Introducing Hiveskill 3.0: Per-Team and Commander Hiveskill (Thank you, Moultano!)

Posted by amanda 1 month ago

Community Developer Moultano, the creator of the original HiveSkill rating system that NS2 uses to approximate player skill levels and balance teams when shuffled, has been quietly tinkering and working hard on one of the longest requested features for Natural Selection 2… an expanded HiveSkill rating system that will now include four separate skill ratings! One for the Kharaa, one for the Frontiersman, and one for each of their respective commander roles.

Now, how exactly does this HiveSkill 3.0 system work? Moultano has been kind enough to write up an extensive FAQ about it which you will see below. If you have further questions, you are welcome to join us on our Discord where Moultano and the rest of the developers will be happy to answer. Thank you again for all your incredible work, Moultano!

What are the changes?
We’re separating skills for each team, aliens and marines, and adding commander skills, also for each team.

How do the separate team skills work? How can I compute my skill value for each team?
Instead of giving each player two independent skill values, we’re factoring each player’s skill into two components, an “average skill” which functions just like the skill values today, and a “team bias” which represents which team you are better at. Your marine skill is skill + bias. Your alien skill is skill – bias. If the bias is positive, you are better at marines than aliens. If it is negative, you are better at aliens than marines. The biases will start at 0. Your average skill will start at Your current skill value.

Won’t this make skill values converge more slowly?
No. Every game you play will update both the average and the bias. However, when you are a new player, Hive will change the “average skill” much more than the “team bias.” Once you’ve been playing for a while, it will update both the same amount. The effect of this is that early on, every game you win or lose will contribute to your skill values for both teams, but once you’ve played a lot of games, it will contribute mostly to the skill for the side you were playing. We do this because we generally expect players to be approximately similarly skilled at both teams before we know much about them, so early on the system is just trying to get the order of magnitude skill correct. It should converge just as fast as before.

So when I win or lose on aliens, that will still affect my marine skill?
Yes, but the influence it has on the other skill value will go down over time as hive learns more about you from seeing more games.

How will skill badges work?
The skill badges are unchanged. They’re assigned based on a lower bound of your average skill value (your skill reduced by hive’s uncertainty based on how many games it has seen you play.)

Are skills getting reset?
No. The new skill values are backwards compatible with the old ones. If you don’t want to make any changes to your server’s shuffle algorithm, you don’t have to. The average skill value still means the same thing it always did, it will just be a little less noisy.

How do the commander skills work?
When you are in the command chair, your “commander skill” will be substituted for your player skill in all of the hive formulas. This means that if you’re a high ranked player, and are in the command chair, you will no longer be expected to carry to avoid losing skill. Your player skill will no longer contribute to Hive’s prediction of the game outcome, only your commander skill will. If you get out of the command chair during the round, it will use your player skill value proportional to the time you spent out of the chair (weighting the beginning of the game much more than the end.) Because the commander skills are totally separate from the player skills, expect them to change a lot in each game, because from hive’s perspective you will all be “new players.”

Can I exploit this by getting in the command chair, shuffling, and then hopping out?
No. All of the skill calculations are done at the end of the round, based on what actually happened during the round. So if you didn’t actually command, it will not use your commander skill. If you exploit shuffle in this way, you might be more likely to win because the teams are unbalanced, but you will not be more likely to gain skill. Hive will recognize that the teams were unbalanced and change the rewards for a win or loss appropriately to make them cancel out on average.