Spiral Theory Now With Rank System, Calculus!

TRUE HALO FANS BEYOND THIS POINTPREPARE TO DROP READ: The following is a Mature discussion on the multiplayer direction of Halo 4. This thread contains intelligent, well-developed ideas and advanced theories not everyone will understand. This is a progressive halo thread, everyone is welcome, questions, comments, and input encouraged. You have been warned we are watching.
This Message was brought to you by the Superintendent reminding you to KEEP IT CLEAN

Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming
The following thread will explain benefit the a 1-50 ranking system. My argument is that the lack of a 1-50 ranking system in Reach made it so that every playlist became the equivalent a Halo 3 type social playlist. This meant that competitive players could not get the competitive games they wanted. As a result competitive players steam rolled through matchmaking and as they got bored, they lost incentive to continue playing, the competitive side of Halo suffered, and ultimately the Halo community as a whole suffered.

Incentives and the Player Spiral Theory
The premise is that Halo has a player base and naturally, overtime the game will gain some players and lose others. This is an attempt to explain the determinants of population in order to understand what affects it. Knowing this 343 can hopefully make better decisions and extend the longevity of the game. First off, this is an analysis of what people in general will do. Furthermore, I am presenting an issue that considers more than the actions of you or I because frankly nobody cares whether you or I will play or not play given a situation. So justify through the means of saying I will buy, not buy, play or not play is a mistake. Instead, we must ask what people do as a whole and what affects their actions have.

The foundation of the theory is that population is determined by incentives. The biggest incentive of course is core gameplay or how fun the game is at its core. Unfortunately, people get bored over time, fun will diminish and they will stop playing. So what can we do about this? Well, we can offer more incentives like new maps to masters. It is easier to retain players than to draw players in (has to do with push vs. pull) so it is important that players do not lose incentive early on.

The basis of the player spiral theory is the idea that incentives and population have a circular relationship. Idea is that large populations give players an incentive to play a game and smaller populations give players less incentives to play a game. The reason may not be initially obvious but my explanation is yes people can play are more likely to be able to play with more of their friends on games with larger populations, but also people want to be where the party is at and if everyone plays Halo then they want to play it to. So what does this all means? Well, it increases the importance of player retention and therefore increases the importance of incentives

Take an example where one person loses incentive to continue playing so they quit playing. The immediate effect is on the people on that person’s friend’s list whom they play the game with. These people have one less player that they can play with so all them play slightly less, I will call these people tier one. Tier one then impacts tier 2 with a slightly less effect and so on. However it does not end there because, there is nothing stopping someone tier 3 being friends with some else on that same tier or any previous or later tiers. This can lead to a spiraling effect where tier 3 effects tier 1 again. This is the spiraling effect of one’s immediately sphere of influence, but it affects everyone in the form of matchmaking times as well.

Now what does this mean? This means people with larger spheres of influence are more valuable to the community than those with not so large spheres. Because I would suspect competitive players to have the largest spheres of influence, I can say that a typical competitive player is worth more to the community than a single noncompetitive player is. However, it would be a mistake for me to assume that all competitive players combined are worth more than all noncompetitive players combined because obviously the population of noncompetitive players is larger. What I can say though is that it would be in the best interest of 343 to encourage people to have larger spheres to achieve a sort of upward spiral and what better way than encouraging competitive play. Enter the ranking system.

Rank was without a doubt served as one of the biggest incentives in Halo 2 and 3. Naturally, it encourages competitive play and sucks people in. It does this by giving people a reason to care about their gameplay, try harder, and get better, and link up with others and play more. Obviously ranks creates the problem of cheating but incentives that ranking system creates far exceeds the incentives that cheaters take away from other players therefore it is only logical that a ranking system be included. Without a ranking system, the game will not benefit from the upward spiral and may even be subject to a downward spiral. Ultimately, the lack of a ranking system will mean lower population and player retention.

