Tobold's Blog
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Should battlegrounds be rated?

Reader Verilazic sent me a mail pointing me towards a very long discussion on the WoW forums about rated battlegrounds. Would it be possible to determine how skilled a player is in PvP before he joins the battleground, and then automatically match him in some sort of ladder system against players of similar skill?

I don't think this is possible, because of the larger size of battleground groups, up to 40. Even in a 10 vs. 10 battleground the coordination between the players has a much stronger influence on chance of victory than individual skill. Thus to rate battlegrounds, you would need to have registered teams, not just single players, and with Alterac Valley I don't see how that could possibly work.

The other, more fundamental problem of ladder systems and ratings and matching players equally is that inevitably the better you match them, the longer players have to wait. The same discussion about better pairing players ran to hundreds of posts on the old Magic the Gathering Online forums, talking about leagues, and the problem is still not solved in that game or any other game. You need a rather large number of players before you can match players both fairly and quickly. WoW, even with putting several servers together in battlegroups, simply doesn't have enough PvP players all of the time to make good matching take an acceptable time, even if a system could be found which fairly rated players.
I've been pretty vocal that Rated Battlegrounds are important to WoW ever since Arena was released in Burning Crusade. You are right that any Rated BG would require a "Team" of people rather than individuals. In fact, the "join as group" button should just be replaced with a "Rated Match" button instead.

As someone who played predominatly First Person Shooters prior to WoW, it has always boggled my mind that the only Rated PvP in WoW is basically Team Deathmatch. That's the most simplistic and least strategic of all PvP match types. By allowing Rated BGs, you open up more match types including Rated Capture the Flag (Warsong Gulch), Rated Dominion (Arathi Basin), and Rated VIP (Alterac Valley).
My take on "rated" battlegrounds would be to take a page from raiding (or rather a lot of pages). First, don't lock people into teams, simply let them join as a team, or "rated match", but drop the rating issue (or perhaps use invisible ratings), and only reward winning, which is like downing the boss in a raid. Winning is the one metric that is the most effective way of determining a team's effectiveness. And as long as it's a team, not a pug, you don't need to worry about measuring individual skill.

The problem of activity would be solved by simply having the best rewards available to the "rated" battlegrounds, just like how the best rewards in PvE are to the biggest raids. If you reward them, they will come.
I have long wanted for there to be some sort of rated battlegrounds, but as you say I don't think it would work because the population isn't large enough.
I don't see "having 40 people" in a battleground as a rating breaking issue on its own, since after enough games the skill of players will start to sort itself out (provided the battleground is balanced well.) If there are only a small amount of players, though, per battleground, it does make sense that some players, due to playing times or luck, will get stuck playing with the same people over and over, who will influence their rating. (Though even in that case, I'd probably want some sort of rating system in WoW, since it should overall make them somewhat more fair.)

Winning is the one metric that is the most effective way of determining a team's effectiveness. And as long as it's a team, not a pug, you don't need to worry about measuring individual skill.

From what I've read, it does seem that winning should be worth a lot more in WoW than it currently is, to get players to actually PvP.

(I have done a good amount of PvP in guild wars, where systems like this seem to work better, probably since all players, I think, have access to each other to PvP against, and with smaller teams it is easier ot see who is screwing up, report leechers, etc. WoW does have more challenges to sorting out these issues for the reasons you described)
They should make one for pallies, rogues and dk's, and battlegrounds for the rest of us :).
First, don't lock people into teams, simply let them join as a team, or "rated match", but drop the rating issue (or perhaps use invisible ratings), and only reward winning, which is like downing the boss in a raid

That defeats the purpose of making it "Rated" and simply provides provides better rewards. This is the type of thinking that is indicative that people only do things for the reward, while people who enjoy PvP (rather than the rewards) do it for competition.

For them, RATED matches that measure your success versus their success in a very visible and measurable way is the most important thing. That's certainly not why all people in WoW do Arena, but it IS why Arena has some measure of success as an "e-sport" in WoW.

Now when you consider that the only type of RATED match offered is for Team Deathmatch -- well, that's just silly. I've played on Rated teams for Capture the Flag and Dominion in First Person Shooters and I can tell you definitvely that it's both more fun and requires more strategy.
Strangely enough, I have always thought that they won't do this because it would start to reward strategy and organizational skills, two skills highly rewarded in PVE by the way. Deathmatch style is more in line with the simple kill-or-be-killed that I think appeals to the players that are really excelling in this play style.

I also agree that it would almost certainly require some sort of super-Battlegroup formation to make it viable even if it was just 10 man Warsong Gulch CTF. Their simply won't be enough teams in each battle group.

Also, the Blizz design philosophy for PVE is that more players required = higher rewards. So in that line of reasoning you would need to get more points that on a 5v5 arena team. Perhaps it would pull a lot of players out of the 5v5 bracket, who are just there for points, and thus bring that bracket down in total teams resulting in lower ranked teams for even skilled players.

Lastly, by taking the focus off of simply killing other players you will lock out some classes and specs, albeit no more than arena does currently, as DPS takes a back seat to CC, snares and healing debuffs.
On behalf of the keyboard-turning, face-rolling, 1-9 clicking, skill-impaired casual PvP'ers (and we comprise the vast majority of the WoW population), I am opposed to more skill ratings. Arena is enough; I don't want skill-rated BG's too.

For my $15/month, I prefer to play in an environment where I can mash buttons and improve my characters with levels and gear. If I wanted to play a pure skill-based game, I'd be playing an RTS or FPS instead.

PvE means everyone can be a winner. PvP means 50% of the participants are in the bottom half. Casual WoW players don't want to be told they're in the bottom half.
I don't see how they couldn't be rated or why it requires a 'team'?

They already divide queued folks up by level. Simply factor in gear scores, number of kills, BGs played, etc. and queue them in the BG queue with the highest and/or lowest scores.

You wouldn't always end up in the best BG for you, but it would reduce the number times you are overwhelmed.

Further, they could adjust the conditions or setup of the BG based on say the relative scores of each side. Add more guards, increase the strength of walls, decrease the time to reach objectives, etc. if one sides levels/equipment/experience is dramatically higher.

Want to go in with a premade group of 2500 gear score folks with 50,000 HKs each? Fine... AV guards have 40% more health or there are an extra six wolves at Greks.
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