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The Fall of Standard (and Propositions on how to fix it)

Discussion in 'Office of Strategic Influence' started by UncleSam, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. UncleSam

    UncleSam

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    In recent months, and particularly since the new rules changes went into effect and the Expert tier was created, it seems to me that the overall level of player quality and play quality in Standard Mafia has deteriorated at an astonishing pace. If you take, say, the Player's List from Bad Character Mafia (my first mafia game, only 6 months ago):
    Bad Character Mafia Player's List (open)

    RB Golbat
    askaninjask
    blue_light
    Yeti
    UncleSam
    Mekkah
    Altair
    moot
    Nook
    Veedrock
    Umbreon Dan
    FinnRagetti
    evan
    jumpluff
    Kannon
    Igor (now Rodan.)
    THE_IRON_KENYAN
    Fishy
    KnightoftheWind
    Da Letter El
    Jimbo
    Coronis

    ...and you compare it to the Player's List from the recent Lord of the Flies Mafia...
    Lord of the Flies Mafia Player's List (open)

    ABT620
    Acklow
    Fangren
    Game Freak201
    Itchni
    Nook --> BlackHatGuy
    Pidge
    StevenSnype
    TPM
    vonFiedler
    UncleSam
    zorbees
    hailflameblast
    GTS
    FreakOfNature
    Blue Tornado
    Millon De Floss / Darkamber8828
    theangryscientist
    KnightoftheWind
    shuckles my hero
    BunnyMaster
    Raverist
    Johann
    DaLetterEl

    ...I think you will see what I mean (no offense intended to any of the players on that second list/the hosts of that game).

    Now, this was a foreseeable result of adding in the Expert tier of games, but I believe the extent of the change was not intended. True, Expert games are supposed to be far more interesting for Expert players to play in, but it seems as if Standard games are now being designed for beginners, just with a slightly more experienced Player Pool than the Beginner games. Remember, one intent of the adding the Beginner's tier, if I understand it correctly, was to make it so that, while Standard would lose some of the top players, it would also no longer be as error filled--new players could learn to play mafia with each other, and when they felt they were ready, could "move up" to Standard games! Doesn't that sound perfectly reasonable?

    The truth is, the idea itself was reasonable, but it has not been put in practice. Standard is drifting more and more towards the Beginner's end of the spectrum, both in terms of game design and who plays it.

    Now, I have several slight rules revisions I would like to propose, and although I am well aware I am not the most experienced player out there, I would still request that everyone keep an open mind to these ideas and evaluates them objectively. I also understand the rules changed in recent memory, but it also seems to me that, given the nature of such a radical rules change, it should have been inevitable and expected from the start that a few of the rules changes would have to be altered slightly, as theorymoning what will work for the entire community of mafia players is hardly an exact science, and indeed, it seems as if most of the changes have worked out very well, for which I commend the Moderators who worked on them.

    Now then, to what I would like to propose:
    1. Make some kind of experimental idea a requirement when designing a Standard mafia game.

    -Many Standard games could just as easily be hosted for Beginners, and because of this, they attract Beginners. If Standard is supposed to be midway between Beginner and Expert, wouldn't it make sense to require some form of experimental theory behind a game? This doesn't need to be an integral new game design, but it would be nice if every game included new Roles, Alliance breakdowns, or something along those lines, if hosts do not want to go for more radical changes. It just seems like 2v1 with a Wolf has a formulaic feel, and whoever manipulates the formula best wins.

    2. Make Beginners play one Beginner level game before joining a Standard game.

    -This goes hand in hand with the experimental ideas proposition-if players don't know the basics of mafia, how can they effectively strategize when the basics are altered? This is as much to help new players as anything, because the trial-by-fire method, while somewhat effective, is not fun for most, and I have to believe that Beginners would rather learn in a less competitive setting, where they can make mistakes and not earn permanent reputations because of it. I picked the number one because, while some users are not ready for Standard after one game, I realize we can hardly go on a judging basis, and most users know the basics after one go-around.

