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Dealing With Fairness and Balance In Video Games

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the it's-balanced-when-i-always-win dept.

Games 192

MarkN writes "Video games are subject to a number of balance issues from which traditional games have largely stayed free. It can be hard finding players of comparable skill-level to create even match-ups, diverse gameplay options can quickly become irrelevant if someone finds a broken feature that beats everything else, and some online games make your ability to play competitively a question of how much time and money you've invested in a game, rather than the skill you possess. In this article, I talk about some of the issues relating to fairness and balance in games, in terms of the factors and strategies under the player's control, the game's role in potentially handicapping players, and the role a community of gamers plays in setting standards for how games are to be played. What are your thoughts on managing a 'fair and balanced' gaming experience?"

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I met Bobby Fischer once (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164043)

I had the chance to play Bobby Fischer at chess once. He kicked my ass around the block.

Then he called me a fucking dirty Jew.

Which was weird, because I'm not Jewish.

Thinking about it now, I probably shouldn't have thought I could play chess with him.

Back in the real world where playing video games cost a quarter or two, sometimes you only got to play 3 rounds of Street Fighter 2 because the other guy was master of Guile's Sonic Boom/Spinning upside-down kick combo. These days, you just disconnect and go find another game to join. Back then you risked cold hard cash every time you went in to play.

Re:I met Bobby Fischer once (-1, Redundant)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164653)

Your post is kinda complicated. Did you omit one of the ~ sarcasm tags?

1. You couldn't keep up with Bobby Fischer in chess in 1971. Neither could the Candidates for the title.

2. Bobby slipped into tragic legendary -5 Trollhood. He *was* Jewish, and called people Anti-Semitic names anyway.

Re:I met Bobby Fischer once (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164681)

He *was* Jewish, and called people Anti-Semitic names anyway.

That actually takes balls.

Re:I met Bobby Fischer once (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164751)

Balls and most of a dick.

Re:I met Bobby Fischer once (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164823)

He *was* Jewish, and called people Anti-Semitic names anyway.

That actually takes balls.

I don't really think it does. I'm Jewish and I call people cheap Jews etc. all the time (including proudly referring to myself as a stereotypically cheap Jew) and I tell bad jokes like "Hey what's the easiest way to fit 50 Jews in a car? In the ashtray!" all the time but it has a lot more to do with the fact that I am *entertained* by it than having balls.

Just because you are a part of $group doesn't mean you can't be entertained by things directed against $group.

I'd just like to add, that my CAPTCHA word for submitting this is "molests". lolololol

Re:I met Bobby Fischer once (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27165643)

Since when does an fp containing the phrase "fucking dirty Jew" get modded to +5?

Re:I met Bobby Fischer once (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27166147)

That would be an awesome T-shirt. "Bobby Fischer called me a dirty Jew"

Connection speed comes to mind (0, Offtopic)

Skurge357 (1322191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164063)

I'm stuck with an older DSL, since my local service providers are not finished upgrading here. 768Kb. If I'm going PvP against someone with 5Mb fibre or a T1, frame lag is going to get me my ass handed to me in a few seconds. One possible way to fix that (at least for PvP) would be to adjust the speed to match the slowest connection involved. Obviously not good for overall game play, but in direct combat with other players.

Re:Connection speed comes to mind (5, Informative)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164203)

You obviously haven't played online much. The important thing here is latency, not throughput. Any latency under 80ms is more than playable, and a 768k DSL line is more than capable of that. Hell, with fastpath I used to hit ~30ms on a 1M line.

Just use a server that's in the same country instead of halfway around the world.

Re:Connection speed comes to mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164981)

lol. Are you in the US perhaps? Five years ago we enjoyed quake2 capture the flag with ping 6ms. And the server _was_ in a different country (albeit a neighboring one).

Re:Connection speed comes to mind (1)

ukyoCE (106879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165799)

It doesn't count when your "neighboring country" is closer to you than most states are to each other in the US.

Most latency seems to come from changing networks. I'll have 5 ping to a comcast network on the other side of the United States, and 80 ping to another server that's 1 state away but on a different network.

On comcast I've always (for over a decade) had sub-10 pings to numerous servers. Often the lowest ping servers would be in Germany or France. And I can assure you I'm a hell of a lot further from Germany or France than they are from each other.

Re:Connection speed comes to mind (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164343)

Then prepare for kickvotes based on your connection, "ruining" the game for those with fast connections. And again, rants on the boards about how unfair it all is.

Re:Connection speed comes to mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164811)

Start playing Call of Duty: World at War. I have a 16Mb down 6Mb up cable internet connection. Thus, this turd of a game usually makes me the host of the room. When this happens all the leeches running DSL start lagging around the room making it unbearable to play. So the makers of COD have found a way to make a faster internet connection a HUGE disadvantage.

If I had those developers in a room with a claw hammer for 15 minutes I'd........

Predictability and variation (4, Interesting)

jandersen (462034) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164065)

I don't agree with the article about the expectation of fairness in games vs real life. I think in both cases what we really want is to know the rules, so we have a chance of following them and making it through.

In games I simply want things to be moderately predictable - so that with experience I can become better. And then I want variation; it gets pretty tedious if it is always just the same few things you do, like just killing monsters.

Re:Predictability and variation (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164657)

I don't agree with the article about the expectation of fairness in games vs real life. I think in both cases what we really want is to know the rules, so we have a chance of following them and making it through.

Now you know how people who run small businesses feel when the government changes tax policy every 4-8 years.

Re:Predictability and variation (3, Interesting)

Admiral Ag (829695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27166105)

The real life comparison is important, since a lot of the unfairness in online social gaming occurs because of the anonymity and the ability of people to create new accounts to bypass handicapping systems. In Warhawk, people were creating new accounts simply in order to enter noob servers and stomp people. That's silly and self defeating, especially for a game with a small playerbase.

If you want online gaming to be fair, then it will have to be fair the same way sports are fair, by rigorous policing of permitted equipment and making sure folks karma follows them around.

Fairness in design is much less of a problem in most games.

That's easy (3, Funny)

metamechanical (545566) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164077)

That's easy! Just get the ones published by Fox News!

Re:That's easy (-1, Flamebait)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164997)

Boo Yea! I Just got the Republican Power Up! It gives me +10 to Strength, Charisma, and Intelligence Immunity from LiBeRaLs, and Worped to the Level where Bill Clinton is the cause of all our problems, and McCain is now president.

