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 Post subject: Is Alpha too small for its level of activity?
Post #1 Posted: Sun Dec 25, 2011 1:43 am 
Oza
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Alpha is the most active class. However, the activity is not even across the month. Alpha starts very active and later slows down. This has been especially dramatic in December. Below is a table of activity the league activity by week for the month to date (using the result page through 24-12-2011 23:59:01 GMT; the columns are Games, Games per Day, and Games per Day per Active Player). It shows that 52 games were played in alpha in the first week, 46 in the second week, 22 in the third week, and 3 in the first three days of week four. The actual results were even more dramatic. I have been checking the results most days and happened to notice that there had been 119 games played in alpha by December 18th and then... none! It looked like we would finish week three with no further play in alpha. As it happened, however, a game was played in the last hour of Dec. 21st - the first game in alpha in three days. Since then only three further games have been played in the last three days.

League results by week
Image


The most reasonable explanation for the observed pattern of play is that alpha members run out of opponents after the first couple of weeks of intense activity. A glance at the results table for alpha shown below shows us that it is pretty densely populated with results. Although "only" 41% of all possible games have been played, it is reasonable to conclude that the alphas are having trouble finding matches. Other explanations may be possible, but none come to mind for me.

Alpha results
Image


So how large should alpha be? We could try various ways of analyzing the pattern of play but as a first approximation I offer the following. Roughly speaking if the present 18-person alpha runs out of opponents by the 18th day of the month (as they appear to have done in December - see above), then we should expect that alpha needs to have at least 30 people to support a reasonably steady rate of play for a full month.

Your comments are welcome. Of particular interest would be reports from people in alpha this month on whether or not the above fits their actual experience or not. :blackeye:

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 Post subject: Re: Is Alpha too small for its level of activity?
Post #2 Posted: Sun Dec 25, 2011 3:25 am 
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The idea of the league is not to provide a full month of play but to provide a competition. Moost of the alpha players are very active, for example joenosai tries to play all games each month and he does most of his games early in the month. 3 player are not active this month, one of them having quit last week and this is why we are at a lower percentage then usual.

Most alpha would rather see a decrease in games to increase quality but they understand the fact that we need it this way and happily play anyway.

So in the case of alpha the inactivity in the last part of the month is either a too different schedule or a few quitting players.

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 Post subject: Re: Is Alpha too small for its level of activity?
Post #3 Posted: Sun Dec 25, 2011 10:25 pm 
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stalkor wrote:
The idea of the league is not to provide a full month of play but to provide a competition. Moost of the alpha players are very active, for example joenosai tries to play all games each month and he does most of his games early in the month. 3 player are not active this month, one of them having quit last week and this is why we are at a lower percentage then usual.

Most alpha would rather see a decrease in games to increase quality but they understand the fact that we need it this way and happily play anyway.

So in the case of alpha the inactivity in the last part of the month is either a too different schedule or a few quitting players.


With regard to the last point, here is the same table for November. There was quite a different pattern of play with much more of the activity for all classes concentrated at the beginning of the month. Nevertheless we can see the same type of decline in activity. The explanation that this is due to the unexpected activities of a few individuals is not very convincing IMHO.
Image


Having said that, I do have to admit that looking back over the results for more months (prior to my "hands on" experience in the ASR) the activity level in alpha has varied considerably. Since it was reorganized as an 18-person class with two games each last February, the level of games completed has ranged from 30% (April and August) to 65% (July). Alpha has not always been the most active class.

The idea that alpha is about competition may represent the original desire when the ASR was founded, but it does not fit the current structure and activity in the league very well. What is the nature of the competition? The league scoring is evenly split between activity (games played) and winning. As a result, all the classes mix players of different strengths and activity levels. Alpha is no exception. What would be some signs that it were providing competition? Surely the primary one would be that the results of the players were closely comparable, right? Yet, they are not. A glance at the results table in my earlier post easily show that alpha members are rather easily divided into those who win most of their games and those who do not. Alternatively we might expect that if alpha is competitive a more detailed look at the results would show that in cases where the same players played two games against each other, the results tended to be split with one win and one loss each. If the results are random, or you might say completely competitive, we would expect the number of split results (red-green or green-red) in the table to be equal to the number of double wins (green-green) plus the number of double losses (red-red). That is not actually the case. On the 45 cases in the December table (so far) where two players have played a pair of games with each other, 37 times the same player won both games whereas the players split their games only 8 times. To put it another way, the repeated win (loss) paired games are occurring about 4.5 times more often than the split pairs. Looking back to February again, this ratio has varied from a high of 11.5 (April) to a low of 1.7 (August). The average of the monthly figures (February through November) is 4.4. It has never approached 1. So if alpha is about competition, it is not clear what the nature of the competition is.

I do not think the present league lends itself to competition - here I assume that the competition we are talking about is games with an equal likelihood of being won by either side. If the ASR wants to sponsor competitive activities, those activities will have to be in addition to the league and structured differently. They will have to bring together players of similar strength. That will necessarily be a departure from the league idea of people of different strengths playing seriously together and reviewing the games together afterward.

