Cook, Michael (Falmouth University) | Eiserloh, Squirrel (Southern Methodist University) | Robertson, Justus (North Carolina State University) | Young, R. Michael (North Carolina State University) | Thompson, Tommy (Table Flip Games / University of Derby) | Churchill, David (Lunarch Studios / University of Alberta) | Cerny, Martin (Charles University in Prague) | Hernandez, Sergio Poo (University of Alberta) | Bulitko, Vadim (University of Alberta)
Players begin games at different skill levels and develop their skill at different rates—so that even the best-designed games are uninterestingly easy for some players and frustratingly difficult for others. A proposed answer to this challenge is Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment (DDA), a general category of approaches that alter games during play, in response to player performance. However, nearly all these techniques are focused on basic parameter tweaking, while the difficulty of many games is connected to aspects that are more challenging to adjust dynamically, such as level design. Further, most DDA techniques are based on designer intuition, which may not reflect actual play patterns. Responding to these challenges, we have created Polymorph, which employs techniques from level generation and machine learning to understand level difficulty and player skill, dynamically constructing levels for a 2D platformer game with continually-appropriate challenge. We present the results of the user study on which Polymorph's model of level difficulty is based, as well as a discussion of the unique features of the model. We believe Polymorph creates a play experience that is unique because the changes are both personalized and structural, while also providing an example of a new application of machine learning to aid game design.
The design of video game levels is a complex and critical task. Levels need to elicit fun and challenge while avoiding frustration at all costs. In this paper, we present a framework to assist designers in the creation of levels for 2D platformers. Our framework provides designers with a toolbox (i) to create 2D platformer levels, (ii) to estimate the difficulty and probability of success of single jump actions (the main mechanics of platformer games), and (iii) a set of metrics to evaluate the difficulty and probability of completion of entire levels. At the end, we present the results of a set of experiments we carried out with human players to validate the metrics included in our framework.
Tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) and procedural content generators can both be understood as systems of rules for producing content. In this paper, we argue that TTRPG design can usefully be viewed as procedural content generator design. We present several case studies linking key concepts from PCG research -- including possibility spaces, expressive range analysis, and generative pipelines -- to key concepts in TTRPG design. We then discuss the implications of these relationships and suggest directions for future work uniting research in TTRPGs and PCG.
We propose the problem of tutorial generation for games, i.e. to generate tutorials which can teach players to play games, as an AI problem. This problem can be approached in several ways, including generating natural language descriptions of game rules, generating instructive game levels, and generating demonstrations of how to play a game using agents that play in a human-like manner. We further argue that the General Video Game AI framework provides a useful testbed for addressing this problem.