Re:That's easy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27165571)

The best part is you can pick up Nancy Grace from the downtown marina, fuck her senseless in a secluded area, then run here over and steal her cash. She does her 'sucking on a lemon' face when she cums.

Re:That's easy (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165635)

... Worped to the Level where Bill Clinton is the cause of all our problems, and McCain is now president.

Now that's what I call a minus world...

Bland Games (3, Interesting)

squoozer (730327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164087)

Please excuse me widening the discussion but... I play quite a few RTS games and I've noticed that over the last few years the various different playable races in those games have tended to become very similar in ability.

It used to be the case that in an RTS there were generally one or two races that were slightly better than the others but now they are very well balanced. The problem is that they have balanced the races by making them all the same and thus removing one of the most interesting aspects of the genre.

In AOE II for example you could pit a strong ranged race against a strong close combat race and have a damn good game with each side trying to lure the other into traps that play to their strength. By AOE III every race was damn near the same.

Ah well, maybe one day someone will have the courage / time to properly balance a game again. Oh and, get off my lawn you kids.

Re:Bland Games (1)

fredc97 (963879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164245)

German Board games are notorious for balancing everything because they usually give each players the exact same cards or bonuses, what is left is either picked randomly or chosen by the player.

The order of cards play, or the response to any given action will determine the winner. The goal is quite often to optimize a pool of resources and again the skill and|or luck will determine the winner.

Re:Bland Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164645)

Whereas in Axis vs. Allies the Axis always loses.

Re:Bland Games (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164779)

Well, Agricola deals you a hand of 14 cards (7 from each of the two decks) and those can have a major influence on the game. However I've noticed that a player can pretty much ignore them and play more for traditional points and still win.

Re:Bland Games (2, Interesting)

PracticalM (1089001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165787)

German or Designer board games often balance things by auctions or player choice. There are still first move advantages but auction do help balance.

Though different game groups often have different balance points. I've played with some groups that valued items differently in Princes of Florence than my usual group did.

Some games like Power Grid reverse the turn order to give advantages to players behind.

And Agricola has different players all picking from exclusive actions where each player is trying to follow their own strategy based on some of their cards (minor improvements and occupations).

Designer board games are fairly well balanced but skill will generally put you ahead. They are often designed to play with the entire family (most have rules about the youngest player going first usually a kid playing against parents).

Sure some of these games can be considered lightly themed, but the interesting part of the games are the mechanics not the theme. Some of the better games have mechanics that go well with the theme. Other games are less successful in matching theme to mechanic. Some of us are more interested in the mechanics though.

Re:Bland Games (5, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164555)

You are exactly right that tight 'game balance' tends to lead to blander options.

I have seen this in miniature wargaming as well as in computer gaming. But what is really interesting is that even when races aren't perfectly balanced they can still balance well in a competitive environment. In StarCraft the Terrans were seen as being the weakest race, Lim Yo-Hwan then built a reputation as arguably the best SC player while playing as Terrans.

This is what players refer to when they talk of meta-gaming, which is players gaming the game. If I know that Snipers are the best weapon in Halo 3 and that players will go for them and practice with them more than other weapons then it makes sense for me to learn anti-sniper tactics. Very quickly Sniping will become balanced (or even disadvantaged) because you are playing a strat that everyone has trained to beat.

Re:Bland Games (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164687)

yes, happened ages ago in Total Annihilation, where for some time the flea rush made the online game a constant boring frustration. After some month of play, better defending strategies come out and flea spammer were constantly being beaten in 1v1 games.

you have game imbalance, which is having a side materially stronger then the other, and this could be avoided, and then strategic imbalance which is inevitable and difficult to prevent, because gamers try to game the system at their advantage, discovering new strategies and counter tactics.

Re:Bland Games (2, Insightful)

Shin-LaC (1333529) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164673)

Ah well, maybe one day someone will have the courage / time to properly balance a game again.

I hear Blizzard is working on StarCraft 2.

Re:Bland Games (1)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165923)

My thoughts exactly. And after a few years of patching after release, it will hopefully be as balanced as its predecessor.

Re:Bland Games (1, Interesting)

ady1 (873490) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164699)

I blame it on the consoles.
Note that it has become impossible to find a good and worth playing game now a days (few exceptions).
Interesting Story and Complex gameplay is now a thing of the past.
Now every game has to be able to be played through the controller and have to be easy enough to not intimidate the so called 'casual player'.

Its a thing of the past? (4, Funny)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164903)

What , you mean we should go back to the complex narrative of Pacmac for example? :)

Re:Its a thing of the past? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164917)

*sigh* Or even Pacman. If only typos could be made a thing of the past too...

Re:Bland Games (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165049)

I think the modern controller has more buttons and features then most keyboards now. Yea I am kinda old school. I tried playing XBox against a 5 year old, and he was like oh to do that press A,B then X, Y, Z spin the controller three spins left and two right and hit the trigger twice. And that was just to make me stand up. I remember the old Sierra games when I had to type "stand up" to do the same thing.

Re:Bland Games (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165705)

The curse and blessing of computer games becoming mainstream: Casual gamers.

They didn't exist 20 years ago. Either you played computer games, or you didn't. Either you were willing to spend hour after hour to master a game, or you didn't want to pick up the joystick at all. Games had to be fairly cheap to make because, well, there wasn't a huge target audience.

Today, games come along with budgets that make some movies turn green with envy, yet they have to cater to a completely different audience. Now it's important that everyone can pick it up and play it without spending any time to learn it.

Few games managed to be both, friendly for casual gamers and interesting for hardcore players. Those that managed to solve this problem became quite popular. Maybe it could be an incentive for developers and studios to produce games that concentrate on solving this problem rather than trying to outdo each other with flashy graphics and more gimmicks.

Re:Bland Games (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164761)

A recent thing? I recall RTSes starting out with similar sides and only with StarCraft did they really start making big distinctions between the sides where even basic mechanics could differ rather than just a few specialist units and maybe a stat change that doesn't really matter in the big RPS scheme. Nowadays RTSes get dinged for having too similar sides and the differences get more and more extreme (e.g. Universe At War had some very dissimilar sides AFAIK). What DOES happen is that every side has a certain set of units that has equivalents in the other factions but often implemented completely different.

