Titanfall PC's CTF mode cut: Why it was dumped, and why it's now back

Respawn explains how matchmaking works and the improvements it's working on.

Respawn recently dropped two playlists from the PC version of Titanfall, removing players' ability to choose to exclusively play Capture the Flag or Pilot Hunter matches. This move was criticized by many, as it seemingly provided fewer options to the player without offering something positive in return. Respawn has now provided an explanation for the changes to the game's playlists as it returns the CTF playlist to the game on PC.

In a lengthy post on the Titanfall blog, Respawn revealed that less than 1% of players were playing CTF on PC. Low demand in and of itself might seem like no reason to remove a playlist--after all, what's the harm in letting those players interested in CTF continue to play it? But as it turns out, having so few players looking for CTF-only games creates problems.

"With that few players attempting to connect, our matchmaking would just sit there, spinning forever, waiting to find a game to play," the blog explains. "This is a bad experience for the user, and so we had to look at how we fix it. Our first step was removing playlists that were effectively broken. The second step is to continue refinement of our matchmaking. After that first step, though, it's obvious that lots of people were upset -- far more than the player counts on the removed modes led us to believe."

The blog goes on to provide a fairly extensive explanation of how matchmaking works. The way things currently work has resulted in "75% of games having less than a 30% score differential and 15% of games with less than a 5% differential (that's a difference of a few pilots or squads of grunts in Attrition)." Those numbers sound good, but when you begin dealing with players who are divided up into different regions and are looking to play different modes, difficult questions arise about how to handle less popular playlists.

"The problem though, is that even when tens of thousands of people are playing Titanfall at once, there may not be a lot of games forming at any one time, especially during non-peak hours," Respawn says. "This means our absolute 'perfect' match is often hard to come by. This is where the hard part of matchmaking starts. Do you just continue looking for minutes, hoping to find the perfect match? What happens if that perfect match never opens up? What if there's no one in Southeast Asia who is also in the 75th percentile skill that really wants to play Last Titan Standing right now?"

In response to Respawn yanking the CTF and Pilot Hunter playlists--making it so that the two game modes can only be played in the Variety Pack playlist--some gamers have frequently offered up two suggestions: either allow players to wait as long as it takes for a match, or let them choose to play with players from elsewhere in the world. Respawn calls these "legitimate suggestions," but sees problems with both. What it's instead doing is bringing back the CTF playlist on PC and testing "even wider region searches," so that you'll be matched up with players from "neighboring continents" if nearby players aren't found quickly enough.

Other changes include making it clear in lobbies when players are joining, tracking chat usage to get communicative players together, and "adding a last resort measure to re-balance lobbies that have been constructed from disparate skill groups or couldn't be balanced in time by matchmaking." The latter move should help to ensure players are less likely to end up playing 6v4 when the match could be 5v5.

Respawn also reiterated that it's at work on new games modes, which co-founder Vince Zampella has previously talked about, as well as "riffs" on the modes already in the game. The game's first downloadable content pack was recently released and is one of at least three DLC releases the game will see.

If you're a PC player, are you happy that CTF has returned as its own, dedicated playlist? Whether or not you're still playing Titanfall, what kind of new games modes would you like to see? Let us know in the comments.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

68 comments
vinnyb81
vinnyb81

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd in typical hindsightedness...the "matchmaking" issues they're experiencing could be rendered null & void by using that one staple of practically all Infinity Ward games pre:MW2 - dedicated servers.


If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


Morons.

Aaronp2k
Aaronp2k

this game should have never came out on pc. most pc fps gamers are very skilled and don't need dumb ai and small amount of human players in order to be good at a game. They want something more challenging like battlefield. Heck even cod is more challenging than titanfall, and cod sucks. I knew it would do well on the xbox one, coz xbox gamers tend to be noobs anyway. Trust noobs to buy a console which costs more but has weaker specs than the ps4, any seasoned gamer would know the importance of system specs and which system has the best value for money. 

ginobili1
ginobili1

With so many ecosystems to sustain for mutliplayer, I wonder why isn't there any crossplatform play? I'd understand why you wouldn't let PS4 and X1 players play each other as to sell more games on YOUR console, but for X1 and PC, they are both playing on the same hardware and software made by the same company. Why wouldn't you encourage that?

madgame23
madgame23

I played ctf like once or twice, but ultimately found it and hard point boring. All it is, is camping and capping. Base campers run with shorties and satchels. Its even more lame when only you are the one capping flags and get killed by 4 base campers and your teammates ain't squat to either cap or defend. Couldn't care less for either mode. Pilot hunter is too much like attrition that it's easier to just play that. Another issue, for those hating on pc's, this game was designed strictly for consoles, Xbone, so many players stick to the basics because there is no incentive to play other modes and quite often console hit detection systems suck on pc! COD and battlefield come to mind here.

