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Zubon comments on Justified Expectation of Pleasant Surprises - Less Wrong

10 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 15 January 2009 07:26AM

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Comment author: Zubon 15 January 2009 07:56:24PM 2 points [-]

It is good game design compensating for anything less than excellent game design.

Most people are not good game designers, even professional game designers. Even good designers make bad design decisions at times. Giving more information is a way of working around problems: it gives the player additional control and the ability to plan around problems. It is an error compensation system.

You exaggerate the point when you sprak of "single possible paths" and "one way to do something." That is prematurely halting at the obvious. We have a Diablo II citation above: the character trees have multiple paths, with many chances to pick up what you skipped before, and it still does better with more information. What the game tells you is your only way of finding out what those other ways of doing things might be. This is not real life, where you have lots of examples and feedback systems. You have what the game tells you and what you learn from trial and error in the game; if you have some meta-game knowledge, you can also guess what the designer might have done.

In an excellent game where things are designed very well, surprises can improve the experience without making you regret past decisions. They can even be adaptive to your past decisions to better avoid regrets. (At this point, you may approach calling for amputation of destiny, with the computer designing your ideal experience no matter what you choose or plan.) How many games things of that quality exist, where you trust the developer to have made all the right decisions?

If the point is that a really good game does not need to give you so much information up front, granted. It is bad design to give the player either too much or too little information. If the question resolves to that point, there is little interesting discussion to be had.