In Argument of a "Role" System

Competitive Discussion
If Overwatch is about teamwork and creative synergies, why is the current matchmaking system doing almost nothing to support its own fundamentals? I've tried to play through this for a long time, but I'm to the point where my tolerance is nigh exhausted. The consistency from match to match can be almost non-existent, to the point where big plays feel more like sighs of relief than actual moments of celebration.

Is this a necessary evil? If we enforce roles like the title suggests, that would hinder the flexibility that Overwatch is built on, wouldn't it? Unfortunately, I see the matchmaking system sitting on the opposite extremity of this scale. With so much randomness in who we get grouped with, its more like everyone is expected to be able to play any hero at any given time. The result is that people often have to fill roles that not only are they medicore at, but simply don't want to play in the first place. That latter statement is actually really important: though some flexibility is a given in this game, people still want the ability to express themselves through certain heroes.

I contend that there are two major drivers in any competitive multiplayer game: winning and self-expression. If winning was the only thing that mattered, then everyone conforming to the meta would be an afterthought. Gameplay that is "boring" wouldn't matter. As long as there is an optimal way to secure victory, everyone should be content in pursuing it. But this simply isn't so. Different people have different playstyles. We have unique ways through which we like to influence a match. And in a game with such a wide hero pool, this is incredibly apparent. Roles (DPS, tank, healer) are a direct manifestation of this. Yes, there is tactical value to them as well, but I think its been abundantly clear that this diversity is because different people enjoy different things; its one of the primary reasons I'd say Overwatch has been so successful.

So when the matchmaker throws us into a match with no regard for our teammates' hero pool, someone can end up robbed of their most influential hero picks. This goes far beyond the "one-tricking" problem we're currently facing; it can happen when several DPS or support mains end up on the same team as well. We can't have exactly what we want 100% of the time, but right now its such a random crap-shoot that the most effective way to get our way is to insta-lock it. I'm not saying it isn't selfish or that this method is a good thing, but how would you feel if you couldn't play your best heroes for 10 matches straight?

Look at the traditional FPS genre. Fundamental roles on a team, at least at the matchmaking level, often boil down to a simple objective. No one cares if you're running an assault rifle or a shotgun. If you can get the job done, good for you. And if you want to switch mid-match to a sniper rifle, that's fine too. When you switch, you're often not robbing the team of a fundamental role whose absence will cripple them. In many traditional FPS games, the ability to paddle your own boat (or "carry") is almost always present.

Overwatch isn't like a traditional DPS, nor am I saying it should be. There are several FUNDAMENTAL roles that must be fulfilled for a well-tuned team composition, and that can vary from game to game. You need someone to initiate the teamfight, you need someone to heal, you need someone to protect your squishies, etc. If you as the support are getting lambasted by the enemy Genji, switching to Winston could rob the team of a very important need. And if your team is unwilling to (or perhaps from a skill standpoint unable to) make the necessary switches, you could be in for a grueling 15 minutes.

I say all this to point out that the way things are now, at a fundamental level, is not healthy for the game. There are so many rich and interesting ways to play the game but with little in-game effort made to make them available. If Overwatch is built upon the concept of team synergy and roles, then it needs to do more in fostering its own fundamental playstyle and making them EASILY available.

So what do I suggest?

I don't think implementing roles straight into the matchmaker itself is the answer. We would essentially be asking Blizzard to not only define roles, but to define the meta composition at any given point in the game's timeline. Instead, I think something like pre-game lobbies would be much more effective.

Upon starting a lobby, you designate what you are looking for. You could use tags such as "DPS," "Off-tank," and "Hitscan," as well as hero tags if you're looking for a very specific hero. These tags could apply either broadly or could be assigned to specific slots on the team. To facilitate meta shifts, the community could also define new tags. From there, players could search these tags to find who is looking for there skillset and join said groups. Ideally, you could also specify your intent (for fun, practice, competitive) as well as the team SR spread you'll allow for a competitive group. You could even make the lobby private, but your friends could still easily see what you're still missing in terms of needs. This, hopefully, would make team-building way easier than it is now.

If this system were to be implemented though, I think we also have to reconsider how the matchmaker looks at groups and, more specifically, six-stacks. I'm sure some would disagree with me, but I think we just need to start treating every six-man team (six random solos or a group of six) as just that. I have spent most of my time over the last five seasons solo-queueing, but this is a team game FIRST and people need to be able to play in teams without the matchmaker screwing them over. On the other hand, perhaps the lobby system would make it so enough six-stacks existed to effectively matchmake... hard to say.

