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Games Science

New Technique To Help Develop MMORPG Content? 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the disguising-the-treadmill dept.
ShipLives writes "Researchers have developed a new method that can predict MMORPG player behavior. The tool could be used by the game industry to develop new game content, or to help steer players to the parts of a game they will enjoy most. I don't think it should replace user feedback, but it's a pretty cool data-driven approach. Ideally, it could help developers make good decisions about new games/expansions."
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New Technique To Help Develop MMORPG Content?

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  • by Immostlyharmless (1311531) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @02:10AM (#36459388)
    To determine that people tend to do things in order, and that achievements generally build on one another? What sense would it make to run around doing achievements at random? Apparently 20% people do, but....as for the rest of us, apparently we think methodically, this is news?
  • by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @02:14AM (#36459420)

    Asking users what they think is generally a bad approach to game development. People don't really know what they want. Your questions are likely to be leading (you are not a professional pollster). They might lie about what they found to be difficult if they're embarrassed about losing, or alternatively they might demand that everything get simplified because they want to win, not realizing that it wouldn't be fun if it were too easy. And in competitive games, forget about it. Every class/weapon/tactic that kills them must be nerfed, whatever they like to use must be buffed.

    It's far more effective to simply watch them play the game, without speaking to them at all, and see what frustrates them, what confuses them, what they enjoy, and so on.

    Unfortunately, the method in TFA(bstract) seems to just evaluate player behavior based on what achievements they have. That will, apparently, tell you what aspects of the game they like best, but it's not going to help much with the small stuff. I suspect Blizzard is already gathering that data anyway.

    • It could go the other way too, where the data is just showing what people felt they needed to do in order to get to play the content they liked. Say an achievement was "Thirsty! - drank a health potion" (oversimplfying here) you might see 99.99% of players did that. Does that mean they love health potions?

      I think using data and listening to feedback and using common sense about what rational conclusions can be drawn is all helpful, but each has bias.
      • by superwiz (655733)
        I think achievement are along the lines of "drank a health potion, drank 10 health potions, drank 50 health potions, ..., drank 5000 health potions". I would guess that someone who accomplished such a chain of achievements does, in fact, like drinking health potions. But then again, WoW players are (in their majority) clinically insane. A good number of them will go through 90% of all available achievements just because they are there to go through. There is an actual achievement to get the title "insan
    • by superwiz (655733)
      They aren't asking anyone anything. From the summary it sounds like they simply created a correlation matrix of all the achievements in WoW. So the idea is to steer people towards achievements that are similar to the ones which people have already accomplished. I agree that it is highly doubtful that Blizzard isn't doing this already on their own.
    • by Xest (935314)

      I somewhat agree with what you're saying but I think valuable feedback particularly for MMOs can still be gained by listening to users.

      I think Dark Age of Camelot was a fine example of Mythic doing a bad job of this, when they release a new character class into the game that's capable of killing 4 other equally or more skilled players simply by virtue of the fact that class is overpowered, and you have thousands and thousands of users screaming about it on forums but then choose to ignore it anyway and not

    • by umbrellasd (876984) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @09:47AM (#36462136)
      Incorporating feedback is the death of creativity. The uniqueness of the artist's perspective and expression is greatness. The ability to produce what other's want isn't art; it's business. This trend of monitoring user behavior is nothing more than marketing to maximize profit. The singularly amazing game experiences will always be the uncompromising vision of those with the courage to make a statement and public opinion be damned. Giving people what they want is foolish. Giving people what they need is wise. Knowing the difference is genius. I'd have to say Blizzard's work is the epitome of this problem. Deplorably average in every way and catering to the profit line without taking risks; watered down, derivative (a hodge-podge of cultural homages and recycled tripe--Warcraft I, II, III, etc.)

      Fuck that.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Incorporating feedback is the death of creativity.

        I suppose that's why all the really great writers don't listen to editors, and all the really great scientists ignore peer review. Obviously, unbounded chaos is the epitome of creativity!

        Oh, wait...

        Incorporating feedback intelligently is the soul of creativity

        FTFY

      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)
        Allow me to give another example of that. On television series, there is usually a sexual tension between the main characters. Usually there is a lot of viewer feedback to have the characters become romantically involved. A lot of pressure, enough that the writers end up doing just that.

        Then as soon as the two hop between the sheets, the show is ruined, and not long for the airwaves.

    • by _xeno_ (155264)

      Asking users what they think is generally a bad approach to game development.

      If you want a great example of this, look at Final Fantasy XIV.

      Now, you might think with the game being as big a failure as that one, that they should be listening to fans and closely as it's obvious that the developers have absolutely no clue what makes a good game. You'd be wrong, because the only people answering are the people still playing.

      They added a feature to mark which enemies "aggro" (attack you without provocation). Now, you might be thinking "doesn't just about every MMO do this?" or "didn't FF

    • by mounthood (993037)

      It's far more effective to simply watch them play the game, without speaking to them at all, and see what frustrates them, what confuses them, what they enjoy, and so on.

