Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Day 2: FotLC through the 113 lenses from The Art of Game Design

Day 2 - Lens 35: The Lens of Expected Value
To use this lens, think about the chance of different events occurring in your game, and what those mean to your player. Ask yourself these questions:

What is the actual chance of a certain event occurring?

It's an interesting question. There is not a lot of chance in Fall of the Last City, so the likelihood of an event occurring is mostly dependent on the players. That said I have spent a lot of time on things like the length of the paths, the number of warriors each player get trying to make sure that the chance of fighting over bases and challenging other players is balanced. It feels reasonable though I am not not sure how to measure it quantitatively.

What is the perceived chance?

Players say that the chance of each thing feels right on a scale of 1 - 5 in post play test surveys so I think I am doing ok for now. More play testing data may make me want to adjust the numbers.

What value does the outcome of that event have?

Can the value be quantified?
Are there intangible aspects of value that I am not considering?
Again with the game being player conflict driven conflict wins for one player are losses for another so I have tried to balance that, to make losses not feel random, but still have wins feel empowering. Making that feel balanced without making the conflict feel flat has been hard. Like I mentioned above I have tried to get players to put a number on their responses so that I can have that view as well as having them describe their reactions and watching them. I try to assume that I am missing something every time I go into a playtest and look for it... sometimes something new pops out at me.

Each action a player can take has a different expected value.

Am I happy with these values?
Do they give the player interesting choices?
Are they too rewarding or too punishing?
Trying to make each choice feel different enough has been a challenge, in a lot of ways they are not intrinsically different, the difference comes out of what the other players are doing. Like in chess sometimes one move is just better than any other, other times many moves have equal value... I t feels like that is a positive in this kind of game.

Perhaps the place that it comes up most is in the value of the different ways that you get victory points. Is it better to take territories or to capture guards or to ally. I have tried to make all of those necessary and make the tipping point for when to do what as small and interesting to find as I can. I have seen games swing different ways and made many adjustments to the point values and availability of those points, but I feel like my dataset of outcomes is still too small to be confidant that it's perfect.