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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. Game Narrative  Narrative Structure  Cut Scenes  Ultra-Powerful Event
  3. 3. Emotional Immersion  Gameplay Immersion  Anticipation  Tension
  4. 4. Role-Playing  Characters  Character Development  Player-Controlled Character Development  Role-Playing
  5. 5. Story-Telling  Creative Control  Illusion of Influence  Freedom of Choice  Story-Telling
  6. 6. What Is Game Balance?
  7. 7. 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.
  8. 8. The Fighting Game Problem Extra Credits: How To Teach Complicated Mechanics
  9. 9. What Was The Main Message Of This Video?
  10. 10. Making Fighting Games More Accessible  Single Player Mode  Add Actions Through Leveling  Provide Clear Choices For Actions  Give Hints About Best Actions
  11. 11. Does This Make The Game EASIER?
  12. 12. Complexity vs. Difficulty Difficulty: The skill required to successfully reach a goal. Complexity: The number of actions required to successfully reach a game goal.
  13. 13. Right Level of Difficulty The right level of difficulty is the one intended by the game designer.
  14. 14. 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:  Combine Tension and Empowerment  Promote Game Mastery
  15. 15. 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?
  16. 16. Right Level of Complexity The right level of complexity is the one intended by the game designer.
  17. 17. Why Designers Want Right Level of Complexity • Influences Level of Difficulty • Makes Game Mastery easier to achieve • Supports Experimenting and Constructive Play Warning! Can lead to:  Analysis Paralysis
  18. 18. What Determines Complexity  Actions need to reach a goal, particularly if rhythm-based  Game elements the player must interact with  Relationships game elements have with each other  Narrative structure
  19. 19. Balancing For Skill In Multiplayer Games Extra Credits: The Link from Optimal Power to Strategy
  20. 20. What Was The Main Message Of This Video?
  21. 21. Balancing Effects Rules and effects that lessen the difference of value used to measure competition between players.
  22. 22. Pre-Emptive Balancing Effects • Handicaps • Making Extended Actions into Interruptible Actions • Delayed Effects • Selectable Set of Goals • Diminishing Returns
  23. 23. 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
  24. 24. Why Designers Use Balancing Effects  Smooth Learning Curves  Right Level of Difficulty  Perceived Chance to Succeed  Mitigates Asymmetric Abilities
  25. 25. 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?
  26. 26. Symmetry Symmetrical relations exist between players regarding the goals, resources, and actions they can perform.
  27. 27. Why Designers Use Symmetry Allows:  Player Balance (set-up only)  Team Balance (set-up only) Supports:  Game Mastery
  28. 28. Symmetry Design Considerations  Abilities  Goals  Resources  Teams
  29. 29. How To Balance Turn-Based Games Extra Credits: First Move Advantage
  30. 30. What Was The Main Message Of This Video?
  31. 31. Rock-Paper-Scissors Sets of three or more actions form cycles where every action has an advantage over another action.
  32. 32. 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
  33. 33. 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
  34. 34. 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
  35. 35. Handicaps Making gameplay easier for certain players to ensure that all players have the same chance to succeed.
  36. 36. How Handicaps Are Provided  Asymmetric Abilities  Asymmetric Resource Distribution  Asymmetric Goals  Reversible Actions For Novices  Reconfigurable Game Worlds
  37. 37. Why Designers Use Handicaps Provides:  Right Level of Difficulty in Multiplayer Games  Player or Team Balance  Trans-Game Information Warning! Conflicts with:  Symmetry
  38. 38. Ways For Players To Set Handicaps  Individual levels of difficulty  Individual resources or abilities  Individual negative consequences to be limited or ignored  Different thresholds for evaluation functions  Individual bonuses to score values  Individual starting locations or skill advantages  Take back actions and perform other actions
  39. 39. Team Balance Teams have equal chances of succeeding with actions in a game or winning a game.
  40. 40. Ways To Provide Team Balance Before Game:  Team Configuration with Player Balance  Symmetric Competency Areas and Privileged Abilities  Starting Positions During Game:  Handicaps  Spawning
  41. 41. Why Designers Want Team Balance  Gives players a Perceived Chance of Winning  Encourages Team Play and therefore Social Status  Players feel Empowerment
  42. 42. Game Mastery That one can clearly distinguish between skillful and incompetent players when they are using all their skills and abilities in a game.
  43. 43. The Player’s Journey
  44. 44. Allowing For Game Mastery Requires:  Right Level of Difficulty  Right Level of Complexity  Smooth Learning Curves Nullified by:  Randomness  Balancing
  45. 45. 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
  46. 46. Game Mastery Design Considerations  What skills can a player train and develop?  Mental-Based  Dexterity-Based  Social-Based  How is mastery revealed?  How can mastery be maintained past game sessions?
  47. 47. Smooth Learning Curves Games designed to provide players with the possibility of smoothly progressing from novice to master.
  48. 48. Requirements  Right Level of Difficulty  Right Level of Complexity  Consistent Reality Logic
  49. 49. Why Designers Want Smooth Learning Curves  Immersion  Illusion of Influence  Perceived Chance to Succeed  Game Mastery
  50. 50. Smooth Learning Curves Design Considerations  Information provided to players for overcoming challenges  Automatic challenge difficulty adjustments to the player’s skill  Player-adjusted challenge difficulty
  51. 51. Empowerment Players feel that they can affect the events and final outcome of the game.
  52. 52. 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
  53. 53. Why Designers Provide Empowerment  Emotional Immersion  Competence Areas  Higher Level Closures as Gameplay Progresses Warning! Can conflict with:  Player Balance  Team Balance
  54. 54. 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?
  55. 55. Group Quest Balance one of the games you previously designed in class.
  56. 56. Rhythm-Based Actions Actions that require players to time their actions several times in a row.
  57. 57. Implementation of Rhythm-Based Actions  Extended Actions  Combos  Moveable Tiles  Deadly Traps
  58. 58. Why Designers Use Rhythm-Based Actions  Sensory-Motoric Immersion  Game Mastery
  59. 59. 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?
  60. 60. Boss Battle Ahead! There will be a test on Levels 4-6 the next time we meet!
  61. 61. On the LMS, describe a rhythm mechanic and how you would balance it.