*Strict Matchmaking Parameters Are The Key*

I’ve seen a lot of talk back and forth about the gameplay itself, but I want everyone to get a little meta with me and take a step back. Look at the game in a larger sense. Don’t worry about AA’s and Modifications and Power-Ups. Let’s look at something that could improve Halo a tremendous amount, with a completely objective piece of writing and reasoning.

No matter what’s in the actual game itself, this will effect it. The game could be amazingly balanced, or a horrible cluster-eff, but with what I want to bring to the table would objectively make it a much, much better game. There is no grey area here.

I’ve tried to dissect this situation after dealing with it since the good ol’ Halo 2 days.

I’ve always been a lone wolf player. Very good at what I do, but don’t really like to talk (Roommates, I have a loud/deep voice).

I’ve always felt great about dominating another team. To bust your bottom and get a Killing Spree is good, to pull off a Triple Kill solo is even better.

However, my fun ends once it turns into Killionaires and Invincibles on a team that clearly isn’t playing well. It’s always felt cheap to me. If Spawn Trapping starts to happen in any game I play, I always leave. Battlefield was particularly horrible about this.

If you can pull off amazing performances against amazing teams, then I’m all for that. Perfections and Invincibles should be something to be proud of.

The issue arises when all games, not just Halo, have never really taken teams vs. individuals seriously. Starcraft 2, Battlefield, Call of Duty, etc. They just lump everyone into a single pot and let them battle it out.

Halo does have the potential for a great matchmaking system, but they always end up making the Search Restrictions A LOT, and I repeat A LOT less strict. Once the initial rush of players wears off, it’s back to almost nothing in terms of Trueskill.

First 3-4 months of Halo: Reach, with all the Search Restrictions on, I’d wait around 10 minutes per match. But I was matched with other individuals, with a few 2 person parties sprinkled in there. It was great. When I got beat, I knew it was because my team and I were outplayed. When I beat another team, I knew it was because my team and I played very well.

Not sure when this started happening after that initial period, but it’s like they just turned off Search Restrictions. Thrown into matches in 3 minutes with literally no regard for Trueskill. It sucked. Sucked so much I sold the game around a year and some change after release. No fun to be had.

This happened with all the Halo games so far… It sucks, but I guess that’s just what happens eventually. Halo 2 did it. Halo 3 did it. And Halo: Reach did it.

Halo Wars, surprisingly, had a great system. 6 playlists. 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 with Randoms or Teams. I actually had an amazing amount of fun with that compared to a “superior” game in Starcraft 2. The matchmaking made the game fair and fun for everyone involved. I had dozens upon dozens of games in Halo Wars where it was 3v3 and deadlocked, with easily over 3 hours of gameplay and back and forth, massive battles. Pulling off a 2v3 because one of your teammates quit was some of the most fun I’ve had on consoles.

And this is without any serious matchmaking system… Just keeping teams/random playlists separate made the game amazingly more fun and kept me coming back for more.

Starcraft 2? Opposing team of 3 would take out my teammates with coordinated strikes, leaving me alone to fend for myself. Only had a game or two actually last longer than an hour. Only a single one had any real back and forth struggles.

The one completely objective thing about online gameplay, in any game, is that keeping teams and individuals separated is more competitive, balanced and fun than any other type of system.

A really serious team wants to have some good matches? They’ll get it.

A not so serious team wants to have some fun matches? They’ll get it too.

The Trueskill needs to play an enormous factor in Teams vs. Individuals, and also needs to play a factor, albeit smaller, in Teams vs. Teams, and Individuals vs. Individuals.

As long as they can effectively separate the best teams from playing the worst individuals, or even great individuals, it will be a success. A great 8 person team against a good/average 8 person team will always be better than a great 8 person team against 8 good/average individual players.

Halo 4 absolutely and 100% needs to keep the Trueskill as strict as it can, for those who desire to keep it that way.

Some people don’t want strict matchmaking; they just want to play. And I support those people. They should get what they want as well as myself. So there should be options here to create a strict environment and a more lenient one.

Let’s keep the Search Restrictions on at full strength. They can do whatever they want to the default matchmaking, but keep the Search Restrictions just as strict as day one.

If my favorite playlist only has 3,000 people in it, let me have the option to choose to wait for a balanced match. If it takes over 15 minutes, that’s fine with me. As long as the game I’m about to play creates a fair and competitive atmosphere, I’m completely fine with waiting.

Even if the game ends up being a disaster like some have predicted, having a great matchmaking system will help to alleviate feelings of frustration that players have with the game. If you’re running into a lot of dumb tactics and imbalanced gameplay, at least you’re not getting stomped 100-5 in matches.

If the game ends up being a fantastic and well-designed game, having a great matchmaking system will just further improve on that. Instead of 100-75 matches, you’ll get 100-95 matches. It will just further the game’s success.

All in all, this is the one main issue that outweighs pretty much all others for everyone involved. Sure, I can see the concerns for other controversial issues, but this one main point will benefit all players involved with the game.

TL;DR - Trueskill, and the entire matchmaking system needs to be as great as possible. Regardless of the gameplay itself, a great matchmaking system can and will ONLY improve the game’s competitiveness, entertainment and balance for every single player who plays. Without it, the game will never be as good as it could be.

I would love it if they used the team FFA matching system from the original Arena, but without the stupid exploit, combined with nice and tight MM criteria.

> I would love it if they used the team FFA matching system from the original Arena, but without the stupid exploit, combined with nice and tight MM criteria.

Be careful what you wish for.

H3: MMing takes too long!
Reach: MMing isn’t accurate!
H4: MMing takes too long!

Stricter matchmaking criteria is nice, when there is an adequate population to support it. However, when some playlists become unpopular and their population falls, it would become frustratingly difficult for players find a game with strict matchmaking tolerances.

