Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Game Design Instinct Versus Analysis

So I was reading this article on risk analysis in role playing games. Now I was interested in risk analysis because, when playing a game, many decisions to undertake or abandon a task are made based upon a risk analysis by the players. Well, at least that is what happens most of the times. In some cases a task is pursued for story telling purposes or abandoned for others reasons.

But in general, an analysis of the risk of success or failure is the determining factor as to whether or not a party or player's character pursues any given task. This article goes into game balance. I know that for many players a perfectly balanced game is better than a imperfectly balanced game. The underlying reason is to better determine the risk of any given task. An unbalanced game makes risk analysis difficult and ultimately and ultimately, as a major factor in decision making, can make a game frustrating to the point of unplayable. Or, in other cases, played in a manner different than that which the designers intended.

So, I think that games should be balanced as much as possible. I think this can be easier if one were only limited to combat models. These tend to have firm statistical inputs and outputs. But, my concern with how to balance a game comes up when magic is involved. In some cases this can be fairly easily modeled as magic simply modifies chances of success or failure or is just another form of direct combat. A fireball, for example, is just like a bow except it deals area damage and a lot more of it.

Time stop, on the other hand, is not. It is more like a stun grenade thrown into the mix. Again, one can model it somehow I suppose ( I would not have the vaguest idea how) but how does one model an illusion or geas spell, or some of the more arcane spells that have no immediate and direct impact on the games numbers but on the overall environment of the game? So at what level would one reasonably have the capacity to force a conversion or influence the political will of leaders in a typical rpg environment.

Console games are different that ttrpgs in that the environmental changes and impacts are minimal and not permanent. In ttrpgs, these changes are often permanent and can greatly affect a game's play.

So how to model those?

No idea, except by gut instinct. Having played for a long time, some things become sorta gut instinct. I have a feeling that x is too powerful or to weak. I have that feeling after having played rpg for decades. But gut instinct can be wrong.

Anyway, just meandering through design. I sure would like to help design a console rpg some day. That would just be fun. hmmm, looking around for 20 million dollars. ahhh there it is! see yah in Barbados!

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