Ranks, rating, matchmaking - Devs, please read this

Hi. This post is half complaint and half suggestion.

It would mean a lot to me if you could like this post and comment with the word “upvote” because it’s an important issue to me and I strongly believe it would improve the vast majority of people’s gameplay if the Devs implemented the suggestions I put forth (so I’d really like for them to see it).


So I’m a noob player. Well, I’m not noob, just not all that greatly skilled. I like closed team games (except arena), I like building up some novel defences then building up an uber economy so I can blast my way past my opponents if they even dare to give me the time to build up my colossal power-house industry…

I play the casual games on the set mostly because the freedom of game setup. You can choose any map and have whatever custom settings suits you. On some maps, there is almost like a general consensus of what settings are acceptable. For example, Black Forest is generally played as explored so people can know what borders to defend. A lot of the time, people will have their own lobbies with similar settings to what you would have.

Personally, I enjoy maps like BF, Amazon Tunnel and Michi on Giant maps with 300 population space, and a lot of players seem to be okay with this. I also learned recently that it’s considered taboo to build a Wonder on these maps, which I didn’t learn until after I built one - I was so happy with my first ever Wonder victory but the guy on the other team kept giving me salt after we won. I could see his point and I actually agree with him, but I wasn’t going to tell him that! He was pooing all over my victory and he should have turned Wonder victories off! Damn liberals… they might be right but they don’t have to be buttholes about everything (It’s okay, I can say this because I’m liberal).

Anyway, my point is, I have fun, I like the games I like, and when they’re good, win or lose, the games can be very entertaining.

The Problem

Because of my skill level, I join games advertised as being for “Noobs”. I’d say about 60-70% of the games I play always end up having at least one player playing at an 1500+ level (often more).

Usually this comes about from a player who has not yet played any rated games, so there is no way to tell their true skill/playing level. Presumably, this is done with alt accounts as a way to bypass the checks newer players can make to deject stronger players from the match.

It’s not like the stronger player is only marginally better than the others either (which would be fine). Typically, everyone else will be reachings scores of say 10-15k and they’ll already have a score of 60k before any fighting has even taken place. I’ve just played a game where I was focussing purely on eco and had a score of 20k; a guy on the other team has a score of 130k, like how?

I always end up feeling bored, frustrated, deflated or a combination of all three. When you’re playing against someone like this at our levels, you have no chance and the game just isn’t fun. It’s not about winning either, when these players are on your team, you never get a chance to get involved in anything and you’ve just spent an hour building up your meagre forces for the game to be over without seeing any action - like another game I’ve just had where a 1500 rated player joins a noob game and then calls myself and our other teammates useless because we were still building up our forces by the time he got the other side to resign.

In FFA (1v1v1v1…) games, it can typically be seen early on who the OP players are and there might be a struggle to begin with where some players agree not to attack each other so they can focus on the not-so-noob player who decided to join the noob lobby. Typically, they’ll win these games as well, and even if they can be taken out, it’s left the rest of the game unbalanced after they are defeated and it’s not the game anyone else signed up for.

I’m literally wasting hours daily hoping to find a well matched, competative and genuinely fun game. My games and the games of everyone else in those lobbies are being flat out ruined because of a minority of players who get their kicks from noob bashing. I’m not trying to play like Viper or Spirit-of-the-law, I just want to chill the hell out and have fun.

I can see how this affects stronger players as well. For the record, I’m not actually against playing with stronger players; I just like to know what I’m against and would like the game to be at least reasonably competative and not completely one-sided…

A lot of lobby games are advertised as “No noobs”. This is fine by me, and I don’t join. I can appreciate why stronger players would want to keep their games entertaining as well; and if one player does not have the skill set to keep tempo with the others, this can also be game affecting and ruin the balance of a game. Fair enough, and I completely agree. Pro’s shouldn’t worry about noobs joining their games any more than noobs should worry about pro’s joining their games.

All this is to say that I believe that noobs and strong players can play well together under suitable conditions but it is way way waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too frequent that a minority will join games they are not wanted for out of their own satisfaction to the detriment of everyone elses experience, time and fun.


What follows are a couple of things I have considered as ways to improve the experience and mitigate the affect of selfish buttheads. I’m sure the Devs can also come up with reasonable solutions, and if you have any of your own, then by all means, please do share!