Trickymaster
Trickymaster

Are you saying a multiplayer-only game is unsustainable over the long run? I'm shocked! Shocked I say!

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

So basically what they're saying is that there are more console gamers than PC gamers playing. Lol how sad is it that they yanked modes from the PC version and not the 360 first.

Says a lot about how well the PC is doing as a platform. Master race! ;)

BuBsay
BuBsay

Who's idea was it to not have a Server browser for this?


I mean come on now, Even Quake 3, Unreal Tournament and Counter Strike had them back in 1999. How are we regressing to the point where games don't even have necessary features that were commonplace 15 years ago?

slayn03
slayn03

this shooter was never outstnding, its just a blockbuster filling up new age, so much possibilities lost there, playin g game after game, Im thiking, why I bought it in 1st place when already had BF4, CoD and other shooters around...  


Good  but not above avarege...

jasonlc3221
jasonlc3221

I really enjoy the ferocity and mad-scramble during the epilogue of each battle. Whether I have won the battle or not, it feels like I'm playing in a totally new, 1-death elimination match that wraps up in about a minute. I think a new game mode could tap into this unique experience and make a whole new mode out of it. Maybe set it up something like a shoot-out in hockey: give both teams multiple opportunities and see who comes out on top at the end.

hotwog21
hotwog21

box One cloud can boost AI processing by 600%


skype

cloud

rumble triggers

smartglass

smarter matchmaking

titanfall

killer instinct

3 operating systems

snap

fantasy football

tv

call of duty

dlc that that thins player pools


make it backward compatible with xbox 360 and xbox live arcade games


enable chat between xbox 360 and xbox one


separate the kinect properly


then you will be back in the race.


mrpinkbullets
mrpinkbullets

I have Titanfall on PC, but I don't play it because it is boring as shit.  However, this entire article sounds like bullshit.  Respawn should just be concerned with helping the small number of players who want to play just play.  Stop worrying about "ideal" matchmaking.  Just let people fill open slots.  Or, let them play even more bots :) 

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

The matchmaking is the worst part of an otherwise great Titanfall game.  Not only are there crazy long wait times, but I've never seen such unfair matches in a AAA online game so consistently, period.  However, having bots to fight too makes it feel more fair.

So often matches look like this: one side has players of ranks: 50, 50, 48, 22, 6 and the other team has: 26, 1, 1, 4, 6, but they won't swap people around to even out the teams (and I'm not just referring to campaign where that's not always possible).  Then these 2 teams will just stay this way for many matches in a row, never re-balancing until people quit.

They may use indicators of skill besides one's rank level, but how do you determine a level 1 person's skill, and why are they almost always pitted against the most experienced players, rather than being on their team?

devilzzz2014
devilzzz2014

GFWL gone eventually losing features to games , GameSpy gone losing features to games and with no LAN play included in many games you are left with nothing, companies removing features from games that are not even 3 years old, prices rising on games when some don't warrant the price, mmorpgs still charging ridiculous prices for the initial purchase, games being release with so many bugs + day 1 patches and DLC ... ridiculous ...

Consumers open your eyes and demand more.  It is pathetic that people out there will still continue to pay full price for anything and buy trash making it worse for people like me who actually do demand more and won't pay even close to top dollar for this garbage.

Titanfall .. seriously?  Removing game play this early in the game's life? LOL Idiotic!

spartanx169x
spartanx169x

This is the very reason they should have bots filling holes. and As somebody wants to play replace the bot with a player. It works real well with GOW. You can always find a game to play in any game type.

gundamalt
gundamalt

is this out on the 360 yet ?

Lambchopzin
Lambchopzin

There would be no matchmaking issues if they would just allow dedicated servers. Even if it were just a few servers running CTF, people looking specifically for CTF matches would always be able to find one and wouldn't have to wait in matchmaking q's. Unfortunately it would seem that Respawn is convinced matchmaking is the way to go even on PC, despite the fact that the dedicated server model has worked and been a staple of PC shooters for like 20 years.

wizzzer_thy_133
wizzzer_thy_133

remember server browser? yeah that used to be a thing...

