About the ELO decay, I agree with FeiLing. I think it’s something useful to have in general, because you don’t want the top players to just sit at their position after a few months, rendering any new player almost unable to get there. Instead, the goal is to create the need for a player to fight for both, earning their top position and keeping it. To avoid punishing the players, who are more busy with their family life, work etc. you can cap the decay at some point.
I think the League of Legends ranking system (as I remember it from 2 years ago, when I still played ) is a good example for how to do it:
- For the top ranks (those are supposed to be god ranks in general? or maybe only the top 100/200/… you get it, depending on how big the playerbase gets) a heavily and unconditional decaying rating (meaning: decay X ELO even if they play every 3 days? every week?every months?)
- This way, if you want to stay at the top in a highly competitive environment, you have to constantly fight for it.
- As a bonus, in League of Legends, instead of dropping back to Diamond I (the highest ranking below “Challenger Ranking”) you instead drop to a special tier (“Master tier”), as an achievement (for this season) that you entered the Challenger Rank once, but for whatever reason dropped out of it.
- For the high and mid rankings (rank 10 to god rank? rank 5 to the lower god ranks?) a decaying system for not playing at least once or twice on a weekly basis.
- And no decay or only very brief one for everyone on the “average” or “lower” rankings (rank 10 or 15 and below?)
I’m not entirely sure, such an extreme system is fit for Faeria. It all depends, on how competitive you want this game to be. Plus, before adding such an extremely competitive environment, you first need a much bigger player base, because such a system can become really frustrating, if competition is missing while you still need to constantly fight for staying at your high rank due to auto decay. So I’d say, wait at least half a year or a year after the free to play launch.
In Pandora, I like the idea of having a ranking system in general, BUT I feel the current ranking system fails to achieve the goals of any ranking system completely. A ranking system always aimes to serve as a motivator to play the game, and, usually, as a matchmaking factor as well. Under normal circumstances, this would create a competitive situation, a thought that I really appreciate for all game modes.
However, the current system is the exact opposite of a motivator for several combined reasons:
First, the current prime motivation to play Pandora is, and probably always will be, the rewards, especially for new players who don’t want to buy the full collection. This, by itself, is no problem. The problem only occurs at the very moment, you link the rewards to the # of wins alone while linking the matchmaking to your ranking, instead of your current wins. Using the ranking system as a prime matchmaking factor, the more you play Pandora, the closer you get to your personal skillcap, which, in a perfect situation and draft mode aside, eventually leads to an average win ratio of 50%, hence a 3 win-run on average.
This system works perfectly contrary to your motivation to win a reward as great as possible, hence winning as many games as possible (your prime motivation!). In most cases, you just can not achieve both, a very good ranking and an average run of much more than 50%. That is, if you’re not one of the top players, of course.
Second, the problem gets even worse due to the fact that Shadow Pandora ranking is linked to your normal Pandora. By this shared ranking (and matchmaking), if you want to maximize your reward, you’d basically play your 3 or 4 normal Pandora runs. After you experience more and more losses due to the fact of getting closer to your skillcap, you stop playing Pandora. Instead you now “play” Phantom Pandora each day to bash your ranking, so you can eventually reset it. Then repeat.
Third, this issue is catalyzed even more due to the “first win of the day = +1 rating”, which leads you faster to your skillcap, than you’d normally take (always assuming, ranking is (one of) the matchmaking factor(s)).
There were a lot of good suggestions to solve these issues on the board already. This is the one I liked the most: Pandora pairing and rewards system really frustrating
- First of all, make the rewards scale with both, your wins/run and your ranking (and of course communicate this to new players from their first Pandora game onwards)! Basically this gives the player a motivation to stay high on ranks and on wins/run.
However, to avoid abuse of the other points…
Cut the shared ranking between normal and phantom Pandora. Otherwise, you might motivate players to play more phantom Pandora, to improve your rank, before spending the precious Pandora coins.
Remove that first win of the day bonus to your ranking from Pandora.
Think of this like a tax: The player will do almost everything possible to avoid the punishment. And, assuming that your ranking is the sole factor for matchmaking, a punishment is exactly what the first win of the day essentially is, if your goal is to reach the highest rank possible: You are punished for aiming for more than one win/day. Let’s say your win ratio is 50%. If you win one time, you get +2 ranking, if you lose, you get -1, so even with 50% win ratio you can still push your ranking, statistically to the point of a 33% win ratio. That is, if you only aim for one win/per day to get the bonus, but not risking more losses.