What is Game Balance?


I would start by asking the question “what is game balance?” but I answered it in the teaser video already. While perhaps an oversimplification, we can say that game balance is mostly about figuring out what numbers to use in a game.

我会先问一个问题“什么是游戏平衡? ”但我已经在预告片里回答过了。也许过于简单化了,我们可以说游戏的平衡主要是弄清楚在游戏中使用什么数字。

This immediately brings up the question: what if a game doesn’t have any numbers or math involved? The playground game of Tag has no numbers, for example. Does that mean that the concept of “game balance” is meaningless when applied to Tag?

这立刻引出了一个问题: 如果一个游戏没有任何数字或数学参与,那该怎么办?例如,操场上的标签游戏没有数字。这是否意味着“游戏平衡”的概念在应用于 Tag 时毫无意义?

The answer is that Tag does in fact have numbers: how fast and how long each player can run, how close the players are to each other, the dimensions of the play area, how long someone is “it.” We don’t really track any of these stats because Tag isn’t a professional sport… but if it was a professional sport, you’d better believe there would be trading cards and websites with all kinds of numbers on them!

答案是,Tag 实际上有数字: 每个玩家可以跑多快,跑多长时间,玩家彼此距离有多近,游戏区域的大小,一个人的“它”有多长我们并不真正追踪这些数据,因为 Tag 不是一项职业运动... ... 但如果它是一项职业运动,你最好相信会有交易卡和各种数字的网站!

So, every game does in fact have numbers (even if they are hidden or implicit), and the purpose of those numbers is to describe the game state.

因此,事实上每个游戏都有数字(即使它们是隐含的或隐含的) ,这些数字的目的是描述游戏的状态。

How do you tell if a game is balanced?


Knowing if a game is balanced is not always trivial. Chess, for example, is not entirely balanced: it has been observed that there is a slight advantage to going first. However, it hasn’t been definitively proven whether this imbalance is mechanical (that is, there is a bona fide tactical/strategic advantage to the first move) or psychological (players assume there is a first-move advantage, so they trick themselves into playing worse when they go second). Interestingly, this first-move advantage disappears at lower skill levels; it is only observed at championship tournaments. Keep in mind that this is a game that has been played, in some form, for thousands of years. And we still don’t know exactly how unbalanced it is!

知道一个博弈是否平衡并不总是无关紧要的。例如,国际象棋并不是完全平衡的: 有人观察到先下棋略有优势。然而,这种不平衡是机械性的(也就是说,第一步有真正的战术/战略优势)还是心理性的(玩家认为第一步有优势,所以他们在第二步时欺骗自己,让自己玩得更糟) ,这一点还没有得到确切的证实。有趣的是,这种先动优势在技术水平较低时就消失了; 只有在锦标赛上才能观察到。请记住,这是一个已经以某种形式玩了几千年的游戏。我们仍然不知道它到底有多不平衡!

In the case of Chess, a greater degree of player skill makes the game unbalanced. In some cases, it works the other way around, where skilled players can correct an inherent imbalance through clever play. For example, in Settlers of Catan, much of the game revolves around trading resources with other players. If a single player has a slight gameplay advantage due to an improved starting position, the other players can agree to simply not trade with that player for a time (or only offer unfair trades at the expense of that player) until such time as the starting positions equalize. This would not happen in casual games, as the players would be unable to recognize a slight early-game advantage; at the tournament level, however, players would be more likely to spot an inherent imbalance in the game, and act accordingly.

在国际象棋的例子中,玩家技能的提高会使游戏失去平衡。在某些情况下,它的工作方式相反,熟练的玩家可以纠正内在的不平衡,通过聪明的发挥。例如,在卡坦岛,大部分的游戏都围绕着与其他玩家交换资源。如果一个玩家由于起始位置的改进而获得了轻微的游戏优势,其他玩家可以同意在起始位置平衡之前的一段时间内不与该玩家进行交易(或者只提供不公平的交易,以牺牲该玩家的利益为代价)。这种情况在休闲游戏中不会发生,因为玩家无法认识到游戏提前阶段的轻微优势; 然而,在锦标赛阶段,玩家更有可能发现游戏中固有的不平衡,并采取相应的行动。

In short, game balance is not an easy or obvious task. (But you probably could have figured that out, given that I’m going to talk for ten straight weeks on the subject!)


Towards a critical vocabulary


Just like last summer, we need to define a few key terms that we’ll use as we talk about different kinds of balance.




For our purposes, I define a “deterministic” game as one where if you start with a given game state and perform a particular action, it will always produce the same resulting new game state.


Chess and Go and Checkers are all deterministic. You never have a situation where you move a piece, but due to an unexpected combat die roll the piece gets lost somewhere along the way, or something. (Unless you’re playing a nondeterministic variant, anyway.)


Candyland and Chutes & Ladders are not deterministic. Each has a random mechanism for moving players forward, so you never know quite how far you’ll move next turn.


