Designing Deeply


Either Or

Well, either you have moved back through the archive and found my first post here, or you have located another dead blog with a single blurb. In fitting with my “Either Or” theme, I will be discussing a few aspects of design that will end up merging into one.

First is Battlefield 2's leveling system. Players chose jobs and as they play and do well, they will occasionally get upgrades to spend on improving the different classes. I am a big fan of the ability to level up in a fist person shooter. Not only does it add another aspect of play, but it rewards repeated play through multiple game sessions. The inability to reward repeated play is a major design flaw in round based online games. An earlier version of this system can be seen in Blizzard's online ladder system although its purpose is skill based matchmaking. A simple account creation solution and minimal server support are all that are needed to make this player reward a reality.

Next on today's plate is the announced upgrade to CS:Source's weapon prices. Item prices will be dynamically modified based on how much money was spent on them the previous week. If everyone uses a particular gun, the price goes up. No love for the TMP? Then the price drops for me. If their algorithm is dynamic yet accurate enough, the system should do the weapon balancing without the need for developer input, Bayesian style. This is one of the first true economic systems I have seen implemented in a round based online game. All this needs for implementation is a simple feedback system and, once again, minimal server support.

The line between online matchmaking based games and MMO's is blurring and truly valuable things are being developed. Currently we have a simple mechanic that allows players to build an attachment to a character between usually separate rounds of play. We have a way of separating players by skill, allowing for truly skilled players to enjoy themselves without utterly destroying new consumers. Finally is a way to use the actions of the masses to fine tune design problems that before would require genius, trial and error, or just blind luck. I for one, welcome our new semi-genre overlords.


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