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New Technique To Help Develop MMORPG Content?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the disguising-the-treadmill dept.

Games 71

ShipLives writes "Researchers have developed a new method that can predict MMORPG player behavior. The tool could be used by the game industry to develop new game content, or to help steer players to the parts of a game they will enjoy most. I don't think it should replace user feedback, but it's a pretty cool data-driven approach. Ideally, it could help developers make good decisions about new games/expansions."

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71 comments

They needed a research group... (3, Insightful)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459388)

To determine that people tend to do things in order, and that achievements generally build on one another? What sense would it make to run around doing achievements at random? Apparently 20% people do, but....as for the rest of us, apparently we think methodically, this is news?

Re:They needed a research group... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36459470)

Research group? All you have to do is watch this [youtube.com] to figure it out.

Re:They needed a research group... (0)

Jaruzel (804522) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459826)

Really? 2007 called, they want their rick-rolling back.

Re:They needed a research group... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36460932)

How do you know it's a rickroll?

Re:They needed a research group... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36462692)

Wait, 2007 called? did you warn them? About Haiti and Japan?!? You Asshole! [xkcd.com]

Re:They needed a research group... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36460670)

Richard Bartle's recent article [goo.gl] shows how players of modern MMOs are manipulated by a wide range of techniques into performing actions.

Re:They needed a research group... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36462222)

Sorry, I posted a link still on my clipboard from my business transactions. Here is the the intended link. [is.gd]

User feedback is overrated (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459420)

Asking users what they think is generally a bad approach to game development. People don't really know what they want. Your questions are likely to be leading (you are not a professional pollster). They might lie about what they found to be difficult if they're embarrassed about losing, or alternatively they might demand that everything get simplified because they want to win, not realizing that it wouldn't be fun if it were too easy. And in competitive games, forget about it. Every class/weapon/tactic that kills them must be nerfed, whatever they like to use must be buffed.

It's far more effective to simply watch them play the game, without speaking to them at all, and see what frustrates them, what confuses them, what they enjoy, and so on.

Unfortunately, the method in TFA(bstract) seems to just evaluate player behavior based on what achievements they have. That will, apparently, tell you what aspects of the game they like best, but it's not going to help much with the small stuff. I suspect Blizzard is already gathering that data anyway.

Re:User feedback is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36459666)

That will, apparently, tell you what aspects of the game they like best

Not really. It will tell you in aggregate which parts they've participated in - provided that there's a recoverable ratio (i.e. not at saturation or minimal data). This could be affected by numerous other factors such as how accessible those parts were or what their friends were doing at the time. You can factor some of this out by normalizing against everyone else's data, but it won't work that well for most existing achievement systems. This is one of those research projects which sounds better in the media than it actually is.

Re:User feedback is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36459678)

unfortunately most content the users would enjoy isn't simple to make, as it would need combination of scripting and game mechanics to work. killing rats in the sewers sucks, killing rats in the sewers for the same quest while the sewers are more full of players than rats makes it suck even more. what's wrong with most mmorpg's is that the world is a just an amusement park complete with security guards to keep players doing what the security guards want them to do(in other words, no raiding rival factions cities and keeping them under control, even though such stuff is the most fun of all and most real).

Re:User feedback is overrated (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459822)

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

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

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

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

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

Re:User feedback is overrated (1)

Lundse (1036754) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459938)

Ah... Slashdot is not quite dead - a comment far more interesting than the article :-)

Mod up, please.

Re:User feedback is overrated (3, Interesting)

AdamWeeden (678591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36461932)

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

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

Re:User feedback is overrated (1)

alostpacket (1972110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459686)

It could go the other way too, where the data is just showing what people felt they needed to do in order to get to play the content they liked. Say an achievement was "Thirsty! - drank a health potion" (oversimplfying here) you might see 99.99% of players did that. Does that mean they love health potions?

