Skill, Matchmaking, and Ranking Systems Design



In this 2016 GDC sesion, Activision’s Josh Menke discusses how skill can be properly used for matchmaking and how good matchmaking can free gameplay designers to design with depth, and suggests best practices for ranking systems.

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In this 2016 GDC sesion, Activision’s Josh Menke discusses how skill can be properly used for matchmaking and how good matchmaking can free gameplay designers to design with depth, and suggests best practices for ranking systems.

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All Comments

  • I wish there is an option to play a game without all this bullshit these overpriced n00b idiots implemented

    Mario D. Zmaj July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • Mechwarrior Online right now 23:15

    BLOOD WOLF July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • It's always been interesting to me to watch Josh try to show angry people why they're wrong. He keeps pretty calm and just presents information more-so than opinion and people mistake it for opinion and not just presenting factual information (reporting, not interpreting). His experience is vast and deep and the information he's privy to is much greater than the angry players upset by the systems in place so when they get angry at him, all I really see is someone who's mad that the results of the game got documented in great mass, calculated, then put into play. Like if I had 10 kills and 20 deaths one game, when all people in the lobby typically average 15 kills and 10 deaths, then I get mad at the result and rather than trying to improve myself, I'd just blame the system for not making sure I was supposed to be the top player in the lobby.

    Giranam0 Harper July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • Modern warfare 2019 sbmm is garbage btw

    Arash July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • Let one thing be said tough: The tighter your matchmaking, and the fairer your games, the less rewarding will actually being good at your game be.

    If i put a 1000 hours in your game and you will only matchmake me with other people of equal skill, i will never get the feeling of actually improving, since my opponents improve alongside me. This can be extremely frustrating and keep players from trying to master your game and put a long time into it.

    Matchmaking sound so obvious and necessary, but it definitely has it's downsides which must be considererd.

    Iamyour FAN July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • The guy didn't go easy on the memes.

    Marcus July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • why not just use a server browser?

    Cubapete July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • Well, wrote a post on a certain forum detailing this talk, so here are the approx question times, as i have them:
    42:30
    43:25
    46:05
    47:25
    48:30
    50:35
    51:15
    51:40
    52:30
    53:45
    55:20
    56:55
    58:30
    59:30

    And the details of the questions:
    Q1: 42:30–44:20 about server sending lots of games versus sending one game to the client. also about player churn between these two.

    Q2: 43:25–46:00 have you ever been privy to any goals or motivation for not having a 50/50 win-loss goal?

    Q3: 46:05–47:20 The skil system you talked about based on win/losses, similar to elo, have you though about using more in game metrics to rank players, like about different roles and position in moba's?

    Q4: 47:25–48:30 experience on small player games–how large does the playerbase need to be to make a skill based matchmaking system make sense?

    Q5: 48:30–50:30 What are your thoughts on decay, about skill being lowered the longer someone does not play. such as if someone doesn't play a moba for a month the meta changes, even if the individual player's skill does not.

    Q6: 50:35–51:10 It seems like a player's skill variance would account for someone not playing for a while, so why decay the rating? Isn't the math supposed to handle that?

    Q7: 51:15–50:40 When you matchmake, you do it on the chunks right? Not granularly? Like if you're going to match anyone in silver, you just match them against anyone in silver–or do you do 2200 versus 2300?

    Q8: 50:40–52:25 The popularity of the hybrid system, I feel like LoL and these games are like going to go through this progression based system, and then transfer you over when we're sure you're ready, because we don't want you to drop or bounce because we're seeing this number go down. Can you talk a little bit more about that, because you were saying "oh, just go skill" which is obviously a seductive thing if you're making an esport kind of game, but you're just worried about people just bouncing from the game.

    Q9: 52:30–53:40 Do you have critical mass issues in games? how you weigh the tradeoffs between giving people matches that are not great for them to wait long, versus making them wait to get a better match, and how you balance those factors?

    Q10: 53:45–55:15 So for some games that have different roles, players might have different skill levels, depending on what they end up doing. Any thoughts on hwo you can matchmake and determine skill based on the roll they end up playing? both about situations where the role is pre-chosen and is post-chosen of mathmaking

    Q11: 55:20–56:50 What are the dynamics of skill over time? So if you start off with a given skill distribution, you showed high skill players at a constant skill, but bad players skill creeping up over time earlier. Do you see the opposite effect where everyone is normally distributed that the variance of skill narrows, or feels constant over a game?

    Q12: 56:55–58:25 How do you think ranked reset effect hybrid models? Once a year you reset, and good players get a higher rank to start, and lower players a lower rank. For example in HS, players reset every month. Players get caught up in the middle after reset and causing discomfort in bad players.

    Q13: 58:30–59:25 But do you think maybe you would have, just a larger difference in reset? Say if i was a 11 player in HS who resets to rank 15, if i set them at rank 12 instead, where they're unlikely to meet up with newer players, or bad players, do you think there are different ways like that?

    Q14: 59:30–1:00:40 How would you deal with players who might intentionally lose to "smurf" to try to play against worse players?

    PlanarHOTS July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • Daddy Menke is lit af

    JtheDruggernaut July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • This was really helpful. Thank you!

    Cyrus Cuenca July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • Monster hunter had all of these gripes including the hybrid ranking system wall lol

    Kristopher Driver July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • Please let this man work on League.

    J-Ryze July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • I don't wanna sound toxic, but looking at the comment section… It feels like most of the people here are way to dumb to understand what Josh is trying to explain.
    Maybe read a book instead of reading Twitter and salty Reddit posts.

    _Masko_ July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • just put the player together and let them kill eachother, for god sakes

    NewSystem July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • Although I disagree with many opinions presented I still thank you very much for sharing. It helped me ensure I’m not missing anything and made me more confident that I’m headed the right direction.

    Jakub Pawlowski July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • The design philosophies he preaches here and the reality of Halo 5's matchmaking could not be further apart.

    Basu July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • this was an amazing discussion, sucks that some of the top comments are focusing on something not even related

    daz July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • How much dedicated RAM should my minecraft server have?

    Luke TheNotable July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • When will there be an interview on these game companies web site designs? Is there already a video on a discussion like this?

    Southern Hemisphere July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply
  • Great talk and interesting to think about how this works in OW.

    Gabriel Stav July 5, 2020 10:54 pm Reply

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