I know it's taken me a bit longer to comment here than it usually does as far as threads dealing with the more theoretical side of ONS go, but I gotta admit that scoring systems in tournaments/sports isn't exactly my forte, or even a field I've had the chance to devote much thought on in the past in general. That's why when my first reaction upon reading this proposal was a blank, glazed-over gaze, I knew it'd probably be best to ruminate some more on it and maybe examine others' readily available reactions and analyses to this from all the related/cross-linked threads than to just rush in and proceed to put my foot in my mouth by blurting the first thing that crossed my mind about it. Even though discussion of this idea didn't spread too far, after awhile I did manage to settle on a few thoughts and critiques about it by tying the concept into some neighbouring ONS aspects I've had given much more consideration in the past; trouble is, by that point I was also well into vacation traveling preparations, so the whole thing got shoved in the proverbial back burner again until I could establish some kinda summertime routine and be able to find the time to start working on my ever-growing pile of pending "srs web bsns". Just managed to get started on that now, and I've already been told twice that I'm "doing vacationing wrong" for even considering opting out of certain customary summer activities in order to get some proper online writing done, but it's not like those folks can easily relate to fulfilling longstanding hobby responsibilities to a large group of people, so eh. Anyway, point of all that is, sorry for the response delay there, it wasn't out of indifference, so here's some, hopefully still useful, feedback on this now.
The main gist of this scoring modification idea seems to revolve around trying to ensure a maximum match length cap through awarding a point to the losing team during overtime, as well as employing some optional and potentially time-saving measures for matches' final rounds, but it's a system I'm reluctant to embrace for one big reason. See, while the goal of preventing matches from turning into arduous slogs beyond a 3rd of 4th round is indeed commendable, I cannot overlook the fact that the manner by which it attempts to inject the additional motivation for expedience to players is through an IMO problematic incentive-disincentive pairing. By this I mean that during any "match round" (that is, any round where the added points upon its conclusion would be enough to end the match) where the winning team leads by more than 1pt, they would no longer need to worry about getting out there and dominating the battlefield once again, but, instead, they'd know they can afford to hang back, turtle or mess about in any other way to the detriment of gameplay quality
(I suspect little would corrode morale faster than a team-wide unsportsmanlike/insincere performance), and the match would still end in their favour as soon as the timer reached zero just by virtue of the scoring math. Obviously, this wouldn't necessarily always have to be the case, but the room for that is
there. I realize this may come across to some as trying to deconstruct a seemingly technically sound model through moral[istic?] means, but I'm honestly concerned about there being a flaw in it that could jeopardize healthy gameplay in a proportionally not insignificant amount of matches down the road for any server adopting such a modified scoring system. When one team's incentive to win is countered by the other team's opposing, but equal motive, we can have the makings of healthy competition, but when teams know the numbers can afford them to half-ass it and still manage to grab first place in the end, well, anyone who's seen any Formula One races past a year's mid-point (or followed any major football league past the 3rd quarter of its seasonal span) could easily tell you how that can cause emotional/performance investment to plummet, and, frankly, I don't see why the same principle wouldn't apply in a virtual setting just as much - albeit, adjusted for scope and scale, of course.
Main objection aside, I also gotta agree with Ema here on this system being liable to confuse a lot of players for awhile before they'd manage to internalize all the scenario and sub-case combinations applicable to any ONS match they'd be in. I mean, just thinking about potentially exposing our ingame admins to a barrage of uninformed remarks about unexpectedly shortened tie-breaker rounds to the tune of "wtf, why's there no overtime, we were totally gonna win this, enough with CEONSS' custom code crap ruining the game!!11!" already makes me feel sorry for them :/. This would need some mightily visible warning messages ahead of time just to curb the majority of all the complaints, that much I can foresee for certain.
Specific potential drawbacks of the proposed scoring system's aside, I'd like to focus some more on the greater issue it aims to help with for a bit though: improving players' ONS experience through optimization of matches' duration. This, of course, is by no means a newly introduced concept and there's certainly been both a number of different (prevalent) theories across server management teams, as well as approaches employed in the hopes of delivering the best result. One common notion that most of those previous efforts seemed to had chosen to rely on, however, was that the answer should be expressed in the form of the ideal number of rounds
from which players would derive the most value out of any map. Secondary to that would often also be the consideration of the "moral satisfaction" component, most commonly manifested as "room for a rematch", typically to satisfy the aggrieved (first round) losing side, or the need to confirm the dominance of one team over the other as not accidental/luck-based through the "best out of 3/5" practice.
