Feasibility of Game Theory and Mechanism Design Techniques to Understand Game Balance
thesisposted on 03.08.2020 by Prajwal Balasubramani
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
Game balance has been a challenge for game developers since the time games have become more complex. There have been a handful of proposals for game balancing processes outside the manual labor-intensive play testing methods, which most game developers often are forced to use simply due to the lack of better methods. Simple solutions, like restrictive game play, are limited because of their inability to provide insight on interdependencies among the mechanisms in the game. Complex techniques framed around the potential of AI algorithms are limited by computational budgets or cognition inability to assess human actions. In order to find a middle ground we investigate Game Theory and Mechanism Design concepts. Both have proven to be effective tools to analyse strategic situations among interacting participants, or in this case `players'. We test the feasibility of using these techniques in an Real Time Strategy (RTS) game domain to understand game balance. MicroRTS, a small and simple execution of an RTS game is employed as our model. The results provide promising insight on the effectiveness of the method in detecting imbalances and further inspection to find the cause. An additional benefit out of this technique, besides detecting for game imbalances, the approach can be leveraged to create imbalances. This is useful when the designer or player desires to do so.