I'll point at KP here because it's a fairly simple example: All three sides have a spam unit, a medium unit and a large unit. For the System that's a plain combat unit, a heavy artillery piece and an armored antiswarm unit, for the Hacker that's a slightly weaker combat unit with the ability to turn into a light artillery emplacement, the DoS longer ranged stunner unit that disables enemy units while it's beaming at them and the Worm which is comparable to a mobile and reusable landmine, one surprise strike at enemy forces, turning them into viruses and then hide and run. The Network's basic spam can be teleported by storing it in a buffer until it's needed, the medium unit is a flying gunship with explosive attacks that works best in swarms and is the only flying unit and the heavy unit is mostly a teleporter node for the spam with a decent anti-armor beam on the top. It's very different to encounter a Byte with its large, explosive shots than to fight a Connection that can bring the player's whole army to the fight in a few moments.

Sameness is definitely spreading. (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164969)

World of Warcraft underwent this with the new expansion. Nearly every class now duplicates each other with mostly flavor changes. Under their mantra of "bring the player not the class" they have excused themselves from having to balance unique class abilities by simply making them all have the same end result if not mechanics.

What should we expect? Schools are dumbing down education for lackluster students and teachers, why not extend it to games? Fairness is the new buzzword for "your playing with people who suck"

Re:Bland Games (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165169)

Off Balance sometimes gives you a better edge. For the people who were really into improving their Game would actually choose the weaker players and actually use their brain more to win. I remember a while back when I was big in Star Craft, and I am in No way a big gamer, I was working with a friend on Protoss Probe warfare against other people one line sending all they got to us. I found that we could be quite competitive (and annoying a lot of people greatly) when we got it right. Enough distraction and misdirection for us to put a cannon infrastructure around key areas, to starve them out and keep them from building and expanding. Probe on Probe fighting to keep them from getting resources. And make a Zealot or 2 and a little bit of air support just to get rid of the long range fighters. Yea we lost sometimes but we won more then you would think.

Re:Bland Games (1)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165509)

I don't necessarily agree with you about AOE III. Granted, I've never played AOE II, but I've found that even though all the races share a number of units they all have unique ones that lend themselves to different strategies. And the shared units have different strengths that really come out in the later units with upgrades. If I remember correctly for instance the Russian Veteran Musketeer has fewer hp than a basic British one. I enjoy it, although in some ways it is taking a cheap route in that most of the balancing only needs to be done once and can be shared across all races.

Quake Live (4, Interesting)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164109)

Quake Live does a great thing by having you go up against a bot, and then determines your level of skill from that and then emphasizes those servers which are taylored to your skill level when you look through the server browser.

Of course you see people who play outside their skill level, but for the most part you are surrounded by people who play on your level.

Re:Quake Live (1)

godfra (839112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164333)

I played that bot on the hardest level and narrowly beat it. My next two games against human opponents were laughably easy though, and I was never really that into Quake. I think they need to work on the rating system somehow.

Re:Quake Live (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164503)

The whole Quake Live thing is still in beta, on their forums there are more complaints about the skill matching system not working 100% correctly yet.

Re:Quake Live (2, Interesting)

Archon-X (264195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164569)

Alternatively, I've always found myself to be quite a decent FPS player, and will always finish in the top 3 in HL2 DM, TF2, Unreal Tourny, Day of Defeat - all quite different playing dynamics.

Quake3, however, is a different kettle of fish. The people I play against are significantly harder [read, they finish on 30 and I'm on 5], whereas if I play down a level, it'll be similar results but in my favour.

Quake3 is obviously built for speed and sheer mayhem, but the thing that I do find is that its maps are heavily weighted towards longer living players.
IE - weapon stops are quite a distance away - on more open / busy maps, you can spend 5 - 6 respawns just trying to get to a weapon successfully.

In addition to which, weapon stay seems to be turned off, so people camping near weapons just keep on collecting them, preventing others from getting them.

Not sure if I'm being a cry-baby or these points have merit.

Apart from that, it seems quite balanced.

Re:Quake Live (1)

soupforare (542403) | more than 5 years ago | (#27166009)

Yeah, weapon and armour controlling has long been a standard of quake dm. Most servers won't have stay enabled. Don't bother trying to engage someone until you can effectively fight with the machinegun/gauntlet, just run. Doesn't help much if they're camping but once you get used to the maps you shouldn't have too much of a problem.
I hope they either port some classic DM maps (DM6, Q2DM1) or allow for third party maps once it's out of beta.

Re:Quake Live (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27166155)

Play RA3 for Quake3. It's nice to spawn with everyone with the same weapons.

Re:Quake Live (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164493)

Although this might sound good in theory Quake Live only uses 5 skill levels to make this determination, with that few options you will never be able to pitch an "even" game. It's a small step on the way though and might help eliminate a skill 5 player playing a skill 1 player and at least weed out the worst setups. Battle.net has had something similar for years in Warcraft 3.

Why does it need to be balanced? (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164117)

The summary contradicts itself: Either it is balanced or your skill decides whether you are successful. If someone just is better at the game through sheer talent, how could this ever be balanced. And should it be?

Now balancing the avatars is another matter. If there is a glitch or a combo move that just pwns everyone, then that is a game imbalance. So you can own my ass using three moves from Guile? Well, nice for you, but I can play all the other characters and have fun. You will always win, but don't expect me to play you very often if that's all I'm going to see from you. Basically, if it doesn't happen to be WoW then such people will very soon be playing alone, thus balancing the game again ;).

Counter Strike (1)

fredc97 (963879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164191)

Here's a game that from the start of the game tries to balance things: you can pick a skin but your character will not be any faster or stronger than any other. Same thing goes for the weapon, the only differences are the map layout and the different team objectives, these are asymetric. And the skill levels of each player will give you an edge after each winning round thus promoting the best/luckiest players.

A game could be balanced, like some Quake III maps where each side is a mirror image of the other side and if you play these deathmatch on a 1 on 1 then it is fairly balanced. But who plays Quake 3 these days?

Re:Counter Strike (1)

sgbett (739519) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164285)

Hi! (admittedly its actually openarena, dunno where my CD is ...)

Re:Counter Strike (1)

DudemanX (44606) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164365)

Lots of people still play Quake 3. These days it's called Quake Live [quakelive.com] though.

Re:Counter Strike (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165285)

The principle equalizer in Counterstrike isn't any of those things. It's the headshot.

When it comes down to exchange of one bullet against another between one player and the next, the headshot trumps everything except perhaps sheer numbers.

