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Nevermind 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: Nevermind 19 January 2009 05:51:47PM 0 points [-]

Taken literally, you've just asserted that a surprising reward with character synergy is worse than a surprising rigid reward that makes the player feel regret.

No. I asserted that guaranteed synergy is worse than random reward that might be synergistic or not, but the player does not know in advance. For example:

Let's say the player can get one of the abilities A or B at some point of the game (point 1), and C or D at some later point (point 2). And ability C is synergistic with A, that is, combination A+C is somehow superior to all others.

Eliezer's way would be to only show the player A and B at point 1, as opposed to showing also C and D. This would lead to frustration for players who had chosen B.

Your way would be to somehow devise abilities C' and D', at least one of which is synergistic with the ability that player chose at point 1, and present these abilities at point 2. This might be a good idea, if the trick is only used once or maybe several times; but soon the player will learn that whatever he chooses, he's guaranteed to receive a synergistic ability next, so there's no need to choose at all. At this point, the "hedonic impact" of this mechanic will almost disappear.

I get that yout design principle is to give the player choice and the ability to plan. So what is the right way to give "good news" to the player with the most hedonic impact?

I wish I knew. I can't name a single generally "right" way to do this. But from my experience (I certainly have no real theory to support this), the best "good news" are those directly caused by player's actions.