EOL Ranking Discussion v_final_veryfinal_superdefinitelyfinal

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EOL Ranking Discussion v_final_veryfinal_superdefinitelyfinal

Post by pawq » 16 Jun 2018, 01:56

Hi everyone.

Yes, I know you’ve seen about a dozen discussions about the broken EOL ranking over the years, and that none of them ever amounted to anything. Some good ideas were presented, some less good, but sadly it never lead to actual implementation. I believe one of the main causes was that none of those discussions (at least none of those that I’m aware of) were complemented by actual testing and comparison of the proposed ranking formulas.

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After Zero’s last topic about this ( https://mopolauta.moposite.com/viewtop ... f=4&t=9861, I decided to take the matter into my own hands. I’ve discussed this quite a lot on discord so some of you may be aware, but for the others, I wrote a framework that can compute the ranking from existing battle data. I tested it on a basic ELO formula, but I also played around with some parameters and added some modifications. The framework uses the results of the first 129,200 battles (all battles at the end of February 2018), and it computes the ranking after every single battle, for all of those battles and for all players. This enables us to readily implement many different formulas and their variations, and then compare the resultant rankings directly, eventually deciding which one we think is the most suitable.

I’m hoping to spark a constructive discussion here, in order to finally reach the desired outcome – the selection of an algorithm to implement. And a ranking will be implemented, likely on the new version of the elmaonline site that is currently under development by Kopaka.

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I’d like to start with stating a premise that we should use to define the ranking. Note that this is not final, but merely what I believe the ranking should represent, so let it be part of the discussion.
1. The ranking should indicate how likely, statistically, players are to beat each other.
2. The ranking should be as simple as possible, allowing players to understand it easily.

I.e. if player A is more likely to beat player B than the other way around, player A should be higher in the ranking, and the more likely he is to win, the bigger their difference in ranking should be. Simplicity is also crucial. The ranking is for us, and if we don’t understand how it’s computed, it’ll have no value for us.
Note that I didn’t use the word “skill”. I think we should have come to the conclusion by now that it is not possible to accurately determine the skill of a player. I think what matters in battles though, it the likelihood of defeating someone. Hence the premise above.

