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Thread: Customs Browser UI: Reality vs. Ideality

  1. #1

    Default Customs Browser UI: Reality vs. Ideality

    Receiving incoming wall of text. . . (TLDR at bottom)

    For anyone who doesn't know, this is how the custom game screen appears right now. And if that's the way it stays into release, we've got a big problem.

    What They Wanted

    1. Accessibility.

    In WarCraft III, the custom games list was kind of this mish-mash; there would only be DOTA games in the game list. If someone wanted to play something else they couldn’t play it.
    They solve this by making each game type take up only one slot.

    2. Control.

    There is a “filter by genre” so players can subdivide and filter even more. For example, the player can select co-op skirmish, and DOTA will go away.
    What We Got

    At Control they were on the right track, but stopped too early. At Accessibility they failed completely. The way the system works right now is that every 3 times a game is created, it is "bumped up" -- its popularity bar grows longer and it gets ahead of a few other games, so it doesn't take as long to find it. So a game can go from "page 2" up to "page 1" of the list.

    See the problem?

    Instead of a single DOTA, even under ideal conditions, we have "howevermany fill a single page" DOTAs. Popular maps are rewarded by being at the top of the list, thereby ensuring that new players play them first; while less popular maps are stuck at the bottom where no one will see them. If that wasn't bad enough, to combat this, already you have people wasting hours bumping up their games, or games they enjoy but that no one sees because they're stuck on page 4 or 5, at the bottom of the barrel. Host, quit. Host, quit. Host, quit. BUMP! Host, quit. Host, quit. Host, quit. BUMP!

    Forget about the fact that the system is gameable and that bot programs will most assuredly be created to log in/out of games while someone is not using their SC2 account, to ensure that their game stays at the very top of the list. Forget about the fact that ensuring your map's popularity is a huge inconvenience. How about the fact that this completely undermines the whole point of a "Popularity" bar to begin with? Unfortunately, removing the ability to 'game' the system will create a lot more problems than it will solve.

    In WC3, if you wanted to test your map and had no friends online, all you had to do was create a game with the name "NEW GAME _____ TESTING!! NEED HELP" and it would fill up FAST. People are curious, and when something interesting shows up at the top of the list, they'll check it out. But right now if you make a game, it's going to be at the very bottom of the list, and not a single person will join it. Not only is it too much effort to scroll through 10 (already -- imagine post-release!) pages of games, but I don't even know which ones are in need of testing because people can't put up their own titles. All we have is the official title of the map, so I don't even know that I'd be doing the map maker a much needed favor by checking it out.

    People are much more likely to host a game that they've played (and enjoyed) in the past. Which means the only way to make your map REALLY popular is to make your map at least SOMEWHAT popular. And the only way to do that is by bumping it up to the top, every single day, so that as many different people as possible will see it and start re-hosting. If we remove this 'gaming' aspect, we will take away from map-makers the ability to efficiently test their games AND make looking for new games more inconvenient, because they'll be condemned to lie on page 25 until Hell freezes over and StarCraft 3 comes out.

    But remember how I said that we have these issues even under ideal conditions? We don't even have ideal conditions. Check out that screenshot and look at how many of the games have "Defense" in the title. Know why that is -- and why it's bound to only become a bigger problem as the game goes on? In-genre variation. To everyone who hated it (or what it represented), DOTA was one big piece of evil. But in reality, within DOTA (just like in many other popular games) there are innumerable different games, different ways of playing. In SC2 jargon, there are different modes. Let's see how Blizzard fails before they've even begun trying:

    1. Blizzard wants no single game to fill the screen.
    2. The screen is limited to ~10 slots.
    3. Each "mode" of a map takes up a separate slot.
    4. DOTA alone has no less than 9 Primary modes. (

    So... yeah.

    What We Need

    We solve this by adding the "Exclusion" functionality to the filter. Just like right now you can search for specific 'genres' of games (although the choices are presently rudimentary [to the point of worthlessness] and I can only imagine Blizz is still working away at allowing us to pick from the actual game types people create), exclusion would filter out ONLY the genres you select. So if you're sick and tired of sifting through endless DOTAs, and, say, RPGs, and, say, TDs... you can filter THEM out but leave everything else. Of course by now we're back to talking about Control.

    The issue with Control is that to take advantage of what Blizzard has offered already a player must know what he or she wants. Which may be true for someone who is a huge fan of a specific game or genre... but this person doesn't need help. If he likes it so much, he'll look for it even if it takes 10 pages. The person who needs help is the casual gamer who doesn't want to keep scrolling through the list when there's already a bunch of popular maps staring right at him. He has absolutely no idea what games exist, let alone which ones of those that do he'd enjoy playing.

    This is why Exclusion functionality is actually far more useful than filtering Show Only functionality. It doesn't take long to realize you don't want anything to do with another TD for as long as you live, if that's not your cup of tea. But knowing that you don't want to scroll through dozens of pages filled with TDs and TD variants doesn't mean you know what you DO want to play, which is why the Show Only functionality that's in the game right now is simply no replacement. It is not enough.

    Apologies for the crude mock-up, I don't have Photoshop on hand.

