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Combat Rankings

January 03, 2007

by John Shedletsky


I want to discuss something that I’ve been thinking about for two months now – a problem that all of us at Roblox have been anticipating even before we started tracking combat statistics. Actually there are several problems…

Problem #1: The players who have the most time to play Roblox tend to rise to the top.

Problem #2: The current system encourages veteran players to hunt newbies for free knockout points.

Problem #3: If you are not in the top 15, the combat ladder is not interesting to you and adds nothing to the game.

The issue of rating combat performance in any online game is controversial. I made a post to on October 1st asking about best practices and I recieved many thoughtful responses, but no concensus. One obvious thing to do that would help with problem #1 would be to have the scoring metric for combat prowess be skill = #KOs/#WOs, with #KOs breaking any ties. If we used this metric, a good player could log on, play for an hour, rack up 54 KOs with only 2 WOs and land at the top of the ladder. The guy who plays for ten hours, gets 1034 KOs but also gets 1032 WOs would not be ranked very highly (nor should they be – they are Even Steven). We want Even Stevens to land in the middle of the ladder. Still, if we do things this way, problem #2 will get worse than it is now and problem #3 will not be solved.

Proposed Solution

I’m a fairly good chess player; my proposed solution is very similar to how rankings work in the chess world. It works like this:

  1. When you join Roblox, you get a provisional combat score of 1600. This score corrosponds to being absolutely average. 50% of the people on Roblox are better than you at fighting and 50% are worse.
  2. When someone bloxxes you, their score goes up and yours goes down by the same amount. The size of the change is related to your relative scores. If player A and B are about the same skill level, the change in scores will be small. If player A is a weak player rated at 1200 and player B is a strong player rated at 2000, and A bloxxes B, A’s score goes up A LOT because he bloxxed someone who was really good and deserves a reward. B’s score goes down the same amount as punishment for getting bloxxed by a newbie.
  3. If your rating is provisional (i.e. your KOs + WOs < 20), then your score changes more radically (to get you to your “true level” as quickly as possible) and the scores of the people who blox you or that you blox do not change very much.

Let’s see how this solution stacks up.

It flat out nails problem #1. If you are an average player who plays A LOT, your score will bounce up and down a bit, but you won’t be able to achieve an expert-level score unless you blox a lot of newbies without getting killed, or you blox a couple of expert players. If you can do either of these things, you are probably an expert and deserve a good score. Great. If you are an expert-level player, you can find a game with a bunch of other high-ranked players, blox them a handful of times, and get as many points as you would get by bloxxing hundreds of newbies. Great. Ok. Problem #1 solved.

Problem #2 mostly goes away. An expert player might blox a newbie if they happen to get in the way, but he’s not going to join a game full of newbies because he could play for hours and not rack up all that many points. And if one of the newbies gets lucky and bloxxes him, he’ll lose a ton of points. It’s no longer worth it to specifically target new players.

Problem #3 is will not be solved until we make it possible to view the combat ladder all the way down. Just about 0% of all people on Roblox are in the top 15. I’m thinking if a player is in the top 50% of all Robloxians in combat ranking, we should show the rank directly on the player’s profile. This would be cool because then you could try to improve over your personal best, or compete with your friends.

Two Nice Touches

Recognizing that people have different skills and are good at different types of maps, I think it would be great to have a combat ladder for each level. So you might be ranked #453 overall, but actually be ranked the #3 player of all-time in Chaos Canyon. For official maps, we might make nice badges for people who manage to get in the top 50 or the top %5 or something.

Finally, I think it would be nice to have a set of combat badges that corrospond with your best acheived combat skill level. This would be similar to titles in the chess world, that are granted for life and mark a milestone achievement (like Master or Grandmaster).


If you feel strongly about this and want to share you opinion or suggestions, post a comment. Since we have been having problems with spammers, I have set it so that your first comment needs to be approved before it will appear here (though after that posting comments to the roblog should be instantaneous).