Saturday, April 19, 2008

Thoughts: Economic Analogies for Game Design

There's a recent article at Gamasutra titled, "MMO Class Design: Up With Hybrids! An Economic Argument" that has my interest.

To summarize, the author makes points about how a party has 'Supply and Demand' for particular things during a battle - like 'Tanky-ness' and 'Damage per Second.' This seems obvious at first, but just like an economy, the demand for certain things changes (or at least, should change) throughout an adventure. So non-specialized 'classes' could (should) come in handy and be worthwhile at some point in time, so that pure-specialized tanks, damagers, and healers give up their respective monopolies in favor of balance.

It's an interesting point of view - I for one despise things like hit points and the concept of 'damage per second.' They're a crutch, in my opinion, even though they are a great conduit for simplicity. So while they're needed, I think they're used way too often.

However, I'm more interested in using economic theory to translate data collected by a metrics system, into something to help balance out the gameplay. A 'Supply and Demand' chart for 'tanky-ness' would be fascinating - if not completely vague. Unless your definition is simply 'damage taken vs. total party damage,' but even then it would still be useful to look at. Heck, it would be useful for a min-maxer to look at, too. "Oh, wow, my tankyness dropped 10% (or, demand for my tankyness fell 15 points, etc.) that last Raid, looks like I should go back to using my previous build..."

Could definitely be a useful tool, and something to keep in mind.

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