Sunday, 27 February 2011

The drunkard's walk

One of the more entertaining problems that mathematicians have addressed is what is known as a drunkard's walk. You can tell it was invented in a pub:
"Hey, what would happen if we were so pissed that we just wandered in a random direction, for a bit then wandered off in another one? How long would it take us to get home?".
"What do you mean, if? Hic!"
I've been spending a little time in the Rift beta and preview recently and some of the design decisions feel a little bit like that. One minute, I'd find myself thinking "That's fantastic! Every game should have that." and then the next I'd be sighing "Seriously, have you learnt nothing in the last six years?".

Friday, 11 February 2011

The four faces of Warcraft

As I discussed in last week's post, there are two different dimensions to the word "hard" when applied to MMOs: time and skill. Different players may want different things from the game, which makes it hard to accommodate all of them. To illustrate this, consider the four examples in the diagram above.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

How hard should an MMO be?

Tobold wrote an interesting piece yesterday challenging the idea that playing in groups should be "harder" than soloing. Of course this raises the important questions of what we mean when we say a game is "hard" and how much difficulty is a good thing anyway?

Part of the problem is that we mean different things by the word "hard"; it can refer to something that requires either a great quantity of effort or particularly high skill and the two aren't necessarily comparable. Who's to say whether hauling coal is harder than quantum mechanics?