Before I begin, I’d just like to say that I recognise that there is an incentive for wanting sad lowlifes to buy alt accounts ($), but I’d just like to point out that this minority can also deter a lot of newcomers from becoming invested in the franchise. For stronger players as well, I can also imagine it can make people fed up of having to play yet another unbalanced game and can be a deterant from engaging in the community (long term costing even more $$$).

Casual Ratings and Lobby Restrictions
Have a casual rating, even if it is not public. If someone plays a game, even on an alt account, the outcome of that game should affect some score somewhere which can be used to determine which games they can or cannot join. I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure the ammount of people that play a majority of casual games is not an insignificant ammount, by forcing a rating even for these games then persons with alt accounts will not be able to hide behind having played no rated games in order to get into games they would otherwise not be welcome into.
To prevent persons of comprimising skill levels from joining a game, the host merely would then have to apply “Lobby Restrictions”, which would allow them to choose roughly what skill levels can or can’t enter the game. These skill levels could be done in the form of rating brackets (which have to be forced from casual games or else alt accounts would just sandbag the rated games), or from categories of players where rating brackets are given approximate names.
Here is an example of what the skill categories might look like:

  1. Noob (<500 Elo)
  2. Semi-noob (500-750 Elo)
  3. Trooper (750-1000 Elo)
  4. Regular (1000-1250 Elo)
  5. Decent (1250 -1500 Elo)
  6. Warrior (1500-1750 Elo)
  7. Semi-pro (1750-2000 Elo)
  8. Pro (2000-2200 Elo)
  9. Master (2000+ Elo)

This is just a suggestion, maybe the brackets could have some rating overhang so you could for example, join both Trooper and Regular games if your rating was between 950-1050.

Elo was a great physicist and his contribution will always be remembered and appreciated. The Elo system is a little dated now and is generally considered to not be the best rating system out there. Personally, I reccomend Glicko2 as it is more versatile and can be modified to consider even multiplayer games (Just look at the 4 player chess community on chess.com for an example). You can even use some of the Bayesian techniques employed by Microsoft’s TrueSkill™, which is a great rating skill system but is unfortunately owned and patented by Microsoft, so unless you were a Microsoft company and associated with xbox live, you might have trouble getting the licence to use this… wait, what?

Give more options to the host of a game and allow them to force certain variables. For example, allow them to force “auto-random civs” and “no-teaming”; but further to this point, allow them to force “auto-balance teams” whereby the players are not put randomly into teams but are put into teams according to their skill levels.
For example, a host might want a 2v2v2 game. They would be able to select the team sizes and check the “auto-balance” option which would automatically team players based on their discrete casual rating (from above), as opposed to purely random match-ups. Typically in teams of 2, the lowest rated player would be teamed with the highest, in teams of 4, a greater fine tuning of balance can likely be reached and it would even be viable for players of mixed skillsets to play with each other comfortably because those variables have been considered in the matchmaking process.

Player Notes
Allow everyone to make personal notes of each other. These notes cannot be seen by others, but can be added for personal use. As well as this, you should be able to add your own personal flags to individuals so you can automatically see in lobby that you’ve flagged them so you can then see what you’ve wrote about them. This will enable users to know in advance if they are playing someone they’ve played before who was a bit of a buttmunch. If you’ve flagged someone and noted them down as being an alt or a noob that pretends to be pro, you can know this automatically and just kick them from your game.

Kick/Ban Player
I might be mis-understanding this one. I never press the ban from lobby button in case it means a permanent ban (which most time, I don’t really wanna do just cause someone is too high rated for the game). Kick is a better word if that is the case to kick someone from that game session, but perhaps actual bans might be a thing to punish those who play crummy. Banning players from playing in games you are in however, could be problematic if you want to join a game with respectable people but a buttwipe who banned you for not very good reasons joined first. Anyway, my point is that you should have a kick button under someones name in the lobby if there isn’t already one in the form of ban from lobby.

In Platform Player Messages and Profiles
I get why not having players message each other in platform is a thing (there are wackos and abusers out there), still, I think it would force people to be more considerate if they knew there was potential drawback to their online representation if they were to engage in blatent actions of abuse, misconduct and all round buttholery. Personally, I don’t use the forums much because its an extra level of signing in. Instead I rather use the Discord, but ideally I would be able to talk to peeps on the platform outside of game time as well (give clans their own talking spaces for instance), and allowing greater social connectivity among gamers.