    3. Allow more reserves per game, or have a variable number of reserves based on the game type.

    -This proposition is to help differentiate the wide array of Standard games. First of all, reserves only really matter if the reserved users are not currently playing in any games (otherwise they get in after all of the P1s), so it is not like more reserves are taking away spots from people who are not playing for people who are already playing in other games. What I am proposing is that, when the Moderators approve a game, they also set a limit on how many reserves the game is allowed, based on how much the Moderator believes the game needs experienced players in order for the concept to work. There would have to be a cap and a minimum that would have to be worked out, such as 15 as a cap (for a game like Metal Gear Solid mafia, where experienced players are needed for the concept to work), to 5 (for a game that hardly qualifies as a Standard game). Of course, these are arbitrary numbers I picked, I am sure this would have to be tweaked. Note that this would allow users to see approximately how experimental a game is at a moment's notice, based on an objective observation from a Moderator and not a subjective method based on new rules or talking to the Host, which are the only current methods of figuring out how experimental a game is that I am aware of. This proposition needs tweaking, but I believe it is also the best way to attract better players back: giving them an experienced rating from a Forum Moderator on how experimental a game is. Also, this would encourage Expert hosts to host Standard games, as they could still attract a good player base, without having to wait in line for Expert or worry about having a Player pool of Beginners to try out their newest game ideas. As it stands currently, I believe most Expert hosts want to host Expert games because, though the wait is long, it is now the only reliable way to ensure their game is played strategically.

    I will reiterate here again, I mean no offense to anyone involved with recent Standard games-I am only trying to improve Standard to the point where it is actually a reliable middle ground again, although I accept the inevitability of the wide range of games in the Standard category, and believe I have proposed certain changes to take this into account. I am also aware I have made a variety of assumptions throughout this post, and I urge anyone who feels I have assumed wrongly to correct me.

    Many thanks for reading, and I look forward to any and all responses.

  2. Flounder

    Flounder

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    the intent of the "standard" tier was to be experimental, as I understood it.
    I think a contributing factor is that older players chose to host and play expert games because they regard themselves as such, and see standard games as games for "lesser" players.
    If you look at the game listing all of the expert game hosts (for both past and future games), you see:

    (Expert Mafia) One Nation Under a Mafia - daquiri / Exarius
    (Expert Mafia) Forza [​IMG] - shade / Outlaw
    (Expert Mafia) Free-For-All Mafia - CyzirVisheen / gmax
    (Expert Mafia) Allstars Mafia - blue_light
    (Expert Mafia) We Don't Need No Mafia - Amelia / Gmax

    all of these hosts are fairly noteworthy players, I'd say. If you look at the hosts of the Standard games, the only players that really stand out (to me, anyway) are UncleSam and Exarius.
    People like to play in games they're more assured they'll enjoy. Which host do you have more faith in - gmax, or Aura_Guardian? (no offense!!)
    This is something that was expected when an "expert game" system was discussed - there is some level of elitism. It's not nearly as bad as it could have been, but it's present.
    Personally, I haven't joined any Standard games for pretty much this reason. Nobody really interesting was hosting a Standard game, and I didn't want to get stuck on a team of people I didn't know at all.
  3. UncleSam

    UncleSam

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    Of course that's the problem...what I am saying is, how do we fix it so that Standard isn't simply a "lesser" tier but rather a "mixed" tier, with a combination of Experts and mid-level players, with a few newer players (but not completely new players) mixed in? I completely agree on your analysis of why these problems cropped up, but what do you think of the small changes I propose to fix them?
  4. jigglypuffers42

    jigglypuffers42

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    1. I agree. I love experimental concepts would love to see a rule go up about this.

    2. I speak from recent experience, having just died in my second game of mafia, that I agree all players should begin on the beginner's tier. I do see a couple flaws in that though. I started getting interested in smogon mafia halfway through anything goes in this mafia. That beginner game was 6 days and 6 nights--A long game. A beginner game hasn't gone up after that though, so if this rule were to be in place then, right now, i would've played 0 games. So maybe there should be 2 beginner games going on at a time? No that doesn't work, because not many people want to host beginner games. So maybe we can require, if beginner mafia isn't available, to gain practice on #fluodome.

