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Should Computer Games Adapt To the Way You Play?

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the worked-for-commander-data dept.

Games 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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Configurable (5, Insightful)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 5 years ago | (#29731683)

I'd like to see it configurable. Check box that allows adaptation, with sub-items that define what type of adaptation will occur.

Re:Configurable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29731741)

I agree. Allow the player to control difficulty level. Not a new concept. Some people want the cakewalk. Others are only satified it they have to work for it. Let the player choose difficulty at the start of the game. If they get killed too much, they can drop the difficulty and vice-versa if they get bored.

Re:Configurable (2, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | about 5 years ago | (#29732267)

Along with the selectable difficulty, I'd want to see an "Adapt Difficulty" checkbox. That way if you select too high (or too low) of a difficulty initially, you don't have to replay large parts of the game. That's the worst part about difficulty selection... if you choose wrong, you have to re-do a bunch of the game, which is usually only interesting to a small portion of gamers.

Re:Configurable (1)

kantos (1314519) | about 5 years ago | (#29731745)

Agreed in the most emphatic terms. However, I should note that there is a reason Mario Kart does what it does, Nintendo has taken the "No Winners" strategy towards their party games in order to make less skilled players feel less put out, while it's not necessarily a bad strategy it does sometime alienate more skilled players, but in my experience it just makes the game fun.

Re:Configurable (2, Insightful)

DJProtoss (589443) | about 5 years ago | (#29731899)

but in my experience it just makes the game fun.

Apart from that ruddy blue shell. A couple of games with friends and that was enough to put me off playing it again. I mean, fine give better weapons / bonuses to the players at the back, but regularly simply bomb the guy in the lead with no recourse whatsoever? Meh.

Re:Configurable (4, Insightful)

Lord Byron Eee PC (1579911) | about 5 years ago | (#29732005)

Recourse is in the eye of the beholder.

If player #2 and I are neck and neck for 1st place, I keep back a bit knowing full well that he will get blue shelled eventually.

If I'm in 1st, but have some people only a second or two behind me, I'll hit the brakes when I hear the blue shell warning sound, knowing that they'll get caught up in the explosion.

I think Mario Kart gets a bad reputation because people want it to be a pure racing game, when its really a racing-based brawler.

Re:Configurable (2, Insightful)

fyrewulff (702920) | about 5 years ago | (#29732115)

I think you pretty much hit it right on the nose. Mario Kart has never really been about the racing, it's always been unfair and more of a survival of trying to place on the top half to move on to the next track.

Re:Configurable (1)

PitaBred (632671) | about 5 years ago | (#29732313)

If you really are that good, you can still win. Besides... you can change all kinds of options in the multiplayer setup for Mario Kart. It's not a fine-grained handicapping, but it still works reasonably well. You can set me up with pretty much any kart/bike and I can still beat pretty much everyone that comes over, and a lot of people on the Internet when they're not cheating. Really... what you're bitching about is that you are probably just marginally better than the other people, and the handicapping is working as designed. Here's a free hint: stay in second place for most of the race.

Re:Configurable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29732329)

Of course this is recoverable.

area under the demand curve (2, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | about 5 years ago | (#29731783)

for a game to achieve a given level of revenue at a given price then you can compute the number of items you need to sell. if you make it too hard, your demographic won't support it. if you make it too easy then you bore the hard core and also may lose the demographic size you need.

the question is does medium hard work?

if not then you need to have variable difficulty to capture the area under the demand curve.

Also if lets freinds and guests compete on the turf of an expert. the expert may enjoy having more freinds than the person at his level.

Configurable is nice but i'd probably not be an expert enough to know what i needed until I had played it for a while and gotten frustrated.

Re:Configurable (3, Insightful)

bl8n8r (649187) | about 5 years ago | (#29732185)

I vote for that one too. The "adjust skill" option is nice when you are doing multiplayer, like Unreal Tournament, so the bots just aren't easy frags. Quake3 Arena lets you add bots (on the fly) at different skill levels so newbie players have something to kill (co-op), but there are still some targets running around that you can't just run down with a shotgun.

Some games simply suck-ass when the game adjusts to your level: 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.

Best thing I can suggest is make your game mod'able and offer an editor for download. You gain enthusiasm/publicity that can carry the interest in between releases, and there is a lot of creativity and fun being built in your user base.

Re:Configurable (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about 5 years ago | (#29732213)

I'd like to see it configurable


Specifically for games that have multiplayer and solo. Solo gaming usually has this where you can set your difficulty level. This allows you to play through it once or twice until it becomes easy, and THEN crank it up a notch. This allows you to play the entire game through at a set pace, so that even the "final boss" is easy until you turn it up. Games that auto-adjust NEVER have an easy boss because by the time you get there the game has already adjusted itself to your skill level.

For multiplayer, all I've seen in the past are ways to set the overall arena difficulty, not to set the players separately. It's no fun as a new player playing against a seasoned vetran - no matter where you set the difficulty it's not a fun game for either player. Either they just smack you around the entire game, or it becomes a matter of who happens (sometimes by chance alone) to get the drop because everything is instakill. No fun for anyone.

There needs to be a separate setting for each player, or even a single slider that shifts between the two players, for a "balance of power". So it could start at 50/50, and if player 1 is just more experienced, maybe set it to 40/60 or 30/70 etc.

I think part of the frustration in games that auto adjust is that sometimes the game plays in unexpected or infuriating ways. If the game decides that you need to be nerfed, suddenly that combo that always was just enough now doesn't work quite as well anymore. Seen plenty of people scream at a game because a move they did that had always worked for them in the past, didn't work or didn't work as well. Makes you feel robbed. Now if you deliberately have set the level up, it's understandable, you did it to yourself.

Re:Configurable (4, Interesting)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 5 years ago | (#29732295)

For multiplayer, all I've seen in the past are ways to set the overall arena difficulty, not to set the players separately. It's no fun as a new player playing against a seasoned vetran - no matter where you set the difficulty it's not a fun game for either player.

Quake 3 did. When I played it against my friends, they put me on a 30% handicap (so I had 30% of their health and did 30% of their damage) because that's the only way they could avoid me from wiping the floor with them. There was something about that game that just clicked with the way I play - I wasn't nearly as dominant in Counterstrike, in fact I was regularly thrashed by one of them, but I tore through opposition in any id game like soft fruit through an old granny.

Re:Configurable (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 5 years ago | (#29732221)

Resident Evil 5 has a difficulty that adjusts based on how well you play. There's a difficulty slider that ranges from 0-10. There's hard min and max caps on how far up and down the slider can go based on chosen difficulty. As you play better and better the enemies you face take less damage from your weapons and deal more damage when they hit.

