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All right. My copy of Monarch is one of those no-frills jewel case… - Thanks, ants.
Thants.
annlarimer
annlarimer
All right. My copy of Monarch is one of those no-frills jewel case numbers, with no instruction, so sometimes it presents me with a puzzle and I have no idea about what the fuck I'm supposed to be doing. I solve this by clicking randomly until something explodes. This works fine (hello level 129).

But I've noticed something. If I go too many moves without making any real progress, or get near to the end of a level and need a particular match, quite often the bits I need for a match, or large quantities of handy board-clearing explosives, will start to appear like...some suddenly appearing thing. Ants at a picnic. Mice in a pantry. Nerds at a sneak preview. Whatever. I refer to this as 'pity mode.'

My question is, is it actually possible to program a game to do this? Or is it just my imagination combined with normal random mathemagic? (Like, I'm concentrating on a particular area, so naturally it's going to get more activity and the illusion of more favorable results.)

Tags:
mood: curious curious

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Comments
thistlethorn From: thistlethorn Date: July 21st, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC) (linkage)
No, Ann. It's pity.

;-)
snacky From: snacky Date: July 21st, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC) (linkage)
I don't know if it's possible, but I really like the idea of a game with a "pity mode."
dr_tectonic From: dr_tectonic Date: July 21st, 2008 08:28 pm (UTC) (linkage)
My question is, is it actually possible to program a game to do this?

Oh, absolutely, and in many cases it's probably good game design to do so.

If you're a commercial game designer, you want the players to enjoy your game so that they'll buy more of your products later on, and most people don't enjoy being seriously frustrated, so they want to avoid that. Of course, part of being challenged by a game, which people do enjoy, generally speaking, involves low-level frustration, so there's some careful balancing to be done here. This is where reviewers will start to yammer about "game balance" and "difficulty curves". But it's important to try and get it right.

Responding in some way when the player hasn't made progress within a certain amount of time is very easy, and quite common. Many games will do things like give you a hint on how to deal with a particular encounter after you've died five times on it. I don't imagine hinting would do much good in a matching-type game, but activating a 'pity mode' of some kind to adjust the mix of incoming bits would be trivial.

The end-of-level thing is probably something separate. I've noticed a lot of match-the-colored-blob games (Bust-A-Move, for example) will stop giving you red bits once there's no more red on the board. This is not so much pity for the player who's not doing well, but because needing one last bit to finish the level and randomly getting fifty-seven wrong-colored bits in a row is really tiresome and annoying and makes people curse your ancestors.
annlarimer From: annlarimer Date: July 22nd, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC) (linkage)
Hinting actually does a lot of good in a matching game, though you're often docked points if you ask for one. Monarch offers hints on its own, but then the board is freaking huge.

It also keeps giving me extra lives. Which is keen, but I'm not entirely certain that it's possible to die in this game.
From: teddybang Date: July 22nd, 2008 07:12 am (UTC) (linkage)
Hah! I've wondered this many, many times myself. I fail at clicky games and seem to fall into Ultimate Fucking Pussy Mode fairly often.
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