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[Locked] Matchmaking Feedback Update – June 26

OP ZaedynFel

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SWAT and FFA Tweaks

We made a tweak last week to matchmaking in SWAT and FFA that is live now. The first part of this is almost verbatim from the blog post, followed by more details for the curious.

Some of our higher-skilled players had been struggling to find matches in SWAT and FFA at all because their skill is so high. Although we try to not allow imbalanced matches, we also don’t want to exclude players entirely because of their skill. We want to allow even the highest-skilled players a chance at playing without erroring out of the search.

Usually when this happens we adjust the matchmaker to allow the search to expand just enough to let people play again. This has the downside that as soon as the population shifts, they can’t play again, and must wait for us to re-evaluate and expand the search again. I would prefer if we never have periods of time where certain players just can’t match. I’d like us to fall back on eventually matchmaking anyone after making a best effort for the fairest matches.

This time, instead of letting the search expand just a little bit longer, we now let it expand long enough that no matter how good players get, they will eventually be guaranteed a match without having to restart their search over and over. This also means that the matchmaker will try for a longer period of time than today before it “gives up” and allows anything within the max gap.

Lower-skilled players will potentially see higher-skilled players in their matches more often with the change. If players search Focused, however, they won’t see high-skilled players until waiting 2-3 minutes, making it an unusual occurrence in the middle tiers where most players are

Allowing the search to expand over a longer period should be a good compromise that both allows everyone to play, and still gives the fairest matches available in the playlist at the time of the search.

For those curious about exactly what the change is, here’s a little more detail. Note that I’m giving exact numbers here because I know that’s fun for some of us. But keep in mind they can change scale at any time when needed, so they’re not, like, canon or anything. Just illustrative with a real example.

  • The matchmaker ignores rating values above a certain level. Very few players exceed that level, so this is more like a simplifying step.
  • The matchmaker first tries to find a match within 0.2 of the average skill of the party. A 0.2 gap would give the better team a 53% chance of winning. So this is relatively fair.
  • The matchmaker expands this gap every 5 seconds. For the first 5 seconds, we try for 0.2. In SWAT this grows by 0.15 per second over 2.5 minutes. From 0.2 up to 4.68 by the end of 2.5 minutes. In FFA, skill is more spread out than SWAT, so while it starts at 0.2, it expands by 0.25 every 5 seconds. The maximum expansion for both covers half the distribution of players. So top players can match down to the middle. Likewise, bottom players can match up to the middle.
  • The matchmaker tries for another 2.5 minutes (5 minutes total tops) to try and find someone within the playlist max gap (4.68 for SWAT, 7.84 for FFA). For you stats folks out there, this is 4 standard deviations worth of expanding.

The difference between this and before is that originally, we only expanded for 40 seconds on all playlists, and never allowed a gap greater than 1.0. This results in fairly tight matchmaking, but it also prevents too many people from being able to play Halo, which I don’t think is acceptable.


This tries to ensure anyone can match within 5 minutes.

One other detail that influences all this is whether players search Focused or not. If you aren’t searching Focused, someone that has waited longer than you have can pull you in to any match that THEY are allowed. This means this can happen:
  • High-skilled player waits for 2.5 minutes
  • Mid-skilled player starts searching Balanced.
  • They match immediately.

If you find yourself matching fast into imbalanced matches and would prefer to wait it out and give matchmaker a chance to find something tighter, search Focused instead.

If this works out OK, I’ll consider it for other lists. I’m also seeing if we we can increase the wait times even farther out than 5 minutes so I can slow down the expansion on more competitive lists like HCS. This would let normal folks still match quickly, and have the higher-skilled folks wait for a nice long period of time for another high-skilled team to come along.

Keep in mind that in all of these scenarios, the matchmaker still chooses the best match possible from those available at the time. So even when it stops expanding, it will choose a closer match over a farther one from the final list of players it looks at.


A Way to Increase Playlist Quality

Recent stats we’ve analyzed confirm something we’ve always expected. One of the strongest indicators of match quality for a given playlist is its current population. When the population goes up, so does quality, as population goes down, quality always goes down.

So ideally, we should keep as much of the population together as possible to give higher quality matchmaking to everyone.

For example, when we take a playlist, and split it between Ranked and Social, matchmaking quality ALWAYS goes down. We’ve never seen it improve doing this. Basically, the benefits of separating the two are almost always overcome by the reduced match quality. This is even more apparent in skilled playlists because the more important skill is to the gameplay, the higher the population you need for quality matchmaking.

One option I have some experience with in other games to alleviate this is instead of splitting a Ranked list, let players choose Ranked or Social, but matchmake them together. Those that match Social don’t have their Ranks or stats affected. The result is higher quality matchmaking for everyone. We can even adjust the MMR of Social players so we don’t put them on your team if they aren’t in “try hard” mode.

We could also have some lists be Ranked or Social only (e.g. HCS vs. Action Sack) when appropriate.

