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  • Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

    Small improvement of the day (I promise I don't usually bring things up all the time, it's just coincidence) It's come up enough in server I thought I'd get a less armchair discussion on it (especially since I only see people in the time-slots I play and someone else might have more info to enlighten me/us).

    Balance is currently not balance. I'm not talking about how well it evens teams or anything. I'm saying that all it says to everyone is "put everyone we don't think is AFK into the game right now." The server's good enough that usually we DON'T get anyone AFK on teams, though that does occasionally seem to occur. The functionality is confusing enough that admins (not guardians, though that happens) debate /when/ to use it effectively.

    As I see it, it sits somewhere between "shuffle everyone" and "kick people for being in RR too long" which both have uses and drawbacks obviously. However, the spot it seems to sit is either useful for assigning a team to everyone waiting for one, or is anti-thetical to any other goals for it I can think of. What is the goal of balance? If it's for balancing, it doesn't do that unless a) nobody joins a team AND b) everyone who wants to play has joined. Have these two technical assumptions ever been true? How effective is it at balancing then?

    If it's not for balancing, we should at least change the text (if not the command) it broadcasts to everyone so there's less confusion of the metaphor it's going for. Maybe something like "Randomizing those that didn't have a team preference." It's a minor enough problem, but confusion is confusion, and it seems like a primary function of guardianship outside communicating about community culture in an exemplary fashion. (I've only ever seen Guardians have to kick maybe 5-10 people, or change the map, and never any of the other commands there.)

    Thoughts? Answers? Deadly porcupines?

  • #2
    Re: Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

    I'll change the text to lower expectations. You're not alone in articulating this shared experience (improvement opportunity).
    Steam Community? Add me. | Free Remote, Encrypted Backup

    Darkilla: In short, NS is pretty much really fast chess. With guns. Apophis: I haven't seen anyone say that SM's are better than non-SMs. Nordbomber: This is THE first server I've seen where either side can comeback from out of seemingly nowhere with the right teamwork. en4rcment: I have NEVER experienced the type of gameplay that I have found here. Nightly I am amazed at the personalities and gaming talent. Zephyr: Apophis is clearly a highly sophisticated self-aware AI construct that runs on a highly modified toaster oven in Wyzcrak's basement.

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    • #3
      Re: Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

      Originally posted by Wyzcrak View Post
      You're not alone in articulating this shared experience (improvement opportunity).
      Aw man... I totally looked for a thread on this too. Tell me this was just some late-night chats in the server or something?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

        Well. While the thread is here anyway...

        What are everyone's thoughts on "balance" (or whatever the new phrasing will be) forcing players to the ready room, before assigning the teams as it sees fit? There is some misinformation on this, but AFAIK (Wyz, apologies if I'm wrong) the Balance mod currently cannot see who has already joined teams, so it is unable to make decisions based on that. This can lead to some of the problems that Tod is referring to, like the mod repeatedly placing Mind Boggling, Infamous, and myself on the same team last night.

        Of course, I'm not claiming that the way that the mod distributes players is completely perfect, but I do think its results would be much better with this setup. It would mean that if the plugin/mod was activated player's choice of team would be out of their control for that round, but it would theoretically cut down on the amount of times we see rookies or the better shooters all "stacked" on one team.

        Note: I'm not saying that the proposed change above would be something we'd want to do each game, since people are more than justified in having their preferred teams. You all know I have one too. That said, I'm of the opinion that we'd be better off self balancing --verbally or otherwise-- in situations where we want to pick our team of choice, especially while the code is unable to act based on players that have already joined teams.

        The added consistency in showing us -exactly- how the balance plugin intended the games to play out will allow us to spot issues with it much easier. It's much harder for the admin team to figure out where the plugin's flaws or errs in judgment are when we're adding a HUGE amount of variables by allowing players of all skill levels to influence the results of the round before it is activated.

        We'd need to show good sportsmanship about not stacking the teams during "normal" rounds for it to work, but considering the nature of the current balance mod execution and some of the games I've seen this past week, it's something we really needed to address as a community either way.
        Last edited by Retraced; 06-15-2014, 12:38 PM.

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        • #5
          Re: Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

          Originally posted by TodPunk View Post
          Aw man... I totally looked for a thread on this too. Tell me this was just some late-night chats in the server or something?
          I messaged him on the rewording bit before but hadn't posted, so you didn't miss a thread or anything.

          I've noticed especially with new players to the server when it says "balancing" they end up with an expectation that the teams will be balanced. Although this is the aim of the mod, it can't guarantee it will be successful; so much of the dissatisfaction comes with a breaking of expectations.

          You can end up with stacked teams without running balance, but I believe we end up with less stacks when we are using it. Calling it "balance" means a single game will make the players view it as a failure. Some other name might make people be more forgiving of it.
          remi.D

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          • #6
            Re: Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

            One of these days, Wyz will implement the troll messages I've requested when running balance.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

              Should have done that instead of the April Fools joke we had that no one even noticed...

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              • #8
                Re: Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

                As much as I wish we could always force everyone to the ready room and then balance, it would probably produce more complaints. Maybe the knowledge that balance can not factor the teams will keep regulars waiting for the balance.