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Next, I’m going to present a summary of the past discussions about the ranking (list here).
- We need a battle ranking.
- Gaining points. A player should get more points for defeating a better player. This seems to be a consensus. Points for a battle could be the sum of points given/taken for beating/losing to all the other players in the battle.
- Losing points. Some said that a player should not be able to lose points by playing a battle, so as not to discourage players from participating. However, no good arguments for this were given, apart from “I don’t want to be punished for playing”. Moreover, this would lead to an ever-escalating ranking, as everybody’s points would only keep increasing. It would also mean that the ranking would favour the most active players. For these reasons, it’s very likely that players will lose points for poor battle performance.
- Ranking escalation. The formula should not allow the ranking to escalate indefinitely. This is a risk when new players enter the ranking at a default value. For example, if losing a battle means losing points, the poor players will have ranking below the default value (say, 1000). Then, a new player can enter at the default value (1000), but his actual skill is much lower (say, 500), so his ranking will tend towards that. But, if the average number of points per player remains constant (i.e. total points won = total points lost), then all the other players will have their ranking increase slightly. And this will happen every time a new player joins. A potential solution to this is provisional ranking, which uses the first few battles to approximate the skill of a player, and enters him at that level. However, for some formulas (e.g. ELO) this isn’t that much of an issue, as will become apparent from plots further down.
- Quantity of battles played. A lot of formulas (including the original EOL one) favour playing a lot of battles. E.g., if only a certain number of battles per week/month/year are included, those playing more battles than the threshold will benefit, as only their best battles will be selected. This is not desirable, as the number of battles played says nothing about skill.
- Battle size. Beating a good player in a battle with few players should not matter less than beating him in a battle with many players. Battle size should be somehow included in the ranking, but not by excluding battles with fewer players (which would happen if only a certain number of best battles are included).
- Using all battles. If only a certain number of battles are included, many battles won’t count for the most active players, which may be disheartening.
- Inactivity. Inactive players should not be able to climb up the ranking. Keeping their ranking constant means that a good player who briefly topped the ranking 10 years ago and hasn’t played since then could still be on top, which is undesirable. However, becoming inactive doesn’t mean losing skill, which leads to the dilemma, and also to the next issue:
- Old battles. One way to tackle inactive players staying on top of the ranking is to make old battles contribute less to the ranking. This could be done through a decay factor (an old battle’s contribution is multiplied by a factor that decreases with its age), or periodically (for example, the battles from the last 6 months are multiplied by 1, the ones from 6-12 months ago by 0.5, 12-18 months by 0.3, etc.). This means that taking pauses in the game would negatively contribute to the ranking, which is probably desirable. However, if points are lost by losing, players with ranking lower than initial would see their ranking increase after inactivity. This would only tend towards the initial value and only would only affect low-skill players though, so maybe isn’t that much of a problem.
- Responsiveness. The ranking should be responsive on a relatively short time scale, so that players can see their progress. However, players should not be able to gain/lose too many points in a short period of time. The ranking could be updated periodically as well (e.g. weekly)?
- Low effort battles. This point appeared quite frequently. Including all battles in the ranking could potentially discourage players from participating if they arrive late or know they could only play for a while. This could be tackled by, for example, excluding players that played a battle less than a certain amount of time (e.g. less than a minute). However, this could lead to the same problem, as players would potentially be encouraged to quit a battle early if they don’t do well or dislike the level. Also, an exception could be made for when a player does really well (e.g. gains points, or wins) despite a short playtime. However, in that case, players would be encouraged to practise in SL or in editor. Another idea is to give a player more points if he played little time, but that’s probably not desirable, as it overcomplicates things and possibly encourages players to quit a battle just after they made an ok time.
- Exclusions. For example, 0 apple results or certain battle types could be excluded from the ranking computation. Excluding 0 apple results is good because it excludes situations where a player esced in a megahard lev just to finish higher. But then if somebody does finish, he doesn’t get credit for beating all those who didn’t manage to finish and so had 0 apples. Battle starters could be excluded as well.
All of these issues need to be decided. Some leave little doubt, others still need discussion. When you reply, please say your opinions about this issues, but make sure to support those opinions with arguments. “I like this better” will not be taken into consideration, regardless of who it’s coming from. Reasonable arguments, however, will always be taken into consideration, again regardless of who they’re coming from.

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Now, let’s get down to actual ranking implementations. Below is a short list of the most reasonable ones mentioned in the past discussions.
- An ELO system is a fairly simple solution that is implemented widely in many disciplines. Although ELO is normally suited for 1v1 competitions, battles could be treated as a combination of several 1v1 battles. A player gains points for every player they beat, and loses points for every player they were beaten by. More points gained for beating a better player, and more points lost for losing to a weaker player.
- Mila’s solution for the belma ranking was similar to ELO, but instead of Ra’=Ra+k(-1/(10^((Rb-Ra)/400))) it’s Ra’=Ra*(1+k*exp(q*(Rb-Ra))) (and divide instead of multiply for players that defeated him).
- Another option is that every player donates a certain % of his ranking points into the battle pool, and at the end of the battle the players are awarded “points” – e.g. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. The total amount of points is equal to 15, so the first player would get 5/15 of the pool, the second 4/15 of the pool, etc. This is similar to ELO in that a better player has to beat more players to maintain his ranking – he gives up more to the pool, so has to beat more players to get it all back.
I know these don’t necessarily explain the rankings very well, but it’s just a quick outline before I go into detail.

