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Game Architecture and Design: A New Edition Copyright © 2004 by New Riders Publishing

  No part of this book shall be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise— without written permission from the publisher, except for theinclusion of brief quotations in a review. International Standard Book Number: 0-7357-1363-4 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2003111600Printed in the United States of America First printing: November, 200308 07 06 05 04 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Interpretation of the printing code: The rightmost double-digitnumber is the year of the book’s printing; the rightmost single- digit number is the number of the book’s printing.

Trademarks

Warning and Disclaimer

  This book is dedicated to the memory of Ram De Silva, respected colleague and beloved friend. ‰Andrew Rollings In loving memory of my father, Victor Morris.

Table of Contents

  675 The Seven Golden Gambits 681 Reuse 681Case Study 21.2 Reusable Architecture 682 Documentation 682Design First 683 Schedule 684Game Architecture and Design: A New Edition xiv The Three Lead Balloons 685 Bad Management 685Feature Creep 686 Coder Insularity 686 Chapter 22 The Run-Up to Release 687 Late Evaluation 688 Final Analysis689 Is the Game Pp to Scratch? 710Focus Groups 712 The Web Site713 Getting Ready for the Gold Master 714 Patches 715 Chapter 23 Postmortem719 Case Study 23.1 A Tale of Two Projects 722 Team Dynamics725 Case Study 23.2 It’s All Gone Horribly Wrong!

About the Authors

  He has also written more than a dozen novels, gamebooks, and movie novelizations, and in 1991 he was the UK’s top-selling author. He is currentlywriting the screenplay for the film version of the classic adventure game The Seventh Guest.

Acknowledgments

  Sam Kerbeck, that rare combination of gentleman and genius, gave us the benefit of his technical advice, and we are indebted to him for ably clarifying many of the moreabstruse issues of architecture and coding. xx Game Architecture and Design: A New Edition The fact that you are holding this book at all is due to the sterling efforts of the folks atNew Riders—in particular Stephanie Wall, who was also head honcho on the original edition from Coriolis Press.

Tell Us What You Think

  We value your opinion and want to know what we’re doing right, what we could do better,what areas you’d like to see us publish in, and any other words of wisdom you’re will- ing to pass our way. Please note that I cannot help you with technical problems related to the topic of this book, and that due to the high volume of email I receive, I might not be able to reply to everymessage.

Introduction Andrew Rollings’s Introduction to this New Edition

  I am especially pleased that, despite the implosion of Coriolis and the subsequent legal adventures involved in ensuring the rights of this book reverting to us, Stephanie Wallis still handling the book, but this time at New Riders. I hope that this new edition of the book continues to serve as a useful reference for the aspiring and professional game developer in the same way as the first.

Dave Morris’s Introduction to this New Edition

  Introduction xxv Tolstoy wrote, “Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.” Great art doesn’t simply entertain you—it does that, granted, but it doesmore. In the next decade, we will see videogaming’s Birth of a Nation and the Citizen Kane of the console generation.

Introduction to the First Edition

  Rather, you sustain the planthrough any changes that need to be made so that, although the target may shift, you never lose sight of where you’re going. (In addition, we have refer-enced several trademarked games and replicated trademarked images such as Pac-Man, owned by Namco. These references are included to enhance the instructional andvisual delivery of game concepts specific to this book and should not be construed as a challenge to such trademarks.)Who should read this book?

Part I: Game Design The book treats pure game design separately from architecture and formal planning. The game design constitutes a feature-based description of the end product that can

  As development progresses and change becomes obligatory, it is the designer’s task to evolve the game design also sothat the intent of the project remains clear. It is clear that many games contain a spark of gameplay brilliance that could have been nurtured into a flame if the designers better understood the basic issues of gameplay.

Part I shows you how to achieve this in your own designs. Part II: Team Building and Management The book advocates formal process because we have found it to work. Many develop- ers are wary of formal process because they fear it will lead to bureaucracy and over-

  A perfect architecture should aim to achieve all of the following: Modularity Separating the project into completely encapsulated modules allows each to be independently tested, modified, or replaced without impacting the rest of the system. When this is mapped to a logical abstraction of the game environment then you have the software plan, which describesdiscrete modules of the game and how they will interface.

Summing Up

  Beginning with the core concept, the book covers all you need to know to organ- ize a team, plan your project, and commence development with confidence. Our aim is totell you how to fix that leak so that you can get on with the important business of cre- ating games.