                A large issue with this (and I've seen it happen on multiple occasions) is people who switch teams after balance or wait until balance and then join their preferred team. Don't mistake this for people asking to swap teams.

                If we have a mod that tries to the best of its ability to split skill level, why do we often impede it. We can't really complain that it isn't working well if we aren't using it correctly.

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                • #9
                  Re: Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

                  Originally posted by Retraced View Post
                  Should have done that instead of the April Fools joke we had that no one even noticed...
                  There aren't enough regulars on anymore who have been around long enough to even know what the play codes were, much less remember them. :/

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                  • #10
                    Re: Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

                    Originally posted by jack^ View Post
                    As much as I wish we could always force everyone to the ready room and then balance, it would probably produce more complaints.
                    Originally posted by jack^ View Post
                    We can't really complain that it isn't working well if we aren't using it correctly.
                    Possibly. Simpler balance mods on other servers (usually called Shuffle or something similar) do the same thing-- forcing players to teams after it has been voted in. I've seen them used very often on those communities, even though the effectiveness of their results are much more debatable and inconsistent than TG's balance methods. Maybe the fact that they tend to be voted in makes them somewhat more tolerable? That said, the argument could be made that if other servers could handle it, TG could as well... and I'd like to think our community is more mature to begin with.

                    I'd also be fine with the odd complaint if the consensus was that it would create better games overall.

                    Either way, I agree about the social issue of stacking and post balance team swapping. It's something people seem to be afraid to mention in game. When they do mention it, some bring it up in an overly aggressive way.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

                      If we're talking about how to make balance better, I think there are several factors that the code misses completely.

                      We need to allow balance to consider a player going 0-0 as a Comm.. and we need to allow balance to consider a player's average points per game.

                      Retraced makes a good point, too.
                      It's much harder for the admin team to figure out where the plugin's flaws or errs in judgment are when we're adding a HUGE amount of variables by allowing players of all skill levels to influence the results of the round before it is activated.
                      I think that this situation is one where the limit of data is better than the abundance.

                      I also feel like collecting data from the overall NS2 experience is flawed for trying to balance teams on TGNS. You simply cannot come from Bob'sGorgeHunt2004LAWL and be expected to be "good" at TGNS. I think we should draw a line in the numbers that we collect for outsiders... if the player has an overall K/D (which I assume we can see) in public servers of 3 to 1, then consider him a decent player and balance him accordingly. If it is anything less than that, then consider him as if we have no data for him. This is an effort to assume by logic that a player can be an excellent shooter/lifeform, but not be capable of being controlled which is a demand of our environment. It is safe to say that the vast majority of people playing NS2 outside TGNS are going to react the way we see most often by running clear across the map and ignoring orders. Those people, assuming they are not like Joshy with an epic K/D, should be considered more problematic to a team than helpful when it comes to balance.

                      The problem with trying to correct or improve balance based on the ideas I have here is that it will begin to not consider people at all for balance when the server is beyond max slots. Say you ran a balance on Friday night with 4 people being strangers in the server which is full at 24. Those 4 people, assuming they do not have an average K/D of 3:1... are going to be completely ignored by balance and left in the ready room to spectate or leave almost every time it is run.

                      What I have in mind.. were I to be writing this code in the two languages I know... would be something like this:

                      Players:
                      Bob - K/D 3:1, Avg Points Per Game: 200, Games at 0-0: None
                      Steve - K/D 3:1, Avg Points Per Game: 120, Games at 0-0: None
                      John - K/D 1:2, Avg Points per Game: 10, Games at 0-0: 500
                      Tom - K/D 1:1, Avg Points per Game: 300, Games at 0-0: 100
                      Bill - K/D 2:1, Avg Points per Game: 120, Games at 0-0: 5

                      Variable generation:
                      Bob scores 500. 300 points for K/D (100 points per kill for each death), 200 points for points per game.
                      Steve scores 420. He's got the same K/D, but he's not as aggressive on structures or teamwork as Bob.
                      John scores 560. He can't kill for crap, and he is rarely on the field, but he has extensive experience Comming.
                      Tom scores 500. He can be effective in the field, he works as a team and kills structures, and he has experience commanding. He is a very balanced player, making him a powerful player.
                      Bill scores 325. He is an okay player, he sometimes works as a team, and he has very little experience commanding.

                      Balance:
                      John - Marines
                      Tom - Aliens
                      (Both teams have players who will likely be a Comm)
                      (Balance takes the lesser of the two K/Ds from these two people, and gives that team the highest K/D in the variables)
                      Bob - Marines
                      (The rest is divided up from top to bottom of variables)

                      I don't even know if all that is possible, but I know if I were writing BASIC to control an armature or Ladder Logic to control a conveyor belt, this is how I would write the code for the most efficiency possible.

                      Mom
                      Last edited by YerMom; 06-15-2014, 05:23 PM. Reason: Was much longer.. removed some... hope it's not confusing.
                      Games lubricate the body and the mind. - Benjamin Franklin
                      Ever since the beginning, to keep the world spinning, it takes all kinds of kinds. -Miranda Lambert

                      You're a 34, Mom. Thirty. Four.
                      Forever Perplexed

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

                        I've been trying for weeks to find the time to improve the implementation of balance. I don't have immediate plans to keep trying (to find time).

