Problems with PvP: The Final Rush
Ahh, the last day of PvP dawns... and my AFK defense ratio shoots up like a firework on the 4th of July. Today is the day when all the last-day-rushers come out of the woodwork and make life a living hell for those of us who have been playing since the first day of the tourney. Since your final score on the last day is the only thing that counts, these people just sit on their duffs all season and then on the last day they rush to conduct their 100+ battles and get into Adamantium league. This, unfortunately, makes life a living hell for the rest of us, because the PvP system will happily match players up for multiple defensive battles in the same time span we can conduct one offensive battle.
The problem that we run into with these people doing a rush on the last day is twofold. The first part is endemic of the current configuration of the PvP tournament system - that only your standing on the last day counts. The second part is the way the system matches up players, giving no regard to the fact that a single player can in no way, shape, or form make up for ground lost by the AI's defensive losses. But how can this be fixed?
Playdom has already taken steps to try and ensure that players will play continuously throughout the tournament by removing Challenge Refills from the list of giftable items, but that does us no good this season when the players who are PvP-centric likely still have massive stockpiles of points from previous seasons. This may play into future seasons when players will have to rely on what they may have accumulated via lucky drops, but it will take several seasons for this change to have any actual effect. So what can be done for the near future?
Getting rid of the rush
The solution to the first issue, that of the score on the last day being the only one that matters, is readily available. They need to set up a checkpoint system whereby if you haven't reached a certain number of battles by a certain date in the tournament, you are dropped from the tourney and cannot win a prize that is higher than your current ranking. The tournaments generally run for three weeks (around 25 days, give or take), so I could see it running something like this:
- At the end of day 5 of the tournament, a player must have a minimum of 20 battles
- At the end of day 10, a player must have a minimum of 40 battles
- At the end of day 15, a player must have a minimum of 60 battles
- At the end of day 20, a player must have a minimum of 80 battles
This keeps players from doing nothing all season and forces a minimum level of activity. If a player knows they can't play during a certain section of the tournament then they can rack up their battles early and then sit on the bench for whatever time they're going to be out. While it still won't solve the hardcore players going for the final sprint on the last day, it will keep them playing all season long. This method also has the side-effect of being an anti-sandbagging tactic, as it will force those players to be active during the tournament, too.
Dealing with multiple defenses
With the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of players that play PvP, there is absolutely no reason why any player should be facing more than an attack-to-defense ratio that is excessively higher than 1:1 on any given day of the tournament.
The simple solution to this is to adjust the matchmaking to take into account the activity level of a player in addition to their Elo ranking and level, and set up two server-side queues for players - we'll call them "Live" and "Waiting".
If a player is attacking then they're in the "Live" queue. For each live battle they fight, they get one rotation in the Live queue as a defender. They cannot be attacked more than once per each rotation. Once a player comes up for a defensive battle they are placed at the bottom of the Live queue and they cannot be attacked again until their number comes up again (thus eliminating the possibility of simultaneous defensive battles). Once all of a player's passes through the Live queue (based on their number of live attacks) have been exhausted, they are placed into the Waiting queue.
Once a player is in the "Waiting" queue, they are exempt from defensive battles so long as there are players in the Live queue. Once all Live players have been exhausted then the system begins to pull players for defensive battles from the Waiting queue. The system will always check the Live queue for available players first before pulling from the Waiting queue. As with the Live queue, the system will place the player back at the bottom of the pile once they've fought a battle, and they will only be flagged for one battle at a time.
This system allows for characters to be somewhat parked when they're not actively attacking and yet still be available for defensive battles in the event that there is a lack of attacking players in the proper matchmaking range available.