Greedy Goblin

Monday, December 19, 2016

Forced counters and feeders

I've noticed a strange pattern in League of Legends. Guy pre-selects a champion. I check his stats, some obscenely high winrate with that champ. His champion gets banned or picked before him and he is forced to pick something he can't really play. This is happening again and again, even with obscure champions. Hell, even my Warwick was picked by the enemy when I was second picker!

Even more strange: guy gets to play his main, the enemy picks counter and plays it well. I check the stats of the enemy player and see that the counter was also his main. What bad luck isn't it?

Maybe not. Maybe clever data analysis and placement. I mean the game knows that Adam often plays Vayne and is very good with them. So if Adam is meant to lose, then let's place him against someone who often bans Vayne. Or place him against another Vayne-main and let that guy pick first. Or against someone who often plays a counter of Vayne and let him pick after Adam!

This is another thing I can't prove. However I'd like to point out that everything that is "luck"-dependent is under full control of the game developer. They have all the data needed to predict how players behave, what they pick, what they ban, how they play certain champions. It is possible that it's just "bad luck". But they can easily cook your luck. They control everything in the game. And they have very good reason to control "luck": to support paying players.

Which gets us to the nastiest part: feeders. Feeders just die, die, die and give XP and gold to enemies. Being a feeder has nothing to do with being a bad player. It's being an idiot. If I'd sit my mom before Leauge of Legends and explain the basics, she wouldn't feed. She would run when she see the big bad guy with the big gun coming for her. Sure she'd be low on minions and wouldn't have much kills, only some assists in teamfights. But she wouldn't feed. Feeders are simple morons who just deny the obvious fact that the opposing player is better or picked a counter. They refuse to play safe, they blame everyone for their defeat and they die, die, die.

The obvious question is how can such idiot climb out of Bronze 5? Simple: if he doesn't lose, he doesn't feed. If he is the stronger in his lane, he wins it, might even carry. The feeder mindset helps carrying as he runs into uncertain situations aggressively and if the opponent is weak, he kills more than a conservative player would. You see where I'm going: him being carry or feeder depends on "luck": is he facing a better or worse player/champion in his lane. If the player has the feeder mindset, the whole game comes down to this one question. Unless he is facing a weaker but very careful player who hugs the tower, it doesn't matter what the other 8 players do. Such player will be responsible for half of the kills of the whole game in laning phase, either as killer or dead. Needless to say that it gives complete control to Riot over the game: pick a feeder player and give him an easy opponent to guarantee a win or give him a counter to guarantee defeat.

Please note something crucial: while every team game have idiots on your side, every other game limits the damage they can do to the team. In practically every game I can thing of, the worst possible teammate (who is not doing bannable things) is an AFK. A horrible World of Tanks player dies without getting a single damage. A horrible WoW battleground player just run into 1v4 and gets oneshotted due to horrible gear. Same for a horrible FPS player.

LoL is designed in a way that a horrible player can be much worse than an AFK-er. He can give lots of gold and XP to the enemy. Neither of the other games gives you any in-match advantage for killing enemies besides the removal of the enemy from your way. I mean if you kill an enemy in a WoW battleground, you won't become stronger. Sure you can capture the objective he defended, but his fighting still slowed you, even for seconds. If you just stand on the bridge and farm kills, you are just as useless as the farmed noobs. Imagine if the bridge-pwnzor got a few ilvl for every noobs killed and after 10 kills could oneshot anyone?! Or the World of Tanks sniper would get +10% damage, +10% fire rate and +10% armor for every moron who run the field of Malinovka at start because of "lol itza game".

Also LoL the only game I know with snowballing instead of diminishing returns. Having a 6/0/0 enemy cannot be balanced by having two 3/0/3 teammates. So even if 4 out of 5 players are winning their lane and the team score is actually positive, you can still lose if the fifth player is a bad feeder.

Do you think it's by accident? Or did they design the game from the start to make sure that good (but not oppressively good) play can't help the initial matchmaking?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

> LoL is designed in a way that a horrible player can be much worse than an AFK-er.

It took me years to convince people of this and I failed. Yet the penalty for feeding is none, and penalty for AFK is the most severe in the game, even scripters aren't rekt as fast as going AFK in just 2 games.

That's why I afk more often than not...

Anonymous said...

Well LoL design copies a lot from the original DotA map from Warcraft so they are not the ones who came up with the basic design of the game.

Feeding I think has something to do with being a bad player. A bad player will not notice when an enemy is two level higher than him or has more items or that the enemies outnumber them. They will go in anyway because they don't know they will lose or because they don't notice it in the middle of the battle.

The reverse is also true for bad players when they are ahead. Sometimes they will not realize they can 1v2 enemy champions. They will sit back and farm rather than being aggressive and let the enemy catch up and throw their lead.