What does this mean for 343? Obviously better player retention means more money for them. Therefore, when analyzing game decisions one of the most important factors to consider is what impact it may have on incentives for players. In other words, who ever came up with the brilliant plan to cut the ranking system deserves to be fired. Hell, hire me at least I know the intricacies of halo and my methodologies are infinitely better.

Examples of the Incentive Spiral at Work
Halo 2: Ranks in Halo 2 reset several times during the life of the game. I contend that people having after having their ranks reset, people had less incentive to go through the ranks a second time, and after a third ranks reset even less incentive to go through the ranks a third time. In other words with each subsequent reset or start-over scenario people have less incentive and therefore with each reset the game would lose a significant amount of players.

Halo 3: The genius of double experience weekends in Halo 3 was that they had the opposite effect, creating an upward spiral of players. These playlist included incentives for those, looking to level up faster, improve the look of their service record, and those looking to play limited time oddball gametypes (i.e. zombies, griffball, etc.). As a result, people went out of their way to play during these events and thus encouraged friends to do so as well.

Reach: Halo Reach suffered from the rank reset problems as Halo 2 but to a far worse extent. This difference is due to expectations. In Halo 2 there were no announced plans to reset ranks whereas in Reach there were plans to reset ranks at predetermined intervals. If people can expect the fruits of their labor to be erased at a predetermined date sometime in the future they will have less incentive to play today. On the contrary, if people do not have this expectation, they will have more incentive to play today. In other words, expectations play a key role in people’s decision-making. This is by far the biggest reason the Arena failed.

1-50 Ranking System Plus Merits and Hardcore Mode
Merits are earned by completing goals. They are this way unlike armor, which is bought through the in game currency. Merits are an expansion on Reach’s nameplate system. They give players new ways to stand out and offer players incentives to continue playing. Specifically, merits unlock nameplates that allow players to customize their appearance in game lobbies. This simultaneously allows players to choose the highest merit, which is displayed prominently in their service record.

One new feature that works hand in hand with merit is the games new hardcore mode. Hardcore is not a mode as much as it is a stat tracking system for top tier players. Stats collected from hardcore mode also have the potential to be used in the creation leaderboards for individual playlists. A player unlocks hardcore tab in their service record once they achieve level 50, and never goes away even if a players lose their high skill. However, hardcore mode must be unlocked for each individual playlist. Hardcore mode only tracks the stats from games which the player is playing on their 50. In the event that a player drops in rank, hardcore mode will still remain as will previous data, only stats will no longer be collected for those games. Stats will resume being collected once that player is again playing on a level 50. In other words, only games played on a 50 count toward hardcore mode.

Potential Playlist Setup
Ranked (1.5x Spartan Point Multiplier)

  1. Lone Wolves
  2. Doubles
  3. Team Slayer
  4. Team Snipers
  5. MLG

Social

  1. Rumble Pit
  2. Social Slayer
  3. Team Objective
  4. Big Team Battle
  5. SWAT
  6. Multi-Team
  7. Zombies

Training (0x Exp Multiplier)

  1. Team Training (Level 29 and Below Only)

Double EXP Weekends (2x Spartan Point and Exp Multiplier)(constant cycle of two a week, one ranked and one social)
Ranked

  1. Team Flag
  2. Squad Battle
  3. Brawl
    Social
  4. Grifball
  5. Action Sack
  6. Race

Potential Ways to Earn Merits
Reserve the Game: VIP
Buy Extra File Share Space: Elite
Sign up on 343 Halowaypoint.com: 343
Completed the Campaign on Legendary: Veteran
Completed Campaign Alone: Separatist
Commendation Completed: Specialist
Halo Waypoint level 50: Reclaimer
Halo Waypoint level 75: Zealot
Played Halo CE: CE
Played Halo 2: H2
Played Halo 3: H3
Played Original Halo Trilogy: Halo
Played ODST: ODST
Played Halo Wars: War
Played Halo Reach: Reach
Played Halo Anniversary: Ten
Playlist General: King
Playlist 5 Star General: Famous
Play Game on Level 50: Champion
100 xp on Level 50: Guardian
200 xp on Level 50: Sentinel
300 xp on Level 50: Warrior
400 xp on Level 50: Hero
500 xp on Level 50: Legend
1000 xp on Level 50: Pro

