Most people would just say "Toxicity!" or "Bad Balance!" Let me explain what I believe to be the reason why all of it is happening. I believe it has nothing to do with general toxicity and very little to do with general balance issues. I believe the root and bulk of the problem begins with how the algorithm functions on a core foundational level:
- 1700 does a duo with a 1500
- Algorithm counts them as a 1600 duo "averaged out"
- The algorithm attempts to place the 1600 duo against other 1600 opponents.
- So RED Team has (1700 1500) 1600 1600 1600 vs. BLUE Team 1600 1600 1600 1600 1600
- So now if the 1700 loses that match, he is losing to all 1600s and gets his rating torn from his wazoo more than likely something like -20 or more, but if he wins he gets like +5. But even stranger and more non-sensical yet, is that the 1500 will receive something like -8 or -9 on a loss, but like +14 or +15 on a win. So somehow, even though the 1500 is being carried AF by his duo partner he is rewarded the most, and even though he is clearly the weak link amongst 1700 an 1600 players and probably responsible for most of the loses they accrue, he is somehow penalized the least.
- Everything about this feels bad when playing and it spiderwebs into many social issues.
Let me explain why I believe these Glicko mechanics ^ are bad for a team based competitive mode's function & community health.
In terms of the algorithm itself and why it is inept at what it is supposed to do:
- Lower skilled players get drawn up the leaderboards in ways that they shouldn't be getting drawn up the leaderboards. This results in effects such as a player who normally plays at 1400, getting carried by a plat 2+ friend on some alt up into 1500+. Then when the normally 1400 goes to solo que again, the system is placing him with his inflated rating, expecting him to perform at that level, when he can't. Then he draws his entire team's rating down when he can't perform, essentially leaving his team 4v5.
- High rated players losing games and dropping rating in chunks of -25 or more, due to stupid things they cannot control that are not their fault. Like having some guy in their team that is aiming at getting his wings so he's playing on classes that he's never played before. Ect ect.. there are dozens of examples I could give of these "gambits" that are in play each and every time we hit the que button. But the point being is that it is ridiculous when I look at the leaderboards and see the strongest players in the game bouncing around from bottom 1500 range, back and forth up to 1700 and back down again and then back up. That is some serious volatility going on with the accuracy of the algorithm gauging their true skill level. It would be better if the algorithm displayed a player's lowest rating and highest rating achieved. This way we could all get a better feel for what kind of low/high margins everyone plays at. Because right now, people just wait till a good streak, and then they sit on a high rating instead of playing games. This is just bad for the activity of the game mode.
- A bit more about gambits: You have things like this going on: Some guy trying to get his wings, playing on classes he's never played before, but still being placed at the rating of his main. People just plain having a bad day, maybe a bit hung over, maybe a bit distracted from work, but still trying to que ranked competitively. We have A LOT of general smurfing going on, people with several alt accounts to help duo their buddies into higher positions or to que snipe other high rated players down the leaderboards. Then of course we have a small community of players who run win trade circles. Sometimes a person genuinely DCs. Sometimes a person has to AFK to answer the door because a pizza arrived. Sometimes we roll a team of FB Necro Necro Ele vs. 2x DPS Soulbeasts Holo and good Rev, just some absurd counter situation where we aren't going to win the match unless a miracle happens and the opponents have a DC or they're just all terrible players. Ect ect ect, the point being is that having an individual rating in a solo/duo only que that is a 5v5 game mode designed for 5 man team ques, with all of these gambits in play, is just kitten inaccurate. All players who play within the top 50 know what I mean what I say: "Playing high in the leaderboards is about a lot more than going into the game and being good at conquest." There is all of this social stigma involved in playing high. We have to make the right friends and avoid pissing off the wrong people. We have to know who to que dodge, what ALTs they're playing that season so we can que dodge those. We have to do things like identify players who seem to sincerely have bad ping and DC often, que dodge them. We have to que dodge players who are just that bad. We have to disappoint friends who want to que with us, because we know they can't quite keep up. Sometimes we know the friend can keep up, but he is currently placed at 1450 or something, after queing with his low rated buddies, which means we can't afford to que with him when we're sitting at 1700. <- All this is toxic and leads to the next points.