Re:Configurable (4, Insightful)

Gorath99 (746654) | about 5 years ago | (#29732249)

I prefer just simple "Easy", "Normal", "Hard", "Very Hard" settings. Ideally with "Normal" being a little easy, so I get to feel good about myself when I choose "Hard" :-). (Only half joking here. The psychology really does matter.)

The problem with letting the computer decide what the challenge level is, is that it doesn't have a clue about my preferences. It only knows how well I'm doing, not whether or not I enjoy being challenged. This is not enough information to determine if I'm having fun or not. Doubly so if the system is flawed. For instance, Oblivion takes only your level into account, not your skill, or even your character's skills. This means that if you level up by, for instance, trading, you are constantly hounded by all kinds of nasty critters that you have no hope of defeating with your puny combat stats. Obviously, that's no fun at all.

Also, in some games it's really inappropriate to change the world for no apparent reason, other than that the player is doing well or poorly. Morrowind (sans expansions) was a remarkable consistent world, and that helped to make it incredibly engrossing. In Oblivion, where you were effectively never getting ahead, and where eventually even the highway robbers were equiped with a king's random in magic items in order to challenge you, I never felt close to having the same level of immersion.

Re:Configurable (2, Insightful)

purpledinoz (573045) | about 5 years ago | (#29732293)

Personally, I would like to see computer AI to adapt. Otherwise, you find one flaw with the AI, and you can exploit it all you want. That's why I stopped playing single player games. Either the computer AI was too good, too easy, or too predictable. I still love playing Counter-Strike because playing against other human players is just more rewarding and challenging. If I find a hiding spot where I get 10 kills, the next round that same spot won't work. The fun is adapting to the other players, and the challenge of defeating the other players who are also adapting. Also, the teamwork aspect is something that you just can't have with computer AI. I can't foresee any computer AI responding to voice chat, like "Can anyone buy me a weapon? Please?".

Rubber-banding (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 years ago | (#29731695)

Rubber-banding is no different than a golf handicap, tennis ladder, or beginner/expert/pro leagues in most sports. It's simply not fun to play too far out of your skill range. The talk about "rewarding mediocrity" is misplaced in an activity that exists only for fun - it should be rewarding for everybody, otherwise players would (and should) quit.

Re:Rubber-banding (2, Insightful)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | about 5 years ago | (#29731889)

Ruberbanding in some games is fucking annoying. Need For Speed? Yuck. You crash into a wall and then they slow down so you blam past them. Now they come zooming up and leave you in the dust. It doesn't make the game more fun, it just 1) teaches you how to race the wrong way 2) makes winning levels an aggravating game of chance.

Take a game without ruberband racing like Gran Turisimo, there you learn how to race just fine (if you're in a comparable car). If you make a mistake you start the level again because you just lost, and the progression ends up being much more fun.

And Mario Kart is not ruberband, that's just part of their 'draft' mechanics (a mechanic that helps a player in the back go faster relative to a player in the front).

Re:Rubber-banding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29732203)

You shouldn't be bumping into walls in the first place. Granted, some NFS tracks have little invisible corners, but after two or so playthroughs you know where they are. Rubberbanding in NFS actually accomplishes exactly what it should: keeping the game challenging when you get good at it, while still giving you a chance to win early in the game.
As for Mario Kart, the primary reason that's annoying is because you can get a sudden punishment for driving in 1st place which can send you back to last position in the last lap. That doesn't really encourage people to improve their driving skills, and that in turn makes it boring, even if it's a fun party game when you're all new to the game.
Still, as a general principle, the game should notice if you get better, and get more challenging in response. Otherwise a game just gets more and more boring over time.Setting skill levels accomplished that in some games to some extent, but it has its problems. In many games you'd have to replay a large part of the story if you want to change your difficulty level, which for some long story based games is a real discouragement. In others (primarily rts games) the more difficult settings can only be achieved by giving cpu players bonuses because ai simply isn't that good yet - but this has the downside that these solutions aren't stable and it at some point will cause the computer players to "explode" making it impossible to win. In that case you have the "aggravating game of chance" that you complain about that will require a kind of rubberbanding to fix.
Like it or not, rubberbanding is here to stay.

Re:Rubber-banding (2, Insightful)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | about 5 years ago | (#29732377)

On top of that, what's wrong with teaching a player new skills? I appreciate the Valve approach in games like Half Life 2. They first *teach* you how to use a tool, game mechanic, etc, then leave it up to you to combine your existing skills with the newly taught ones in order to bring about a successful result. It is very satisfying (to this gamer) to overcome a challenge when given the right skills/tools. The game would have been very bland if they had merely expected me to play in the same manner I had before, dynamically adjusting difficulty to just let me pass.

Re:Rubber-banding (1)

vlm (69642) | about 5 years ago | (#29732437)

Take a game without ruberband racing like Gran Turisimo,

GT1 did not rubberband, GT2 did rubberband. Version 2 sucked. Of course that was about ten years ago on my PS1 so I may misremember. In GT1 you could optimize your car to leave competitors in the dust. That was half "the game". In GT2, the competitors were magically always 99% your speed, no matter how optimized or unoptimized your car. That made it just another race game.

Re:Rubber-banding (1)

CheShACat (999169) | about 5 years ago | (#29731947)

I agree with this; similarly if a game is too hard then a player might find they have purchased content (later levels) to which they are denied access. Granted, this is through their own mediocrity or lack of commitment to attain the relevant skill level, but i think that every player should have the opportunity to play through all the content that they have paid for within the context of how much work that particular person are prepared to put in to achieve it.

Dara O'Briain makes the same point on Charlie Brooker's Gameswipe here: []

Re:Rubber-banding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29732481)

Dara is really bad at video games. It's more like a book starting to use words that are too complicated for you to understand, until you have no idea what's going on and can't follow the plot at all. Does that suck for you? Yes. Should the writer adjust his vocabulary to a fourth grade level? I don't think so.

Agree with parent (1)

grimJester (890090) | about 5 years ago | (#29732021)

I'd specify that "rewarding mediocrity" is a misleading term in a single-player game. In multiplayer games you can and should pick who the player competes with based on previous results. In a single-player game I don't see a reason not to make the game harder for better players. Ideally, if you can adjust difficulties or change relative occurences of separate elements of gameplay, you should be able to trickle out content to a player at a predetermined rate. This avoids problems of breezing though interesting parts of a storyline too fast or getting stuck in "grinding" without getting more story. For more puzzle-like games it seems reasonable to assume that inserting more of the elements a given player finds difficult would make the game more fun. This may not be true and might even be the other way around, though.

