Game Design

Queue settings advice

Every online multiplayer game needs matchmaking of some sort, and the basic system of having a single pool that players can enter and get matched as soon as there's someone else within a reasonable rating range doesn't allow for different match parameters (map, game mode, timer length in a turn-based game) to be selected. In some games that's fine because there's only supposed to be one "canonical" way to play. But other games need to allow players to queue for different types of matches, most commonly timer length in turn-based games. Many games do this really, really badly.

First of all, it's *essential* that players be able to queue for more than one type of match at once. I should be able to communicate "I'm willing to play a blitz game OR a long game", so I can get matched with someone looking for either one.

One problem with not allowing this is that game mode popularity is subject to a positive feedback loop! If few people are queueing for a certain type of game, then you know that you won't be able to get a match quickly if you queue for that type, so even if you like that type, you're discouraged from queueing for it... which increases the problem.

A related point: who the hell makes games where you can't do anything else while you're sitting in queue? When I played Spellweaver you had to stay at the queue screen to stay in queue. It's amazingly horrible that I can't look over my deck or browse my card collection while I'm waiting for a match. Prismata shows this done right. Being able to spectate top players' ranked matches while you wait makes it *so* much more fun.

Spellweaver review

Prismata review

Also, players should be able to set *desired* parameters separately from *required* ones. For example, I should be able to say "If possible, match me with between 20 and 30 seconds per turn, but I'm willing to play with up to 45 or down to 15 if someone else requires it." The system could only consider players with compatible requirements but average their preferences if those aren't also compatible. This way you give players what they want more often without splitting the queue any further than you do by only allowing players to set required parameters.

Please also allow players to set how much they care about equal-skill matches. Every Chess and Go site out there does it; I don't know why proprietary game developers think they can't or shouldn't.


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