What Your Archmage Build Says About You

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I'd prefer not to be psycho-analyzed by a machine with the intellectual capacity and empathty of a wet towel. Thank you.

This is kind of redundant, it's obvious we make our choices according to our personalities be it which book to read, which game to play, which movie to watch, interacting with other people and playing a game that simulates interaction with other people. I just don't see why this wasn't already clear and PRETTY OBVIOUS before this study. (Unless you consciously force yourself to make opposite choices which is just weird on a first playthrough)

Maybe I am missing the point of this article and the *revolutionary* idea to make games change based on our personalities is the main topic. I don't think games need extra baggage and development time or even worse - no extra development time, considering the already abysmal time needed to play to the end of an AAA title. I feel it will also bring wonky difficulty curves and artificial limiting of the experience. I say make games the way you (the developers) want and try to deliver a good, compelling game instead of trying and failing to cater to everyone. "The fastest path to failure is trying to please everybody"

This is of course vulnerable to many of the same flaws as any sociology/"soft" science in that it is all interpreted through a paradigm that is likely not nearly as a unerringly rock solid as those in said field like to think. It wasn't that long ago that homosexuality was listed as a "deviance" not at all unlike other forms of psychopathy and people put a lot of time and energy into trying to understand what environmental and personality factors caused that "deviant behavior". Likewise, there were tons of sociological studies that "proved" the superiority of "Caucasoid" elements over "Mongoloid" and "Negroid", which led to a lot of the popular eugenics themes that were championed in the first half of the last century - seen at the time as inscrutable investigation. I mention this just because sociology and psychology are so variable and seen through the declarations of the predominant trends of the era that they can follow scientific method, but still end up being completely wrong.

That said I'm not immediately against adaptability in games and the work detailed in this article, but in our current climate where we are constantly profiled as it is, I worry that advancements innocently thought to make a better game will be used for the purposes of greed. The game detects that the player is highly suggestible and "weak willed", it launches more ads to buy Zynga currency and invite friends, because there's a greater likelihood that the person will capitulate and buy just to get it to go away, compared to a different users who would get frustrated and close the game instead.

The vast majority of psycho-sociological research today is being bankrolled by those with motives to simply make more money. We're constantly being scanned, evaluated and profiled in everything we do, online and even in real life, by businesses and institutions (see: Jury consultants) that want something from us - often money - that likely has little to do with our well being. I'd like my time in gaming to be a respite from that reality. The more this technology shows up in games means the more that various ad companies are going to be looking to buy the player analysis and knowing how wonderfully the industry has protected us in the past when there is a buck to be made (that is not at all), I expect that every little bit of data will be sold to the highest bidder and used by publishers for better "monetization".

The longer we can keep this out of gaming, the better. Someone wants to put an old school variable difficulty curve in game that's fine, but all this correlating and saving data, making often spurious and incorrect conclusions for profit needs to be held back as long as possible.

Hold on Bioware, what about the people who never skipped any missions on the 360? And I'm just as interested in the bloodbaths as I am in the tear-jerking parts.

I didn't know people would skip loyalty missions. It's just not...unless you planned to off them from the beginning...but still.

OT: The premise has an interesting idea, but I think someone said it already that it has the premise to become messed up really quickly. If I wanted to play one way in the beginning and switch later on with another method, does the game only give me certain items so I have to keep playing with that one method?

It could make a fun game and make it really boring...

I really dislike this trend towards "personalisation" - there's a difference between using technology to make our lives and hobbies less stressful and more productive, and it isolating us from new experiences. When I play a game, I don't want it to adapt to me, I want it to challenge me to adapt to it. I want to be running a stealth playthrough and have to deal with sections which are far more challenging because they weren't designed to be optimal for stealth characters, not have the game mystically reshape itself into an unending parade of sameness.

This is especially true in RPGs; the whole point of a roleplaying game is to create a character, not just in terms of stats and equipment, but personality as well, and then explore the world you are presented with. If the game starts changing itself to match how I'm playing, how is that dynamic supposed to work?

Imagine if you were reading a great piece of literature and it changed into a brainless airport pulp spy thriller after 200 pages because it had analyzed you and decided your "personality type" would like that better - sometimes the role of a content creator is not to pander to consumer, but to challenge them, and to provide them with an experience they would otherwise have missed out on.