I think using data and listening to feedback and using common sense about what rational conclusions can be drawn is all helpful, but each has bias.

Re:User feedback is overrated (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459878)

I think achievement are along the lines of "drank a health potion, drank 10 health potions, drank 50 health potions, ..., drank 5000 health potions". I would guess that someone who accomplished such a chain of achievements does, in fact, like drinking health potions. But then again, WoW players are (in their majority) clinically insane. A good number of them will go through 90% of all available achievements just because they are there to go through. There is an actual achievement to get the title "insane" and it involves going through months of meaningless boring tasks. And people actually take pride in getting this achievement.

Re:User feedback is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36464020)

Well, actually, from the article description, this program would likely data-mine a link between achievements involved with playing PvP Arenas and drinking 5000 healing potions. In the sense that those who are likely to play lots of Arenas would be trying to win and thus willing to expend time and resources, and consuming Healing Potions would be one of those resources.

Re:User feedback is overrated (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#36466156)

A good number of them will go through 90% of all available achievements just because they are there to go through.

Is the title for completing 100% of all achievements called "Mom! Bathroom!"?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffjBxA-cnbM [youtube.com]

http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s10e08-make-love-not-warcraft [southparkstudios.com]

Re:User feedback is overrated (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459856)

They aren't asking anyone anything. From the summary it sounds like they simply created a correlation matrix of all the achievements in WoW. So the idea is to steer people towards achievements that are similar to the ones which people have already accomplished. I agree that it is highly doubtful that Blizzard isn't doing this already on their own.

Re:User feedback is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36459968)

This article seems stupid. The idea is obvious and using achievements really is a bad idea.

Altough achievements actually cover pretty much everything you could possibly do in WoW down to clicking on certain things. The main problem is the fact, that people actually see what achievements exist and actively try to get them. That's why the system is probably biased and not very good to predict the users preferences.

Re:User feedback is overrated (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#36460218)

I somewhat agree with what you're saying but I think valuable feedback particularly for MMOs can still be gained by listening to users.

I think Dark Age of Camelot was a fine example of Mythic doing a bad job of this, when they release a new character class into the game that's capable of killing 4 other equally or more skilled players simply by virtue of the fact that class is overpowered, and you have thousands and thousands of users screaming about it on forums but then choose to ignore it anyway and not weaken the class for over 18 months then there is something very wrong.

In DAoC certain issues were very very obvious by complaints on forums, yet little was done because the devs felt they knew better even with them observing the game, and worse, sometimes they even made overpowered classes stronger again when already too powerful.

So yes, I know users often don't really know what they want (particularly in business software development), but sometimes, just sometimes they do, and I honestly believe that in MMOs this is particularly the case because you have so many users, if a few thousand of them are screaming about a problem then the chances are, they're not all wrong.

Re:User feedback is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36462378)

Knowing something is wrong, and figuring out what to do about it are two entirely different things. Everyone in the dev group probably agreed that X is overpowered, but there was no consensus on how to fix it.

Or they'll fall into the cycle of over-buff, over-nerf, rinse-repeat.

Re:User feedback is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36460316)

MMO makers do so many dumb things it's hard to imagine they listen to anyone about anything. Any modern game that has only 1-2 different starting areas doesn't get it, for example. It's something WoW did right, you could make 8 characters on day one and start in 8 different places. Many people don't get past level 10 in most games, if you give them a bunch of varied 1-10 experiences they'll stay much longer. That plus queues in games are two of my biggest pet peeves. The very idea that you can have a queue to get into a game screams poor design to me. We should be past servers at this point, let everybody play in one big world with all the crowded areas instanced.

