Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dull Stuff: Game Design Research

How stats are rolled - 20% deviation is something I see pretty often in performance testing and mass in both human and animals.

Rolling 3d6 as stats doesn't respect the natural deviation of +20% deviation for untrained human averages. You have a results that have ~+80% deviation.

Why can't someone roll up top most 30-80% deviation for human abilities? One reason is that part of these abilities come about through work and experience. Another is that Rolling with the odds 1:216 of the lowest of the low or the highest of the high has strange utility/payoff/motivations alterations to players. If you want to play odds, then if you read up on mutations (different from parents) and evolution: the odds of getting a positive mutation with a marginal advantage is actually millions of times more unlikely than a negative mutation. This is because mutations are at the bottom line copy errors. In fact, because of technology we are able to stave off unforgiving natural selection for most of these errors but as life continues to thrive through technology a lot of these negative mutations will remain in the succeeding generations. (In a way Robert E Howard's view of civilization is kind of correct)

Unfortunately increments of 20% just creates 3 groupings: Low, Median, and High. So I use the 10% deviation so that I have 5+1 groupings. The +1 is for exceptional cases I intentionally made available if one are lucky enough to roll a natural 18. Its an adventure game, allowing for exceptional abilities is part of the fun.

IQ has about a +40% deviation. Since Attributes are generated assuming an unrefined ability and there is stat progression through experience, the character rolls up the first +20% deviation and then can make up the additional 20% when they advance. Since character advancement is does not follow age but over all capability and productivity (i got this from economics, as wage follows productivity), a character can quickly grow smarter, wiser, or more influential as they progress.

Animals and Creature Creation. I plan to use a modifier in strength progression for upright biped, semi-upright, and quadruped. Here is a good article about how much they can carry which has a source reference. Well written and very useful information if your a system designer. Hereis a more detailed one, if you have more time to read.

Googling I found elephants can carry up to 25% their mass. The decline of an elephant from the horse (which is max 30%) is a trend worth noting for quadrupeds. I'm sure the trend gets worse and worse, but all I have to plot the progression of weight to work are Horses, Oxes and Elephants.

Thanks to Excel I found a exponential progression of mass to work ratio that follows a curve of diminishing returns as a creature gets larger.

More Learning through Game Design - Game design is a great way to practice some math, statistics, and algebra. Making a race of semi-upright elephants or baboon crossed jackals (gnolls) which have tool using abilities would be a fun exercise. Getting the attributes I would want them to have in strength, speed, and intelligence and draw up reasons for them to have evolved in such a way. Then having to defend and explain things rationally.

Effort and Work. What is so exciting about that? Well its the internet age I can easily look at human and animal performance levels. One of the things I can observe and actually measure more and more. This is thanks to the economics lessons I've been taking and how its giving me more of a handle on metrics.

Anyway, looking at soldiering, health and fitness, mariner safety guidelines and animal performance there is a VERY strong pattern that is quite tangible. There is something tying together energy recovery efficiency, and productivity in hours. Again I notice the rule of thirds in play in the 10 hour rule vs the 16 hour waking period. In basic soldier performance and fitness, there is the reduced sleep hours of 6 to 4. There is also the expected amount of drills and labor that go into a day for soldiers and animals so that that an excess of energy regeneration doesn't lead them to be a danger for themselves.

Looking and accounting for all of that, I have found a simple progression for constitution. Noting the underlying function of energy recovery efficiency should be correlated to the maximum effort one can summon up in the measurable instance.

Another thing that supports my interpretation of constitution is effort progression. As I've compared sustainable but significant effort and concentration vs maximums performances, there is a 1 to 10 relationship. A great example would be running vs walking. A reasonably fit person can sustain a pace of 4-5kph as much a day. Compare that to how fast average humans can run. If you follow the KE rule of speed exponentially increasing effort, Running at x7 your walking speed is actually performing at an effort of 10x more than walking.

This is consistent with animals as well. A horse carrying a fully armored warrior is only good for 2 hours. Thats 50% more of the effort before the horse starts visibly suffering stress and discomfort. So a Horse (which sleeps at 4 hours) puts in 20+ hours of work in just those 2 hours. Factoring in relative increase of speed, if the horse was galloping at x2 his speed that would be 60 work hours.

This is based on the KE formula and it all follows pretty closely performance consistencies per target group. I'm just happy to have it all come together to make a consistent and (relatively) simple endurance/stamina system.

As Strength is the Size and Power of the engine, Constitution is its energy generator or converter. Of course this is not perfectly aligned with the real world, BUT its a simpler formula that will do the job at the accuracy needed for the game.

What is exhaustion? What is it to productivity experts? I've noticed that Fatigue and Exhaustion affects people in their ability to intensify their work effort and ability to concentrate. Most striking for Managers is how it affects attention and concentration. Defining the condition of tiredness, fatigue and exhaustion is important in a game narrative because most of the time, it is the relative condition that makes certain mundane feats Amazing!

I've noticed that as I work while tired, I tend to make more mistakes. To make up for that I take more time. So if I had intense work, that burned up my productive hours for the day I then hit a point where I am tired and I slow down to a pace so that I don't make too many mistakes.

Considering the Roman marching pace of 5hours at 60lbs (27kg). According to KE calculation that is x3 effort march or 15 hours. An hour shy from using up the 16 productive hours of a healthy person in a day. At this point, soldiers take a break and pace themselves while the engineers start up with the labor of getting the fortified camp set up.

According to my calculations, I'm at 9 Con. Causing me to sleep 10 hours after an exhausting day. Thats a 1.5 work recovery ratio. I tend to give in to my compulsions at around hour 9-14, even more at hours 15-16, -2 penalty, (I compulsively write: There are a lot of pedantic posts I successfully save vs will that doesnt get on this blog).

Exercising and getting my con to 10 is a start. I don't know if I'll ever get it back at 11, where I was able to sleep 6 hours for a whole day of energy.

this article on sleep makes further sense of my odd sleeping habits for me.
Strange that It both educated me, gave me something useful to track my work hours with, and I can use it for the game. I plan to study up statistics at least have a better than layman understanding of it for business and negotiations, and game (and gaming) purposes. In gaming the gamblers fallacy is quite useful when playing the odds.
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