Competitive Alpha Launched
Posted on June 29, 2016
Hello Insurgency community, my name is Nick and I’m the engineer at New World working on the competitive systems. I know there are a lot of questions about rankings and matchmaking so I hope to answer as many of those as I can in this blog post. We’ve set our closed alpha live, where we’ll begin testing the new competitive systems that were rolled out in the Insurgency update last month.
Many parts remain heavily a work in progress, and changes will roll out over time for the user interface and even the competitive game design rules. For now this is our starting point to build upon. These systems log a wide array of stats over the course of each round to determine player rankings. They also communicate with our matchmaking systems to automate certain tasks such as restricting connections to a whitelist of Steam IDs and forcing specific teams or match restrictions during the game.
Where can I test it?
The first step to test the systems is to join the “Insurgency Competitive Testing” Steam group. Players in this group will have their stats logged when playing on specific servers running the stats systems. Any players can be on the servers, however only those who joined the Steam group will be able to view their stats.
It’s pretty straightforward once you’re in-game, click COMPETE (ALPHA) in the main menu. You’ll be logged in and the system is at your fingertips. This competitive portal can be accessed while playing Insurgency using either your Steam overlay or web browser: compete.playinsurgency.com
If you want to create a team, we’ll provide an email activation process and have hourly restrictions for registration. Then type in the Steam ID of any player you’d like to send an invite to your team. You can browse through a list of “free agents” who are looking for teams and reach out for recruitment. Once you have a team gathered, join the queue for instant games or schedule a match against another team in league games.
What stats are available?
We collect a large amount of data after each round in order to provide an in-depth profile of each player. From basic hour logs and kill counts to objective captures and last man standing “1vN” clutches, there’s a lot of information to process. We log each individual damage event to accurately rank players and make use of more complex methods of weighting and predicting player performance.
There are many options and filters to further understand your competitive profile. You can check your stats for each map or mode, and filter beyond that to know your performance for a specific map with a specific mode. Want to know how much time you spent playing Ministry Firefight? Not a problem!
We also log per weapon stats such as kill counts or hit percentages, which can be filtered through these map and mode toggles. Want to know your headshot percentage on Sinjar? Go for it!
There’s a detailed historic archive of your stats, not only for daily or weekly performance, but also to graphically represent each and every one of these stats in recent weeks. You can view the per weapon stats on a historic basis to know your kill counts or hit percentages with each individual weapon over the past few weeks. Want to know how many kills you’ve had each day with the Mk18? Just click on the weapon!
There are stats for your clans so that you can collect all this information as a group during the time each teammate is active on your roster.
How do rankings work?
Using these detailed player profiles and historic archives we can determine an accurate rank for each player. We can know how often someone is playing and whether or not they are currently warming up, cooling down, or haven’t played in some time. We’ll keep records of how well they play when solo as opposed to with their friends, and much more.
During the competitive alpha, we’ll be experimenting with various forms of calculating player rankings and predicting player performance to see what works best for our community. It’s important to note that these systems will be focused on encouraging teamwork and completing objectives. I’ve also been modding on private servers with some skins on the Workshop to test in-game ranks. It’s one of the many ideas to bring in the game for competitive Insurgency and Day of Infamy.
When can we test this?
The recent Insurgency update included much of our backend infrastructure for stats and rankings along with an initial prototype for automated matchmaking. This means an Insurgency update is not required to play the competitive alpha. Since that update, I’ve been building temporary web components that will allow our community to make use of these features in an alpha. This will not only provide us with the necessary data to make a better competitive system but will allow our community to be a part of the development process for Day of Infamy and eventually Insurgency: Sandstorm.
There’s already a test system online that I’ve been experimenting with through a testing group and now in the process of bringing these systems online for the alpha. I hope to work closely with our community to build a competitive system that is easy to use and promotes active competitive gameplay. There’s many more community-oriented features that I’d like to develop as we move forward but it’s important that we lay a strong foundation by continuing to make the infrastructure our primary focus for the time being.
What is “matchmaking”?
The matchmaking system is still in progress and not ready for testing, but it won’t feel like an internal “closed” component of the game. You’ll be able to enter a matchmaking queue from both in-game or the convenience of your web browser. This allows you to use the competitive portal or enter the matchmaking queue while still playing the game! Even if you don’t have a second monitor, everything can be accessed right from the Steam overlay, meaning it’s just a SHIFT+TAB away.
Once a match is set up and all players have accepted, a server will be created specifically for this game. If you queued through the game you’ll automatically join the server, but even if you queue through your browser, it’s as simple as clicking a “join” button. Plus if you’re using the Steam overlay it can send you sound notifications while you’re playing.
Using this “open” approach to infrastructure allows us to explore other methods of making matches. While queue systems work great for playing solo or in a party with friends or clan mates, they don’t usually facilitate the scheduling of “clan wars”. If we intend to build a serious competitive community, it needs to have support for these systems as well. By utilizing a web-based competitive portal it means all your management tools will be available to you anywhere, even on your phone.
This allows players to stay more connected to the competitive community. It also encourages more players whom otherwise might not have logged on that night until they noticed there was a scheduled match. By keeping our systems easily accessible, yet fully integrated with the game, it will offer a seamless experience in all forms of competitive Insurgency.
What about changes to gameplay rules?
Since we’ve been focused on the underlying infrastructure for the competitive systems, we haven’t taken the time to update any rules with the competitive playlist. However throughout this testing process, we will be watching matches and monitoring the data to tweak the gameplay balance to our liking. We also anticipate feedback from players with suggestions to improve gameplay.
What’s taking so long?
As mentioned in Jeremy’s blog post, one of the components which resulted in the slow competitive progress was the user interface. We planned to build many features into the game, but as outlined this game is already fully developed and wasn’t designed with competitive in mind from the start.
Redesigning many of those systems lowered in priority, especially with all the new work already being done on Day of Infamy and Sandstorm, which we could not divulge. We shifted focus and have been pursuing this new avenue of developing the systems entirely web-based and incorporate advanced integrations into our future games. This means the current alpha will have a very barebones layout that will most likely become our mobile platform due to its inherent simplicity. It’s our goal during this testing phase to iterate and overhaul the front-end design of this system.
Lastly I’d like to end this post by noting that it’s important our community manages their expectations of what is about to come. We want to work closely with the community in the development of this system but keep in mind we’ve put most of our resources into building infrastructure and backend systems, most of which you’ll never really see. The interface of an application really sets the impression but we want to make it clear that we’re making something long term, just as Insurgency was when it first released on Steam as an “unfinished” product.
We have some great plans for competitive Insurgency and Day of Infamy which I’m excited to share in future blogs and livestreams. Thanks for reading my blog and I look forward to playing with you in the servers!