While I can understand and appreciate the physical sports-based conventional wisdom/experience from which those practices were drawn and how they ended up informing most popular servers' configurations with regard to GameScore, regulation time and round scoring (say, Omni's 3pt matches and 10min RTs or DW's 1pt victories regardless of winning conditions), when deferring to my own, years-long impressions and personal observations of others playing alongside me, I could never manage to see how any of those theories successfully translated into getting closer to that original goal of matches ending with most people gratified on or above the average. If anything, the pattern of typical moods and reactions that I began noticing over time pointed to a different standard of tolerance and enjoyment, and one that, rather than observing the changes of rigid rounds' numbers, was simply based on time played
More specifically, representing the impression I have of this as a simple graph would probably look like the same as a part of the infamous "uncanny valley" curve
, only in this case, it would be starting from the smallest values on the horizontal axis and ending right in the middle of the valley's own trough; a steady increase in engagement can be expected to be observed in most matches as they progress, hitting a "sweet spot" maximum at some time point, and then to start dropping precipitously soon afterwards. What exact time point delivers optimal engagement and enjoyment for the average map I don't exactly know, and would likely need to employ statistical methods to ascertain (realtime logging, post-match surveying, large dataset crunching, etc.), but even empirically speaking, I'm convinced it's inside the window between 30 and 40-45 minutes. It usually will matter very little if that time point gets reached during the first [marathon] round or in the 4th short one, but as long as a match goes over 40mins, you can expect to see ppl starting to drop off, to mentally check out, to express disdain and consider themselves stuck in the same map, to see some individual players attempting to get everyone's mind on the next map by voting, to observe a portion of players, usually on the winning team's side, losing interest and start behaving less morally (camping, spawn killing, goofing around, picking verbal fights with opponents), as well as to start becoming much more acutely aware of any flaws and imbalances in the map. Of course I'm not suggesting here that matches lasting longer than 40-45mins will invariably turn into a lawless UT apocalypse or even that they'll be unlikely to been seen through to their conclusion on average, as there's a ton of day-to-day evidence that indicates otherwise; rather, it's much more frequent to observe the more subtle changes whereby, for many people, interest in how longer matches will end gets all but completely drained, and they'll simply be playing along mechanically in order to reach the post-match voting point, and I believe that we should be employing all the effort and tools at our disposal to prevent such server-wide mood drop scenarios, if possible and when already expected beforehand.
Based on that understanding, then, the goal, to my mind, is not to derive an ONS server configuration package (with any optional custom scoring system) that will ensure some maximum number of rounds or points, whatever those may be, but in picking any combination thereof that statistically delivers matches shorter than ~35mins
, possibility of rematches and any suchlike criteria being secondary concerns beyond that. Despite these being thoughts that've been swirling in my mind, more or less fully formed, for years now, this is probably the first time I think I've gone into this topic at any serious length, internal talks included, so I can't help confess some delight that, even with the later addition of the EvenMatch mutator and the ongoing employment of standard ONS match length (20mins) here, CEONSS still manages to come out well under
the 35min match time psychological barrier on average, even if scraping it on a few occasions. Maps rotating on average sooner than every half hour keeps things fresh, exposes players to ever-changing geometric, tactical and other kinds of challenges, and, most crucially, IMO prevents them from becoming too emotionally attached to a smaller number of specific maps that they would otherwise keep voting for on an endless loop if the repeat limit wasn't set to the value it's been. So even if we didn't deliberately arrange for it, hurray for small, unintended victories, I guess
To cut that rant off before it starts coming across as even more self-congratulatory, and return to the focal point of the thread though, while being acutely aware of the possible complications that such a departure from the traditional scoring system could bring forth would make me wary to recommend its adoption on CEONSS at this point, when it comes to evaluating its performance in terms of the metric laid out just above (as in, in terms of simple time span), I don't want to rush to any assumptions, simply because some matters just can't be responsibly approached by "eyeballing it". I think it'd be far more honest for me to admit that, in absence of it being realized and tested yet, there's no data to suggest it'd deliver shorter or longer matches on average, so in that sense, the only valid answer to that for now is, "I just don't know". Should it get made and start being tested somewhere though, you can bet I'll be keeping a keen eye on it and starting to crunch numbers the moment they'd start pouring in to see just how it performs and whether it proves to be an improvement on the classic approach.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject of optimizing ONS matches' length; apologies for veering a bit off course to include some extra layers of theory, but at least I hope some of it helped a bit in context.