasp is a bad design and playing properly makes assault to never-ever win. No one cared, because something else kept WG changing sides: there was no point defending. If you won it on assault, you did VoA and there was nothing else to do there as all the quests were weeklies. Tol Barad on the other hand has the changing dailies. Every time you win, you get 3 new easy dailies for 1000 rep and 3 badges. In early game the TB faction was the only source of epic trinkets and only reliable source for 346 weapons. So people tried to defend, the rest is history.

Now Blizzard is hit by this thinking again, this time by the spectacular failure of Rated BG system. They are now in desperation try to decrease the 15 man BGs into 10-man ones, hoping that at least 10 people care to join. Let's make it clear: people go normal BGs, so they must find them "fun", no matter how they define "fun". Also, rated BGs give better rewards and there is a consensus that players follow rewards. So if we combine the "fun" BGs with highest tier rewards, we must see every living body going there and not a total disaster!

The reason - like in TB - is several years old, that's why they don't see it. They used a "working" system on rated BGs so it must work here too. The problem is that the system never-ever worked. Its failure was just below the threshold, and Blizzard choose to accept this deviant behavior "normal".

I'm talking about the totally incorrect implementation of the elo-rating system. The rating system is trying to assign a value to player strength (both skill and gear) and therefore tries to pair players of equal strength. It is designed to avoid "farming" hopelessly weaker players, forcing players to win against equal opponents if they want to elevate their rating.

Blizzard made two errors implementing the system long ago, at the start of rated arena matches. At first, they assigned 1500 points to beginners. A new player without gear is totally below a player who is playing around 1500 rating for long. Yet, new players was paired against real 1500 rated players who devastated them.

This effect was below threshold because devastating arena matches are shorter than a minute and queue is about 2 mins long. It was accepted by players as "newbie initiation" that he is utterly farmed in his first hour playing arena. In this first hour he could play 10-20 matches, finally reaching his intended 3-400 rating where he was paired against players of equal strength. The same problem is alone able to destroy rated BGs, where - unless the raid leader of the loser team calls for "stay on GY" - even a totally defeated group can fight for 15-25 mins. The queue is also 10 mins long, so a single defeat takes half an hour. So the usual arena fixing mechanism (newbie loses 10-20 in a row) would take 6-12 hours of constant, devastating defeats (the kind where you have 1:10 kill:death ratio). Of course most people will quit before that point.

If it wouldn't be bad enough, here comes the second error: the rating system was designed for players and not teams, especially not for unfixed teams. Simple example: if you would grab 3 warlocks who all have 2500+ rating in 3v3 and use them as a warlock-warlock-warlock team, the system would put them against 2500+ teams, despite even 1500 teams can easily defeat them. This error was mitigated by small arena teams size and (again) shorter time span. It's pretty easy to keep a 3v3 team fixed for an hour. For rated BGs you shall keep a 15 men team fixed for 6 hours to play the same amount of matches. Good luck! Of course, the incorrectly implemented system considers the team of just grabbed strangers equal to the team of the same players who are playing together for weeks.

To make things worse, let's combine the two: your team loses members and replace them with newbies (as veterans are hard to come by exactly because the system is unpopular). You not only stirred up your team, but also increased its rating by importing 1500 rating people with low skill, gear and no team-experience. This can create perpetual cycle of defeats without rating loss, as the incoming 1500 rating newbies keep your average rating around 1000, despite your team should be around 500.

Perpetual defeat is "no fun", neither provides rewards so new players give up on rated BGs.

How can you fix this? One way is proper implementation of rating system:
  1. Do something to create fixed teams. Teams should have a charter to sign and your team changing is limited. I'd suggest 1 change during a season and 1 free at the beginning of the season. You can play with this team or not play.
  2. Rating should refer to the team and not individual players.
  3. In chess and other sports where rating is used, some random newbie can't enter the tournament. You have to gain your right to participate in winning local qualification matches, which are designed exactly to make sure that you worth as much as your initial rating. In rated BGs it could be achieved by allowing full pre-mades entering unrated BGs and allowing this team to participate rated BGs only after they reached 90% win rate on their last 50 unrated matches.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the above makes casual playing impossible. So I'd rather suggest to completely abandon the rating system and implement a "flying rating": win-ratio. It's merely the number of wins for the last 10 match. Newbies would have 0, so they would be equal to a player who lost 10 in a row. This rating should decay if someone doesn't play for some time. The teams would be matched according to the average win ratio of the players, providing them opponents who are roughly equally strong at the moment. To get top charters you would need to play 10 matches a week to qualify and your total win-ratio over the season would matter.

