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Subject: balancing a game and math (probability) rss

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Anais A
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When designing a game how important is it to balance the game by calculating out the probability of all possible outcomes?

For example, working on a game that involves players having differing hidden goals, should the probability of a player achieving a particular goal (given completely random play) be equal to probably of the other player achieving their different goal?

Or is it generally okay to have some imbalance and tweak things through play-testing instead of math?

Also, along the same lines, does anyone know of any resources for calculating the probability of complex systems? I can do it for simple enough systems, but when multiple factors are involved it because a bit confusing.


Let me give one specific example I'm experimenting with to show what I mean:

Players take turns placing dominoes (double 6). The second through fifth placement form four 'wings' off of the center domino. No wings can touch other wings, and each wing has a total of 4 dominoes. Now, what is the probability that the length of the final structure will be N dominoes long (N=9,8,7,6,5,4)? What is the probability that a vertical or horizontal cross-section (line) will have N of the same numbers (N=8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1)?

I was assigning points for completing certain goals and I wanted the goals that are more improbable to complete to receive a proportionally higher score e.g., making the structure 9-long or 4-long would give 2 points, making it 8-long or 5-long would give 1 point, and making it 7-long or 6-long gets 0 points. This is a presupposed guess not based on any probability.

 
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J C Lawrence
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Campbell
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moretap wrote:
When designing a game how important is it to balance the game by calculating out the probability of all possible outcomes?


If you don't know the probabilities and their implications you're not designing, you're vaguely guessing.

Quote:
For example, working on a game that involves players having differing hidden goals, should the probability of a player achieving a particular goal (given completely random play) be equal to probably of the other player achieving their different goal?


No. Only directed, purposeful play is interesting.

Quote:
Or is it generally okay to have some imbalance and tweak things through play-testing instead of math?


No. Playtesting can reveal aspects to the probability system that you failed to consider, but it will never, ever, prove a game correct or sound. Only analysis can demonstrate a game to be sound.
 
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