Or, "How to Lose Players and Alienate Rookies."
After doing a bit of thinking, I came to the conclusion that I need to make a preemptive warning about pubstomping for the sake of posting high scores in the score sharing thread, which I'm worried will become popular given the AC community's tendency to stroke its own ego at any cost. I'm not talking about going into these rooms and pulling scores in the 50,000-60,000 range, but more specifically 70,000 or 80,000+ in a single mission (especially if no thought was given to the mission clear rank and you manage to still pull a B or something). Here's an example:
You should not be getting these scores. Notice how only two other people broke 20K points, and we still only got an A rank despite my "one man air force" antics in a level 9 Strike Eagle? There's a reason for that. I joined this room because it was the only one on Room Search, and the only reason it showed up was because the host put matching rate to no restrictions. The host's matching rate was something around 1470, and everyone but the guy who hit 40K on the other team was under 1700. For comparison, I was at about 1900 at the time I played this match.
Everyone on both teams was flying mid-tier planes. The most advanced plane on the field besides my Mudhen was an A-10, flown by Alpha team's MVP. I completely outclassed everyone in this room, but ACI's matching system (and a lack of documentation about what matching rate and matching range means) threw a shark in their goldfish pond anyway.
I disconnected after this match. I felt like a fucking scumbag for doing that to them. Their matching rate gave me a clue as to about how good they were, but I had no way of knowing what level their aircraft were before the match (god knows I've run into a ton of Japanese players in the 1600 range with F-22As). I wasn't going to be the guy who joined a match and played god for the sake of boosting my own score stats at their expense. Once I saw they had no way of keeping up, I felt a responsibility to leave them alone.
Frankly, everyone here should be doing that. In the coming weeks/months, we're going to start noticing a huge gap in aircraft levels compared to those of us who have been playing since launch. If you did any sort of work (read: paid money) during the Mercenary King Tournament, that gap is going to be exponentially larger. It's best for the community to keep playing with similarly-skilled and leveled pilots - a good, well balanced room will have everyone hitting about 30,000-40,000 points with an S rank every time (except on Alps because Alps is terrible). If your games are as lopsided as this, you need to be searching for and restricting your rooms to similar matching rates. Why? Well, first off, everyone generally makes more money from an S rank, including yourself. A good S rank gets as much if not more credits than an A rank where you did exceptionally and nobody else did.
Beyond that though, there's the matter of not shutting out new players. The main reason I felt horrible about that score above is because there were three friends in that room, all with mics. They were talking about how they had just started, and they were enjoying the game enough that they were (and I quote) "throwing money at it already." These new players, willing to put money into a F2P game, will be the lifeblood of this game and by extension the Ace Combat series for the foreseeable future. If I stayed in that room and basically made it clear that high rank players like myself were going to regularly come into their lobbies and completely stomp them because I've put more money into the game, it's going to shut their wallets pretty damn fast. If you actually care about this franchise, you need to keep that in mind. Don't pull some excuses either about how you're just trying to help them get a B or an A instead of the normal C new players get either. I guarantee you a hard-earned C rank earned by eight new players won't stick in their mind, but a brutal beatdown to the tune of a 60,000 point gap between their Falcon and your Raptor definitely will.
If you are intentionally seeking out low match rate lobbies for the sake of pulling insane scores, it does not mean you are a good pilot. It means you're an asshole. Give the nuggets some breathing room and go seek out a challenge. It'll be better for everyone in the long run.