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Should Computer Games Adapt To the Way You Play? 404

jtogel writes "Many games use 'rubberbanding' to adapt to your skill level, making the game harder if you're a better player and easier if you're not. Just think of Mario Kart and the obvious ways it punishes you for driving too well by giving the people who are hopelessly behind you super-weapons to smack you with. It's also very common to just increase the skill of the NPCs as you get better — see Oblivion. In my research group, we are working on slightly more sophisticated ways to adapt the game to you, including generating new level elements (PDF) based on your playing style (PDF). Now, the question becomes: is this a good thing at all? Some people would claim that adapting the game to you just rewards mediocrity (i.e. you don't get rewarded for playing well). Others would say that it restricts the freedom of expression for the game designer. But still, game players have very different skill levels and skill sets when they come to a game, and we would like to cater to them all. And if you don't see playing skill as one-dimensional, maybe it's possible to do meaningful adaptation. What sort of game adaptation would you like to see?"
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Should Computer Games Adapt To the Way You Play?

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  • Zanac anyone? (Score:2, Informative)

    by meadowsoft ( 831583 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @11:31AM (#29732473) Homepage
    I seem to remember in the promotional materials for the NES game Zanac (by FCI) that the game was supposed to get dynamically harder the better you played. When I was playing, I specifically remember this being the case, and that I enjoyed the game more as a result. I used to be able to play straight through to the 10th (out of 13) levels without dying once, and then I would die multiple times in a row. As if sensing my desparation the game would scale back the number of baddies it was throwing at me, and then I could regain my footing, collect some powerups and move on. Then the game would throw more and more at me until I got to the unholy nightmare 13th level.

    Time to go dust this game off on the Wii...
  • God of War Anyone? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @11:42AM (#29732615)

    I believe that adaptive difficulty would be sweet. Usually I find Normal/Medium too easy and Hard/er too hard. I will not even touch Easy difficulty levels they are just a waste of my time. I find this happens too often. Take God of War for example Easy is a joke, Medium is just barely challenging and Hard and Very Hard? Well, let us just say "eff you developers!" I do not want a game to be ridiculously difficult but I do not want it too easy either. If a game got harder as I did better and easier when I did not that would be ideal, at least for me. I do believe God of War had some of that for I noticed that after repeated game overs I always got slightly more health back each time I restarted from a checkpoint. And let us not forget the Devil May Crys, by the gods were they difficult! I do not want to have to "work" at a game to become decent enough to enjoy it. I know I cannot master every game when I pick it up; it is acceptable to have some "orientation" time. I feel that adaptive difficulty would be enjoyable. A set difficulty of Hard may not be Hard to some, yet too hard for others.

  • by GarryFre ( 886347 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @12:42PM (#29733379) Homepage
    Having to struggle against myself does NOT sound relaxing to me.
  • by swanzilla ( 1458281 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @12:42PM (#29733383) Homepage
    The proper reply would have been "Donkey Kong sucks!" which I would counter with "You know something? YOU SUCK!"

    Billy Madison. Come on, man.
  • by MooseMuffin ( 799896 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @12:42PM (#29733385)
    Donkey Kong sucks!
  • Re:Configurable (Score:3, Informative)

    by MoriaOrc ( 822758 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @01:48PM (#29734311)

    Guild Wars: beating a map, gaining several levels, and then getting a quest later that takes you through the same map. All the monsters are now the equivalent of chuck norris and it takes you two more days to get through the same stupid map.

    FYI, Guild Wars has static maps (well, nearly-static, the classes of the mobs get shuffled a little each time). Although there are two difficulty modes for each map (normal/hard), the player has control over which mode they play in.

    What you said sounds more like Oblivion, which repopulates areas you've already cleared after a few in-game days and levels NPCs to match the player. Especially painful if you haven't been min-maxing and your character has leveled through out-of-combat skills, since all the speech-craft in the world won't take down a level 20 Daedra.

"My sense of purpose is gone! I have no idea who I AM!" "Oh, my God... You've.. You've turned him into a DEMOCRAT!" -- Doonesbury