Last week, at long last, Splash Damage released an update for Dirty Bomb that lets you easily party up with friends and play games online. According to creative director Neil Alphonso, it's the first step on the path to having a super smart matchmaking system that looks beyond a player's score when it comes to creating teams.
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"For the longest time we weren't easily able to go into the game with a friend and play in a match on the same team," Alphonso tells us. "We finally cracked that nut. Matchmaking in online games is probably one of the most complicated things there is in a multiplayer game. It's been a real challenge for us, particularly without the bandwidth of a bigger team. It's something we weren't able to tackle."
Splash Damage was able to significantly expand the team earlier this year after buying back the rights for Dirty Bomb from publisher Nexon. This has led to a slew of updates, including new maps and mercenaries, but also the resources to work on systems like matchmaking.
"I hope in the future we can get to the point where we're really intelligent with how we match people," Alphonso continues. "Start pairing support players with assault players, start actively trying to make matches better, that's what it's all about. We want to get in-game social networks and clans, that's the history of the studio it's a natural thing for us. On the matchmaking side of things, we can do that. That's one of the key things with this system it allows us to develop that telemetry, to see how players play: who are the people who switched to what was needed? Those are the ideal players for us. How do we figure out who they are and distribute them among games?"
Alphonso explains that it's easy to overlook the people who have real impact on matches. "A problem with looking at people who only excel in one area is that the people who are good across the board and willing to be utility players, they kind of get overlooked," he says. "The same is true in sports - these people are undervalued because they're not the superstars because they don't focus, they'll switch to whatever is needed."
In the future, Alphonso hopes Dirty Bomb will be able to recognise and distribute those players so that each match is better, with players making use of all the roles available, leading to people actually working as a functioning team.