Forums / Games / Halo 5: Guardians

H5 Guardians: Next-Generation Matchmaking

OP NNMS MXMS

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TL;DR: SEE THIS. If matching and skill estimation are decoupled from the playlist and players are allowed to search multiple gametypes, then truly custom searches become possible even with low population.

Friendly request: If you think this is a good idea, consider leaving a response (however short) to keep the thread alive. The longer it stays alive, the more likely it is that someone important may see it.
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With the MP for Guardians billed as "next-generation arena", perhaps 343i ought to consider making the matchmaking next generation to suit. Specifically, the playlist-style matchmaking system used by previous games and the MCC is antiquated and unnecessary. It has the following downsides:

1. The matching pool is restricted to individual playlists, reducing the number of matching opportunities.

2. To keep matching pools large enough, playlists must contain multiple gametypes that may not appeal to all players searching in the list.

3. Multiple gametypes within a list are the reason behind the suboptimal voting method in H4 and MCC, and contributes to pre-game quits if the desired map/gametype combination is not selected.

4. The above contributes to either uneven teams, restart of the search and matching process, or the need for JIP.

5. Gametypes that are not popular enough to sustain their own lists are either eliminated or made rotational, which limits the opportunities for those who wish to play them.

6. Matching is not done on a first-in, first-out basis, leading to a large number of players tied up in partial lobbies which both extends search times and reduces the quality of matching.

However, there is a way to eliminate or minimize all of the above. Let's investigate.
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Rather than restricting players to playlists, players should be allowed to customize their search in whatever way they want. Using the MCC as an example, why could I not search like this? For people who just want the ease that standard playlists provide, well, that is present. For those who wish a bit more control over what they play, that is present as well.

When performing matching, an Xbox Live server pools all players by gametype (with "CE One-Flag" and "CE Multi-Flag" being treated as separate gametypes, for example). Per the image above, players can be present in multiple pools. Then the following process is repeated:

1. The best possible match is calculated for the player that has been searching for the longest time across all gametypes based on whatever factors 343i wants to use for weighting (which will most likely vary based on search time).

2. If no good match can be found, the system moves to the next oldest player.

3. If the search time for the oldest player is sufficiently long, that player can begin "reserving" other players that meet match criteria (but not otherwise).

4. Once a good match is found, connect those players' consoles and place them in a lobby.

5. Return to step 1.

The reason for matching as described is to prevent partial lobbies. Any time a partial lobby forms, players are removed from the matching pool for all other lobbies. This extends search times for everyone. If the first-in, first-out method is used (with reasonable exceptions), the only players that are stuck in lobbies are ones in full lobbies.

Since everyone has an opportunity to search only for the gametypes they want to play, lobbies can be locked immediately upon formation. There is no longer any need to allow people to quit a lobby. Moreover, there is no longer any need for people to vote on gametype. The gametype can be system selected upon lobby formation since only people that searched for that gametype will be included in the lobby. Once in the lobby, the only "vote" required can either be FOR a map choice or VETOING a proposed map (after which the system automatically selects an alternate map).

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In terms of skill ranking / matching, this can be done by grouping. For example, the skill estimate for group "CTF" could include performance in gametypes CE 1-Flag, CE Multiflag, H2 1-Flag, etc. The "CTF" group would be used for the skill portion of the matching for each of those gametypes. The benefit of decoupling skill from the playlist is that playlists can be freely altered without affecting anyone's skill estimate or rank.

Since most players will search multiple gametypes at once, the effective matching pool for all gametypes increases. Right now, 4v4 Slayer, FFA, SWAT, Snipers, and Big Team Slayer all have separate matching pools. A player cannot appear in more than one pool. However, many players (like me) would search all of those lists simultaneously if given the option to do so. That greatly increases the number of players for matching for all gametypes.