Re:Rubber-banding (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29732043)

Traditional rubber-banding isn't really like that. The problem is that it only takes in to account what you've just recently done. It'd be more like adjusting your handicap every couple holes, based on your score on those last few holes (though not again at the very end after the last hole). What ends up happening is that poor/good performance at the beginning is mostly wiped away so that a tiny mistake at the end can cost you the race/game/etc no matter how well you've done the rest of the time.

Re:Rubber-banding (1)

Notch (1612475) | about 5 years ago | (#29732193)

Sure, but poor implementation of it will destroy the design of a game. I very much like games that let you change the difficulty setting without restarting the game. That way you can choose how difficult you want the game to be, and if you start having a hard time, you don't have to start over the very first level. Games that automatically change the difficulty, I find frustrating. Games like Oblivion and Final Fantasy 8 take it to the extreme, where you're actually punished for making progress in the game. As your character levels up, so does everything else in the game, making it pointless for the player to bother trying to level up.

Re:Rubber-banding (1)

Zelos (1050172) | about 5 years ago | (#29732397)

Rubber banding is really annoying in racing games. Race really well for the first 2 laps and it makes no difference, you don't build up a lead. Make one mistake on the final lap and all your good driving is wasted as the AI shoots past you.

Personally I really don't like adaptive difficulty. Sure, let me select what difficulty to play on, but once I've chosen the difficulty don't do some hidden calculations in the background and change my selection.

Nope, not really (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | about 5 years ago | (#29732405)

Except that's yet another case of talking out the arse without knowing what the real problem is.

The problem is: in many of those games with rubberbanding, there is already another mechanic for those tiers you describe. And the rubberbanding is nullifying the other mechanic. _That_ is what some of us complain about.

E.g., in the Gran Turismo series (and many similar games), the focus isn't on just jumping into a random race and having your 15 minutes of fun. You have to earn the car and the upgrades to qualify for the next league, and then even more upgrades to win in it. There is already a mechanic to simulate those leagues, and to justify why you should spend several days grinding your way through them. (Read: why you should play each of the few race tracks more than once.) Throwing in rubberbanding is nullifying all that, and turning it right back into a kiddie kart game. Suddenly it's hard not to notice that the whole tuning and upgrading aspect is bogus, since the opponents really are just tied to your car with rubberbands. What's the point in grinding to upgrade your engine HP by 50% when, effectively, every single opponent just got the same upgrade?

E.g., in Oblivion and generally an RPG, there's already a mechanic for simulating those leagues and tiers. It's called xp and levels. (Or skills, if it's skill-based a la Oblivion.) If your skill is too low to beat this opponent, you're supposed to go raise it somewhere else, and if it's too low, well, then just go fight something higher level instead. Do you understand that crucial aspect? There is no need to simulate those leagues and tiers in a game which already has another mechanic for just that. And adding some form of rubber-banding just makes the other mechanic a pointless waste of time. Why bother grinding your character to level 50, when effectively it gave you no advantage at all?

And it doesn't help that all too often it's done _badly_ too. E.g., since we're talking about Oblivion, the end opponent is actually a lot easier to beat if you somehow manage to get there as a level 3 character, than if you did all the quests and have a level 30 character. Effectively, you're better off if you skip 90% of the game and just do the absolute minimum that gets you through the short main quest arc. It's not that all that grinding and exploring and getting equipment doesn't give any advantage, it's that it actually becomes a disadvantage.

Excellent... (0)

benjamindees (441808) | about 5 years ago | (#29732419)

So pretend for a minute that you're in charge of a giant, multi-player video game. And your goal is to get as many people as possible to play the game.

In a normal game without handicapping, the good players would win quickly, get bored easily, and simply quit. The poor players would get crushed, lose, and also quit. You would not achieve your goal.

But what if, instead, you take things (items, resources, points, whatever) from the good players, and give things to the poor players. Everyone who enjoys playing the game, for fun, would keep playing. You maximize the number of people playing the game, and achieve your goal.

Now pretend that instead of running a video game, you're running the US economy.

Do you enjoy working, just for fun? Or do you work in order to create and earn things by doing so? Does "maximizing the number of players" help you, as a worker (or player)? Who does it help?

How about instructional difficulty? (3, Interesting)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | about 5 years ago | (#29731743)

What if the game taught you to be a better player? For example, it could slant the gameplay to teach you one strategy, then once you'd mastered that, move on to teach you a different one. If you do well enough, it starts to require combined strategies, etc.

Re:How about instructional difficulty? (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | about 5 years ago | (#29731909)

For racing games (not mario kart of F-zero, those aren't racing games), the best thing the game can do is pit you against equal cars and not ruberband. Ruberband racing teaches you to rush and crash into corners.

Re:How about instructional difficulty? (2, Interesting)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 5 years ago | (#29732301)

I've played quite a few racing games, and I believe them to teach you to rush, and not crash into corners. The problem with a lot of racing games is that if they become a simulator, then they are not a racing game. Those that succeed well at becoming very close to reality, start becoming less of a quick thrill for those not wanting to perfect the driving mechanics of the game.

Those like Wipeout and Gran Tourismo were more about getting nice graphics and a rush of excitement when you hammer through bends at impossible speeds. These games had the different difficulty levels (or progression to harder races) to allow for cutoff points in skill and enjoyment.

If a racing game would be able to design tracks based on your driving style, either to challenge you, or play to your strengths for a more enjoyable ride, I think that it would be really cool.

btw, any of you notice the expert use of the car analogy?

Re:How about instructional difficulty? (4, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | about 5 years ago | (#29732347)

Mario Kart and F-Zero most certainly are racing games. They're just not racing simulations.

No WAY!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29731747)

Games should not adapt to people.. I played nintendo with 0 Adaption and i loved the games way longer then these new ones. I think it makes the game boring and trivial. Just make a game that is hard as hell and people will adapt to it.

Bad example: Madden I.Q. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29731753)

Maybe the system works in the long run, but in my experiences over one season of a franchise, the difficulty adjustment is a little too jumpy. If my I.Q. is low, I can absolutely slaughter the opponent, causing it to go artificially high. If it is high, I can't successfully do anything, and I get steamrolled. End result? With one exception near the season's end (as things finally balanced out), I lost every even-numbered game.

Adaptation is great, but unless you're playing to win (in a Deep Blue style competition), don't let your game adapt too quickly (in either direction). Or better yet, let the user have some control over the adaptation rate.

expression? (1)

qoncept (599709) | about 5 years ago | (#29731761)

Others would say that it restricts the freedom of expression for the game designer.

First, the question I feel stupid even asking: How would that restrict the game designer's freedom of expression?

And, the one that doesn't make me feel stupid: Are you serious? Can I get a "who fucking cares" ? "Selling out" is what happens when you have bills to pay. Get used to it.