They can have any gun they want, all the money, be on the winning team, but if you still have bullets and line-of-sight, you have a fighting chance to kill the opponent in a split second...if you're good enough. In many games, weapons take time to deal damage, and players gradually wear each other down. With headshots, if the player is able to focus the skill enough, he is in control of a "critical strike" to end everything then and there. As long as they don't outnumber you simultaneously (i.e more headshots than your gun can produce before you're killed), you've still got a chance to recover and win any encounter.

Re:Why does it need to be balanced? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164201)

If you can't beat a Guile spamming charge moves you need to re-evaluate your Street Fighter skills.

Cannot be balanced nor fair (4, Interesting)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164135)

Making it 'fair and balanced' can be fun (handicapping in golf or go), but in most cases it just makes a video game crappy.

Back in the days of Rainbow Six (yes, and now you can get off my lawn) I created an online ranking system based off of chess' scoring system. This worked great for the players and teams, as you didn't really have to find people on your own skill level to have something to gain.

If I (a mediocre chess player) were to play the reigning world champion of chess, he'd stand to gain maybe 1 point in his ranking by winning (I'd lose 1 I think), but if I were to win, I'd gain upwards of 24 or 32 points (and he'd lose a lot of points). This scoring system makes it worthwile for the best player to avoid drawing or losing to a less skilled player.

We did get a few complaints about the scoring, because the "best" players were used to them being unable to lose their top spot without losing to #2, where as with this system, someone could overtake them simply by winning lots and lots of games against less skilled players/teams. This has the upside of enticing people to play more, and not just by cherry picking from the top 10. Any adversary is okay, as it gives you a chance to win more points.

See more on the Wiki page [wikipedia.org]

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (-1, Flamebait)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164231)

with this system, someone could overtake them simply by winning lots and lots of games against less skilled players/teams.

Congratulations. You have succeeded in creating a system which rewards griefing. Is that nick your real name? I want to make sure you don't end up as a programmer in the credits of anything I consider buying.

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164363)

Explain how this rewards griefing.

I think the idea itself has merit. If you see a possible exploit, you should maybe explain how it could be done so the flaw can be removed.

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (2, Interesting)

Celarnor (835542) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164619)

Explain how this rewards griefing.

I think the idea itself has merit. If you see a possible exploit, you should maybe explain how it could be done so the flaw can be removed.

Its pretty simple.

Person ranked #2 decides he wants to be ranked #1. He's not really good at the game, but he does have a lot of time on his hands. So, he spends 20 hours a day fighting and killing people who just started playing. Even though he's only getting one or two points a kill, it doesn't matter; if he can kill new players at a rate 24x that of player ranked #1, then he can ascend to that spot. Does that help?

This would work in most current MMOs because playability is tied to the level; e.g, a high-level character is going to be better than a low-level character. You can't take a low-level character and put him with a bunch of high-level characters and expect him to be of any use. With the possible exception of games like EVE Online, where even a newly made character can at the very least jam you and run away, the new players would get walked all over for points.

It doesn't really need to be said how it rewards griefing; it already intrinsically does so. if it offers any kind of benefit at all for killing newer players, and especially if it offers the same or better benefits, taking into account the amount of time required to kill one, number killed per day, etc, its going to reward it.

The question is how to make it NOT do that; e.g, establish a point below which no reward is gained, and stick it about halfway down from your current level or whatever.

Please, as the GP posts, don't consider implementing this anywhere without addressing some of the more glaring issues.

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164719)

How about evening it out through the number of games played?

I don't know if you're familiar with the ELO system. One of its weak points is, granted, that it does not expect chess players to play a few dozen games per day, but even if, the points gained (and risked, in case of a loss) are in no relation.

Add to it all that a disconnect results in an automatic loss and it simply does not work anymore. Granted, in MMOs there is a zero chance that a lv 1 character will succeed, ever, against a maxed out char. But this system can work in FPS and RTS games well. Even a complete newbie has a one-in-a-million chance to toast a routined player. And that's enough to ruin his rating completely, because one loss against an absolute beginner nulls dozens, if not hundreds of games won against inexperienced players.

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165061)

Yeah, because you can become the #1 chess player simply by beating n00bs. Not.

Games where you have no realistic chance of losing should also grant you next to no points. If you can beat a weak player *much* faster than a strong player you might have to tune the scale some more, because the idea is that you should earn more points the stronger opponents you beat. Simply round down once you get below 0.5 points or make the numbers much bigger (your rating increased by +1 to 456430) and there's no "single-point" exploit of significance even if they play 24/7. Once you have tuned it so that you must play against players there's some chance you'll lose against to earn more points, problem solved.

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (1)

naam00 (1145163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27166399)

Person ranked #2 decides he wants to be ranked #1. He's not really good at the game, but he does have a lot of time on his hands. So, he spends 20 hours a day fighting and killing people who just started playing. Even though he's only getting one or two points a kill, it doesn't matter; if he can kill new players at a rate 24x that of player ranked #1, then he can ascend to that spot. Does that help?

...I think the idea is that that same #2 would lose a lot of points by simply losing once to one of those new players, and just 1 point for winning.

Not saying griefing isn't possible, but there's some nicely built-in risk/reward I think.

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (1)

grimJester (890090) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164557)

Congratulations. You have succeeded in creating a system which rewards griefing.

Not quite. The skew between points risked and points gained (risk/reward) should be relative to the chance of the outcomes; e.g. A player with a 2000 rating fights a 1600-rated one. There's an 80% chance the first guy wins. If he wins, he gains 4 points and the other loses 4. If he loses, he loses 16 points and the other gains 16. You could conceivably make the system account for things other than rating, such as level, class, buffs etc.

Griefing is minimized if a player with close to 100% chance of win can lose a decent amount of points, but will gain nothing or next to nothing. Rounding could be a problem if the minimum points gain for a win is set to one.

Also, lol @ thinking the points system for chess ranking rewards griefing :D

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164563)

I love how your sig is about anti-trolls, yet you're doing it yourself.

What has creating a balanced scoring system got to do with griefing? A lot of MMOs seems to be using this kind of system for PvP to REDUCE griefing. If you get the same points per kill no matter if they are shit hot or a noob you'll always go for the noob (grief). With degraded scoring, you tend to aim higher and leave the noobs till last.

Obvious troll is obvious...

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (-1, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164629)

I love how your sig is about anti-trolls, yet you're doing it yourself.

I love how you don't know what a troll is.

