Forums / Community / Matchmaking Feedback & Discussion

[Locked] Welcome back, Josh Menke!

OP Unyshek

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Hey everyone! I’d like to reintroduce our Lead Engagement Designer, Josh Menke (ZaedynFel), to all of you again. Yes, again. Josh was with 343 Industries before the Halo 5 Multiplayer Beta, and designed Halo 5’s skill-based matchmaking system, including CSR. After completing his work with us here, he offered his expertise to Activision for about two years, and has now returned! Josh has worked on ranking systems for numerous games (Starcraft 2, Diablo 3, Black Ops III, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, & more), and the best in the business. We’re all super excited to have him back at the studio, and you should be too!

I know a few of you already preparing some questions about matchmaking, so here he is. Please give Josh a warm welcome back to the Halo community!
It's great to be back!

I'll be listening to your feedback here and I have a goal to give regular updates.

I'm getting ramped up right now on both where I can help most, and also on what is actually doable, so don't be surprised if I don't have earth shattering news immediately.

If you have feedback to give, try and also provide a suggested design to address it. I can then discuss your thoughts and my own thoughts and hopefully we can arrive at some good solutions.

I'll be focusing on good constructive feedback -- both positive and negative --- and I only have time to read so much, so give good concise feedback, OR if you see someone who already gave good feedback, "Like" their post to help boost the good ones. Then it'll be more likely that we'll notice it.

It's great to be here, and I look forward to working with you!

--Josh
Hey Josh, welcome back.

Are you looking to actively tweak Halo 5's matchmaking and ranking systems? If so, would it be possible to force teams to match teams while solo players would only match other solo players/team of twos?

Arena is currently hell for anyone trying to play solo.
Hi Josh, welcome back!
You should hop over to Teambeyond.net on the Halo Forum and talk with some of the passionate fans over there sometime. I'm sure they would love to hear from you. :)
RhysWX wrote:
Hey Josh, welcome back.

Are you looking to actively tweak Halo 5's matchmaking and ranking systems? If so, would it be possible to force teams to match teams while solo players would only match other solo players/team of twos?

Arena is currently hell for anyone trying to play solo.
1) Yes. Still learning how much I can.
2) Sounds like you're suggesting sizes of 3 and up should match sizes of 3 and up. I'm looking into that. It would mean solo players can end up matched with a party of size 3 vs. solo + 3. I'm looking into if that is possible, and / or at least possible to make it less common to play solo vs. 3+

But, yeah, I hear you on the solo player issue.
So a big problem with the CSR ranking system is that someone can be a champion and play with their buddy who is on a "smurf" or new account who is ranked bronze, silver gold whichever and they get matched with silvers, golds, plats. The champion and the "smurf" easily win and their champ gets increased. Is there any way to combat this?
Moda wrote:
So a big problem with the CSR ranking system is that someone can be a champion and play with their buddy who is on a "smurf" or new account who is ranked bronze, silver gold whichever and they get matched with silvers, golds, plats. The champion and the "smurf" easily win and their champ gets increased. Is there any way to combat this?
Yes, there are ways to combat this that we're looking into.

But that said, what would you do?
ZaedynFel wrote:
Moda wrote:
So a big problem with the CSR ranking system is that someone can be a champion and play with their buddy who is on a "smurf" or new account who is ranked bronze, silver gold whichever and they get matched with silvers, golds, plats. The champion and the "smurf" easily win and their champ gets increased. Is there any way to combat this?
Yes, there are ways to combat this that we're looking into.

But that said, what would you do?
I'm sure your aware that the industry standard for party restrictions is to limit the allowed skill range within a party. (Diamond may not search with Gold, etc.)

This differential can be tuned to be more or less forgiving, but I think its pretty safe to say thats the way to go, especially since we have such a large social offering where there are no party restrictions.

As I mentioned to you on Twitter, I'm going to be dropping a colossal essay/review on the current problems (both materialistic and underlying) with CSR. I hope to have more discussions with you in the future, and the Beyond forums would always love to hear more from DoctorJ :)
Welcome back! Any chance you could give some insight into how matchmaking is intended to work? I'm really interested in how the various factors are weighed. I think That would help us think of practical improvements.

