Re: Game Balance

Amit Jayant Patel (amitp@flammulated.owlnet.rice.edu)
2 Jul 92 14:17:35 GMT

In article <1992Jul1.150939.1538@cactus.org>, vlaurent@cactus.org (Vince Laurent) writes:

I am interested in designing an on-line game but have come to a wall. I am trying to think of a way to maintain game balance. Here is what I mean:

In many on-line games the one who gets the most powerful wins. This is not bad BUT for someone new to join and have fun and to have a chance to win is hard. Games that come to mind which are like this are THE LAND OF THE BARONS and TRADEWARS 2002. I would like to make it so that someone could join a game, late in the game, and still have a chance to win. I don’t think it right to make a person wait for a game to be reset all the time for them to join for it may be weeks or months before a game will be restarted.

In SRE (another on-line game), all players pay taxes to a game coordinator, and each player gets a portion of the total tax money at the beginning of each session. This has two effects:

  1. Large players pay more taxes than small ones, but receive the same amount, so smaller players benefit from the taxes.
  2. New players get an amount of money that somewhat corresponds to the strengths of the other players. If you have a lot of old, large empires, then the new players start with more, so that they have more of a chance.

Another thing that SRE does is that it runs like a video game: on higher “levels” (corresponding to stronger players), the game is harder on them. For example, building up military is more expensive (per unit) if the empire is old and large, and it is very cheap when the empire is small or new. A new player will start with a lot of money to buy cheap military units, so that he has a chance. It also gets harder to play as time goes on, so any one player can’t stay at the top forever.

If you make it easier to run a small empire than a large empire, then it won’t be very easy to stay at the top, unless you’re really good. (As opposed to getting to the top because you were first.)

Having your game victory conditions depend on a ratio of power to size, as Jonathan Gibbons described, is a great idea! It gives your new players a chance immediately, rather than having to survive for some amount of time before they can compete against the others, or only competing with people that join at the same time as them.

Good luck with your game!

Amit

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/\\ Amit J Patel, amitp@owlnet.rice.edu
\\/ <- it's a dilithium crystal