    The primary change I've made here is to include a "Random Maps" section. The way I see it, every time someone re-opens this screen, that area would fill with a random selection; any map from the entire list, but it has to be under 75% in popularity rating. Maybe even refresh the list automatically, even while the browser is still open, every 30 seconds. Let's face it, very often a map with low popularity deserves to be seen by many more people than will likely see it, and this sort of spotlight will give it that opportunity. Right now Blizzard is banking on their "New Games Only" filter, but it's not only new games that fall into the low popularity vaccuum. Plenty of maps just don't manage the circulation for one reason or another. This solution puts those maps in the faces of potentially thousands of gamers, but without taking control out of those gamers' hands; they are free to ignore that window completely and focus their search in the top window as they normally would. However, if they want to try something a little more exotic, they can easily do so without having to scroll through 30 pages of Tower Defenses and Zerg Invasion maps.

    The other change is far less pressing, but I think an obvious convenience: the "Recently Played" area. Being a fan of 'I R Sniper,' a SC2 version of the old school Elite Snipers map, I'm often frustrated by the fact that I have to click (SHOW MORE) 2 to 3 times and scroll to the bottom manually each time just to find the goddamn thing on the list. Either a Recently Played tab or a Favorites tab would really help. This is however just a convenience.

    As for bumping and the problem of gaming the system, I see no workable way around it if Blizz intends to stick with Popularity. Sure, they can limit the amount of bumps a single user can give a map within X timeframe, but all that does is punish those games that aren't already on the front page -- even more. If it can't be resolved, then at least the "Random Games" area will attempt to even out the playing field.

    This is the list of features Blizzard needs to consider implementing into the Custom Games browser to give players more access to more games, and to give them more control in sifting through these lists.

    -Favorite Games/Recently Played Games tabs
    -Exclusion functionality added to filter, ie. "Exclude TDs; RPGs"
    -Spotlight feature for games with lower popularity (not to be confused with newly published games)
    Last edited by pure.Wasted; 06-01-2010 at 11:13 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Customs Browser UI: Reality vs. Ideality

    Some good ideas that I agree with.
    Post this on the BNET forums!

    Kudos to Arkceangel for the Terran avatar and sig!

  3. #3
    Centipede's Avatar Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Default Re: Customs Browser UI: Reality vs. Ideality

    Should just have another tab that offers a 1.0 style of custom game browsing, with game names and passwords being optional. Having game names and a list like that introduced me to a lot of maps that I otherwise wouldn't have thought to try. There's quite a few maps that weren't wildly popular but still really fun, and were hosted by a few friends of mine under the moniker "DL and Play!". People joined and it was good times. Impossible with the current interface.

    Your suggestions are nice, though. I can't offer an opinion either way because I'm more curious about how they'd work out. Certainly an improvement over what's there now, though.
    I am not a clever man.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Customs Browser UI: Reality vs. Ideality

    Something that has been bugging me . . .

    How do they tell for sure that a certain map is what it says it is?

    What keeps me from making a TD or DOTA and naming it "BRAND NEW NEVER BEFORE SEEN FPS MOD!!! NEED HELP WITH TESTING!!!" in the name of the map?

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Customs Browser UI: Reality vs. Ideality

    De-lurking just to say.. This is a great idea, should be relatively easy to implement or improve upon and it solves a lot of the problems that have been brought up. I approve!

  6. #6
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Default Re: Customs Browser UI: Reality vs. Ideality

    Sorry for the OT but 11 FPS? WTF? Blizzard needs to optimize their damn menus, LOL. What FPS do you get in-game?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Customs Browser UI: Reality vs. Ideality

    Quote Originally Posted by TychusFindlay View Post
    Sorry for the OT but 11 FPS? WTF? Blizzard needs to optimize their damn menus, LOL. What FPS do you get in-game?
    Hahaha, I only noticed my FPS was still up once I'd posted the thread.

    I play SC2 on a really crappy old laptop. 9-12 FPS is very average for me, on lowest settings -- menu or in-game.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Customs Browser UI: Reality vs. Ideality

    If they just added a good "filter" system for players to use, we would be perfectly fine when it comes to customs. HoN's system does a pretty good job. I don't see why II couldn't have one.

  9. #9
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Default Re: Customs Browser UI: Reality vs. Ideality

    I agree with what you're saying about the system. It sucks when there are only 3 people on bnet who see that there is run kitty run since no one ever scrolls down. I will admit it is amusing playing with the same few people over and over again though.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Customs Browser UI: Reality vs. Ideality

    Quote Originally Posted by Asfastasican View Post
    If they just added a good "filter" system for players to use, we would be perfectly fine when it comes to customs.
    Again -- this isn't really the case, and I address that at length in the OP. A filter system works only for those of us who are true casual players -- and by casuals I mean those that might be familiar with only one or two games online (other than melee) and that's it.

    We non-casuals have some idea of what we like because of years spent playing RTSes, and years spent playing WC3 in particular. So when I tell my filter to exclude TDs, I know exactly what I'm doing.

    But a casual gamer doesn't know any of that; he can't exclude things (or look for things) because he doesn't realize what his options are. That means he's just going to stick to the front page, and that means the entries on the front page (TDs, DOTAs, the most popular things) are gonna keep getting bumped and bumped into perpetuity.

    And that makes it more difficult for the less popular maps to be seen by anybody, casuals or not. Especially if these maps are not conventional and don't fall neatly into one of the pre-established genres. This ends up seriously cutting into the map pool until we end up with the DOTA syndrome. It's much easier (and more entertaining) to keep playing the same game over and over than learning a new one from scratch.

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