Pantheon: The good, the bad, the ugly, and a solution

By on September 21, 2009 7:13:12 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

HorseStrangler

Join Date 05/2009
+37

 

First off I'd like to praise Frogboy's decision to remove one of the auto-matchmaking options. Skirmish and pantheon cannibalized each other's participants and slowed the process down unnecessarily.

The Good:

  1. Mini-tournament structure is a fun way gain recognition without the major commitment climbing the ladder entails.
  2. A UI already exists for the game format
  3. Forced map and game type rotation gives a reprieve from the cataract/conquest metagame and any future ruts the game falls into
  4. Auto matchmaking is a good alternative to the custom lobby system and has the potential to balance teams

The Bad:

  1. Overly frequent doubles. Most people strongly dislike doubles and the system forces them on you with great frequency. Even triples are quite common with the limited choice of 4 DGs and natural popularity of some DGs
  2. Team balancing is artificially limited. The light/dark distinction will place two strong players against two beginners instead of balancing teams.
  3. Overly long load delays. The game seems very, very reluctant to drop players while loading, sometimes resulting in 10+ minute delays which are only resolved by crashing the client.
  4. No one player has a meaningful effect on the outcome of the pantheon, the outcome is determined more by the AI players than by humans.
  5. Starting tomorrow auto matchmaking will be completely disabled for days at a time.

The Ugly:

  1. AIs waste time.
    • Many players/teams quit immediately when given an AI ally, which is oftentimes a good 5-10 minutes wasted for everyone, depending on queue and load times
    • When players are pitted against full AI teams the game offers very little challenge, requires little teamwork, and gives virtually no experience because of the AI's poor or non-existent ranking
  2. Premades cannot fail. If you see your premade friend in the queue you will always be on their team, if you don't see them you can quit. Even if these games begin being attributed to your record it will be a moot point because people will rarely play past 5 and more than likely lose just to make sure the game saves to spite you for leaving queue.
  3. High ranked players on the same side never fight each other. The overall ranking is objectively hollow, and I don't mean in the sense that some people view all rankings as hollow.
  4. Six players in queue can result in... a 2v1 and 3v0? If the system's purpose is to match players against other players, then the system consistently fails. Just this morning I played against full AI teams multiple times and half a dozen games ended in the first 30 seconds because of poor 3v1 and 3v2 matchings
    • Futhermore these crummy pairings take much longer to arrange than you'd expect because the system waits for human layers to fill those spots. This really falls back under point 1, but it bears repeating. AIs are wasting time and underme the validity of the system.
  5. The matching dialogue is opaque and unhelpful for determining wait times and likelihood of AI in your matchup. Unless you've got 10+ people waiting there's no way you can be reasonably certain you're going to have a legit game because it doesn't tell you the ratio of light to dark amongst the players in queue.

 

Possible solution:

 

Just allow light and dark to play together, simple as that, with no other changes. Whichever side wins the pantheon is still determined by favor points, so if you have light/light/dark against dark/dark/dark there will be (hopefully) friendly competition to die less, get more kills, tag for more assists, buy more citadel upgrades etc.

This idea has a few obvious merits. You keep the mini-ladder season concept, which is a good one, you retain the competition between light and dark, albeit in another form, you open up a much broader range of DG combinations and you can now program the matching system to split up doubles if you want, the system is free to pit high ranked players against each other, AIs aren't needed to fill teams when enough players for a game are in queue but not enough from one side, and so on and so on.

I realize this could lead to griefing if people take the light/dark victory too seriously (if it were team A: light/light/dark vs. team B: dark/dark/dark the dark player on team A could purposely throw the game to give dark more favor points), but I seriously doubt most people would bother, as there's no real reward for your side's overall tournament victory.

This could be counterbalanced by rewarding say the top 20-50 players with an, icon, temporary avatar, bullet point, bonus favor points, or whatever cosmetic commemeration of your performance would be easy to make and lure someone who cares about that sort of thing away from caring so deeply about the overall light/dark competition.

 

 

Regardless of whether you implement my specific suggestion, I think the vast majority of players agree a change needs to be made.

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Guderian77
jongalt26
September 21, 2009 7:37:54 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I'd like to expand on point 3, the horribly broken rankings.

