Legends & Lore 09/03 - RPG design philosophy - Page 10




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  1. #91
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    Starcraft, most boring of the Real-Time Strategy games.

 

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mishihari Lord View Post
    Building everything in perfect balance would lead to a boring game.
    This is the bit that caught my attention. Too true. I've noticed a strong correlation between balance and boring-ness.
    This is a very curious claim.

    If something is balanced - or "in the balance" - then the outcome is uncertain.

    If something is out of balance - or "imbalanced" - then the outcome is to some degree predetermined.

    How can the former be less exciting than the latter?
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  • #93
    Quote Originally Posted by Balesir View Post
    If something is balanced - or "in the balance" - then the outcome is uncertain.

    If something is out of balance - or "imbalanced" - then the outcome is to some degree predetermined.
    I have experienced the opposite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steely_Dan View Post
    I have experienced the opposite.
    How?
    "A rock on a stick has a 5' reach unless otherwise specified."

  • #95
    Quote Originally Posted by Patryn of Elvenshae View Post
    How?
    When a game is unbalanced, one subset of strategies will dominate (or get dominated). So it's easy to predict that those strategies will win - or be way more likely to get used in the first place - so the outcomes are fairly predictable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Balesir View Post
    This is a very curious claim.

    If something is balanced - or "in the balance" - then the outcome is uncertain.

    If something is out of balance - or "imbalanced" - then the outcome is to some degree predetermined.

    How can the former be less exciting than the latter?
    Ooh, ooh, I've got this one! Easy -- for some reason the imbalance isn't exploited, and thus isn't actually felt. Or, they like the imbalance being exploited.

    It's more exciting in part, because you might screw it up. (That's sort of like the ancient Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times," but not everyone appreciates why that is a curse, either.)

    Say some poor guy is walking a tightrope with a balance pole. It's a perfectly balanced pole. He holds it in the middle and walks. It's all reduced down to doing things properly. Do that, and walk across easy. For me, that's enough excitement.

    Then you pull out an imbalanced pole, but one that you can get used to. It's got an extra weight on one end. You compensate by holding the pole nearer that weight. Might appear to be a little more exciting, but it boils down to the same thing--hold the pole at the right (balanced) spot, and it's all down to technique.

    Then you get a poll with some kind of magical weight change that can vary at any time. It's up to the rope walker to adjust, as they weight changes, on the fly. What more could you ask for in excitement, without doing this walk over flaming alligators while also answering random calls from telemarketers?

    For me again, I don't need that level of excitement. I already know from real life that if you put enough variables in the equation, you eventually allow for some "interesting" screw ups. However, I rapidly find these "interesting" screw ups rather blaise in a game about heroic characters fighting monsters. It's the same kind of divide where one person finds calculating and manipulating fireball volume expansion "smart" or "clever" where another person finds it "cute" or "rule lawyering."

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    Not exactly sure if what I'm offering up is what Steely-Dan meant or not... but whether or not something is balanced or unbalanced... the results will be 9 times out of 10 (pulling numbers out of my butt) in a very small window that does not usually change. And it doesn't matter how balanced anything is... that same sized window will be there, just at a different point on the line.

    So for example... two evenly matched people playing a very balanced game will win-lose say about 50% of the time. And the results of those wins and losses will usually fall within a fairly predictable range. So two good basketball teams will beat each other at 50%, and most final scores will fall to within like 1 to 10 points of each other, usually up around 85 to 105 points. Most games will fall like that. 100-98, 95-90, 107-104. And the few times where one team will win 135 to 80 will be exceedingly rare.

    Now put that in an unbalanced game... say a basketball game of professionals versus a high school team... the percentage of wins will obviously lean heavily to one side's favor... but the result of those wins will still fall within a small, predictable window. Pro team beats high school team 85% of the time, winning by a margin of 35 to 50 points (again, pulling numbers out of nowhere.)

    So depending on how you look at it... a balanced game AND an unbalanced game can have fairly predictable results. And depending on who you are... it will indicate which type of results you prefer and which type you find "boring".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Victim View Post
    When a game is unbalanced, one subset of strategies will dominate (or get dominated). So it's easy to predict that those strategies will win - or be way more likely to get used in the first place - so the outcomes are fairly predictable.
    I agree with that, but Steely_Dan said he experienced the opposite. That's the "how" I was asking.
    "A rock on a stick has a 5' reach unless otherwise specified."

  • #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by DEFCON 1 View Post
    So depending on how you look at it... a balanced game AND an unbalanced game can have fairly predictable results. And depending on who you are... it will indicate which type of results you prefer and which type you find "boring".
    Except, at the beginning of the balanced game, you can't reliably predict the winner.

    You can reliably predict the winner of the unbalanced game.

    So, no I don't see how that's the same thing at all.
    "A rock on a stick has a 5' reach unless otherwise specified."

  • #100
    There is also the fact that an evenly matched game is a lot more interesting to watch than one that is clearly uneven. Something like a basketball game where the lead is constantly changing and the winner is decided by the very last shot making everything tense and suspenseful. It's way more interesting than a game where one team is completely shut out in the first half and the entire second half is just going through the motions to finish up an outcome decided a long time ago.

    Balance is what makes even games possible, and that leads to more suspenseful and unpredictable games. That's a good recipe for fun and excitement, in my book. With imbalance, all you get is lopsided games that always play out the same. That's the very height of boring.

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