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Author Topic: Season 27 - Same League, Grander Scale  (Read 546 times)

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samath

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Season 27 - Same League, Grander Scale
« on: April 09, 2018, 12:00:46 am »
+10

Hello new and old Dominion League players!

I'm pleased to announce the beginning of the largest Dominion League season ever. This season, we have 258 players signed up, and we've split you all into 44 divisions. That's more than double the size of any previous League season!

We've also recruited a couple more moderators to help us out with this gigantic season: IrrationalE is returning after a hiatus, and Gazbag is moderating for the first time. Welcome!

With this new scale comes a greater responsibility for all of you to manage your league season yourselves. Here are some tips that everyone should keep in mind:
  • Join the Dominion Discord! We can't emphasize this enough: It's super helpful to be able to communicate realtime with you when it comes to scheduling. We've also added some new features to the League in Discord this season: Channels for just you and your division-mates to find times to play, pinned messages with important information, and automatic postings of results. Last season, around 90% of the League players were on Discord, so in all likelihood your opponents are already waiting for you there.
  • Be proactive in communicating with your opponents and group moderator. If you'll be busy or gone for an extended period of time during the season, let everyone know!
  • When in doubt, stick to the schedule. There's a post in the Scheduling subforum for each division -- go there to find your recommended schedule. Apart from busy periods that you let your moderator know about, we expect you to play at least one game per week, and the schedule offers you one convenient way to do that. Feel free to play your games earlier than recommended, just don't fall behind, especially without sharing your plans to your group and moderator.
  • Announce your matches! There's a Google Calendar for everyone who wants to spectate Online Dominion matches. Once you agree on a time with your opponent, add your matches to the calendar, especially if you're in one of the higher tiers. Conversely, if you like watching Dominion, check out the calendar and watch some of those games!
  • Communicate with your opponent about who will report the score. You should have received a private message from me with the form to report your scores (there are separate forms for each division). It's also pinned in your division-specific channel in Discord for convenience. Exactly one of you should fill it out; make sure to discuss who will do this after the match. If you double-report, message me and I can remove the extraneous report, but try not to do that. ;)
  • Let us know if you'll be back for season 28 by filling out the Google form sent to you in the same PM and pinned in your division's channel in Discord. You aren't expected to let us know until you've played all of your games, but if you want to do so earlier, feel free.
Finally, I'd like to offer some personal reflection from my perspective. First, I'd like to thank Stef, the developer of dominion.games (and founder of the League!), who generously gave us the opportunity to advertise directly on the client and recruit so many new League players. We knew from the big ShuffleIT tournament last fall that hundreds of people are interested in competitive online Dominion, but many of them (and others) simply hadn't heard about the League.

I think we're ready for this kind of scale. When I first converted the League to this Google Sheets-based system a season ago, scalability was one of my main goals. The League should now run itself: Players schedule matches with each other on Discord, add them to the calendar for everyone else to watch, and then report their scores using the Google forms, which will automatically update the standings. The returning form fits the final piece of this puzzle in; now we don't have to track you down one-by-one to find out if you'll be back (as well as letting you give us feedback).

Of course, adding this many new players to the league will obviously come with growing pains. We've tried to mitigate this risk by enforcing a rule that we didn't always in the past: All new signups had to reply promptly to a private message to confirm their spot. In fact, some of you reading this might have thought that you signed up but don't find yourself on the lists and didn't receive the PMs I'm talking about. This is probably because you didn't reply in time to messages from my fellow moderator gloures! Fortunately, you can still sign up late, and if there's space for you, we'll add you to an appropriate division.

If you have any issues, don't hesitate to reach out to your group moderator!

Your administrative moderator,

SamE (aka samath here on the forums)
« Last Edit: June 03, 2018, 04:57:07 pm by Gazbag »
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samath

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Re: Season 27 - Same League, Grander Scale
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2018, 01:26:18 am »
+14

Hi everyone,

As we wrap up the loose ends of Season 27 and gear up for Season 28, I'd like to provide a bit of a retrospective from my perspective on the largest league season ever.

When we first decided to advertise directly on the client, we had no idea how successful it would be. We had advertised previously on Reddit and the Shuffle IT forums, but had only picked up a handful of players that way. Expectations were a bit higher for going directly to the place where people actually play Dominion online; I initially hoped we could get 30 new players, which would bring us to around the totals from Seasons 1 and 8, the biggest we'd ever had.

We got 333 new signups.

Immediately we knew we needed to filter. There was a lot of skepticism in the existing community -- are these players actually planning on playing a full League season? Or are they just going to sign up and forget about it?

We decided to invoke a rule that we had listed in the signup page as a possibility, requiring everyone to reply promptly to a PM from one of our moderators. gloures stepped up to send those mass PMs and receive all of the replies and I built the backend infrastructure to give him handy links to do so. We all owe him a huge thank you; somehow he wasn't completely burned out and he agreed to do it again for Season 28!

