Some more needs to be said about the Battle.net matchmaking service, because it’s one of the more critical (and cool) services provided, yet it is largely broken, in my opinion.
The system as it exists now works like this: Invite your friends, choose your race, tell the system if you have a map preference (doesn’t mean you’ll get that map, but it’ll try), click Play. You’re automatically thrown into a game with folks you may or may not have met before. It never takes longer than 30 seconds or so… sounds pretty cool, right? It’s certainly quick and simple.
I’m rated Level 1 on Battle.net. Last night I tried to play a 1v1 game, and was matched against a Level 7 person. I knew I was going to get my ass kicked before the map had even finished loading, and that’s bullshit. Players need more control over choosing what to play. For starters, like Gabe said, you need to be able to turn the 30-second matching off. In a perfect world, I’d like to see a system where both teams enter into a chatroom for a little sit-down. That would give both sides a chance to look at the stats for their opponents ahead of time, and maybe even give them a chance to negotiate on variables like the map or maybe even a handicap (Team A is marginally better than Team B, Team B agrees to play if they can have a 500 gold 300 wood handicap). If the matchup isn’t to your liking, no problem: Decline the match offer, and ask Battle.net to keep looking. There’s also no reason there shouldn’t be some kind of ban list or filtering in place. If I play with someone who’s a total dick, why should I ever have to play with him again? If we harness the power of 21st century technology, there’s no good goddamn reason.
The point of any match-making service should be to provide the users with a fun, worthwhile match. Hey, I’ve got news: If there are only 3 games available, and they’re all against folks 10 times my skill level, it’d be more fun for me to read a book.
Hey, as long as I’m out here, Gabe seemed to get a lot of mail when he asked for NE strategies, so maybe I’ll do the same thing. I’d really be interested in hearing what some of you folks do with the Undead.