Old school gamer reply. (5, Insightful)

Tei (520358) | about 5 years ago | (#29731765)

Most games already have a option to choose how hard or easy you want your game. This works better than autoleveling, because If I set the game to be hard, and I die too much, maybe thats exactly what I want, and If set game too easy and I kill everything, maybe thats what I want.

Good games, like World of Goo, have options to skip night imposible levels (since is a puzzle game, you could be stoped totally to experience the whole level). This is like these ols space games with "megabombs" that clear the screen. But that "megabomb" is limited.
Challenge is good wen you want challenge, havin games that kill challenge would be fatal. And this one of the reasons Oblivium was a bad game, and Morrowind was a much better game.

Also, dificulty is not that all important. Fun is important. Games sould be fun. The dificulty is not the reason. But since we are talking here about dificulty, I have talked about it, and what it means.

Re:Old school gamer reply. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29731951)

Another old school gamer here.

I play some games specifically for the difficulty. The challenge is what makes it fun. Take for example first-person-shooter games online. Sometimes it just isn't fun to play on a server where your skill outclasses everyone else. I get my FPS release when I have to fight for every kill, and I don't get to blink for 15 to 30 minutes.

But the very next day, I might be content with hopping on a server where the admin has low gravity and is turning people into headcrabs.

All of that being said, difficulty is a non-pervasive element in today's video-gaming culture. Case in point, some games even play themselves now [] .

Just some food for thought.


Re:Old school gamer reply. (1)

Abjifyicious (696433) | about 5 years ago | (#29732069)

Most games already have a option to choose how hard or easy you want your game. This works better than autoleveling, because If I set the game to be hard, and I die too much, maybe thats exactly what I want, and If set game too easy and I kill everything, maybe thats what I want.

I couldn't agree more. There seems to be continuing trend in game design towards making games where the player is never frustrated. The way I interpret this, we're headed towards the philosophy of "don't make the game too hard, and if the player is still having trouble, make it even easier by dynamically adjusting the difficulty."

Now obviously for some people that's great. If you're a casual gamer, you still want to be able to play through games without getting stuck on the first level. However, I think there's a real hole in the market right now for games that cater to hardcore gamers. Personally, I like games that are a little bit frustrating, because it means I'm being challenged. I don't want to play an interactive movie, I want to play a game.

There are signs that this might be changing (Demon's Souls is a good example of a game that bucks the trend and does so in a very compelling way), but I think one of the big reasons that multiplayer games are so popular nowadays is simply that real players provide a genuine challenge to play against.

Re:Old school gamer reply. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29732227)

Your post makes me think of the topical VGCats Comic Strip []

Re:Old school gamer reply. (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 5 years ago | (#29732235)

Racing games need the rubberbanding - if it were like real life, one crash and you're toast- hopelessly unable to catch up with those who haven't crashed, where's the fun?

Same thing applies across the board in strategy, FPS, etc., though I do like having the option of "turning the realism up" where there's less adaptation to skill, and another "knob" for overall difficulty. Lately, I'd like to have another "knob" for complexity - something that would dial back the number of available options, like playing World of Warcraft (solo) during the tutorials where there aren't as many spells, units, etc. to deal with. High complexity adds depth and replay-ability, but it creates a barrier to engaging with the game on a casual level.

Most modern games have some variation of a tutorial that starts you off on "easy," "simple," and "adaptive," and works up to the "full blown" game. Having direct control over these three variables would allow the player to customize the gameplay to fit their personal preference, and hopefully would broaden the appeal of the game.

Re:Old school gamer reply. (1)

drummerboybac (1003077) | about 5 years ago | (#29732509)

A game like Viewtiful Joe was a welcome throwback to a game that could be brutally hard on the correct settings, but was still a lot of fun, even though many probably didn't finish it at the harder settings.

What sort of game adaptation would you like to see (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29731769)

If I just keep sending Kasumi to the pool to watch her rock back and forth on an inflatable dolphin in the pool, you might as well remove her swimming suit completely.

I don't know what you'd call that, I would call it a reward for not exhausting my character in volleyball matches under extremely hot temperatures.

I don't think it is a bad thing... (1)

Darundal (891860) | about 5 years ago | (#29731775)

...because it provides, at least for me, a challenging game experience while at the same being in line with the market trend of games that are more accessible. Accessibility these days often comes in the form of significantly reduced challenge, which leads to uninteresting games for me. At least this way, I still have something to play.

reward better players (1)

pavelthesecond (1180489) | about 5 years ago | (#29731779)

try rewarding better players by giving them more stuff to do in the game. Or give them bragging rights, like the achievements system in COD4.

Re:reward better players (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29731981)

"Reward" in this sense is misguided.

For design purposes we need players to enjoy the game. Enjoyment is the reward. Being "better" at a game can be pretty subjective. Bringing various definitions into alignment would mean that the person who is enjoying the game the most is also getting the highest in-game score or other measure of accomplishment.

People conflate "better player" somehow with "more skilled" which isn't necessarily the case. Particularly in the FPS and MMO genres you have the "hardcore" players who self-identify as "best" but don't necessarily get the most out of the game, just the highest score or fastest time to level. These are the same people who don't "get" Little Big Planet or other sandbox games because they don't have an easy, solid measure of what it means to be "better".

Re:reward better players (1)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | about 5 years ago | (#29732151)

Being "better" at a game can be pretty subjective. Bringing various definitions into alignment would mean that the person who is enjoying the game the most is also getting the highest in-game score or other measure of accomplishment.

Can't say I completly agree to the second sentence, as for me there was a game for the amiga 500, Dogs of War. I think i only ever managed to complete 1 mission as the game was too difficult for me, however I never stopped enjoying the game or trying.

rubber banding is like the NBA (1, Flamebait)

notgm (1069012) | about 5 years ago | (#29731793)

you only have to try in the last few seconds of the game, and even then you're just a crapshoot and a bad bounce away from a win or a loss.


Lack of perceivable progress. . . (4, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | about 5 years ago | (#29731797)

One problem, potentially, if you 'adapt to players skill level' *too* well, is that as they get better (or as their character gets more powerful in an RPG type system), they might feel like they never get to enjoy the increase in either their skill, or power. It can feel like treading water, if as you get better, the game gets so much harder that you never get any feeling of accomplishment, no sense that you are any better or stronger than you started out, even though you *know* you've gotten better, or have more powerful abilities.

However, at some point, you do want more challenge. The trick will be, adapting to the players, while still giving them some opportunity to experience their increase in skill or strength.

This could be applied to almost any game genre, btw. I mean, consider an FPS. If you've gotten better at managing your economy, strategizing attack tactics, etc, but the computer remains in lockstep with your real skill increase as a player, then it can be very frustrating. At some point, you want the satisfaction of just slaughtering the AI player that used to beat you on the same 'skill level', because your skill has actually increased.

