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Difficulty Modifier

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The Difficulty Modifier is a single number that is intended to be a general indicator of the skill of the players at the start of the game, based on the rank of the starting players.

At the end of the game, the Difficulty Modifier of the game is used to calculate the end-of-game achievement of all the surviving players.

In-game Achievement Points (temporary) and Campaign Resource earnings (permanent) are not adjusted by the Difficulty Modifier.

The Life of the Difficulty Modifier

When a game is created, it starts at the Interest state. In this state, the Difficulty Modifier is set to 0. The Difficulty Modifier is not displayed while the game is in the Interest state, even if players have joined the game. If the game has a minimum rank of at least Lieutenant Commander, the minimum Difficulty Modifier (rounded down to the closest 0.25), based on that rank, of the final game will be displayed. The exception here is that a minimum rank of Captain will show a minimum Difficulty Modifier of 1.25, even though a game with all Captains would be 1.24.

Players can sign up for games while they are in the Interest state. Their rank at the time they sign up is used to calculate the Difficulty Modifier, even though it isn't visible until later.

When a game moves from the Interest state to the New Games state, the Difficulty Modifier continues to accumulate values, and becomes visible on the game's information page.

While the game is in the New Games state, open game slots will be considered to have players with the rank of Midshipman. Because of this, the Difficulty Modifier will increase as players enter. The only time the Difficulty Modifier can decrease is if a player resigns from the game before the first Host run, which will allow another player to enter the game, possibly raising the Difficulty Modifier.

Once the game starts, the Difficulty Modifier will be locked, except for running start games where data will continue to accumulate for open slots until all open slots have been filled. Players who leave, and replacement players, will not affect the Difficulty Modifier.

The Math Behind the Difficulty Modifier

The Difficulty Modifier is a value between 0.5 and 3. Higher ranks are considered to be exponentially more skilled. The contributions of the various player ranks to the pool are listed in the table below.

This formula uses the higher of the player's Maximum Rank Achieved in the race playing and one less that the player's highest Maximum Rank Achieved (regardless of race). Because there are a minimum of 11 players in a system-created game (8 in a public player-created game), this can not be easily skewed by one very high-ranked or low-ranked player so it was decided to keep the formula simple and consistent for all players in the game. Therefore, your own rank relative to the Difficulty Modifier will have minimal effect on the Achievement earned.

The contributions of the various ranks are as follows:

Rank      Contribution      Difficulty Modifier
With All
Players At Rank
Midshipman 0 0.50
Ensign 1 0.52
Sub-Lieutenant 4 0.58
Lieutenant 9 0.69
Lieutenant Commander 16 0.83
Commander 25 1.02
Captain 36 1.24 See note 1
Commodore 49 1.51
Rear Admiral 64 1.82
Vice Admiral 81 2.17
Admiral 100 2.57 See note 2
Fleet Admiral 100 2.57 See note 2
Supreme Commander 100 2.57 See note 2
Emperor 121 3.00

Note 1: If a game is created with a minimum rank of Captain, a special case in the Host code forces the Difficulty Modifier to have a minimum of 1.25.

Note 2: For the purposes of calculating the Difficulty Modifier of a game, the ranks of Admiral, Fleet Admiral and Supreme Commander are considered to be the same. Because of this, one rank below Supreme Commander is Vice Admiral.

The formula for calculating the Difficulty Modifier is as follows:

DM = 0.5 + (2.5 / 121) * ( average of player rank contributions )

The player contribution is based on the player's rank when they sign up for the game.