In terms of what Glicko does to the community over the course of time:
- You have a group of friends who begin as a guild group together. It all starts with not giving AF while playing unranked and everyone is having fun.
- Some of them start getting good and want to seriously try in the ranked season.
- Now they have to be picky with who they play with. Friends that were once friends that they played with every night, they start going offline to avoid. They don't want to disappoint these people by telling them they don't want to que with them. They do this because those players can't keep up with them or because their current ratings are just too much of a gambit to que with. They also have to que dodge those people so the people don't see them in a match.
- Eventually people find out what they are doing and it pisses everyone off and they lose friends.
- Those good players hover into a new group of players who currently play at their skill level and play at very similar rating margins. For awhile it always works out. For awhile it's always good.
- Then during a particular season, a few of those players didn't paly so often and didn't adapt as strongly to some current meta. Now their friends have to dodge them or flat out tell them as nicely as they can, which always pisses people off: "Sorry man, I don't think you're keeping up as well as you did last season" or "Your rating is just too low to que with right now, regardless of how good you are." Now bridges are getting burnt again. Best case scenario, there is a 1 out of a 100 player who understands and who stays your friend but hey, you're still not playing with that friend in ranked or ATs.
- Over the course of years this goes on and on. When population gets smaller, now we're left with few new friends to meet, and everyone already knows each other, and everyone has some kind of judgmental bias towards each other in terms of if they would or wouldn't play together. And most of it is because of how the algorithm has made us have to do so. You seriously couldn't devise a system that was better at destroying a community's cohesion over time, than using the Glicko algorithm for individual ratings in a 5 man team based game mode, and then turning that 5 man game mode into a solo/duo only que. No insult intended, Arenant. Just pointing out that this stuff has driven away many players who would normally been the type to stay & play for a decade or more, if there wasn't something going on that they truly felt was unfair, that was removing their incentive to even meet new friends to begin with.
There are a couple other threads to mention where others are recently identifying with these same aspects that are tearing apart the community. These are worth reading the OP's complete statements & responses, as well as all of the users who have contributed. These users are amongst the veteran player base that is now looking back and identifying what happened with our game mode:
if this is a tactic to get people to quit gw2 so they can announce gw3 or something i can understand but if they honestly think this is doing anything positive to the game then they're very deluded and wrong
TL;DR: leaderboards Make it so there is too much to lose now for little gain. Max duo queue means no way to form new bonds anymore. [Edit: Free tourneys incentivized teams and allowed them to spam games together and not have to wait ages for ATs]. There is little reason to try new things besides to counter meta now because it just triggers teammates. This combo is a complete 180 from the community of free tourney days And it's leading to a toxic community.
@Ben Phongluangtham.1065 The social effects of individual Glicko ratings over time when applied to solo/duo only Conquest, is interesting indeed. My point in creating this thread was not to harp at Arenanet, but rather to stir healthy thought & discussion. I fully understand that Glicko is what we are working with. I was however, hoping that maybe someone had an idea for a quick & easy fix, something that might steer the sociology of the community back towards something cohesive, in terms of incentive to play together rather than avoid each other like the plague. I won't claim to have a "miracle suggestion", but I do know that it's the smallest things within a system that dictates how players conduct themselves within and around that system. I believe my initial statement in this thread about "the core of the social problem" to be absolutely true. There has to be something, some small tweak, that could be done to at least lighten the load of this social problem. Possibly something within or added to the algorithm, or something to alter with the que system.
If anyone has any well thought out and sensical suggestions, shoot. I'll try to sort out a few myself. Think small and be reasonable, don't ask for big game overhauls.