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Player Balancing Techniques for Games

This is an ongoing project.

In games where skills such as targeting are critical to winning, it is difficult for players with different skill levels to have a competitive and engaging experience. Although several mechanisms for accommodating different skill levels have been proposed, traditional approaches can be too obvious and can change the nature of the game.

For games involving aiming to a distant surface, we propose the use of target assistance techniques (such as area cursors, target gravity, and sticky targets) to accommodate skill imbalances. We compared three techniques in a study, and found that area cursors and target gravity significantly reduced score differential in a shooting-gallery game played on a large-screen display. Further, less skilled players reported having more fun when the techniques helped them be more competitive, and even after they learned assistance was given, felt that this form of balancing was good for group gameplay. Our results show that target assistance techniques can make target-based games more competitive for shared play.

We furthered this work by applying the targeting assistance in a multi-player 3D first-person shooter game. Although targeting assistance helped in the controlled experimental situation, when realistic game elements are added, 

Finally, we have been exploring how targeting assistance can be applied to the steering task of a driving game for balancing play.

Images and Video

Video of the system