Example Service Record Format:
File Share/ General Stats/ Playlist Stats/ Commendations/ Hardcore

This System Offers Key Incentives that Did Not Exist Previously
1.) Incentive: It encourages players to continue playing on their 50. Merits are displayed prominently on one’s nameplate and service record. Obviously, the merits associated with hardcore mode will be of rarest. This rarity will also increase their desirability so it will give level 50s to continue to play on their 50.
Back-story: In Halo 3, once a 50 was achieved players had no incentive to continue playing on it. It was far easier and more efficient to level up global rank by playing social against far less skilled players.

2.) Incentive: Second, this system discourages the selling of accounts. Because your playlist progression and specifically your hardcore mode progression follows you around wherever you go via your service record, others can take notice if you play on your 50. This gives people less incentive to buy accounts because it will be apparent if a player did so because of their lack of progression in hardcore mode.
Back story: In Halo 3, it is hard to say whether the addition of playlist progression helped alleviate the problem of selling accounts because it was introduced so late in the game, however for arguments sake I will say that it did not help. Playlist progression alone did not help alleviate the problem because once a player changed to say a social playlist the progression of the ranked playlist disappeared from sight while the level 50 did not. Others could still view it on their service record. Instead, players could opt to do a similar playlist progression in say a social playlist where it was far easier. This fact worked to the advantage of people interested in selling accounts.

Other Incentives This Plans Creates
-Increases player investment and competitiveness, which I have shown to improve player retention and population, with my player spiral theory.
-Because people have less incentive to sell accounts logically people also have less incentive to boost accounts.
-Because level 50s have more incentive to continue playing on their 50, they have less incentive to spawn kill people in social.

One Last Way to Alleviate the Issue of Boosters
Get rid of search restrictions. I am talking about prefer good connection, skill, and especially my language as people only use them to match their friends and boost. This alone will alleviate almost all circle type boosting. These features do not result in better quality games and are therefore useless.

I Want Someone to Prove Me Wrong: Here is How
Are You Up to the challenge? I do want other perspectives, so if you disagree with me on an intellectual basis then listen up because I have a present for you. What follows is the procedure I used for developing my ideas and tips you can use to develop your own counterargument.

Much of what I discussed in my OP is based is based on modern economic thought. Incentives are is just reframed utility theory, while my Player Spiral Theory is based on liquidity spirals, like those ones characteristic of the recent financial crisis in the mortgage market. All I have done here is take these concepts and apply them to Halo. My OP simply takes you through my thought process in applying these concepts and shows the conclusions I arrive at arrive at. From Here, I interpolate what can be derived from these conclusions concerning decisions that should be made regarding Halo.

Seems easy enough right? Well that depends, this is all ado about modeling and so accuracy depends on whether I considered all the essential variables, and whether I made any logical mistakes in my application. If these things hold, I will come up with a useful model representative of reality with which I can use to draw useful conclusion from in order to make good decisions. So what does this all mean? One can make a strong argument against me if it turned out that adding a ranking system added an additional incentive that I failed to account for and whose impact negatively affects the game in a manner more than enough to cancel out the positive effects of the incentives created by the system I outlined.

Conceptual Understanding Post#42
Calculus Proof #63

> [Reserved]

Didn’t get the news huh, no 1-50.

Agreed. There is still plenty of time for 343 to reconsider 1-50 and if there is no 1-50 or any skill based ranking system then H4 will fail like Reach. Just stating the truth.

> Agreed. There is still plenty of time for 343 to reconsider 1-50 and if there is no 1-50 or any skill based ranking system then H4 will fail like Reach. Just stating the truth.

343 said they wont have 1-50 but they still might have some other form of competitive ranking

I don’t need incentives. I have Halo.

I love halo, screw incentives, and with 1-50 officially shot down your OP falls under the file 13, labeled tl/dr.