      Are emotions visible and obvious without speaking to players? What about seeing a player going over one part of a map again and again tells you it's 'frustrating' or 'enjoyable' for them? Did you mean physically sitting next to them, because the article is about predicting in-game actions.

    • by webdog314 (960286)

      MMO's like WoW are constantly at odds with themselves. They want the world to be "dynamic" and changing based on the user's decisions, but they can't just make everything happen at random. There is always a *story* that must be followed. They want the game to be challenging, but ultimately the point is to sell subscriptions and make money, which means the game has to be 'simple' enough for the lowest common denominator. Players who constantly get their asses handed to them are likely to leave. Winning is fu

    • "Asking users what they think is generally a bad approach to game development."

      If the game industry of the last 10 years is anything to go by they need a lot more feedback. I think what you meant to say was - most feedback isn't very useful but that that top 10-20% of feedback is golden. What game developers really need is feedback from people who have a good skills articulating what is good/bad with the game.

      Feedback is good, the problem is getting quality feedback is hard. If you think the game indust

  • by c0lo (1497653) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @02:15AM (#36459430)
    ... to be granted with all you wish for.

    How long 'til what I wanted yesterday no longer represent an interest today?

  • Anyone else find tfa stupid?

    “For example,” Roberts says, “you could develop a program to steer players to relevant content. Because it is a data-driven modeling approach, it could be done on a grand scale with minimum input from game designers.”

    They are saying this as if game designers regularly sit on servers telling users where to go, they are also implying the game will suggest where the players will 'go'. I dont see how this is related in anyway to developing new mmo content.

    One interesting element of these findings is that the achievements that are highly correlated – or part of the same clique – do not necessarily have any obvious connection. For example, an achievement dealing with a character’s prowess in unarmed combat is highly correlated to the achievement badge associated with world travel – even though there is no clear link between the two badges to the outside observer.

    Here they admit some correlations dont make sense so all they are saying is these achievements seem to be done by users together. Is this what passes for a 'new technique' and 'research' now? it looks like something from steam stats could do pre

    • by tragedy (27079)

      Hey! Listen! Listen! Hey! Link! Listen! Listen! Hey!

    • by Grygus (1143095)

      They are saying this as if game designers regularly sit on servers telling users where to go, they are also implying the game will suggest where the players will 'go'. I dont see how this is related in anyway to developing new mmo content.

      Perhaps I am misunderstanding you, but modern MMOs commonly do indeed tell the player where to go next. Between quest trackers and breadcrumb quests, it is unusual in any MMO these days to be standing in a field with no overt guidance.

    • by Jaruzel (804522)

      The veritable Mr Bartle discussed this a short while ago: http://www.youhaventlived.com/qblog/2009/QBlog170509A.html [youhaventlived.com]

      -Jar

    • Actually I was just looking at that pair of correlated achievements (unarmed combat and exploration) in the article.

      And I know exactly why they are correlated; because only people who make a point of collecting achievements will do them.

      Noone in WoW goes around hitting things with no weapon equipped unless they are going for that achievement.

      Noone in WoW will completely explore every zone in the game unless they are going for that achievement.

      Someone who does either of these is highly likely to be AN ACHIEV

    • No, not stupid at all. Remember, when they say "content," they mean advertising and premium paid content. A MMORPG is about making money, so once a player has joined, the question becomes where to put the toll gates to maximize income and minimize player loss.

  • 'congrats boss, we just figured out a way to eliminate another bunch of labor costs'

    "great! if only henry ford could see me"

    'actually, i think henry ford raised all of his people, even the janitors, to something like 5 times the going wage'

    "oh. i never liked him anyway, he was a nazi."

  • by Ixokai (443555) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @02:46AM (#36459598)

    "For example, an achievement dealing with a character’s prowess in unarmed combat is highly correlated to the achievement badge associated with world travel – even though there is no clear link between the two badges to the outside observer."

    Am I the only one who sees a really clear link between those two things? I did both back when I played wow -- for the same reason. I was achievement farming, for no real reason except it was something to pass the time doing waiting for a raid or PVP queue to pop.

    Neither are things I ever even would have thought to bother with, except suddenly they presented a checklist of Things To Do, so I went and mindlessly did them.

    I don't play WoW anymore, but back when I was -- I have a pretty clear memory of my guildies, and I swear, everyone who would have gone and gotten one of those were the people who I bet went and got the other, later. They weren't, of course, the sane* people who mostly ignored ToDo List of Boredom (except the raid ones, because you got a kickass mount out of it).

    * no I wasn't sane.

    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      No, you're not the only one. I was thinking the same thing, because I did the same damn thing. Using achievements as a metric like that is silly, because it's self-skewing. How many players would go out of their way to perform literally thousands of quests if there weren't a shiny badge (well, tabard) waiting for them at the end?