Thats about all I can think of right now. I’m sure there are other solutions that will have fewer negative impacts (the Lobby restrictions idea might make for limited players being able to join a game). Overall, you should only be able to view games you would be able to play in, and should only be able to host games you would be able to play in yourself (so no noobs setting up Master-only games for instance).

I don’t care for the interests of those who feel entitled to ruin others peoples fun. Sure, my suggestions would make it harder for them to get their wierd kicks, but frankly, to put it nicely, for all the ridiculous ammount of hours wasted because of them, on behalf of myself and every player who is sick of having thier games being ruined by a bunch of sociopaths:

F*** 'em.

All in all, something needs to be done. I’ve recently just pre-ordered aoe4 but I’m starting to regret it because I’m not sure I’m gonna wanna stick around if these kind of issues persist. I guarantee you that I will not buy any DLC’s if they do.

Please, please, please, can you do something about the casual matchmaking system.

Thankyou very much for reading, smash that like button and let me know your thoughts, even if you disagree - I promise you that I’m usually very chill, just don’t wast my time.

– Wraith


There already exists a “unranked rating”, that you can see on someone’s profile on aoe2.net

They don’t apply to custom games lobby though :I

The lobby isnt really meant for balanced games. It is more for things like playing with friends in premades teams, tournament games, community games, … Stuff like that.
Ranked is made for balanced games, even if you consider yourself a noob. You need some games before the system knows your strength and you will get balanced games.

Current issues in the match making / ratings of match making are already discussed in other threads, like Analyses of the ratings - Spotting the issues

Some adjustments to the rating system are already posted in that thread. On of them is the Glicko-2 system. I would suggest you to have a read of that thread and comment your opinion in that thread as well.

Not sure what you meant, but unranked rating is based on all games in the lobby not containing an AI as player.

I thought Gnarfk was referring to my suggestion of an unseen casual rating and I’m on the admitted limited knowledge of assuming that matchmaking only applies for rated games and quickplays. Personally, I like the custom lobby because it has a lot of the games I’m into, namely the variety of maps, map size and population variables.
Thank you a lot for your response though, I will check that thread out.

this unseen casual rating is (afaik) used for quickplay and are affected by lobby games results. But i agree with you, i should be possible to use it for matchmaking in lobbies too. At the moment, host of the lobby can’t see these ratings in the game, and has to check on aoe2.net if he wants to know it …
It can be useful to help people see this “casual rating”, in order to help them to balance team games in lobbies.

There are no ratings used in quick play (which is one of the reasons why is sucks). I have seen no evidence at all about a hidden unseen rating for quick play.

Unranked elo, like aoe2.net it calls, it lobby only. And that unranked elo is pretty much a meaningless number. It doesnt really correlate with skill.

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It won’t work for the most part. Adding elo to unranked lobbies simply isn’t practical. If you are using the elo from ranked games, you run into problems if people haven’t played enough or even any ranked, or if they are smurfing. If you pull elo from quick play you run into issues like quick play possibly not even having an elo, and again, people don’t really use it that much I don’t think. If you pull it from lobbies, then it gets even worse than anything else. As a good example, I’m trying to make a scenario. Me and a friend use the lobbies to test it for balance, but because I haven’t currently set up a way to win, we both have to resign every game, which would lead to a massive drop in lobby elo, which would in no way reflect our actual skill levels. I don’t think that there really is a currently viable solution, just organize games with friends or play ranked, that is the best you can do I think. Also, you can kick people from lobbies, you just close their slot and then re-open it. I agree that clans should have a chat though, and possibly even a clan war type thing, or a clan average elo, based on the current elos of all the members who have played 10 or more ranked games. That’s my take on it.

Thankyou for your replies guys, really appreciate it. I don’t know what the best solution is really, just hoping they’ll come up with something better for the future.

And yes, there needs to be greater social interactiveness through the platform as well I think. Currently I’m using Discord clans as a way to get around some of the problems mentioned above.

As for kicking people, (I didn’t explain it well), my point was that their should be a straight kick button that keeps the slot open so to speak - my thoughts anyway