usually, in many games, the lobby feature is strongly used for setting up games, and evenly distributing players. games with small but hardcore populations usually have their own community for this.
especially if u can pick teammembers of a pool and know the players, that all works pretty well.
however if the players come from anywhere, with different expectations, usually your only option is to search for community groups to play in. since there is no reward at all in the lobby games to prevent farming, not even some flat rate progression, and since this game is much about progression, and still tries to perfect its endgame content, and you need roughly a year to reach it in a decent level, squadding up is the logical thing to do. since the other squads however are of different strength, this is discouraged before you reach a certain “strength”. larger groups are not able to organize games, nor even organize proper squads, without building networks with multiple corporations included.
imho, MM should allow same-corp squads to face off, so bigger corps can face each other from time to time, especially if there is no other corp squadding. make organizing squads a bit easier. a corp with 8 players online therefore can play their favourite tier and both of their squads will be evenly distributed after a while.
also, at any given time, people should see tier populations, and that squads of different sizes are in the queue, so it isnt “lets try 10 minutes t4, then t5, then t3…”, since it means, you spend 30 minutes waiting in the worst case, and people start to get sick of that.
therefore i think squads are fine as they are, it’s more some historical artifacts in the rulesets, and missing transparency, that are making it bad, also it could need some options like proposing players for invitation, choosing another leader, etc.
it should be natural to squad up, but it isn’t, and the lack of improvement in the feature is imho a mistake.
also, many of the squad things are made in the mindset of “squads are naturally stronger”, which leads to only naturally stronger squads “facing the tide”. if you create mechanics under an assumption, you usually are right with the results, because you are influencing them.
it seems for a large player base squadding up isn’t even considered an option. soloing is still more rewarding, than having players of the same strength facing a total number of stronger players.
some online squad search would be something close to what you describe, which would also be a nice addition. but without more transparency, i don’t see the solution arising. but still, someday maybe you can click “find me a squad!” and you get into a random squad searching for players, and get into a game, or join the next solo game instead. things like that would be nice. if i get your ideas correctly.
atm. i hardly see squads which are unfamiliar, while the most squads come from established corporations and their hardcore players. i can remember different times.
I’d whish to see the day, where this changes more regularly, atm. however i am pretty glad about tournaments and seccon providing more for players who have a peer network, and it should grow in that direction, but it would not hurt to help players with teaming up, basicly what mentoring should try to achieve.
actually while writing this, i just thought to myself, why not make mentoring into this. after a squad played a game together, they might stay together, or wait for new members. mentoring could be way better done like this, than applying to players, and it would help the community to get to know each other.
which it desperately needs atm. since it should be about competition on the battlefield, and not in the lobby or the forums.
(or maybe you thought of it more like battlefield, where squads are an element of the gameplay, which is also a good idea, but may be different. but both improvements sound interesting, maybe the ingame squad thing would however need more game design changes)
out of game squads should however definitely stay, and the squad menu could need some sprints for improvement.