> Agreed. There is still plenty of time for 343 to reconsider 1-50 and if there is no 1-50 or any skill based ranking system then H4 will fail like Reach. Just stating the truth.

Frankie almost explicitly stated that they are working on a skill based MATCHMAKING system with no plans for visible rank, the MM system never operated on numeral rank anyway.

Frankie recently made a statement about the issue. Short version: 1-50 doesn’t cut it due to the insane boosting.

They will still try and find a better incentive for “competetive” players to play.

However, I got this thing in the back of my head that is bugging me:

If Call of Duty doesn’t have a Rank that is similar to Halo’s 1-50 in their game, yet being very successful, why should they honestly spend time working on making a “Ranked Trophy” when they could focus more on making the game better than Reach?

I mean, if the people in this forum are so hell-bent on wanting to make Halo back onto the top, why should we be asking the devs to practically waste time devising a “system” that most people will probably hate, and instead focus on making a system that just pairs players up with similar skilled opponents without the boosting bs?

I’m not saying Call of Duty’s “Matchmaking System” is better, which it isn’t compared to Halo 3 at least, but if something as a trophy just does nothing but cause trouble, why put it in?

> > Agreed. There is still plenty of time for 343 to reconsider 1-50 and if there is no 1-50 or any skill based ranking system then H4 will fail like Reach. Just stating the truth.
>
> Frankie almost explicitly stated that they are working on a skill based MATCHMAKING system with no plans for visible rank, the MM system never operated on numeral rank anyway.

The impression I got was that 343i wants a ranking system that is skill-based, isn’t 1-50, and isn’t boosting prone. He voiced a dislike of the consequences of visible rank, but didn’t explicitly or near-explicitly state that Halo 4 rank will be invisible.

Unless he’s since made posts I’ve not read?

EDIT: @OP: You’re quite right that an ineffective or missing skill-based ranking system causes problems throughout the community, but (as I and others’ve stated) it looks like Halo 4 will have a skill-based ranking system – just not 1-50.

> > > Agreed. There is still plenty of time for 343 to reconsider 1-50 and if there is no 1-50 or any skill based ranking system then H4 will fail like Reach. Just stating the truth.
> >
> > Frankie almost explicitly stated that they are working on a skill based MATCHMAKING system with no plans for visible rank, the MM system never operated on numeral rank anyway.
>
> The impression I got was that 343i wants a ranking system that is skill-based, isn’t 1-50, and isn’t boosting prone. He voiced a dislike of the consequences of visible rank, but didn’t explicitly or near-explicitly state that Halo 4 rank will be invisible.
>
> Unless he’s since made posts I’ve not read?

… I may have projected ever so slightly * kicks some dirt around* my bad. He did seem to have a bad taste in his mouth when asked about visible rank in a similar post though.

> > > > Agreed. There is still plenty of time for 343 to reconsider 1-50 and if there is no 1-50 or any skill based ranking system then H4 will fail like Reach. Just stating the truth.
> > >
> > > Frankie almost explicitly stated that they are working on a skill based MATCHMAKING system with no plans for visible rank, the MM system never operated on numeral rank anyway.
> >
> > The impression I got was that 343i wants a ranking system that is skill-based, isn’t 1-50, and isn’t boosting prone. He voiced a dislike of the consequences of visible rank, but didn’t explicitly or near-explicitly state that Halo 4 rank will be invisible.
> >
> > Unless he’s since made posts I’ve not read?
>
> … I may have projected ever so slightly * kicks some dirt around* my bad. He did seem to have a bad taste in his mouth when asked about visible rank in a similar post though.

I kinda would too if people are making money off of my game because of some over-glorified patch of pixels.

While I am upset that there won’t be a 1-50 system, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a different ranking system. Hopefully, there will be, instead of another Reach-type progression system. Frankie just said that they won’t be bringing back the 1-50, he never said there wouldn’t be a ranking system at all.

> … I may have projected ever so slightly * kicks some dirt around* my bad. He did seem to have a bad taste in his mouth when asked about visible rank in a similar post though.