Conventions

  This book follows a few typographical conventions: ➤ A new term is set in italics the first time it is introduced. ➤ Code lines that do not fit within the margins of the printed page are continued on the next line and are preceded by a code continuation character ➥.

First Concept

  It is a proto-manifesto to communicate your concept for the game, and, most of all,your feeling of what the game would be like to play. You can return to the treatment later, whenever you feel in danger of getting lost in the details ofthe design, to get back on track with your original idea.

The Shock of the New

  Thepoet from the Book of Ecclesiastes says, “Under the sun there is no new thing.” If the statement is true, isn’t it the kiss ofdeath to creativity? Occasionally there is the opportunity to rework one of the old ideas in completely new ways, and we are lucky to live in an age that is rifewith these opportunities.

The Creative Road Map

  Hence the cutscenes won’t fitchronologically in place with the game levels, their purpose being not to advance to“plot” of the game but rather to give context to the action in the game levels by gradu- ally revealing the characters’ backstories. ‘It is now the reverse, and in future it will be a quarter for coding and three-quarters for the entertainmentvalue.’” —Christopher Parkes writing in the Financial Times, July 2, 2003 As competition grows among the leading games developers, the semi-technical skills of structuring and designing gameplay are becoming less important than the rawcreativity required to come up with world-class characters, settings, and stories.

Having the Idea

  Before the code, before the software plan, before the concept artwork, even before the first document, the game starts life as a spark inthe designer’s imagination, and the idea is the single most persistent entity in the game development cycle. We firmly believe ideas have a gestation period, the time your subconscious takes to mull over the concept and hand it up to you in its raw form.

Inspiration

  Originality can present itself in many aspects of a game: the gameplay, the story, the setting, the characters, the interface, or in the technology. Or,for something more exotic, you could rework the vampire theme using the style and tropes of Indonesian shadow puppet theater, a whole mythology that is ripe for thetaking.

Synthesis

  Perhaps the vampires can’t stay close to bright stars for too long, which immediately may give you some thoughts on how todevelop the game balance if it’s going to be a strategy game in which the vampires are one of the player races. In the context of a survival horror game, on the other hand,the same idea might lead you to decide that the vampires can’t enter the engineering bay (too much UV from the warp core), and that this fact will function as a potentialclue to the vampire’s identity.

Resonance

  In an outstanding episode of his Sandman comic book series, Neil Gaiman has his heroine visit Paris at the time of the French Revolution in search of the severed head ofOrpheus, the legendary Greek hero. This is the definition of synergy, and it is an effective means of making the story and the subjectmatter significant to the game players.

Convergence

  First Concept 11 But now we’re passing out of the artistic stage and into the craft of games design. You have to be able to judge if your ideas are going to work together to make a good game.

Shaping the Idea

  According to the common model of drama, there are five elements: style, plot, charac- ter, setting, and theme. These same elements have been combined over the last twentycenturies in theater, opera, novels, films, and television.

Dramatic Effect

  We’re doubtful that taxonomy is of much value in these cases, but we could say the broad genres are: ➤ Action—Lots of frantic button pushing ➤ Adventure—The story matters➤ Strategy—Nontrivial choices ➤ Simulation—Optimization exercises➤ Puzzle—Hard analytic thinking ➤ Toys—Software you just have fun with➤ Educational—Learning by doing Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list and some of the list members can be combined with others. It’s the frustrated-authorsyndrome, and you know you’re bearing the brunt of it when your choices in the game have shrunk to one linear path, or when you find yourself scrolling though never-ending cutscene dialogues waiting to get to the action.

The Treatment

  The only answer is to put it to the test, and the first test of your concept comes now, when it’s time to putit all down on paper. Remember the saying,“Programmers can’t see the wood for the trees; designers can’t see the trees for the wood.” And this is exactly how it should be.

Justification

  (In this instance the opening resonates with the game’s underlying theme: the passing of great glories.) It then elaborates the theme and intended playingexperience and follows that with a brief outline of how the game design should deliver 18 Chapter 1 Case Study 1.1 The One-Page PitchAn old man in a tunic is being guided by a boy. Thus was the will of Zeus….” As the old man speaks, our view switches behind him in a wider shot and as thecamera rises up we see a hundreds of men seated at long wooden tables, lamplight picking out details in the gloom of this huge hall.

Feasibility

  You can think up a concept, play around with it, work it up into a treatment, and never stop toconsider the practical limits on development. The authors of this book have found that it’s useful to have a portfolio of ideas to draw on.