What has creating a balanced scoring system got to do with griefing?

He explicitly created the opposite of a balanced scoring system, that's why I quoted the part where he said a skilled player could take out lots and lots of unskilled players and still have their ranking go up due to points. I guess reading is too hard for gamers these days.

Obvious troll is obvious...

You and the other people who think I am trolling are obviously idiots. The guy explicitly tells us that he created a system which rewards griefing (you get ranked up for killing players who are essentially defenseless against you) and you want to give him a medal, and call me a troll for pointing it out?

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164615)

How does it reward griefing?

If you're a great player and win against a crappy player, you'll gain very little and he'll lose very little, as that is the expected outcome. If you lose you lose quite a bit and he'll gain quite a bit as this is unexpected. A bit like a random 8th grader KO'ing Mike Tyson in the ring.

If you're playing against people on your own rung (i.e. 1615 vs 1630), the expectation is that the higher rated player will win a few more games. As such he might win 10 points and lose 12, whereas the lower rated player will win 12 and lose 10 points.

It's not a system that I designed. It's been designed by a professor of physics (I suspect his math and statistics skills are a lot better than either of us) and is currently used by not only the chess society, but Major League Baseball, American college football and basketball, The North American National Scrabble Association, The European Go Federation, Guild Wars, World of Warcraft, Yahoo Games and a lot of other places.

Now, obviously, the people behind these groups had completely forgotten about griefers. I'm sure if you write them and explains this to them, they'll bow their heads in shame and quickly remove this scoring system.

I mean - you're DrikyProo - you have a Slashdot ID that's below 160k. Obviously you're geek creed and math mojo is better than theirs.

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (1)

Celarnor (835542) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164659)

How does it reward griefing?

If you're a great player and win against a crappy player, you'll gain very little and he'll lose very little, as that is the expected outcome.

You're missing the point.

It isn't about the magnitude of the gain. Its about there being a gain at all, and whether or not the same level of gain can be achieved through speed and efficiency killing new players rather than fighting one another.

If I can kill swaths of noobs at the starting city at 10 a minute and get 2.4 points for each one, what's the point of a 10-minute long PVP session that nets me 24 points?

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (3, Insightful)

ethorad (840881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165465)

You are right in that it's about whether the fastest rate of gain can be achieved through fighting low or high level opponents, but just because the numbers you picked don't work doesn't mean the system doesn't work.

The idea is that the gain/loss from playing each match is related to the probability of winning. In your example, killing noobs gets you 24 points a minute, while the PvP session gets you 2.4 and thus your example is unbalanced. People will grief as the reward per minute is higher.

In reality the score would be set up so that your expected gains from fighting the low levels is no higher than the expected gains from high levels, and should be less.

Thus say in 10 minutes you could find and kill 10 noobs each with a 99% success rate. If each kill gets you 1 point and each loss loses 50 then you're looking at an expected increase of 0.49 points per noob (0.99*1+0.01*-100), or 4.9 points per 10 minute session.

Now in 10 minutes, maybe you could find and attack 2 people of a more comparable level. Your chance of success with these guys is only 70%, but now you're getting 10 points for a kill, and losing 15 for a death (still losing more than gaining since chance of winning is greater than 50%). You now expect 2.5 points per person (0.7*10+0.3*-15), or 5 points per 10 minutes.

The system is then balanced and you should be neutral between griefing noobs or fighting more challenging opponents. If we then tweak the rewards slightly we can create a level slope whereby the expected gains per minute from noob griefing is less than the gains per minute of doing comparable level fights. You could even tweak the rewards such that the expected return from fighting noobs is negative, even though each win is an increase. If above it was a 100 point loss on losing to a noob, your expeced increase would be -0.01 (0.99*1+0.01*-100).

Now the system means that while you can get points from griefing, you won't get more points than someone who is fighting higher level opponents. Thus if you want to be #1 you need to be gaining points faster than the current #1 and so you won't grief.

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164693)

I mean - you're DrikyProo - you have a Slashdot ID that's below 160k. Obviously you're geek creed and math mojo is better than theirs.

Congratulations on typing what you see.

The problem apparently is that you did not describe the system well to begin with. You said "with this system, someone could overtake them simply by winning lots and lots of games against less skilled players/teams. This has the upside of enticing people to play more, and not just by cherry picking from the top 10. Any adversary is okay, as it gives you a chance to win more points." The problem is that it also has the effect of enticing people to play against people far below their skill level. What you did was not a skill ranking system (apparently chess doesn't have one either?) but simply a victory ranking system.

If the point of your system is to show who got the most kills, then that's fine. But if the point of your system is as stated, to provide actual "fair and balanced" play then you have failed. This system does not help you find players who have a similar skill, which is what we're talking about here. It only helps determine how much ass you have kicked in volume, not how much ass you can kick at any given time. Ranking up players for defeating players ranked lower than them should never happen. It reduces the incentive to play against players who are better than you, which is the only way to get better at the game.

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (2, Interesting)

chadplusplus (1432889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165729)

is currently used by not only the chess society, but Major League Baseball, American college football and basketball, The North American National Scrabble Association, The European Go Federation, Guild Wars, World of Warcraft, Yahoo Games and a lot of other places.

And Halo.

Halo matchmaking takes it another step, which I find interesting, in that it attempts to match you up based upon ranking, but also upon the amount of time or tries that it has taken you to attain that level. If I've attained a level 20 after only 30 games, it is more likely that I will be matched up with others who have attained level 20 after around 30 games instead of those who are stuck at level 20 after 1,000 games.

I note that the above is a bit of a simplification of how it is done, as it is technically based upon rank and experience points in game type and experience points overall, but the above suffices for this discussion.

If Quake Live is able to implement an effective ranking/matchmaking system, I may finally have the justification to build a new PC.

Re:Cannot be balanced nor fair (3, Interesting)

protodevilin (1304731) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164391)

A similar ranking system is now utilized in Street Fighter IV's online matches. Battle Points are earned for each victory you attain, but the amount of points awarded is relative to the points you already have vs. the points your defeated opponent has. So if you have 2000 Battle Points, and you crush a n00b with only 172 points, you are rewarded with maybe 2 or 3 BP (which the loser forfeits in turn). On the other hand, if you were to lose against that same n00b, you'd probably get 120 points slashed from your stock (which the winner gains in turn).

