Would it really matter if players are getting boxed as long as the data supports that the majority of players like playing with the type they like playing with and not at all a certain other type? I mean they wouldn't really know anyway.
Good point. I just feel intuitively that with a large group of players, they won't fit as perfectly into pigeonholes as we might hope and I'd worry about putting a large percentage of players into the wrong group. Take, for example, the United States armed forces - a huge dictatorship (what they say is law for people within it) of an organization (and they have to be very organized, and classify everyone into some fixed category or another). A friend joined a branch of the military early this year, and finished boot camp, and while the armed forces were doing background checks on him, they were really confused, because he didn't fit their pre-planned pigeonholes. He mentioned later, "That's no big deal, nobody fits their templates perfectly."
There's a famous thought-experiment showing that you can't categorize everything, there are always things that don't fit perfectly into your categories no matter how hard you try (even when your categories are as simple as "A" and "!A").
Right now when you get auto grouped we never know what kind of experience we'll have and it's a lot more hit and miss, which over time kills our experience and makes us frustrated. Often to the point of quitting the game.
I didn't realize it was that big of a deal - I haven't played an MMO in quite a long time. But that makes sense - a similar thing occurs on a smaller scale in online FPSs (where my experience is also limited, but at least more recent): You join a server, if it's full of idiots (griefers, or cheaters, or people not coordinating well, or whatever) then you leave and join a different server. If that's full of idiots, then you continue repeating until you find a good server. The more 'repeats' you have to do, the poorer opinion you form of the community, and the more likely you'll quit the game permanently.
What's nice is when you find a server that you know is a great server, and you frequent it. Just like MMOs have guilds, you kinda "join" that server, either by unofficially frequenting it, or by joining the clan that runs it.
A game, especially an MMO, being able to "autodetect" what type of "server" (group of people) I'd enjoy, and invisibly steer me to it, is a fantastic idea. Just so long as if it turns out to actually not be a good match, the game doesn't lock me out of still trying to find a group on my own.
Would knowing that this algo is happening be the thing that ruins it for someone? If so, then I think it's fine to not leak what's happening. As far the player is concerned they are having more pleasant experiences, which in the end is all that matters. After all this is just a game, not a government takeover
I fully support MMOs being run as stasi dictatorships.
My problem is that algorithms or templates operating on real people rarely ever fit me or my family or my friends perfectly. They almost never do.
Algorithms occasionally make good suggestions but rarely give good directions, when operating on and trying to analyze humans.
Even their suggestions get easily confused:
My current Netflix suggestions. I'm not interested in any of those... but boy is that an eclectic set. Random suggestions could've had better results.
You like My Little Pony? Maybe you'd like Peep! -> Nope.
You like Lost? Maybe you'd like 'Once Upon a Time'! -> Uh, no.
You like Lady Killers? Maybe you'd like 'Bernie'! -> *sigh*, no.
You like Mission Impossible? Maybe you'd like 'Skyfall'! -> No...
You like Aristocats? Maybe you'd like 'House of Mouse'! -> Noperz. But if you'd instant-stream the Aladdin TV series, I'd be all over it.
You like Ghost in the Darkness? Maybe you'd like 'A Haunted House'! -> What? That's not even remotely related! Now you're just reaching...
I think this added with a "I'd like to group with this person again" button that remembers people who want to group with each other to increase the odds that you group with each other more often if you both agree. Yes, there is a Add Friend in almost every MMO, but people are complex and just because I enjoyed one run with a person doesn't mean I want to be friends with them. I don't even really know them yet. Like real world relationships, friendships take time to progress and that progression in games generally means seeing the player a bunch of times and having light conversations while clearing dungeons. People are lazy and trying to change people isn't going to work. Instead the system needs to nudge them along and make making friends easier. Systems in games can do this if they are smart.
Yes, that makes alot more sense than what I initially thought you were saying.
Giving players more tools, and making the game more intelligent to make recommendations, would be good.
I look at it this way. If the numbers show that play style A enjoys play style B 75% of the time and play style C 25% of the time, then match up A with B. Yeah, there could be some possible friendships to be had in C, but the numbers are too low that it doesn't make sense in a game to match them up just for such a small possibility.
Yes, that makes sense, as long as you are matching up cross-playstyles, and not just matching playstyle A with A, B with B, and C with C.
Take Team Fortress 2 or League of Legends, for example. People's different play styles compliment each other's. Not just by what class they pick (because people can pick a medic and then run straight into the enemy lines using the 'wrong' playstyle for that class), but because certain playstyles reinforce each other. Supporter-type playstyles (regardless of what class they are playing), more run-in-gunning playstyles, cautious tanked/armored damage-absorbing playstyles, and etc...
By matching players together by personalities or by playstyles, don't you run the risk of accidentally matching too many similar playstyles together rather than the diversity that is necessary for overcoming difficult dungeons?
And if you automatically steer them towards a specific pre-set template of diversity (one tank, one healer, one dps, one ranged, or whatever), that might reduce the likelihood of players coming up with their own class roles and playstyle combinations better suited to certain challenges or overall better suited to your specific game?
Developers can't accurately predict what the players will enjoy or dislike, and what the players will or won't do, or how the players will or won't play. All they can do is adjust their thinking after the game goes live, and continue tweaking the game as it continues to run.
If, even a few years into the game being live, you apply algorithms to steer players to certain other players or to certain playstyles, it might reduce or eliminate future change in playstyles that are better fits for your game.
Honestly, a game might even give the players the option to use this smart system or to just be random. Let the players decide which they enjoy more. Who am I to tell someone they should look for in-game friends that are different from them? If that's what they want, then so be it. We are making video games here, not trying to teach life lessons.
My point wasn't that we should force players to join up with people different from them because "it's good for them", but because I think that being surrounded by people that are too similar ends up being less enjoyable in the long-term.
Match me up with friendly people, match me up with people who might share similar interests, match me up with people in the same guild as me or people who I already know when possible...
I would much rather effort be put into cultivating a friendly community, matching jerks with jerks and friendlies with friendlies, instead of matching players by playstyle, level, class, gender, community reputation, or personality.
I don't like the divide between old players and new players - why can't a level 5 player run a dungeon with a level 92 and both be challenged and have a good time? Power (level or equipment) divides are artificial divides created and enforced by the game mechanics. By removing that divide and getting experienced players to play with inexperienced players, it might make the inexperienced players stay around longer and become long-term members. This is a divide that already exists in most MMOs that I'd like to see removed.
I don't like the idea of adding additional divides (invisible to players or not, enforced or just nudged/suggested/steered-towards). Community is strongest when there is diversity, in my opinion. Diversity in community will hopefully lead to longevity in how long your MMO stays profitable and enjoyable to a wider range or deeper niche of people.
But I do like the idea of adding a divide between those who contribute a net positive playing experience for others and those who contribute a net negative playing experience to others.