Commercial

Technological

  Getting it Down Case Study 1.2 is an example of a treatment based on our game, Conquerors, developed with the game and TV production company, Creative Attic, which we presented in aseries of meetings from May to July 2000 to the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation, a UK network funded by special tax on the ownership of television sets). (However, you could of course sell a myr-midon’s genetic code any number of times, allowing the player who bought it to start a new myrmidon with the same abilities as your veteran began with.)Myrmidons as Virtual StarsThe key elements that will captivate an audience are the ways that we will personal- ize the myrmidons.

Core Design

n this chapter, we’re going to show how to turn a raw idea into a first-pass working document. By now, you have your

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  game concept—which means that you already know the environment in which the player will be making choices,whether that be a starship, a dream world, or the British empire. Throughout this chapter, we will be using as an example, one of Dave Morris’s own designs, Warrior Kings, a medievalrealtime strategy game that was developed at Eidos and Black Cactus Games.

What Is a Game?

  But first, let’s consider what a game is not: ➤ A bunch of cool features ➤ A lot of fancy graphics➤ A series of challenging puzzles 36 Chapter 2 Cool Features Cool features are just fine; in fact, they are a necessity. You know those brainstorming sessions with yourdevelopers that end with everybody saying, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could give a whole bunch of swordsmen an order and every swordsman would do something atiny bit different?”Even if all those great little ideas didn’t take forever to implement, there’s a point at which cramming in extra features just starts to damage the elegance of the gameplay.

Fancy Graphics

  The movieindustry is littered with examples of movies that cost $100 million and up but failed to spend anything of that on getting a good script. We would certainly never turn down any fancy graphics that the technology can provide, but the game has to be able to work without them.

Puzzles

Setting and Story

  Another thing to avoid is using your game as a vehicle to tell a story—another symptom of Frustrated Author Syndrome, and a very bad motive for wanting to bea game designer. Look at the way children’s products are forever exhorting them with pseudo-gameplay like “See how many blossoms you can collect while steering RogerRaccoon’s boat across the river and avoiding the rapids.” The tasks are put in for lazy reasons, and they get in the way of just playing.

Games Mean Gameplay

  Collection games often don’t involve visibleobjectives, which is why the designer often finds some way to give in-game rewards for the points scored, as the following examples reveal: ➤ In most role-playing games (RPGs), you earn experience points to spend on improving your character’s skills, attributes, and spells.➤ In strategy games, you gather resources to spend on new units and upgrades.➤ In adventure games, you collect items to use in later puzzles. Age of Empires, for example, has some elements of a race: You want to be the first to snatch the scarcer resources, and you caneven play the game as a race to build a ”Wonder Of The World.” Age of Empires also has two levels of collection: the obvious one involving the resources, and an abstractvictory-points system tacked on behind the scenes.

Creating The Game Spec

  It isn’t to sell the game; you have the treatment to do that. We’ll run through an inventory of these points, with the five most-important ones being: ➤ Features ➤ Gameplay➤ Interface ➤ Rules➤ Level design While preparing the game spec, be sure to document your reasoning.

Features

  Another is that a feature-based descriptionof the game will endure throughout the development process, whereas it is very likely that most of the rules you write in an attempt to create those features will have tochange further down the line. The first two are valuable, while the third 44 Chapter 2➤ Some features are vital to make the game work properly, In Warrior Kings, troops can be placed in formation, and the gameplay comes from knowing when to group units in formation and when not to (and which formations to use if youdo).

Interface

  You can use the sidebar to select an individual monster, and by using the sidebar it’s also easy tograb any number when you need them in a hurry. Although it is reported that Peter Molyneux, the designer, did not like the user interface (as he believed it was still too complex), it has to be said that it was avery efficient tool for handling a large number of simultaneous complex tasks.

Rules

  You’re designing a CRPG and you were aiming for the kind of world described in Lord of the Rings, but instead you’ve got people waiting to kill new players for the experience points. It is afactor, but a much more significant one is the fact that the vast majority of us are not willing to kill our fellow citizens.

Case Study 2.6 The Rules Must Serve the Features

Level Design

  But that was merely a handy way to make sure the game helped the player—an extension of the interface rather than a feature of the gameplay, in thesame way that archery units in games like Warcraft and Age of Empires will open fire on the enemy without having to be told, because there is never a case when youwouldn’t want them to. This is not to say that Age of Empires is not an interesting game (in fact it’s one of our favorites), merely that the kinds of scenarios that would be interesting in real-worldwarfare won’t necessarily be the same in a world that plays by different rules.