                        Meanwhile, I've more and more observed that many regulars VERY much value which team they're on (a noteworthy observation for me to make, as, generally, I do NOT care).

                        I could change balance to force everyone to RR beforehand. I haven't, as I have no confidence that these players will be sufficiently impressed by my balance implementation to feel it justifies their having no choice over what team they're on.

                        I /could/ make balance so that it's only executable when everyone's in the ReadyRoom (never forcing anyone there). I fear that, if I did this, folks would constantly be refusing to join teams until everyone manually dropped to RR.
                        Steam Community? Add me. | Free Remote, Encrypted Backup

                        Darkilla: In short, NS is pretty much really fast chess. With guns. Apophis: I haven't seen anyone say that SM's are better than non-SMs. Nordbomber: This is THE first server I've seen where either side can comeback from out of seemingly nowhere with the right teamwork. en4rcment: I have NEVER experienced the type of gameplay that I have found here. Nightly I am amazed at the personalities and gaming talent. Zephyr: Apophis is clearly a highly sophisticated self-aware AI construct that runs on a highly modified toaster oven in Wyzcrak's basement.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

                          I'm a believer that good engineering defines proper constraints and desired results, and then ignores those things in the hopes of making something more flexible that does the job better in ways we don't anticipate. Your mileage may vary, but let me pontificate with that in mind if I may.

                          Goal: get people into a fairly good configuration for an even game.

                          Constraints:
                          - Have to wait until most if not all people have connected.
                          - Have to allow for team preferences.
                          - Have to use some sort of statistical basis for defining what a "good configuration" and "even game" are.
                          - Have to communicate what we're doing clearly.

                          Definitions:
                          - Good configuration: Similar number of players, fairly even split of commander options, good set of role diversity for each specific team needs.
                          - Even game: Has no bearing on time. Requires teamwork, engagement trading, strategic response when tough on one side, map control.

                          To me it looks like what we really want is a statistical analysis engine that is augmented by human input. One could simply take a number of stats like healing/welding done, times commandering, overall scores in each game, and times playing on the same team as other players and shove them in a database. Then when people join, if they join a team, that's their preference, but it tells them when joining "hey, this is just your preference, you might be balanced for a better overall game by an admin" or somesuch. If the admin chooses to just get a game going, that's different than a balance, so they're two commands feeding off the same engine, and you pick on circumstances (is it taking forever to people to connect, do we care about giving preferences because there's new people or people we know have strong preferences, or do we just want to ignore what teams people have chosen?).

                          You could limit joining teams entirely and make people input their preference from the menu system if you wanted. You could even make this more heuristic with other data based and add a single "I enjoyed playing with X person" each game for every individual. (Or a simple "this seemed balanced to me" button) Then it starts feeding data over time for better experiences for the regulars that enjoy each other, keeps things positive, and can be tailored to encourage diverse voting (can't vote for the same person within three games for instance). Simple interface additions with simple bearings on recurring play on the server and better experiences for that.

                          WAY more than this thread started with, but I figured going all-in for the discussion would be better given Re-Traced's discussion.

                          Thoughts?

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                          • #14
                            Re: Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

                            Originally posted by Wyzcrak View Post
                            I've been trying for weeks to find the time to improve the implementation of balance. I don't have immediate plans to keep trying (to find time).
                            This could be something others in the community might be able to help with. I know I myself have looked a bit at the TGNS stuff and while I have little experience with NS2 modding, I know Lua well enough to discuss it and help engineer, if not implement something on my own completely. There's been others that have briefly mentioned wanting to know more in server. (I'm personally more interested in the bot code, but looking for a job has taken priority over learning AI dissection in a complex FPS.)

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                            • #15
                              Re: Balance is currently a confusing mixed message

                              As a very simple and temporary solution... why don't we give this a shot...

                              Keep sh_balance the way it is...

                              Add sh_forcebalance to do the exact same thing, except force people to RR first. That way... as a P or A in the server... I have the option to look at the teams and say, "Yeah... retraced, infamous, and mindboggling just joined Marines and I'm about to run a balance... let's restart this," as well as, "That balance sucked, let's try this again."

                              Should be a simple enough solution to see what the real reaction to "force people to RR" is going to be.

                              I think, honestly, that people will just stop joining teams before balance is run if we implement force RR. I'm not sure the complaint thing will be too bad as long as a person isn't constantly marines or aliens.

                              Another option we could try is to allow people to tether themselves to each other in logic. Retraced and infamous are best friends IRL, and want to play more games together.. so they can sh_tether and it will make sure that for every game they play apart, they play one together. Limit the number of tether's a person can have so as to avoid people taking advantage of the system to stack every other game....

                              Mom
                              Games lubricate the body and the mind. - Benjamin Franklin
                              Ever since the beginning, to keep the world spinning, it takes all kinds of kinds. -Miranda Lambert

                              You're a 34, Mom. Thirty. Four.
                              Forever Perplexed

                              Comment

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