The single biggest issue with online multiplayer components of games, after the overbearing problem of server LAG or the prevalence of bugs (and the lack of patches released to fix them) is the issue of trolling. People who want to ruin your fun, those who run around, flinging curse words around like it’s going out of style and generally just making online gaming a not very nice experience. Those are the trolls and if there was a way to completely ban them from our games then most likely, we would. However, not every troll is a troll all the time, so it would be unfair to completely prevent them from taking part in the online fun, right? This is a problem that Microsoft are hoping to provide a solution for, as they’ve come up with an Xbox One reputation system to (mostly) put an end to trolls for good.
Detailed on the Microsoft blog, the Xbox One reputation system is fairly simple to understand in that players are separated into “Good”, “Needs Improvement” and “Avoid Me” categories on account of just how far they’ve dove into the deep, murky waters of trolling. Every player will have a reputation score which becomes tarnished as you misbehave, or, your reputation will be that of an upstanding Xbox Live citizen as you abide by the rules and generally do your best not to break them. Xbox Live programmer Michael Dunn had this to say, “Your reputation score is ultimately up to you. The more hours you play online without being a jerk, the better your reputation will be; similar to the more hours you drive without an accident, the better your driving record and insurance rates will be.”
How Microsoft will keep up with players’ behaviour is down to an advanced bit of programming from the team at Microsoft, with Dunn also saying that “The new model will take all of the feedback from a player’s online flow, put it in the system with a crazy algorithm [that Microsoft have] created and validated with an MSR PhD to make sure things are fair for everyone.”
The algorithm assesses you particularly based on how many players mute or block you in a match, telling the system whether or not you are a player that people enjoy playing alongside. However, Jeffrey Matulef, at Eurogamer did raise some concerns that if you get muted or blocked a few times, would you immediately get branded as a bad seed? Microsoft offered the following very detailed (albeit long-winded reply),
There are many ways to control who you want to chat with on Xbox Live. If you typically avoid in game chat, you can turn it off completely in Settings. If you only like to chat with your friends in game, the best way to do so is through our Party system. Smart Match’s new advanced Party system with Xbox One helps with communication by allowing parties (and members) to move in and out of game chat as desired as easily as a quick click.
Depending on the situation, manually muting a non-friend player may result in a minimal amount of feedback, but not at the same rate as reports of cheating or blocking a player. Each feedback type in the reputation system is weighted differently based on a number of factors including the frequency with which the player has received the feedback. Muting a player has the least amount of feedback weight in the system. For example muting and unmuting the same person over and over will not affect a person’s reputation, but if thousands of users across Xbox Live are muting a player in every game then that feedback would affect their reputation. And of course muting a friend has no impact on the friend’s reputation.
Dunn also said that players will receive warnings before they become ‘Avoid Me’ category players, with details on the Microsoft blog stating that the category of behaviour of a player will be displayed on their gamer card.
Do you think the Xbox One reputation system is a smart move by Microsoft or do you think that it will unfairly punish those who are playing nice? Let us know in the comments.