The result is a ranking system that fairly accurately ranks you among other players who share your level of skill. A fine example of PvP balancing. ...It also results in widespread disdain for the ranking system, due to the high risk of losing a lot of hard-earned points that accompanies each match. Guess you can't please everyone.

You Faile It! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164261)

provide s0das, [goat.cx]

Battlefield Heroes (1)

DaveDerrick (1070132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164467)

Battlefield Heroes is going to have player balancing, but I wasn't lucky enough to get a beta key :( Hope it works well, as I'm fed up with having my ass handed to me by a 12YO.

I don't understand the point. (2, Interesting)

wayward_bruce (988607) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164497)

Video games are subject to a number of balance issues from which traditional games have largely stayed free. It can be hard finding players of comparable skill-level to create even match-ups, [...]

Author obviously never played basketball with his friends.

[...] diverse gameplay options can quickly become irrelevant if someone finds a broken feature that beats everything else [...]

You mean this [wikipedia.org] ?

[...] and some online games make your ability to play competitively a question of how much time and money you've invested in a game, rather than the skill you possess.

Time spent training is a large factor, if not the largest, in attaining a high level of skill. Good equipment helps in real-life games and sports, too. Some even insist that shell and slate stones make them play better go. Go figure. :)

Natural Selection (3, Interesting)

plams (744927) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164527)

Natural Selection [wikipedia.org] had success in balancing itself by inviting diversity among its players. The marine team has chain of command - it allows less experienced players to be effective by following orders. On the alien team every player is equal. Both teams need strategic thinkers and good shooters. It leads to a enjoyable game for a larger spread of personality and experience level compared to, say, Counterstrike.

Don't make the point reward system static (1)

drtwo (1449421) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164533)

I prefer games with an appearantly random point reward system so there's no best pattern to look for and abuse. At first it might a bit annoying to get much less points than the last time you did the exactly the same thing but soon enough you'll stop worrying and fully concentrate on the game without caring about your rank. And that's the best gaming experience you can have.

Re:Don't make the point reward system static (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27166093)

There are plenty of gamers that look for understandable rules, if rewards are random then it isn't fun because that means we can't learn the rules.

I prefer games with a static point reward system. At first it might get a bit annoying that you are killed by people who have been playing longer but soon enough you will learn the rule system and learn to balance your character appropriately through careful planning. And that's the best gaming experience you can have.

Or it could be that there are multiple types of gamers who get rewarded by different aspects of a game. For the widest adoption possible, you have to cater to each reward type. However, you could take the approach of targeting a specific game motivation and do well with a targeted game. What that doesn't mean (even if you do well in market) is there is a "best" reward system for games.

Re:Don't make the point reward system static (1)

drtwo (1449421) | more than 5 years ago | (#27166281)

So you're basing you character on the fastest way to level instead of creating a character you like? I'd like to take thesixtyone.com as an example here. None of the listeners has a clue how the reward system exactly works so you end up bumping tracks purely on how much you like them. You don't worry if it's a smart investment because there's no way of predicting. The music is the only thing you have to pay attention to. Perhaps such a system only works with sites/games dedicated to a single subject, like music but it's interesting nonetheless.

Mario Kart Wii online (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164627)

Besides the automatic handicap system as explained in TFA, Mario Kart Wii has IMHO a very nice scoring system for online races. The system tries to pit you against other players with somewhat the same score, all though this does not always seem to work (it sometimes takes some races until you've formed a group of equally skilled racers). The amount of points you are awarded (or subtracted) at the end of the race depends on your race result and score of all players: If you have a lot more points than the other players (+/- 1000), then you have to finish 1st in order to win a few points, anything less, you'll end up with a severe penalty in points. On the other hand when you beat some players with more points than you are awarded a bunch of points while some other player that finished ahead of you, might get a score penalty. In my opinion the scoring system is one of the nicest I have experienced, with respect to keeping a balanced experience for casual and hardcore gamers.

I tell my kids (2, Insightful)

m0s3m8n (1335861) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164633)

At least once a week I tell my nine year old twins "the world is not fair". Seems appropriate here.

Re:I tell my kids (2, Insightful)

xenolion (1371363) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165469)

dang you posted it before me. In real life you will always find someone who is better at doing something than you, games are no different. The word "fair" is just a way to complain about something.

Balance is key to multiplayer game success (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164679)

Many games offer a seemingly large freedom when creating your character, playset or play style, but eventually you find out that only a very narrowly defined path leads to success. Take WoW. You can, in theory, create almost limitless variants of skill point distribution, yet only a handful "work". For some classes, it's basically set in stone that you have this or that distribution, depending on whether you want to go against other players or some large raid encounter.

In other games, too, you are limited to a narrow set of viable choices. TFA uses beat 'em ups as an example where you can only pick a handful, or even only one, character to succeed, the others being basically fluff.

It's also not really "balanced" when you're basically forced to play by a certain strategy because all the others simply do not work. If you play an MMO and your class excels in mezzing, it ruins your class if mezzing is simply unnecessary, no matter how much you excel in it. Instead, you have to rely on your other spells which are maybe (in the end, when the devs heard enough whining and don't want to "break" the game for the others and make mezzing important) even as strong as the ones of another class, yet an important part of your character, maybe the reason why you chose it in the first place, becomes completely obsolete.

This can actually break a game. For a player, or for all.

Imagine an MMO where healing becomes obsolete because items became so powerful that nothing (short of a player wielded weapon) can harm a tank. Dedicated healer classes would certainly feel unbalanced and "useless". Now, instead of making healers important again, they're giving a boost to their damage spell lines and are told to behave like offensive casters. That's not what I made. I made a healer. If I wanted a damage caster, I would have made one.

Thus "balancing" a game may actually ruin it, when it is done without first considering what the player actually wants...

Re:Balance is key to multiplayer game success (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165711)

Let me guess you play a Priest?

Re:Balance is key to multiplayer game success (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165749)

playED. Past tense.

Add that the game became trivially easy, with AoE taunts for tanks and "spam-this-til-you-drop" healing routines, and the damagemeter being the only measure to any other classes' value (Stun? Mez? CC? Whazzat? Some new drop?), and you have the perfect mix if you want me to leave your game.

Re:Balance is key to multiplayer game success (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165793)

If you play an MMO and your class excels in mezzing, it ruins your class if mezzing is simply unnecessary, no matter how much you excel in it. Instead, you have to rely on your other spells which are maybe (in the end, when the devs heard enough whining and don't want to "break" the game for the others and make mezzing important) even as strong as the ones of another class, yet an important part of your character, maybe the reason why you chose it in the first place, becomes completely obsolete.

