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Games Science

New Technique To Help Develop MMORPG Content? 71

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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  • 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.

  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @03:38AM (#36459822) Homepage

    But then you come to the balance between enjoyment and grief. Sure, you may take enjoyment from raiding a rival faction's cities, but at the same time, if someone raided your city and took your stuff that you had worked hard to accomplish, the shoe is on a totally different foot. The classic PK/Non-PK dilemma. It works for some, but most people get more frustrated with the loss than they feel the reward of the victory, especially when it happens multiple times in a row.

    You're right about the "amusement park with security guards" aspect, however. The MMORPG addiction equation is about making the player feel that they're accomplishing something through their actions, the human delayed gratification response. "If I just do this now, I'll get X, which will let me do Y!" But then you get X, and there's a brand new X to get, then another, then another, etc -- and "Y" is usually just a means to get a different X anyway. But that doesn't mean that games need to be construed so narrowly, only toward that specific reward mechanism.

    Another way to reward players is to let them feel that they're really having an impact in changing their world -- that they've modified something that others will experience in a durable manner. This could be anything -- tunnelling an underground palace, permanently wiping out a kingdom of orcs, inventing a new type of attack or spell that can be taught to other players, etc, etc -- the possibilities are endless. The ability to point to something concrete and say, "I did that!", is the same reward mechanism that drives the FOSS movement (among countless other endeavors of humanity ;) ). Making gaming world be able to be durably modified is often more difficult to code than "amusement park" style games, but is a worthwhile endeavor. Weaknesses to this system are that if making change in the world is too easy, it has no meaning.

    Most games have some degree of involving a third powerful human reward mechanism: social interaction. But they can do way more. Look at how many people Facebook has sucked in. Ostensibly social interaction may be a secondary, tertiary, or whatnot purpose of the game, way below "saving the galaxy from aliens" or "keeping the zombies from overrunning the countryside". But it really isn't, and developers shouldn't treat it that way. The social networking aspects in the game should be well thought out and well developed. You want it so that when they disconnect from the game for several days, they feel disconnected. Note that the social interaction aspect is generally not something that will keep people in the game on its own; it simply amplifies the feeling of needing to return and helps make experiences within the game feel more meaningful.

    There are a variety of other human reward mechanisms which can be exploited in various degrees, but usually only the first reward mechanism is stressed.

  • by AdamWeeden ( 678591 ) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @09:32AM (#36461932) Homepage

    Another way to reward players is to let them feel that they're really having an impact in changing their world -- that they've modified something that others will experience in a durable manner.

    This is one thing that always brings me back to A Tale In The Desert [atitd.com]. It's not the prettiest game in the world, and can definitely be awkward at times, but it's unique in it's mutability. For those unfamiliar, every aspect of the game is democratic. Don't like something? Then write a law and attempt to convince others to pass it. For example: a resource that is needed for certain recipes is cactus sap. To get this cactus sap you have to cut the cactus and wait for it to come out after a few minutes. Common courtesy is that, when done, you cut the cactus for the next person to make their time shorter. Someone decided there ought to be a law that when you collect sap, you auto cut the cactus. This saves you clicks (1 click to cut and collect vs. 2) and it means there will always be sap for the next person. Everyone loved the idea, it was passed into law, and the developer implemented it. It's a beautiful system.

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