    3. I agree.

    Overall: I very much agree. I've been realizing how simple standard games are, and am trying to play as many games as possible so that i can qualify as an expert player as soon as possible. Why? Because, as you said, standard is getting less and less experimental. I would love to see the standard tier become more exciting
  5. Mekkah

    Mekkah
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    I think the problem is much more simple than presented here: generally, you don't want to play more than one game at a time, and the top25 players will pick that Expert game over Standard. I don't think any of the solutions presented will solve that, though they may improve the game in other ways...but not by much.
  6. Flounder

    Flounder

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    right, I meant to discuss a solution but started losing my train of thought
    Solution 2 is a good one for certain, but requires more beginner games to actually be hosted. (see as there's only been, what, 2?)
    the problem seems to be less with the system and more with the players and hosts themselves.
    If a player goes to a moderator with their game planned out to be an expert game, the moderator (depending on the backlog of games, and current games) could have the player run it as a standard game.
  7. UncleSam

    UncleSam

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    While this may be a part of the problem, many people are killed in Expert games well before their conclusions. Also, some people are willing to play in multiple games. I am sure this is another part of the problem that isn't fixable, but why not try to fix a problem to some extent if we can?
  8. jigglypuffers42

    jigglypuffers42

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    The simple solution to this is to have more experimental RTMs. Like tomorow, im doing a lynchpin RTM
  9. wickdaggler

    wickdaggler

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    Alright, I have a few rule propositions that will balance the levels of games slightly (at least, I think it will)

    1. Have a few preset extremely expereinced mafia players to judge which games go into which tier. Based on the wise judgment of these few players, we'll have games that are appropriate for each tier.

    2. Each player should have a ranking from A, B, C, and finally D.

    * Rank D bans you to the Beginner level of play
    * Rank C allows you to play Standard games.
    * Rank B allows you to host games, as well as the benefits of Rank C.
    * Rank A gets you a pass into Expert games.

    Based on judgment calls from the aforementioned group of elite mafia players, as well as hosts, players would be assigned ranks, starting as the default C.

    3. The amount of reserves a host has at each level of play would be as follows

    * Beginner - None
    * Standard - 5
    * Expert - 10

    4. Being reserved into a game allows you to play it regardless of rank (hosts, pick wisely).

    Of course this induces a lot of stress onto this group of elite mafia players, and a list would have to be kept and maintained of each player and their associated rank.

    I'll happily elaborate on any of this if you'd like. It's a little bit more complex in my head than what I've written down, but it should have the basic idea of what would happen.
  10. UncleSam

    UncleSam

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    I don't like this solution much wickdaggler, as I believe one of the decisions during the last rule-changing process was that it is difficult to simply classify each player based on what anyone thinks of him. Also, it is necessary for Expert games to be totally handpicked, and I believe 5 reserves for a Standard game is also too few. The only thing I like about your system is that it restricts hosts to being competent mafia players, but the Moderators already do this to some extent, although I would like to see somewhat more stringent guidelines on who can host or not, as there have been a lot of...questionable games lately.

    Again, this hosting problem stems from the Expert system as well, and I think would be solved if we incorporated the changes I suggest. If we fix the hosting problem, it will fix the player pool problem and the quality of play problem. Everyone wins, it seems to me.
  11. Objection

    Objection

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    As someone who hopes to one day design and host a mafia game of my own, I second this. Furthermore, I would suggest that, for first-time hosts, having a considerably more experienced co-host, possibly someone who is also involved in the design process, should be a requirement regardless of whether the game is beginner or standard. This should help to alleviate concerns about standard games being hosted by nobodies being less interesting.
  12. wickdaggler

    wickdaggler

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    Well, not just quite anybody, but I can see your point here; players will be judged quite possibly unfairly because of public image.

    First off, only experienced players could apply in the first place, and about half of the players would be handpicked, although an increase by 5 reserves for each level would be reasonable.

    oh?