Shin_Gallon
Shin_Gallon

The best solution would be to allow player-run servers that could have any sort of game type they wanted, the way Team Fortress 2 does.

lukasbaz
lukasbaz

I think it's a tad stupid to integrate capture the flag……..then take it off! What's the point? 

I seriously don't get it because you take a game mode, while although not very populated, out of the game and with that, you just have to play deathmatch, over and over again. Not that Titanfall isn't a great online game it's just that you want new modes in the game to have a reason to play it for a few more hours. 

Correct me if i am wrong but i think it's a bit out of order

placksheep
placksheep

I usually only ever play attrition. The other modes just don't really feel like Titanfall. Before they took away the ability for Titans to run the flag CTF was just frustration. Seeing a Stryder dashing away with the flag just felt broken. I might give it another try now.

nights_team2k7
nights_team2k7

I would like to see 10v10 matches, just sayin...

gajbutler
gajbutler

They need a private game browser, let people make custom games, would be a nice quick fix for not having user dedicated servers and a server browser. They could let us disable lobbies, just have 24/7 map private games and all kinds of cool stuff. 


Until then I will not play, no interest in spending al day in a lobby.

Razor10000
Razor10000

Server browser! jesus, nextgen games don´t even have basic features.

removing features from a game people paid for. wow 

this is like i buy car and 1 year later the company comes to my home and remove the car radio because i don´t use it. 

lets go get 10% of titanfall profit, lets see if respawn likes it.

Rayzakk
Rayzakk

I know the sorrow of trying to get a match and can't.  On MW3 hc domination has become a wasteland and haven't been able to get a dlc match in over a month. 

quickshooterMk2
quickshooterMk2

let me guess, it was planned to be a DLC exclusive? 

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

On Xbox One, CTF has a huge community - it's all I play. But less than 1% on PC? I figured it had to be popular there. What were they playing?

strangelove_1
strangelove_1

As if it didnt lack enough content they cut some out? Probably wanted to repackage as DLC.

jack00
jack00

The game sux anyways.

seanwil545
seanwil545

@Gravity_Slave 

Really not all that surprising. There are far more PC games to spread the user base compared to the hand full of titles on either next gen.

I mean, what else was there to play on XBO besides Titanfall?

seanwil545
seanwil545

@BuBsay 

Because its targeted at console users and they are all about plug-and-play. Having to select a match from a list is too much work.

Bellum_Sacrum
Bellum_Sacrum

@hotwog21 As a representative of the Microsoft damage control team, I regret to inform you that you are going to have your pay cut . We have come to the conclusion that your work's defining characteristic is lack of enthusiasm.


Yours sincerely,

David Shill

hotwog21
hotwog21

@spacecadet25 dlc thins the player base even more making you wait longer, eg. 2 pools now, those that got dlc and those that didnt.

jasonlc3221
jasonlc3221

@devilzzz2014  whoa, calm down there, Sony fanboy. This is the PC version they are only talking about. The Xbone version still has all of the game modes.

djpetitte
djpetitte

@wizzzer_thy_133 


still is. every single bf game has had a server browser and always will. BF wipes it's ass with titanfall.

Stebsis
Stebsis

@Razor10000 They didn't remove the feature itself, those two modes were still playable before they now brought CTF back, and Pilot Hunter is still playable, you just can't specifically play only that.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@Sevenizz Saying it has a huge community is nonsense since due to the automated matchmaking you have no clue how big that community is since it's all hidden from you.

Tristan2668
Tristan2668

@jack00  This game does indeed suck. Played the beta and it was way too "meh" for all the hype. Matches are way too small.

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

Come back around December when it's nominated for Game of the Year.

arrowhead927
arrowhead927

@seanwil545 @BuBsay bf has a server browser

there are lots of console games with them

Rainbow six vegas for example

 

Aaronp2k
Aaronp2k

@Sevenizz nonsense. watch dogs or destiny will be game of the year. due to the popularity of bungie and the hype surrounding watch dogs.

strangelove_1
strangelove_1

@Sevenizz 

The game doesnt suck but really there is too little content in the game, you can pretty much do everything in a few hours leaving nothing but repetitive matches, its gets old farily quickly. No idea why gamespot gave it a 9.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@Sevenizz Can you say that about Dark Souls 2, the game likely to ACTUALLY win Game of the Year?

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

Same could said about most games. I can't tell you how many single player games I haven't finished because I got bored of them prematurely. It's a matter of taste. But with a game of smooth, flawless, and fun as Titanfall - it's hard to put down. You often see many generation 10 pilots in game - and they've done almost everything...yet, they're still playing.