Poker is not deterministic, either. You might play several hands where you appear to have the same game state (your hand and all face-up cards on the table are the same), but the actual results of the hand may be different because you never know what the opponents’ cards are.

扑克也不是确定的。你可能会玩几手看起来具有相同游戏状态的牌(你的手牌和桌上所有的正面朝上的牌都是相同的) ,但是实际的结果可能不同,因为你永远不知道对手的牌是什么。

Rock-Paper-Scissors is not deterministic, in the sense that any given throw (like Rock) will sometimes win, sometimes lose, and sometimes draw, depending on what the opponent does.


Note that there are deterministic elements to all of these games. For example, once you have rolled your die in Chutes & Ladders, called the hand in Poker, or made your throw in Rock-Paper-Scissors, resolving the turn is done by the (deterministic) rules of the game. If you throw Rock and your opponent throws Paper, the result is always the same.




The opposite of a deterministic game is a non-deterministic game. The easiest way to illustrate the difference is by comparing the arcade classic Pac-Man with its sequel Ms. Pac-Man.


The original Pac-Man is entirely deterministic. The ghosts follow an AI that is purely dependent on the current game state. As a result, following a pre-defined sequence of controller inputs on a given level will always produce the exact same results, every time. Because of this deterministic property, some players were able to figure out patterns of movements; the game changed from one of chasing and being chased to one of memorizing and executing patterns.

最初的吃豆人是完全确定的。这些幽灵跟随着一个纯粹依赖于当前游戏状态的 AI。因此,在给定的水平上,遵循一个预先定义的控制器输入序列,每次都会产生完全相同的结果。由于这种确定性特性,一些玩家能够找出动作的模式; 游戏从追逐和被追逐转变为记忆和执行模式。

This ended up being a problem: arcade games required that players play for 3 minutes or less, on average, in order to remain profitable. Pattern players could play for hours. In Ms. Pac-Man, an element of non-determinism was added: sometimes the ghosts would choose their direction randomly. As a result, Ms. Pac-Man returned the focus of gameplay from pattern execution to quick thinking and reaction, and (at the championship levels, at least) the two games play quite differently.

这最终成了一个问题: 为了保持盈利,街机游戏要求玩家平均玩3分钟或更少。模式玩家可以玩上几个小时。在《吃豆人》中,加入了一点非决定论元素: 有时鬼魂会随机选择它们的方向。结果,Pac-Man 女士将游戏的重点从模式执行转移到快速思考和反应,(至少在冠军级别)两款游戏的玩法完全不同。

Now, this is not to say that a non-deterministic game is always “better.” Remember, Chess and Go are deterministic games that have been played for thousands of years; as game designers today, we count ourselves lucky if our games are played a mere two or three years from the release date. So my point is not that one method is superior to the other, but rather that analyzing game balance is done differently for deterministic versus non-deterministic games.

这并不是说非确定性博弈总是“更好”的记住,国际象棋和围棋是已经玩了几千年的决定性游戏; 作为今天的游戏设计师,如果我们的游戏距离发布日期只有两到三年,我们会觉得自己很幸运。所以我的观点不是说一种方法优于另一种方法,而是对于确定性和非确定性博弈,分析博弈平衡的方法是不同的。

Deterministic games can theoretically undergo some kind of brute-force analysis, where you look at all the possible moves and determine the best one. The number of moves to consider may be so large (as with the game Go) that a brute-force solve is impossible, but in at least some cases (typically early-game and end-game positions) you can do a bit of number-crunching to figure out optimal moves.

确定性游戏理论上可以进行某种蛮力分析,通过分析所有可能的步骤来确定最佳步骤。需要考虑的步骤数量可能非常大(就像围棋一样) ,以至于蛮力解决是不可能的,但至少在某些情况下(通常是游戏早期和游戏结束时的位置) ,您可以通过一些计算来确定最佳步骤。

Non-deterministic games don’t work that way. They require you to use probability to figure out the odds of winning for each move, with the understanding that any given playthrough might give a different actual result.




This leads to a discussion of whether a game is solvable. When we say a game is solvable, in general, we mean that the game has a single, knowable “best” action to take at any given point in play, and it is possible for players to know what that move is. In general, we find solvability to be an undesirable trait in a game. If the player knows the best move, they aren’t making any interesting decisions; every decision is obvious.

这就引出了一个关于一个博弈是否可解的讨论。当我们说一个游戏是可解的,一般来说,我们的意思是这个游戏有一个单一的,可知的“最佳”行动来采取在任何一个给定的发挥,并且它是可能的玩家知道什么移动。一般来说,我们发现在博弈中可解性是一个不受欢迎的特性。如果玩家知道最好的移动,他们不会做出任何有趣的决定; 每个决定都是显而易见的。

That said, there are lots of kinds of solvability, and some kinds are not as bad as others.