Kasumi's loyalty mission was my favourite, because it had you doing things other than just putting bullets into things, though it had that too. My Shepherd was an Infiltrator so it was nice to do some actual infiltration. Tali's looked like it was going in similar directions, but ended up just being another run and gun mission. Still good, but kind of disappointing. Samara's was a nice change of pace--I think that one's almost completely role-playing. Mordin's was easily one of the best. I liked Garrus', because I really felt like Shepherd was trying to keep her friend from going over the edge.

As for Miranda--her loyalty mission is probably the only time in the game when I actually sympathized with her. The rest of the time she was an irritatant with an exaggerated sense of her own worth. Once I recruited Jack and Samara I had no need for her in my squad.

I did everyone's loyalty mission EXCEPT Miranda's. Her death was most satisfactory. Legion was my favourite character, I sympathized with Grunt too. A tube grown Krogan with images of history, glory and war pumped into his head, born with no purpose, who just want's to know what it actually means to be part of his own species. Plus Tuchanka was awesome and my Sole Survivor got some vengeance on Thresher Maws. (Cain to the face)

This adjustment system sounds like it has potential. I would like it to be more involved with alignment in games. So the darker path I follow consistently, the more related options and opportunities appear. The same goes for Good and neutral of course (I am a evil sort of player).

Problem is I doubt it will unlock anything amazing such a unique content, new NPC personalities etc unless a game company puts plenty of effort of adding and hiding a large amount of additional content which can be only unlocked via a unique play style.

Hi all! I like to get involved in the comments threads here, but I'm afraid I missed the air date on this one so I'm a little late. In case any of you ever check back, here's a few points I wanted to make:

llyrnion:

Some of these choices could already be done today - imagine an action/adventure RPG - some action, some mistery solving, some stealth... a little bit of everything, actually.

JMeganSnow:

Indeed. Why can't they just put the "tailored" stuff in the game in the first place and then let you choose how you want to play it?

And think of how BUGGY this would be.

This has all the earmarks of being a bad gimmick and not a worthwhile growth area.

You both make valid points, but you're missing out on what is being worked towards here. Firstly, yes this tailored content could exist, but having the player laboriously choose isn't a perfect solution. It's also pretty imprecise. For instance, in Skyrim I enjoy the game in 'Thief Mode', but I don't want to play in what the game might consider Thief Mode. I want some elements of the action, some elements of the RPG numbers game, some elements of the sneakery. Adaptive games will hopefully be able to understand what things you want, and how much you want of them.

Regarding bugginess - this is the cutting edge of research here. This stuff was presented at a research conference just a few months ago. Technology advances through buggy, terrible, crappy prototypes that are refined, polished and perfected. Everything we take for granted in modern gaming started in a terrible form. That's progress. :)

This is kind of redundant, it's obvious we make our choices according to our personalities be it which book to read, which game to play, which movie to watch, interacting with other people and playing a game that simulates interaction with other people. I just don't see why this wasn't already clear and PRETTY OBVIOUS before this study.

Giel was quite open about this. After all, the reason he started the research was because he knew we make choices according to our personalities! But now he knows what choices, and when. He can quantify them in some cases, and that makes a real difference to how we build a game. We don't just know general 'angry people like violence' sweeping statements. We can home in on a particular variable - like how long a quest takes to complete - and adjust it to be better-suited to the player. That sounds pretty cool, to me.

I really dislike this trend towards "personalisation" - there's a difference between using technology to make our lives and hobbies less stressful and more productive, and it isolating us from new experiences. When I play a game, I don't want it to adapt to me, I want it to challenge me to adapt to it.

I'm actually with you here, I wouldn't want all my games to tailor themselves to me. But plenty of people would, and it could certainly benefit a lot of gamers and a lot of different genres. While a game like Shinobi is all about mastery of a skillset, I wouldn't mind if Skyrim knew not to send me on murder quests when I'm all about the sleight of hand and the thievery. So some adaptivity in the right place could make all the difference.

---

Once again, thanks for all the great feedback and commentary. I just want to extend my thanks again to Giel who gave a terrific series of interviews, as well as a great talk at CIG. I hope we see the fruits of his labour in future games!

Michael Cook:
Hi all! I like to get involved in the comments threads here, but I'm afraid I missed the air date on this one so I'm a little late. In case any of you ever check back, here's a few points I wanted to make:

(...)