Oh, it’s quite all right; speculation and extrapolation is all we have, so why not engage in it? Hell – when I say that we’ll probably have visible rank, I’m projecting as well; just in the opposite direction. :3

I get the impression that Frankie and co. would rather solve the problems of visible rank, than alienate those attached to their ranks and the associated prestige. Solving those problems would be a greater, if more difficult, achievement than simply hiding players’ ranks.

> > … I may have projected ever so slightly * kicks some dirt around* my bad. He did seem to have a bad taste in his mouth when asked about visible rank in a similar post though.
>
> Oh, it’s quite all right; speculation and extrapolation is all we have, so why not engage in it? Hell – when I say that we’ll probably have visible rank, I’m projecting as well; just in the opposite direction. :3
>
> I get the impression that Frankie and co. would rather solve the problems of visible rank, than alienate those attached to their ranks and the associated prestige. Solving those problems would be a greater, if more difficult, achievement than simply hiding players’ ranks.

See this is why your in my top 3 favorite mods.

True, that would be the more effective and difficult task in the end, heck if they can separate visible rank from the abomination that some kids made it back in the day I would kiss Frankie, probably with tounge. But if they can’t effectively knock boosters and account buyers on their collective -Yoinks!- I would rather have a rank only I can see.

> Because I would suspect competitive players to have the largest spheres of influence, I can say that a typical competitive player is worth more to the community than a single noncompetitive player is.

Unless you’re talking about pro competitive players, ie people who make youtube vids or cast (and get views on them) or are actually pro (compete for money), I would disagree. Neither of us has any proof of course, but players in the MLG playlists tend to lone wolf it a lot (from what I’ve seen in the lower levels) but practice more, while social players may group with friends, but play less frequently. Again both of us are generalizing here… but why are we even bothering to fan the flames of the MLG vs. social fire again? Both kinds of players are important and totally cool.

> Examples of the Incentive Spiral at Work
> Halo 2: Ranks in Halo 2 reset several times during the life of the game. I contend that people having after having their ranks reset, people had less incentive to go through the ranks a second time, and after a third ranks reset even less incentive to go through the ranks a third time. In other words with each subsequent reset or start-over scenario people have less incentive and therefore with each reset the game would lose a significant amount of players.
>
> Halo 3: The genius of double experience weekends in Halo 3 was that they had the opposite effect, creating an upward spiral of players. These playlist included incentives for those, looking to level up faster, improve the look of their service record, and those looking to play limited time oddball gametypes (i.e. zombies, griffball, etc.). As a result, people went out of their way to play during these events and thus encouraged friends to do so as well.
>
> Reach: Halo Reach suffered from the rank reset problems as Halo 2 but to a far worse extent. This difference is due to expectations. In Halo 2 there were no announced plans to reset ranks whereas in Reach there were plans to reset ranks at predetermined intervals. If people can expect the fruits of their labor to be erased at a predetermined date sometime in the future they will have less incentive to play today. On the contrary, if people do not have this expectation, they will have more incentive to play today. In other words, expectations play a key role in people’s decision-making. This is by far the biggest reason the Arena failed.

I wasn’t on XBL during Halo 2 - but - isn’t it considered one of the most successful Halo titles in terms of live play? That’s pretty subjective buuut… :confused:

As for comparing H3 to Reach, there are more problems than you mentioned.
For one, look at Reach’s version of double EXP weekends: Super Jackpot Weekends and Challenges. Both net you credits, which - although farmed in their own right - are far less motivating than skill rank (I think, could be off there). I for one have never gotten a super jackpot, and no longer expect to, so they’re worthless. As for challenges, well, I -Yoinking!- hate them and here’s why double EXP weekends kick -Yoink- compared to daily/weekly challenges:

challenges force you into certain kinds of play you might not enjoy as much (campaign/FF/MP + certain weapons etc) (note: yes, DEXP forced you into MP if you wanted them, but they only affected multiplayer, unlike credits);
are less motivating as rank > appearance (for most people I think… could definitely be wrong);
are too time limited (only a day to complete most challenges - even really long ones on weekdays, like killing ~200 enemies on a weekday >.<, leading to burn out if people try and get them all);
are too GAIN limited (DEXP never ran out, but you can get all challenges and then what?);

meh I can think of more but I have to go.

tl;dr: Challenges -Yoinking!- suck.

