Here’s the problem; AOE2 has an aging population. Many players have played thousands of games, and the average skill level is very high compared to beginners.

This leads to many players joining the ranked queue, and having to lose 10+ times to get to their proper elo. This is, of course, discouraging to many players. But it is also unavoidable, because ELO is just based on average player skill, and you HAVE to start players at the average skill level or the entire system breaks down. If you start players off at 600 ELO, sooner or later everyone is 600 elo and the problem starts all over again - not to mention the abuse the poor players who are ACTUALLY 600 elo will get!

The ideal solution is to have a constant influx of new players. Every time you add a new player at a low skill level, it bumps all the existing players up a bit, and gives other new players a more welcoming environment. Unfortunately, that requires unchecked growth, which is not a feasible long-term solution for a game that’s 20+ years old.

Games like Chess solve this problem by having local clubs with a lower skill level. When you go to play at the YMCA, you aren’t playing against Magnus Carlsen, you’re playing against Joe Davis, your friend since second grade, and you both suck. Unfortunately, AOE2 doesn’t have the sort of cultural weight where you can find AOE2 consoles at every park, so finding fun matches is very hard without using the ranked queue.

Unfortunately, this becomes a self-perpetuating problem; when you join a bunch of unfair games in a row, you will tend to quit, which causes the ranked queue to get even more deflated than before, since the existing average player now have even MORE experience at clobbering poor noobs.

So how can we fix that problem?

What if we added some artificial players?

It’s really pretty simple. You need more players at a low skill level, so the average is lower, and more welcoming to new players. You can’t get enough human players, so why not just add some AI players instead?

Say you add about a thousand computer players, coded to have an ELO between 600 and 900, but starting with the same 1000 ELO as everyone else. This will WIDEN the curve; most 1000 ELO players will beat them and immediately gain rank. The current 1000 will become 1100, or 1200.

As a result, new players will have a much more welcoming experience! They will be less likely to quit, and as a result, the ELOs of players will become even LESS deflated.

I think this could really improve the competitive environment, if done properly, and help make the game more fun, especially for newer players.

What do you think?