Blizzard Patents A New System To Calculate User Rankings In Games

Blizzard Patents A New System To Calculate User Rankings In Games

Game designers use many ways to record user rankings by calculating the overall player score in multiplayer games. The score is used to place a user against others of similar rank to allow equal play between them. This ensures that newbies end up battling newbies while pros only have to go against players of the same level.

However, the currently imposed systems to calculate user rankings are also full of errors and drawbacks that can lead to a frustrating experience for both developers and end users. We’ve come across a new patent published by Blizzard that aims to fix the dilemma by introducing a whole new approach to calculating user rankings in the game.

Blizzard’s patent called “TECHNIQUES FOR USER PLACEMENT WITHIN GAME SYSTEMS” predicts a new scoring system by two separate “internal” and “external” scores. The proposed method will address issues such as scoring or “game stagnation” while also allowing a more flexible way to pit users against each other.

Great takeaway

  • Blizzard has published a new patent that discusses the calculation of user rankings by dividing the score into internal and external scores.
  • The internal score will reflect the skills of a user and will continuously increase without resetting in future seasons.
  • The external score will be used to solve the game or score stagnation problem. It will be periodically reset and used for different purposes along with the internal score. This will give players a sense of progress.
  • We could see the patent materialize in the existing and future Blizzard games like Overwatch 2 and Call of Duty IPs. This will address common matchmaking issues while ensuring a high quality competitive multiplayer experience.

A time comes when a player ends up knowing all the skills a game has to offer, and the user count tends to stagnate at that point for all the users. This creates problems, and if the user ratings do not reflect their skills, it can create uneven matches between players of different hierarchies. The patent seeks to combat these problems.

Thus, the patent ultimately divides the ranking system into internal and external scores to calculate user rankings. The internal scores are “designed to accurately reflect the current skill level of a user.” In other words, the internal scores are created to judge skill-based aspects of gameplay for the users.

The image reveals the GUI for how the scoring system can be implemented.
The image reveals the GUI for how the scoring system can be implemented.

The proposed system will derive the internal score “based on that player’s game results collected over a long period of time (eg spanning many game “seasons”).” Furthermore, since the internal scores will apparently not be reset at the start of new seasons, players of similar skill levels can continue to play normally.

Blizzard can use the internal scores in many ways, such as “assign users to multiplayer game instances (e.g. to match similar skill level users) or provide in-game challenges appropriate to the user’s skill level.

The internal score is susceptible to the aforementioned game stagnation problem, and Blizzard is addressing it with the second external score system. Since these scores do not reflect user skill, they can be adjusted in many ways, such as basing external scores on game results and other factors.

The external scores may be reset from time to time, for example at the start of each season, to deal with issues such as game stagnation.

For example, the external scores can be reset to 0 each season so players can get a sense of progress. At first it will be useless for newbies and pros, but eventually the external scores will gradually grow to reflect the internal scores as players participate in the game.

Blizzard also discusses a progression factor; The external score gain will vary based on player skills. For pros, the external scores can update slowly, while rookies grow quickly with each round. However, more skills will result in an average net faster progression.

The patent elaborates, “users with high skill levels can increase their external scores to be similar to their internal scores more quickly than would otherwise be required without the application of a progression factor, requiring less gameplay overall and fewer computing resources.

The figure reveals a flow diagram for maintaining both the scores for users in a video game.
The figure reveals a flow diagram for maintaining both the scores for users in a video game.

The patent also argues that external scores are updated indefinitely based on play instead of reset, but mostly sticks to examples with the first case scenario where external scores behave like seasonal scores.

Blizzard’s newly proposed scoring techniques can prevent unfair play where a user has a “puppet account” to collect wins for their main account. This is a common problem with current matchmaking systems used in multiplayer games.

For example, the puppet score drastically reduces the average internal score of a team; one of the proposed solutions would use the highest internal scores of a team member to create matches by comparing with the other team’s highest internal score player.

Blizzard’s new scoring system can also be used for more than just matchmaking. The game experience can be modified for players of different internal scores to match their skill level. Examples include, “non-player characters (NPCs), puzzle challenges, available tools or other resources, etc.

One case includes adjusting the difficulty of a puzzle for each player according to their internal scores. The users with lower internal scores can “participate in easier puzzle challenges or in types or instances of puzzle challenges that require less knowledge of game nuances, rules, strategy and/or culture.

Even the behavior or skin of an NPC can be changed based on the internal score of the player. To illustrate, an NPC can appear as a barmaid character to a newbie, or the NPC can appear as a rogue class character to a pro, as described in the patent.

Furthermore, a player with lower internal scores may also be provided with a detailed set of instructions for a quest, while a pro may get a different set of information depending on the score.

It is worth noting that the patent mentions the implementation of the new scoring techniques in both multiplayer and single player games. According to the patent, single-player games can use the non-matchmaking elements discussed above.

The image shows a block diagram of the computer system architecture where the patent can be implemented.

The current titles often struggle to deliver a fluid gaming experience for players of different skill levels. We’ve seen many popular AAA-scale games fall flat in providing a fair matchmaking system, but this patent could completely change that by revamping the current scoring techniques used by developers.

The titles can offer even more in-depth gameplay due to more flexibility during matchmaking. Better capping and the ability to match with players that almost mirror your skill set will also deliver an overall more competitive in-game experience for users of all ranks.

The newly published scoring system could completely change the current popular and upcoming AAA multiplayer titles as we know them.

We may soon see Blizzard Entertainment’s games using the proposed method in the coming years. Titles like Overwatch 2, Call of Duty and its many fantasy-based IPs could see the integration of the new points system. However, we suggest taking the news with a grain of salt, as the patent may never be realized in the future.

What are your thoughts on Blizzard patenting to calculate user scores based on the new internal and external scoring system? Do you think this is a definite improvement over the current scoring method by major AAA titles? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.

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