The present league scoring rewards both activity and winning. As a result, alpha consists of a range of people who either win a lot and are at least reasonably active or who play a lot and do not necessarily win so much. Since in the league in general each class is smaller than the one below it (and therefore has a lower number of possible games), we can consider that there is a gradual indirect bias against those who are active compared to those who win as we climb the league structure. This has not prevented people with lower winning percentages from winning alpha (for example see October in the results archive). It would be quite interesting to see the evidence for claiming that the members of alpha would prefer to play fewer games if that increased "quality". I was not involved with the ASR a year ago, but if I understand what happened, this is what was attempted with the "superclass". That did not turn out to be popular and was dropped due to inactivity (only 4 games played in February), right? I would definitely like to see that idea compared to one of increasing the number of games available in the current format. Personally I would wager that with the current class composition, the alpha members would prefer more opponents than the opposite. As mentioned above, more competition would be very interesting, but I believe it requires a set of activities that are additional to the league.

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 Post subject: Re: Is Alpha too small for its level of activity?
Post #4 Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 3:16 am 
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It's hard to disagree with you with you ez4u, as you make a very good argument. So rather than disagreeing, I agree with the fact that the current structure might indeed benefit from the change you are suggesting. I do however firmly protest any further decline in quality of the games. I still really hope that at some point the league will be more serious.
This would mean: one Game per month per match up and 8 players max in one class. This way one would have to do more work to actually get a game, but since it's one of the few games you can play that month you'll take it very seriously. It should also be much easier to play 100% of games in a class.

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 Post subject: Re: Is Alpha too small for its level of activity?
Post #5 Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 6:08 am 
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MrZNF wrote:
It's hard to disagree with you with you ez4u, as you make a very good argument. So rather than disagreeing, I agree with the fact that the current structure might indeed benefit from the change you are suggesting. I do however firmly protest any further decline in quality of the games. I still really hope that at some point the league will be more serious.
This would mean: one Game per month per match up and 8 players max in one class. This way one would have to do more work to actually get a game, but since it's one of the few games you can play that month you'll take it very seriously. It should also be much easier to play 100% of games in a class.


On my side I believe that we need to put our hopes on the ASR providing the opportunity for more serious games rather than the current ASR league. Personally, I can not see how the present league arrangement can be fine tuned to produce the necessary conditions unless its character is completely changed. So I would prefer to keep it much as it is - a place for people of quite different levels to play what I think are best described as half-serious/half-teaching games. With 300+ members, I think the league provides a nice community feeling and works reasonably well (a little better if there are more games available of course... :blackeye:).

I would like to see some alternative tournaments or mini-leagues run parallel to the league with different structures and scoring. At this point I do not have a clear proposal to put forward as to what the structure might be. I do know that in order to have serious games there must be serious competition. That means that the competition must be stratified by strength. I have only a general idea of how many players there are at different levels. That is TBD. I know that stalkor is thinking about some alternative tournament formats and working on an ASR game-reservation system (based on chats we have had during my never-ending waits for matches in gamma iv this month). ;-) I think that we should all be considering what we would like to see along such lines and posting here or talking to stalkor. One other thing that I strongly believe is that in order not to undermine the league's present activity, only active league members should be allowed into the "serious" tournaments. It would be unfortunate if the strongest players decided to only play serious games.

Living in Japan, I expect that I would have a problem with your idea of 8-person classes with one game a month. Since most of the people in the ASR live in other time zones, I tend to have difficulty finding mutually agreeable game times. It would be sad if the challenge of scheduling proved more of a negative than the positive of playing serious games with like-minded opponents. I would definitely hope that there were some attempt to plan for this issue in the structures that we end up creating.

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 Post subject: Re: Is Alpha too small for its level of activity?
Post #6 Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 10:41 am 
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why not think on this example for a bit.

you are provided 30 vitamin pills each month, at the end of the month the 30 pills have to be taken, that's the rule you're given. will you take 1 pill every day? will you take 3 per day or even all in 1 day? the end result is the same....

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 Post subject: Re: Is Alpha too small for its level of activity?
Post #7 Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 10:58 am 
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stalkor wrote:
why not think on this example for a bit.

you are provided 30 vitamin pills each month, at the end of the month the 30 pills have to be taken, that's the rule you're given. will you take 1 pill every day? will you take 3 per day or even all in 1 day? the end result is the same....


I'm not sure if the example supports your point well, because medicine in particular may have varied effects by adjusting the frequency with which you take it.

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 Post subject: Re: Is Alpha too small for its level of activity?
Post #8 Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 11:31 am 
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Yeah ok, candy then or pages from a book or something:)

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 Post subject: Re: Is Alpha too small for its level of activity?
Post #9 Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 11:48 am 
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Don't rush your argument stalkor. Especially the vitamin example works against you xD
If you take all the vitamines on day 1, you'll overload your system with vitamines, or rather, they won't be able to take them all in. This is actually a better example for me to give, as I think playing too many games on one day is not beneficiary. After a couple of games, the game quality will deteriorate, just like at some point you won't be able to take full advantage of the vitamin intake.

Anyway, I can see ez4u's point, but I still would like to see a more serious kind of league, maybe even something that looks at time-zones and makes classes accordingly. I do not care too much myself about getting to play a weaker or stronger opponent, as long as there is a prize at the end of the month everybody wins really. The stronger player should get the prize, the rest already got to play stronger players. If everybody plays all their games, this system should work perfectly. You do need to get everybody to play all their games though, so a time-zone efficient class system would be necessary (or flexible players).

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 Post subject: Re: Is Alpha too small for its level of activity?
Post #10 Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:39 pm 
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Like a sleeping dragon that has its tail stepped on, the Alphaites reared up and spat out no less than 13 games in the 24 hours between 23:59 GMT on the 25th and 23:59 GMT on the 26th. Wow! It just goes to show what a little attention will do. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Is Alpha too small for its level of activity?
Post #11 Posted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:37 am 
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or its just that christmas is over and free time has arrived and teach is back from his break:)

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