Re:Lack of perceivable progress. . . (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | about 5 years ago | (#29732011)

That's what pissed me off about matter how much you leveled, it didn't feel like you accomplished anything because the bad guys were harder to kill.

Re:Lack of perceivable progress. . . (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | about 5 years ago | (#29732375)

It makes you a permanent noob, getting better doesn't actually mean anything because had NOT gotten any better you would be doing just as well.

What's the point of a skill increase if a beginner monster that was challenging but beatable at the very beginning of the game can suddenly kick your ass when you're 3/4 of the way through the story line? That just makes you feel like shit.

It would be a hell of a lot easier to just do away with the skills altogether and turn it into an FPS, since it is about the same anyway.

Oblivion is the perfect example. (5, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 5 years ago | (#29732029)

I was intrigued by the concept of adaptable games until I played Oblivion. Granted, Oblivion made the worst possible decisions when it came to adapting Mobs to your level: it had an uneven leveling "curve" to the point where gaining a level could make previously easy monsters into a nightmare. It used obscure leveling mechanisms where you could gimp your character to an unplayable point if you didn't happen to pick the right class or jump often enough between leveling.

Since then, I don't care about adaptive leveling, because it is a much harder problem than it appears to be on the surface. Part of the fun for me is to go from getting stomped by the computer to stomping the computer, just because I got better at the game. Sometimes I want the challenge, but then I select it, not the game. Judging from the amount of Starcraft games that are labeled "7v1 stomp the comp", I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this.

Adaptive difficulty should really come only in two flavors: select an overall game difficulty, so that you know what to expect; or enter some dungeon or bonus level/path that you know is much harder than what you've done so far. Don't force me into a harder game just because I've been doing so well so far. It could have been just a lucky streak, in which case I'll get really frustrated with the sudden ramp-up in difficulty.

Re:Oblivion is the perfect example. (3, Insightful)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | about 5 years ago | (#29732237)

Yeah, I got completely bored with Oblivion because of the same thing. I think that they should have made the world completely open, but have various areas that you simply will not survive in and enemies you simply cannot defeat until you get to a high enough level -- this would give you a real feeling of accomplishment, and let you stomp all over lower level enemies as well as giving you places to go if you want to be challenged -- which leaves it entirely up to you.


Neoprofin (871029) | about 5 years ago | (#29732187)

Whose brilliant ideas about having the difficulty increase based on the parties level in fact made the game easier to beat with Lvl. 10 characters that had been dead for half the game then with a Lvl. 99 party.

This of course made it somewhat interesting, but as a novelty rather than a design element I wish to see continued.

Re:Lack of perceivable progress. . . (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 5 years ago | (#29732209)

The game difficulty should be like a stairway instead of a straight line. That way, you struggle a bit a the beginning of each step and feel more powerful toward the end of each step.

Re:Lack of perceivable progress. . . (1)

PitaBred (632671) | about 5 years ago | (#29732379)

Damn good point. Maybe make some hard steps between levels doing the skill level stuff, instead of trying for a smooth leveling?

just tech. (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | about 5 years ago | (#29731803)

Adapting the game is just tech, its how you use it that makes the game better worse.
Notice that I kill the grunts like noobs, unless you send more than 5 in at a time, then decide to send them in in groups of 6-10 = good
Notice that I'm simple too much of a noob to kill 11, stop sending in 11 = questionable but it will make the game more enjoyable for many (maybe in hard mode just make me suffer)

Some people would claim that adapting the game to you just rewards mediocrity (i.e. you don't get rewarded for playing well)

So easy mode makes the game worse? IMO no, it lets players choose the game THEY want to play, only so many of us can give the boses infinite health and still win!

OFC i hope the tech is much more interesting that just adding/removing grunts, but basically giving game developers more options is always good (yes even flash), but it can lead to some crappy game if used badly (yes especially flash)

"Rewards Mediocrity"? (1)

Rary (566291) | about 5 years ago | (#29731811)

Some people would claim that adapting the game to you just rewards mediocrity (i.e. you don't get rewarded for playing well).

Are you kidding me? So freakin' what? It's a game. It's not real life. You play it for fun. Should a person be "not qualified" to play a game if they're not good enough? And if so, by whose standards?

Less Jews (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29731823)

There are too many Jews in the Mario games.

Koopa Troopas, Ghosts, those little shelled spikey things, the fucking plants that come out of the pipes. All Jews.

Just like everything else, Mario games would be alot better without the Jews.

Re:Less Jews (2, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 5 years ago | (#29731905)

Cartman! Stop saying the F word!

I prefer Zones or areas (5, Insightful)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | about 5 years ago | (#29731829)

Basically WoW has it right. Oblivion was annoying as as soon as i level those "bandits" suddenly had very very good gear. I don't like that it's no fun, sometimes it is nice to walk to an area you have been before with your gear and butcher the low level stuff for fun.
Bestheda also fucked up Fallout 3 with this, you can pretty much complete the game in under 3hours (iirc) with hardly any leveling as the monsters are pretty much all scaled to the player.

I do like rubber-banding as long as it is managed (eg a lvl 4 monster, depending on my skill, can have the stats of say a lvl 5 monster but never any higher) this allows for a small degree of rubber-banding so good players will have a harder time but can still return to low level places.

Re:I prefer Zones or areas (2, Interesting)

swanzilla (1458281) | about 5 years ago | (#29732407)

Basically WoW has it right.

I disagree, it's a very good game, but I think Donkey Kong is the best game ever.

K.I.S.S. (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 5 years ago | (#29731845)

Adaptive gameplay doesn't need to be complicated. Take chess for instance. Most computer chess games let you choose your initial opponent (level), and based upon how you do, it changes your opponent (up/down a level) to the point where you can play without destroying the computer or the computer mangling you in gameplay... and you still get the same out of the game, regardless.

Enchance the fun (2, Interesting)

lymond01 (314120) | about 5 years ago | (#29731855)

Players enjoy certain aspects of particular genres:

1) In an RTS like Battle for Middle Earth, the draw is general defending large armies with large armies, the thrill of out-strategizing the enemy (AI), and the final devastating blow to your opponent's base. If you're playing well, and dominating the enemy, then make the game last a little longer: send out a large "backup" force from the enemy that really makes your main force struggle...but once your main force is weakened (or not), you're given time to rebuild. You may be prepared for these reinforcements to hit you and split your main force to flank them when they do arrive, etc.

2) In an FPS like Quake or Doom, you might reward run'n'gun playstyles with simply more enemies to slaughter, or be slaughtered by. More strategic FPS players may actually get the same reward, or perhaps have enemies begin to spawn behind them to make them start watching their backs, heightening the tension that comes from playing an FPS slowly.