You both make valid points, but you're missing out on what is being worked towards here. Firstly, yes this tailored content could exist, but having the player laboriously choose isn't a perfect solution. It's also pretty imprecise. For instance, in Skyrim I enjoy the game in 'Thief Mode', but I don't want to play in what the game might consider Thief Mode. I want some elements of the action, some elements of the RPG numbers game, some elements of the sneakery. Adaptive games will hopefully be able to understand what things you want, and how much you want of them.

There's a 2004 game called "Divine Divinity". One of its tips of the day was something like "If you're having problems with an encounter, go to game options and lower the game difficulty settings. You can increase it again, afterwards". It's a simple example that illustrates what I'm talking about - the game puts the decision in the hands of the player, throughout the entire game (not just at the beginning).

There are workarounds to keep the player from "laboriously choosing" his experience, option by option. The game could have "playstyle templates", for a simple selection process (e.g., the Realistic/Adventure/Action in my post). The player could then customize these templates when needed, changing one or more options (e.g., yeah, I wanna play realistically, but I'm really tired of running around chasing quest givers, let me select "Automatic quest giving" and "Automatic quest reward after completion"). And you could allow for community-published templates. From what I've read about the Elder Scrolls community, you'd have plenty of quality templates to help your tailor the game.

All this is possible today, and there is a panoply of options to keep it from becoming a chore to the player.

Oh, and if you tune the game yourself, you'll have a higher degree of control over what exactly is "Thief Mode", as opposed to relying on the game engine to understand what you want. But both are valid options. It's up to the player to decide whether he wants control or convenience.

I'm actually with you here, I wouldn't want all my games to tailor themselves to me. But plenty of people would, and it could certainly benefit a lot of gamers and a lot of different genres. While a game like Shinobi is all about mastery of a skillset, I wouldn't mind if Skyrim knew not to send me on murder quests when I'm all about the sleight of hand and the thievery. So some adaptivity in the right place could make all the difference.

I believe the real issue here is player's choice. Each player should be free to choose his own experience, i.e., tailor the game to his heart's content. If you don't want the game to adapt to you, then it's simple - don't mess with the options.

I'm not against this research. I see it merely as just another option to give players something they could already have today. And anything that brings more player choice is positive.

Michael Cook:
[b]<a

An information-gathering Neverwinter Nights mod could someday lead to games that change to suit your personality.

I'm clearly well late to the party, but I don't actually care. What a great read this was, thank you very much.

I'm personally very interested in Psychology, and the potential findings of this research are far more exciting to me then the potential for smarter games.

Also, judging by the facebook comments, all it would really do is give PC gamers that are so inclined one more reason to be elitist pricks.

wow a Xbox gamer can't do anything but shoot whats in front of themselves? A PC gamer has more depth and intrigue?

yeah, im not sure focusing on automated scripts is the way to go in the INTERACTIVE medium.

why does science continue to develop gaming technology in the wrong direction? the whole god-damn point of playing games over watching movies or something is that you have control over what happens, not the game. if a player likes stealth, he will bloody well figure out how to stealth, he doesnt need some AI director to foster that. players need a degree of freedom, of NOT being guided at all in a game. THAT IS THE POINT. the player having some kind of power, some kind of real effect on the action outside the game's control.

this is the simplest friggin thing in the world to do, and one of the most basic elements of an interactive art. gaming needs to stop this hand-holding bullshit and get back to creating an environment where the player is free to fuck around at there own discretion and not concerned with how their every action is going to influence the universe-shifting AI god in tailoring the next level.

people play games because THEY control what happens. the devs make it, and that is the extent of their role. once the controller/keyboard is in our hands, sit the fuck down and stay out of the way.

the issue i see with this technology in use is that it potentially locks you into a playstyle. i might run and gun kick down the front door for the first half of a game and then what if i decide to change to a more stealth style gameplay.. with the example of a deus ex game.. less stealth entrances, etc

hmm i could see it working better actually in strategy games where the AI countries for example adapt to your behaviour and strengths. proper use of espionage maybe?

Heh. First I was like, "Hey, this sounds exactly like what they're doing on my university!" ..Until I found out that it actually was.

I'm pretty sure I even participated in his experiments. I got 1 hour to do some quests in NN2, which took me 15 minutes, as that time frame was clearly to for people who actually played the game. Still one of the most interesting experiments I've participated in. Thanks, Giel. ;)

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