Take H4 as an example. When Legendary Slayer was implemented, I could only search in either Team Slayer or Legendary. Because Legendary was less popular, the matches were less even and, hence, less fun. So in H4 we had (example):

Team Slayer: 4,500 player pool
Legendary: 800 player pool

However, many of those Team Slayer players might have wanted to play Legendary, but were avoiding it because of the matching difficulty. Let's just suppose that a mere 15% of the Team Slayer searchers fit into that category. Let's also assume that 25% of the Legendary players would likewise have been happy with a Team Slayer match. With the method described here, the effective pools become:

Team Slayer: 4,900 player pool
Legendary: 1,475 player pool

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Unlike the traditional playlist method - which ties both skill and matching pools to the playlist content - this method (a) matches by gametype, (b) calculates / matches skill by group, and (c) utilizes playlists only to provide pre-set search parameters.

Matching like this would yield the following benefits:

1. Players would always get the gametype they want.

2. The need for eliminating gametypes or rotating playlists disappears.

3. The effective matching pool increases for ALL playlists, leading to faster and more even matches.

4. Lobbies can be locked, reducing lobby quits and the need for restarting searches or JIP.

5. Even players searching for games with miniscule populations can eventually find a game without diluting the player pools from other playlists.

6. Altering, reorganizing, and regrouping games in playlists has no impact on search pools or skill / rank.

The reason I chose MCC for the menu example is that it is far more complex and contains far more gametypes than any standalone game. I believe the generic format presented is simple, intuitive, and easy to navigate. And if it can be made that way for the MCC, it can most certainly be made to work in a standalone game.

I hope 343i considers something like this. It's about time to move the matchmaking process forward.
If I worked @ 343i right now, you would would be hired and put in charge of... a lot of stuff.
While I like the idea, this postulates a high population, one of the things halo is struggling with
nekrulz wrote:
While I like the idea, this postulates a high population, one of the things halo is struggling with
Sounds to me like one of the big selling points is that it makes more of low populations than the current system....
nekrulz wrote:
While I like the idea, this postulates a high population, one of the things halo is struggling with
No . . . one of the main benefits of this is that it works for low populations.

By allowing players to search for many more gametypes simultaneously than traditional playlists, you allow a player to appear in more matching pools. Because a player can appear in more matching pools, the effective population for matching increases.

It is the traditional playlist that requires large populations because the playlists segregate players into small matching pools. This does not.
NNMS MXMS wrote:
nekrulz wrote:
While I like the idea, this postulates a high population, one of the things halo is struggling with

No . . . one of the main benefits of this is that it works for low populations.

By allowing players to search for many more gametypes simultaneously than traditional playlists, you allow a player to appear in more matching pools. Because a player can appear in more matching pools, the effective population for matching increases.

It is the traditional playlist that requires large populations because the playlists segregate players into small matching pools. This does not.
oh..I see
But when I want to play say ts br only, I only select ts br which ends up in the same situation?
This has my support. I have posted almost the exact concept on other threads. I like the idea of a checkbox system for matchmaking, especially for general social play.

For ranked play, I am not sure the checkbox system really works.
nekrulz wrote:
NNMS MXMS wrote:
nekrulz wrote:
While I like the idea, this postulates a high population, one of the things halo is struggling with


No . . . one of the main benefits of this is that it works for low populations.

By allowing players to search for many more gametypes simultaneously than traditional playlists, you allow a player to appear in more matching pools. Because a player can appear in more matching pools, the effective population for matching increases.

It is the traditional playlist that requires large populations because the playlists segregate players into small matching pools. This does not.

oh..I see
But when I want to play say ts br only, I only select ts br which ends up in the same situation?
Yes. Key word is "same". If everyone is uber-restrictive about what they want to search for, it becomes the same as the current situation. As the number of players simultaneously searching multiple gametypes increases, the effective matching population rises.
DcIhNaGv3z wrote:
This has my support. I have posted almost the exact concept on other threads. I like the idea of a checkbox system for matchmaking, especially for general social play.

For ranked play, I am not sure the checkbox system really works.
There's no reason not to have the ranked variants selectable alongside the social ones. All the ranked ones need is a "(Ranked)" at the end of the name to distinguish them from social.

In a standalone game, there won't be as many options as MCC, so the menus will look far less cluttered even if ranked games are broken out separately.
Disclaimer, I looked at the picture, but didn't read. So if you spoke about this, whatever, agree to disagree or something along those lines....

Halo has be behind on the times when it comes to searching for games. Many console games in general have been. One thing I've been disappointed in is a browser for searching. I know that sounds dumb, but what I mean is.. now that there are dedicated servers running the games, why don't they have a server browser. That would allow the player to chose the best connection and specific game they want to play.

