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I've noticed for some time that Val's matches have a queue of winners and losers, the game system kind of forces you to lose or win depending on the player's skill level,

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14 days ago - /u/EvrMoar - Direct link

Thank you /u/TimeJustHappens !!!

I actually had a recent write-up that goes in more depth about winners/losers queue: https://www.reddit.com/r/VALORANT/comments/tvb772/this_problem_is_now_getting_soo_common_dude/i393gp7/

The thing is, in order to be able to put you in a match where we "Expect you to win" or "Expect you to lose" we need to know your actual skill. When you start putting a "Matchmaking Bias" it starts to reduce how effective we are at knowing player skill and then you couldn't even do these type of queue's because they fall apart. It's probably confirmation Bias when people feel it's occurring, they look at their match history and really notice people on their team that fit a condition they are looking for. I think it helps that the very first thing you will notice is how often players are winning matches, so it's not a far reach to paint that to superstition like winners/losers queue.

It can be frustrating to feel like the match maker is working against you, or to go on bad streaks. Unfortunately we can only guess your skill, and can't account for the human element of off-days, being tired, being stressed, etc. No matter what we will never be able to overcome the random things that could be affecting any 1 of the 10 players in a match. BUT we can try to make as fair of a match as possible and try our best to assess your current skill level. Good luck, and hopefully this helps!

14 days ago - /u/EvrMoar - Direct link

Originally posted by Lopsided-Perception2

I'll quote a part of your answer you've linked to:

Retention comes from having a fun game, increasing player satisfaction and having an enjoyable gameplay experience; this is how you keep and grow your gaming community.

Can you share what is the operational definition of the concept FUN within Riot Games? And is player retention based on creating addictive mechanisms that are based on causing a feeling of frustration and expecting players to keep coming back to the game just to end it on a good note?

I see comments often that are along the lines of "Riot makes this mechanic to be addictive to make money, drive engagement, etc."

While I'm speaking as a Rioter, I also just want to share my overall game industry experiences. If I were to be honest there is no studio, or designer, that I've worked with that's ever said "I'm making this because it's addictive" because it doesn't matter if you try and leverage some psychology on addiction if you don't have players being remotely interested in your game or playing it.

I would also argue 99% of designers don't know what mechanics are addictive, because most designers don't research psychology or have it covered in school. The design process usually comes from two things:

  1. You design to solve a problem facing players.
  2. You design because of a blue sky/gameplay experience idea you have.

Your original goals, or designs, often aren't rooted in psychology. Again, this isn't always the case, but I have maybe heard psychology pop up in a design less than 10 times over my entire design career. Often it's simply "Hey this experience is bad, this is how I think we should solve it" - and yes you could argue player experience is psychological but designers pull solutions from all the games they play and experiences they've had. Just like when you play game A, then go play game B, then tell your friends "Man Game A did this so much better than Game B" that's a huge way designers find inspiration or improve their design sense. (I promise I'll address your question on FUN)

So you're a designer, playing games and learning what feels good and what doesn't. Now you need to actually learn how to identify why those things feel good, and how to apply them to your game. That's where you learn how to properly set goals, figure out why certain mechanics feel good to engage with, and you could again argue that may be psychological. But it's still rooted in a basis of "This is because it feels good when I've had this experience in the past".

Because game design is highly creative there is no one size fits all solution for your game. This is what can make it extremely hard to even extrapolate information about why people get addicted by looking at a psych study then put it in a game mechanic. I understand that you just have to take my word for this, and there is always the "Yea right you are just trying to cover up you doing this" but I think that game communities can sometimes give too much credit to studios knowing why their mechanic is addictive psychologically. In reality, it's just some designers wanting to make the game better and executing on their beliefs and implementing those features. (Also I say this never working on gambling games, or gatcha games, which I think probably have the most addictive properties but who knows I haven't worked on them so I could be wrong in my assumptions)

