Arena 2.0 - fixes and suggestions (very long article, with TL/DR)

> The Arena and Ranked play in Halo: Reach
> Problems and Potential Solutions to the disappointing turnout in the ranked Arena playlists
> Web VersionPDF Version (recomended)

I haven’t posted in this forum all that much, but since 343i is taking over stewardship of Halo: Reach’s Matchmaking very imminently, and are going to be developing Halo 4 (and 5 and 6!) which will presumably feature a Ranked multiplayer component of some sort, I felt it was important to bring this article and these ideas here directly. Both to generate discussion with the posters here and on the off-chance that 343i will see it and to help inform their decisions for the future.

What I present to you here is a 7500 (ish) word article which details changes I would make to Arena. The caveat is that of course I realise many of these things are simply impossible to implement into Halo Reach at this point in it’s lifetime, but hopefully this will inform the overall discussion of ranked play in Halo and its future in Halo 4 and in Bungie’s games. (hint: the answer isn’t to bring back 1-50 so stop saying it!)

Yes, some of it you will have absolutely heard of before or thought of yourself; I wanted to present it all together along with the rationale from my perspective. Still, there should be a few novel ideas in here for any reader.

The article is way too long to copy and paste here and would be even more of a nightmare to navigate so use either of the above links. But for those who have difficulty in clicking…

TL/DR version:

> So two changes have already been made to Arena:
> –They scrapped Arena Ratings for the TrueSkill calculation
> –They made the Seasons 3 months in length
>
> I reiterate why these are good and why I would have suggested them even if Bungie hadn’t already done it.
>
> Changes to the way people qualify:
> –People qualify for a rank after a single game - to give quicker gratification of the urge to get ranked, no ‘dead days’ if you don’t make enough games to get rated on a day
> –Use the ending TrueSkill ranks of players in one season to give better starting estimates for the next season - it’s still useful data and should be used.
>
>
> The way ranks are formed and shown off:
> –Use numbered ranks instead of these application specific divisions for easier comprehension
> –But number 1 should be the best! - not some arbitrarily set number - parity with other forms of competition
> –Bar graph of relative rank standing - Show another view of a player’s rank that can update after each game even if the numbered ranks can’t - to show they’re not discrete!
>
>
> But give players more reasons to play!
> --Keep all records of all seasons, in full, unabridged
> --Signify Arena’s specialness better in both the playlist read-out and the service record
> --Show Arena rank much higher up in service record
> – make overall arena summary easier to access and comprehend / compare
> –More Credits!!! Use these powerful motivators for both participation and performance - Super Jackpot weekend as exemplar
> --Introduce other Arena-specific rewards like medals, commendations or armours
>
> Changes to the way Arena Ratings are used and calculated:
> --Don’t attribute kills on the in-game scoreboard
> –Use each player’s current rating as score - (even if I still believe assists are screwy its better information)
> --Make the Arena ratings relative to curent leader’s score to reflect it’s use mid-game now
>
> Expand Appeal - as my only comment on the gameplay of Arena…
> --Introduce a small selection of non-slayer gametypes

Each of these brief points correspond to a section in the main article. The contents list is hyperlinked both on the web page and in the PDF version so just click on the relevent section to jump to what you want to read.
Read that section if you don’t understand what I’m saying from the TL/DR, then if you still have questions or comments come back and say them.

> Who are you to talk!? You’ve barely played Arena!

Just because I have no personal interest in Arena doesn’t mean I don’t still care about the people who do and the system itself being successful. This article is also partially about exactly the issues which mean more people don’t play it.

> Where to send your comments

Leave a comment here, PM me, leave a comment on my site or email me using Dr@DrTautology.net.

> Other points?

There are a couple of other points which I may bring up myself in the future, but if I’ve left anything out or something seems vague let me know!

What about no Arena system and bring back the old 1-50 system? :slight_smile:
Would be better.

I still like the look of 1-50 better than Onyx, gold, etc.

Yes, it can easily be exploited, but they could do the same thing in Reach and have “seasons” for 1-50, although I prefer just keeping your rank.

This is the first of a few posts I’ll be making in this thread over the next few weeks. (Hopefully others will reply, so I don’t have to double post or something.) First up; I want to say I’m happy to see you posted this here. I read the original thread over at Optimatch (after reading the pdf) and I was going to post my fairly in-depth feedback in there, but since that forum is about to be closed, and since your ideas deserve the attention not only of all Halo players, but also those who are now involved in the Matchmaking support for Reach and the development of future Halo titles, I thought it would make much more sense to post here instead.

