Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yucata Metagame

A little over three months ago the website changed their metagame system from a metagame based experience system to a TrueSkill based experience system. Essentially the change was made so the risk involved in playing a game against someone low on the metagame charts disappeared and was replaced with the risk of playing someone low on the TrueSkill charts for that specific game. In the long term this change made sense since someone who is likely to beat me in a specific game is apt to have a high TrueSkill in that game. In the short term it had issues with people who were new to the game on the website because it starts everyone off at 0 and works to get you to your proper TrueSkill over time.

A lot of people raised concerns at the time on the Yucata messageboards. The common response from the people who designed the system was that we needed to wait and see because there were other gates involved in ranking up and we needed to see the whole picture to really understand what was going on. But they wouldn't tell us the whole picture because they wanted it to be a discovery process. Makes it hard to really debate with someone when you can't see the evidence from which they're building their case.

Looks like a dinosaur!
At any rate, I hit the top rank yesterday. I'm the second person to have done so and I've now seen the whole picture. The guy who got their first seemed pretty satisfied that the whole picture was good enough but I'm not as convinced. The gimmick to the deal is they added on escalating TrueSkill gates on ranking up on top of needing to earn enough ranking points. In order to hit the top level you need to get 15 different games at a TrueSkill of 1300 which is not an insignificant number. It actually took me almost three weeks to go from 13 to 15. (To be fair, those three weeks included the launch of Mists of Pandaria so I didn't really play all that much for a couple weeks.) In those 15th games I range from #1 in Rapa Nui to #34 in Yspahan so you do have to rank pretty highly in a lot of different games to hit the last marker. On top of that, there's also an escalating gate for different games won. I had to win 31 different games to get the top level, and after needing around 20 or so it became the thing holding me back from leveling up, not experience, which was what the change surrounded.

That said, I stand by my earlier comments that the system punishes people for playing established games and I am very confident I would have hit the top rank faster on a new account than I did on my current account. Certainly if I knew what the final requirement was going in it would have been really fast. It looks like it took me around 20 games with a 80+ winning percentage to get 1300 TrueSkill in a game. With 35 total levels it's not very hard to believe that I could hit that gate along the way as long as I made sure to spread out my game plays in the early levels. The only advantage an existing account had would be existing TrueSkill values. The key, however, is that TrueSkill is actually pretty fast about getting you to where you 'should' be. You'll only have a big point advantage for the first 5 or 10 games you play of any given game and then you do have to play another 10 to 15 games to hit the TrueSkill mark but I'd be able to do that in every game I know!

The claim from the designers was that the existing account would already have enough ratings to hit these gates. Well, of the 15 games I raised to that level there were 5 that I had never played until the rating change. So I guess because I wasn't diverse enough to start I got the early level punishment of established TrueSkill in the games I liked playing and the late level punishment of not enough 1300+ TrueSkill ratings. So, really, I had no advantage by sticking to my established account after all.

Putting things in perspective though, I talk about being punished at low levels and how I felt unfairly constrained but in reality I gained the first 11 point-levels in 21 days. On a new account I probably only shave off a day or two; maybe only an hour or two. The system certainly did encourage playing new games and I learned many new games on the site as a result of the system change. (Alchemist, King of Siam, Hawaii, Yspahan, Famiglia, Arktia, Rattus, Oregon, Yucata, Thurn and Taxis, Carolus Magnus, War of the Roses, Santiago de Cuba, Era of Inventions, Trias, Maori, Ponte del Diavolo, Masons, Kahuna) And my proposed change wouldn't have encouraged learning new games very much at all. Of course, needing to win 31 different games would have! Part of my initial problem was also that I was playing against re-roll accounts which actually put me at a significant disadvantage. I was better off not playing at all than playing against those people. (Ultimately at the early levels I stopped opening new games of my own and started just joining games from people established at playing the games.)

The question is... Now what? Do I start a new account to try to set a benchmark for fewest games played to top level? Do I find another site to play on? Do I make up my own goals? (Get a win in every game on the site, for example... Get my TrueSkill in every game on the site above 1000... Get #1 in more games than just Rapa Nui...)

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I really like the true skill 1000+ in every game.

Then you can reset the goal each time you achieve it.