    Yeah, I think this would solve the problem tbh :\

    I agree, your system would work very well... I just proposed a slightly different way of handling things...
    I guess we'll see which system works through public opinion and trial and error...
  13. Staraptor Call

    Staraptor Call

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    If Expert games were only played infrequently, this would not be a problem. Expert games should be special events that happen infrequently and are highly anticipated, similarly to Big games now. This would lead more expert players to play in Standard games, because they would be the best options available. One way to make Expert games less frequent would be to have a set schedule for them or to make the hosting requirements even stricter. Also, if they were less frequent, Expert games would be a bigger deal and would be more highly anticipated.
  14. UncleSam

    UncleSam

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    I don't think this is the answer...what you basically do is FORCE people to play Standard if they want to play at all, which I don't like. My goal in these propositions is to remain as close to the current ruleset as possible, as a lot of thought went into it and it is working fairly well, just to make a few slight revisions to help soothe a problem. Also, almost no one has commented on my third idea, it would be nice if I heard more on Moderators assigning total reserves spots based on the experimental nature of the mafia, because that is basically a trustworthy pre-rating that I feel sure would attract better players, and simultaneously allow them to get in.
  15. auramaster

    auramaster

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    I agree with jiggly, except that I don't think #fluodome is a good substitute for the forum games (haven't played on fluodome, so correct me if I'm wrong). It's up the the experienced players to make more Beginner games so we don't get in anyone's way. Until there's at least two Beginner games going regularly, forcing anyone to play a Beginner game shouldn't even be considered.
  16. Aura Guardian

    Aura Guardian

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    #fluodome introduces the concept, shows you how broken neutrals that aren't wolves can be (ghost), and gives you a rough idea for balancing.
  17. Alchemator

    Alchemator my god if you don't have an iced tea for me when i
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    I don't agree with wickdaggler's proposition at all. Some people who aren't that great at mafia itself enjoy hosting games more, such as myself and Aura Guardian (hope you don't mind me grouping you here).

    Ranking players is purely subjective and highly luck based - who says that X couldn't have easily swept the game if Y hadn't randomly intervened? X shouldn't be classed as a bad player for that reason. There's also so much that players do that falls under the radar of the host.
  18. RaRe555

    RaRe555

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    Well, I am not an experienced player by any means, but from my point of view what seems to be happening is that all of the experienced people who have been here since Smogon's beginnings are just excited that they'll be able to host and play games full of other players at their same skill level, and that any new experimental concepts tested on those games won't be messed up or thrown out by newbies. Also, a lot of hosts have many new experimental concepts that they wanna try out, and the best way to do it is with Expert Games.

    I think that the solution to this is to simply wait. Eventually all those ideas and cool concepts people have right now will have been played, and maybe the same hosts that are hosting or have hosted Expert games will give Standard a shot, which should hopefully help to solve this issue.
  19. vonFiedler

    vonFiedler Visualize It
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    I've got a question as a guy who's been playing as long as Aura Guardian has been hosting. Why don't people like his games? Just hoping to gain some perspective as a soon to be Standard Host.
  20. Upside

    Upside

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    Honestly, the easiest solution seems to host more Beginner Games and make them more interesting. I'm not saying the Beginner games have to be revolutionary, but the one I played in was extremely boring. Not that the host did a bad job, but after the first day, everything fell into the standard formula. I normally keep up with most of the games being played, but I eventually stopped checking up on it. So, yea, maybe change the mindset that beginner games have to be boring standard games and change it up a little bit??? Just throwing my two cents in.

    EDIT: UncleSam: I think that was the 2nd or 3rd game I played in, so it's not like I have extensive mafia experience, but I got pretty bored. At least try to have something other than 1 villy 2 mafia with the basic roles, ya know? As long as you don't make anything too confusing, it seems first-time players should be able to keep up.
  21. UncleSam

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    Again, again again....I am NOT saying there is any problem whatsoever with the Expert tier. I have already given my reasoning behind why it is so popular, as have others. This discussion is not about Expert, except for the understanding that any rules tweaks should not affect Expert games in any detrimental way.

