Researchers at North Carolina State University claim to have developed a method which accurately predicts player behaviour in MMORPGs. The system revolves around 'cliques', which are groups of achievements commonly collected together.
The cliques can contain upwards of 80 achievements each, and were arrived at after the researchers collected and analysed achievement badge data from 14,000 World Of Warcraft players. By looking at which achievements a player is yet to collect within a given clique, the researchers can glean a good idea what the player will do next.
"We are able to predict what a player in a game will do based on his or her previous behavior, with up to 80 percent accuracy," says NC State University PhD student and co-author of the research paper Brent Harrison. "In a game like World of Warcraft, which is constantly developing new content, this could help guide content design decisions."
"A good game stands on its own," explains NC State University assistant professor of computer science and co-author Dr David L Roberts. "If you want to improve it, you have to make sure players will like any changes you make. This research can help researchers get it right, because if you have a good idea of what players like, you can make informed decisions about the kind of storylines and mechanics those players would like in the future."
Roberts adds that while the research is focused on the MMORPG genre, it could equally apply to any genre in which users are making a series of decisions and even online retail. Armed with such knowledge, Roberts suggests, developers could guide players to content within the game which is particularly suited to their playing style.
The achievements correlated within each clique are not necessarily obviously related, however. According the the research, for example, one achievement relating to unarmed combat ability is tied in with another for world travel.
The paper, titled Using Sequential Observations to Model and Predict Player Behaviour will be presented at the Foundations of Digital Games Conference, which takes place in Bordeaux, France, between June 29 and July 1.