tatjna (tatjna) wrote,
tatjna
tatjna

In which I can't turn my brain off, even for fantasy games

On Saturday I got a letter from the University Social Sciences and Humanities Department (ooh, posh), congratulating me on getting 'a top mark' in SPOL 113. It didn't say what the mark was, or whether everyone gets these letters or what, but I felt pretty special. Ooh! They noticed me!

*has a moment of smug self-satisfaction*

*files letter with other 'might be useful in the future' stuff*

And now I get a New Study Experience - that of a course that has one textbook that you must own, no published book of course readings, a suggested reading list as long as my arm (and possibly someone else's too), and a floundering-around from me, because I don't know what to focus on until I know something about the topic. Argh! Self-directed learning! Nooooooo!

(Someone wise suggested that I go through the reading list and find all the journal articles and print them out, then I'll have at least something to get my teeth into)

And then I had an astounding revelation!


Game theory. While its application to economics is a) tenuous and b) complicated (at least, according to the Happy school of thought - and I tend to agree with him), it makes one hell of a lot of sense when applied to .. GAMES!

(i know. i should get a pulitzer for that one, eh?)

For those who care but don't know, here's the Wikipedia Weetbix Packet Version of game theory:

"Game theory attempts to mathematically capture behavior in strategic situations, in which an individual's success in making choices depends on the choices of others."

There's more stuff about knowing what choices the others are likely to make/have made/could make, and that affecting the choices you make in order to manipulate the situation to your own advantage, but it uses lots of big words and I'm not big on mathematical theory, so let's stick with the simple version huh?

So I was lying in bed last night thinking about the differences between Morrowind and WoW. Not the obvious ones, like MMORPG vs Solo, or the different classes, but the more subtle differences. For instance: in WoW, when you approach an NPC, you know as you approach whether it's friendly, how powerful it is, and whether it's likely to shoot fireballs at you or come up and whack you with an axe. Knowing this will affect the way you approach. In Morrowind, NPCs that aren't actual monsters, don't have any indication as to whether they're friend or foe until you get into their radius - then they either attack you, or don't. If they happen to be a big grunty NPC, you die. Then you go back to your saved game and use more caution the next time.

When you're fighting said monster/bandit/weird-looking thingy, in WoW you get a little popup whatsit that tells you how much life it has left. Now, Morrowind may have this function too, but I haven't found it yet. So when I am fighting an NPC, my decisions are based purely on guesses (at least, at this point, 2 days in, they are). Which means that I might waste a potion to fortify my character because I don't know that the enemy is about to croak anyway, and one more whack with my Bloody Great Hammer would do the job just as well. Or, conversely, I might think "I've been whacking this slug for fricking ages, surely it's going to die soon" and not take the potion, then get nailed myself. Or I might run away from said Blob O Jelly when I should be going in for the death blow.

So there's a factor of game theory in there (really Tats? you are so clever!), I reckon. And for preference, I think I like Morrowind better, because it adds an element of uncertainty, even though the decisions I make in the game are less informed ones, it requires me to learn and remember through trial and error rather than going into every fight knowing exactly what my chances are and having pre-thought-out strategies that balance the odds on my side.

I wouldn't be so keen on doing this in real life economic Pareto-scaled rational Gamey Things.

*cue Happy to jump in and tell me I do this every day*

So anyway, after thinking all this, I realised that game theory is probably not something I ought to be stretching my brain round while trying to sleep, so started thinking about steak instead. And promptly dropped off.

The thing I like about these kinds of games is the strategy element. There's more to it than running round whacking monsters, buying spells and weapons and levelling your character. The fun part, for me, is the part where you figure out that if you befriend this peasant, four or five quests later they'll help you to get into a group that you need to be in so that you can enslave all the other peasants and go take over a castle. That kind of thing. It's the same with the table-based horse game I play. The training and the entering of competitions is boring - it's the strategy you use to breed the best horses and tweak them to win that's interesting. Whacking monsters and questing is boring, it's the strategy you use to increase your chances of killing said monsters that's interesting.

So, has anyone invented a game yet (no not chess, I'm talking computer fantasy games) that is all about the strategy and when it comes to monster-whacking time you can just click a button that says 'auto-whack till quest complete' and get that bit over with so you can go back to strategising?


Meanwhile, I'm back at work. It's.. work. Plz2b providing me with ways of making it interesting. Also, can you make the weather stay nice so Tommy can come fire spinning tomorrow? Cheers.

[EDIT] Apologies for the large post, I want lots of people to see this in the hopes that someone recognises it and can tell me what it's called:



Mum has one, and it's sprouted these little flowery sprouty things from the backs of the leaves. She's told she can use them to propagate more of the plant, but without knowing what it's called, it's hard to research methods. Anyone?
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