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ELO ranking system
This is the first (and so far only) system that I have implemented. I like it mainly because of its simplicity and popularity.
This implementation assumes 1v1 battles between all players, and works on the basic principle of expected result versus actual result. The actual result (s) is 1 for a win and 0 for a loss. So, in a battle of 10 players, the winner’s actual result would be 9 points (as he beated 9 players), and the last player’s results would be 0 points. The expected result (e) for player A against player B is calculated from:
eA = 1/ (1+ 10^((rB-rA)/B) )
and for player B against player A:
eB = 1/ (1+ 10^((rA-rB)/B) )
Where rA and rB are the rankings of players A and B before this battle, and B is some factor.
Then, the new ranking of the players is calculated from:
rA’ = rA + K*(sA-eA)
rB’ = rB + K*(sB-eB)
Where rA’ and rB’ are the updated rankings, sA and sB are the actual results, and eA and eB are the expected results. Also, the initial ranking value given to everyone at the start is equal to 1000.
To illustrate with an example, say there is a battle with 4 players that are ranked as follows:
- Markku with 2000
- Spef with 1200
- bene with 1000
- Zero with 500
Say they finish the battle as follows:
- 1. Zero
- 2. Markku
- 3. bene
- 4. Spef
In this scenario, Zero was strongly expected to lose, but he won, so should be rewarded heavily. Markku was strongly expeceted to win with all others, but was 2nd, so he will be penalised slightly. Spef and bene both did rather poorly, both beaten by a really bad player (Zero), so their ranking should go down (Spef’s even more, because he has 0 wins). The actual point gains and losses using the ELO system with default factor values (K = 1, B = 200) is as follows:
- Markku loses ~1.000 points
- Spef loses 1.909 points
- bene loses 0.088 points
- Zero gains 2.997 points
The K factor defines how much points can be gained/lost from a single battle. The B factor defines the spread of expected result. For example, with B=200, a difference in ranking of 200 means that the better player has a 90.9% chance to win, a difference in ranking of 400 means a 92.5% chance to win, and a difference in ranking of 100 means a 76.0% chance to win. If we increase B, the same skill difference will result in bigger ranking point differences, and if we decrease B, we’ll get smaller ranking point differences.
If any of this is too hard to understand, I recommend you check out the Wikipedia page. Meanwhile, I hear you shout “renaults or riot!!!”. One word: oke.

I varied the factors K and B for testing, and I also implemented a filter for battles with <5 players, and a low effort battle filter. The low effort filter checks which players played less than 1 minute andscored negative points, then, removes them from that battle, and recalculates the scores for that battle.

Here are plots of the ranking for chosen 6 players (click on image for full size):
K = 1, B = 200
Image

K = 1, B = 400 (default)
Image

K = 1, B = 600
Image

K = 1, B = 800
Image

K = 1, B = 1000
Image

K = 4, B = 400
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K = 1, B = 400 (default), 5 player rule included
Image

K = 1, B = 400 (default), low effort filter included
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And the top40 rankings for all the variations of B factor (I think I had it for the low effort filter and 5 player rule too, but can't find now):
Image

==========================================================================================================

Now, if this post looks unfinished, that's because it is. I run out of effort for tonight but really wanted to get something out there, so there you go. Hopefully enough to start a discussion.

I honestly expect 95% of people to not even bother reading half of this post, but I really hope that some of you will. I'm looking especially at the mods, and at the most experienced and active people out there. But as I said in the beginning, anybody's opinion is welcome. Just please, don't waste my time with unnecessary spam.

And yeah, the post is to be continued. I'll try to post more results of teh ELO simulations (please say here if there are any particular results (e.g. plots for particular players) that you'd like to see). I'll also try to implement the other two systems and generate similar results. But even before that, it would be great to settle the issues that I bolded out earlier in this post.

Sorry if the writing is too hectic, it's late :) Let me know if anything is unclear or badly explained/worded! Hope you enjoyed the read :wink:

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Re: EOL Ranking Discussion v_final_veryfinal_superdefinitelyfinal

Post by AndrY » 16 Jun 2018, 08:28

Very good that you do smth about it!
imo not ever need to reprogramming all ranking, maybe at least to fix some errors (if man have more played balles in a day, than he played for example).

pawq wrote:
16 Jun 2018, 01:56
2. The ranking should be as simple as possible
pawq wrote:
16 Jun 2018, 01:56
eA = 1/ (1+ 10^((rB-rA)/B) )
and for player B against player A:
eB = 1/ (1+ 10^((rA-rB)/B) )
Where rA and rB are the rankings of players A and B before this battle, and B is some factor.
Then, the new ranking of the players is calculated from:
rA’ = rA + K*(sA-eA)
rB’ = rB + K*(sB-eB)
ohhh 8O
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Re: EOL Ranking Discussion v_final_veryfinal_superdefinitelyfinal

Post by Grace » 16 Jun 2018, 08:57

I don't have a lot of specific knowledge on advanced ranking methodologies as I've always just coded my own simple formulae.