In the end, 217 of the new signups, or 65.1%, replied to his message and confirmed their signup. (That percentage might be a bit low, because we allowed players who didn't reply in time to re-signup before the deadline, so they'd count twice.) The vast majority were brand new League players, but with the excitement of the larger league, we also saw a swell of interest from former players. Thirteen of those 217 players had previously played in the League, which was more than double the number of such returners we had the previous season. That swell of interest led us to standardize the rules regarding returning players, introducing a one-year expiration date for returning to a particular tier.

With the 53 players continuing from the previous season, we had a total of 270 at the start of the season, filling 45 6-player divisions. Of course, there were still questions about how many would actually finish the season. Over the course of the season, we would unfortunately have to remove 41 players, 23 before they could play two matches and 18 after having done so. One such player let us know early enough to be replaced, so in the end, we had 230 players in all who completed the season.

So of those 217 players we added, 179, or 82%, were able to complete the season. On average, that means a division consisting of 6 new players (as most of the divisions in E and F were) would see just one player drop. Of course, this was just an average; some divisions remained completely intact, while the poor E6, E15 and F6 divisions lost three players each. While the dropouts were uneven, a 5-player division still resembles typical League play, so I'd count this whole grand experiment as successful.

Here's another perspective given that players dropped out with a wide range of numbers of matches completed: With a total of 45 divisions of six players each, we should have seen 675 matches played. Of those, 545 matches were played, or 80%. This number is a bit lower because the first player dropping from a division erases not a sixth but a third of the matches that would have been played in that division. Still, by any of these various metrics, this was not only the largest season ever, but more than double the size of any previous season.

From the moderators' perspective, this scale actually makes some things easier for us. We can fill C up to 4 divisions, D up to 8 divisions, and E up to 16 divisions, fulfilling the original vision that Stef laid out when starting the League.

It also gives us the flexibility to balance two of the considerations that were long held in tension. Do we group players by time zone or by level? Originally, all groupings were by time zone, until imbalances started to accrue, most notably with the European divisions in B and C being stronger than their American counterparts. A few seasons ago, the decision was made to switch the ranking to level-based, using a snake sorting designed to balance the average level within each division at the same tier.

Another problem with the time-zone based system is that the divisions rarely divided up evenly between time zones. With fewer than 20 players, there's actually no guarantee that you will be able to split the players into divisions of 5 or 6. These sort of discretization problems -- for instance, when we only had one E division, we couldn't reasonably add 2-3 E-level players -- have now completely vanished with the influx of new players in the League.

In fact, the massive influx of players meant that we could divide up D, E and F according to time zone "region" (most regions being primarily either North American or European) and still have enough players to form divisions. We continue to pool everyone in A, B and C together, but as these are now the upper 20% of the League or so, we can say that if you make it up that high, you're among the best, and you need to play the best, wherever they live in the world.

What does this mean for the future of the League? Well, of the 230 players who finished Season 27, 179 of them, or 78%, will be returning for Season 28. While this is lower than in previous seasons, it's only natural given how many players were trying it out for the first time. In addition, advertising the Champion Match on the client has brought in another 60-80 players, depending on how many of the latest signups confirm. It looks like we'll be starting a little bit smaller than Season 27, but we do hope that we won't have to drop nearly as many and will finish with about the same number of matches / players.

In other words, the big League appears to be here to stay. The number of F divisions will fluctuate, but we hope to keep A, B, C, D, and E completely full as long as we can. Get used to this scale!

On an even more personal note, I've relished this opportunity to scale the League up. I absolutely love systematizing; it's a weird personality quirk that has been incredibly useful here. With a League this size, we've needed to build automated systems to assist gloures with onboarding, to place everyone into zones and divisions, to assist moderators with keeping track of their divisions, to handle user dropouts, and to make all of the scheduling forum posts, Discord channel opening messages, and division-based PMs that go out at the beginning of every season, and I've thoroughly enjoyed the process of building and testing those new systems.

That said, this has taken a lot of time. It's been a labor of love, but I won't be able to spend nearly the same amount of time in the coming months as I wrap up my PhD and find a job. Thankfully, everything should be built and working now, with a full season at this scale under our belts, and we've gotten some new moderators to come on board and shoulder some of that administrative load. In particular, I've been documenting everything and have been passing along everything I know to new moderator volfied, so I'd encourage you to reach out to him if anything goes wrong.

In the end, it's not really about me; it's about you all having fun playing Dominion in a friendly yet competitive environment. The more players who can participate and enjoy that experience, the better!

SamE
« Last Edit: May 30, 2018, 01:30:18 am by samath »
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