Example Game Spec

Case Study 2.8 Game Spec The following is a summarized template for creating a game spec. Overview

  (This is intended to lead to skirmishing, so thecalculation must be done a little ahead of time, to give the unit time to turn and move away. This will require tweaking.)Gameplay Placing units in formation assigns them a standard “behavior protocol,” which the formation layout allows the player to see at a glance when viewing hisarmy. (See “Features” and “Rules.”)It’s anticipated that the use of formations will allow players to set up reasonably reliable battle plans, preventing the usual problem in realtime wargames whereyour mix of units arrive at the wrong time because you didn’t click the mouse but- ton fast enough.

The Value Of Prototypes…

  We didn’t want players having to deal with continually moving resources and armies around their provinces, when the game they bought was supposed to be a realtime 58 Chapter 2 Board-game prototypes of the game itself are getting harder. And, while game rules and features are theprovince of the designer, the implementation of those rules and features is best left to your software planner.

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  Morality can be considered as an economic question—the costs andpayoffs of an altruistic strategy, for example, being quite different if you are within 500 feet of the top of Everest asopposed to an English village. If you have a pure Conquistador sim, it may not be agood well-balanced game at all (it may not be possible for the Aztec player to win) but it could still be fun to play.

What Is Gameplay?

  In this game, you play a group of adven- turers—say a knight, a priest, a dwarf, and a thief. During an encounter, you typicallywant your fighters—that’s the dwarf and the knight—at the front of the group while your thief snipes from one side with arrows.

Implementing Gameplay

  But even so, if that ray gun doesn’t have some gameplay value—if it doesn’t have some upside, even if that upside is only a wide variety of catchytunes—then pretty soon players will stop using it, which means all that development effort was spent just so players would say, “That’s cool—now hand me the BFG.”A decision has gameplay value when it has an upside and a downside and when the overall payoff depends on other factors. The value of using the nail gun as opposed to the mininglaser depends on whether your previous decision was to run to the center of the room or skulk in the corner.

The Dominant Strategy Problem

  If those articles are on the level (as they too often are), what they are doing is taking advantage of flaws in the game design. So it certainly shouldn’t have a best maneuver, or character, or weapon—otherwise, what was the point of the other maneuvers,characters and weapons?

Near Dominance

  Here are the kinds of choices that gameplay can involve: ➤ An option that should sometimes be taken, and sometimes not, depending on Gameplay 69➤ An option that makes little difference whether you take it or not ➤ An option that is always worth taking➤ An option that is never worth taking at any point in the game The first two are evidently the most interesting in a gameplay sense. One of the choices in the game is whether you should first upgrade the range of your Marines’ rifles, or upgrade the damage the rifles do, or research the StimPack which will allow the Marines to firefaster.

Supporting Investments

  Often a game has not only a primary objective but also secondary aims that have to be attended to before you can reach the final goal. For example, the primary goal mightbe to destroy the enemy, but to do that you might need to build farms to produce food to spawn peasants to trade to make money to recruit soldiers and so on.

Versatility

  “The werewolf is by far the strongest character in the game when the moon is full, andhe’s invulnerable to anything but silver bullets, but he’s only as tough as a normal man at other times.”Sandra, one of the level designers, is skeptical. But simply making it rare or hard to find is a bad way to balance it,because that takes the choice whether to use it out of the players’ hands.” From a gameplay perspective, compensating factors are worthless if the player onlyfinds out about them after making the decision that they apply to—for instance, if the player has to choose a commando squad before seeing the mission they are toundertake.

Impermanence

  Would I rather have pretty good armor for the rest of the game, or be com-pletely invulnerable for thirty seconds? But it is one that occurs so often in games, and has such special consequences, that it is worth consider- ing as a separate category of choice.

Shadow Costs

  A cost doesn’t have to mean money or victory points; it can be simply the things you had tosucceed at before you could get to the options you’re facing next. First you had to build shops, andtownsmen to trade in them, and a tavern to attract the mercenaries to your town in the first place.

Case Study 3.4 Shadow Costs in Age of Empires

  Ideally, all four of these synergies should be in play at once because when they interact, 78continued The shadow cost of the charioteer involves other factors too, of course—like the stables you had to build, and the upgrades you’ve paid to make him a useful unit. But it is the influence of the fluctuating availability of resources that has most dramatic impact throughout the game.