What can we suggest to Steel of Kilrogg US? If you are in a friendly social guild, don't complain about trade chat:


Lethora said...

Gevlon, it seems to me that you have never played rated BGs. There are couple of major flaws/oversights in your post.

First, everyone starts with 0 (yes, ZERO) rating and not 1500 as you mentioned. So bringing a newbie will only decrease your team average rating.
Second, 15vs15 is just a hell to organize. It's hard enough to keep 10 people going for 4+ hrs, but keeping 15 people is just a nightmare. I'm glad they are changing it. Also, 10man BGs are simply more enjoyable (personal pov, ofc). SotA is plain stupid atm. AB is fine, EotS is kind of boring.

Squishalot said...

Gevlon: "They are now in desperation try to decrease the 15 man BGs into 10-man ones, hoping that at least 10 people care to join."

You do realise that the reason they're changing 15-man BGs into 10-man ones is because they suffer from a drop-off in participation during 15-man weeks? The issue identified is that it's more difficult to organise 15 players for a rated BG than it is to organise 10.

You can do a 10-man rated BG with your 10-man raiding group, for kicks, or with an additional guildmate while you're waiting for one of your raiders to come along. There are no reasonable circumstances where you would want to run a 15-man BG, unless you're a PvP guild.

That, mind you, is a separate issue to the problems you highlight later in your post. I agree with your suggestion about having rated BG teams similar to Arena teams where users can be switched in and out accordingly, though I'd rather it be more like a football team, where you have a squad, and any rating points are split in proportion to the number of matches played.

Flying ratings reward short-term gains / penalise short-term losses by too much. It's too volatile.

Gevlon said...

@Lethora: the "true" rating is the MMR, it starts at 1500. The visible rating starts at 0 and have no other purpose than letting socials watch a number grow.

Nerdrager said...

The simple solution is to make rated BGs puggable like the non rated ones, that's the way all the people I've talked with wanted.

Most guilds won't have more than 10-15 pvpers.. enough for organizing 3vs3 teams, but good luck having them online at the same time outside raiding days.
Infact my guild hasn't organized a signle rated bg (and they're decent/hardcore enough to kill 4hc bosses so far), it's just too much hassle for the same reward as running a 3vs3 team.

TLDR version: rated BGs are at their very essence PUG content, it's not about rating systems, people expected to queue and play withot bots and retards. Blizzard didn't deliver and whatever they'll do it's going to be useless because of customers expectations.

Grim said...

I have not played RBG much, but never got opponents that would be "true 1500" or even "true 1000" (I've lost most of my matches).

They have always been on average ~100 rated (except for one or two 0 rated teams).

Also, on the scoreboard there are only the personal ratings - if MMR exists it is not shown like it is in arenas.

Kelindria said...

What kills the rated bg system for me is access to it. The majority of players play in PvE guild that casually pvps. A good example would be in a large guild the size of "The Pug" you struggle to keep all roles filled for your raids. Most decent pvp "teams" for rated bgs comes from in guild and trying to pug pvpers is hard enough while trying to screen out M&S to be sucessful.

The result is a small group of guildies pvping in rated bgs that thrash any other group because of lack of experience/skill.

To run in a successful you have to be able to provide a guild level of preparation. This can largely be ignored in arenas due to you only needed to replace 1 person in most cases to continue arena matches. You can notice how much harder it is to keep running arenas at the 5 vs 5 scale even.

While the rating system is nothing to brag about the real problem for me is organization.

rashnu said...

I had a chat with my friend about Rated BG's lately and we came up with the same simple conclusion: "It's a big failure!"