Trivial solvability


Normally, when we say a game is solvable in a bad way, we mean that it is trivially solvable: it is a game where the human mind can completely solve the game in real-time. Tic-Tac-Toe is a common example of this; young children who haven’t solved the game yet find it endlessly fascinating, but at some point they figure out all of the permutations, solve the game, and no longer find it interesting.

通常情况下,当我们说一个游戏是可以用一种糟糕的方式解决的时候,我们的意思是它是微不足道的可以解决的: 它是一个游戏,在这个游戏中,人类的大脑可以完全地实时解决这个游戏。井字游戏就是一个很常见的例子; 那些还没有解决这个游戏的孩子会发现它无穷无尽的魅力,但是在某个时候,他们会想出所有的排列组合,解决这个游戏,然后不再觉得它有趣。

We can still talk about the balance of trivially solvable games. For example, given optimal play on both sides, we know that Tic-Tac-Toe is a draw, so we could say in this sense that the game is balanced.


However, we could also say that if you look at all possible games of Tic-Tac-Toe that could be played, you’ll find that there are more ways for X to win than O, so you could say it is unbalanced because there is a first-player advantage (although that advantage can be negated through optimal play by both players). These are the kinds of balance considerations for a trivially solvable game.

然而,我们也可以说,如果你看看所有可能玩的井字棋游戏,你会发现 x 比 o 有更多的方法获胜,所以你可以说它是不平衡的,因为有第一人的优势(尽管这种优势可能被双方玩家的最佳玩法抵消)。这些都是对于一个平凡的可解博弈的平衡考虑。

Theoretical complete solvability


There are games like Chess and Go which are theoretically solvable, but in reality there are so many permutations that the human mind (and even computers) can’t realistically solve the entire game. Here is a case where games are solvable but still interesting, because their complexity is beyond our capacity to solve them.


It is hard to tell if games like this are balanced, because we don’t actually know the solution and don’t have the means to actually solve it. We must rely on our game designer intuition, the (sometimes conflicting) opinions of expert players, or tournament stats across many championship-level games, to merely get a good guess as to whether the game is balanced. (Another impractical way to balance these games is to sit around and wait for computers to become powerful enough to solve them within our lifetimes, knowing that this may or may not happen.)


Solving non-deterministic games


You might think that only deterministic games can be solved. After all, non-deterministic games have random or unknown elements, so “optimal” play does not guarantee a win (or even a draw). However, I would say that non-deterministic games can still be “solved,” it’s just that the “solution” looks a lot different: a solution in this case is a set of actions that maximize your probability of winning.

你可能认为只有确定性的博弈可以被解决。毕竟,非确定性游戏有随机或未知的元素,所以“最优”的游戏并不能保证赢(甚至平局)。然而,我想说,非确定性的游戏仍然可以被“解决” ,只是“解决方案”看起来有很大不同: 在这种情况下,解决方案是一系列行动,最大限度地提高你获胜的概率。

The card game Poker provides an interesting example of this. You have some information about what is in your hand, and what is showing on the table. Given this information, it is possible to compute the exact odds of winning with your hand, and in fact championship players are capable of doing this in real-time. Because of this, all bets you make are either optimal, or they aren’t. For example, if you compute you have a 50/50 chance of winning a $300 pot, and you are being asked to pay $10 to stay in, that is clearly an optimal move for you; if you lost $10 half of the time and won $300 the other half, you would come out ahead. In this case, the “solution” is to make the bet.

扑克牌游戏提供了一个有趣的例子。你有一些关于你手中的东西的信息,以及表格上显示的信息。有了这些信息,就有可能计算出用手赢球的准确几率,事实上,冠军球员能够实时地这样做。正因为如此,你下的所有赌注要么是最优的,要么不是。例如,如果你计算你有50/50的机会赢得300美元,你被要求支付10美元留在,这显然是一个最佳的举动为你; 如果你失去了10美元的一半时间和赢得300美元的另一半,你会出来了。在这种情况下,“解决方案”是下注。

You might wonder, if Poker is solvable, what stops it from becoming a boring grind of players computing odds with a calculator and then betting or not based on the numbers? From a game balance perspective, such a situation is dangerous: not only do players know what the best move is (so there are only obvious decisions), but sometimes optimal play will end in a loss, effectively punishing a player for their great skill at odds computation! In games like this, you need some kind of mechanism to get around the problem of solvability-leading-to-player-frustration.