Feedback Is For Sissies (3, Insightful)

umbrellasd (876984) | more than 3 years ago | (#36462136)

Incorporating feedback is the death of creativity. The uniqueness of the artist's perspective and expression is greatness. The ability to produce what other's want isn't art; it's business. This trend of monitoring user behavior is nothing more than marketing to maximize profit. The singularly amazing game experiences will always be the uncompromising vision of those with the courage to make a statement and public opinion be damned. Giving people what they want is foolish. Giving people what they need is wise. Knowing the difference is genius. I'd have to say Blizzard's work is the epitome of this problem. Deplorably average in every way and catering to the profit line without taking risks; watered down, derivative (a hodge-podge of cultural homages and recycled tripe--Warcraft I, II, III, etc.)

Fuck that.

Re:Feedback Is For Sissies (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36463804)

Incorporating feedback is the death of creativity.

I suppose that's why all the really great writers don't listen to editors, and all the really great scientists ignore peer review. Obviously, unbounded chaos is the epitome of creativity!

Oh, wait...

Incorporating feedback intelligently is the soul of creativity

FTFY

Re:Feedback Is For Sissies (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | more than 3 years ago | (#36474916)

Allow me to give another example of that. On television series, there is usually a sexual tension between the main characters. Usually there is a lot of viewer feedback to have the characters become romantically involved. A lot of pressure, enough that the writers end up doing just that.

Then as soon as the two hop between the sheets, the show is ruined, and not long for the airwaves.

Re:User feedback is overrated (2)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 3 years ago | (#36462510)

Asking users what they think is generally a bad approach to game development.

If you want a great example of this, look at Final Fantasy XIV.

Now, you might think with the game being as big a failure as that one, that they should be listening to fans and closely as it's obvious that the developers have absolutely no clue what makes a good game. You'd be wrong, because the only people answering are the people still playing.

They added a feature to mark which enemies "aggro" (attack you without provocation). Now, you might be thinking "doesn't just about every MMO do this?" or "didn't FFXII do that?" and you'd be right.

The fans revolted anyway. Apparently it "ruined their immersion" so the feature was dutifully patched out. Well, disabled by default, but apparently the only way to reenable it is a text command that's only documented in the patch notes for that one specific patch.

Listening to the fans still playing FFXIV is going to doom that game. Well, it's already doomed after failing to fix any of the core issues (other than leveling not working) in eight months. But even more doomed, thanks to moronic input from the idiots still playing.

Re:User feedback is overrated (1)

mounthood (993037) | more than 3 years ago | (#36462760)

It's far more effective to simply watch them play the game, without speaking to them at all, and see what frustrates them, what confuses them, what they enjoy, and so on.

Are emotions visible and obvious without speaking to players? What about seeing a player going over one part of a map again and again tells you it's 'frustrating' or 'enjoyable' for them? Did you mean physically sitting next to them, because the article is about predicting in-game actions.

Re:User feedback is overrated (1)

webdog314 (960286) | more than 3 years ago | (#36462810)

MMO's like WoW are constantly at odds with themselves. They want the world to be "dynamic" and changing based on the user's decisions, but they can't just make everything happen at random. There is always a *story* that must be followed. They want the game to be challenging, but ultimately the point is to sell subscriptions and make money, which means the game has to be 'simple' enough for the lowest common denominator. Players who constantly get their asses handed to them are likely to leave. Winning is fun. Losing sucks. My four year old daughter can walk through WoW and end up with a level 85 character. Where's the skill? Playing at level 5 is just as "hard" as playing at level 85, you just have more colorful gear.

Personally, I'd like to see more *consequence* in games like WoW. They're not going to be able to break with the "go out and kill X number of Y" type quests, but it would be cool if in doing so, you became more and more "known" to various intelligent groups of beings. If you picked on the ogres too much, they would start anticipating your arrival, or use group tactics to squash you. It would make you think twice about simply questing through the game in a predetermined manner. It's still "fair" because it's entirely based on your own decisions about things. They have "reputation", but other than making someone an enemy, there are no other consequences. Who cares if they hate you... you were going to kill them all anyway.

Re:User feedback is overrated (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463560)

"Asking users what they think is generally a bad approach to game development."

