KDR Leaderboards in MMO’s

Sanya Weathers, Director of the Community for Dominus (formerly Prime: Battle for Dominus), posed a question/poll on the Dominus forums today: “Do you want KDR/IRS scores on our leaderboard?”

In short, No, I do not want kill to death ratios or any extensive stat tracking in any MMO that I play.  The following reasons outline exactly why.

(1) Players are already self serving enough.  Statistically tracking how often someone dies compared to how often they obtain a kill only encourages individuality.  Dominus is going to be a team PvP game just like Dark Age of Camelot and other games where you’re fighting to accomplish a greater goal — a goal for the everyone on your side.  When I go to battle with my faction/realm/team, I don’t want the guy next to me thinking about how he can avoid dying to improve or keep his ratios.  I want him thinking about how his actions in battle can give our team the greatest chance of success — Yes, even if that means his death.

(2) History shows this type of system alters games.  When it was added to Dark Age of Camelot, the /stats and ‘I Remain Standing’ changed the game (even though it was added early).  Players eventually turned into stat whores.  It’s the same in every game: World of Warcraft, WAR, and any game with a focus on stats instead of tactics. I remember the day WoW started tracking stats in PvP.  That’s when players stopped wanting to just skirmish for fun and cared about who had the most stats that week to reach High Warlord.  It’s even worse when a game gives more points for spamming heals or ‘playing to the stats instead of playing to the strats’ ©.

(3) Stat tracking breeds competition against your own team.  Who is the better healer or damage dealer is no longer about saving someone or being able to read a battlefield to anticipate what to do, because the healers are too worried about who had the greatest healing output and the DPS measure their epeen by numbers.  Spamming heals or meta gaming the over-healing is counter productive to focusing on the purpose for being out there fighting the enemy.

Let’s not lose sight of the purpose for doing battle — the real purpose.  In a game like Dominus, it should be to take bases, collect materials, and control the galaxy.  In Dark Age of Camelot it was about seizing the relics of the enemy realms to strengthen your people.  It’s not about who has the most healing done, the least amount of deaths, or the greatest personal achievements.

I would sooner die for my team to achieve victory than glory in my own achievements and lose the war.

  • EVE thrives with the kill mail system, which in essence is a far more extensive version of a KDR board. Of course EVE is tough to apply to most MMOs, but with Dominion aiming to be a PvP MMO, it somewhat applies. The trick for them will be to show info in a way that makes everyone on a pre-set side feel good about their side, rather than their individual performance in a vacuum.

    The reason you want the devs to do it rather than the players is the potential for the players to create something worse is very real (see WoW UI and raiding).

  • I get what you’re saying, and it may work for EVE, but that type of system does not fit with the DAOC/Dominus style of PvP in its entirety.

    I like how EVE’s killmail gives a breakdown of who did what during the kill. That’s a great way to track participation. In EVE, it’s also very much about the individual and their ship. Players actually lose something and gain something on a survivability mechanic. You die, you lose your ship. You kill, you take stuff. That’s not how DAOC or Dominus work.

    Kill to death ratios do not track anything meaningful in a massively multiplayer team setting. At most, it tracks who is the best at running away or only choosing to fight when they know they won’t die. That has meaning in a setting like EVE, but not so much here.

    Sanya stated in a reply to the poll that there would be no benefit to this system other than bragging rights. That implies the system has no purpose in the design of the game. However, it can adversely affect how people play. I do not want a system without intentional implications to cause passive damage to my gameplay experience.

  • Anything that encourages playing MMORPGs like spreadsheets and not “RPGs” should be banned. It breeds elitism and bad communities.
    That’s also why I hope that SW:TOR will remain relatively “addon free”, and that we never see crap like DPS meters or worse, “gearscore” or “deadly boss mods”.

  • When the developer focus is feedback to the individual (K/D/R, healing/dps meters etc), the result is self-serving attitudes.
    When the developer focus is feedback to the group (group success, group fail), the result is a community mindset.
    People are naturally introspective. Groups naturally sort themselves out. Give incentives to build the group focus, watch as individualism plummets and communities prosper.

  • I do think leaderboards of this type do exactly the things you outlined here. Very negative social side effects and they absolutely change the game. I just don’t understand why any player denies this: its not speculative talk. That’s exactly what happens.

    The next argument goes then: why should the other players care? Which is, of course, a non-argument. We’re talking a game of team combat in which the team should be held in glory, not the individual players.

    So the greater concern then becomes how do we give players meaningful feedback of their performance, which is precisely what systems like this attempt to do. Unfortunately, they don’t usually track meaningful stats that tie the players success back to that of his teams. A great example of what I mean can be found in Basketball. How amazing is it to note who got a triple double? How amazing is it that there are hall of famers known exclusively by how much points they help their teammates score? For those unfamiliar, the stat I’m referring to is called assist. I believe all professional sports have a stat that functions very similar to this.