The reason why normal BG's are popular and Rated BG's are not is simple - to join a BG you need to press 'H' then choose BG and click join BG. If you are alliance it takes 1 minute if you are Horde it takes 8 minutes, but you are pretty much set.

To join Rated BG you need to:
1st: Join the organized group or start your own
2nd Wait for 10 - 30 minutes for a team to assamble.
3rd Join queue and wait 10 more minutes
4th Play the BG

As you can see the waste of time is huge!
What's more if you join trade PUG or non organized Guild team you will end up loosing (Due to reason Gevlon presented) and ... here it comes people start to leave. Then try to find someone to replace him. Good luck on the server with low to med population. Say hello to another 30 minutes of waiting. What this means is just like Gevlon said - you need hours to play even a few game and calling them FUN is ... well not the right choice.

I'll say it straight - when Cata was about to be released I was so excited about Rated BG's, but when they annaunced that you will have to queue with a full team I knew it will be a disaster.
People don't run 5vs5 Arenas because it's so hard to organize the consistant group that's it's way better to do 2v2 or 3v3 (if you want balanced game). Tring to get organized 10vs10 group in any other environment than pure PvP guild is impossible.

Pople don't raid, simply because they don't have time or can't guarantee their availablility for 3 - 4 hours straight. it's the same problem for rated BG's. To have organized group it's the same level of preparation as with raids. Add to that that 99% of guilds in WoW are PvE ones you can easily predict the popularity of this feature.

Personaly, I can only see 1 way to solve this issue:
1) Let people pug Rated Bg's just like it's possible with normal BG's.
2. Such teams (PUGS) are faced vs other PUGs.
3. Leave an option to join as a team as well but then you are faced vs organized teams.

I honestly see this as the only option to make Rated BG's popular and succesfull. Otherwise it will be feature that stays somwhere behind 5vs5 arenas. Most people will know it existed, some of the loot will even tell you: "Yeah I tried one or 2 some time ago", but noone will actually play it.

Oh and the reasson why they excluded 15vs15 BG's was simple. If you do 15man version of Rated BG's you have high chance of entering SotA battleground that is the worst BG in the history and in it's current shape has nothing to do with PvP. That's why even those few who wanted to run 15vs15 resigned from doing this very fast.

Ðesolate said...

MMR is applied to rated BGs. In general all MMRs are added up and divided by the player number. Quite simple. Each game you loose MMR but not raiting. Every game you win you get rating and MMR.

So this system usually leads to the point that you are at low mmr, still winning 50% never loosing rating and of course reaching 2,2k as long as you keep playing (by that any retard can achieve 0,5% titles by having no life).

The starting MMR at 1,5k is a big failure in this case, but only if you exchange low mmr players for high mmr newbs. From logic point mmr should start at zero. The arena MMR function is designed for fixed teams but Blizzard simply added this system to a pugable pvp content. So do not PuG rated BGs.

The MMR function is stated in pvp forum.

Riptor said...

I heard from many PvPers that they are looking forward to the 10 Man Change. The main reason is that they need to have a 15 Man Team of which they need to bench 5 Players depending on what BG is up for the Week. Also they are very much looking forward to the tactical Aspects of for example Arathi changing when one has only 10 Players available (with the capping timer going down to 5 Seconds, it will become even closer).
If all rated BGs are 10 Mans (or 15, but all need to require the same Number) the Teams can work like PvE Guilds with fixed requirements. Imagine the turmoil if one Raid would require 15, the other two only 10 Raiders (sure for the PUG that would not be a very big issue but for semi to full hc Guilds that would be a disaster).
I think that the Rated BGs have a lot of similarities to Raiding. In both, dedicated Guilds, using Voice and having well assembled Teams with Players that have already proven their worth/skill are way ahead of any Trade pug or Casual Group.
Of course it must seem different as if you pug BWD you just have a hc Boss wiping you but in a rated BG you have the above mentioned Guild Group slapping your Group around.

KSanders said...

Sorry for this stupid question, but I've tried to search the answer in this blog and in the comments section with 0 solutions: what is exactly DD? A dps with 2 damage specs?