If the game industry of the last 10 years is anything to go by they need a lot more feedback. I think what you meant to say was - most feedback isn't very useful but that that top 10-20% of feedback is golden. What game developers really need is feedback from people who have a good skills articulating what is good/bad with the game.

Feedback is good, the problem is getting quality feedback is hard. If you think the game industry needs LESS feedback Just look at all the shooters compared to other genre's. Not to mention many first party franchises on all platforms are start showing weakness in their designs which can only be exposed through criticism.

Re:User feedback is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36467858)

I discover a lot of achievements by accident, the Headshot one in Mass Effect 2, you tell me Headshots do more damage to Humanoids and 30 combats later I get the Headshot achievement without even knowing one existed.

I went out of my way to get the Dastardly achievement for tieing a gal to the train tracks in Red Dead Redemption.

The most boring life... (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459430)

... to be granted with all you wish for.

How long 'til what I wanted yesterday no longer represent an interest today?

Re:The most boring life... (2)

alostpacket (1972110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459694)

How long 'til what I wanted yesterday no longer represent an interest today?

Uh, one day? :)

80% Accuracy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36459480)

...determining the next quest in the chain? Okay yes, I RTFA. Their research dealt with correlating achievements, not quest. They used an unarmed combat achievement that can no longer be acquired in WoW as an example. So I refuse to retract my snarkiness.

Anyone else? (1)

mustPushCart (1871520) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459536)

Anyone else find tfa stupid?

“For example,” Roberts says, “you could develop a program to steer players to relevant content. Because it is a data-driven modeling approach, it could be done on a grand scale with minimum input from game designers.”

They are saying this as if game designers regularly sit on servers telling users where to go, they are also implying the game will suggest where the players will 'go'. I dont see how this is related in anyway to developing new mmo content.

One interesting element of these findings is that the achievements that are highly correlated – or part of the same clique – do not necessarily have any obvious connection. For example, an achievement dealing with a character’s prowess in unarmed combat is highly correlated to the achievement badge associated with world travel – even though there is no clear link between the two badges to the outside observer.

Here they admit some correlations dont make sense so all they are saying is these achievements seem to be done by users together. Is this what passes for a 'new technique' and 'research' now? it looks like something from steam stats could do pretty much all of this

Re:Anyone else? (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459640)

Hey! Listen! Listen! Hey! Link! Listen! Listen! Hey!

Re:Anyone else? (1)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459820)

They are saying this as if game designers regularly sit on servers telling users where to go, they are also implying the game will suggest where the players will 'go'. I dont see how this is related in anyway to developing new mmo content.

Perhaps I am misunderstanding you, but modern MMOs commonly do indeed tell the player where to go next. Between quest trackers and breadcrumb quests, it is unusual in any MMO these days to be standing in a field with no overt guidance.

Re:Anyone else? (1)

Jaruzel (804522) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459870)

The veritable Mr Bartle discussed this a short while ago: http://www.youhaventlived.com/qblog/2009/QBlog170509A.html [youhaventlived.com]

-Jar

Re:Anyone else? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 3 years ago | (#36464082)

I do image Mr Bartle was very much himself, yes.

Re:Anyone else? (1)

Jaruzel (804522) | more than 3 years ago | (#36468700)

Hmm quite. Venerable was the word I was going for. FAIL on my part...

Re:Anyone else? (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 3 years ago | (#36460072)

Actually I was just looking at that pair of correlated achievements (unarmed combat and exploration) in the article.

And I know exactly why they are correlated; because only people who make a point of collecting achievements will do them.

Noone in WoW goes around hitting things with no weapon equipped unless they are going for that achievement.

Noone in WoW will completely explore every zone in the game unless they are going for that achievement.

Someone who does either of these is highly likely to be AN ACHIEVEMENT FETISHIST and will likely get BOTH.

Thats the correlation right there.

