Tuesday 22 March 2016

Analysis: Why I Hate Assault in Halo 5

Assault creates boring, drawn-out games where even the smallest mistake by either side heavily swings the match in the others favor. This is not an interesting game dynamic and at the very least assault needs to be tweaked or, in my opinion, removed entirely from Team Arena. This is just my anecdotal opinion based on my games so far so lets grab some data from 343i's API to see if this really is the case.

I gathered a random sample of 1236 CTF and Assault games (472 assault, 764 ctf) and analyzed their duration and victory conditions.

Game Duration:
At 12 minutes the standard game time runs out. If at 12 minutes one team has more points than the other then the game ends and the team with more points is the victor. If there is a tie when the timer runs then overtime begins and the same check is done at the end of overtime. From the chart above it's quite clear that Assault games are much more likely than CTF to either end due to the timer running out or in overtime. This is indicative of low-scoring games where neither team is able to reach the required 3 points to win.

Victory Conditions:
The red group in this chart indicates the percentage of games that ended due to a 3-cap (a team managing to score 3 points) before the initial timer runs out. The blue region shows the percentage of games that ended from a time-out (one team being ahead at 12 minutes) or a victory in overtime (one team being ahead after overtime or reaching 3 points in overtime). So nearly 25% more Assault games than CTF games end from the timer or in overtime.

I don't have a problem intrinsically with the fact that Assault often produces long games, if the objective was an interesting one. The singular objective in Assault of 1 ball and 1 cap location produces games where decision making means less than in other game types. Since there is no question about what you should be doing at any one time it takes away decisions from the player.

My other main issue is the variability. Under normal gameplay it's very difficult to cap the ball in Assault, as I have shown here with their abnormally long games. However, a single lucky kill (or unlucky death) can easily swing the game in the your favor (or your opponent favor). It's a mechanic that isn't satisfying because it feels like you're playing for that lucky kill instead of making smart decisions throughout the match.

What's your opinion on Assault?

Saturday 13 February 2016

Analysis: Halo 5 February Ranks

Inspired by a post on the Halo subreddit showing player rankings in different multiplayer playlists in Halo 5 I decided to do something similar. I used the Halo 5 API R package I wrote a few months ago got to work collecting as much data as I could from users.

The public API has several limiting factors. First is that there's no easy way to simply get a large list of users currently playing Halo. Microsoft doesn't make public player activity numbers public so having easy access to this would probably be against their intention. To get around this I looked at my recent game history, and took all the names of the players of my opponents. Then looked at all their recent game histories. Quickly I was able to get a list of a little over 17,000 unique names that played at least some form of matchmaking.

The second limiting factor is that Microsoft only allows 1 request per second. This isn't really a huge hurdle as I just left it running overnight to gather the data. It would be nicer if there was a faster option though.

Anyways here are some results from the Team Arena, Slayer, and SWAT playlists. Keep in mind that when this data was gathered it had only been about 10 days since the February season went live. I'll try to do something like this again at the end of the month to see if there are any major changes.

Team Arena:

From what I've heard of 343i's Halo ranking system a near normal curve like this is to be expected. With gold and platinum ranks containing the majority of players. There are some spikes at tier 1 of each rank. This is due to the fact that in Halo 5 you cannot rank down out of a division until the next season. So if players are improperly placed into diamond or go on a hot streak and make it into diamond, they'll just end up sitting at diamond 1 most of the season. With how quick the seasons in Halo are (historically slightly over a month for pre-season and January) I don't think this is that bad of an issue, as it does relieve a little bit of 'ladder anxiety' from the matchmaking knowing that you won't rank out of a division if you go on a losing streak.

Another interesting thing is the large percentage of players currently in onyx. I think this is likely due to my small-ish sample size of just over 7000 players for Team Arena, and because it's still early in the season. As the season goes on the more casual players will finish their placement matches and the relative amount of onyx players will probably decrease.

I've also included a boxplot showing win rates of players in the different ranks. Nothing really surprising; as players rank increases so does their win rate. Though from my understanding the matchmaking system should try and give players a close to 50% win rate, so again, perhaps this will even out as the season progresses.


Nothing too different in the slayer playlist other than it seems skewed towards higher ranks. I'm actually a little lost as to why this is. My best guess is that players who play Slayer might be more competitive than those that play Team Arena and combined with it being early in the season it's likely to produce these results. But again, I don't really know for sure. Maybe you have some suggestions?


Compared with the other two playlist there is hardly anybody in SWAT above platinum. From what I've heard 343i have done some tuning for ranks in SWAT which is probably why it looks so different than the others.

Well I hope you enjoyed these. Comments and suggestions on what other kinds of data from Halo 5 might be interesting are definitely welcome. What I really want to do is make some heatmaps (still) but 343i seems like they do not want to make the necessary data to do this available. Maybe soon... hopefully.