Content of the article: "Online Matchmaking Needs a COMPLETE Overhaul"
Hey all you cool cats and kittens, today I want to talk about Online Matchmaking in Smash Ultimate and why I believe it's in desperate need of an overhaul.
First I'll explain how Smash Ultimate Online (a paid service) works currently, then underline problems with it, followed by solutions.
How it Works:
Smash Ultimate Online works by pairing people of similar "GSP" levels (more on that later) on similar rule sets (more on that later). You're assigned a "GSP" baseline for all your characters or a "Roster GSP" based off the character you have at highest GSP. The rationale being "Hey, if this guy is a really really really good Mario, and he starts playing a different character, we probably should assume he isn't bottom 5% on the next character". So the game takes your individual character's GSP, and matches you against someone else with a similar GSP. You then enter a training area (more on THAT later), wait to fight, and then go at it. You then have a choice after the match is over on whether or not you'd like to rematch the opponent (more on THAT later), but that's provided the game goes to completion (…more on that, okay you get it.)
In addition to choosing your character, you're also supposed to have a choice of preferred rule sets. Stock vs. Stamina, how much time is on the clock, how many stocks, do you want items, do you want final smashes, and what stage do you want to play on? This may be one of the most critical choices that matchmaking needs to get right. Once the matches are all said and done, winning awards GSP, losing subtracts it. The "end game" or "highest goal" obtainable in smash online is a prestigious title of "Elite Smash", awarded to the top percentages of smash online players.
So that's what it is now, let's now dissect some of what I perceive to be the problems with smash ultimate online, and let's talk about it despite technical problems (read: lag, input delay, etc.)
1) GSP – why doesn't it work?
I want to cover a few of the "more on that laters" right now. Okay so first off, roster GSP scales way too aggressively with your top character, meaning the game presumes you are way better on a new character than you actually are. This leads to very frustrating and lopsides matches for all players. You could be at the brink of hitting Elite Smash, when all of a sudden you go up against a suicidal weak King DeeDeeDee all because this is your 100th match as Pikachu and their first as the big penguin. Or, just as annoying, you want to get to learn a new character like Sheik… but instead of playing against equally bad new players, you're up against near elite players as if you were playing your main. This means your next matches feel terrible, and every win you get further slows down your rate of playing with the actual people of your skill level. That's all if your GSP is actually accurate mind you. Why wouldn't it be? Well first off, GSP being a metric comparing you to others means NOT playing will continually inflate your GSP. I made a new account, got to Elite Smash in 20 games with an 18-2 record as Bowser, and never played him once since. I got Elite at roughly 6 million GSP. I just checked, my Bowser is now 8.65 million GSP despite not playing a game. And as such, my roster GSP is insanely high? How high? I played TWO games as Sheik for the first time ever against someone clearly very tilted who kept SDing and was awarded Elite Smash. Me, someone who doesn't know Sheik's attacks (like literally no idea what's FTilt from UpTilt) is now an "elite" Sheik. Why also might it not be accurate? Because if a player disconnects prior to losing the match, you aren't rewarded any GSP. Did the player not like you? Were they toxic? Do they feel that you were "lucky"? They just leave and now you won't receive anything for your win. Nice. But, but, why ALSO might your gsp be inaccurate?
Rematches. Picture this (because it actually happened last week) – you want to turn your brain off. You're tired of trying. You drop your main, around an 8 million GSP combo character, and you pick up Ganondorf. You have no interest in learning him, you just want to hit F Smash a few times. Relax. No pressure. You're 5 million GSP as Ganondorf. A BRAND NEW Cloud player matches up against you, but because of Roster GSP, he is 6.5 million GSP. You 3 stock the Cloud, go up a couple hundred thousand GSP. Neat. Oh he wants a rematch? Sure that was fun, I wanted mindless EASY fun. You win again. Rematch? I can do this all day, this is essentially playing with food. You win, and you win, and you win. Cloud's GSP keeps declining from 6.5 to 6 to 5.5 to 5, to 4.5 million GSP rematch after rematch, with zero possibility of winning. One more? Sure let's… wait. Why does it say cancelled? ELITE SMASH?!? Hold on. Did I just climb 3 million GSP off of rematching a clearly a brand new Shulk player like 14 times? Now my Ganondorf is in Elite Smash? Oof.
But just for kicks and gigs – why not my GSP be accurate? As if all of that didn't sway it? Rule set.
2) Rules – or I wish there were some.
