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LAFS Game Mechanics - Balancing

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Level 9 of the Los Angeles Film School's Game Mechanics class.

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LAFS Game Mechanics - Balancing

  1. 1. Level 9 David Mullich Game Mechanics The Los Angeles Film School
  2. 2. What Is Game Balance?
  3. 3. Game Balance  Single Player Games: The game’s difficulty is matched to the player’s skill level throughout the entire game.  Multiplayer Games: All players have an equal opportunity to win regardless of their starting position, resources, goals, or skill level.
  4. 4. Complexity vs. Difficulty Difficulty: The skill required to successfully reach a goal. Complexity: The number of actions required to successfully reach a game goal.
  5. 5. Right Level of Difficulty The right level of difficulty is the one intended by the game designer.
  6. 6. Why Designers Want Right Level of Difficulty  If challenges are too easy, players will become Bored  If they are too difficult, players will become Frustrated Other reasons:  Provide Smooth Learning Curves  Combine Tension and Empowerment  Promote Game Mastery
  7. 7. Difficulty Level Design Considerations  Which challenges should be made easier?  Which challenges should be made harder?  Which challenges should occur at another point in the game?
  8. 8. Right Level of Complexity The right level of complexity is the one intended by the game designer.
  9. 9. Why Designers Want Right Level of Complexity • Influences Level of Difficulty • Makes Game Mastery easier to Achieve • Supports Experimenting • Promotes Constructive Play Warning! Can lead to:  Analysis Paralysis
  10. 10. Complexity Design Considerations  Does the game have rhythm-based actions?  How many game elements does the player need to interact with?  How many relationships do these elements have with each other?  How complex is the narrative structure?
  11. 11. Smooth Learning Curves Games designed to provide players with the possibility of smoothly progressing from novice to master.
  12. 12. Requirements  Right Level of Difficulty  Right Level of Complexity  Consistent Reality Logic
  13. 13. Why Designers Want Smooth Learning Curves Allows:  Immersion  Game Mastery Supports:  Illusion of Influence  Perceived Chance to Succeed
  14. 14. Smooth Learning Curves Design Considerations  What information can be provided to players for overcoming challenges?  How can challenge difficulty be adjusted to the player’s skill?  How can players adjust challenge difficulty?
  15. 15. Balancing For Skill In Multiplayer Games Extra Credits: The Link from Optimal Power to Strategy
  16. 16. What Was The Main Message Of This Video?
  17. 17. Balancing Effects Rules and effects that lessen the difference of value used to measure competition between players.
  18. 18. Pre-Emptive Balancing Effects • Handicaps • Making Extended Actions into Interruptible Actions • Delayed Effects • Selectable Set of Goals • Diminishing Returns
  19. 19. Correcting Balancing Effects Favoring Disadvantaged Players through:  Better Rewards for Completing Goals  New/Improved Abilities  Shared Rewards  Spawning  Turn Taking Handicapping Advantaged Players through:  Worse Penalties for Failing Goals  Lost/Decreased Abilities
  20. 20. Why Designers Use Balancing Effects Allows:  Smooth Learning Curves  Right Level of Difficulty  Perceived Chance to Succeed  High-Level Closures Also:  Maintains Tension  Minimizes differences in Asymmetric Abilities
  21. 21. Balancing Effects Design Considerations  Is the balancing effect designed to be pre- emptive or correcting?  Is limited foresight used to mask an imbalance?  Are there more than two players or teams competing?
  22. 22. Symmetry Symmetrical relations exist between players regarding the goals, resources, and actions they can perform.
  23. 23. Why Designers Use Symmetry Allows:  Player Balance (set-up only)  Team Balance (set-up only) Supports:  Game Mastery
  24. 24. Symmetry Design Considerations  Do players have the same abilities?  Do players have symmetric goals?  Are resources distributed symmetrically?  Do teams have symmetry?
  25. 25. How To Balance Turn-Based Games Extra Credits: First Move Advantage
  26. 26. What Was The Main Message Of This Video?
  27. 27. Rock-Paper-Scissors Sets of three or more actions form cycles where every action has an advantage over another action.
  28. 28. Rock-Paper-Scissors in Quick Games  Choices tend to have immediate consequences  Played repeated so that a Metagame evolves of gaining knowledge of opponent’s strategies
  29. 29. Rock-Paper-Scissors in Long-Term Games  Investments gain Asymmetric Abilities  Players gain information about other players by  Public Information  Sending Units into Fog of War
  30. 30. Why Designers Use Rock-Paper- Scissors Provides:  Symmetry between actions or tactics Promotes:  Tension about chosen action/tactic Supports:  Game Mastery through knowledge of successful actions/tactics
  31. 31. Rock-Paper-Scissors Design Considerations  What is the set of elements in which each element have an advantage over another one?  Is the game quick or long-term?
  32. 32. Handicaps Making gameplay easier for certain players to ensure that all players have the same chance to succeed.