- Rating gain based on overall experience, not your performance in the current tournament. So a high ranked overall player will get much much much less than someone with low rank for the same game. It also means they will stoop 100 points or more from a single loss. (Pantheon ranking, not overall)

- AI is locked at rating 1000, since you get a % of your opponents rating for each win, you usually are much better of xp-wise from a game with all but one AI player than playing against humans. (Most pantheon players are in the <500 range)

To present my case:

- #4 has 1 win 3 losses. The one win was against 3 AI, the other human players disconnected.

- #5 1 win 0 losses, against 2 AI and a human at ~1000 experience (*'ed).

- #7 1 loss 1 win, against 2 disconnected players with experience > 1000. (Teammate also disconnected, so he got the full ranking gain from the match)

 

Would be nice if this could be changed before the 1.2 reset, if Pantheon is to be taken as anything but a recreational pasttime.

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September 21, 2009 7:38:31 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I think most of the problems would be solved with A) hidden names while connecting B ) More demigods to avoid duplicates and  C) removing AI from pantheon outright.

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September 21, 2009 8:16:25 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I completely agree that the light/dark division needs to go (or be reworked somehow).  I base that statement on these two "facts":

1) Matchmaking is far more important than narrative.  Let's be honest, no one plays this game for the riviting story.  Having a fun, balanced match is far more important to the game's long term success than the eternal battle between good and evil.

2) Light/Dark segregation as it is currently implemented hampers the system's ability to make balanced matches.  As a hypothetical example I offer that the number 1 and number 10 ranked ladder players join the queue on the side of light.  At the same time the number 8000 and number 8010 ranked players join the queue to represent dark.  The players involved are going to be lucky enough to not get paired with AI but there's no doubt who's going to win this game because the system simply *cannot* balance teams due to the artifical barrier of light/dark.

Assuming these two statements stand unchallenged (I'm open to intelligent counterpoint) then how one could argue that the light/dark division is a positive is beyond me.  I understand some folks may prefer a light/dark matchup.  If there's that much demand for it, host a "ZOMG UBERPROZ LIGHT VS DARK" custom game.  As far as the "story" behind demigod, it's last demigod standing that ascends--as such, the single player tournament has no light/dark division--it's still a favor race.

Keep the website to track favor and rank and all that for those who really care but make Pantheon into the balanced "instant action" option it should be.

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September 21, 2009 8:17:23 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I think most of the problems would be solved with A) hidden names while connecting B ) More demigods to avoid duplicates and C) removing AI from pantheon outright.
I disagree, I still think issues with uneven sides in queue and high ranked players not being matched against each other due to light/dark affiliation should be addressed.

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September 21, 2009 8:24:19 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Not to mention it's probably far less work on SD/GPG side to eliminate the division than to add a bunch of new demigods.

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September 21, 2009 8:26:24 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

here is a solution. allow all demigods on both light and dark.

Just allow light and dark to play together, simple as that, with no other changes. Whichever side wins the pantheon is still determined by favor points, so if you have light/light/dark against dark/dark/dark there will be (hopefully) friendly competition to die less, get more kills, tag for more assists, buy more citadel upgrades etc.

i agree with this. allow everyone to play together but your favor points earned in the match go towards your side light or dark.

also hide a players dark/light status.

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September 21, 2009 8:27:57 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

As Frogboy has already mentioned, the connection stuff is actually something Stardock can handle as opposed to composing a change request and forwarding it on to Gas Powered Games, so I believe it will be ironed out. With Pantheon as the main focus of the Match Making service, we'll be able to very quickly refine it.

I agree with most of your comments Obscenitor, however I'd also like to point out that the Match Making service won't be down for days at a time - with the release of 1.19, the delay between tournaments will be decreased to a 24 hour maximum. Having to play custom games as opposed to only match making for one day isn't even an inconvienence to me, as - just like with the random map/game type of pantheon - exposes the player base to something a little different.

Having said that, I still won't be able to play Pantheon due to my region - I'd like to see the ability to select your region or ping limits with enterting the Pantheon as right now, I'm simply dumped into games with people from all over the world - and my ping usually destroys the game for all involved. It segments the community, yes, however as it stands Pantheon is simply unplayable for many like myself.

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September 21, 2009 9:06:05 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

i agree with this. allow everyone to play together but your favor points earned in the match go towards your side light or dark.

also hide a players dark/light status.

Well that might require interface changes which have to be provided by GPG. I was under the impression the matching is on SD's end of things and they could alter that directly.

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September 22, 2009 12:16:21 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Ha, as suggested before, I agree with the possibility of allowing players to choose their light/dark side allegiance, but play with any kind of demigod.

