Overwatch: Fixing Play of the Game is "Really Hard"

Overwatch: Fixing Play of the Game is "Really Hard"

A Blizzard dev admits it's hard teaching a computer to find the most awesome play of a match.

Overwatch is out and getting a great reception, but players have complained that the "Play of the Game" feature could use some work. "Play of the Game" picks one snippet of a match as the most impressive moment, showing it off to everyone. The common complaint is that the PotG tends to go to killstreaks and not the clutch saves made by offensive and defensive players alike.

Can't a healer get some love?

In an interview with GameSpot, Overwatch lead software engineer Rowan Hamilton admits that fixing the Play of the Game is harder than it looks.

"From a technical standpoint, it's a really hard problem to have a computer figure out what is cool," said Hamilton. "They're not very smart. They take some numbers in, they put some numbers out. It's hard to figure out what is cool there. We constantly look at Play of the Game, and we've got a whole bunch of data on Play of the Games are actually happening out there in the wild, and we can kind of see patterns about this character getting a lot of PoTG for these killstreaks, they're getting a lot of damage, or they're getting a Play of the Game for that."

"We also have a lot of cool systems internally where we can play with the algorithm that determines Play of the Game and play the same game back again, and be like, 'Okay if I tweak these numbers, what's going to be the Play of the Game that gets picked this time?' So it might've been Widowmaker getting three snipes, but I change the weighting on some other aspect that we take as important, and it could all of a sudden its Mercy resurrecting everyone on the point two second before the match ended. It's going to be an ongoing process, and hopefully we continue to improve it."

Hamilton said the team is constantly tweaking the system to take into account the difficulty of certain actions, like sniping a Tracer you only saw for a hot second. As part of that ongoing process, Blizzard has had a number of missteps and interesting outcomes in tweaking Overwatch's PotG algorithm.

"I think at point when we were tweaking it Zenyatta would almost always get Play of the Game every time he popped his ultimate, because he would just do this massive amount of healing and the algorithm would almost always freak out, but it was just Zenyatta just sitting there floating," said Hamilton.

Until then, Torbjorn and Bastion continue to rack up those Play of the Games. Overwatch is currently available on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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