New En Garde Scoring

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I've changed the World Champion scoring again.

Nobody liked the last change very much. The biggest problem was it made it too risky to play new, unranked players. If you lost, you could lose a lot of points. Another problem was, if two players never played each other, there was no good way to determine a ranking between them.

The new system is based on the Google PageRank algorithm. Google increases the search placement of pages based on how many other pages link to it, and how high those pages rank. In the new ranking system, you get points for having winning records against other players.

The actual math that determines your score is complicated. But here's some tips on how to get points:

Get winning records against lots of other people. This is the number-one thing you can do to improve your score. The system looks at all matches over the last two weeks. You have a winning record against a player if you've won more matches against him than he has against you. Every winning record improves your score.

Get winning records against good players. If you have a winning record against someone the system thinks is "good," then you get more points than you would against a poor player. Also, points get divided up. If you're the only person who has a winning record against someone, then you get more points than you would if that player had losing records against many people.

Win by big margins. You get more points for big wins that close matches. And there is also an "overall" component to your score, which takes into account your total score over the past two weeks.

Don't worry about losing games. You don't lose points when you lose a game -- except if that loss converts a winning record to a losing record against that opponent.

The scoring change is retroactive. The scores you see now are the current rankings, using the new system on all games from the past two weeks. This also affects team scoring as well, since team scores are just the sum of all world scores from team members.


I still don't understand dropping scores after two weeks. If you want to reliably measure skill between players, such a cutoff forever limits players who have lives outside En Garde.

I do understand wanting to promote more frequent play, but dropping all but a tiny slice of a player's history from the rankings is surely not the best way to do this. There should be middle ground somewhere.


Valentine Janus said...
January 2, 2008 at 5:33 AM  

What the? Well, I sure like the new rating system, for obvious reasons. (From around #22 to #3).

But Miss Janus has point, scores should probably be averaged over the entire career, if that is possible.

CronoCloud said...
January 2, 2008 at 6:47 AM  

I didn't think the previous system was bad but I'm curious to see how this will work out. I and others I have spoken with really miss the feature of announcing your current score and place on the world board after each game. If you are not on the board you have no way of knowing how you are doing...

Obi Woebegone said...
January 2, 2008 at 11:08 AM  

I too would like to see the standings listed again after a game, we have no idea where we are placing anymore. And I agree with Crono that an average should have been taken over a longer period time. A player in the last 2 weeks who rarely plays, and ranks low, has one good game against a top player and is suddenly vaulted to a top position. The last 2 weeks are hard ones to determine a fair average from, with the holidays on many people didn't have a chance to play. I'm willing to give the new system a chance. I just would like to have seen the average taken over a players career and not the last 2 weeks.

Anonymous said...
January 2, 2008 at 11:46 PM  

Yes to Obi and Clairvaux...Please bring back, if you can, the post-match standings feature. For the vast majority of us (those outside the top 20 or so players who have a regular shot at the board) it's the only way we will ever know how well we are doing.

(Or at least figure a way to dump the whole list into a web page on a periodic basis someday. That would be cool.)


Valentine Janus said...
January 3, 2008 at 5:32 AM  

Im not sure about the NEW scoring since I have been away working 12hr night shifts in RL. I dropped completely off the board while gone under the new system. First night back I played very aggressive and was back on in last place before it was over. During that whole time had no idea where I was what I was doing what effect it was having etc. If you ask who you are playing what they are ranked they have no idea because they are also unranked.
Seems to me a system that you benefit what someone does also after you play them is a little strange. If I understand it right if I have winning record over someone that continues to play I will continue to gain points versus someone that had the same ranking but decides to quit. For two weeks I live with what they decide to do.
On another I do not think scores should be averaged over a entire career that could just be to many numbers and to hard to ever change. Maybe there could be something different. I still like Cases ladder I know you might not be able to do it in a auto fashion but it worked .. It had to be scheduled, played and you have to win against higher players to move up. You could never surpass #1 without beating #1. There was never a score involved just rank and they had a web page that showed the entire field.

Anonymous said...
January 5, 2008 at 5:55 AM  

There once was a player from "Heart"
Who loved playing En Garde from the start
She liked seeing her rank
With new scoring it stank
And the fun of playing all fell apart

Hey - maybe not as bad as that...... ;-)

As in the Game of Life, I truly believe that if I am to play a game, then rules are a given. Rules are part of the game design, and we have to accept them or find a different game to play. In most games you have a high degree of transparency and get information about the rules and the scoring, and you get results or other feedback on how you are doing. These are my main concerns about En Garde these days; the new scoring and the lack of immediate ranking. Others have commented on the latter, so I won't spend time on that, but I agree that we DO need that. I would, however, like to share a few thoughts on the new scoring.

The Google PageRank algorithm, on which the new scoring is based, is fairly complicated - for most of us. Which is is my first point, do we like to have a scoring system that we don't understand because it's too difficult? At best we have a hunch about what are the most important factors, but we still have small discussions about how this or that effects ranking. There is a need for some transparency.

As far as I recall, the main reason for the change was the issue of people dodging lower ranked players' challenge. Maybe we got rid of THAT, but we have a rally towards the higher ranked players, and a restlessness to hop from sim to sim to meet new players. Players you may not even talk to during the game. And its certainly back to the volume game again. So - as a result - I do not think this new regime is any better than the previous one. The dodging of challenges, can be mitigated by external measures I think. I think people dodging challenges will be less popular over time. Organized team and league playing should also help.

As there has been an almost steady controversy about the scoring of this game, I appreciate Rifkin's efforts to find an optimal solution - as there certainly are no one ideal solution that fits all. We have already "tested" a few systems in En Garde. Some good, some not as good. I do like Val's suggestion in a comment to a previous post too. Most of them give a better reflection of skill and luck involved - not the volume game as we see today.

Finally, I would like to comment on some aspects of using Google PageRank as model for this scoring:

1) PageRank is only one of numerous methods Google uses to determine a page’s relevance or importance.
So ranking En Garde players entirely according to same principle may not be what we really want? One reason Google doesn't only rely on PageRank, is that you can manipulate it.

2) Dangling links don’t have impact on PageRank.
(Dangling links are simply links that point to any page with no outgoing links.) In En Garde terms, this could be players that only play one person. How are these treated in the En Garde algorithm?

3) Each PageRank level is progressively harder to reach.
PageRank is logarithmic in its calculation. In the same way that the earthquake Richter scale is exponential in calculation, so too is the mathematics behind Google PageRank. It takes one step to move from a PR0 to a PR1, it takes a few more steps to PR3, it takes even more steps to PR4, and many more steps again to PR5, and so on. So the closer you are to the top of the world ranking in En Garde, the harder it is to climb?

4) Google PageRank calculations are not continuously updated and published.
Some say Google calculates PageRank once every few months (PR update). After a PR update is done, all pages are assigned a new PR by Google and you will have this PR until a new PR update is done. Others say PageRank is calculated all the time, but what we see in the Google Toolbar (or other online PR tools) is a snapshot in time which is updated every 3 months or so. Maybe this means the PageRank model could better be used as a less frequent indication about the players' relative status. Maybe this would give the indication the other comments are asking for - a long term ranking as an addition to the 14 days cut-off?

In conclusion: Please give us back the ranking of all players, and let us have a scoring system that is transparent and simple!

Heart of Dragons

Anonymous said...
January 5, 2008 at 11:17 PM  

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