That said, I have some comments which might provide some clarity to a couple of the components that are still up in the air.
Losing points.
Regarding losing points, a lot of the concerns with this are not present in practice. Yes, it seems like it could be horror solution to have talli or zero lose 50 points if they have a poor battle performance against tej and some other newer players, but in the end, this contributes to removing an endlessly inflating ranking score. Other systems (such as ELO) use this idea with no issue and have for many years. It's normal if you have a high ranking to have to perform well to keep it.
Quantity of battles played.
This is a really interesting question to compare with a standard ELO solution. It's purely arbitrary where you draw the line, but having the ranking algorithm only consider - lets say your 100 best performances in the past 6 months - eliminates the issues of low effort battles, helps combat the issue with inactive players/old battles. Further, it doesn't tend towards promoting a "not gonna play this battle" attitude, because if the algorithm does assess every battle but only awards points if you performed well, there's no reason not to play. Perhaps importantly, a ranking system like this really rewards activity in bigger events such as battle cups for stronger players, in which there are lots of participants to beat and provide some really strong ranking points.

- Using all battles. If only a certain number of battles are included, many battles won’t count for the most active players, which may be disheartening.

Keep in mind that the above paragraph is using a really simple example of "100 best performances in the past six months". Obviously, you can make such a system significantly more complex by including more components and providing more weight to some components:
  • Heavily weighted 100 best battle performances in past six months
  • Medium weighted 200 next best performances in past year
  • Low weighted 200 next best performances in past year
I'm not sure if a solution like this is even desirable to most people, but it does solve a lot of the issues to do with mans being unsure to participate in battles with low time left or shit levels etc.

Decay

In my opinion, it's super important to implement some sort of decay system in a ranking system such as this. If we backwards calculate ranking, GRob will be ranked very highly, for example, but he hasn't played a battle in years (I guess) and so it's hard to consider him one of the best battlers in 2018. Most good ranking systems have some form of rating decay over time, even if it's minor.
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Re: EOL Ranking Discussion v_final_veryfinal_superdefinitelyfinal

Post by danitah » 16 Jun 2018, 15:55

I don't have too much to add, seems very well thought out and I agree with most of it, so I don't have too much to add, great work! 8)
pawq wrote:
16 Jun 2018, 01:56
- Battle size. Beating a good player in a battle with few players should not matter less than beating him in a battle with many players. Battle size should be somehow included in the ranking, but not by excluding battles with fewer players (which would happen if only a certain number of best battles are included).
Yeah, would be nice to get rid of the 5 player limit. Would make night battles more interesting. Feels kinda silly when there are 4 players and the leader asks for one more to join for example.
pawq wrote:
16 Jun 2018, 01:56
- Exclusions. For example, 0 apple results or certain battle types could be excluded from the ranking computation. Excluding 0 apple results is good because it excludes situations where a player esced in a megahard lev just to finish higher. But then if somebody does finish, he doesn’t get credit for beating all those who didn’t manage to finish and so had 0 apples. Battle starters could be excluded as well.
Both of these cases should be avoided by the levelmakers. If you make a very hard lev, put enough apples so that people can compete without finishing the lev. Also we have the same problem if first apple is really easy and the rest is really hard, so we don't really solve this problem by excluding 0 apple times. And if you put allow starter, you should have a valid reason, or you would be breaking the rules, and I don't think we should protect against rule breaking in the ranking system. Like if you put that exclusion there it's kinda like saying it's ok to play your own battles because it won't affect rating.

One idea would be to look at the length of runs (i assume that data is available), and sort standings based on that. For example:
Player A enters lev at 14:20:00 - gets 1 apple, but plays for 5 minutes before he dies.
Player B enters lev at 14:21:00 - gets 1 apple in 5 seconds, and instantly escs.
Player B would be the leader with 1 apple after he escs, but after player A dies he will take lead from player B in standings.
Simply put: Sort standings/results by time entered lev instead of time exited lev.
It wouldn't completely solve this issue, for example in a FF everyone starts at the same time and this would be determined by ping I guess. But it should be clearly better overall imo, and it completely gets rid of escing to win.