Re:Anyone else? (1)

Bitmanhome (254112) | more than 3 years ago | (#36468054)

No, not stupid at all. Remember, when they say "content," they mean advertising and premium paid content. A MMORPG is about making money, so once a player has joined, the question becomes where to put the toll gates to maximize income and minimize player loss.

or let them fire developers (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459546)

'congrats boss, we just figured out a way to eliminate another bunch of labor costs'

"great! if only henry ford could see me"

'actually, i think henry ford raised all of his people, even the janitors, to something like 5 times the going wage'

"oh. i never liked him anyway, he was a nazi."

"no clear link" ? (2)

Ixokai (443555) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459598)

"For example, an achievement dealing with a character’s prowess in unarmed combat is highly correlated to the achievement badge associated with world travel – even though there is no clear link between the two badges to the outside observer."

Am I the only one who sees a really clear link between those two things? I did both back when I played wow -- for the same reason. I was achievement farming, for no real reason except it was something to pass the time doing waiting for a raid or PVP queue to pop.

Neither are things I ever even would have thought to bother with, except suddenly they presented a checklist of Things To Do, so I went and mindlessly did them.

I don't play WoW anymore, but back when I was -- I have a pretty clear memory of my guildies, and I swear, everyone who would have gone and gotten one of those were the people who I bet went and got the other, later. They weren't, of course, the sane* people who mostly ignored ToDo List of Boredom (except the raid ones, because you got a kickass mount out of it).

* no I wasn't sane.

Re:"no clear link" ? (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459928)

No, you're not the only one. I was thinking the same thing, because I did the same damn thing. Using achievements as a metric like that is silly, because it's self-skewing. How many players would go out of their way to perform literally thousands of quests if there weren't a shiny badge (well, tabard) waiting for them at the end?

Someone else in the thread pointed out that user experience questionnaires are seldom written by professional pollsters and usually loaded with leading questions. Achievements are themselves the equivalent of such questions-- nobody seriously thinks 'Hey, it'd be cool to grind this useless combat skill by punching fruitlessly at things for a couple of hours' or 'It would be totally cool to go to Wowhead and look up all of the Outland cooking recipes, pray that they drop during the daily quest that I've long since outleveled, and cook each one of them just to say that I did'.

Re:"no clear link" ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36461006)

"We found a surprisingly high proportion of of players who completed a number of achievements, but then, in their moment of triumph, terminate their subscription." (fake cynical quote)

Achievements (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 3 years ago | (#36466508)

There are of course an endless variety of reasons why people play MMORPGs and what they are interested in doing while there. I know a lot of people who deliberately chose to rack up all the badges they could in various MMORPGs because they are completionist types when playing. Does it make any sense to me? Not at all, but that doesn't mean it doesn't appeal to a segment of the population. I think its a mistake to assume that no one enjoys that sort of thing just because you and your friends in the game do not.
Take PvP for instance. In every MMORPG I have played, the PvP oriented segment of the population was the most vocal, the most demanding and the least open to the suggestion that other players might not enjoy PvP. PvPers are usually a small segment of the overall population in most MMOs. Players who enjoy PvE are usually the vast majority, but they are also the least likely to speak up about the game on forums, etc. I do a bit of both, but tend to spend more time engaged in PvE activities.
Likewise, for some players MMOs are nothing more than a giant chat client with activities you can do while chatting.
A software driven approach to producing game expansions is doomed to failure though. The moment players figure out a game is employing that sort of mechanic, they will try to game it to direct the game in the way that *they* want, regardless of what might be good for the game.
The only approach that will work for an MMORPG in my opinion is one that is player driven directly - i.e. the players produce the content. EVE Online for instance seems to have the right idea. I haven't played it (I am not into spreadsheets that heavily) but it has a loyal following, seems to get people very involved, and seems to dynamically change based on the actions of the large corporations (guilds).
Any other approach means hours of developer work to produce X amount of gameplay that players will burn through in far less time than was invested in it. For instance, if you add a new class to any given MMO, how many hours will it take before someone with no life has leveled it to max? By comparison how many hours did it take to develop and test that class?

