Sun. June 11th
I read the comment thread on /r/competitiveoverwatch and thought I should make this update to discuss two really crucial lines of argument that I noticed throughout the reddit thread and in people’s responses to my twitter.
Criticism 1: Jake, your system is idealistic. Players who refuse to play healers or tanks in game will still check those boxes just to get faster queue times. This will leave their teammates in the lurch and ultimately ruin the system.
Criticism 2: Jake, your system would encourage one-tricking and diminish the rewards accrued to versatile players.
In response to C1, I argue that the motivation not to abuse the system is inherent to its design. Lets say I’m a Bastion only one trick. I won’t play anything besides Bastion for any reason. I could check the healer & tank checkboxes–clearly justified in this instance because Bastion is both :)–but I won’t because I want the system to work. No matter what role you want to play, you have a better chance of a competitive and fun ranked match if your team has a more balanced composition.
For those who worry that true griefers/trolls (those trying to lose from the outset of the match) might abuse the system to maximize trolling potential, I would argue that the added impact is relatively small. If I were to pick Roadhog and self-heal in front of the enemy team every time I spawn, my team isn’t going to win. It really doesn’t matter what our composition is or who is willing to flex to what. I’ve actually done this exact thing to ensure that a hacker on my team loses. Even an aimbot isn’t enough to 5v6 a team that gets fed 900 hp of ult-charge per Roadhog spawn. Overwatch is a team game, one person aggressively trying to lose is more than enough to achieve that goal in the current system. Personally, I have not seen many players truly griefing in this extreme sense. Most ‘griefing’ comes from people being tilted about team composition or teammate performance in my experience.
C2 is a bit more tricky, though I would argue my system is nonetheless well designed to encourage versatility. Anyone who has played Overwatch for a significant amount of time can recognize that one healer and one tank is not the strongest team foundation in nearly any scenario. Even if your team already has one of each guaranteed by the matchmaker, there is still tremendous room to increase the strength of your composition by adding a second healer or more tanks. Versatile players can still accrue value from their diverse abilities under the role-queue system I defend.
Regarding the encouragement of one-tricking, I think of the system as a response to the prevalence of one-tricking rather than a cause of it. In the status quo, I already see a very high incidence of one-tricking a hero or, even more commonly, a role. It is the rare player who plays DPS, Tanks, and Healers all at an equivalent level. The vast majority of people, in my experience, have a significant majority of their playtime spent in one role (if not one hero). If the current system is punishing one-tricking relative to the system I propose, then it’s really doing a terrible job.
There is a deeper philosophical question here, though. Is one-tricking an acceptable way to play Ranked Matchmaking in Overwatch? Should it be discouraged? I would argue that, regardless of the answers to these questions, it cannot be stopped without a tremendous cost to the creativity that makes hero-driven shooters so fun. One-tricking happens in every game with character or weapon selection: it’s human nature to have preferences and some people really love to maximize their skill in a very narrow category rather than experience all the possibilities the game has to offer. If you can only play one hero, you don’t have much hope of going pro (except Lucio, but maybe Blizz will figure out how not to buff that hero someday). In my view, thats OK. Not everyone aspires to play professionally; people come to the game for really different reasons, even at the far right tail of the skill distribution.
The best way to design the system, in my view, requires accepting that there are many different types of players with many different motivations. Fighting to change people is a losing battle, why not build a system that offers fun matches whether you want to one-trick or flex every role as your team needs it?
P.S. Shoutout to /r/competitiveoverwatch for the great feedback and response! I’ll be back next week with another article, although I’m not sure exactly which topic to pick just yet. Tweet me some suggestions! (@jake_overwatch)
P.P.S. Some people suggested a DPS check box in addition to my suggestion. My main resistance to this suggestion is that Blizzard has done a really poor job with the hero classifications in the DPS role. Hanzo is, at least at a high level, unpickable on defense but sometimes viable when attacking. Many of the defense characters are like this, due to their one-dimensionality they are easily counterpicked and so are poor choices when actually defending. On offense though, they can exploit weaknesses in defending teams locked into their composition. Clearly every team does not need one Offense character and one Defense character in the same way that every team does need one Healer and one Tank. In my view, the problems with hero classification in the DPS role need to be solved before a system could be implemented that would specifically indict the failures of this existing hero classification system.