Synergies

  A game with many economies of scale and scope is a game that gives positive feedback and encourages the player who is already winning. Chess is a game of positive feedback;it’s very carefully balanced but even a small mistake is magnified throughout the game.

A Final Word About Gameplay

  One of the ideas Dave was mostkeen to pitch was Dalek City, a tie-in to a BBC science fiction series of the 1960s.“It’s set on Skaro, the Dalek planet,” he began. Instead of defining who does what to whom, you must definehow people can do various things to each other.” —Chris Crawford, writing in Interactive Entertainment Design, April 1995 Games guru, Chris Crawford, talks about process (the laws of the game world) as opposed to data (the details of what happens in the game world).

Detailed Design

  o this point, everything done on the game design has been the “ivory tower” phase of the project, by which we mean that the designer should have been the only individual working on it full time. At the end of this phase, you should have completed two documents: the gameplay specification and the designer’snotes.

The Designer’s Role

  (In theory, the lead designer is con-sulted at the test-and-review stage at the end of each tier, and doesn’t need to be involved on a day-to-day basis. He or she is free to get on with the design of thenext game.)People: Project leader for 12 months; a tools programmer for the first 9 months; four programmers for 12 months; four artists for the last 9 months. The design is worked on by a game designer and a software planner and when ready ishanded over to a development team who have been assembled for the specific project under the supervision of the designer and the software planner.

Design Documentation

  To reiterate, you should now have the gameplay spec and the designer’s notes. The following sections cover these in more detail.

The Gameplay Spec

  At the outset, you can consider the gameplay spec to be the very first proto- type of the game itself, or you can think of it as a document sent back in time from thefuture that describes the game you will have created one year from now. A game can only be described as finished if it has all the features that you could possibly think of and everything worksperfectly, not only in terms of the code itself, but the gameplay, interface, and every- thing else.

The Designer’s Notes

  One sentence in the gameplay spec (say, a single decision about therelative firepower of two tank units, or the reward for collecting squash melons) might 94 Chapter 4 Case Study 4.2 The Need for Documenting the SpecThe game under development is Metropolis, a resource-management sim. Ofcourse, you could simply get your workers to first do some other task that requires gold, thus clearing 60 units of space in the Civic Center, and then you’d have roomfor the 100 iron.” Detailed Design 95“That breaks Rule Number One,” protests John, quoting one of many Rules Number One.

Using The Design Documents

  It’s also why they aren’t going to take a long document like the gameplay spec and read and absorb it to the point where they’ve built a modelof the whole finished product in their heads. So, attached to “Rider” in the example above might be the comment: “Beats an Archer in aone-on-one fight starting at bowshot range but is beaten by a Foot Soldier.”The Contents Schema leads a browser to relevant sections of the full gameplay spec, which also maps across to the designer’s notes.

Fitting Design To Development

  By this stage, we would expect there to have been at least one meetingin which you presented the idea and sold it to the team. Everyone who’ll be working on the game understands the look and feel to 98 Chapter 4 All you have so far are the broad brushstrokes of the concept.

Tiers and Testbeds

  More useful (and quite common in the games industry) is the evolutionary prototype or testbed model, which maintains that the very first priority—within weeks of gettingthe go-ahead—should be to have a functioning testbed version of the game. (Here’s a good place to splice in the network code so youcan playtest head-to-head battles, although note that the skeleton of the network code will probably have been in place from the first iteration.) Then you could sort out theopponent AI, then the game editor, and finally the levels themselves.

Case Study 4.3 Planning the Mini-Specs to Fit the Architecture

  We could makeit that the hunting bot accesses his target’s coordinates and compares them with the field of all coordinates on the landscape that lie within sight range of friendly units. I now know there’ll be a group of visibility data fields andI know how they’ll work, so for now I can just put a routine in the AI that tells the bot to access those fields.

Why Use Documents at All?

  It seems strange to have to defend the written word, even now we’re into the 21st cen- Detailed Design 103 references, diagrams, and anything else that you can use to get the concept across. This is fine from the player’s perspective (he can fight the Battle of Waterloo in a few hours instead of three weekends), but it’s useless if you are trying to use a testbed toexplain the workings of the game to your team.

Game Balance

  If the parts of the game are not in balance, there is a risk that some of them will be used rarely, if at all, in which case thetime spent developing them has gone to waste. There are three broad types of game balance, all quite distinct from each other: ➤ Player/player balance is the art of making a multiplayergame fair so that each player gets no other special advantage but his skill.