Re:"no clear link" ? (1)

Arivia (783328) | more than 3 years ago | (#36468098)

Evidently you never rolled a rogue or shaman, since Fist Weapons used Unarmed weapon skill.

New Technique To Help Develop MMORPG Content (-1, Offtopic)

commodityfever (2087640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459618)

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Re:New Technique To Help Develop MMORPG Content (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36459704)

wtf?

Re:New Technique To Help Develop MMORPG Content (1)

Jaruzel (804522) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459848)

Time for /. to allow those with Excellent Karma to report spam-dudes like this.

Useless waste. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36459668)

Nobody has been listening to what gamers want for awhile now.

It's just all "OOOooOooHhh LOOK SHINY GRAPHICS!"

And on the mm side... It's "OH LOOK MICROSTRANSACTIONS! PAY US MORE NOW!"

So i really doubt they'll be giving us anything we actually want. No matter what the technique says. Since they won't even LISTEN TO PEOPLE.

Did they even ask? (1)

CTachyon (412849) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459706)

One interesting element of these findings is that the achievements that are highly correlated – or part of the same clique – do not necessarily have any obvious connection. For example, an achievement dealing with a character’s prowess in unarmed combat is highly correlated to the achievement badge associated with world travel – even though there is no clear link between the two badges to the outside observer.

Really, no clear link? Did they even ask one player? These are both low-hanging fruit for the solo completionist. In particular, I suspect that north of 90% of players with the 400 unarmed weapon skill achievement will have World Explorer, although the relationship will be lower in the reverse direction — the former is a bit more of a time investment, and much more boring and tedious (Blizzard removed weapon skills for a reason), whereas World Explorer is something that can be knocked out by an hour-a-day casual player in two weeks with no problem. Since World Explorer can easily be teamed up with book collecting, critter /love-ing, the zone and continent quest completions, and Loremaster, I suspect those all form a single clique of solo completionist achievements, with some sub-cliques that are a bit more accessible to the casual player.

Re:Did they even ask? (1)

Sierra Charlie (37047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36460500)

Really, no clear link? Did they even ask one player? These are both low-hanging fruit for the solo completionist.

This is also why the "automated suggestions" they propose would be laughable.

"We noticed your mage spent countless hours walking to every corner of the world, to get a badge that no-one is impressed by and which does not impact gameplay. Perhaps you would enjoy spending countless hours looking for low-level mobs to punch?"

Eliminate Players (3, Interesting)

GeekDork (194851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459730)

Really, the most annoying part of a mumorpuger is the "community" that forms like an accretion disk around the game itself, usually a bunch of pushy whining kids who won't ever be satisfied, will always feel underpowered with their favourite in-game character, and threaten to leave to other games for years instead of packing up and leaving.

If there was a technology to eliminate actual players from those games, it would improve the communities a lot. We are finally getting closer to a point where it becomes possible. Exciting times.

Subscription MMO's (1)

contenderX (2105130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36459898)

This platform is flawed. MMO companies care more that you stay subscribed than anything else, and it does ugly things to gameplay.

MMORPG Skinner Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36460268)

MMORPG usually concentrate on the random reward with increasing time between them for a good reason, and not on player feedback. Player feedback , except for the really obvious problem, will always be to try to make their own reward easier while making the other's harder. Witness for example the PVP discussions on which class are OP, or even the early player calling for some part of the game to be made harder because the reward are tooe asy(after they have done it naturally). WOW did good because it ignored the whiner and concentrated on making it easier for everybody. Maybe too easy some will contend. But they so far mostly ignroed player feedback, just tuned the skinner box , and did much better than everybody else.

Well ... (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#36460312)

How about finally moving past the usual crap of "travel to location X, kill as many monsters of type Y until you've collected Z items of the specified type"???