3) World of Warcraft players might get the Amazing Sword of Brilliance if they actually attack two mobs at once instead of ganging up on one.

It has a lot to do with what people decide is fun in a game, and one reward system won't work for each genre -- but it may work for the majority of players in that genre. Find what the players are looking for in that game, and give them more.

Re:Enchance the fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29732077)

WoW has hard modes for raid instances. In one particular instance (Ulduar) the way to activate it was via the game world events. For example if you kill a minion on the boss fast enough the hard mode will activate itself (I'm talking about XT). Somehow Blizzard decided to go away from this approach and make it via game menus, pitty.

Both options (2, Interesting)

Blade (1720) | about 5 years ago | (#29731915)

I think there's room for choosing a difficulty level and having the game adapt as well. Didn't RE5 do that? You chose how hard you wanted it to be, but within that the game also decreased enemy health if you died over and over, and increased it if you survived fights without dying. So it was self adapting but within constraints you could choose yourself.

There's also a clear difference between games in which you compete against other people which try to provide an enjoyable experience, and games in which you are trying to win by having more skill than the other players, and single player games that are intended to be enjoyable and what people enjoy varies from person to person.

No. (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 5 years ago | (#29731949)

All I can say is that the original Starfleet Command had a similar 'we match the challenge to your power' and it got old VERY quickly. In fact, due to scaling issues, it was far easier to progress in the campaign if you simply kept to the smaller ships, where the opponents then stayed as smaller ships and repair costs were always low.

Rank up to an uber-dreadnought? Your AI opponent would have one too.

It actually got old very quickly.

Part of the fun is NOT KNOWING if this 'next challenge' is going to be too much for you to handle. If you always know you can win, that's just boring.

Re:No. (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 5 years ago | (#29732255)

Have you tried to simply reprogram the simulator? I don't believe in the no-win scenarios.

Oblivion "Increasing skill" feh. (2, Insightful)

electrosoccertux (874415) | about 5 years ago | (#29731965)

The enemies did not "Increase in skill", as if they matured and became better fighters, they simply leveled up as you did.
That's not adaptive AI :/

There are 2 things that need work in games-- AI and facial animations. It's been 10 years since UT99 and in UT3 the computer basically rolls a dice that determines if it's going to kill you. If it's going to kill you, it usually kills you on the first shot. Which never happens in real life. Something as simple as this, which would be so easy to get around, makes the game feel so cheap. Yes, I play with people online, but when there's only 3 and we need a 4th for iCTF, having a bot ruins the fun.
Facial animations-- see Half Life 2 [] , in my opinion. Even though the character animations themselves are a little stiff, the lipsyncing is top notch, and the Gman can display emotions such as confusion, malice, irritation, etc. Combined these all work together for a great suspension of disbelief.

Re:Oblivion "Increasing skill" feh. (1)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | about 5 years ago | (#29732119)

If it's going to kill you, it usually kills you on the first shot. Which never happens in real life.

... Did you think about this before typing.. Most head or heart shots with a gun do kill people in real life in one hit. If you want to test that on yourself and get back to me feel free to do so..

1 hit kill in games can be frustrating but sometimes it actually suits the game and just means you have to be careful. (e.g. 1st sniper mission of commandoes III; Battlefield 2, play as a sniper and score a headshot. )

You are correct about Oblivion and as I said earlier (or perhaps later depending where it is relative to this post) it was just annoying.

Adaptation = replayability (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | about 5 years ago | (#29731971)

Adaptive games (like Oblivion) definitely increase replayability.
In Oblivion you actually fight different mobs on different quests depending on what level your character is when you do it.

The Mario Kart example with the blue turtle shell - that is just annoying.
I wish there was an option to turn it off - (or even turn off all the items).

But ultimately the most fun games are the ones that test intellect and/or reflexes against other real people. Because its not that much fun to beat a computer.
Thats what made Ultima Online so much fun back in the days when it was a giant free-for-all.
Too bad they nerfed the PvP and every MMO since has followed suit.. (except for indy games like Darkfall and Mortal Online).
This is because 20% of the player base will dominate 80% of the players in an open PvP context, which tends to drive away the 80%.. []

Re:Adaptation = replayability (1)

Tridus (79566) | about 5 years ago | (#29732259)

The adaptation in Oblivion was terrible. When I first played it, I had no idea it would do that. So I'm in some crypt smaking around thieves. Hey I can level. So I do.

Suddenly these thieves I had been beating got levelled up as well as new gear (which I didn't), and they beat the snot out of me. That was such a WTF moment that I never played the game again.

Its telling that Oblivion's most popular ones are rebalancing mods that either change or scrap the adaptation entirely.

Just a Checkbox (1)

rcolbert (1631881) | about 5 years ago | (#29731977)

Adaptive difficulty should be implemented as a checkbox option. At that point, who cares? It's far more practical than having someone struggle for a few hours on the most difficult setting and then start all over at an easier setting. Developers still have the option of what the bounds of difficulty are. Difficulty can be adaptive without making the game a cakewalk.

The WOW Factor (1)

skornenicholas (1360763) | about 5 years ago | (#29732003)

Here is how I look at difficulty or how I would like it to be. Anyone can beat the game and have fun doing so, but make it so that when I take the harder routes or perfect harder combos, inventive problem solving, etc. I get rewarded by seeing my character do acts of absolute badassery. Ever watch a REALLY REALLY EXCELLENT player go through Ninja Gaiden Sigma? My character looks like a boring old movie extra in comparison, there guy is covered in gore, doing backflips, and generally looking like one bad-a$$ mofo. I can still complete the game AND enjoy it, but it's much less impressive doing it, personally I enjoy adaptive difficulty to a point. I like games that make me change my tactics as well, Call of Duty is ocassionally excellent at this on Veteran, if you sniper for too long the enemy will flank you and come around from behind, the same way real live players do. Now sometimes I just want to kill some Nazis, I drop the difficulty down, same thing I do on Rock Band/DDR. It all comes down to how impressive do I LOOK while doing this, making a pro LOOK like a pro is VERY important. It loses it's shine if anybody can play through looking like a God, I enjoy showing off my skills so when people watch me play they go, "How did you DO that?" Then again, that's just my opinion. The crux of this is why I HATE racing games, there is little middle ground, easy is too easy and I always win, but on expert I have to be consistently perfect lap after lap to even have a CHANCE of winning. One more example before I go, Metal Gear Solid 4, watching a first time player go through that game on Liquid Easy and watching somone on Boss Hard is a completely different experiance, as it should be, again the key is making a devoted and skilled player LOOK superior because he IS.

Re:The WOW Factor (1)

skornenicholas (1360763) | about 5 years ago | (#29732013)

He OR She, before I get flamed!