Don't know other servers but in EU-Tyrande the reason no one does rated BG is because you can get the same rewards than a 3vs3 much easier.
Also my guild terrible sucks at PVP, at least in raid.

Anonymous said...

This may be slightly off topic, but i wonder if the same MMR system is used in starcraft2 as well... since i am playing it as a new and inexperienced player and am constantly matched against people with more than a thousand matches on their record. Can someone confirm this? I have not found a newbie like me yet, in the about 30 matches i did. Only one player had about as much matches as me, but a near 100% win ratio which looked like a smurf account, since he totally dominated.

Oh, and thank you for explaining why my very brief arena experience was exactly how you described it. I thought something was wrong when most of my enemies had full pvp armor, when i entered with just a couple pieces. Strangely enough, i did win a few of those fights despite the difference in gear, i guess pve gear isnt as bad as they say :)

In the end, i guess one just has to swallow it, until one gets experienced enough to compete. Not exactly my idea of fun, tbh...

Anonymous said...

A DD is a 'damage dealer' which is incorrectly commonly known as a DpS.

Calling someone a 'DpS' might get confusing if you're also talking about his actual DpS in the same sentence.

Which is better?

"This DpS doesn't do enough DpS."


"This DD doesn't do enough DpS".

Kring said...

> The PuG update: we couldn't go raid Monday because not
> enough DD wanted to come.

Do you have a theory why?

From your last PuG updates I got the impression that you swap DD in and out depending on which classes are best for which encounter. I certainly wouldn't be interested to raid with a raid which swaps me in and out depending on encounter.

That might lead to success for the raid with less effort then intended because you can make clever use of game mechanics for every encounter. But why would I do that? To get the chance on loot from the one boss my class is overpowered? To get gold from a pot? What if I'd like to beat the encounters because I'd like to see the encounters?

Gevlon said...

@Kring: since there are limited spots, someone must be outside. I know that your answer is "send someone ELSE outside and let me stay in all raid", but I guess everyone else would say it's a bad idea.

thehampster said...

I completely agree with all the commenters here except Lethora who obviously shouldn't be posting on pvp.

Basically, there are MANY problems with rated BG's, and they're easily the biggest failure of WoW. Perhaps b/c the expectations were so high.

Imagine if 25 man raids gave the same gear rewards as 5 man regular dungeons? How many people would do 25 man raids? That's currently the case with rated BG's.

Blizzard needs to make rated BG's just like regular BG's, except everyone gets their own MMR. After a few matches, you wouldn't have to worry about playing with bots/AFK'ers, or bridge champions anymore. Or perhaps blizzard could make it so you only need 5 people to que up with for rated bg's?

rashnu said...


this is exactly my point. If everyone had MMR assigned to them and it would check your performance based on:
a) Outcome of the game
b) Damage / healing done
c) Victory points completed (captured flag / base, returned flag / defended base)
d) Honorable Kills collected

This MMR should only be gained by playing rated BG's.
Leaving rated BG match before it's finished should have negative outcome on your MMR.

This would certainly solve the problem and made Rated BG's best feature in this game.
I could finally join a battle where I wouldn't have to be tortured by 3 worst BG's ever made:
SotA, AV, IoC
Like thehampster I'd play only with people who wants to play so no bots and noobs.

I'd love it Blizzard implemented something like this.

Anonymous said...

I think you missed the point of the ELO ranking system, its not to avoid bad experiences for new players. its to find a way to assign a reward for winning any match, at any level. and it is amazingly good at that.

Brian said...

No, there is no 1500 "invisible" MMR Rated BG rating that every individual has. Sorry, you're making that up. Arena works that way because otherwise every time skilled players joined a new team, they would be put against the absolute WORST players out there, which would be silly. Since RBG rating never changes or gets reset, there is no need for a MMR that is different from your rating.

The reason that teams with low average ranking will run into teams with high average ranking, is because there is a limited number of teams available, and Blizz's BG matching system doesn't like to leave teams waiting for too long. There are SO many more horde teams than alliance, that when we queue up as alliance we get instant queues almost every a horde team whose average rating is often quite different than our own, because they've just been in the queue forever.