你可能想知道,如果扑克是可解的,是什么阻止它成为一个无聊的球员计算机计算赔率,然后下注或不基于数字?从游戏平衡的角度来看,这种情况是危险的: 不仅玩家知道什么是最好的移动(所以只有明显的决定) ,但有时最佳的发挥将以失败告终,有效地惩罚一个玩家的巨大技能在奇数计算!在这样的游戏中,你需要某种机制来解决可解性问题——导致玩家受挫。

The way Poker does this, and the reason it’s so interesting, is that players may choose to play suboptimally in order to bluff. Your opponents’ behavior may influence your decisions: if the guy sitting across from you is betting aggressively, is it because he has a great hand and knows something you don’t know? Or is he just bad at math? Or is he good at math, and betting high with a hand that can’t really win, but he’s trying to trick you into thinking his hand is better than it really is? This human factor is not solvable, but the solvable aspects of the game are used to inform players, which is why at the highest levels Poker is a game of psychology, not math. It is these psychological elements that prevent Poker from turning into a game of pure luck when played by skilled individuals.

扑克牌的这种方式,之所以如此有趣,是因为玩家可能会选择次优的方式来虚张声势。你对手的行为可能会影响你的决定: 如果坐在你对面的家伙正在进行激烈的投注,是因为他有一手好牌,并且知道一些你不知道的事情吗?或者他只是数学不好?或者他擅长数学,用一只不可能真正赢的牌高赌注,但是他试图欺骗你,让你认为他的牌比实际上好?这个人为因素是无法解决的,但是游戏中可解决的方面是用来告知玩家的,这就是为什么在最高层次上,扑克是一种心理游戏,而不是数学游戏。正是这些心理因素,防止扑克变成一个纯粹的运气游戏时,熟练的个人发挥。

Solving intransitive games


Intransitive games are a fancy way of saying “games like Rock-Paper-Scissors.” Since the outcome depends on a simultaneous choice between you and your opponent, there does not appear to be an optimal move, and therefore there is no way to solve it. But in fact, the game is solvable… it’s just that the solution looks a bit different from other kinds of games.

不及物动词的游戏是一种奇特的说法“游戏就像石头、剪子、布。”因为结果取决于你和你的对手之间同时进行的选择,所以没有最佳的选择,因此没有办法解决。但事实上,这个游戏是可以解决的... ... 只是这个解决方案看起来有点不同于其他类型的游戏。

The solution to Rock-Paper-Scissors is a ratio of 1:1:1, meaning that you should throw about as many of each type as any other. If you threw more of one type than the others (say, for example, you favored Paper), your opponent could throw the thing that beats your preferred throw (Scissors) more often, which lets them win slightly more than average. So in general, the “solution” to RPS is to throw each symbol with equal frequency in the long term.

石头、剪子、布的解决方案是1:1:1的比例,这意味着你应该抛出和其他类型一样多的每种类型。如果你比其他人投出更多的一种类型(比如说,你喜欢布) ,你的对手可以投出比你喜欢的类型(剪刀)更多的东西,这让他们赢得比平均水平稍微多一点。因此,一般来说,RPS 的“解决方案”是在长期内以相同的频率抛出每个符号。

Suppose we made a rules change: every win with Rock counts as two wins instead of one. Then we would have a different solution where the ratios would be uneven. There are mathematical ways to figure out exactly what this new ratio would be, and we will talk about how to do that later in this course. You might find this useful, for example, if you’re making a real-time strategy game with some units that are strong against other unit types (in an intransitive way), but you want certain units to be more rare and special in gameplay than others. So, you might change the relative capabilities to make certain units more cost-efficient or more powerful overall, which in turn would change the relative frequencies of each unit type appearing (given optimal play).

假设我们改变了规则: 与岩石的每一场胜利都算作两场胜利,而不是一场。然后我们会得到一个不同的解决方案,其中的比率将是不均衡的。有一些数学方法可以精确地计算出这个新的比率,我们将在本课程后面讨论如何做到这一点。你可能会发现这很有用,例如,如果你正在制作一个实时战略游戏,其中一些单位对其他单位类型很强(以不传递的方式) ,但是你希望某些单位在游戏中比其他单位更少见和特殊。因此,您可能会改变相对能力,使某些单位更具成本效益或更强大的总体,这反过来又会改变出现的每个单位类型的相对频率(给出最佳发挥)。

Perfect information


A related concept to solvability is that of information availability. In a game with perfect or complete information, all players know all elements of the game state at all times. Chess and Go are obvious examples.


You might be able to see, then, that any deterministic game with perfect information is at least theoretically, completely solvable.


Other games have varying degrees of incomplete information, meaning that each player does not know the entire game state. Card games like Hearts or Poker work this way; in these games, each player has privileged information where they know some things the opponents don’t, and in fact part of the game is trying to figure out the information that the other players know. With Hearts in particular, the sum of player information is the game state; if players combined their information, the game would have perfect information.

其他游戏有不同程度的不完全信息,这意味着每个玩家不知道整个游戏状态。像红心或扑克这样的纸牌游戏就是这样工作的; 在这些游戏中,每个玩家都有特权信息,在这些信息中他们知道一些对手不知道的事情,事实上游戏的一部分就是试图找出其他玩家知道的信息。特别是红心,玩家信息的总和就是游戏状态; 如果玩家合并了他们的信息,游戏就会有完美的信息。

Yet other games have information that is concealed from all of the players. An example of this is the card game Rummy. In this game, all players know what is in the discard pile (common information), each player knows what is in his or her own hand but no one else’s hand (privileged information), and no player knows what cards remain in the draw deck or what order those cards are placed in (hidden information).

