Well, as I promised after the keeping you in anticipation with the Bamf! review. Here’s how Game Theory is totally relevant to us. This post is about how it can be useful bag of tricks.
Firstly, they make it easier to come up with neater and more realistic reaction functions for non-playable charactersFor example, if you NPCs are chasing a PC and the PC gets out of their site, you know that you’re not going far wrong if most of the time the NPC goes down the route that’s most easy for the PC to get away in. Not only does that save creativity, it also save implementation or running of more complicated systems.
Secondly, if your characters react in a semi-strategic way then that gives more strategic power to the player. For example, if your enemies react to a Truel in a game theoretic manner (striking the biggest threat) that isn’t a huge deal to try and program, but it does give the player more options that fit with the realistic simulistic style that many games seek to have.
My third point is about cooperative game theory. The great book by Thomas Schelling is probably my favourite non-fiction books ever – if you haven’t read The Strategy of Conflict – then I heartily recommend it. I think that if more game designers cared more deeply about cooperative game theory we could have a far wider range of multiplayer experiences; which could probably feed back into a greater breadth for single player games and also a greater depth in both types too. Unfortunately, I think the nature of cooperative game theory makes it limited in single player games, and single player games are the only worth me doing.
Although saying that, single player games are like a situation described by Schelling in his book. It is like the case where two people are on an island with walkie-talkies and need to meet. The game designers calls the player on the walkie-talkie and says his preferred destination. He then destroys his walkie-talkie.