Downsides I’ve heard:
  • “I don’t want someone on my team who doesn’t care if they win or lose.” Besides the fact that people tend to still care even if they are playing Social, we could consider never putting Ranked and Social players on the same team.
  • “Although Social players usually lean back and relax, sometimes they lean forward, resulting in them playing much better than expected and making the match imbalanced” I’ve heard this complaint, but rarely seen it happen in practice. Player performance doesn’t vary enough in stats to support this.
  • “Ranked teams can convince Social ones to throw the game for free wins in Ranked” In games I’ve seen this option in, I haven’t noticed this having a large impact. But, to reduce the impact of this effect, we could make some playlists Ranked-only (e.g. HCS).


Anyways, this is an option I’m looking at in the future because it has greatly improved matchmaking quality in my experience. Let me know what you think.
I don't see too much downside in the idea of combining the two. With Halo 5, even social matchmaking can be as sweaty as ranked the majority of the time, so there's really no difference except in the map/mode combinations. It'd be cool to see something like this, if not for Halo 5 than Halo 6 for sure:

HCS (Ranked Only)
Slayer
Objective
BTB
Swat
Doubles
Breakout/Extermination
Snipers (possibly Shotty Snipes if you choose social?)
FFA (Vetoed's Settings for Ranked, Current Settings [plus King of the Hill, Oddball] for Social)
Action Sack, Griffball, and Infection (Social Only, possibly combined)
I think Halo players want set "Ranked" and "Social" playlists, it was never an issue in H2/H3. It just needs to be there at launch, not months after when the population is already lower, and then split even more.

It seems you're doing a good job tweaking the current system, but with such a low population it's hard to be ideal. The more important issue which you hinted at is WHY aren't people playing these playlists?

If a playlist has a bad population, or is trending downward, then it needs to be optimized quickly. FFA hasn't been touched in what, 14 months? As I've said, you couldn't pay me to play it. But a simple update such as BR starts, or newer maps may make people want to play. Increasing the XP is another example of enticing players to play, individual playlist XP ranks (ala H3) is another way to keep people motivated to play a playlist. Add a special XP payout for playing 50 games in a playlist, etc.

The game/ranking system/progression system need to be fun, enticing, and rewarding. I do not feel like H5 has much of the latter 2. After a few seasons it's just kinda like "Meh. What's the point of playing ranked, it's going to disappear soon and this emblem is worthless."
so far so good
One question Josh, I am currently Diamond 1 on Swat and I know I'm supposed to search focused for tighter matches but if i decide to search balanced or expanded and ended up matching with high skilled onyx/champs does that means I still lose the same amount of CSR for a loss?
V Agonia wrote:
One question Josh, I am currently Diamond 1 on Swat and I know I'm supposed to search focused for tighter matches but if i decide to search balanced or expanded and ended up matching with high skilled onyx/champs does that means I still lose the same amount of CSR for a loss?
No, you will lose a lot less CSR if you have a harder match.
I'm fine with combining. Especially if it increases chance of better matches.
Honestly I think merging the playlist isnt too bad of an idea.

I wanted to ask you a seperate question though about party matchmaking. One annoying issue right now is having someone in your party drop out while searching for a game. As then they either have to sit out for the remainder of that game or all of us quit out of the match. Is there any possible way for the game to either back us out or notify us and give us an option to back out when someone lags out? A lot of the times someone lags out isnt obvious either for example ive had plenty of occasions where we are searching, find a game, and then get told by someone in my party that they are still in the search screen. The rest of the party only ends up seeing them lag out and get replaced as the game is pretty much done loading. We have even seen them still be present on the party list on the right of the screen but not in the list of all the players being matched up. This seems to have been quite often recently too.

On a similar note. In terms of ranked play. Is there any way that you guys could allow players that lag out to rejoin the ranked game they lagged out of? This is present in games such as CS:GO and R6: Siege and it would be nice to see it in Halo. Maybe even punish quitters by not allowing them to join any game other than the one they quit out of. Im sure this has been mentioned before but I thought i might bring it up again.
I'm intrigued by the idea of combining ranked and social. I still match plenty of people in ranked who don't seem to care whether they win or lose or just don't know how to play anyway, so I don't see this affecting much on that front.
Josh, regarding your idea about combining ranked and social players -- how would that affect CSR post-game adjustments? If I understand correctly, right now the adjustment is based on the average CSR difference of the two teams (while MM is determined by MMR). If one team is playing ranked, and the other is social, how will you determine the post-game CSR update amounts?
So would this merger only apply to playlists that are already ranked or can current social playlists become ranked as well like BTB for example?