But most importantly, people can get back to playing the roles they are best-suited. Maybe not all the time, but more consistently at least and with more control over how and when they play.
Bumping this. Feeling the burnout a bit again--partially from how inconsistent competitive still feels--but I want to push constructive criticism instead of just ranting. :)
While I normally would love to read this and write a well thought out response to this, the evening is dragging on and my eyes are beginning to tire. This looks like too good of a post to simply let slide through the normal sludge of posts. In the meantime, take this placeholder response:
Hi
First off: Great post. Seriously. You clearly put some time into this and thought things through, that is a rarity on these forums and I feel like it should be applauded regardless of how I feel about the system proposed.
Now onto the actual post.
The system proposed here is a fantastic idea on paper, however it may be either too unwieldy, too cumbersome, or too resource intensive to actually implement into the game on both Blizzards end and the players end. A good example of this would be the tags, would Blizzard make all the tags? By your post you are suggesting not. However, Blizzard would need to make the initial few and probably approve community made one's down the line to prevent less than moral use of them as well as to avoid duplicate tags with minor variation (DPS vs Dps vs dps vs d p s vs d.p.s).
This combined with the inherent cumbersome nature of this system in terms of q time vs play time also complicates things. For example, you are running in a 5 stack and want 1 more person to fill a very niche hero category or series of categories, how long are you the player willing to wait for what might amount to no more than 1/2 an hour of playtime?
Then there is the issue of auto-fill in lobbies, would this be toggled or not even an option? How would it work if it was toggled without being prone to abuse? If not an option how would it fill correctly? Would I need to specify every hero I can play in a tag (DPS-Tracer, DPS-Genji, etc)? I image either solution would compound the q time problem with this system.
Then there is the issue of how the system treats non-6 stack groups. I know you acknowledge this problem in your post, but you don't really propose a system for it nor do I see a way such a system could work. This is honestly probably the biggest problem of this system outside of compounding q time issues in low population regions and during off-peak hours.
Overall, I do think this system has merit and should be looked at in some official capacity by Blizzard, but there are several issues with it that need to be addressed before it could be implemented, many of which have no clear-cut answers.
This system does have some definite advantages over most of the systems proposed on these forums, but there are still many quirks to work out. If anyone else would like to chime in to attempt to resolve these issues, please do. If I had any good answers for my own questions I would have provided them.
07/25/2017 05:45 AMPosted by Ithuriel
First off: Great post. Seriously. You clearly put some time into this and thought things through, that is a rarity on these forums and I feel like it should be applauded regardless of how I feel about the system proposed.

I also agree, very well written post.
07/25/2017 05:45 AMPosted by Ithuriel
The system proposed here is a fantastic idea on paper, however it may be either too unwieldy, too cumbersome, or too resource intensive to actually implement into the game on both Blizzards end and the players end

A very similar system already exists in WoW (another Blizzard game). LFG/LFM has been very successful there for custom building teams to do Heroic Dungeons, Mythic Dungeons, and even raids. Prior to WoW, even games going back to the likes of DDO had systems in place for this. It does not seem to be a resource intensive process, no more so than the custom games lobby that already exists.
07/25/2017 05:45 AMPosted by Ithuriel
A good example of this would be the tags, would Blizzard make all the tags? By your post you are suggesting not. However, Blizzard would need to make the initial few and probably approve community made one's down the line to prevent less than moral use of them as well as to avoid duplicate tags with minor variation (DPS vs Dps vs dps vs d p s vs d.p.s).

I think "tags" is an incorrect term here, and I do not care for it. I prefer the current system in WoW where it is just an open text box (note) that you can specify your needs in. Ex: "2-2-2, need DPS, prefer hitscan", "1-4-1, need tank", etc. Since group queue rank runs within the +/- SR of the Group Leader, a player searching for a viable group should only see SR compatible groups, and then can read the notes for the forming groups and go from there. One should definitely be able to whisper the Group Leader prior to requesting an invite to the group (also done directly from a LFG console)

07/25/2017 05:45 AMPosted by Ithuriel
This combined with the inherent cumbersome nature of this system in terms of q time vs play time also complicates things. For example, you are running in a 5 stack and want 1 more person to fill a very niche hero category or series of categories, how long are you the player willing to wait for what might amount to no more than 1/2 an hour of playtime?
Then there is the issue of auto-fill in lobbies, would this be toggled or not even an option? How would it work if it was toggled without being prone to abuse? If not an option how would it fill correctly? Would I need to specify every hero I can play in a tag (DPS-Tracer, DPS-Genji, etc)? I image either solution would compound the q time problem with this system.
Then there is the issue of how the system treats non-6 stack groups. I know you acknowledge this problem in your post, but you don't really propose a system for it nor do I see a way such a system could work. This is honestly probably the biggest problem of this system outside of compounding q time issues in low population regions and during off-peak hours.

