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Balance. What is game balance?. Putting the pieces together! Getting the numbers right Some explicit, some implicit All about relations between numbers Nuance of relationships Game and metagame Metagame examples Poker tells Sports leagues rules. Types of Balance. Fairness

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What is game balance
What is game balance?

  • Putting the pieces together!

  • Getting the numbers right

    • Some explicit, some implicit

    • All about relations between numbers

  • Nuance of relationships

  • Game and metagame

    • Metagameexamples

      • Poker tells

      • Sports leagues rules


Types of balance
Types of Balance

  • Fairness

  • Challenge and Success

  • Skill vs. Chance

  • Strategy vs. Action

  • Game Length

  • Meaningful choices (risk/reward)

  • Rewards

  • Punishment

  • Freedom/Control

  • Simple/Complex

  • Detail vs. imagination

  • Competition vs. Cooperation


Aspects of game balance
Aspects of Game Balance

  • Single-player

  • Multi-player

  • Within game

  • Objects


In the flow
In the Flow

  • Individual differences

    • Choosing difficulty level

  • Pacing

    • Levels: increase difficulty with success

    • Go through easy parts quickly


Difficulty levels
Difficulty Levels

  • Reach a wider audience.

  • Added replay value.


Difficulty is difficult
Difficulty is Difficult

  • Artificial: Scaling up/down numeric values on higher difficulties.

    • Easy, cheap.

  • Designed: Actively altering puzzles, behavior, and level design to become more challenging.

    • More rewarding, but takes much more effort.

  • The Illusion of Fairness

  • Checkpoints


Marketing difficulty levels
Marketing Difficulty Levels

  • Easy to enjoy the story

  • Hard to enjoy the challenge

  • Deus Ex Human Revolution

    • Tell Me A Story

    • Give Me A Challenge

    • Give Me Deus Ex


Idiosyncratic naming
Idiosyncratic Naming

Wolfenstein 3D

  • "Can I play, Daddy?"

  • "Don't hurt me."

  • "Bring 'em on!"

  • "I am Death incarnate!"

    Doom

  • "I'm Too Young to Die"

  • "Hey, Not Too Rough"

  • "Hurt Me Plenty"

  • "Ultra-Violence"

  • "Nightmare!"

Carmageddon

  • Easy as killing bunnies with axes

  • Normal everyday carnage

  • Hard - as french-kissing a cobra

    Blood II

  • Genocide

  • Homocide

  • Suicide


How impossible is impossible
How Impossible is Impossible?

Devil May Cry

  • Heaven or Hell

    • Everyone, including you, dies in one hit

  • Hell or Hell

    • Only you die in one hit

Legend of Mana

  • Normal (first playthrough)

  • Nightmare (Enemies are 20 levels higher than normal)

  • No Future (All enemies are level 99)


Determinism
Determinism

  • Determinism: given a move in a particular context, will always have the same result

    • Chess, go

      • deterministic, but very large state space

    • Original Pac-man

      • AI too deterministic – became a game of memorization (added randomness in Ms Pac-man)

    • Any game with chance is not deterministic


Solvability
Solvability

  • Trivial

    • Tic-Tac-Toe

  • Theoretical complete

    • Chess, go

  • Checkers?

  • Non-deterministic: maximize probability

  • Perfect vs. privileged information


Asymmetry
Asymmetry

  • Asymmetry of starting position

    • Turn-based: who goes first

  • Balancing asymmetry

    • Class equivalence

    • Different objectives


Why asymmetry
Why Asymmetry?

  • Real world

  • Exploration

  • Personalization

  • Level playing field

  • Interest


Dealing with asymmetry
Dealing with Asymmetry

  • Asymmetry of starting position

    • Turn-based: who goes first

  • Balancing asymmetry

    • Class equivalence

    • Different objectives


Balancing strategies
Balancing Strategies

  • Dominant strategy

    • Eliminates all other decisions

  • Multiple winning strategies


Other factors that impact balance
Other Factors that impact balance

  • Intransitivity

  • Information knowledge


M etagame
Metagame

  • Outside the game

  • Balancing

    • Sports leagues

  • Social aspects

    • Tells

    • Bluffing

    • Ganging up


Game objects
Game Objects

  • Cost/benefit ratios

    • Purchases of spells, units, …

  • Each object

    • Too weak: useless

    • Too powerful: makes other object useless

  • Techniques

    • Cost curve (transitive)

    • Rock-paper-scissors(intransitive)

    • Incomparable


Object relationships
Object Relationships

  • How significant

    • Linear

    • … (Pascal’s Triangle)

    • Exponential

  • One-way or two

    • Gold may buy food but has other purposes as well

  • Do you have a central measure?


Detecting imbalance community feedback
Detecting Imbalance: Community Feedback

Pros

Cons

  • Huge amount of feedback without much work

  • Different perspectives, both high and low level players

  • Bias possible

  • Uneducated or illogical feedback (as well as trolls)

  • Many opposing opinions because of diversity of users


Detecting imbalance data analysis
Detecting Imbalance: Data Analysis

Pros

Cons

  • Mathematical and objective approach

  • Targeting players or situations

  • Hard to compile large amounts of data

  • Must be careful of different types of skewed data

  • Difficult to pin-point specifics of imbalance


Detecting imbalance tournaments and pros
Detecting Imbalance: Tournaments and Pros

Pros

Cons

  • Very accurate information

  • Most experienced players

  • Financial and/or sponsor bias

  • Only taking into consideration the top skill level of players


A d justing balance after shipping
Adjusting Balance After Shipping

Bad

  • Completely changing an ability

  • Changing parts of what an ability does possibly changing its' purpose

  • Making an ability useless or taking away it's fun

Good

  • Damage/Healing number tweaking

  • Changing the non-fun part of the ability/combo

  • Overhauls to the system that affects everyone equally


Resource
Resource

  • Ian Schreiber on-line course (blog)


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