One of the largest complaints with the ladder system we currently use on FAF stems from the inflexibility of it. We need to essentially create some sort of compromise between making the barrier to entry into ladder small enough to encourage new players to play it, while also making it engaging enough for higher rated players/players with a lot of activity to continue playing.
Oftentimes this results in the constant struggle between the two major camps for changing the ladder: the people that want a smaller pool and those that want a larger pool. A smaller pool should make it easier for individuals to learn maps and less intimidating as it is easy to look up a replay of a map when it’s practically guaranteed to be played in a 5-7 map pool. It’s also easy to adjust to your mistakes in prior games as the period between games on that same map will be far shorter than it could potentially be in a 15-20 map pool.
However, the problem then arises: what if you dislike a specific map within the pool and now 15-20% of your games in a small pool are now likely to be on that map. Another problem is the sheer exhaustion of playing a map with the same sort of meta over and over again. While a common rebuttal to this attrition argument is the fact that a small pool will allow for a variety of interesting metas to form on a map and thus create more diversity in itself, that argument seems to fall flat outside of theorycrafting. Contrary to other RTS games, the diversity in macro elements on FAF stems almost entirely on the map layout and while the most interesting maps allow a variety of potential ways to play the map, these styles are still going to converge around similar elements of the game. If you dislike navy, even if you can do a com drop or air focused game on Roanoke Abyss, you will still be heavily interacting with navy and will be forced to either play with a gameplay element you dislike or you will be forced into a few rogue strategies on the map. This holds even more true on the lower levels of ladder in which rogue strategies are often not seen as they are more difficult to pull off than a more macro based win through elements such as map control or economy.
Now, these last two paragraphs were JUST about the size of the pool and I didn’t even address all the potential arguments about it. There are also similar arguments around the length of each pool as well as the map distribution within a pool that are just as long if not even longer. I hope that gives you an insight into the impossibility of solving the problem.
These issues are what caused the FAF team to instead accept the giant variety in opinions on the ladder and build a system around it rather than attempt to make a ladder system that attempts to minimally satisfy as many people as possible. We are planning on creating ladder pools that differ based on the rating ranges of players on the ladder. What those rating ranges will be? We don’t know! That’s the point of the survey.
I want to see the map preferences for players in a wide variety of rating brackets and create a system that creates pools that appeals to as many people as possible within each subgroup. If the people 1500+ all desire a ladder pool of the exact same characteristics, then that group could be a pool subgroup. If it turns out 1800+ prefer a pool different from other groups, then that would be a subgroup in itself. The point is, I need as many data points as possible to make the right choice, and I can only do that if as many people as possible on FAF help me help them.
Thanks for reading!
The FAF Team