Bee said...

I look forward to 10 man RBG change. My guild is one of those that does not even bother on a 15 man week.

1.) Hard to find enough people to participate, and my experiences with pugging rated bgs have been terrible failures.
2.) SotA is completely broken right now, its painful. The patch changes expected for 4.0.6 show just how broken Blizzard already knows it is.
2a.)If you were given the opportunity to change specs at the beginning of a rated bg, it would be slightly better. If you have a 5-6 healer setup to prepare for AB or EoTS and then you end up with Strand starting on Defense, you are totally screwed. If I could switch from Disc to Shadow and then back to Disc for Offense it would help.

The 10 mans just feel better. You can stay more coordinated, and the maps and objectives lend themselves to a fairer fight.

If we can get more people doing rated bgs, then I believe the matchups will even out.

Squishalot said...

@ Anonymous: "Calling someone a 'DpS' might get confusing if you're also talking about his actual DpS in the same sentence."

The tank doesn't tank properly.
The healer doesn't heal properly.
The DPS doesn't DPS properly.

The only time someone will get confused is if they don't understand the language contextual cues that show that the first reference is a noun, and the second reference is a verb.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the scheduling issue. I.e., if it is going to be a fixed time with signups and attendance and who got to go politics, then I have raiding for that. The most pleasant part of BGs were that you could spontaneously do it in a bit of down time, getting in within a couple of minutes and play for 10-25 minutes. I was interested in RBGs until I read about the fixed teams. I want fewer hassles in my life/game, not more. And at least 90% of the people I know on my PvE server think raiding is much more important than PvP, so it will be that much harder to get them to sign up for a scheduled RBG.

I had read a number of blogs posting about "your RBG team", including some of your prior posts, that seemed more appropriate to arenas than RBG which outside of the PvP guild are 8 or 9 guildies who can be badgered into playing and a couple of pugs. But not a lot of consistency in the teams.

I thought it was the visible rating that gated your gear purchases, not the hidden MMR.

I see WoW as essentially a PvE game; my guess is all the investment in PvP is marketing - the same way that car companies make $200,000 sports cars even though they sell far more $20,000 econobox sedans. Blizzard needs to be seen as having PvP even if the % of players who pay to race-change to Worgen or buy a pet is more important to the bottom line than whether Arena participation is at 3% or 5%.

Anonymous said...

First three points are far from peoples desires (all stated often by regular pvp folks) :
1. Play with many differen people together
2.Don't restart as a noob when switching teams as its boring and also frustrates the lowrated teams we crush
3. consistently play against people of equal strength

Regarding your last suggestion:
its the same as now,just with broader search. You suggest 10% steps, currently initials search is about 100points which means ~3% steps. You would only heighten the likelihood for boring / frustrating matches as the teams in scope would be more appart in strength.

i think the current system is aside from horrible class balance quite good.

Anonymous said...

Organised PvP has always been an issue.
Blizzard themselves have said this, as pvp was added on later as an afterthought.
To the constant detriment of PvE.

Anonymous said...

To Brian and any others who seem to think Gevlon likes to make things up regarding MMR.

'Q. What’s MMV?

A. Match Making Value (or MMV for short) is our best measure of an individual player's skill. MMV is the skill rating per format (2v2, 3v3, 5v5, Battleground) and per character that is used for matchmaking. It exists to help the matchmaking system create great matches as quickly as possible for all players. It's generally not a rating we show, with the exception of an average MMV for Arena teams.'

Pheqbeast said...

No Gevlon, the MMR system (and teamrating starting at 0) has nothing to do with "watching numbers grow".

It's about keeping the "elitist and omghaznolife (good players)" out of the lower brackets.

I sold teams and rating myself in TBC, so the deal with MMR is to filter the good players out of lowrating so bad players don't get squished, burned out and trucked down. You'll get 96 rating a win untill you almost reach your MMR, regardless if it's 1500 or 2600.

Anonymous said...

Might look at the newly created elo++