Player/Player Balance

  The most glaring instance of such imbalance is when a player gets a lucky advantage right from the start—perhaps by starting with his city close to a gold mine, or by enter-ing the game right outside the door of the laser arsenal. It also means that the layout of the level would have to be symmetrical so that neither player benefited from a better position to begin with.

Symmetry There’s a classic Chinese martial arts movie based on the legends of the Water Margin

  The inimitable Richard Feynman has something interesting to say about this (as he does about most things): “There is a gate in Japan, a gate in Neiko, which is sometimes called by the Japanese the most beautiful gate in all Japan; it was built in a time when there was a great influ-ence from Chinese art. If one asks why this is, the story is that it was carved upside down so that the gods will not be jealous of the perfection of man.” —The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Volume One Also remember that it’s only games that ought to be fair.

Player/Gameplay Balance

Case Study 5.1 Is This Supposed to Be Fun?

  Typical comments wentalong these lines: “Needless layers of complexity,” “makes you perform every last chore yourself,” “tasks are out of all proportion to onscreen rewards,” and “tiresome andfrustrating.”What went wrong is one of the most common design pitfalls: The developers were so busy dreaming up a nifty idea and festooning it with bells and whistles that they forgotsomebody would actually have to play the darn thing. Look at this quotation from a recent RPG: “By using the plus and minus keys next to each trait on the menu, you can take points away from some traits and add them to others to get the balance you want.

Reward the Player

  Both the effect onyour opponent (the gameplay payoff) and the graphics associated with that combo (the eye candy) have to be worthwhile. “I wanted to learn how to do the flying scissors kick, and I did, and it’s cool,”isn’t half so good as, “Now that I can do the flying scissors kick, I can see a whole new use for the reverse punch also.”Also remember (as we discussed in Chapter 2, “Core Design”) that it’s always better to reward the player for doing something right than to punish them for doing somethingwrong.

Let the Machine do the Work

  This is mainly a question of the interface, which is the player’s channel of communication with the game and, as such, has no business doing anything except showing the playerwhat is going on in the game world and helping him to make changes to that world. Also, remember that the player is sitting with a computer in front of him and that a computer is a tool specifically designed to deal with a wide range of tedious tasks.

Chapter 5 Make a Game You Play With, Not Against We’ve lost count of the number of games that go to great lengths to set up a vivid

Case Study 5.2 The Save Game Problem

  “The player steps on this platform, it descends into a chamber hethinks is full of treasure, then a ring of flamethrowers go off and he’s toasted.”“What if I jump off the platform before it gets to the bottom?”We meant it as a solution, but he saw it as a loophole. I want to slap all those people in the face andcry, ‘Wake up!’… Any game that requires reloading as a normal part of the player’s 116 below-average player should be able to successfully traverse the game sequence.

Gameplay/Gameplay Balance

  Broadly, we must consider three things: Game Balance 117➤ We want there to be a variety of interesting choices rather than a single choice that always dominates.➤ This isn’t easy to establish because the optimum choices depend on the choices other players make.➤ It’s not easy to see how frequently different choices will be worth making, yet we need to know that to balance the game. The concepts we’re talking about form part of the analytic arsenal of game theory, and we’ll be using some of them in the remainder of this chapter.

Component and Attribute Balance

  You can envision this as a number of sets, with each set establishing the relative value of the Brigantine, Galleon, and Dreadnought with respect to one factor: speed, firepow-er, upgradability, range, and so on. As a mnemonic, component choices are the ones that are usually embodied by artifacts in the game: “Hmm, the Vorpal Blade and the Black Javelin are both useful weapons,but I think I need the Wand of Ill Omen to deal with this troll.” Attribute choices are more abstract and have to do with how you use the artifacts: “Maybe I’d better nottackle that troll at all; I can get by using stealth.” Case Study 5.3 provides an example of component and attribute balancing.

Case Study 5.3 Component and Attribute Balance in Dungeon Keeper

  To encour-age you to use the first-person view, the game gives an advantage to your side in any fight where you possess a creature and personally get into the scrum. If we can form an approximate picture of the better strategies—that is, the relative frequency that different choices will mostprobably be used, even only to the level of a ballpark figure—then we can start to tweak the costs and compensating factors to reflect that frequency.

Intransitive Game Mechanics Guarantees Balance

  If Al chooses a leg sweep and Beth chooses a forward kick (Figure5.1), Al dodges Beth’s kick and takes her legs out from under her: a win to Al. If Al chose a stomp and Beth chose a forward kick, her kick catches him, and now Bethwins (Figure 5.2).

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