If it looks like you’re not seeing map replays as much as you used to Valorant (opens in new tab) these days, you can take comfort in the knowledge that it’s not your imagination. In a new deep dive into the challenges of “map diversity (opens in new tab)“, developer Riot Games explains what it was like to improve Valorant’s map randomization, which was a bigger challenge than you might think.
“A common feeling we’ve seen in the past is frustration when you find the same map in multiple games in a row,” explained Riot’s Brian Chang. “In a recent survey, over a third of Valorant players responded that it’s ‘extremely frustrating’ to find the same map over and over again.
“That’s not too surprising. Playing the same map quickly gets stale and limits the type of challenges you face in the game. As a result, we wanted to make sure we could improve the diversity of maps played without compromising matchmaking health (influencing things such as queue times or match balance).”
When Valorant was originally released, map selection was purely random: there were only four maps, and each had a 25% chance of being chosen for a round, regardless of how often players in the match had seen it previously. This wasn’t ideal, obviously – a quarter of players saw the same map three or more times over five-game periods – and a few months after launch, Riot implemented a “pseudo-random” system that purported to place players on maps that they hadn’t found recently.
Reinforced by the addition of more maps, the weighted system was better, but still not ideal. A March survey of North American gamers found that 67% believe they are “always” or “often” seeing the same map multiple times in a row.
This was “pretty alarming”, according to Chang, and so the developers took another try: randomization is out, and Riot “chose to create a deterministic choice that always selects the map that minimizes swaths”. This change was released in patch 4.04 released in March and is “the most significant improvement so far,” Chang wrote.
“The percentage of players experiencing the same map 3 times in a row has now dropped to 0.06% (1 out of 1,700+ players). Also, at this time of the week we looked at in the competitive queue, exactly 8 out of several million players have seen the same map 4 times in a row. Fun fact, 2 of those 8 are serial queue dodges that avoided specific maps (for the other 6, sorry for the insane bad luck). No player has seen the same map 5 or more times in a row. This was done with zero negative impact on queue times or match balance.”
Riot will continue to monitor the situation, but barring some major change or unforeseen catastrophe, it looks like this is where things will remain. “At this point, we feel relatively confident that deterministic map choices alleviate a lot of the pain around diversity in map selection,” Chang wrote. “Our most recent surveys also show that sentiment improved after the changes.”
Riot is rumored to be working on a new map for Valorant that should further improve selection diversity, but as of now there is no indication of when it might release.
There’s a lot to discover underwater – it can almost seem like an entirely different world. See you later. pic.twitter.com/U5saea5XBkMay 28, 2022