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Re: EOL Ranking Discussion v_final_veryfinal_superdefinitelyfinal

Post by Spef » 16 Jun 2018, 16:14

- Gaining/losing points.
Yes, losing points is important. You will quickly stabilize around some rating and will maintain it, with little bumps up and down.

- Ranking escalation.
I like having a provisional/some other special ranking for first few battles for new players. I don't understand inflation much though :bear:

- Quantity of battles played/- Using all battles.
Every ranked battle should count. Only way you should be at a disadvantage by playing few battles is through decay.

- Battle size
"Battle size should be somehow included in the ranking, but not by excluding battles with fewer players"
Does this mean if the average rating is the same in a battle with 10 and 5 players, winning the one with 10 players gives you more points (and losing it makes you lose more points)? I guess it would make sense, there's more... luck? in a large battle. More chances for someone to make a surprise performance and beat players above. So it's harder to win those.
For example 1st place: +5, 10th place: -5 against 1st place: +2, 5th place: -2. This is without considering rating before battle of course.
It might be a good idea to have a limit for how small a battle can be to count for ranking, I think there has been one at 5 players in the past.

- Exclusions (battle results)/- Low effort battles.
I would put the responsibility on the players here, to check the level with f1+enter or editor and make a decision to battle or not. If you enter a battle, you are participating in the battle and it will count for ranking. No safety net around it allowing you to play without risk, this will always be exploitable. If you care about rankings enough not to play under a disadvantage such as playing for less time than others, that's your choice.
- Exclusions (battle type)
Normal battles should have their own ranking. Special battles could each have their own also, atleast FF(+one-life? cos it's similar) and apple battles as they are very popular. The other special battle types could be in a group of one or a couple smaller ones (for example crippled, speed+slowness+survivor, the rest), or not ranked at all.
A lot of this is personal preference, I always looked at normal battles as the most "serious" and play other types more for fun.

- Inactivity/old battles.
"Keeping their ranking constant means that a good player who briefly topped the ranking 10 years ago and hasn’t played since then could still be on top, which is undesirable. However, becoming inactive doesn’t mean losing skill, which leads to the dilemma"
Luckily, rating isn't an accurate representation of skill, so messing with their rating for inactivity is fine. Otherwise, the scenario described in the quote could be a nightmare. I'm all for decay. It would also make it so a high ranked inactive player loses points, but once they return, their first few battles count for their rating more and they will have a chance to climb back fast to where they were before taking a break. I don't have a solution for low ranked inactive players gaining points by not playing, let me know if that helps.

- Responsiveness.
"However, players should not be able to gain/lose too many points in a short period of time."
Why not? If I'm #1 ranked and start intentionally going for last place in every battle, I should lose a ton of points for that (though this kind of behaviour should not be allowed). A live rating would be nice instead of a scheduled update, but whatever is most manageable to implement.

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Re: EOL Ranking Discussion v_final_veryfinal_superdefinitelyfinal

Post by zebra » 17 Jun 2018, 11:01

Hello! Good to have discussion about ranking systems :) My opinions here:

I'm strongly against losing points when battling. That doesn't make any sense. Do we really want to drive players away? If I knew that I might lose points by playing battles, I would only pick the best battles, not play any "noob designer"'s battles. And what about distractions? My wife comes to say something when I'm playing a battle and I have to leave the battle. Should I be punished of that?

In Trackmania there was a good ranking system. Some main points:
- everybody start with 0 points
- you got points only by beating a better player (or equal ranked player)
- at every Sunday, all players' points were scaled down so that the best player had 100000 points.