Noriane said...

Can't you start two accounts and have one being the control account? One is paying, one isn't. Alternate playing time between them. Of course there is a chance that Riot might detect it's someone doing an experiment and stop whatever "rigging" there is, but I'd rate that pretty insignificance chance.

Anonymous said...

This blogpost just shows, how little you know about other games. The same concept of feeding, but with different degree of severity, works in other MOBA games. Do you think it would make the game better if you were rewarded just for killing minions ?
Don't get me started with snowballing effects, have you ever played DotA where one fed hero can 1v5 easily ? Is that conspiracy of MOBA developers or just inevitable hated/liked mechanism ?

Hell, even stupid Overwatch rewards you for killing (damaging) your opponents by filling up your Ultimate meter.

Anonymous said...

> Well LoL design copies a lot from the original DotA map from Warcraft so they are not the ones who came up with the basic design of the game.

Ahem, http://dota2.gamepedia.com/Steve_Feak

> Feeding I think has something to do with being a bad player. A bad player will not notice when an enemy is two level higher than him or has more items or that the enemies outnumber them. They will go in anyway because they don't know they will lose or because they don't notice it in the middle of the battle.

Like I was saying since 2010 and like Gevlon has stated here, there are no real good and bad players, or rather, being good or bad does not directly relate to winning. Go 300 elo below your level, you're a monster, go 300 elo above, you're a feeder, and it's for matchmaking to decide where are you going today.

Gevlon said...

I've never said "evil conspiracy". It's a well-designed system to avoid skill from mattering, therefore allow bad players to linger in silver and gold despite they belong to bronze.

Anonymous said...

While basic concept behind feeding is found already from original DotA. Isn't LoL amplifying this effect with item power/cost? In DotA2 better the item worse the power/cost ratio (in general). I think I have heard that in LoL it isn't really so.

Skeddar said...

Like ever so often since you write about League I am a bit confused.

"The obvious question is how can such idiot climb out of Bronze 5? Simple: if he doesn't lose, he doesn't feed. If he is the stronger in his lane, he wins it, might even carry."

This statement means that this Bronze 5 player had to get matched against other Bronze 5 players who were worse than him to climb out of Bronze 5, right? So if we check his match history we should see him getting matched against other Bronze 5 players if he won the lane (at least in some cases). If the other guys he got matched against aren't Bronze 5 (but worse than our subject), they also had to get matched against Bronze 5 players who are worse then them to get out of Bronze 5.
I think at some point you might run out of Bronze 5 players.

Yeh, the initial placements can be a bit too positive and put people into Silver 5 so they can be used as opponents for quite a while even though they're Bronze 5, but at least due to my experience the placements are rather conservative (that's why the initial rating for most people is lower than last season and not higher).


About your Warwick argument, now that's a statistic that sounds interesting, as Warwick is quite a rare pick/ban. Did you experience more than 5% of your jungle games being unable to play him due to a ban/pick?

Ragelle said...

It's really very simple. This kind of system (Skill doesn't matter) is necessary for success in the market place. No one will pay to be Bronze but they will pay to be "Average" with a few good stories about that time they were awesome and a few stories they can tell about how they totally got destroyed but it wasn't their fault. There are really zero "hard" ladder games out there. Games with hard competition (even ones that pit you against opponents of equal ability) are incredibly unforgiving to the illusions of ego.

Forget all the matchmaking, ELO non-sense. All of it exists for one purpose - disguise fake competition as real competition. Chess is the original ratings/matchmaking/ranked game and yet no one can ever fake being a grandmaster. The reason is transparency - the rankings, match history, and games are all public. Chicanery is quickly discovered. Online games like this are non-transparent exactly so that "average" players can have their ego's massaged for money.

Hearthstone is similar. It gives you the illusion of a "ranked" ladder and at the end of the season you'll get a message saying you are in the top X% of players. But the system works such that you can never drop below rank 20 and every win after 2 rewards you with a bonus win, meaning that if you only win 50% of your matches playing enough games guarantees going up the ladder (until rank 5 where the bonus stops).

In PvE they give you the illusion you are leveling up your character (and now in WoW's dynamic leveling content it really is impossible to move ahead of the power curve). In PvP they needed the same illusion and thus the invisible MMR/ELO/WTF? rankings where born. They are giving players the illusion that they are leveling themselves up.

Phelps said...

In practically every game I can thing of, the worst possible teammate (who is not doing bannable things) is an AFK. A horrible World of Tanks player dies without getting a single damage.

You haven't played WoT in a while. There are people who are worse than AFKers, who do things so dumb that they actively hurt the team. How do I know? Because an AFK bot has a 44% win rate. I keep seeing people with 10K games and a 39 or 40% WR. And sure enough, they do stupid things like blocking their own team's shots, taking prime blocking spots and then blowing the job, etc.