Sounds like Mesmers in Guild Wars PvE :)
They tear stuff up in PvP though (which I don't play. :P )

Team balance as well, it could be so simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164777)

Finding a matching opponent for 1on1 matches, yes, I can see how that is tricky since it requires at central DB which stores that. But any team game which goes on for more than one round would in theory have at least the stats of the previous round available and when moving on to the next map the teams should be filled not by random chance but so that the top ranking players of the previous match are evenly distributed.

I have not yet seen something that simple and obvious implemented. If I had time I would write a mod for the game where this annoys me the most at the moment, but alas, I just leave annoyed when winning is too easy/hard and I can't switch teams to make it a bit fairer. Game devs, forget ever better graphics for a while and think about a better in game mechanics and interface issues more!

What "Skill" Really Means (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164889)

Okay, I'm sorry, but people throw around the word "skill" as though it is some special property that people either have or do not.

In fact, skill is the totality of what you need to be able to do to compete. In Darwinist terms, it is synonymous with fitness. Fitness, as a term, does not specify exactly what makes one fit; this is specific to each individual case, and is derived directly and in all cases from the conditions.

There are several methods by which one develops "skill", and they might or might not apply to a give game.

1. Skill is representative of reflexes. This is rare for most games; it usually is only true when the game is new and no-one really knows anything about it. In these cases, reflexes appear to be the same as skill because they represent an advantage that only one player possesses. Over time, other advantages usually develop to the point where reflexes alone do not represent (much of) an advantage by itself (but is a considerable edge for those who possess other advantages).

2. Skill is representative of time. This is the most common, because almost all humans are capable of both learning and adapting, and so in most cases practice results in elevated mastery. In almost every game, time spend playing is the single biggest advantage that one can have.

3. Skill is representative of money. This mostly used to apply in the days of coin-op arcade games, and is more of a derived skill representation as it enhances the advantage of reflexes by limiting the possibility of time. Those with money could get time to develop their reflexes; those without money had no time to practice and could get no advantage over reflexes alone. Money as a representation of skill is however making a comeback, with paid-for exclusive downloadable content starting to represent real advantages such as better weapons or earlier access to new maps.

4. Skill is representative of knowledge/intelligence. This is in many ways derived from time, but also somewhat independent of it insofar as an individual's natural pattern-matching and information processing and memory potential is concerned. This allows one to discover and or apply complex strategies or unusual rules to a competition, in their own favor. This is in many ways diluted over time, as information becomes disseminated.

Most games represent several values; Fighters and shooters represent skill mostly as Reflexes in the early days, but mostly Time at later stages of it's lifetime (some fighters can also significantly represent skill as knowledge/intelligence where long combo chains and complex moves are particularly important, or detailed knowledge of spawn times and map layouts). MMOs mostly represent skill as Time, but also Money (to varying degrees depending on many factors, and usually mostly in the early days). RPGs usually represent skill as Time and also in many cases significantly represent skill as knowledge/intelligence; on the other hand, Reflexes typically mean nothing at all. And so on. Other classes of advantages representative of skill exists, but are minor and mostly derived from the above.

Sorry to all of the elitists who decry modern games as overflowing with noobs who can't press buttons fast enough/aim their mouse precise enough, but "skill" doesn't just mean that. Almost all advantages come back mostly to time, and all are - in principle - subservient to it. If you say that you're skilled at a game, but don't really mean that you've simply played it a lot, then what you're really saying is that your advantage is likely to be temporary, unless you put time in.

Re:What "Skill" Really Means (1)

sulliwan (810585) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165455)

This is absolutely correct. The vast majority of player skill is based simply on the time put in to practice, nothing else. Top players simply have the work ethic and dedication required to excel. Also, they know how to learn and practice in order to get maximum benefit from it. They don't simply play the game to have fun, they play to improve themselves in the game. This in turn makes the game MORE fun, not less. Most games worth anything become very intricate and complicated at the top level and being able to play at that level is simply more fun. And this is why most handicap systems are bad for a game. If there is no incentive to improve yourself, the game can never reach it's full potential. This is also the reason why fiddling with the rules all the time is bad. If an overpowered strategy develops, it is usually better to wait for the gamers to find solutions to it, advancing the game, rather than just ban it because of the people, who aren't even trying to figure it out, whining.

Bad title. (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164951)

Wow, I really have been programmed. As soon as I read "Fairness and Balance" I began wondering about liberal indoctrination.

I think it would also explain why I'm compelled to scream, "someday you will realize who your god really is" every time someone says the word China. Now I have this urge to buy a sniper rifle.

Re:Bad title. (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165429)

Now I have this urge to buy a sniper rifle.

Stupid AWP is soo overpowered.

Just video games? (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165071)

I don't understand why the author thinks these issues are specific to video games.

It can be hard finding players of comparable skill-level to create even match-ups

...like it can be with any face-to-face game. In fact, video games make this vastly easier by allowing you to play with anyone across the world, instead of being limited to the set of people who can physically hook up with you.

diverse gameplay options can quickly become irrelevant if someone finds a broken feature that beats everything else

...just like in any board game, where one of the primary design trade-offs is to balance the various options available to the players, such that a variety of different strategies become viable, without any one strategy being a no-brainer.

some online games make your ability to play competitively a question of how much time and money you've invested in a game, rather than the skill you possess

...just like Magic the Gathering, or any other collectible card game, where the amount of money you have spent on your deck directly influences the options available to you in-game.

Disconnecting (1)

MadMoses (151207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165155)

Seriously what's it with the disconnecting after a lost game?

It happens in 90% of my Street Fighter IV games on PSN. Even if those guys played and won multiple games in a row against me, most disconnect after only one lost game, some even after one lost round.

Do these people have no balls? Pathetic.

Re:Disconnecting (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165461)

Seriously what's it with the disconnecting after a lost game?

It happens in 90% of my Street Fighter IV games on PSN. Even if those guys played and won multiple games in a row against me, most disconnect after only one lost game, some even after one lost round.

Do these people have no balls? Pathetic.

I get this all the time too. People only seem to care about their rank.

Playing to win (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27165401)

I have recently read a book called Playing to Win [sirlin.net] (available for free on the author's site [sirlin.net] ), which makes a lot of interesting points on fairness and balance. A lot of the points made in this discussion are also mentioned in that book.