Okay so I don't need to explain to anyone here how fundamentally Smash is a very different game when you change the rule sets. Ever played against Stamina Mode Fox Uptilt? Yeah that's not the same as 3 stock 7 minutes on battlefield is it? Or how about Final Smash meter with Peach? It's cool that everyone can get their rule sets picked out. What very much ISN'T cool is using the same GSP GLOBALLY across all rule sets, even ones wildly different from your own. Let's talk a poll, I'd wager – if you had a choice between waiting 30 seconds to play a 1 stock 3 minute match with final smash on, or wait 3 minutes to play a match with your preferred ruleset with another willing user – most people would prefer waiting. You shouldn't gauge my Mario based off BOTH 3 stock no items and 1 stock final smash meter, that's a bad idea. My character isn't balanced around having final smash meter, and neither is Zelda's. That's asinine.
3) No casual matchmaking –
I… I don't even know how this is possible with how far into online matchmaking we are. This isn't a new concept. How did this game, which sold a ton, not have casual matchmaking? One where I don't have to wait in line or are at the mercy of someone else as host to hopefully not kick me? That's sort of crazy.
4) Training mode before the match starts –
Okay this is a minor gripe, and maybe I just don't know how to fix it and I'm the silly one. Hope I am. But from what I can tell – training mode prior to matchmaking is battlefield mirrored. The opponent will not attack you unless it's attacked first. What's obnoxious about this training mode? Items and smash balls. All you want to do is practice a couple of short hop aerials when all of a sudden a pokemon or huge assist trophy floods your screen. Why? Why is that a thing I cannot turn off? I just want to practice instant dash attacks but now rather than landing a follow up aerial I have a damn beam sword in my hand? Better not hit the bombs on mid platform? Why can't I turn this off.
Cool. So I discussed how Smash Ultimate Online exists, and problems I see with the current system. Time for the productive part: my solutions.
1) Roster GSP – detune it. Scale it less aggressively with your highest GSP character. Being great at Bowser means I may know some fundamentals but it doesn't mean I'm close to an elite Fox player. I can't maintain a 4 million GSP Fox without falling backdown and like 9 of my characters are in Elite.
2) GSP Decay – Simple, your GSP should decay if not played after a certain amount of time. Let's say 2 weeks. I'd wager a good percentage of "Elite Smash" characters are people who achieve it once on a character and never touch it again. This isn't at all representative of the average user anymore. If you want to be an Elite Smash player, you should REASONABLY play the character once every 2 weeks. Decay doesn't even have to be huge, just enough to deflate some people who use it as a trophy to set aside.
3) Starting GSP for individual characters – provisional matches. It exists in most games from Chess to League of Legends. Play placement matches. If my main is 8 million, make my roster GSP 5 million, make game 1 provisional start there, and don't allow for rematches. 10 games, 10 new opponents, give me high variance in those games to provisionally place me either close to my main or as low as like 2 million if I stunk them up and clearly need to learn the character.
4) Rematches – cap GSP awards at 3. Want "the run back"? Cool, rematch. Play your best of 3. Still having fun? Perfect, but that's not matchmaking anymore. Rematch all you want, but cap GSP changes after the third match so 4th, 5th, and 6th don't artificially inflate or deflate GSP.
5) Frequent disconnects – scaling punishment. Internally flag high incident users and scale their punishment. 30 or 45 minute caps for a ban is silly. Timmy can wait a day or 2 days or even a week if he can't control himself enough to not rage quit every third match. Frequently disconnecting because of your internet? That's not conducive to fun for anyone, please stick to casual matchmaking and arena.
6) Rule set – Preference over availability. Make available a scaling bar of acceptability. 0 means completely not flexible, 5 means very flexible. How flexible you are will influence your queue time vs. how close of the rules you'd like to be for your party. So if you're deadset on 3 stock battlefield, you may have to wait a bit. That's a 0. If you're okay with 3 stock battlefield or SB or FD, that's a 1. So on and so forth. NEVER play a match again with final smash or items or 1 stock if you're willing to wait for it.
7) Item + Final Smashes vs. None – a GSP divide. Simple, if you toggle items or final smashes, it's a different GSP. Some people are crazy good with item and item combos, they deserve praise for it. They shouldn't be forced to climb an itemless ladder, and you shouldn't have to deal with nintendogs if you're practicing for locals.
8) Casual matchmaking – Add it. Really goes without saying, just… add this feature? It's something that should've been a no-brainer.
9) Training mode prior to match start – allow us to preset what the training mode default is prior to entering matchmaking. Items vs. no items would be huge enough really.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate it. Hopefully I've made a strong case for explaining what online matchmaking has to offer right now, problems I see with it, and ways it could be fixed. Stay safe everyone.
- unpopularopinion: having everybody in elite smash doesnt mean anything
- Will the online mode ever really improve?
- Challenge Completed: All Characters in Elite Smash w/ NO RUNNING
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