Rather than have strict matchmaking across the board, what should be done is give the player an option to search for games closer to their skill level, as done in Reach.

> Stricter matchmaking criteria is nice, when there is an adequate population to support it. However, when some playlists become unpopular and their population falls, it would become frustratingly difficult for players find a game with strict matchmaking tolerances.
>
> Rather than have strict matchmaking across the board, what should be done is give the player an option to search for games closer to their skill level, as done in Reach.

I think togglable search parameters in Reach were great. The fundamental problem with Reach was that it was optimized for speed first and foremost for everybody.

It should have been set to accuracy first and foremost with an option for speed.

> Stricter matchmaking criteria is nice, when there is an adequate population to support it. However, when some playlists become unpopular and their population falls, it would become frustratingly difficult for players find a game with strict matchmaking tolerances.
>
> Rather than have strict matchmaking across the board, what should be done is give the player an option to search for games closer to their skill level, as done in Reach.

Exactly! Like I said in my OP, there should be options. Sometimes, if I’m playing with some buddies, I’m not really that serious. Sometimes I want to just play some Halo and get in some games. With the Default Matchmaking, this isn’t really an issue. It’s always optimized for speed first.

But, with Search Restrictions, they should be kept at the initial strictness. The first 3-4 months of Halo: Reach gameplay was fantastic. Took a lot longer, but it was worth it.

After the initial period, the matchmaking receives a very hefty drop in accuracy. It pretty much only goes for speed and having a decent internet connection. Any type of Skill parameter is thrown out the window.

If a playlist only has 3,000 people in it, I think the player should be able to choose his/her own way of doing it. I wouldn’t mind making a drink/vaping/texting until the game started. I can multi-task. Once I finally get into a match, whether it’s 10 or 20 minutes, I can have a good game. No 100-5 blow outs, which suck for either side.

> I think togglable search parameters in Reach were great. The fundamental problem with Reach was that it was optimized for speed first and foremost for everybody.
>
> It should have been set to accuracy first and foremost with an option for speed.

I see you’ve also used the Search Restrictions extensively. They were great… Until they were essentially turned off later in the game’s life.

The one thing that kept me coming back to Halo Wars was it’s fantastic matchmaking system. Sure, Starcraft 2 had some better gameplay and all that, but Halo Wars put me consistently into fair matches that I was able to actually have fun in.

All I’m saying is just to let us choose… If we want to wait, so be it. If we want speed, that’s great!

And maybe have more strict Party Restrictions all around. Not to impede the matchmaking times too much, but it absolutely has to be faster to track two 4 person teams and their combined Trueskill values instead of working with a single team of 4 compared to 4 individual players.

> Stricter matchmaking criteria is nice, when there is an adequate population to support it. However, when some playlists become unpopular and their population falls, it would become frustratingly difficult for players find a game with strict matchmaking tolerances.
>
> <mark>Rather than have strict matchmaking across the board, what should be done is give the player an option to search for games closer to their skill level, as done in Reach.</mark>

An option to choose how you search for matches sounds good and it may be the only way to avoid this:

> H3: MMing takes too long!
> Reach: MMing isn’t accurate!
> H4: MMing takes too long!

I agree with your insight that matchmaking is the cornerstone, I’d like to see some new filters and options very similar to your requests…

  1. A simple toggle that allows/disallows matchmaking to widen the search parameters. The longer search time the less strict matchmaking filters and party match ups become. Allow players to toggle this on and off. Leave it on as default and the “hardcore players” can then toggle off and have long wait times for the match ups they want.

  2. Filters to toggle on/off maps and gametypes. Players tick/untick what they like. This way matchmaking puts players together who want the same pool of maps/gametypes and then veto’ing is also more accurate as well as giving players more of what they want to choose more often. It combines the defaults for fast matching, keeps matchmaking the great system it is but introduces a tiered layer of play choice about maps/gametypes. I think this will keep players involved with multiplayer for far longer.

  3. Keep regional and skill based filters.

  4. Remove filters like chatty, teamwork etc. They’re not working and user selectable makes them a joke anyway.

I think it’s a good idea, but I don’t see it working in Halo 4 since there will be join in progress. It will be pretty hard to keep track of skill. Most games these games anymore aren’t skill based as much as they used to be.

> They were great… Until they were essentially turned off later in the game’s life.

I doubt that was the case and more than likely, your peers (people +/-5 TrueSkill of you) just stopped playing and the system was designed for any game rather than no game.

> And maybe have more strict Party Restrictions all around. Not to impede the matchmaking times too much, but it absolutely has to be faster to track two 4 person teams and their combined Trueskill values instead of working with a single team of 4 compared to 4 individual players.

I think the problem derives from the above situation, their peers (in this case, other full groups) weren’t readily avaliable so it placed them into any match rather than make them wait exceptionally long or boot them back to the MMing screen. But because they got paired into a game, the team that could match them finishes theirs and starts searching, and nobody is avaliable. And on and on it repeats.

Something that also should happen is how TrueSkill is used to match players. Right it seems that a team is formed and then the other team is formed so that the average TrueSkills of both teams are equal. What that means is that you might get one team that’s all relatively balanced and their opponents have one really good guy and a bunch of not so good guys.

Which I suppose is fine for any sort of unranked/social playlist but for ranked playlists, TrueSkill should be utilized so that any player in an 8v8 match is no more than +/- 5 TrueSkill points from any other player in the match.

> Stricter matchmaking criteria is nice, when there is an adequate population to support it. However, when some playlists become unpopular and their population falls, it would become frustratingly difficult for players find a game with strict matchmaking tolerances.
>
> Rather than have strict matchmaking across the board, what should be done is give the player an option to search for games closer to their skill level, as done in Reach.

^^What dat person said.