Personally I disagreed with many of the author's points but it was still a very interesting read. It's not a very long book, it can easily be read in a single sitting.

The author is David Sirlin, who used to be a pro player in several Street Fighter games, and has also worked (is still working?) as a game designer for Capcom. He doesn't just discuss Street Fighter though, but also RTS games like Starcraft, FPSs like Counter-Strike, as well as traditional games like chess and go.

QQ More Noob! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27165479)

This thread = epic fail

If somebody cheats in a game, that is one thing, but if you flat out suck at a game, why should us people that are good at it have to play a crappy nerfed version because you QQ'ed until the devs dumbed it down.

Getting beat in a game all the time does not mean inbalance, it just means you suck at that game. Sure, there are glitches here and there, but if you get pwned by everybody, that means it is not an inbalance, and that you just suck.

I, personally, like playing people who are way better than me. There is no way you will ever get better at the game if you play people of your skill level.

You need to play people way better than you, get pwned every way from sunday, figure out how to beat them, and then destroy them. That is getting better at a game.

Man, you noobs need to learn a noobs place.
Don't QQ about sucking at a game through slashdot, learn to play, and then come back and challenge me.

Until then, even on slashdot, you will only be seen as a noob who does too much QQ and not enough pew pew.

Now go practice up before I pwn you again noob

Fair and balanced? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165513)

The Fox is in the henhouse?

Golf (a game I hate, thanks to working at a golf course as a teenager), has an easy answer - handicapping.

Back when I played Quake (yeah, I'm old, shut up, kid) online the problem was LPBs - Low Ping Bastards. If you were on dialup playing against someone with DSL or a T-1, you had no chance.

I got around this by what some may consider cheating - the use of varying skins. Now, there was a one-pixel skin (Called the "invisible man" IIRC) that I refused to use, because it was cheating, no doubt.

My three favorite skins that evened the odds against LPBs (not to mention players more skilled than me, and there were a lot) were first, the PC Gamer Coconut Monkey skin. I never could figure out what was so lucky about that skin, until someone I was playing said he didn't even realise I was a player.

Next was the Baal skin. This was a HUGE character, making it easy to hit, but hard to shoot at, because it scared the hell out of opponents. Nobody was used to seeing such a large skin and it spooked them. As soon as they saw me they'd run, even though they could have easily fragged me and my low-skill, high ping playing.

My favorite skin, though, was the nudechick skin. This one was a naked woman, complete with nipples and pubic hair. Nobody wanted to shoot the naked lady!

This one backfired when I ran across the PMS clan (Psycho Man Slayers), who later became online friends of mine.

But I always advocated speed throttling, where everyone's speed was lowered to the speed of the lowest speed player. This idea was universally dismissed; nobody wanted their speed to drop.

Re:Fair and balanced? (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165773)

The problem with the speed throttling to the lowest active player is that within the first week, you'll start seeing speed griefers who will willingly overload their connection with 50 active bittorrent streams in order to bring down every other player to 1 second and higher ping times. Say goodbye to playing your game with any decent kind of speed ever again!

Re:Fair and balanced? (1)

Phydaux (1135819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27166219)

I used to play Quake 2 a lot, back when I had dial-up. And I know the annoyance of the LPB's ;)

But I found a great server with some very high-skilled players, with both low and high ping. They took the time to teach me the tricks. One was simply leading your target, even with insta-hit weapons like the rail-gun, you just need to lead the lag between you.

It's probably why I'm one of the few people on the servers of modern games who doesn't cry when someone's ping starts to reach 3 figures. I just compensate for the lag and kill them anyway.

Speed throttling would just lead to jumpy game play as my connection speed would be constantly changing to that of the worst, this would make it much harder to play. I'd rather a constant connection than a varying one any day.

The recipe is simple (1)

tequila13 (968020) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165719)

I'm surprised that DotA didn't come up in the article. It IS the most widely played RTS currently.

It's built using the perfect recipe for a balanced game. Millions play it, and thousands give suggestions on public forums on how to improve it. The most popular ideas usually make it into the game.

two schools (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165829)

The old school says you play hard and work hard while you're playing. You endure thousands of defeats until you gain the skill necessary to do well.

The new school is some 13 year old kid who plays for 9 hours a day and calls you a noob. Hence we now have things like quake-live's skill testing and Left 4 Dead's Director(who isn't always fair).

I like the idea of the old school, and I'm old enough to be a member, but I can't play for 9 hours a day like I used to do. Skill matching is good, but may ensure you never advance your skills.

Re:two schools (1)

chadplusplus (1432889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27166429)

Skill matching is good, but may ensure you never advance your skills.

I don't think this is necessarily true. If I'm a rank of x and get matched up against players ranked x +/- y, than I will learn new tactics from watching the x+y guys. But since y is some reasonable range, I don't get slaughtered before I have a chance to learn.

Back when I was first trying to play SOCOM, I was getting slaughtered by jump snipers before I even had a chance to learn how to aim. It was frustrating to the point of not being fun.

Sports games (1)

tehkyle (1494757) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165867)

Generally, I find these to be the most highly unbalanced games. Some people like to play their sports just like they see in real life, but others just want to dominate and will do what it takes to get an edge. Often in Sports games there is too much in terms of "Trick shots" or the like. Hockey and Football especially. There are just certain plays in football that a guy will get wide open no matter how you cover him, and in hockey there are odd dekes you can do along the goal line to make the goalie go down, and do a simple wraparound and score 90% of the time.

I think that as our programmers, and obviously games, get better we see much more parity in online play, as they tweak AI and eliminate those errors, but we aren't there yet. I believe that these games SHOULD be based on skill and time and effort put into the game, but not so much into finding the bugs and 'cheap' ways, but by getting better at strategy. We need to learn to eliminate bugs before we have ultra competitive games.

Flick Fishing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27166109)

I have to quit the game whenever the line snaps.

The monster fish are supposed to be fun, but they are so hard to catch it ruins the game.

Just started playing (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#27166261)

I just started playing DOA4 online, The ranking system is seriously messed up.
If a Higher rank beats you at a lower rank they still get standard points.
They should get deducted a few points from what they earn.
Second, If you are a higher rank and get beat by a lower rank you get more then normal points deducted.
I mean it is fun, But they need to try to put similiar ranked fighters in matches with Similiar ranking.
Just my gripe going from starting at a C and jumping up and down in the E,D,and F ranks.
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