      Someone else in the thread pointed out that user experience questionnaires are seldom written by professional pollsters and usually loaded with leading questions. Achievements are t

      • There are of course an endless variety of reasons why people play MMORPGs and what they are interested in doing while there. I know a lot of people who deliberately chose to rack up all the badges they could in various MMORPGs because they are completionist types when playing. Does it make any sense to me? Not at all, but that doesn't mean it doesn't appeal to a segment of the population. I think its a mistake to assume that no one enjoys that sort of thing just because you and your friends in the game do n

    • by Arivia (783328)

      Evidently you never rolled a rogue or shaman, since Fist Weapons used Unarmed weapon skill.

  • One interesting element of these findings is that the achievements that are highly correlated – or part of the same clique – do not necessarily have any obvious connection. For example, an achievement dealing with a character’s prowess in unarmed combat is highly correlated to the achievement badge associated with world travel – even though there is no clear link between the two badges to the outside observer.

    Really, no clear link? Did they even ask one player? These are both low-h

    • Really, no clear link? Did they even ask one player? These are both low-hanging fruit for the solo completionist.

      This is also why the "automated suggestions" they propose would be laughable.

      "We noticed your mage spent countless hours walking to every corner of the world, to get a badge that no-one is impressed by and which does not impact gameplay. Perhaps you would enjoy spending countless hours looking for low-level mobs to punch?"

  • Eliminate Players (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GeekDork (194851) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @03:14AM (#36459730)

    Really, the most annoying part of a mumorpuger is the "community" that forms like an accretion disk around the game itself, usually a bunch of pushy whining kids who won't ever be satisfied, will always feel underpowered with their favourite in-game character, and threaten to leave to other games for years instead of packing up and leaving.

    If there was a technology to eliminate actual players from those games, it would improve the communities a lot. We are finally getting closer to a point where it becomes possible. Exciting times.

  • This platform is flawed. MMO companies care more that you stay subscribed than anything else, and it does ugly things to gameplay.
  • How about finally moving past the usual crap of "travel to location X, kill as many monsters of type Y until you've collected Z items of the specified type"???

    • If only it didn't map so well to real life...
      ITT: Goto X to kill Ys to collect Zs.

      - Get to the office to kill hours of your life hunting bugs.

  • by alphatel (1450715) * on Thursday June 16, 2011 @06:29AM (#36460658)
    Since a fair portion of all players are bots, what will the pattern show?
    Players have a desire to perform repetitive tasks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    Players seem to enjoy movement in a cross-stitch pattern, picking herbs, mining, and skinning hides
    Players are more predictable than the predictive model predicts.
  • by Targon (17348) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @08:20AM (#36461284)

    When you design a game with stats and grinding as the key to keeping players going, that is when developers get locked into needing new content to keep the players interested. Many single player games have a fairly large world, but because everything is STATIC, and does not really change, other than introducing new NPCs or doing the occasional update, you end up with a pretty boring game WORLD, where expanding on the world is the source of keeping things interesting.

    If the game world were more dynamic, with a true economy and world that evolves over time, where NPC thieves look around the game world for things to steal, or just to survive, and where all NPCs actually live their lives, with or without player involvement, THEN you get a more interesting environment. Humans that are monitoring the world so that players can't "game the system" would of course be needed, but AI needs to become the center of a solid MMO, and letting the world evolve.

    If you play a character, and you travel to a town, every NPC would have a history and story that has evolved from interaction with other NPCs as well as interaction with the players. Once you get THAT sort of situation down, the game world itself provides the changes to content, and developers can focus on larger events, such as earthquakes, floods, or other natural disasters. Underground cave complexes could open up to add more monsters to the world, but in general, people should find entertainment just in wandering and exploring the world, because it SHOULD be large enough where it would take players a long time just to go from one end of the world to the others.

    • Square Enix actually got this right with their older MMO, Final Fantasy XI. The NPCs are generally not only quest givers, but appear in cutscenes and have evolving lives and storylines of their own, from the smallest child to the kings and leaders of nations. Battlefield content is driven by the storylines, and once you have completed an expansion's overall story, most of the NPCs in the town treat you different (usually with more respect.)

      The article's methodology also doesn't accurately differentiate b
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I see you want to play a game! Would you like to:

    - Earn achievments?
    - Kill some not-too-hard enemies?
    - Enjoy a cutscene with scantily-clad ladies?
    - Mine gold?

  • What type of gamer are you? [ihobo.com] It already figures out what sorts of gameplay people enjoy, and based on anecdotal feedback, most people seem to agree it's relatively accurate.

  • by Tuan121 (1715852)

    From the article it sounds like they figured out that people who liked getting achievements were more likely to get more achievements even if the achievements were not related to one another.... SHOCKER.

  • by AP31R0N (723649)

    It's time to embrace the somewhat shorter abbreviation MRPG. Massive Role Playing Game. If it is massive, it is multi. If it is massive, it is online. The second M and the O are redundant.

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