Reward? For what? (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 5 years ago | (#29732045)

I don't want to get a reward for playing well, I want to get a reward for my 60Eur I paid!

first post niglets! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29732059)

Little baby niglet

Visible achievement differences (1)

Geminii (954348) | about 5 years ago | (#29732087)

I'd say: allow the lowest level of player that the game caters for to make it all the way through the game, even if at a reduced rate.

However, more advanced players should be able to access none-core parts of the game, whether these be items, abilities, story segements, additional characters, more complex and interesting locations and maps etc. What's more, it should be reinforced to the lower-level player that with practise, these things would become available - otherwise, they might just play through on the lowest setting and think "Well, that was boring."

There should also be cross-skill rubberbanding in games which offer multiple skill tests to proceed. There's already some forms of this, where (for example) great resource planning can counter weak button-mashing ability.

One option might be a time-based or counter-based seesaw, where the longer a player has bashed their head against a given game obstacle, the easier it becomes to overcome. Then, it's a matter of finding a balance relating to how _fast_ such a change occurs and to what minimum level it can drop. A number of counters might be available - time spent, miles travelled, opponents overcome, miniquests completed, etc - but remember, endless grinding doesn't suit everyone.

Or how about having several elements present in the game, and playing to the player's strength(s) in order to present a game which the player feels they can do well at? Alter the size of platforms to be jumped on, the number/level/placement of opponents, the emphasis on sneaking vs combat, intellectual puzzles vs smashfests, resource management vs grinding, hunts vs brawls.

Keep assessing and tweaking as the game progresses; players learn new skills at different rates, and it's fairly easy to game an adaptive system by pretending to be hopeless at one skill until the game offers an easy out or massive XP for any kind of use of the skill at all.

Difficulty level becomes your score? (5, Interesting)

argent (18001) | about 5 years ago | (#29732091)

When we developed Tracers back in the '80s we tuned the reward system so that the game would just run at a higher speed (voltage, in the circuit-board language of the game)... every time you won a level, the voltage would ramp up, when you lost a life it would ramp down. Most people found themselves in a cycle where the game would get harder until they started losing lives, and then it slowed down again until they started winning levels again.

The higher the voltage, the more points you got for blocking off and killing an opponent... but we found that the best players quit paying attention to the score. The challenge in the game was pushing the voltage higher and higher. That number was the thing to beat.

I don't like games that try and hide the mechanics of the process from people, but when it's exposed like this it can be extremely effective.

Less Grind, More Fun Time (2, Interesting)

EXTomar (78739) | about 5 years ago | (#29732097)

Although these advanced systems can be done in single player, stand alone experiences, I predict we will see a lot of progress made in the MMO space where it is easier introduce dynamic content. One thing sorely missing from MMOs is custom built challenges. The game has access to all of that information on the character and how to play...why not start using it to change the things prsented to them?

- Using general terms for an example: If you enter an instance with a Warrior, a Thief, Wizard, and a Cleric but you kill the dragon and get some Ranger bow everyone goes "BOOO!". The game knows what classes came in so instead of just tossing out static loot from a static table, start considering who walked in and what improvements they need. Instead of forcing players to grind content for drops they know a monster has, they should come back for a chance on loot they know will be useful to someone.

- Since the game knows what classes came in, why not start seeding the instance with challenges configured for them? Each of the classes in the example are strong and weak to attacks and monsters, like for instance this group is a little weak on "ranged attacks" but stronger on defense. This group would avoid any static content they know would have a preponderance of stuff that flies or run around them. How about have them go into an instance that configures it to have less fliers, less stand back but features stuff that hits a little harder than normal?

- If the group is working well together and is stomping everything, why not up the difficulty a little till they aren't stomping everything? If the group isn't doing well, why not ease the difficulty so they aren't wiping every turn?

The basic idea is that the game should be smart enough to see at least the game/character data and evaluate what should be easy and hard for them to beat. This isn't so much "hand holding" but crafting a more interesting experience. If you swap the Thief for a Ranger and go into the same area you get a different mix of monsters and a guarantee that someone is going be rewarded. If you come in with a weak group you get a challenging experience. If you come in with a strong, expert group you get a very different but still challenging experience. The game designers should want you get through the quest handed to the players, to experience the story of the content, but still provide enough of challenge to feel accomplishment. Right now this is done with carefully crafted static content that involves a bit of statistical analysis that can be easily memorized or grow out of.

Always there (1)

Ractive (679038) | about 5 years ago | (#29732103)

There's always been a form of adaptation to the user, call it difficulty levels, increasingly difficult stages or bosses, etc, it also depends on the game and it's structure, but it's implicit that you will get better as you play, so I guess the question is how to do it efficiently so you could keep balance to not dissuade the user with a too difficult game or bore him to death with a too easy one

Embrace communism! (1)

beatsme (1472991) | about 5 years ago | (#29732121)

I think the Mario Kart example is probably the most unique. The way that competition in MK racing works is heavily (read: enormously) influenced by the items you have, especially in the newest one where a Bullet can send you from 8th to 1st. The fact that the very mechanics of which item you receive is governed by your position in the race, is even more interesting because it's a kind of communism. The balancing aspect, being done in this way, is also highly transparent, as opposed to manipulating the AI of all the computer opponents which is completely unobservable (read: frustrating). At the same time, this kind of balancing works just as well when you translate it to Human vs. Human races. I think it's great because, as a handicap that works in all races so the good players have to keep on their toes, and the not so good players can still manage top-5 placement as they learn the ropes.

It depends on the game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29732135)

It is really going to depend on the game that you are developing. Adaptive elements of a game would certainly be appropriate for single player games or even multiplayer games with cooperative elements. When it comes to competitive multiplayer games however handicapping player skill through game mechanics will definitely come down to striking a balance between fun and reward.

Regarding the question posed however assuming you had two players of differing skill and were offering an equal reward then you should be using time as an additional cost for the under skilled players. For example, a simple RPG might award a piece of armour for slaying the dragon and rescuing the princess. A skilled player may be able to slay the dragon with little effort. An unskilled player may be unable to kill the dragon - unless they first collect a salve of fire protection. In the end both players received an equal reward however the skilled player did so faster and then has more time to invest into

New add-on device (2, Insightful)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about 5 years ago | (#29732137)

Heh, how about game difficulty set via Breathalyzer!

RPGs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29732149)

I've always liked the way RPGs and the like handled this, where as you progress in the game, the enemies become increasingly difficult - however going back to an earlier point in the game awards you a clear advantage over anything you may encounter. MMOs work on this principle as well with the concept of "zones." This has always worked best for me.

Choose Your Skill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29732167)

* Easy
* Medium
* Hard
* Nightmare!

