Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The making of Number to Number Combat

I just got back from a conference in Valencia and it gave me plenty of ideas. I did a presentation about adaptive game mechanics, specifically on my adaptive model in Number to number combat. During my research last semester I got to learn about different adaptive models. I really appreciate the Dynamic Dyfficulty Adjustment (DDA) mixed with the flow design approach model from Jenova Chen.

I was really inspired by DDA back in 2009, so when I made Number to Number combat, I thought it will be great if the game had DDA, it would be more playable. So I was looking for a model that will always give a good challenge to the player. For example, if the player is strong, the AI will be stronger and if he is weak, the AI will be weaker. I wanted to combine the player experience with a great challenge.

The model uses the player's health after a combat, based on the level, the next NPC will have a certain level of difficulty : Low -> Easy : Normal -> Normal : High -> Hard (Health level - difficulty). In general the experience should always be interesting for the player.

So if you have played the game you can tell that the model fails monumentally at it's job. The game is not harder or easier for the player, the challenge is always about the same level and the player gets pretty bored after 10 or 15 combats. So what is the problem here? How can we fix it?

In general there are some mistakes with the DDA system and design issues. The DDA system does not use enough player data. For example, the system should use the time spent on a combat, number of good/bad answers, time spent answering, etc. By using more data it is possible to have a better knowledge of the type of player we are dealing with.

On the design side, the game has good basic game mechanics, but really poor decision making and narration. For any kind of proper game, these are essential for longer lasting fun. In light of this argument, Number to Number combat is not a proper game it is more of a prototype.

For the next few months I will work on a remake of Number to Number combat using classic adventure game mechanics and basic RPG systems. I will post more information about my design process soon.