    Where is our “Assist” stat for competitive gaming? This is where designers want to go with things like leaderboards. Tie the success of the individual to the team, which then allows us to celebrate both the player and the group.

  • I agree. No need for me to elaborate any further, you detailed the reasoning very nicely…

  • Well said Keen. Dominus is not a game I’ll be playing but I noticed someone worrying about such stats in TOR: based on feedback I got from friends over recent weekends there were plenty of such stats already being logged by the game and they insisted on sending me screenshots showing such stuff.

    Granted this was PvP Arenas but as a game which appears largely based on WoW (graphically and mechanically) I’d expect it to feature Damage Meters and the like almost immediately.

  • “Spamming heals or meta gaming the over-healing is counter productive to focusing on the purpose for being out there fighting the enemy.”

    The fact is that competitive gaming has started to take over in many instances where you are supposed to be working as a team (not just PVP). I was in many raids in WoW where nobody with a CC ability would break their rotation even if it meant getting past the encounter. They were more interested in making sure they were at the top of a meter and then blaming everyone else for the failure.

    I think these meters hinder players more than help by narrowing their minds.

  • Actually, the kill mail system and associated stat tracking in EVE has its problems as well. During big fights, a lot of pilots will actually switch targets often to “get on as many kill mails” as they can. This due to the way the large stat tracking sites work: being on the km is more important than damage dealt etc. In this way, the stat sites actually alter peoples performance in fleet battles.

    It is not uncommon for a fleet commander to shout something in mumble along the lines of “STOP KM WH0RING and FOCUS fire ^&^&%^$%^%$”…

  • I say…give us the stats…I always enjoyed the list of Realm Points displayed and the IRS ratings. Some people will become stat whores and some people will walk around bragging about their great IRS score (as they do with their Arena Rating in WOW).

    I would like it as well if the guy next to me was so into what is happening on the battlefield that he or she will participate, pay attention, and play to the best of their abilities just to accomplish the goal. However, MMO companies do not manage these dazs to provide such a compelling gameplay experience. IF the RvR experience was of extremelz high quality…people would be engrossed by it on their own and forget about IRS ratings. The truth is though that the experience is usually somewhat lackluster…and not convincing enough. Stat whoring then gives players another way to have fun and to show up to the battle at all.

    This stat whoring may not be the evil of itself but rather a side product of a lesser quality gameplay experience. Improve the gameplay experience and the stat whoring might be greatly diminished. Go fix the source of the problem…not a symptom of it. Anyway, that is my guess – who knows if it is correct or not.

  • If you do not give players the stats, someone will create a mod that displays them.

    K/D ratio is a convenient and easy-to-understand stat, but it may not be appropriate or suitable. Given that players often get rewards (in-game or out-game) for contribution, then something is generally needed to show what that contribution has been.

    Simply removing the K/D score isn’t going to see players start using tactics either.

    What needs to be shown is an alternative and better system that takes into account player contribution – one that tracks assists and non-combat contribution alongside damage / deaths.

  • I don’t think it’s about the stats themselves, it’s more about the value you guys are adding to the stats. I want to see stats, in fact, I’d love to be able to go to the library in the main city and look up any stat from any fight I ever had. . .and be able to parse that data in any countless number of ways. I want to be able to look up how much damage my damage shield absorbed last Tuesday vs. only green mobs in the cave zone. What I don’t want is my MMO deciding for me what stats THEY deem important by making a “leader” board. Don’t interpret the stats for me just give me the ability to see whatever stats I want and then STFU. You guys talk about how these stats taint gameplay but in reality it’s the interpretation of them that’s the problem. We like stats and numbers, if we didn’t baseball would’ve died out a long time ago.

  • Stat tracking has it’s uses though. People don’t put effort or time into something to carry other people. Just like a corporate job, numbers are tracked so the weak people can go elsewhere with their weak-minded lazy attitude.

    Imagine WoW without recount. “Why are we wiping?? Where are th heals?” all healers reply over vent…”were healing!” with no real way to back up their claims of performance. Stats are a catch 22…they have positive and negative effects. Maybe a more obscure tracking method is needed.

  • The 2 things are entirely separate as long as developers don’t endorse/post/publish certain stats over others. It isn’t the numbers’s’s’ fault that players use stats to validate smack talk or whatever other dumb behaviors they choose to do.

  • Tracking KDR has a negative impact on objective based gaming. I see it a lot of in BF3. Everyone is so worried about maintaining their KDR that they don’t play for the sake of objectives. I would prefer this stat not be tracked at all.

    My first real competitive online game was the original Tribes. Ctrl + K (suiciding) was a common tactic used for a variety of reasons. Nobody worried about score. If your team won, you won.