robin hunicke

Video games are boring when they are too easy, and frustrating when they are too hard. While most games allow players to adjust basic difficulty (easy, medium, hard, insane), their overall level of challenge is often static in the face of player input. This lack of flexibility can lead to mismatches between player ability or interest and overall gameplay.

My research explores the computational and design requirements for dynamic difficulty adjustment. It examines different techniques for representing and reasoning about uncertainty, to see how these approaches can be extended and combined to create flexible interactive experiences that adjust on the fly.

Specifically, I am building Hamlet, a system that dynamically manages FPS games with techniques drawn from stochastic inventory management and dynamic systems theory. It continually examines player progress, modifying the difficulty and pacing of in-game challenges to adjust the player's overall experience of "flow" (challenge, struggle and triumph at the controls).

In the long-term, I hope to construct a diverse set of robust, computational design tools. These tools will manipulate many different facets of the play experience, and help designers create interactive experiences where a player's individual actions can have measured, dramatic consequences.

Hamlet is being built with AMRG's FlexBot technology.