Hmm... where to start...
On further thought:My ideal ranking system... 10/29/2010 version
A player's ranking can go up or down based on individual performance
The skill of your opponents affects the importance of your win or loss
Number of games played has no direct relation to rank
First place wins are much more important than other places
Margin of a win weakly affects importance of win
Last place finish has a very weak penalty
Colony scores have a weak influence on the rank calculation (for all players)
Make games that start
with AI's worthless
Yes I have read the majority of the info on the TrueSkill system. (although i must admit a lot of the math simply makes my eyes unfocus) I have been involved in several other projects similar to planet mule as far as trying to come up with fair leaderboard systems, and everyone (including me) always assume that implementing a fair system is easier than it actually is. The TrueSkill system may not be the absolute best system possible, but as far as I know it is the best system that actually exists in the real world. Please feel free to check out the other systems listed on the xbox website, there were none that suits planet mule better. Systems like ELO are not really appropriate because they deal with games that are 100% skill like chess.
I am fairly sure that the TrueSkill system does award 1st place finishes much more than other positions. Although it is possible to still gain rating points for finishing 2nd depending on the skill of your opponents....it is also possible to lose rating points for 2nd, again depending on the skill of your opponents.
I agree that in a perfect system margin of win should also have a small affect on your rating. I also agree that giving total Colony score a weak affect on rating would be nice as well. However, I haven't the slightest clue(I doubt you do either) how the developers would add this into the current TrueSkill formula.
Still seems to me that the TrueSkill system is very close to what you actually want. ...
Did you read Collective Choice: Competitive Ranking Systems
? The TrueSkill FAQ
points it out after it lists other ranking systems.
From the above article: "The various lessons learned at Days of Wonder underline two basic ideas about rankings. First, even with a well-studied system like ELO, there's still a lot to understand, and, second, any ranking system needs to reflect the specifics of what it's ranking -- and what its purpose is."
Days of Wonder modified ELO to suit their game. So for us, we have to decide what in a MULE game we want recognized and what our ranking are for... My ideal ranking system lays out what I want recognized. And, the purpose for our ranking system: We want our rankings to show who is better.
So, let's take TrueSkill... TrueSkill's purpose is to find similar players to make "interesting" matches. TrueSkill's specifics are almost only who wins or loses (with many winners and losers in a multiplayer game). It has no weighting for first, second, third, or fourth place. In a four player game (assuming everyone has a equal skill points and uncertainty), first will gain the most skill points, last will lose the same amount, and second and third not so many in between. TrueSkill is very simple in terms of its inputs from a game. It's designed to be general purpose.
I want Planet MULE's ranking system to take more data and do more with that data than TrueSkill does with its games. I don't know if it's possible to modify TrueSkill to do what I want. I guess you could modify the skill points after the calculations. But to do that right, it seems, you would have to make a piggy-backed system that adds extra points for first place, takes away a much smaller amount for last place, adds bonus points for a big win, and adds or takes points for a particular colony score. Although, it seems if you play with skill values that much, something has to break. Quick aside: ELO, glicko, and TrueSkill are all popular skill-based
ranking systems.This is a call to all mathematicians, statisticians, and the like.
Can TrueSkill be modified, does a better system exist to start with, or can you make Planet MULE something nifty that does everything on my wish list?
I disagree with your assertion that people complain about the "luck" elements of Mule. The luck elements are what makes Mule such a great game. Without the luck elements there would be very little replayability to the game. i.e. are the pirates going to come this turn, where is the crystite, what price will crystite be the last turn, is a mountain going to move in a quake. Mule behaves like many combo luck/skill games (Poker, Risk, etc) On any given game there is a chance that anyone can win, but in the long run the more skillful player will always end up winning more. ...
I very much agree with you here...
In regards to your handicapping idea: I am neither for or against the idea in principle. I think this is definately an idea that could at least be debated for Mule2. But I think trying to do this to the original version would be opening up a new can of worms. I would enjoy seeing some specifics on what you had in mind.
Basically, simple ideas like giving lower ranked players more money and/or goods to start; more time for turns (greater total time and each unit of food gives them more time)... very much in the spirit of the classic beginner's species.To all:
Please don't feel like you can't join the discussion because the recent posts have been replies between dynadan and me. I would love to hear interesting ideas and thoughts.
edit: many changes -- most recently I added, "Quick aside: ELO, glicko, and TrueSkill are all popular skill-based