  33. 33. How Handicaps Are Provided  Asymmetric Abilities  Asymmetric Resource Distribution  Asymmetric Goals  Reversible Actions For Novices  Reconfigurable Game Worlds
  34. 34. Why Designers Use Handicaps Provides:  Right Level of Difficulty in Multiplayer Games  Player or Team Balance  Trans-Game Information Warning! Conflicts with:  Symmetry
  35. 35. Handicaps Design Considerations  Can players set individual levels of difficulty?  Can players set individual resources or abilities?  Can players set individual negative consequences to be limited or ignored?  Can players set different thresholds for evaluation functions?  Can players set individual bonuses to score values?  Can players set individual starting locations or skill advantages?  Can player take back actions and perform other actions?
  36. 36. Team Balance Teams have equal chances of succeeding with actions in a game or winning a game.
  37. 37. Ways To Provide Team Balance Before Game:  Team Configuration with Player Balance  Symmetric Competency Areas and Privileged Abilities  Starting Positions During Game:  Handicaps  Spawning
  38. 38. Why Designers Want Team Balance  Gives players a Perceived Chance of Winning  Encourages Team Play and therefore Social Status  Players feel Empowerment
  39. 39. Team Balance Design Considerations  Is there total player balance between all players?  How can teams’ starting positions be balanced?  What privileged abilities need to be mitigated?  What handicaps need to be applied?  What other balancing effects need to be applied during gameplay?
  40. 40. Game Mastery That one can clearly distinguish between skillful and incompetent players when they are using all their skills and abilities in a game.
  41. 41. The Player’s Journey
  42. 42. Allowing For Game Mastery Requires:  Right Level of Difficulty  Smooth Learning Curves with Right Levels of Difficulty Nullified by:  Randomness  Balancing
  43. 43. Why Designers Promote Game Mastery  Empowerment  Emotional Immersion  Replayablity  Varied Gameplay  Competency Areas  Strategic Knowledge  Risk-Reward Trade-offs  Trans-Game Information  Social Statuses  Investments in Gameplay
  44. 44. Game Mastery Design Considerations  What dexterity-based skills can a player train and develop?  What mental-based skills can a player train and develop?  What social-based skills can a player train and develop?  How is mastery revealed?  How can mastery be maintained past game sessions?
  45. 45. Empowerment Players feel that they can affect the events and final outcome of the game.
  46. 46. Ways To Provide Empowerment  Right Level of Difficulty  Privileged/New/Improved Abilities  Producers & Converters  Strategic Planning & Knowledge  Freedom of Choice  Player-Decided Results  Creative Control  Social Status  Game Mastery
  47. 47. Why Designers Provide Empowerment  Emotional Immersion  Competence Areas  Higher Level Closures as Gameplay Progresses Warning! Can conflict with:  Player Balance  Team Balance
  48. 48. Empowerment Design Considerations  How empowered does the player feel at the beginning of the game?  Does the empowerment increase incrementally?  What opportunities does the player have for creative control?  Do the players vote on anything?  Can the player construct the game world?
  49. 49. Timing The effect on gameplay that actions have to be performed at certain points in game time to be performed at all or that the direct effects of actions varies greatly depending on when they are performed.
  50. 50. Timing In Real-Time Games  Maneuvering and Deadly Traps  Combat through Aim & Shoot with Overcome Goals  Aim & Shoot for Capture and Configuration Goals
  51. 51. Timing in Turn-Based Games  Privileged Abilities with Delayed Effects  Geometric Rewards for Investments
  52. 52. Why Designers Use Timing  Allows Rhythm-Based Actions  Encourages Game Mastery
  53. 53. Timing Design Considerations  Is the game turn-based or real-time?
  54. 54. Rhythm-Based Actions Actions that require players to time their actions several times in a row.
  55. 55. Implementation of Rhythm-Based Actions  Extended Actions  Combos  Moveable Tiles  Deadly Traps
  56. 56. Why Designers Use Rhythm-Based Actions  Sensory-Motoric Immersion  Game Mastery
  57. 57. Rhythm-Based Action Design Considerations  What is the extended action to be performed?  How long should it be performed?  What feedback is provided to the player?  What rewards or penalties are associated with performing the action?
  58. 58. Dexterity-Based Actions Actions where success or failure depends on some form of dexterity, usually hand-eye coordination.
  59. 59. Implementation of Dexterity-Based Actions  Real-Time Game with Timing  Maneuvering to avoid Obstacles  Combat, especially Aim & Shoot  Extended Actions
  60. 60. Why Designers Use Dexterity-Based Actions  Sensory-Motoric Immersion  Spatial Immersion  Game Mastery
  61. 61. Dexterity-Based Action Design Considerations  What is the action to be performed?  How fast is the response time, if it is a digital game?
  62. 62. Group Quest Balance one of the games you previously designed in class.
  63. 63. Research and use the LMS to report on games using balancing patterns discussed in class.

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