Flash: Will online role-playing video games now be developed according to players’ behavior?

on July 04 2011 7:38 AM
People play a Kinect boxing game on an XBox 360 gaming console
Online role-playing video games will now be developed according to players’ behavior. REUTERS

Researchers at North Carolina State University have designed a new procedure to correctly predict the behavior of players in online role-playing games.

The new tool can be used by game developers to design new content, and can also help lead players to a certain part of the game they will enjoy the most.

The team developed a data-driven analytical method by investigating the behavior of nearly 14,000 players in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft.

“We are able to predict what a player in a game will do based on his or her previous behavior, with up to 80 percent accuracy,” said Brent Harrison, a Ph.D. student at NC State and co-author of the paper which describes the research. “In a game like World of Warcraft, which is constantly developing new content, this could help guide content design decisions.”

Harrison added that the new tactic could also help game designers steer players to existing content that is matched to their gameplay style.

The researchers accumulated data from 14,000 players and the order in which they received their achievement badges. The team then acknowledged the degree to which each individual’s achievement was correlated to every other achievement.

The researchers used the data to identify groups of achievements, called cliques, which were closely related. The cliques were later used to predict the players’ future behavior. However, some of the cliques that the researchers identified consist of 80 or more different achievements.

“A good game stands on its own,” says Dr. David L. Roberts, assistant professor of computer science at NC State and co-author of the research paper. “If you want to improve it, you have to make sure players will like any changes you make. This research can help researchers get it right, because if you have a good idea of what players like, you can make informed decisions about the kind of storylines and mechanics those players would like in the future.”

The researchers developed the method by evaluating the task-based “achievement” badges that players in World of Warcraft earn. These achievements are awarded when a player successfully accomplishes a specific goal or a series of goals, the university’s official website reported.

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