Unless dark vs light demigods have been optimally balanced for ranking/tournament play.

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September 22, 2009 4:22:43 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting StAcK3D_ActR,
here is a solution. allow all demigods on both light and dark.


Just allow light and dark to play together, simple as that, with no other changes. Whichever side wins the pantheon is still determined by favor points, so if you have light/light/dark against dark/dark/dark there will be (hopefully) friendly competition to die less, get more kills, tag for more assists, buy more citadel upgrades etc.
i agree with this. allow everyone to play together but your favor points earned in the match go towards your side light or dark.

also hide a players dark/light status.

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September 22, 2009 7:52:44 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

You forgot about people exploiting a bug which allows them to play rook on dark side etc.

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September 22, 2009 7:58:45 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Excellent post that sums up my problems with the Pantheon completely.

 

However instead of this:

Quoting ,
Just allow light and dark to play together, simple as that, with no other changes.

I'm going to pretend it says this:

"Just allow light and dark to play together, and for the love of god get rid of AIs as a viable candidate to fill a slot when trying to create a game."

 

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September 22, 2009 8:10:56 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting HorseRadish,
You forgot about people exploiting a bug which allows them to play rook on dark side etc.
No actually. Skirmish is gone today, and therefore so is the bug. Also I would never, ever feel bad about having found a way to be able to play as rook without ever having to play with another rook. He's a goddamn suicide king in most people's hands.

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September 22, 2009 9:13:03 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I agree with you Obs, removing AI as a viable option and allowing light & dark to comingle would fix a lot of the problems with pantheon.

 

j

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September 22, 2009 12:03:26 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

AIs in Pantheon is just stupid and a waste of time.  If I see an AI name come up in the connection dialog, I will click "cancel."  And can someone fill me in on this "story" that Pantheon supposedly represents?  Why is there a distinction between Light and Dark when only one Demigod can ascend to godhood?  I do not get it. 

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September 22, 2009 5:52:33 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I preferred Skirmish because I didn't like the light/dark hero distinctions.

I hope they remove them from pantheon.

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September 27, 2009 10:30:18 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I spent most of the allotted time I had to game this morning waiting on connections in Pantheon.  "Why?" might you ask.  The Light/Dark division.  Often there was 7 folks on one side, 1 on the other.  All waiting and staring at a waiting on players dialog.  If I was "lucky" I'd get placed into a game w/ AI.  Meanwhile you have *8* real live humans waiting (and waiting and waiting) to play together. 

 

It's not a connection problem on my end that is causing the matchmaking to fail.  I can get into custom games just fine.  When the population is more balanced I can get matched up pretty quick. It's skewed populations at off peak times that is the biggest problem here.

 

I'm not trying to be overly negative here, just explaining my frustration that I can't spend the time I value highly playing the actual game.  At a minimum the matchmaking should mix Dark and Light teams after X minutes to at least allow folks to spend their leisure time productively and certainly in prefernce over the AI.

 

(Yes, I recognize the custom lobby as an option.  That will be greatly improved w/ the stats overlay update.  I just want the button that says "stick me in a fun game as $ChosenDemigod " to work.)

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September 27, 2009 12:10:34 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Yes, agree with OP in all aspects.  Please allow pantheon games to mix demigods in whatever way is necessary to facilitate match-making between REAL human opponents.

I get the sense that players care much more about individual rankings than the light-dark war.  As such, I don't think people will care if this aspect of the game is sacrificed.

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September 29, 2009 4:12:56 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I agree with removing the Light/Dark-determined teams:

  1. It will make it easier and faster to form matches.  If 6 players are in the queue, all on Forces of Darkness, they can be put into a 3v3 instead of waiting for 6 Forces of Light players to join the queue.  This should also help reduce matching with AIs.
  2. It will hamper the ability to form premades in the random matchmaking system.  Even if someone on the same Light/Dark side as their partner, they will not know who will end up on which team.
  3. It will help balance the Demigods on each team.  No more Erebus+Erebus vs Rook+Rook or the like; each Demigod will have an equal chance of appearing on either side in every battle so players who choose a Light character will not be disadvantaged by the win percentages.
  4. For the same reason, it will reduce doubles and triples.  Each team in the individual battles will have a pool of 8 (soon 10) potential Demigods their players can select, instead of 4 (soon 5).  Thus we should see a greater variety on each side.
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