Fudging the dice rolls
Spending this week at the GDC, I found myself attending most of the AI Summit on Monday and Tuesday. Overall it was educational and inspiring, illustrating to me a depth available in randomness that I hadn’t considered, and some great information about scripting and DSLs, among other things.
However, one thing that came up seemed to conflict with me quite heavily: a questioner wanted to know how he could make Risk more fun, when players interpreted strings of 1s or 6s as intentional rather than random. One answer given was to add filters, to prevent too much repetitive behavior like this.
This would be a change for the sake of enhancing the player’s experience, which is of course a respectable goal. I just don’t know that I could tolerate this being done to something as pure as dice rolls in a board game adaptation. Doing this in, say, Settlers of Catan, would betray players’ expectations about the frequencies of certain resources being distributed.
An analogy to the Risk issue which occurred to me was World of Warcraft: against a boss, a tank had to deal with large hits, of varying damage levels. These hits may be avoided, or blocked (partially avoided), based on the tank’s stats and (presumably) a random number. If excessive strings of avoided hits or non-avoided hits were curbed by dice of questionable ethics, it might make the game more fun. As a tank, I’d probably be furious that this was happening, though.
We are given the rules, and are led to expect that the game would follow them. We play, expecting those rules to be upheld. If players didn’t actually find out, then they’d still be cheated, but they wouldn’t know, and would likely enjoy the game more.
It’s strange; I didn’t expect such an ethical issue to arise in AI programming or game design. If the opportunity for this kind of fudging comes up in a future game of mine, I honestly have no idea which path I’ll take, or more importantly, which path is the better one.