Oblivion and Bioshock - Ugh adaptiveness (1)

naz404 (1282810) | about 5 years ago | (#29732177)

In Oblivion, this was terribly implemented, where all enemies would also level up as you leveled up. At higher levels, you ended up with ultra-powerful enemies that took just too long to kill and made the game a tiring slog to fight through if you didn't particularly like the combat mechanics and just wanted to get on with the story. It was also as if you weren't an uber-leveled up character because *all* enemies were uber-high-level around you at high levels.

In Bioshock, the game would adapt to how well you were playing by raising enemy hitpoints if you were skilled enough at killing them quickly. Basically, my same complaint with Oblivion. I just want the enemies to die fast so I can get on with the story, but they get tougher and tougher to kill, making things very tiring for me.

Add depth (1)

Link9064 (991491) | about 5 years ago | (#29732219)

The game that pops into my head that did it right was Timesplitters 2. As you advanced through the difficulty levels, there are more and more objectives for you to complete, it gave the game some depth that gave the player a true challenge that is much more engaging then just making enemies hit harder.

No Steam or other DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29732257)

"What sort of game adaptation would you like to see?"

No more Steam/DRM.

We have a better method already (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 years ago | (#29732263)

It's called 'difficulty levels'. *I* want to decide how hard the game will be. If I am getting my ass kicked, I want to be able to dial back the difficulty. I think we've all played games where the difficulty curve spikes sharply, and sometimes we just want to pass the level and get back into the flow of increasing difficulty so that we can pass the mission without having to go into training. Anyone who hasn't probably isn't qualified to contribute to this conversation, although they are permitted to feel differently about it than me ;)

good example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29732285)

in the DS title "the world ends with you" you could adjust your difficulty at any time by means of a slider in your setup page.

the benefit of this was more exp at higher settings.

so you could choose to play a few tough matches or or tons of easy ones to get you next level.

as you lvl'd you were able to set the difficulty to higher lvls yet.

this was cool as sometimes you wanted a challenge and others you wanted to be uber and pwn.

Yes, adaption can make the difference. (1)

Vario (120611) | about 5 years ago | (#29732303)

There are quite a few points to consider how the game should adapt. Besides the simple fact that the main focus should always be on the fun aspect of the game I have two examples on my mind of good and bad adaptation. In neither cases "rewarding mediocrity" is a real concern.

The bad example of adaptation can be seen in quite a few FPS. Before adaptation there were different skill settings from beginner, easy, normal, veteran, nightmare. Now the game constantly assesses how well I am doing and as a somewhat experienced player it increases the difficulty level quickly. Now there are the basic enemies around the corner, who I had plenty of fun slaughtering early on in the game, which are now equipped with x-ray vision and one-shot-to-kill handguns. While the player may still manage to progress by being much more careful it just seems unfair and not fun anymore. So basic enemies should always be easy to overcome, no matter what.

A good example is the A.I. director from Left 4 Dead. Quite often the teams are unbalanced and it stops being enjoyable if you know that your team does not stand a chance at all. Sometimes right at that moment the A.I. notices and throws in an extra tank. This can often mess up even an organized team and now it immediately feels more balanced. Also the basic zombies are always easy to kill, the adaptation changes their number not their individual strength.

A simple way around automatic adaptation is to continually look how the player progresses into the game and then at the end of a level their commander just asks: "You exceeded my expectations, do you want a tougher challenge next time?"

Adapting Games and CPU power (1)

riT-k0MA (1653217) | about 5 years ago | (#29732307)

Talk of adaptive AI for games is all well and good, but I see no talk of the amount of CPU power and RAM something like this could take.

If you had to analyze the PC's playing style, it could degrade perfomance by a large amount, especially if the player happens to play erratically.

It would probably end up being another thread in the game, but when does it end?

Sure we will have Massively multi-core CPU's in future, but what about the averge gamer of now with a dual, or quad-core CPU?

And what happens if the player does not react in a way the programmer resposible for the analysis program responds? How is the analytical engine going to handle that?

MMOs are like this too. (1)

dbet (1607261) | about 5 years ago | (#29732345)

In WoW, you can play at the edge of new content, high difficulty rating, or just play casually through the game, low difficulty rating. You both end up at the same place. Those playing hard mode just get there a bit faster.

Yes and no and stuff (1)

DeanLearner (1639959) | about 5 years ago | (#29732359)

Anyone from the UK see the recent episode of Gameswipe? Dara O Briain had a rant where he discussed why he should be made to work to earn the game content when he's bought it. He used the analogy "When you finish reading a chapter in a book, you aren't made to prove your understanding of it before you can move to the next one. It's my book, if I want to go to the last page, I can. Why can't I do that in a game?" (or words to that effect). It seems like a fair point, so you should have the choice about the game you play. In my opinion though, I hate games that level up with me. I like the thought of an area in a game that will kick my arse because I am clearly not ready and at the same time, being able to go back to an 'early' area and kick them about if need be. This is why I found Oblivion quite a repetitive experience of a game.

Depends (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | about 5 years ago | (#29732395)

I think in the Mario Kart example, it's a good thing, in Oblivion not. In the Mario Kart example, it makes the game more challenging if you're doing good. In the Oblivion example, it means stats are meaningless, which sort of ruined the "leveling up" gameplay.

i dopn't like when the game cheat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29732399)

I don't like it when the game cheat on you. By example in a FPS you can try to be stategic by using a path rather than another one to better kill the ennemy and have a position advantage but generally the AI punish you by spawning ennemy where there was none just before. Some of the later game were better played by running in the fire really fast and to go directly to the end of the level instead of advancing logically.

Same thing happen in need for speed. If you take a risk of making a collision you are cheated by the game by having the other car comeback in a way that was not fair for the risk you took just before

Zanac anyone? (2, Informative)

meadowsoft (831583) | about 5 years ago | (#29732473)

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...

If done right (1)

zeromentat (214622) | about 5 years ago | (#29732519)

This can be a good thing if done right, Madden football has been playing with it for years. Example if you have a tendency to come back to the same plays over and over again, the computer starts playing defenses that will stop that play, it's just like AI for some games. It makes for a better feel for the game as opposed to your hopelessly behind enemy popping up with superweapons. You can make a game adapt for better play without resorting to "cheating"

Old and Slow (1)

rhodiumalkyl (1655831) | about 5 years ago | (#29732529)

I'm looking forward to retiring in the next few years and playing all the games that have come out in the last 20 years. I stopped about 20 years ago when my son got to be 12. I would guess lots of us boomers will want to do the same. Setting up games in geezer mode may be the only way to make single player games work for us. Unfortunately we do not get slow and forgetful and shaky because it seems cool.
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