In my experience it often seems like i run into TO4's while my team is 4 solo players. Would this be because the system is prioritizing finding matches quickly over teams having comparable party makeups?
In my experience it often seems like i run into TO4's while my team is 4 solo players. Would this be because the system is prioritizing finding matches quickly over teams having comparable party makeups?
We're not preventing those party matchups. That's one of the possible solutions to the problem though.
ZaedynFel wrote:
In my experience it often seems like i run into TO4's while my team is 4 solo players. Would this be because the system is prioritizing finding matches quickly over teams having comparable party makeups?
We're not preventing those party matchups. That's one of the possible solutions to the problem though.
Thanks for the reply. That solution would probably have an adverse effect on wait times depending on the current population, though.

Does the matchmaking system currently consider party size at all?

What about raising the effective MMR of players who are in a party, accounting for the performance boost provided by better coordination?

I think this would allow the system to make better matches without neccisarily having to force party sizes to match.
ZaedynFel wrote:
Thanks for the reply. That solution would probably have an adverse effect on wait times depending on the current population.

Does the matchmaking system even consider party size at all?

What about raising the effective MMR of players who are in a party, accounting for the performance boost provided by better coordination?

I think this would allow the system to make better matches without neccisarily having to force party sizes to match.
Yes, the wait time issue is real, larger parties would wait longer. Depends how many of them there are.

A skill approach is another good suggestion, though very subtle. If we did that, how do you think people would react if they see they're up against a 4-player party? Even a worse 4-player party?
ZaedynFel wrote:
ZaedynFel wrote:
Thanks for the reply. That solution would probably have an adverse effect on wait times depending on the current population.

Does the matchmaking system even consider party size at all?

What about raising the effective MMR of players who are in a party, accounting for the performance boost provided by better coordination?

I think this would allow the system to make better matches without neccisarily having to force party sizes to match.
Yes, the wait time issue is real, larger parties would wait longer. Depends how many of them there are.

A skill approach is another good suggestion, though very subtle. If we did that, how do you think people would react if they see they're up against a 4-player party? Even a worse 4-player party?
I think if more matches ended up being more competitive, people wouldn't mind. People get frustrated when the see the post game carnage report and realize they never had a chance. But if they could see that the system tried to offset some of the advantages,they'd feel better.

I think you'd just have to be realistic when considering how much a players effective mmr would increase due to party size. A party of 4 gold shouldn't see their effective MMR increase so much that they'll be teaming up against 4 solo onxy players. But they might give 4 solo plats a run for their money.
Weclome back. Is there anyway to tune the existing Expanded, Balanced, and Focused settings to premade teams? Somewhere along the lines of Expanded lets you match anyone, and Focused lets you match others with the same fireteam amount only. (to4s vs to4s, solo que only) all packed unto one setting
ZaedynFel wrote:
Moda wrote:
So a big problem with the CSR ranking system is that someone can be a champion and play with their buddy who is on a "smurf" or new account who is ranked bronze, silver gold whichever and they get matched with silvers, golds, plats. The champion and the "smurf" easily win and their champ gets increased. Is there any way to combat this?
Yes, there are ways to combat this that we're looking into.

But that said, what would you do?
I don't have a great answer but I would say make it so the higher ranked player doesn't really decrease or increase much so then the lower ranked goes up and eventually is around the other players rank? This far into Halo 5's life cycle makes CSR a bit tough Im usually high Onyx/ champion in SWAT but then I face long wait times to even find matches so I could see why some people play with lower ranks to just get games.

Also Josh or Uny if you could talk with whoever made the Spartan Ranks in Halo 5 to be such a long grind please ask them to kindly not require so much exp and gametime in Halo 6? lol im sure Unyshek feels my pain.
ZaedynFel wrote:
It's great to be back!

I'll be listening to your feedback here and I have a goal to give regular updates.

I'm getting ramped up right now on both where I can help most, and also on what is actually doable, so don't be surprised if I don't have earth shattering news immediately.

If you have feedback to give, try and also provide a suggested design to address it. I can then discuss your thoughts and my own thoughts and hopefully we can arrive at some good solutions.

I'll be focusing on good constructive feedback -- both positive and negative --- and I only have time to read so much, so give good concise feedback, OR if you see someone who already gave good feedback, "Like" their post to help boost the good ones. Then it'll be more likely that we'll notice it.

It's great to be here, and I look forward to working with you!

--Josh
Welcome back!