Queue times should actually decrease with this system. You would have a larger source of premades going into the queue, therefor a larger pool of premades to be matched up against. A 5-stack that enters the queue as a 5-stack would and should be treated no different than current 5-stacks in that you get paired with someone that solo-queued. If you choose to queue as a sub-6-stack, then your group should be subject to the same lottery as a current sub-6-stack. You might get a support main, you might get a DPS main, you might get a thrower, leaver, etc. This is the risk you choose to make for going into queue sub-6-stack.

I pray that OW considers LFG/LFM over "role based queueing". But, in all honesty, there really is no reason that both cannot be done in conjunction. If a 5-stack enters the queue, they all toggle their role, and then the solo queue person toggles their role and get matched accordingly. Is there a development process that needs to happen for this? Absolutely. However, is there a Blizzard team on hand that has already supported similar features right down the hall to give advice and help? Also, absolutely!
I was thinking the same thing. Here's how I see it in my mind:

A look for member/group feature.

Group Leads can set tags which should be set as dropdowns instead of player input:
Role - Tank, Support, Defense, Offense
Specific Hero
Level Restriction - Ex: 2 Star
Rank Restriction: Ex: Must be Platinum+, or Placement Matches.

Players looking for group could search for what they want to play specifically:
Look for groups searching for:
Role - Tank
Hero - Winston, D Va
When clicking search, only the groups that have those tags and your level/rank matches their search requirements pop up.

Or Players can flag with a looking for group feature, selecting heros they can play in competitive and flagging. Group leads can search through and find exactly the flex character they need.

All premades must be within the appropriate SR range to obviously join. Blizzard can put those checks in before you join a lobby and waste time.

This allows group leads to define the meta they are comfortable with and picking players who are comfortable flexing around if needed.

This allows players looking for a group to pick what comp they want to be a part of.

If you run into a player who lied about their ability to play a hero, you can avoid the player or block and they won't show up in the search results anymore, nor will they see your games.

Over time, that will weed out the players that troll or lie. It rewards players who can truly flex with faster queues and higher demand.
07/25/2017 06:45 AMPosted by nyczducky
Group Leads can set tags which should be set as dropdowns instead of player input:
Role - Tank, Support, Defense, Offense
Specific Hero
Level Restriction - Ex: 2 Star
Rank Restriction: Ex: Must be Platinum+, or Placement Matches.

These seem like check box toggles to me, not drop downs. An open text box would just provide users searching with a brief note about the group wants/needs. Both can exist together.
07/25/2017 06:45 AMPosted by nyczducky
Or Players can flag with a looking for group feature, selecting heros they can play in competitive and flagging. Group leads can search through and find exactly the flex character they need.

Yes, I'd love to be able to flag myself in a pool, and then go off to QP or Arcade or something while a group that is looking for more finds me. It frees the player to continue playing while a forming group actively searches. Again, can be in conjunction should I choose to spend my time searching a group, too. Both LFG and LFM can exist together.
07/25/2017 06:45 AMPosted by nyczducky
If you run into a player who lied about their ability to play a hero, you can avoid the player or block and they won't show up in the search results anymore, nor will they see your games.

Over time, that will weed out the players that troll or lie. It rewards players who can truly flex with faster queues and higher demand

Bringing back the "avoid player" feature is desperately wanted and would work well in conjunction with this system. The avoid player feature was abused before, though, and that is why it left. However, I think the OW Team implemented it incorrectly in that avoiding a player also prohibited you from playing against the player. Personally, if I avoid a player, it means I don't want them on my team. I don't care if they are on the other team and I get to kill them all day. One of the best Widows in the world was subject to ridiculously long queue times because everyone flagged him as "avoid player". Back then, this meant no one wanted to play in a game with him, when in reality, no one wanted to play against him. You should have no control over who you play against... you should have at least some marginal control over who you play with, though. This would also prohibit you from getting leavers, throwers, and trolls, too - as they would be community punished with long queue times as everyone said they did not want to play WITH them.
07/25/2017 05:45 AMPosted by Ithuriel
A good example of this would be the tags, would Blizzard make all the tags? By your post you are suggesting not. However, Blizzard would need to make the initial few and probably approve community made one's down the line to prevent less than moral use of them as well as to avoid duplicate tags with minor variation (DPS vs Dps vs dps vs d p s vs d.p.s).