然而,其他游戏的信息对所有玩家都是隐藏的。这方面的一个例子是纸牌游戏拉米。在这个游戏中,所有玩家都知道弃牌堆里有什么(公共信息) ,每个玩家都知道自己手里有什么,但是没有其他人的手里有什么(特权信息) ,没有玩家知道抽牌堆里还剩下什么牌,或者这些牌按什么顺序排列(隐藏信息)。

Trading-card games like Magic: the Gathering offer additional layers of privileged information, because players have some privileged information about the possibility space of the game. In particular, each player knows the contents of cards in their own deck, but not their opponent’s, although neither player knows the exact order of cards in their own draw pile. Even more interesting, there are some cards that can give you some limited information on all of these things (such as cards that let you peek at your opponent’s hand or deck), and part of the challenge of deck construction is deciding how important it is to gain information versus how important it is to actually attack or defend.

交易卡片游戏,如魔术: 收集提供额外层的特权信息,因为玩家有一些关于游戏的可能性空间的特权信息。特别是,每个玩家都知道他们自己牌组中的牌的内容,但不知道对手的,虽然两个玩家都不知道他们自己牌组中的牌的确切顺序。更有趣的是,有些卡片可以给你一些有限的信息(比如可以让你偷看对手的手牌或牌) ,而牌组构造的部分挑战在于决定获取信息的重要性与实际进攻或防守的重要性。



Another concept that impacts game balance is whether a game is symmetric or asymmetric. Symmetric games are those where all players have exactly the same starting position and the same rules. Chess is almost symmetric, except for that pesky little detail about White going first.


Could you make Chess symmetric with a rules change? Yes: for example, if both players wrote down their moves simultaneously, then revealed and resolved the moves at the same time, the game would be completely symmetric (and in fact there are variants along these lines). Note that in this case, symmetry requires added complexity; you need extra rules to handle cases where two pieces move into or through the same square, or when one piece enters a square just as another piece exits the square.

你能让国际象棋对称的规则改变吗?是的: 例如,如果两个玩家同时写下他们的移动,然后同时透露和解决移动,游戏将是完全对称的(事实上有沿着这些线的变量)。注意,在这种情况下,对称性需要额外的复杂性; 你需要额外的规则来处理两个部分进入或穿过同一个正方形的情况,或者当一个部分进入一个正方形,而另一个部分退出正方形的情况。

In one respect, you could say that perfectly symmetric games are automatically balanced. At the very least, you know that no player is at an advantage or disadvantage from the beginning, since they have the exact same starting positions. However, symmetry alone does not guarantee that the game objects or strategies within the game are balanced; there may still be certain pieces that are much more powerful than others, or certain strategies that are clearly optimal, and symmetry doesn’t change that. Perfect symmetry is therefore not an “easy way out” for designers to make a balanced game.

从某个方面来说,你可以说完全对称的游戏是自动平衡的。至少,你知道没有一个球员从一开始就处于优势或劣势,因为他们有完全相同的首发位置。然而,对称本身并不能保证游戏中的游戏对象或策略是平衡的; 可能仍然有某些部分比其他部分更强大,或者某些策略明显是最优的,对称并不能改变这一点。因此,对于设计师来说,制作一款平衡的游戏,Perfect Symmetry 并不是一个“简单的出路”。

The Metagame


The term metagame literally means “the game surrounding the game” and generally refers to the things players do when they’re not actively playing the game, but their actions are still affecting their chances to win their next game. Trading card games like Magic: the Gathering are a clear example of this: in between games, players construct a deck, and the contents of that deck affect their ability to win. Another example would be championship-level Poker or even world-tournament Rock-Paper-Scissors, players analyze the common behaviors and strategies of their opponents. Professional sports have all kinds of things going on in between games: scouting, drafting, trading, training, and so on.

元游戏这个术语的字面意思是“围绕游戏的游戏” ,通常指的是玩家在没有积极参与游戏时所做的事情,但他们的行为仍然影响着他们赢得下一场游戏的机会。像魔术这样的纸牌游戏: 聚会就是一个明显的例子: 在游戏之间,玩家构建一副牌,而这副牌的内容会影响他们获胜的能力。另一个例子是冠军级别的扑克,甚至是世界锦标赛石头、剪子、布,玩家分析他们对手的共同行为和策略。职业体育运动在比赛之间有各种各样的活动: 球探、选秀、交易、训练等等。

For games that have a strong metagame, balance of the metagame is an important consideration. Even if the game itself is balanced, a metagame imbalance can destroy the balance of the game. Professional sports are a great example. Here is a positive feedback loop that is inherent in any professional sport: teams that win more games, get more money; more money lets them attract better players, which further increases their chance of winning more games. (With apologies to anyone who lives in New York, this is the reason everyone else hates the Yankees.)

