If you are a gamer familiar with PVP games, and especially shooters, you are probably accustomed to dealing with matchmaking. Regardless of the title, genre, or franchise, matchmaking is the way players are matched in lobbies or servers to play against each other. Most gamers unanimously agree that dedicated servers are a ground level expectation for a more consistent game experience. However, even with more reliable connections there are problems that can plague and ruin the online experience, turning new or veteran players away. There are a variety of ways I think they can improve the player experience, beyond just making lag less of a problem.
In my experience with competitive gaming, there tends to be two types of player: the lone wolf and the team player. I’m sure there are exceptions to this, and periodically I’ve met hybrid players who enjoy both sides of the fence, but generally this is how it breaks down. An easy way to help congregate players of similar play styles would be to have a player profile that you fill out when you first get the game. It could ask you simple questions about what you like to do and how you play. Do you primarily go for the win or for kills? Do you like to communicate with your teammates or typically have your mic unplugged? Sure, some people would fill it out wrong, but for the most part players enjoy having their egos stroked, and these questions could easily be worded in a way to do just that. And if you phrase them as I have, in a dichotomous way, most players would answer correctly. This would help minimize self-focused players frustrating team-focused players, and would also help flow into my next idea: team finder lobbies.
Team Finder Lobbies
I think one of the leading causes of so many players just giving up on playing for the win or communicating with their team is how hard it can be to find a team to play with. But if you offered “team finder lobbies”, players could search for games and end up in lobbies and matches where most of the people are also looking for a team to hook up with. If this was combined properly with the player profiles then people with similar play styles and preferences could slowly fill their friends list with gamers to play with. In fact, without the player profile element this idea wouldn’t work that well because self-focused players would intentionally search for games in “team finder lobbies” because they would know all the teams were full of randoms. You would also have to disallow parties or grouped players larger than 2 or 3 Whether you play Call of Duty, Battlefield, or Titanfall, 90% of the game modes are team based, so creativity and innovation is needed to improve bringing people together who actually care about objectives instead of just going for kills. And another way to promote this and make connection priority stay on top is by having team only lobbies.
Team Only Lobbies
I already praised the matchmaking in Destiny’s new game mode The Trials of Osiris in a previous post and video. The main point I made in those posts was that making connection the top priority in matchmaking should not be considered innovative but should be the foundational standard. One of the reasons they can make connection the number one factor when matching players is because only full teams can search for games in The Trials of Osiris. This simplifies the entire process as matchmaking just needs to find another full team with similar connection speeds and region instead of gathering all random people. The other benefit to this is that many players have probably been discouraged from playing team based games due to getting shellacked by full teams as they jump from game to game playing with a revolving door of random non-communicative players. That is undoubtedly another cause to so many players playing team based games and focusing only on their performance as winning and finding a team starts to feel hopeless. So it would benefit players who enjoy playing with a team as well as those who have just given up. The end result here might be a slightly smaller player pool on the outset, but as the competition and fun increases, reviews and word would spread, incentivizing other players to try it out. And one of my friends pointed out recently, becoming a camp master and pulling off good kill/death ratio is old news as such a large number of players have proven they can do that. Honestly any player with a reasonable amount of skill and patience can put up good numbers, especially when they avoid team death match and leverage objective based games to snag easy kills. Working together as a team and pulling off major feats is far more thrilling, exciting, and fun, which leads to my next and final section.
Better Game Modes
Players wouldn’t be the only thing to benefit from team only lobbies. Another area that would benefit from this type of lobby would be more elaborate game modes. It’s difficult to ask teams to do complex or layered objectives when so many people aren’t communicating or even in the same party. But if you narrow the entry point into the game modes by requiring full teams you can start to open up the games and add more objectives or specific roles. If you think about most of the objectives in the majority of games right now, they are pretty simple and kind of repetitive (another reason people lose interest). This is why you will continue to hear me say that I think games like Overwatch, Battleborn, and Gigantic will hopefully add more depth, fun, and creativity to the competitive shooter genre. But other games like Titanfall 2 and future shooter titles like Homeland need to come up with better ways to not just repeat old matchmaking mistakes or recycle tired game modes. Time will tell, but it is definitely time for a change.
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