Re:Well ... (2)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 3 years ago | (#36460752)

If only it didn't map so well to real life...
ITT: Goto X to kill Ys to collect Zs.

- Get to the office to kill hours of your life hunting bugs.

Re:Well ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36527936)

The upcoming MMORPG Guild Wars 2 is attempting to move beyind this tired model.

Ultimately, you will be killing 10 bandits in both cases, but GW2 is trying to make it a more compelling experience. Instead of walking up to farmer with an exclaimation point over his head, reading about how he is being attack by bandits, and then finding a field of bandits pacing back and forth nearby to kill, in GW2 the farmer will come running over to you, yelling for help. You will see his farm actually being attacked by said bandits, and when you kill enough of them they'll retreat back to their base camp. You can choose to persue and proceed to destroy their camp, or let them go to regroup and come back later.

They plan to have no exclaimation point style quests in the game (except for your personal storyline quests), instead they will have 1000+ dynamic events that branch off of your success or failure, and then chain to subsequent, logical steps (as per my bandit example above). If they can pull this off I think it'll be a great step forward for the genre.

Predictive (2)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 3 years ago | (#36460658)

Since a fair portion of all players are bots, what will the pattern show?
Players have a desire to perform repetitive tasks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Players seem to enjoy movement in a cross-stitch pattern, picking herbs, mining, and skinning hides
Players are more predictable than the predictive model predicts.

Bad game design means the "content" doesn't matter (2)

Targon (17348) | more than 3 years ago | (#36461284)

When you design a game with stats and grinding as the key to keeping players going, that is when developers get locked into needing new content to keep the players interested. Many single player games have a fairly large world, but because everything is STATIC, and does not really change, other than introducing new NPCs or doing the occasional update, you end up with a pretty boring game WORLD, where expanding on the world is the source of keeping things interesting.

If the game world were more dynamic, with a true economy and world that evolves over time, where NPC thieves look around the game world for things to steal, or just to survive, and where all NPCs actually live their lives, with or without player involvement, THEN you get a more interesting environment. Humans that are monitoring the world so that players can't "game the system" would of course be needed, but AI needs to become the center of a solid MMO, and letting the world evolve.

If you play a character, and you travel to a town, every NPC would have a history and story that has evolved from interaction with other NPCs as well as interaction with the players. Once you get THAT sort of situation down, the game world itself provides the changes to content, and developers can focus on larger events, such as earthquakes, floods, or other natural disasters. Underground cave complexes could open up to add more monsters to the world, but in general, people should find entertainment just in wandering and exploring the world, because it SHOULD be large enough where it would take players a long time just to go from one end of the world to the others.

Re:Bad game design means the "content" doesn't mat (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 3 years ago | (#36462720)

Square Enix actually got this right with their older MMO, Final Fantasy XI. The NPCs are generally not only quest givers, but appear in cutscenes and have evolving lives and storylines of their own, from the smallest child to the kings and leaders of nations. Battlefield content is driven by the storylines, and once you have completed an expansion's overall story, most of the NPCs in the town treat you different (usually with more respect.)

The article's methodology also doesn't accurately differentiate between content players actually want to do, and content they feel forced to do in order to advance. There's nothing more any player hates than a "sticking point" that interrupts their plans, such as a mission that is hard to defeat without specific classes or a really tricky strategy, and yet these are exactly the sort of road blocks developers put in all the time, thinking they are being clever.

Actually, the players are the important part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36464528)

A game world doesn't have to be crushingly complicated and large. It just has to be large enough so that it can accommodate all of the social groups who want to play within it. The valuable thing about multiplayer games is the novelty of playing with and against other players. Each additional player offers another element of unpredictability, challenge unmatched by algorithms and an opportunity to socialize. Simply destroying or creating things or immersing in made-up worlds is not actually that compelling on a long-term basis. Games like WoW are essentially single-player experiences all run in parallel and with limited help or interference by other players. A ton of work is done to keep people from being able to interact too much, lest the assholes make things too hard on the naive. The story and the environment are only novel for so long and the need for subscriptions leads to insatiable need for new novelties.

