Tuesday, February 03, 2009

matchmaking by values

Ah, the immortal hardcore-casual debate. Look, there are two kinds of gamers:

this guy

... and this guy.

Alright, so it's not that simple, but you get my point.

For many gamers, the greatest thrill is found in achievement; beating the odds, surpassing all obstacles, being better than your fellows, and (above all) winning. Such people don't just handle struggle, they embrace it. The harder the challenge, the greater the achievement.

For other gamers, like me, the greatest thrills are found in unexpected moment-to-moment experiences. While other folks are busting their butts for trophies and bragging rights, we're on the sideline enjoying hot dogs and cheerleaders. Sure, we're out to achieve goals to, but we're taking our time about it, going the scenic route, loving the distractions, and laughing as we tackle challenges in the most inefficient ways.

Why, oh why, do developers keep shoving us together?

Don't get me wrong. The best multiplayer systems capitalize on the existence of different playstyles by enabling cooperative roles suited to those playstyles. But it's ridiculous that matchmaking programs and other multiplayer systems rarely help players of similar gaming values to find each other.

Simply allowing players to check a box in your matchmaker for "hardcore" or "recreational" does not help, since everyone has a different understanding of what those labels mean. Simply enabling the existence of guilds for every type without helping players find the guilds that fit them is not enough. Sites like GamerDNA help, but only a fraction of your players will know about it or be interested in an account on a peripheral site.

I hate listening to another player tell me I'm suppose to play a class a particular way, complaining about the lack of coordination, bragging about what a badass he is, and so on. And players like that hate playing with people who don't stick to optimal strategies, who don't put in the practice to get headshots every time, who don't know all the slang and every scrap of knowledge about the game, people who laugh at defeat.

For Pete's sake, let us play with people we enjoy! When I log onto World at War on XBL and there are almost a quarter of a million people playing too, there's no reason we all have to be in the same match pool. More people would group in MMOs if they were not always having to roll the dice and hope this group won't be full of obsessive jerks or lazy idiots.


  1. There's a reason I don't often PUG on XBL and it's the *cough spasm* "community" at large.

    I've been an AGE member and I pretty much stick with them, although for some shooters I'll PUG just because I like the game. The sandbox shooters usually have a more mature crowd than the smaller linear shooters like Halo or COD.

    I was in a match last night in Battlefield: Bad Company though where one guy in my squad kept insulting everyone else, every other word was an f-bomb, telling us how much we sucked, etc. Problem was, he also had the highest score on our entire team (not just squad) so anything we said was hollow words to him.

    I did manage to get a quick quip in last week though (I forget which game) in the lobby some guy was yammering on how he was awesome, we all sucked, f-bombs left and right. I said "whoah, did I accidentally load up Halo 3?" Everyone else on the team laughed then the match started and the asshat was cut off from us anyway.

  2. Am getting sick of multiplaying, MMOs & PUGs - am heading back to a nice game of tick-tack-toe.


  3. I have been gone from MMOs a long time. I had to look up the meaning of "PUG". haha

    I'm looking forward to the bots in Section 8. I loved bots in PerfectDark 64 (especially the different AI personalities).

  4. Am getting sick of multiplaying, MMOs & PUGs

    I've been on MMO break for nearly 2 months but I love multi-player. Well, as long as it's people I can tolerate, PUG or not. I've been XBLing it up quite a bit, but I have a lot of trouble staying interested in solo-only games, especially RPGs. I still haven't quite warmed up to Fallout 3.

  5. My comment was meant to have a touch of irony to it, sorry if it washed over you.

    Can you name the movie quote at the end of my first comment though?

  6. War Games... too easy. I've got the sequel in my Netflix queue, though I expect it's terrible.


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