Here are my thoughts:
This is apparently how the official matchmaking works right now:
Distribution of queues by rank and rating
My suggestion is simple: the “odd” numbered queues should all line up with a single tier, and be set as fixed-tier matches. Players have the option to select “normal” or “fixed tier” matchmaking when they queue. If they select fixed, they can only be put in the odd queue associated with their tier; Q1 for T1, Q3 for T2, Q5 for T3, Q7 for T4 and Q9 for T5.
However, to avoid long queue times, the matchmaking will also place normal players into these games so long as two criteria are met:
The highest ranked ship of the normal player falls within the fixed tier rank bracket.
The matchmaking score of the queuing player is within an acceptable range.
When squadding, a squad leader can only select “Fixed Tier” if all players in the queue qualify for the same tier.
So, let’s look at some examples:
Bill has just purchased his first Rank 10 ship and wants to try it out. He queues for standard, and because of his low DSR and poor equipment, the game puts him in a waiting position between Q6 and Q7. Because the game feels Q6 is a better match for Bill’s MM score, it will try its best to put him in a Q6 match. After 4-5 minutes, if no suitable game is found, the matchmaking will begin to look at Q7 as well and put him into the first Q6 or Q7 it can launch. This is to maximise the odds of Bill finding a game, even if it might not be the best game for him.
For his next match, Bill decides to try the Fixed Tier queue. Now his only option is Q7. Even though the matchmaker thinks he belongs in Q6, and can launch a game with him in within a minute or two, it will keep him out and waiting. However, because his DSR is quite low the game decides to give a helpful little popup when he clicks “Fixed Tier” matchmaking. This message says “ATTENTION: Based on your skill level and equipment we recommend standard matchmaking. Do you wish to proceed with Fixed Tier matchmaking?” Bill remembers how his last match was against T4 pilots with vastly better gear than his, and chooses to heed the warning. He decides not to queue for Fixed Tier.
It was a wonderful day on the forums: people were posting gifs of birds singing, memes frolicked happily, and the pilots of NASA and WPK wiled away the hours questioning each other’s parentage and suggesting that the opposing Corporation enjoyed fornicating with donkeys. It was all good fun! But then someone in NASA insisted that silent “u” in words like “colour” was pointless, and there was outrage! Such a blatant attacks on the English Language go unpunished, and so both Corps rushed to battle!
4 NASA pilots immediately jumped in their T3 ships and went for standard matchmaking. Meanwhile, 4 WPK pilots jumped in their T3 ships and went for Fixed Tier. The matchmaker placed the WPK squad in Q5 instantly, but then it noticed that the NASA squad, which was floating in the Q6 matchmaking bracket because of their skill level, could be matched into the Q5 queue. This would balance the WPK squad and allow the match to launch, so that is precisely what happened!
So, the summary of this concept for you all:
With this progression system, there should not be a significant, if any increase to matchmaking times. If anything, matchmaking times would decrease because the fixed tier queue has a much broader scope for matchmaking - it simply pulls in any player with a ship within the three ranks of its assigned tier. This can be done quite reliably as a way to launch people after a 5 minute wait; simply dump them into the Fixed Queue and then drag in other players to try and produce a balanced match.
Moreover, this system allows people to vote with their feet as to what kind of matchmaking they want, and could well produce some potentially unseen data. It might be that people like Fixed Tiers a lot more and rarely used standard. It might be that Standard is more popular when people are starting out in a tier, prefering to have their R7 ships matched with R6, and then they swap to Fixed once they have their foot in the door, so to speak.
In particular, I would expect a matchmaking queue like this to prove beyond all doubt that Corporations want Fixed Tier matchmaking.
A change like this is far better than any in-game poll; it’s a poll where people vote by matchmaking. Devs could set up a system to monitor what modes are being queued for by what level of player, the average launch times, the average game size, etc. and then they would have real data to work with. Best of all, we’d finally get the matchmaking system we want. All of us. Fixed Tier or the abomination we have to put up with now - you can pick and choose your method of play.