Monday, July 18, 2011

My Games Cheats the Player

That title of this article is actually true. My most recent game Cards: en Fuego does in fact cheat in the game. Now i know that cheating games are always looked down upon, and rightly so. Well ok, some games are looked down upon for this. The one i despised the most was Command and Conquer. That allowed the AI to always see what you were doing so it could look more intelligent when it stomped ya. I hated the fact that it could see me when i was trying hard to out flank it etc.

Well let me start by saying that for a computer game to cheat, it should have a very good reason. That reason should include the fact that it is there to improve the overall fun experience for the player as well.

This is what my game does. In fact without the cheating we found the game to be most aggravating, even though everything was in fact above board. Lets get down to some details.

The game has a deck of cards in it, and then randomly from the deck it will pull cards and display them for 3 seconds, to see if you can make a match with the cards you have in your hand. Easy enough to play, but what we found was when left to pure chance the cards you needed to match with (just numbers actually!) could and would take a long time to show. You could end up with a single card in your hand and then be waiting 30 seconds to be able to macth the cards with the random ones. This was unacceptible because it felt like the game was willfully withholding the cards you needed. We all know that appearance is very important, and people (including myself) would not believe that the card they needed would not come up in a timely manner.

So we opted to cheat, in favour of the player of course. So now i have a timer that checks for a recent match by the player. If there has not been one within say 12 seconds, then we choose a match card from the deck and override the truly random one. This works great, we then had to enhance it for later levels as you need the cheat to happen way more often due to level speed etc. This was a huge win and with a bunch of testing and tweaking we found a good balance of cheating at the right times. Therefore making the game feel more honest and most importantly leaving the failing of a level to the players ability. Once we got to the comments that they felt they lost it and were not cheated out of completing the level, we knew we had hit the balance nicely. Now i know it won't be perfect, but it is certainly pretty close.

We are also going to use a similar method to this in our new upcoming card game, as again it feels so wrong when cards to match with do not show up.

Enjoy your crafting,
Da Voodoochief


  1. Cheating in favor of the player is a great thing in this case. Way to think of the player!

  2. Interesting read, kudos for your effort :)

  3. Thanks guys, i appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my article.

    About 30 years ago i would have hated to cheat, for or against a player. Now i am much more open minded about the whole thing.

    Thanks again,
    Da Voodoochief