Researchers have developed a new tool that can accurately predict the behaviour of players in online role-playing.
Researchers from North Carolina State University developed the tool that could also be used by the game industry to develop new game content, or to help steer players to the parts of a game they will enjoy most.
"We are able to predict what a player in a game will do based on his or her previous behaviour, with up to 80 percent accuracy," Brent Harrison, a Ph.D. student at NC State and co-author of the paper, said.
The research team developed the data-driven predictive method by analysing the behaviour of 14,000 players in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft.
"A good game stands on its own," Dr. David L. Roberts, an assistant professor of computer science at NC State and co-author of the paper, said.
"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.
"This work could obviously be used for World of Warcraft or other MMORPGs, but it also applies to any setting where users are making a series of decisions.
"That could be other gaming formats, or even online retailing," he stated.
Harrison adds that the new methodology could also help game designers guide players to existing content that is suited to their gaming style.
The researchers developed the new method by evaluating the task-based "achievement" badges that players in World of Warcraft earn. These achievements are awarded whenever a player accomplishes a specific goal or series of goals.
The researchers used that data to identify groups of achievements - called cliques - that were closely related. Those cliques could then be used to predict future behaviour.
The paper, 'Using Sequential Observations to Model and Predict Player Behaviour', will be presented at the Foundations of Digital Games Conference in Bordeaux, France, June 29-July 1.