How often do you think social and ranked teams would match up? Wouldn't this kind of diminish the ranks value if you're playing ranked, but matching people that are thinking it's social so they may not give it their all resulting in an easier win? I guess it would greatly depend on my first question of how often they're matching up though.
I know it isnt something you addressed in this update but I had a thought about trying to even out the gametypes you play in HCS. We often see players complain that they play too much slayer in HCS. The current system prioritizes each of the 13 map and gamemode combinations equally resulting in 6 of the 13 options being slayer. Even with the most recently played gamemode being moved to the bottom of the hopper, we still see slayer is the most played gamemode and is often played back to back. Obviously with slayer being nearly half of the possibilities, you are bound to see it most often. What if, instead of prioritizing each of the 13 gametypes equally, we have each of the 3 gamemodes prioritized equally. Once 1 of the 3 gamemodes is determined using the same hopper system already in place, it then repeats the process but with the maps within that gamemode. This, in theory, allows you to play different gamemodes more often. The only sacrifice that I can see is that you get to play each of the slayer maps less frequently.

This is just something I came up with and may have been an idea already brought up before but I figured I would share and see what you think.
I would like to see:
HCS Arena
HCS FFA
HCS Doubles
Swat
Breakout
Social skirmish (obj and slayer)
BTB
other social playlist (infection, fiesta, etc..)
Typically I don't complain, however with the HCS playlist and the new ranking "updates" I have learned that it is nearly impossible to rank up as a solo player. I have different smurf accounts that I play on as well as a main. My main Is onyx because I play with a squad however my solo accounts are consistently low diamond, high plat. On the plat account I typically match with Gold players on my team and it becomes impossible to carry some players. This ranking system has nothing to do with player skill and all to do with wins and losses. however I have had a large number of games where I will pull slayer have 20+ kills and still lose a game because I match with people who are new to the game or who seemingly have no clue on what they are doing. this wouldn't be an issue if it was every so often however it tends to be every single game. One of my smurf accounts is SoBE JG, take a look at the last couple game sessions I have experienced on that account and see that there is terrible inconsistency with MatchMaking (ranked based and skill based).
Actually i wanted up to bring up another issue. Is there any chance you guys could stop the whole getting rematched against the same people the very next game? There is nothing more frustrating then running into a To4, losing, and the matching them up again the very next game. Ive even had situations where ive rematched a To4 3 games in a row. I feel this would also help alleviate some of the issues people have with running into teams when solo queuing.

If a player/s loses to a set of players then they should not match up against them again until possibly a few games later. Or at least when possible have the game make sure to shuffle the players around enough.
Hi Josh, I was just wondering if the new search perimeters in FFA only apply to Expanded? I ask this because I have had FFA time out on me twice after reading this searching on Balanced. Is there really that small of a FFA population in Australia at least at that time?
Hope we see this change implemented in Team Arena, it's even more difficult to find high level matches there now than in Swat.
GhostX 117 wrote:
Honestly I think merging the playlist isnt too bad of an idea.

I wanted to ask you a seperate question though about party matchmaking. One annoying issue right now is having someone in your party drop out while searching for a game. As then they either have to sit out for the remainder of that game or all of us quit out of the match. Is there any possible way for the game to either back us out or notify us and give us an option to back out when someone lags out? A lot of the times someone lags out isnt obvious either for example ive had plenty of occasions where we are searching, find a game, and then get told by someone in my party that they are still in the search screen. The rest of the party only ends up seeing them lag out and get replaced as the game is pretty much done loading. We have even seen them still be present on the party list on the right of the screen but not in the list of all the players being matched up. This seems to have been quite often recently too.

On a similar note. In terms of ranked play. Is there any way that you guys could allow players that lag out to rejoin the ranked game they lagged out of? This is present in games such as CS:GO and R6: Siege and it would be nice to see it in Halo. Maybe even punish quitters by not allowing them to join any game other than the one they quit out of. Im sure this has been mentioned before but I thought i might bring it up again.
These are all features we also like and are considering for the future.
RzR J3ST3R wrote:
Josh, regarding your idea about combining ranked and social players -- how would that affect CSR post-game adjustments? If I understand correctly, right now the adjustment is based on the average CSR difference of the two teams (while MM is determined by MMR). If one team is playing ranked, and the other is social, how will you determine the post-game CSR update amounts?
CSR is usually adjusted as the average difference in MMR between teams, but with your CSR substituted in for your MMR. There's an exception where player that have way higher MMR than the rest of the players will just use their CSR vs. the opponent team's average MMR.

As long as everyone has MMRs, it works fine.

We can't do CSR vs. CSR because MMR is so efficient for matching and team balancing, that CSR would never move if we did that.
LUKEPOWA wrote:
So would this merger only apply to playlists that are already ranked or can current social playlists become ranked as well like BTB for example?

How often do you think social and ranked teams would match up? Wouldn't this kind of diminish the ranks value if you're playing ranked, but matching people that are thinking it's social so they may not give it their all resulting in an easier win? I guess it would greatly depend on my first question of how often they're matching up though.
It would open up the possibility for having more Ranked lists like BTB, yes.

How often would depend on how much of the population play as Social / Ranked.

But as for diminishing the value, that ends up working out fine. If people play worse when they play Social, they would have their MMRs drop and they would play against worse teams instead of playing against you.

The very top teams would probably rarely see Social opponents if Social players really don't "try hard" enough.
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