I think what you’ve created is by far the finest and most comprehensive thesis on how to reform The Arena/Ranked Halo for present and future Halo titles. I am extremely impressed with every aspect of the system suggested and I think that many others would be if they took the time to carefully study your article. However (and this is unfortunate), I find it highly unlikely that these reforms will make it into the current Arena system. I do however hope that 343i are paying close attention to these suggestions as I feel they could potentially completely reinvigorate ranked/competitive Halo if paired with the ‘correct’ game mechanics.

I’m not going to respond individually to every point you suggest at this particular time (like I said, I’ll return to this thread later), but I will get the ball rolling by saying that I find it hard to imagine a more perfect way of using ratings and scoreboards than that which you suggested. Sure (as others have stated elsewhere), removing individual kill stats and instead displaying individual ratings on the scoreboard would make it ‘different’ from every other FPS, but what’s to say that’s a bad thing? Making the order of the scoreboard arbitrary is also a totally genius idea as it removes the ability to make quick (and often unfair) judgments about individual players. I feel that the implementation of just these two modifications alone (coupled with improved mechanics) would result in a huge and dramatic improvement in gameplay.

The suggested Ranking system is also so intuitive that I find it hard to understand why the previous developers didn’t already come up with it. Its accessibility would immediately draw in more players, without anyone having to explain the ‘system’ in depth (as is so hugely necessary with the current system; I still come across Arena players who do not even know that the division ranking is based on Win/Loss). The population would then only increase with increased visibility of ranking in-game, as you suggest.

And to me, that is one of the keys to unlocking a much improved ranked Halo system: POPULATION. It’s pretty much the sole reason I didn’t play much Arena for the first five months after Reach came out; I’m a medium-skilled player and there were simply not enough players of a similar skill level to allow me to have close and enjoyable games. Increased population = more even games. And even games = more enjoyable than getting trashed or trashing others. Simple as that.

I’ll have more to say later. Just want to commend you for the amount of work that’s gone into this though. Hopefully we can get some intelligent discussions going in this thread.

> …

Thank you! This is the type of the post that I was hoping for; not necessarily one that agreed with me, but certainly one that had a little to say for itself other than trollers and people that didn’t even read it!

I like you already.

> The suggested Ranking system is also so intuitive that I find it hard to understand why the previous developers didn’t already come up with it.

I think the divisional was intended to try and give ‘mile-stone’ targets for players. Like: to get from Bronze into silver. And also to dampen a lot of the changeability that the purer implementation of TrueSkill coupled with the percentage ranks brings. But people like a sense of progress, even if it minor; they brought the intra-division percentile fully visible from season six!

Then there’s also the ‘Top Rank -Yoink-’ problem: if you’re not Onyx you suck. Or if you’re iron or bronze you suck. My idea is, that with a lot of numbered ranks, there isn’t as many lines drawn across the player base by the system, or rather, there are too many for it to many. Any line that any players draw (i.e. if you’re below 50 you suck) feels much more arbitrary.

> And to me, that is one of the keys to unlocking a much improved ranked Halo system: POPULATION. It’s pretty much the sole reason I didn’t play much Arena for the first five months after Reach came out; I’m a medium-skilled player and there were simply not enough players of a similar skill level to allow me to have close and enjoyable games. Increased population = more even games. And even games = more enjoyable than getting trashed or trashing others. Simple as that.

Exactly. That’s the entire reason Bungie did make so many changes to Arena already: because it’s population was so low that any ranking it gave didn’t matter to, or include enough people.

I think I like the StarCraft 2 idea where, if you’re playing Matchmaking, you get a rank. Thats just the ‘normal’ way to play. So there is no ‘ranked/social’ distinction. You get a rank in whatever matchmade playlist you participate in.

The snagging point with this idea I get to with regards to Halo is that many players who are the most competitive and where the ranking system (should) matter the most to, tend to gravitate towards stripped-out, hardcore gametypes, a la Arena with it’s lack of Armor Lock, or MLG with no Radar, where the small differences between players are exaggerated more.

I mean, if Team Slayer had a ranking system, how many people would play Arena still? So where would those hardcore players get their fix? MLG playlist?

I guess you could just say you could include the more hardcore gametypes as voting options in the same playlist, but then I wonder that the gameplay would be too different from game-to-game, or that it would be claimed that Team X or Y got a good rank through only playing the ‘default and nooby’ gametype.

Then I think of a playlist like Team Objective with it’s dozens of very different gametypes and I think: “actually, it probably won’t matter” :stuck_out_tongue:

> I’ll have more to say later. Just want to commend you for the amount of work that’s gone into this though. Hopefully we can get some intelligent discussions going in this thread.

Thank you. I look forward to hearing any further comments you may have!