    Talking about Standard, however, what possible good does it do anyway to "wait and see"? All that will happen is that fewer and fewer Expert level players will play, for the variety of reasons already given, and they will essentially be forced to play Expert games only, because there are no viable or attractive Standard games anymore.

    The idea is that Expert Hosts will be attracted to hosting Standard games because they will be guaranteed a certain level of player pool, given my third proposal, the Moderators could "reward" hosts somewhat by allowing them more reserves if the game looks interesting, and my second proposal, which would ensure that all players have at least a basic understanding of the ins and outs of mafia. On top of this, Expert players would have an experienced rating of a Standard game already just from sign-ups, and so they could make an informed decision on whether or not to play in a given game, based on the number of reserves it has been allowed. It seems to me that currently, good hosts are more or less forced to wait in the Expert line, and that good players are more or less forced to wait for the next Expert game if they are killed, miss the sign-ups for a game, or just don't want to play in the current Expert game, for whatever reason. What people also aren't taking into account is that some players may actually want to play in two games at a time.

    I believe that, on the whole, my proposals would enable Beginners to gain a solid learning base before simply being "turned out into the wild", so to speak, it would allow Standard players to play with more experienced and relatively inexperienced players, and it would allow Expert players and hosts more options as to which games they want to play, and how they want to host their particular game.

    I would really appreciate it if people actually addressed my proposals here, rather than simply giving broad overviews of the current system. I agree the current system is very good, but since when did we settle for "very good" when we could make it better? If people don't think these changes would help, by all means, speak up. Otherwise, why not implement them?

    Edit: Upside, Beginner games are supposed to be "boring" for experienced players, because they are supposed to be as simple as possible, in order to help players learn the basics. Again, these are just my understandings of the rules, if they are faulty, I would urge someone with a better understanding of the rules to correct me.
  22. Johann

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    I've been reading this thread and here is what comes to mind. There should be no ranking system or restrictions. When you are a new player, the thing that will benefit others AND YOURSELF is to play a beginner game first and then a standard so that you can learn the basics and not make a fool of yourself in a standard game. Sure, there may be a few renegades who may think they are ready and will jump head-first into a standard game, but that will just label you as an inept mafia player. With the hosting issue, I believe that once you play around 4-5 games you get an understanding of the effort put into a mafia game to make it balanced and fair. This is what I believe should happen in circus from now on.
  23. Blue_Tornado

    Blue_Tornado

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    Johann, while all you said seems logical, I bet that's exactly what those who planned the new system thought as well. The thing is, people often prefer higher ranks and higher quality, regardless of their level of experience. You see this a lot in all kinds of topics, and it works here too. A healthy amount of people will prefer to sign-up to a game that seems as if will be... better than the recommended choice, which in this case is beginners, since, like all of us, they don't want their games spoiled by other beginners. So although all you said is logical, it just doesn't work in practice. You can see countless new players signing up to standard games, and for the reasons I've stated above.
  24. RaRe555

    RaRe555

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    I didn't exactly mean there was a problem with the Expert system, I personally think it's really cool. (I've been following Free-For-All mafia since it began lol) What I meant is that because of the eliteness offerend by Expert games, Standard games are becoming what you explained in your post, but now that you say it that way, yeah I guess time won't fix it either =/.

    I like ideas 2. and 3. , but I'm not so sure 1 will work, because even if there's an experimental concept about the game, unexperienced people will still want to join, thinking they'll get the hang of it easily, which will obviously not be the case.
  25. Johann

    Johann

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    I see where you are coming from. These beginners needs to learn that starting in a beginner game IS THE BEST CHOICE because if they start in a standard game, they will more often than not form a bad reputation in mafia. They may think that beginner games are ruined by beginners but that is what you are A BEGINNER, of course some people make mistakes. THAT IS WHY WE MADE BEGINNER GAMES. So all in all, if you never played mafia start in a beginner game, it might not seem the most fun, but it will make everyone's mafia experience better. End of story.

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