After playing H5 multi for about 1.5 year I saw innumerable flaws in matchmaking system many of them regarding networking and high latency, consequence of a low population that force players in less populated zones to switch to EXPANDED option to avoid very long search times.

This is happening mostly to gamers outside North America, which is the most populated zone of the world for this game indeed: for them the choice is
  • use expanded, get games quickly but with high latency 90% of times;
  • Use balanced/focused to reduce latency but with unbearable search times very often leading to timeout messages.
Many people say the principal cause of this behaviour is low population, but I'm wondering: if this is true how can be possible to find games so quickly (almost instantly) in a game like Titan fall 2 which has a lower population than H5 even after restricting search to a specific low ping server?

The main factor i see here is the skill filter "hardcoded" in H5 system, completely absent in Titan fall which has no ranks at all. This filter makes players at average to high ranks unable to match 90% or plus of the other players, isolating them almost completely in some cases.

I'm not saying to make H6 a complete casual game just to make everyone able to find games faster, but you have to find some kind of arrangement because like it is now many players in less populated zones are completely prevented from playing at all, and the higher the rank reached the worse the situation.

Finally I want to say this: do whatever you want with H6 matchmaking and skill systems, but please build them in a way they can interoperate with a preferred server selection system (yes, like Titan fall again): this is a must have in a 2017 multiplayer game running on dedis to provide low latency games for everyone.

Thank you and sorry for my bad English BTW, not my native language.
ZaedynFel wrote:
It's great to be back!

I'll be listening to your feedback here and I have a goal to give regular updates.

I'm getting ramped up right now on both where I can help most, and also on what is actually doable, so don't be surprised if I don't have earth shattering news immediately.

If you have feedback to give, try and also provide a suggested design to address it. I can then discuss your thoughts and my own thoughts and hopefully we can arrive at some good solutions.

I'll be focusing on good constructive feedback -- both positive and negative --- and I only have time to read so much, so give good concise feedback, OR if you see someone who already gave good feedback, "Like" their post to help boost the good ones. Then it'll be more likely that we'll notice it.

It's great to be here, and I look forward to working with you!

--Josh
The Main Problem in Matchmaking Is No Party Restrictions: Like many have said already the main problem with ranked matchmaking is no party restrictions. By party restrictions we mean the process in matchmaking in which you are matched up against a team of like-sized parties. The most balanced way to do this is to make teams of four match teams of four, teams of three match teams of three and they both get a random, teams of two match teams of two and could get either two randoms or they could get another team of two on each side, and finally by having two teams of all solo players.
Possible Solution For Party Restrictions: I understand that not having a big enough population to support party restrictions could be a problem so if that is still a problem, I offer the idea of making it a search preference. This way if people want to find the most fair match possible by having even teams and skill levels, they could flip on the "party restriction" option that forces teams to be even, no matter how long the wait for that match. But if they don't want to wait, let them take it off.

No Built in Leaderboards: This is a problem because it takes away from the competitive intensity for anyone who wants to get a high rank. Having leaderboards would let players know who is above them/below them in rank. It would also be a great form of networking to find other players right around your MMR or overall rank. The leaderboard could feature things like a Twitter/Twitch stream link for each player that chooses to share those.
Solution For Leaderboards: Add the Leaderboards under the multiplayer section in the menu.

No Reward For Achieving High Champion Rank: This is a problem because you don't get anything to show for achieving something that is hard to achieve. Having rewards for achieving certain ranks could lead to a higher population since players would have something to play for.
Solutions for Rewards: It could be anything from in-game skins, armor, and emblems, to out of game prizes like cash and trophies. (I think in League of Legends, high Challenger ranked players receive cool Rings).

Dodging: This is a problem because players can leave the match before it starts without being punished. Players dodge often because they'll either see emblems of very good players, know it's a team of four they matched, or just want to play a different gametype/map.
Solutions for Dodging: It could be hiding the map/gametype and player emblems until the game starts, or just by making a dodge count as a loss.

Boosting: This is a problem because players can search with low ranked players to achieve high MMR accumulation from medium ranked players. Players manipulate the ranking system by playing with an "on purpose low ranked account(s)" aka a Smurf to get easy wins verse the actual low ranked players, which yields lots of MMR to the team with the Smurf since that team was expected to lose for having an overall lower skill sum.
Solution for Boosting: Make the system assume that the lower ranked players are just as good as the highest ranked player in the party. So after a super lop sided match goes down, the system would instead of giving the Smurf team tons of MMR, give that team a very small amount of MMR. And if they lose, instead of them hardly losing any MMR, they lose the average amount. Another solution could be to have a rank difference cap, as in you can only play with players who are either your rank, 1 rank above, or 1 rank below you. (CSGO does something like this).

