Experience Assessment and Design in the Analysis of Gameplay is available in Simulation and Gaming (online first version).
We report research on player modeling using psychophysiology and machine learning, conducted through interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers of computer science, psychology, and game design at Aalto University, Helsinki. First, we propose the Play Patterns And eXperience (PPAX) framework to connect three levels of game experience that previously had remained largely unconnected: game design patterns, the interplay of game context with player personality or tendencies, and state-of-the-art measures of experience (both subjective and non-subjective). Second, we describe our methodology for using machine learning to categorize game events to reveal corresponding patterns, culminating in an example experiment. We discuss the relation between automatically detected event clusters and game design patterns, and provide indications on how to incorporate personality profiles of players in the analysis. This novel interdisciplinary collaboration combines basic psychophysiology research with game design patterns and machine learning, and generates new knowledge about the interplay between game experience and design.
Keywords: game design, gameplay patterns, psychophysiology, personality profiles, PPAX framework.
- Cowley, Kosunen, Lankoski, Kivikangas, Järvelä, Ekman, Kemppainen, Ravaja, forthcoming. Experience Assessment and Design in the Analysis of Gameplay. Simulation and Gaming. DOI=10.1177/1046878113513936
Rafael Vázquez writes about evaluating the difficulty level of games on Gamasutra in the feature How Tough Is Your Game? Creating Difficulty Graphs:
They are graphical representations of how difficulty changes throughout the game. This is to say that they plot how challenge changes over time. There are two main types, time-based and distance-based. The first places the spikes in challenge according to the time spent played (taking away paused time and death); while the second places them depending on where the challenges appear (assuming a direct route from start to goal).
While the method seems to be targeted to combat-based titles (difficulty formulate uses to the number of enemies), the same idea could be extended to platformers by counting number of jumps (etc.) and multiplying that with a difficulty level?
I just got a copy of the special issue Experiencing games: Games, play and players of the Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds edited by Waern, Thorhauge, Verhagen, and me (the online version should come out by the end of December).
Special issue TOC:
- Lankoski, Waern, Thorhauge, Verhagen: Introduction to special issue: Experiencing Games: Games, play and players, pp. 175-180. DOI=10.1386/jgvw.3.3.175_7.
- Kivikangas et al.: A review of the us of psychophysiological methods in game research, pp. 181-199. DOI=10.1386/jgvw.3.3.181_1.
- Norgard: The corporeal-locomotive craftsman: Gaming in World of Warcraft, pp. 201-218. DOI=10.1386/jgvw.3.3.201_1.
- Montola: The painful art of extreme role-playing, pp. 219-237. DOI=10.1386/jgvw.3.3.175_7. DOI=10.1386/jgvw.3.3.219_1.
- Waern: ‘I’m in love with someone that doesn’t exist!’ Bleed in the context of a computer game, pp- 239-257. DOI=10.1386/jgvw.3.3.239_1.
- Hagen: Designing for player experience: How professional game developers communicate design visions, pp. 259-275. DOI=10.1386/jgvw.3.3.259_1.
(I add direct links to dois when the online versions are available.)
Now the first year (of two year MA degree programme) of the Game Design and Production at the School of Art and Design at the Aalto University is over (and I am at the Södertörn University), I thought to write notes about the courses.
- Gameplay Design Workshop (5 days) by Petri Ikonen (Digital Chocolate) & me. (my slides: 1, 2)
- Lecture 1: Game Design by me
- Lecture 2: Narrative Design 1/2 by Mikko Rautalahti (Remedy)
- Lecture 3: Narrative Design 2/2 by Mikko Rautalahti (Remedy)
- Lecture 4: Level Design for Casual Games by Petri Ikonen (Digital Chocolate)
- Lecture 5: Gameplay Design Patterns by Jussi Holopainen (NRC)
- Lecture 6: Level Design by Jarkko Kainulainen (Tribe Studios)
- Four mornings with lectures and analytical exercises by me (my slides)
- Analysis on game reported as an essay
- Two groups of students designed and developed fully playable murder mystery games with great visuals and potential to be polished great games. Tutored and taught by me.
- Lectures on Roleplaying Games by Jaakko Stenros (University of Tampere) & Markus Montola (Gray Area)
- Exam on Tavinor, The art of videogames
- (alternative for this was a book exam)
- Workshop (1 day) by Elina Ollila (NRC)
- Workshop (4 days) by Juha Huhtakallio (Kuuasema)
Claire Blackshaw gives brief intro to using spreadsheets in Opinion: Stop Being The Useless Designer – Excel and Formulas.
Excel (and other spreadsheet programs such as Numbers and Open Office) has excellent tools to quick prototype game system behaviors, as Blackshaw points outs.
For prototyping complex behaviors, writing simple computer programs in unavoidable, I think. I have found Python extremely useful for quick prototyping. There are handy libraries for Python to create and analyze simulations; for example, SimPy for creating sumulations and rpy for statistical calculations (rpy requires R). Pygame can be used for creating playabe prototypes.