Simple and good system :)
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Re: EOL Ranking Discussion v_final_veryfinal_superdefinitelyfinal

Post by ofta » 17 Jun 2018, 13:14

i agree a bit with everyone here. every battle is not and should not be considered ’competitive’. i don’t think anyone wants a system that encourage players to dodge certain battle types. i think the best system would be to make a ’ranked battle’ type with more serious levs, and also some kind of ’social battles’ that are un-ranked, and can be experimental, low-effort, troll levs or whatever. in ranked ballers i think you should be able to lose points, just to give the battle some risk and weight.

i can also see some problems with ’ranking’. first of all, how do we determine ranking? do we go with existing data? since i joined sol in 2013, no-one really every cared about battle ranking on a macro level. only on micro level (you only care about the very battle you are playing atm). it’s a bit like in FIFA ranking in soccer, they take data from friendly exhibition games and create a world ranking from that, which can make very weak teams come up high on ranking, while some high-regarded teams are way down in ranking.

so i might seem like the most fair system is to create a clean-sheet buy resetting all previous data in order to create a new accurate ranking system, but that’s not really fair either, because if you do some kind of qualification contest to determine initiate ranking, you will in that process encourage players to play worse then you actually can. because the worse you perform, the more you will eventually win and the less do you risk to lose.

i don’t think there’s any good solution to all of this, other then to skip the ranking all together and create some kind of weekly/monthly or whatever seasons and that you only measure your performances in relation to other players during a very specific period of time.

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Re: EOL Ranking Discussion v_final_veryfinal_superdefinitelyfinal

Post by FinMan » 17 Jun 2018, 13:36

Not losing ranking in a lost battle sounds really ridiculous. First of all, not being able to lose points in any circumstances means the more you play, the better your ranking will be which is not competitive at all. Being one of the best in the game would feel pointless if you could just randomly enter battles, be shit in that particular level and not worry about anything.

I don't feel like you should worry about going into a battle even if you might lose a point or two. In the long run it will even out (as spef pointed out). Also, if you play a bit more casually, no one will blame you for not trying to buff the virtual-penisque number that is ranking.

I agree with having the unranked battles being a possibility though, it wouldn't hurt.

I agree with spefs post. Inactivity should be punished at the top, shouldn't be punished below the top, this way the hardcore mans could keep on fighting and not camp a number to look great, at the same time more casual and not so hc-oriented masn could enjoy the battles whenever they want etc.

ps. can not focus on reading everything carefully, hope i understood stuf and if i repeat mans, sry for that, ask me if need be
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Re: EOL Ranking Discussion v_final_veryfinal_superdefinitelyfinal

Post by danitah » 17 Jun 2018, 14:59

zebra wrote:
17 Jun 2018, 11:01
Hello! Good to have discussion about ranking systems :) My opinions here:

I'm strongly against losing points when battling. That doesn't make any sense. Do we really want to drive players away? If I knew that I might lose points by playing battles, I would only pick the best battles, not play any "noob designer"'s battles. And what about distractions? My wife comes to say something when I'm playing a battle and I have to leave the battle. Should I be punished of that?

In Trackmania there was a good ranking system. Some main points:
- everybody start with 0 points
- you got points only by beating a better player (or equal ranked player)
- at every Sunday, all players' points were scaled down so that the best player had 100000 points.

Simple and good system :)
The biggest flaw of this kind of system is that it doesn't incentivize good players to beat bad players. Let's say zero is playing against only new players, there is nothing (or close to nothing) to gain and nothing to lose.

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Re: EOL Ranking Discussion v_final_veryfinal_superdefinitelyfinal

Post by Kopaka » 17 Jun 2018, 22:15

ofta wrote:
17 Jun 2018, 13:14
i can also see some problems with ’ranking’. first of all, how do we determine ranking? do we go with existing data? since i joined sol in 2013, no-one really every cared about battle ranking on a macro level. only on micro level (you only care about the very battle you are playing atm). it’s a bit like in FIFA ranking in soccer, they take data from friendly exhibition games and create a world ranking from that, which can make very weak teams come up high on ranking, while some high-regarded teams are way down in ranking.
If your ranking is low at the time the ranking is introduced because of noy caring about ranking in past battles, you will be able to rectify this quickly by starting to play for the ranking seriously, so it's not a big issue. That being said, something many games do is seasons as you also eluded to. Imo should at least have a yearly one as well as the over all one.

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