对于具有强元名称的游戏,元名称的平衡是一个重要的考虑因素。即使游戏本身是平衡的,元名称的不平衡也会破坏游戏的平衡。职业运动就是一个很好的例子。这是任何职业运动所固有的积极反馈循环: 赢得更多比赛的球队,得到更多的钱; 更多的钱让他们吸引更好的球员,这进一步增加了他们赢得更多比赛的机会。(我要向所有住在纽约的人道歉,这就是其他人都讨厌洋基队的原因。)

Other sports have metagame mechanics in place to control this positive feedback. American Football includes the following:


Drafts. When a bunch of players leave their teams to be picked up by other teams, the weakest team gets to choose first. Thus, the weakest teams pick up the strongest players each year. 草稿。当一群球员离开自己的球队,让其他球队去挑选时,实力最弱的球队会先做出选择。因此,最弱的队伍每年都会选出最强的队员
Salary caps. If there is a limit to how much players can make, it prevents a single team from being able to throw infinite money at the problem. Even weaker teams are able to match the max salary for a few of their players. 工资上限。如果对球员的收入有一个限制,那么它就会阻止一个球队在这个问题上投入无限的资金。即使是实力较弱的球队也能够为他们的一些球员提供最高的薪水
Player limits. There are a finite number of players allowed on any team; a good team can’t just have an infinite supply of talent. 玩家限制。任何球队的球员数量都是有限的,一个好的球队不可能拥有无限的天赋
These metagame mechanics are not arbitrary or accidental. They were put in place on purpose, by people who know something about game balance, and it’s part of the reason why any given Sunday, the weakest team in the NFL might be able to beat the strongest team.

这些元名称机制不是任意的或偶然的。它们是有目的的,由那些懂得比赛平衡的人安排的,这也是为什么在任何一个星期天,NFL 中最弱的球队,可以击败最强的球队的部分原因。

From this, you might think that fixing the metagame is a great way to balance the game. Trading card games offer two examples of where this tactic fails.


First, let’s go back to the early days of Magic: the Gathering. Some cards are rarer than others. Thus, some rare cards ended up being flat-out better than their more common counterparts. Richard Garfield clearly thought that rarity itself was a way to balance the game. (In his defense, this was not an unreasonable assumption at the time. He had no way of knowing that some people would spend thousands of dollars on cards just to get a full set of rares, nor did he know that people would largely ignore the rules for “ante” which served as an additional balancing factor.) Today, trading card game designers are more aware of this problem; while one does occasionally see games where “more rare = more powerful,” players are (thankfully) less willing to put up with those kinds of shenanigans.

首先,让我们回到魔术的早期: 聚会。有些卡片比其他卡片更稀有。因此,一些罕见的卡片最终比普通的卡片要好得多。李察·加菲显然认为稀缺本身就是一种平衡游戏的方式。(在他的辩护中,这在当时并不是一个不合理的假设。他没有办法知道有些人会花费数千美元去玩牌,仅仅是为了得到一整套稀罕玩意儿,他也不知道人们在很大程度上会忽视作为额外平衡因素的“下注”规则如今,纸牌游戏的设计者们对这个问题有了更多的认识; 虽然偶尔会看到一些“更稀有 = 更强大”的游戏,但玩家们(谢天谢地)不太愿意忍受这种恶作剧。

Second, TCGs have a problem that video games don’t have: once a set of cards is released, it is too late to fix it with a “patch” if some kind of gross imbalance is discovered. In drastic cases they can restrict or outright ban a card, or issue some kind of errata, but in most cases this is not practical; the designers are stuck. Occasionally you might see a designer that tries to balance an overpowered card in a previous set by creating a “counter-card” in the next set. This is a metagame solution: if all the competitive decks use Card X, then a new Card Y that punishes the opponent for playing Card X gives players a new metagame option… but if Card Y does nothing else, it is only useful in the context of the metagame. This essentially turns the metagame into Rock (dominant deck) – Paper (deck with counter-card) – Scissors (everything else). This may be preferable to a metagame with only one dominant strategy, but it’s not much better, and it mostly shifts the focus from the actual play of the game to the metagame: you may as well just show your opponent your deck and determine a winner that way.

