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DAC 300: Chance and Skill in Game Design

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In this lecture of his course "Introduction to Game Design", Dr. Nacke presents the core elements of adding chance or catering to skill in building games.

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DAC 300: Chance and Skill in Game Design

  1. 1. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN DR. LENNART NACKE Associate Professor, HCI Games Group, Department of Drama and Speech Communication DAC 300/ENGL 303/SPCOM 300 INTRODUCTION TO GAME DESIGN
  2. 2. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN DEFINITION OF CHANCE IN GAMES ▸ Mixture of chance and skill ▸ Balancing ▸ Children’s games ▸ Gambling
  3. 3. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN WHY ADD CHANCE? ▸ Benefits of adding chance to the game
  4. 4. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN SOLVABILITY ▸ Stops people from mastering the game ▸ Makes the game less “solvable” ▸ Reduces boredom caused by constant patterns ▸ Makes the game less predictable
  5. 5. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN SOCIAL ASPECTS ▸ Allows inexperienced players a chance to win ▸ Players don't need someone precisely their skill level to enjoy the game ▸ Easier to find people to play with you ▸ Can sell to a wider audience ▸ Can be a good “family” game ▸ Different age ranges can play
  6. 6. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN VARIETY ▸ Increases possible permutations ▸ Makes every game feel different ▸ Many different player experience in one game ▸ Increases replay value
  7. 7. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN EMOTIONAL ▸ Create drama ▸ Drastic changes in strategy ▸ Creates excitement ▸ Tension ▸ Chance lets people feel like they aren't bad players but instead have bad luck
  8. 8. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN DECISIONS ▸ Affects our decision making ▸ If the game is planned and the player knows the rules there may be only one right answer (uninteresting decision) ▸ No longer a bulletproof strategy ▸ Allows players to weigh the risks and benefits (interesting decisions)
  10. 10. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN PROBLEMS WITH CHANCE ▸ Players may feel like the game is unfair to them ▸ Can’t make strategies ▸ If the probability space is too small it may be too predictable ▸ People may feel in non-chance games that they have a chance to win based on pure skill and enjoy competition. This is not the case for chance games.
  12. 12. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN HOW TO ADD CHANCE ▸ Dice ▸ Cards ▸ Drawing numbers ▸ Pseudo-random number generation ▸ Picking from a hat ▸ Drawing tiles from a bag uHidden Information uSpinners uCoin flips uGame bits
  13. 13. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN SCHELL’S 10 RULES OF PROBABILITY 1. Fractions are decimals are percents 2. Zero to one – and that’s it 3. “Looked for” divided by “possible outcomes” equals probability 4. Enumerate 5. In certain cases, OR means ADD
  14. 14. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN SCHELL’S 10 RULES OF PROBABILITY 6. In certain cases, AND means MULTIPLY 7. One minus “does” equals “doesn’t” 8. The sum of multiple linear random selections is NOT a linear random selection 9. Roll the die 10.Geeks love showing off
  15. 15. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN CHANCE TAKEAWAYS ▸ Use chance sparingly. ▸ Use chance in frequent challenges with small risks and rewards. ▸ Allow the player to choose actions to use the odds to their advantage. ▸ Allow the player to decide how much to risk.
  16. 16. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN EXERCISE: LUCK TAC TOE ▸ Modify the skill game Tic Tac Toe by adding one or more chance- based mechanics. You may also add other skill-based mechanics provided that the game still resembles Tic-Tac-Toe at its core. ▸ At the same time, you must make the game good for adult players, a significant challenge, particularly since they are often jaded about the game. ▸ Remember that rolling a D10 to decide where you place your X or your O isn’t likely to result in riveting gameplay. However, out there some combination of mechanics exists that can make this old standby compelling again.
  17. 17. SKILL
  18. 18. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN THREE TYPES OF GAMES ▸ Games of chance. These games can often be enhanced by adding twitch and strategic elements to them. ▸ Games of twitch skill. These are games that are focused on a challenge of dexterity. ▸ Games of strategic skill. These games can feel tense and slow, because they involve a lot of thinking.
  19. 19. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN SCHELL’S THREE MAIN SKILL CATEGORIES ▸ Physical skills: Skills like dexterity, coordination, strength, and physical endurance. ▸ Mental skills: Skills like observation, memory, and puzzle solving. ▸ Social skills: Skills like reading an opponent, tricking an opponent, and coordinating with teammates. These relate to a player’s ability to make friends and influence people in a game.
  20. 20. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN ADDING STRATEGIC SKILL ▸ Adding mechanics that (hopefully) create strategy and tactics ▸ Strategy and skill can increase the replay value of the game ▸ We look for patterns naturally ▸ Seek to master the patterns presented ▸ Fun through learning and mastery
  21. 21. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC SKILL ▸ If a game can be thought of as a series of decisions then skill is ones ability to make decisions correctly to yield a favorable outcome ▸ Use of skill should have immediate feedback ▸ Create a chain of thought ▸ “Now what”
  22. 22. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN MENTAL STATE OF THE PLAYER ▸ Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow State ▸Skill level matches challenges to keep player in flow state ▸Improper matching can cause boredom or anxiety ▸ “Magic Circle” ▸Player feels pulled into the game world
  23. 23. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN TRADE OFFS ▸ Purchases ▸ Limited-use Special Abilities ▸ Dynamic Limited-use Special Abilities ▸ Explicit Choices ▸ Limited Actions ▸ Trading and Negotiations ▸ Auctions
  24. 24. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN AUCTIONS ▸ Player bids on item using resources ▸ Open auction ▸ Sequential auction ▸ Silent auction or closed auction ▸ Fixed-price auction ▸ Dutch auction ▸ Reverse auction
  25. 25. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN DECISIONS AND GAME PACING ▸ Game pacing based on the frequency of decisions ▸ How often is the player making decisions? ▸ Every 10 minutes? Or every few seconds? ▸ Long Term Decision ▸ How far ahead are players planning when making a long term decision?
  26. 26. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN ASSESSING AND EVALUATING ▸ How can we tell if the strategy we put in matters to the player? ▸ Do players care when others are taking their turns? ▸ Are players planning for the long term? ▸ Are there multiple strategies? ▸ Do they use different strategies for different games?
  27. 27. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN WHO IS YOUR TARGET MARKET? ▸Children ▸Gamblers ▸Competitive gamers ▸Social gamers ▸Professional Players ▸Families
  28. 28. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN HOW DO YOUR PLAYERS FEEL? ▸ Bored? ▸ Bored on all but their turn? ▸ Players never engaged or are confused? ▸ Does one player beats all other players by a wide margin?
  29. 29. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN TWITCH MECHANICS ▸Speed ▸Timing ▸Precision ▸Avoidance ▸Time Pressure
  30. 30. CHANCE AND SKILL IN GAME DESIGN EXERCISE: THE ALIEN IN THE DESERT ▸ So many games of chance focus on dice or cards. An under-used mechanic in non-digital games is the fog of war, although it’s a staple in many video games. If your character can’t see it, neither can you. It is this concept you will apply to a new tile-based game, The Alien in the Desert. Your game must use the following: ▸ Tiles similar to those used in games like Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan ▸ The name The Alien in the Desert, although its interpretation is up to you ▸ Fog of war
  31. 31. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR ATTENTION THANK YOU Contact me: len@uwaterloo.ca @acagamic (Twitter) hcigames.com