Taking this a step farther, would it be hard, if there was a low population for Halo, to have a custom games browser also? Not really. Just host the customs on servers also, then let the players add a title and description to the gametype. Since all gametypes are a variation of one specific gametype (slayer, ctf, grifball) it would make it easy to filter the results you get with whatever you want to play (probably along the lines of what you were spelling out. Again, I didn't read into it very much.)

This would help with testing forge maps, gametypes, and all sorts of things because people would have easy access to the custom game. It wouldn't rely on coming into contact with a player and getting an invite. This could also help with potential JiP (although I don't agree with it in standard Halo play) if the custom gametype allowed it.

There are really many different ways this could help out Halo, but if it seems to difficult, there could always be the default matchmaking services that do all that for you already anyways.
@ Doogles:

I agree with both. They address slightly different issues than what I was addressing, but they would definitely be welcome additions.
This thread needs to be more popular, this is a fantastic idea. I fully support this. Also, how have you not been contacted by 343i yet Caboose, all I see are amazing ideas coming from you.
I'd like to point out that every time a developer throws "next generation" in front of something it just means they're about to BS you.
I'd really like this as well as Doogles customs idea. A huge part of Halo for me is customs. It'd be great to be able to search instead of trying to get people together.
Idiolectic wrote:
This thread needs to be more popular, this is a fantastic idea. I fully support this. Also, how have you not been contacted by 343i yet Caboose, all I see are amazing ideas coming from you.
I doubt they pay much attention to Waypoint for recruiting . . . for obvious reasons. Lol. And maybe my ideas suck. I think they're good or I wouldn't propose them . . . but I'm a rather biased judge of their merit.

Also, threads like this may not help leave a good impression . . .

Thanks for the support, though. The problem with topics like this is that they are more technical than the typical "ur doing it rong" or "sprint is destructing halo" or "omg deez noobs is garbige" threads, so they are not as fun to post in - much less read.
Yes, because everyone wants to play the same map and gametype all day every day.
NNMS MXMS wrote:
Thanks for the support, though. The problem with topics like this is that they are more technical than the typical "ur doing it rong" or "sprint is destructing halo" or "omg deez noobs is garbige" threads, so they are not as fun to post in - much less read.
The problem with topics like this is that they're too reasonable to have anything to disagree with. There's little to discuss here, this idea is obviously better from matchmaking perspective than the classical system. Mind you, it's not the first time I've seen it pitched. But there's really few downsides to this that I can see. It essentially just replaces the premade playlists with a system that allows the player to build their own.

That said, there is one problem I have: the disappearance of unpopular gametypes. The more control you give to the player over what they will play, the larger the gap between popular and unpopular gametypes will grow. This is a problem I've seen with voting. When players were allowed to vote in Reach, you saw popular maps and gametypes emerge, and the less popular pushed down. As much as Slayer on Hemorrhage might have been more fun than CTF on [some Forge map] or Territories on Spire, it gets really stale fast when Slayer on Hemorrhage is all you get. As frustrating as it might have been to get Guardians vetoed to Isolation in Halo 3, at least it kept the experience more varied.

Giving players more control over what they get to play makes their experience less varied in the long term. They will opt for the safe choices, and it's possible they never get to try something they might end up enjoying. And even though they prefer on gametype over another, they may still want to play it from time to time. And even if they tick the box for that gametype, it might be that there are not enough other players that they'll always end up finding a match for some other gametype. And if it's just an "okay" gametype, they're not going to bother searching just that gametype.

That's why I'm a bit torn on the issue of giving players more control over what they play. I could even go as far as to suggest that it might contribute to the faster population drops of Halo Reach and 4 compared to their predecessors. In the end, I don't really know whether it gives a better experience for the players. I'd be ready to experiment with it, but I'm afraid that while it could score high in player opinion polls, it would make players bored faster.
tsassi wrote:

That said, there is one problem I have: the disappearance of unpopular gametypes. The more control you give to the player over what they will play, the larger the gap between popular and unpopular gametypes will grow. This is a problem I've seen with voting. When players were allowed to vote in Reach, you saw popular maps and gametypes emerge, and the less popular pushed down. As much as Slayer on Hemorrhage might have been more fun than CTF on [some Forge map] or Territories on Spire, it gets really stale fast when Slayer on Hemorrhage is all you get. As frustrating as it might have been to get Guardians vetoed to Isolation in Halo 3, at least it kept the experience more varied.