其次,tcg 有一个视频游戏没有的问题: 一旦一组卡片发布,如果发现某种严重的不平衡,用“补丁”来修复它就太晚了。在极端情况下,他们可以限制或完全禁止卡,或发布某种勘误表,但在大多数情况下,这是不现实的,设计者卡住了。有时你可能会看到一个设计师试图平衡一个过多的卡在上一个设置通过创建一个“计数器”在下一个设置。这是一个元名解决方案: 如果所有的竞争牌都使用卡片 x,那么一个新的卡片 y 会因为使用卡片 x 而惩罚对手,这会给玩家一个新的元名选项... 但是如果卡片 y 没有做其他的事情,它只在元名的上下文中有用。这基本上把元游戏变成了石头(主要牌组)-布(反牌组)-剪刀(其他所有牌组)。这可能比只有一个主导策略的元名更可取,但也好不到哪里去,而且它主要将焦点从游戏的实际玩法转移到元名上: 你可以直接向对手展示你的牌,然后用这种方式决定胜者。

This is admittedly an extreme example, and there are other ways to work around an imbalance like this. The counter-card might have other useful effects. The game overall might be designed such that player choices during the game contribute greatly to the outcome, where the deck is more of an influence on your play style than a fixed strategy. Still, some games have gone so far as to print a card that says “When your opponent plays [specific named card], [something really bad happens to them]” with no other effect, so I thought this was worth bringing up.

诚然,这是一个极端的例子,而且还有其他方法可以解决这样的不平衡。反牌可能还有其他有用的效果。游戏的整体设计可能是这样的: 玩家在游戏中的选择对结果有很大的影响,在这种情况下,甲板对你的游戏风格的影响比一个固定的战略更大。尽管如此,有些游戏还是会打出一张牌,上面写着“当你的对手打出[特定的名牌]时,[某些非常糟糕的事情发生在他们身上]” ,而没有其他效果,所以我认为这值得一提。

Game balance versus metagame balance


In professional sports, metagame fixes make the game more balanced. In TCGs, metagame fixes feel like a hack. Why the difference?

在职业运动中,元名修正使游戏更加平衡。在 TCGs 中,元代码修复就像一个黑客。为什么会有不同?

The reason is that in sports, the imbalance exists in the metagame to begin with, so a metagame fix for this imbalance is appropriate. In TCGs, the imbalance is either part of the game mechanics or individual game objects (i.e. specific cards); the metagame imbalances that result from this are a symptom and not the root cause. As a result, a metagame fix for a TCG is a response to a symptom, while the initial problem continues unchecked.

原因在于,在体育运动中,不平衡首先存在于元名中,因此对这种不平衡进行元名修正是适当的。在 tcg 中,不平衡是游戏机制的一部分或者是单个游戏对象(比如特定的牌) ; 由此导致的元名称不平衡是一种症状,而不是根本原因。因此,针对 TCG 的元名修复是对症状的响应,而最初的问题则继续未经检查。

The lesson here is that a game balance problem in one part of a game can propagate to and manifest in other areas, so the problems you see during playtesting are not always the exact things that need to be fixed. When you identify an imbalance, before slapping a fix on it, ask yourself why this imbalance is really happening, what is actually causing it… and then, what is causing that, and what is causing that, and so on as deep as you can go.

这里的教训是,游戏的一部分的游戏平衡问题可以传播到其他领域,所以你在游戏测试中看到的问题并不总是需要修复的东西。当你确定了一个不平衡,在修正它之前,问问你自己为什么这个不平衡真的发生了,到底是什么导致了它... 然后,是什么导致了这个,是什么导致了这个,等等,越深越好。

Game Balance Made Easy, For Lazy People


I’m going to try to leave you each week with some things you can do right now to improve the balance of a game you’re working on, and then some “homework” that you can do to improve your skills. Since we just talked about vocabulary (symmetry, determinism, solvability, perfect information, and the metagame) this week, there’s not a lot to do, so instead I’m going to start by saying what not to do.

我会试着每周留给你们一些你们现在就可以做的事情来改善你们正在做的游戏的平衡,然后是一些你们可以做的“家庭作业”来提高你们的技能。由于我们本周刚刚讨论了词汇(对称性、确定性、可解性、完全信息和元名称) ,因此没有太多要做的事情,所以我将从说不该做什么开始。

If you’re having trouble balancing a game, the easiest way to fix it is to get your players to do this for you. One way to do this is auction mechanics. There is nothing wrong with auctions as a game mechanic, mind you – they are often very compelling and exciting – but they can be used as a crutch to cover up a game imbalance, and you need to be careful of that.


Let me give an example of how this works. Suppose you’re a designer at Blizzard working on Warcraft IV, and you have an Orcs-vs-Humans two-player game that you want to balance, but you think the Orcs are a little more powerful than the humans (but not much). You decide the best way to balance this is to reduce the starting resources of the Orcs; if the Humans start with, say, 100 Gold… maybe the Orcs start with a little less. How much less? Well, that’s what game balance is all about, but you have no idea how much less.

