Designed features in affinity spaces and other games

1. Chat channel in Twitch

– Offers the viewers a way to communicate with the streamer as well as each other.

– Different than chat channels like youtube or even in game chat channels because Twitch offers real time feedback with the streamer and other viewers.

– Similar to spectator chat, this chat often acts as a back channel where spectators talk about other things besides the game.

2. Theater mode and customization in Halo 3

– Gives players a way to share the content and to remember moments from playing the game

– Very similar to other theater modes such as Call of Duty and it was the first of its kind to do this type of design.

– Players really used this as intended but also took this opportunity to create unique content to share with one another their experiences or show their imagination in the map and game mode customization.

3. Map design in Halo 2

– Designed to keep players in the bounds of the game while playing online.

– plenty of games use map boundaries and invisible barriers to keep players in.

– Halo 2, players learned how to abuse the map glitch out of the barriers.  There would be glitching lobbies where players would interact around glitching out of the map and exhibit the skill necessary to do so.  These tricks would also be used online and sometimes gave the player an unfair advantage over others.  A similar thing occurs in Gears of War online.

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Designed Features in Dota 2

A good link that looks at improved designed elements in Dota 2

http://2p.com/514bfffac01da10d80e6d192_1/A-Comprehensive-Look-at-Improvements-in-Dota-2.htm

1. Match Making Rating (MMR)

– Meant to be a numerical representation of a player’s skill that matches players against others with similar number.  The higher it is, the better the player.

– Solves an issue of sorting players by their skill and giving them a way to view their own rankings compared to others

– Contrary to common types of player ranking which is typically leagues in games like Starcraft and League of Legends

– This drives players to act competitively with one another and put a high value on this number.  Fuels players bragging and having toxic competitive play.

2. Dota 2 Chat Wheel

– Design is intended to give players a way to communicate without typing or voice chatting.

– Offers a diverse range of options contrary to Hearthstone and League of Legends.  Hearthstone offers six chat options.

– Players typically use the chat wheel to communicate with their team effectively but it is frequently abused and spammed in a bad manner way.
3. Spectator mode

– Designed aspect that is meant to provide a simple, yet in-depth, way for players to view each others matches as well as tournament matches.

– League of Legends has a way to view the top matches as well as friend’s games but have not integrated a tournament spectating client such as Dota 2.  Twitch is a very popular alternative for many games that lack a spectator client.

– Player behavior when spectating can vary as cheating can occur.  But the interaction that is driven from this spectator mode is a more casual analysis of the game where players will talk about what is happening or joke around with each other.  This mode is typically used as a back channel where players discuss the game sometimes but can frequently stray off topic.

4. Commending, Reporting, and Low priority.  The player rating system.

– Intended to be a system that manages the community by sorting and rating the “quality” of a player.

– Many games have a reporting system and even a way to commend or upvote another player.  These are generally used to sort out inappropriate behavior in games with general chat channels.  But rewarding a player’s actions and gaining a positive reputation can vary in significance from game to game.  League of Legends Tribunal, Xbox Live ratings, and even player content rating.

– This system is usually abused by players in Dota 2 as players report one another based on the fact they don’t like their game play or they are playing bad.  This is not a legitimate reason to punish someone but, because they are frustrated, they do so.  It drives a toxic competitive behavior because players can punish one another.   On the contrary, the commending system is used when players like each other and think the other player deserves to be rewarded.

5. Chat channel

– Designed element created to solve the issue of communication between teams in game.

– Differs from other competitive games like League of Legends where all chat is by default turned off.  In some games players cannot even talk with the other team throughout the duration of rounds or the game. Eg. Gears of War, Call of Duty, Super Smash Bros.

– Players in Dota 2 abuse both the team chat and the all chat to engage in toxic interaction with one another.  Players are often flamed and verbally abused in this channel.  However, these channels are still used to coordinate between the players and congratulate the other team on a game well played.

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5 ways to lose in esports

http://kotaku.com/five-ways-to-lose-like-a-winner-in-esports-1651212765

original link to video about 5 ways to lose in esports

Interesting post responses related to Dota 2:

Aikage’s post about his Dota 2 version

DOTA 2: 5 ways to lose like a winner

1. Get three of your Peruvian friends together. Play on NA servers. All pick carries. Lose. Blame 4th person as being a noob.

2. Pretend you’re russian. Just yell Cyka a lot.

3. Don’t talk at all. Ever. Who needs communication in team games. Also mute everyone.

4. Readjust your goal to, “How long can I stay in the jungle/farm top lane while my team gets slaughtered in team fight after team fight?”

5. Ragequit. Keeping it classy since 1990.

Interesting photo about player interaction in Dota 2 where a large amount of players are selfish and will pick greedy roles rather than the support role.

dota2SupportLife

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Comunication and Interaction

Focused Communication and Communities in Games

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/WesleyRockholz/20140425/216251/Focused_Communication_and_Communities_in_Games.php

To me, this article was the most interesting because it looks at alternate methods for players to communicate with one another.  A lot of what was mentioned is being implemented into Dota 2 as different forms of communication between players.

“It’s important to explore alternative forms of player communication and interaction more relevant to your game to foster a focused community that preserves the importance of social interactions, interpersonal emotions, and strategies that arise as a result of communication.”

The examples given for this alternate form of communication are Hearthstone, League of Legends, Dark Souls 2, and Journey.

The hearthstone example is an emote system where the player is limited to a few sayings that the competitor can see and hear or choose to squelch.  This creates an interesting interaction between the two competitors without affecting the gameplay itself.  However, I feel that this does not completely cut out the potential for bad mannered gameplay as the article says.  If you are a player of Hearthstone you would know that players take on an alternate method to being bad mannered, not only by spamming the emotes, but also by the way they play the game.  In Hearthstone and card games in general there are plays that can be made that would end the game.  However, that means there are excessive plays that waste time and a competitor would understand these plays as being bad mannered because they were excessive or unnecessary.