Giving players more control over what they get to play makes their experience less varied in the long term. They will opt for the safe choices, and it's possible they never get to try something they might end up enjoying. And even though they prefer on gametype over another, they may still want to play it from time to time. And even if they tick the box for that gametype, it might be that there are not enough other players that they'll always end up finding a match for some other gametype. And if it's just an "okay" gametype, they're not going to bother searching just that gametype.

That's why I'm a bit torn on the issue of giving players more control over what they play. I could even go as far as to suggest that it might contribute to the faster population drops of Halo Reach and 4 compared to their predecessors. In the end, I don't really know whether it gives a better experience for the players. I'd be ready to experiment with it, but I'm afraid that while it could score high in player opinion polls, it would make players bored faster.
There is truth in what you say. I think reasonable compromises can be reached. There are some there already . . . there aren't separate selections for "Neutral Flag", "1-Flag", "Multi-Flag", etc. in the CTF selection. But more could be made. For example, Assault is really just inverse CTF. In a title that includes both, the selection need be no more specific than "Assault / CTF". "Territory Objectives" could include Territories, Dominion, and KoTH. Some restriction on the specificity with which players can search is a good thing. Playlists, however, take that too far.

Part of your staleness concern is addressed with removal of gametype voting. With the above, there is no longer any need to vote for a gametype. The system determines it. Along with that, I would prefer vetoing maps rather than voting for maps. If a map is vetoed, whatever map the system chooses next is what you will play on. Those two things address the staleness of BTS on Valhalla / Ragnarok over and over and over and over again.

For "safe" choices, that is definitely true. There are two options there.

The first option is simple - achievements and cosmetic customizations. H4 was on the right track with those (H4 just had some asinine achievements). If you want certain armors - or if you are a completionist - having those incentives will make you play the gametype. That certainly doesn't cover everyone, but it does get a good portion of the population. Another advancement on that idea would be to allow "purchase" of avatar items, armors, etc., by accumulating XP, and to have certain gametypes yield bonus (or exclusively yield) XP on a rotating basis. Or even another, bit more radical idea . . . allowing multiplayer XP earned in certain gametypes to unlock certain options (like selecting a spawn loadout for a mission rather than being stuck with a PP / SMG combo, for example) or skulls in campaign. That could provide an additional benefit of drawing more campaign players into the MP world.

The next option is familiarity. A player may not know what the hell "Dominion" is. No one likes feeling stupid, so the player avoids that game. The one-line explanation next to the gametype really doesn't help explain it at all. Instead, there should be some gameplay video or theater walk-through provided (even map-specific) that shows the game in action and location of the objectives (not everyone uses Forge or Theater, and many have no idea what the Forge objects mean anyway). The devs certainly playtest the crap out of the games . . . all they need to do is save and edit the films, include them on the disk, and provide a link to them next to the gametype. As long as a player feels reasonably comfortable that they know how the game is played, they are far, far more likely to try it than if they have to learn it on the fly.

As far as the always getting matched with the more popular gametypes comment goes . . . with the current way lobbies are formed, that is absolutely true. With the way proposed above, however, it is not. Even if there is only one player who selected only that gametype, he will eventually force a game of that gametype to be formed due to the ability to reserve players. There need only be enough players who have included that gametype in their search to allow a lobby to be filled. So we're talking needing as few as 6 players total . . . not the 100+ for a minimally functional standard playlist. Add to that Doogles' suggestion for a custom games browser, and you now have a reasonable chance of finding any gametype you want, almost regardless of the popularity.
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OK, and what about all non-US gamers, who sick to death of playing over and over on games hosted there??

Thankfully, 343 are going to let us choose the datacenter where we matchmake like titanfall. I would rather a little longer search time, and play a game where lag/latency is kept to a minimum.

Keeping people in large pools means a -Yoink- lagfest for every non-US player.
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