让我举一个例子来说明这是如何工作的。假设你是暴雪的魔兽争霸4的设计师,你有一个兽人对人类的双人游戏,你想要平衡,但是你认为兽人比人类更强大一点(但不是很强大)。你决定最好的平衡方法是减少兽人的起始资源; 如果人类以100金币开始... 也许兽人的起始资源会少一点。减少多少?嗯,这就是游戏平衡的全部,但你不知道有多少少。

Here’s a solution: make players bid their starting Gold on the right to play the Orcs at the start of the game. Whoever bids the most, loses their bid; the other player starts with the full 100 Gold and plays the weaker Humans. Eventually, players will reach a consensus and start bidding about the same amount of Gold, and this will make things balanced. I say this is lazy design because there is a correct answer here, but instead of taking the trouble to figure it out, you instead shift that burden to the players and make them balance the game for you.

这里有一个解决方案: 让玩家在游戏开始的时候在对半兽人的权利上出价他们的开始金牌。谁出价最高,谁就输掉他们的出价; 另一个玩家从全部100金开始,然后和较弱的人类玩。最终,玩家将达成共识,开始出价相同数量的黄金,这将使事情平衡。我说这是懒惰的设计,因为这里有一个正确的答案,但是你没有花费精力去解决它,而是把负担转移给玩家,让他们为你平衡游戏。

Note that this can actually be a great tool in playtesting. Feel free to add an auction in a case like this, let your testers come to a consensus of how much something is worth, then just cost it accordingly in the final version (without including the auction).


Here’s another way to get players to balance your game for you: in a multiplayer free-for-all game, include mechanics that let the players easily gang up on the leader. That way, if one player finds a game imbalance, the other players can cooperate to bring them down. Of course, this brings other gameplay problems with it. Players may “sandbag” (play suboptimally on purpose) in order to not attract too much attention. Players who do well (even without rules exploits) may feel like the other players are punishing them for being good players. Kill-the-leader mechanics serve as a strong negative feedback loop, and negative feedback has other consequences: the game tends to take longer, early-game skill is not as much a factor as late-game, and some players may feel that the outcome of the game is more decided on their ability to not be noticed than their actual game skill. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with giving players the ability to form alliances against each other… but doing it for the sole purpose of letting players deal with your poor design and balancing skills should not be the first and only solution.

这里还有另外一种让玩家为你平衡游戏的方法: 在一个多人自由对抗的游戏中,包括让玩家可以轻松地联合起来对付领导者的机制。这样,如果一个玩家发现游戏的不平衡,其他玩家可以合作把他们拉下来。当然,这也带来了其他的游戏问题。为了不引起太多注意,玩家可能会“沙袋”(故意玩得不太理想)。表现出色的球员(即使没有规则漏洞)可能会觉得其他球员在惩罚他们,因为他们是好球员。杀死领导者的机制是一个强大的负面反馈循环,而负面反馈还有其他后果: 游戏往往需要更长的时间,游戏早期的技能不像游戏后期的技能那么重要,一些玩家可能觉得游戏的结果更多地取决于他们不被注意的能力,而不是他们的实际游戏技能。再次强调,赋予玩家组成联盟的能力本身并没有什么错... ... 但是仅仅为了让玩家处理你糟糕的设计和平衡技能而这样做不应该是第一个也是唯一的解决方案。

Okay, is there anything you can do right now to improve the balance of a game you’re working on? I would say, examine your game to see if you are using your players as a game balance crutch (through auctions, kill-the-leader mechanics, or similar). Try removing that crutch and seeing what happens. You might find out that these mechanics are covering up game imbalances that will become more apparent when they’re removed. When you find the actual imbalances that used to be obscured, you can fix them and make the game stronger. (You can always add your auctions or kill-the-leader mechanics back in later, if they are important to the gameplay.)




I’ll go out on a limb and guess that if you’re reading this, you are probably playing at least one game in your spare time. If you work in the game industry as a designer, you may be playing a game at your day job for research. Maybe you have occasion to watch other people play, either while playtesting your own game, or on television (such as watching a game show or a professional sports match).


As you play (or watch) these games this week, don’t just play/watch for fun. Instead, think about the actions in the game and ask yourself if you think the game is balanced or not. Why do you think that? If you feel it’s not, where are the imbalances? What are the root causes of those imbalances, and how would you change them if you wanted to fix them? Write down your thoughts if it helps.

当你这个星期玩(或观看)这些游戏时,不要只是为了好玩而玩/观看。相反,想想游戏中的动作,问问自己你是否认为游戏是平衡的。你为什么这么想?如果你觉得不是,那么失衡在哪里?这些不平衡的根本原因是什么? 如果你想解决它们,你会如何改变它们?如果有帮助的话,写下你的想法。

The purpose of this is not to actually improve the game you’re examining, but to give you some practice in thinking critically about game balance. It’s emotionally easier to find problems in other people’s games than your own (even if the actual process is the same), so start by looking at the balance or imbalance in other people’s games first.

这样做的目的并不是为了提高你正在研究的游戏,而是给你一些练习,让你批判性地思考游戏的平衡。在情感上,在别人的游戏中比在自己的游戏中更容易发现问题(即使实际的过程是相同的) ,所以首先从观察别人游戏中的平衡或不平衡开始。



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