The lights are on
Last week, Respawn made a decision to remove Capture the Flag and Pilot Hunter modes from PC public playlists. The game types were still available in private matches and “variety” lists, but many fans lamented their removal as dedicated modes.
Respawn has heard fans and will be restoring CTF to dedicated status with some fixes to get players into matches faster. Apparently, though less than 1 percent of the player base was using the dedicated playlist, the outcry caught the developer’s attention.
In a lengthy, detailed post, the Respawn team explains how its matchmaking process works and how it uses Microsoft’s Azure server system to spin up new servers for each player. Yes, each player.
First, players are connected to one of the data centers (eleven of them across four continents) based on latency. Once you are connected to one, you are entered into a private lobby server for stat checking, loadouts, party invites, and other pre-game festivities. That’s your server that is allocated for this purpose using Microsoft’s Cloud Compute.
That means that every lobby and match is handled via an interaction between servers. Many other games require a host users for some or all of that. It’s also why there is no need for rent-a-servers (a mechanism currently employed by Battlefield 4).
Once you decide what you want to play, your skill (as opposed to your level) is read and you’re put into a grouping based on that number. No, you can’t see it, no matter how badly you want to use it for bragging rights.
Using game mode preference, skill, and data center, you’ll find others to play with. For Respawn, this means finding you a game that’s competitive, low latency, and offers fast matchmaking to actually get you into a Titan.
Right now, Respawn’s Stryder matchmaking system has resulted in over three-quarters of games played with a score gap of 30 percent between winning and losing team. 15 percent of all games have a differential of only 5 percent.
That takes care of the skill issue. But the other two were confounding the team, which lead to the removal of Pilot Hunter and CTF, which Respawn calls “broken” because of extended matchmaking time.
In order to fix this, Respawn is restoring CTF with some new matchmaking parameters. After five minutes of waiting in a lobby, the search will be geographically widened to neighboring continents. This could result in latency problems, but players have expressed to Respawn that they’d rather play than wait or not play at all.
There will also be some visual changes to give players cues that people are on their way. This should prevent players from backing out of matches because they think the lobby isn’t getting any traffic. Teams will also be rebalanced (without breaking up parties), and Respawn says most teams have at least one party of two players. Less than 5 percent of teams are a full six-person party.
Respawn is also watching mic usage and player turnover. In short, there are a lot of analytics available, and the developer says it’s reading them all. And if you’re a CTF fan and a PC player, you can start playing that mode again in a dedicated, public fashion.
Our TakeRespawn has done a great job of listening to fans, and while the intentions behind removing these two modes were good, it backfired. The silver lining is that this data and understanding of what goes on under Titanfall’s hood might not have been discussed so openly if not for the unfavorable reaction to the modes being removed.