> If Call of Duty doesn’t have a Rank that is similar to Halo’s 1-50 in their game, yet being very successful, why should they honestly spend time working on making a “Ranked Trophy” when they could focus more on making the game better than Reach?

I’m not familiar with CoD, but they have unlockable ranks at the very least, and prestiges for when you reach the final rank (allowing potentially unlimited incentive) - right? Some people definitely went crazy for getting Inheritor in Reach. Sure ranks in CoD (and reach) were more time (vs. skill) based than in Halo 3, but still ranks.

> Agreed. There is still plenty of time for 343 to reconsider 1-50 and if there is no 1-50 or any skill based ranking system then H4 will fail like Reach. Just stating the truth.

I definently agree that there needs to be some sort of 1-50 ranking system to keep players coming back. Personally I stopped playing Reach for a couple months back in January because there wasnt a way to show a actual rank that has to do with skill instead of how much you can play the game.

> If Call of Duty doesn’t have a Rank that is similar to Halo’s 1-50 in their game, yet being very successful, why should they honestly spend time working on making a “Ranked Trophy” when they could focus more on making the game better than Reach?

Good Question. The simple answer is the fact that COD is a completely different game then Halo. A slightly better answer though is the fact that COD’s biggest incentive is its easiness. It is so easy in fact that almost everyone thinks they are good, which in actuality they are not. That part does not matter though; it only matters as people act based on what think despite even if it is wrong. This creates pseudo competitive environment, and therefore there is no need for a skill based rank system. In the event that COD did create a second visual skill based rank system I believe it would not do much to help them, but at the same time I do not think it would hurt either, so why waste programmer time with that. So yes, my theory still holds because like I explained competitiveness is great for games even if it is pseudo competition.

Now the question is should 343 do the same. I say no and the reason being that it cannot be done without creating something that is not Halo. In fact, I would say that biggest danger is to Halo at this is creating a COD-Halo hybrid. There is no way that Halo is going to out COD COD. By doing this you are not creating neither a pseudo competitive environment or a real competitive environment. What 343 should do instead is create a Halo with a strong competitive foundation and build from there. I say this and people get scared, but no I do not mean toss everything that is not competitive because that would be even dumber. What I am say is first create a game of chess then mix it up a bit with your equipment vehicles and what have you to keep things fresh. You want people to ease people into the game, teach them checkers before you teach them chess. But realize that ultimately you will gain the most benefit by moving these players to become more competitive over time.

For this reason, I am surprised there has yet to be a matchmaking trainer teaching basic matchmaking concepts and strategies like strafing, team-shooting, timing, etc. hell, you can have T2 do it. This is what they should be doing…marketing themselves as the hardcore alternative to COD that anyone can learn to play but can also be enjoyed by casual masses alike.

> Unless you’re talking about pro competitive players, ie people who make youtube vids or cast (and get views on them) or are actually pro (compete for money), I would disagree. Neither of us has any proof of course, but players in the MLG playlists tend to lone wolf it a lot (from what I’ve seen in the lower levels) but practice more, while social players may group with friends, but play less frequently. Again both of us are generalizing here… but why are we even bothering to fan the flames of the MLG vs. social fire again? Both kinds of players are important and totally cool.

I am hardly trying to fan flames. Plain and simple, that quote was taken completely out of context. You either did not read the Player spiral theory section in whole, or failed to understand it. Specifically, you are completely misinterpreting what I meant when I said sphere of influence, I explained it in the two paragraphs leading up to that quote, so have another read.

> I wasn’t on XBL during Halo 2 - but - isn’t it considered one of the most successful Halo titles in terms of live play? That’s pretty subjective buuut… :confused:

I never claimed Halo 2 was not successful, it was my favorite Halo game personally. I just claimed that rank resets were associated with with downward spikes in player population.