It has gotten to the point that I tell them, "you know, if you just didn't touch the controls, your win rate would go up 4 percent." And then they curse at me, because they are the epitome of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Anonymous said...

I feel like all your complains about feeding, afk counter picking are confirmation bias. Everytime a dude on your team gets counter picked you can see and feel it. You don't see pre select champions on the other team, so when the enemy is banned or counter picked, and your Yasuo goes 20/0 it's because "enemy has a feeder".

Zyrus said...

You have to realize something, it most games with a ranking system, the rank itself is usually irrelevant, till you reach the upper tiers.

What you have discovered is that anything gold or less is probably irrelevant, a toss up in rigging, or randomness, there's practically no different between the ranks there.

Hearthstone is the same, anything below rank 5 is usually irrelevant, you can climb with less than 50% win rate.

I'm pretty sure other mobas are the same as well. Also I wonder what happens with ranking in Starcraft 2 as well, since that one is just 1vs1, usually.

In conclusion, ranking in online games is an illusion, till the highest tiers.

Gevlon said...

@Zyrus: this is what I want to quantify and prove. This is a disaster since it blocks players from improving.

@Anon: I don't just blame my losses on feeders. I "blame" my wins on feeders too.

Trees said...

You are accusing LoL of being designed around skill not mattering, as if a hundred engineers got together in a room and put every piece in place with perfect intention. The reality is exactly the opposite, the original game was designed by one or two amateurs who thought "this seems fun, lets try that", and then more amateurs made changes with the same mentality for years and years until one guy finally took over and made a job out of it.

I believe you that Riot Games are both capable and willing to rig their game (with forced meta and lane assignments), however I think you are reaching a little far on this particular post. You should keep looking at how Riot alters the Dota-clone/moba formula, and not getting swept up by the Dunning-Kruger effect yourself.

Smokeman said...

I have to go with Trees on this one.

The Machiavellian gyrations that would have to be performed to make this into a plot to preferentially have people win (or lose)to boost sales potential is a bit of the stretch.

They are probably tweaking things they think will do that? But a brilliantly conceived, overarching plan? Yeah. That's a stretch.

Anonymous said...

I see a clear way to resolve the debate. Create a second account. Buy skins and other crap on that account - say spend about the same as a WoW sub - an amount that you were comfortable spendingin WoW and BDO.

Play both accounts the same. Same amount of time, same champion, same number of matches etc for a couple of months.

If the 'spend' account rises and the 'free' account does not, your hypothesis is supported.

Gevlon said...

@Smokeman: so you think it's a stretch for a profit-oriented company to try to make profit?
Would you be surprised that a restaurant purposefully gives better food to the paying patrons than to charity for homeless?

99smite said...

Hmm... I have my doubts there. I won't deny that rigging matchmaking is possible, but proving it is really hard when one does not know the matchmaking algorithm, let alone the algorithm for calculating one's own MMR value.

The more I think about it, the more convincing is the speculation that all ranks are irrelevant up to a specific rank, where skill and decision making will suddenly matter a lot...

My experience is that if I play a game for a longer period of time, I get better and improve, but since I will be put together with newer players, I will have to work in a time whose team members haven't grasped their roles or how objectives are reached... Thus, while my personal skills have improved a lot, my team performance does not as my team's performance has not improved. On the other hand, when I get put with other, more experienced players, we rather wipe the ennemy team.
How do I know that my skills have imnproved? The game I play highlights the MVP after the match and shows his replay, every 5 matches, I will get highlighted...

Without an intention to devaluate your speculations, but these deductions seem to me the same as if a redneck shot 100 bullets on a stable wall and a scientist later inspects the bullet holes. He finds 5 holes within a one-inch circle and declares the redneck a master marksman...

Smokeman said...

Gevlon says:
@Smokeman: so you think it's a stretch for a profit-oriented company to try to make profit?
Would you be surprised that a restaurant purposefully gives better food to the paying patrons than to charity for homeless?

Oh no! I'm all for "They're juking the system for profit." Of course they are! They have both of my requirements for a juked system: No transparency and it's not a felony to do it.

I just don't think their ability to juke is this deep. I've met a lot of developers, and they're not as smart nor as able to meta manage schemes as deep as this as you seem to think.

There are cases, as in WoW's "token" scheme, where you can be fairly assured in calling it a cash grab whose "supply and demand" is just Blizz's supply of gold, and their demand for dollars.

But this scheme if far too complicated. It's far more likely that they're just dumb and set up a dumb system. Sure, they might not want to fix it because it makes them money... but that's not the same thing.