Lagouts: This is a problem because you get an unexpected loss.
Solution For Lagouts: Have a "reconnect" option for the match. Also have a surrender option for the players in the match if they want the game to just end right away if they truely think it's too late to come back (CSGO does these things).
ZaedynFel wrote:
It's great to be back!

I'll be listening to your feedback here and I have a goal to give regular updates.

I'm getting ramped up right now on both where I can help most, and also on what is actually doable, so don't be surprised if I don't have earth shattering news immediately.

If you have feedback to give, try and also provide a suggested design to address it. I can then discuss your thoughts and my own thoughts and hopefully we can arrive at some good solutions.

I'll be focusing on good constructive feedback -- both positive and negative --- and I only have time to read so much, so give good concise feedback, OR if you see someone who already gave good feedback, "Like" their post to help boost the good ones. Then it'll be more likely that we'll notice it.

It's great to be here, and I look forward to working with you!

--Josh
Josh, welcome back!

I like some of the ideas in the above post from LowGi around party restrictions, leader boards, and rewards for finishing a season in Champion (honestly, having some identifier on your service record or service tag that you ended a season as Champion in a specific playlist would be really cool, not to mention some special helmet/armor/visor/emblem/weapon skin unlocks).

Additionally, I would love if we started breaking up the Onyx ranking in tiers. I've seen some data from halotracker that says something like 12% of gamertags that achieve rank generally fall in Onyx. I'm not really arguing against that %, but it would be nice to have tiers within that rank. These are the players that (making an educated guess here) grind competitive Halo the most, and sometimes it feels like you're stuck in the middle of Onyx, unable to reach Champion, and there's less incentive to keep playing.

I think it'd be awesome to get into Onyx and, based on your CSR within Onyx, be able to say, "oh, I'm a Commander in Onyx". It would be a cool throwback to the H3 days:

Onyx Tiers: Major (bottom 30% of Onyx), Commander (31-60%), Colonel (61-80%), Brigadier (80-95%), General (top 5% before Champion), 5-Star General (Champion). You could also tell the players what CSR they need to achieve in order to get to the next tier (this could be tied into Leader boards somehow).

Last thought: Any chance you guys could do a write-up on the CSR formula, how it works, and how the matching algorithm works? Then change the write-up as changes are made? It's hard to make suggestions for improvement without knowing the inner mathematical workings.

Thanks for reading!
Problem - Willingness To Grind: Another problem I forgot to mention is that a lot of players don't have the willingness to grind because they lose their rank each season or they feel stuck at the same rank. It can be boring not seeing much of a change.
Solution For Willingness To Grind: Is by having exp per playlist(or a progressive rank) that wouldn't reset after each season, instead it would be permanent. Halo 3 did this by giving players 1 exp for a win, 0 exp for a loss, and -1 exp for quitting out. I remember you went through the little ranks for the first 100 exp to get captain, 150 for major, 200 for commander, 300 was colonel, 400 was brigadier, 500 was general, 1,000 was general grade 2, 1,500 was general grade 3, and 2,000 was 5 star general. This was cool because there were so many playlists that it would be so hard for anyone to get a general in them all, especially a 5 star general. The main reason behind it was to give players a reason to grind and to let everyone eventually get a general in a playlist, even if they didn't get to skill level 50. I liked it because you got to see who played what playlist and how much they played it. I also liked it because you could set goals in matchmaking based on getting a certain amount of exp a day which made it hard to get bored.
Welcome back!

Lots of ideas in this thread are similar to mine so I'll keep it short.

1) We need either solo queue ranked playlists or party restrictions. If you can't make it strictly parties vs parties, then try and make it so parties only match solo players after a certain time period has passed so they can get a game.

2) Make the matching more restrictive so champions can't search with bronze players for example which can result in them matching very lower tiered players creating a mismatch. Maybe make it so only a two rank tier difference could be allowed so champions could search with a high diamond for example.

3) We need more incentive to play ranked. Getting a generic emblem isn't really motivating.
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