I think "tags" is an incorrect term here, and I do not care for it. I prefer the current system in WoW where it is just an open text box (note) that you can specify your needs in. Ex: "2-2-2, need DPS, prefer hitscan", "1-4-1, need tank", etc. Since group queue rank runs within the +/- SR of the Group Leader, a player searching for a viable group should only see SR compatible groups, and then can read the notes for the forming groups and go from there. One should definitely be able to whisper the Group Leader prior to requesting an invite to the group (also done directly from a LFG console)
The reason I said "tags" was because it would give a concrete way of defining a team's needs. An official "DPS" tag gives a uniform way for people to search for said role and streamlines the process (hopefully making group-building faster as well.) The most popular, more official tags could be marked as such and given priority when tags are suggested to players for use.

That being said, I imagine having a generic search function that looks through text notes isn't a far-fetched idea either.
07/25/2017 06:45 AMPosted by nyczducky
Or Players can flag with a looking for group feature, selecting heros they can play in competitive and flagging. Group leads can search through and find exactly the flex character they need.

Yes, I'd love to be able to flag myself in a pool, and then go off to QP or Arcade or something while a group that is looking for more finds me. It frees the player to continue playing while a forming group actively searches. Again, can be in conjunction should I choose to spend my time searching a group, too. Both LFG and LFM can exist together.
Having it work both ways would be amazing, especially if you could go into QP or Arcade while waiting. Only issue I see with that is having it create a bigger surge of leavers. Even in non-competitive modes, its still rather frustrating to have several people start bailing.
07/25/2017 06:45 AMPosted by nyczducky
If you run into a player who lied about their ability to play a hero, you can avoid the player or block and they won't show up in the search results anymore, nor will they see your games.

Over time, that will weed out the players that troll or lie. It rewards players who can truly flex with faster queues and higher demand

Bringing back the "avoid player" feature is desperately wanted and would work well in conjunction with this system. The avoid player feature was abused before, though, and that is why it left. However, I think the OW Team implemented it incorrectly in that avoiding a player also prohibited you from playing against the player. Personally, if I avoid a player, it means I don't want them on my team. I don't care if they are on the other team and I get to kill them all day. One of the best Widows in the world was subject to ridiculously long queue times because everyone flagged him as "avoid player". Back then, this meant no one wanted to play in a game with him, when in reality, no one wanted to play against him. You should have no control over who you play against... you should have at least some marginal control over who you play with, though. This would also prohibit you from getting leavers, throwers, and trolls, too - as they would be community punished with long queue times as everyone said they did not want to play WITH them.
This is how I feel about "Avoid this Player" too. This would accomplish what everyone is looking for with minimal impact on innocent victims, in theory at least.

07/25/2017 06:45 AMPosted by nyczducky
This allows group leads to define the meta they are comfortable with and picking players who are comfortable flexing around if needed.

This allows players looking for a group to pick what comp they want to be a part of.
This is the main thrust of the entire idea. It puts the creative power into the hands of the players and doesn't mandate a meta straight into the matchmaker. :)
All great ideas, but how the hell would it work on console? I would love a role select system on one hand, but on the other I wouldn't. A lot of people would be upset with being forced into a meta. If there were a role select system, it would be Blizzard who chose how many tanks/support/DPS/defense you have on a team.
07/25/2017 07:41 AMPosted by Anointedone
All great ideas, but how the hell would it work on console? I would love a role select system on one hand, but on the other I wouldn't. A lot of people would be upset with being forced into a meta. If there were a role select system, it would be Blizzard who chose how many tanks/support/DPS/defense you have on a team.
I don't see how console would have to work any differently. It might be a little more cumbersome if you're typing out notes using only a controller, but all the fundamentals of the system should be pretty much the same.

Also, the reason I suggested pre-game lobbies--where players define their own needs--was to avoid Blizzard having to choose a meta.

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