Designers shouldn't try to fix lack of interesting "content" by making the AI parts of the world more engaging. It's a losing battle against complexity. There's already plenty of engagement to be had from other real players. Every step that is taken to limit the interaction between players is antithetical to the purpose of an MMO. Here's what players love to do:

1. Make unique contributions and lasting impacts
2. Grief other players
3. Make friends
4. Compete
5. Show-off what they've got
6. Use the game mechanics to in novel and surprising ways.
7. Make and collect unique things

The bottom line is that ALL of this should be allowed and most of it should be encouraged. Make the rules clear and allow a number of simple elements to be combined in complex ways and that's basically all you need. There's a lot of concern about game balance. It's always going to be a hard problem--especially with complex interactions. The solution is to acknowledge that challenge and assign teams to constantly monitor and tweak things to guide the majority of the game into being balanced. Build the tools so that it becomes a management problem, not a design or technical problem.

No one game has done all of the above things well. WoW is actually very far from accomplishing most of those things in a meaningful way. Right now, EVE seems to be closest to doing things right but it's got plenty of flaws. UO also did a good job on a lot of those items, but its owner gave up investing in it in meaningful ways after repeated development failures.

Achieve driven (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36462444)

This research focuses only on those that "go after" achievements.... in WoW. What percentage of the community is that? (I'm guessing it's a good number, but what research is there to show that.) What about people that don't care about achievements? Certainly there is a good chunk of people who could give a flip about cooking 10,000 WoW burgers or completing every task of the Pilgrim's quest line. It seems this research has looked into what achievement hunters are likely to do next. That's interesting. But to say WoW achievement hunter behavior generalizes to the mmo game world at large might be over emphasizing their own research.

Define "content" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36463570)

It's really subjective. For example, I consider all dungeons and monster spawns beyond what I need to hit level cap mostly a waste of effort; I'm much more interested in PvP against other people.

If you've played any amount of MMOs, you don't need an algorithm to tell you that players tend to take the path of least resistance in achieving their goals; often, its only the goals that differ, not the means to get there.

Listening to everyone is a good way to make your game suck. Listening to no one is a good way to make your game suck. What developers need to learn to do is develop an original vision, stick with it, and only make changes that fit in this vision. What tends to happen is they make changes to try to appease the whining minority, and this is the kind of thing that kills games. References: UO, Fury, Darkfall Online, arguably even WoW (Yes, I know, x million subscribers blah blah blah. If you played today you'd know the game is not what it once was in many ways.)

Clippy The Barbarian (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36463640)

I see you want to play a game! Would you like to:

- Earn achievments?
- Kill some not-too-hard enemies?
- Enjoy a cutscene with scantily-clad ladies?
- Mine gold?

Oh, we've had this for years (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463970)

What type of gamer are you? [ihobo.com] It already figures out what sorts of gameplay people enjoy, and based on anecdotal feedback, most people seem to agree it's relatively accurate.

How does this even make sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36464226)

This doesn't actually work since its based of what a user has "previously done". So if the game forces me to do something, that just means its going to force us to do the same things over and over again. FAIL.

Wow (1)

Tuan121 (1715852) | more than 3 years ago | (#36466406)

From the article it sounds like they figured out that people who liked getting achievements were more likely to get more achievements even if the achievements were not related to one another.... SHOCKER.

MRPG (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 3 years ago | (#36474144)

It's time to embrace the somewhat shorter abbreviation MRPG. Massive Role Playing Game. If it is massive, it is multi. If it is massive, it is online. The second M and the O are redundant.

20 Questions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36490392)

Does this research contibute something new to information theory? Isn't this just the same logic applied in a "20 Questions" game?

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