In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’m going to talk about the proposed scoring improvements in more detail with reference to Game Designer Tyler Bearce’s outline, and then I’ll ponder on the new poll and how I might prioritise the listed features.
Bearce prefaced his breakdown of the proposed scoring improvements by explaining why scoring is on the must-improve list in the first place. Reduction of always-on, round the clock pressure was a huge motivator for the WvW team’s decision to place scoring on the original poll, and Bearce made clear that “it’s not okay that the time periods with the smallest number of active players have the largest impact on the score.” Week-long matches will be split into readily digestible two-hour slots dubbed skirmishes, where each skirmish winner will be determined by warscore and then victory points will be awarded based on how you place. Warscore will be reset after each skirmish, but the map itself will remain unchanged so as not to disrupt or modify the battle at hand.
It seems to me that softer population balance and activity correlations that gently scale scoring for off-peak communities would be preferable to more aggressive measures because we don’t all have control over when we get to play, so I was pleased to see that Bearce was so keen to point out that alienation of off-peak players isn’t the intention here and that this coverage will still matter. I can see that these improvements will tie in with the new poll’s ‘adjust scoring to be relative to current activity and population’ option, which is billed to be a considerable time sink for the team yet is nevertheless topping the priority poll so far.
The proposed benefits of these changes tout the new system as a gentle way to smooth over the nightcapping problem: Every skirmish win will award the same number of victory points regardless of win margin, allowing losing teams a reasonable chance to pull back points by winning down the line, and also factors in the fact that off-peak coverage is encouraged mechanically since each slice is still worth winning. Bearce isn’t confident that this soft measure is enough, however, so a more controversial but stronger victory point multiplier system has also been proposed.
Bearce said that down the line we might find that off-hours coverage is still overvalued, at which point a new poll would be opened to determine whether or not players want to see an additional new multiplier system implemented to deal with nightcapping. This proposal would apply a multiplier to the victory points awarded per skirmish based on the time of day and map populations, with the maximum multiplier of three applied during prime hours and then the multiplier slipping down as far as one when activity is at its lowest. The system will factor in map populations so as not to so heavily penalise off-peak players and also the time of day to prevent abuse of the system by winning teams locking the multiplier to one by exiting right after a win and then resting on the points advantage.
As I said before, I’m in the not-so-sure camp when it comes to this multiplier system. I think that it will end up being quite harsh despite best intentions, and I also fear that players won’t bother with no-multiplier skirmishes because they believe the time sink simply isn’t worth it for a third of the usual points. I’m wondering if the system would be better taking the value of two as a general average multiplier instead of making the multiplier three during absolutely all peak hours, and then the gap between off-peak, high-peak, and average times would be less overstated.
Bearce also wanted to eliminate “that feeling of hopelessness when your team is down 100,000 points after a single day” by giving teams a real chance at making a last-minute comeback. He’s right: It’s no fun for either side if victory is decided very early on, so it stands to reason that this area needs some careful consideration. Last stand mechanics are on the table in which the final day of the week’s matchup will have a multiplier applied to skirmish victory points to aid lagging teams.
Add to this the fact that objectives will have points per capture, score ticks for objectives are lowering to five minutes to allow each flip to grant at least one tick, and that upgraded objectives will have a higher score per tick, and I’m seeing a system that more accurately rewards each tit-for-tat reaction in the war rising from the ashes of the old scoring system. Points per kill (PPK) will also see an increase, with diminishing returns applied to killing the a player who has been alive for less than five minutes to prevent exploitation of weaker players. I think that will make a sizeable difference to how engaged the WvW playerbase feels with the task at hand: Standing toe to toe with your foe and winning means much less if PPK isn’t an important factor in WvW success, after all.
Reducing the point disparities is coming second in the poll at this point, with upgrade-specific scoring and reducing ticks to five minutes coming in shortly behind. I feel as though I would have lumped several of the smaller tasks such as these together — as I did in this article — for the purpose of simplifying the poll, especially since in my mind they all seek to achieve much the same end result, and I suspect that some of those ‘no preference’ voters feel the same. I was pleased to see a separate option for score rebalances not covered in the PPT changes, however, and also an option for implementing objective capture scoring.
Bearce’s final expectation for the WvW overhaul is that fairer scoring will inevitably lead to more accurately determining the correct winner, which he hopes will foster the correct environment for the team to give out more appealing rewards for WvW. He admitted that “currently we can’t give out worthwhile rewards for winning, as most matchups are already decided before they begin”. To remedy this, placement rewards for both skirmishes and matches will be added once the scoring updates are completed, which should help to further incentivise the content and keep populations steady.
Over to you!
I’m not surprised with how the poll options are being prioritised so far and quite agree with the way the list is naturally falling, especially with the proviso that the more hardline nightcapping limitation mechanic will be held back and players will be repolled on its implementation if necessary. There’s plenty to unpack here and I’d love to hear your take on the proposed scoring improvements. What do you think of the scoring breakdown? Have you cast your vote in the new WvW scoring poll? Let me know what you think in the comments.