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Sep 08, 2004

Comments

1.

In Camelot, recently, there were certain items that could only be empowered by killing certain monsters during the day or during the night. The sun and moon became temporal signals of an inderlying game metric. However, players were soon outraged that the goblins they killed by day or by night, in the respective cases, did not advance their items at all, so the linkage to time of day was removed.

I wonder if players would consider any live streaming of information regarding the state of some system to be fair, unless the info is available to all and has no effect on anything important.

2.

I actually do this with my online businesses .. I send RPC summaries of mysql reports about various daily/weekly/monthly items sold and other stats to my house in SecondLife.

I use rezobject and setprimparams to visualize the data.

I thought about doing something a bit more interesting, like changing colors and sizes of things to more artistically reflect the data but I find I actually use the visualization so I needed something a bit more practical..

3.

I actually do this with my online businesses .. I send RPC summaries of mysql reports about various daily/weekly/monthly items sold and other stats to my objects in SecondLife.

I use rezobject and setprimparams to visualize the data.

I thought about doing something a bit more interesting, like changing colors and sizes of things to more artistically reflect the data but I find I actually use the visualization so I needed something a bit more practical..

4.

Makes me think of that book that used to be constantly advertised in the NY Times Book Review, "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information."

Also, the more information that's presented visually, it seems to me that would decrease costs when it comes to porting the game to a foreign language...

Most importantly, though, the fountain is really, really cool.

5.

I believe the single-player game Black & White did this with villages. The heights of various totem poles, piles of grain, etc. gave you information about the state of that village, though not the system in general.

Also, back in the bad old days of "LindenWorld", I built a tracking system for a deathmatch that consisted of an in-world post that grew ever taller as kills were recorded.

And of course, in Nethack your luck changes depending on the time of day and phase of the (real-world) moon.

6.

One cool thing in Unreal Tournament 2004 was that in-game textures displayed the current scores on in-game video screens. You'd be in a room and see "Foo is in the lead!" scroll across a monitor.

I think we still have to finish exploring displaying data in game in traditional ways (like the bulletin board of UT2004) rather than worry about more abstract approaches.

Doom 3, IMHO, does an amazing job of marrying what are traditional 2D interfaces directly into the 3d engine.

- Brask Mumei

7.

What kind of information would you want to display? I think the DataFountain is a particularly bad idea, because currency data are not really suitable for that sort of display. You can only show rough trends, like a currency going up or down. But a change of 1 cent might be highly significant for a currency trader, while being totally insignificant for somebody just buying the currency for his next holiday.

The people that don't look for currency data every day, won't be able to correctly "read" the data fountain. And for the people that need currency data all the time, the display isn't accurate enough.

A visual display would be great inside of virtual worlds, to display for example who is currently winning in realm vs. realm PvP combat. Or other data where it doesn't really matter if the accuracy is very rough.

8.


I think we still have to finish exploring displaying data in game in traditional ways (like the bulletin board of UT2004) rather than worry about more abstract approaches.

Why is that? Aren't games abstractions anyway: the art is all about choosing the right abstractions?

9.

In Uru Live, their were creatures in the underground city of D'Ni called the Bahro. We tied the chance of hearing one of their creepy, forlorn screeches directly to the number of people who were subscribed so that they appeared to grow more agitated as their universe became more populated.

I've been enchanted by the data fountain idea ever since I saw a guy who had wired his oscillating fan to indicate network traffic - that was probably ten years ago and I too am surprised we don't see more of this all around us by now.

10.

Well, since you mentioned the kiosk word, City of Heroes version 2 has data kiosks available throughout the city indicating who's killed (or "arrested") how many of which villain and such. You can check it out on the game's test server now.

It strikes me, however, that data fountains are poor substitutes for the data *mines* which developers have -- and restrict for their eyes only. For instance, what would be most valuable to City of Heroes players (this player, at least) would be what character archetypes and/or power selections level the fastest, which incur the most debt over time, which are most often chosen on character startup, which are most often deleted on respec, etc., etc.

I can think of no online game and/or world that readily provides that sort of inner clockwork information. (Whereas a great deal of out-of-game discussion and chit-chat concerns precisely such information.) Indeed, it seems most designs consciously attempt to keep such information hidden from their users/players. And I've always been curious as to exactly why.

What's the real reason designers keep such tight control over the most critical data showing how well their design is or isn't working? Is it solely for economic/proprietary reasons -- or is there something more fundamental involved? For instance, if players had that information would they play less? Or would they play more?

In any case, the data fountain idea is a neat one, but the data fountain implementation sounds like another attempt to lead the player into thinking she is interacting with supra-valuable "data" rather than an artfully constructed fascimile thereof.

11.

Data Fountains are neat, but take a look at the Ambient Orb Devices: http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/electronic/5da2/

These devices are for the masses and developer may even be convinced to deliver aggregate datafeeds for players to metagame.

12.

dmyers> What's the real reason designers keep such tight control over the most critical data showing how well their design is or isn't working?

I'm no game designer, but I'd think it's fear of further fuelling group-think. What happens if everyone picks blasters, not because they want them, but becaues blasters are the most popular?

Let's say 50% of players are powergamers and 50% are random players. Let's say there are two classes, A & B. Powergamers pick whichever class has the highest reported exp/hour. Random players pick each class equally. Powergamers, let's say, will be able to gain twice the exp/hour of a random player given the same set of game mechanics.

Intially, let us have equal numbers of power gamers and casual players in each class.

Now, let us posit that there is some slight statistical variation between the classes. One day, class A, let us say, pulls ahead by 1 exp/hour on the reported rankings. As a result, some power gamers will migrate to class A. Since class A now has a higher proprotion of powergamers, it will have a higher exp/level ranking. This will trigger more powergamers to migrate. Soon, all powergamers have moved to class A. At this point, class A will 3 times the population of class B. It will also have 1.66 times the exp/level of class B. This is *despite* the two classes being equivalent!

You can try and avoid this with more complicated measurements (stratifying players to identify similiar play styles for exp/level comparisons comes to mind), but it doesn't change the underlying problem. Knowledge of this sort will change player actions, often thusly destroying the value of the knowledge.

(The same problem often shows up in traffic congestion. Providing drivers with perfect knowledge of congestion can worsen congestion rather than improve it)

- Brask Mumei

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