Competitive 2-vs.-2 Matchmaking

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There have been several great threads that brainstorm ideas to improve the multiplayer experience for BattleTech (for example, Zakhodit's wonderful thread here). Many of these ideas are excellent, but I'd like to offer hopefully a slightly different perspective on the issues facing multiplayer and some possible fixes.

But first, one postulate: multiplayer is a social experience.

A lot of folks have put together informal groups to get together and schedule games, but as far as the game interface is concerned, there's a minimal social aspect to the multiplayer in BattleTech. Much of this is due to the nature of BattleTech skirmish mode (which, for the most part, is also BattleTech's multiplayer mode) and how these games play: which are 1-vs.-1 battles of two, 4-'Mech lances.

These games are lengthy (relatively speaking), and there is no real need for communication between players. What can improve on this?

Cooperative Multiplayer Matchmaking.

How? A 2-vs.-2 game mode. How would this work?
  • As opposed to searching for public custom games, players would enter a Competitive lobby.
    • Players may search for an auto-match alone, in which case they are auto-matched with players of equivalent skill.
    • Players may also choose to search as pre-made teams of 2.
    • Player standings can be tracked both individually and as each respective Team of 2.
  • Before starting a search, each player chooses their 'Mech and pilot loadout from among a set of balanced, Competitive-play-approved 'Mech and pilot bundles.
    • What are 'Mech and pilot bundles? For Competitive play only, there is a pre-existing set of 12-16 (or more) 2-'Mech pairs that come with pre-selected pilot assignments.
    • In general, lighter 'Mechs would be paired with heavier 'Mechs, as well as relatively higher-rank pilots, with skills that play on each 'Mech's strengths. This would be to ensure balance, as well as give players choices that correspond to their particular play-style.
    • Each team does not know what their opponents' loadout looks like until the game begins.
  • Once a match commences, each player picks their Competitive stock loadout, acknowledges they're "Ready" and the match begins.
    • In-game voice allows them to cooperate and socialize.
    • Post-game match statistics show damage done, cost of parts destroyed, 'Mech's killed, hit ratios, etc.
    • For each part destroyed, pilot injured or killed, and 'Mech destroyed (and especially for matches won!), players can gain experience points for in-game rank progression.
    • Leaderboards accessible in-game or on HBS/Paradox websites can help with socialization and community-building.
    • Game replays can be saved and streamed for further socialization and community-building.
Possible Limitations

This is just brainstorming, of course, but there are some limitations: the most obvious one is that, as of right now, the multiplayer community is so small that the player pool may be too small for Competitive matchmaking (with wait times between matches that are too long for optimal player experience). Another is ensuring that there is proper balance between the 'Mech bundles (whatever they are called) -- each should be between 80-120 tons, and represent 'Mech and pilot combinations with both distinct advantages as well as limitations (encouraging players to cover each other's weak-spots).

Just some basic thoughts. Please let me know what you think, whether there are areas that could be improved, in the hopes that maybe we could get some competitive multiplayer in the game!