If I were to also speak from just a stress/human experience factor, operating on a "skeezy" thought process feels like sh*t. Designers are designers MOST OF THE TIME because they love games and want to be creative and make games. When you're trying to make something that you are proud of, and that you want to play, I can't imagine how exhausting it must feel to just constantly run on the mind set where you are rubbing your hands together and saying "LETS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN OUR GAME". I personally, and I know many other designers, don't find that enjoyable or creatively freeing. I'm not going to work for a studio that puts me in that position. Also I don't believe most sane people operate wanting to screw over others. (but that's my opinion and I understand if people don't agree with that)

Now all of this leads to "Fun", how do you define "Fun" and make sure your game is Fun? Honestly, I have no clue. Neither does any studio. It sounds like a cliché answer, but if there was an easy way to make a fun game just by the nature of people moving from studio to studio everyone would know it and every game would be successful. How you try and "make fun" is to find people passionate to work on the game you are trying to build, while also empowering them to make decisions and have a "players first" mindset. If you have a dev team that plays your game, listens to player feedback, and experiences first hand why your game "feels bad" they should be able to fix those bad experiences.

This is part of why I ended up at Riot. You can say it's drinking the kool-aid, but it's a place where I truly feel empowered to do what's best for players. Every design conversation is centered around that idea, and designs can be shot down if they fail simply because they are not focused on the player. It's very obvious, very quickly, that if your design can't pass the simple "What value does this bring to players?" question - your design will struggle to see the light of day. All of the processes built up at Riot, from my experience so far, have been trying to figure out why players may not be enjoying something and making it better.

Now, sometimes things get made and they aren't enjoyable and they can create a negative player experience. I have a list of over 100 things that I would change if I could, because I think they would improve our game. The biggest issue is figuring out what to prioritize and work on next. So while I talk a big game of "We are player focused, we just want to make the best game" I know that doesn't solve the problems that players currently face. There are so many things the whole team wants to work on, but unfortunately the list keeps growing! I guess that's a good thing, that usually means we are identifying how we could make the game better. So finding the "Fun" is just a bunch of passionate people wanting to make players happy and work on a game they are proud of. If you have strong values, communication, and empower your team to be able to fix the problems they see, you will have a good product. People don't want to go to work to be stifled, or make something that people say is bad, so as long as you empower those people and listen to people using your product you can get good results. At the end of the day we are human just like everyone else, and we love games just like the community, and the last thing we want to do when we get home is open discord and ask our gaming group "Nothing sounds fun to play, what should we do".

13 days ago - /u/EvrMoar - Direct link

Originally posted by Lopsided-Perception2

Thank you for taking the time to come up and write down this extensive answer.

You are right, on a significant part of it, I'll have to take your word for it.

However, after reading your answer a couple of things occured to me, but there's this specific one I want to mention.

Whenever you implement a new feature, remove or adjust a current one, you have to be tracking the results of those actions in one way or another. I'm not sure if it's some parameters/metrics that you automatically see without needing to reach out to players directly (eg. you make a change to a gun, and its buy rate drops to 0, pretty sure that's a sign of an unsuccessful change from the perspective of having fun). or if you run surveys for a sample of your playerbase, but you need some type of data to make those decisions. I'm certain it's not blind implementation of random features that game designers have dreamt up the previous night.

What I'm trying to say is that the set of the parameters that you're tracking and their interrelation is a latent definition of fun within Riot Games. Based on what those specific parameters are, one could form an opinion regarding the character of that definition.

Have a great day!

It's good to point out, to let you know what we do when we make changes and how we measure them we definitely use more than just data.

During all stages of design we can leverage data, social media feedback, player surveys, and player labs! Sometimes it's just a survey asking general health of features, other times we have an idea and what to see how players would feel about it. The early stages often are identifying, or confirming, issues that we may want to fix. Then we discuss the results, figure out next steps, and ultimately decide if we implement.

Then after it passes "Implementation" we play the changes and everyone on the team provides feedback. We can follow up with more surveys, maybe a player lab and bring players in to play the feature, etc.

Then after launch we do all of those things again to make sure that players like the change and it improved things. So I focused on data in the above answer but we definitely make sure that player perception/enjoyment increases.

That's one thing I love about design at Riot, I've worked on studios that don't do player labs or surveys, and some studios don't even give their designers access to data which is insane to me.