The following video shows one of the more well known Hearthstone players Kripparian being bad mannered through his gameplay

Here we see players overcoming the limitations of the chat wheel to express their frustration or bad manner in an alternate way.  We see the player interaction affecting gameplay due to the designed elements limiting what the player can do. Kripparian even makes a sarcastic comment in the video saying that this is a guide on how you are supposed to play Hearthstone in that you should go for the maximum amount of BM (bad manner) when you are playing against someone.

But the positive change in the communication on Heartstone can be seen in the chat wheel as this interaction is limited and communicates relevant information to the game that the player can be feeling.  Dota 2 implements a very similar feature in that there is a customizable chat wheel that can be used to communicate common phrases that can be used in the game.

Screenshot placement of chat wheel in Hearthstone

SS of Dota Chat wheel

The point made about League of Legends where there is an honor system as well as alternative pings gives the players an effective way to communicate outside of typing as well as a constructive way of rating one another.  Dota 2 utilizes all kinds of pings in order to express what the player is wanting to say as well as a commend system that shows a numerical value of how many times a player has been seen as positive by others.  I think that this point is the strongest correlation to how alternative forms of communication can be made.  By giving players several ways to communicate with one another, games can create a  positive experience if communication can be more accessible to people who may not have a microphone or are a quick typer to bother typing.  It is important in a competitive game where teamwork and interaction is imperative to not limit how a player must communicate.

SS of dota Commndations

SS of ping variance

SS of pinging items

The last two cases of Dark Souls 2 and Journey are a bit of a stretch in comparing to competitive games, but I think both examples are excellent in showing the innovation in communication that can create rewarding experiences between players.  It is this lack of communication in games such as Journey or Dark Souls that makes the games effective.  If too much communication was present, the experience of the game could be ruined.  The level of communication necessary in games is always a game specific case.  In a game such as Dota 2, a maximum level of communication is essential while a game such as Journey requires a minimal amount because the ultimate goals of these games differ.

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Social interaction in Online Gaming

How Does Online Gaming Affect Social Interactions?

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070915110957.htm

“Collaboration with other players may be a prerequisite for making progress in a game, or a game may be based on competition between players.”

This is very true for a fair amount of online games, specifically competitive ones.  The players are not necessarily “required” to collaborate with one another to play these games, but it is essential to work together in order to be successful at these kinds of games.  Competitive team games such as Gears of War, Starcraft 2, Dota 2, and League of Legends all can be played without talking with one’s teammates.  But by even playing the team game you are already agreeing to work together to overcome another team of players.

“Shared values and goals are the basis on which a shared understanding and a sense of community are built on.”

This article states several points that may seem obvious to gamers or people who are a part of a community.  I feel it is important to bring these points up directly as it is relevant in many circumstances.  I have many experiences where I played games and became a part of a specific community.  Through my times of playing on my Xbox 360, I gained some online friends that I still talk to today.

“Online multiplayer communities are susceptible to changes. Old communities perish and new ones are born constantly, and gamers frequently shift between communities. However, the social networks and personal relationships that form the base of these communities may survive even through the disbandment of a community. It is possible that a new multiplayer community rises out of the old one’s ashes.”

However, this is a very true statement.  Out of all of the communities I became apart of due to online interaction or gaming, I have a select few where my relationships survived through the disbandment of the community.  I have even fewer where a new community came out of the older one.

Regardless, It is important to note that the interaction that is facilitated by online games can be very conducive to the formation of a community.  I think that Valve pushes this community formation in Dota 2 with their designed elements such as guilds, teams, coaches, the workshop, and even tournament tickets.

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Games impacting players

From Interaction to Impact: 3 Games That Engage Players in 3 Different Ways

http://www.gamesforchange.org/2013/07/from-interaction-to-impact-3-games-that-engage-players-in-3-different-ways/

This article speaks mainly on how games impact players to respond in a certain way.  It really touches on how games are not just a story that you can read or watch, but games can tell a story that the players actively participates in.  This creates a deeper interaction and can potentially influence and impact players more than other types of storytelling.

“Gaming, on the other hand, is interactive; it’s a two-way street in which players have agency, or control, in the story.”

I think this is a great statement from the article as it relates to my research.  I don’t think that this two way street necessarily needs to be on the basis of a story.  Sometimes, the deepest interactions you can get in a game have nothing to do with a story that you are following, but with other people who are playing the game with you.  I definitely think gaming is a two way street where players influence their own experience in the game.

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Free to Play Article

Are your non-paying players valuable?

http://gamasutra.com/blogs/BalazsJuhasz/20140530/218719/Are_your_nonpaying_players_valuable.php

“The greatest value of the free riders is keeping the paid users entertained”

“. . . a paid user should always have benefits compared to being a non paying one. Even if you sell just personalizing items to your players, they still need the non paying ones to have someone to compare themselves to and feel themselves unique that they made that purchase.”

Is the same true for Dota 2?  I think to a certain extent.  Dota 2 does not give an advantage to players who purchase cosmetic items.  The Dota 2 community is vocally against any items that are added to the game that could potentially give the player that purchases that item an advantage.  Valve is keen to the thoughts of the community and has not put in an item that may shift the balance of game play.  However, players who do have cosmetic items can stand out from other players and at times other players may even notice one’s rare item and comment about it.  The cosmetics in Dota 2 do create a unique experience for the player who may purchase them.  What makes Dota 2 and other Valve games like Team Fortress 2 and Counter Strike unique is that non-paying players can still get item drops in the game.  However, there are some items that can only be purchased to get, thus separating the paying users from the non-paying users.

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