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GDC + VRDC 2019 Session Scheduler

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Beyond Spreadsheets: Building a Metagame Simulator for Balance and Prototyping

David Morris  (Head of Analytics, Spryfox)

Location: Room 210, South Hall

Date: Wednesday, March 20

Time: 11:30 am - 12:00 pm

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Conference - Get your pass now!

Topic: Design

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

Modern metagames have become increasingly sprawling and complex, and yet the tools for balancing them have not kept up. David Morris discusses a new approach to metagame balance that makes this task tractable not by abstracting away the complexity of the system but by embracing every detail of it, which is to say, by simulating it. Sharing his experience of creating so-called "metagame simulators" on multiple projects, he discusses their impact on the development cycle as well as specific examples that demonstrate the simulator's strengths as a tool for giving designers intuitive access to the non-linear, cacophonous system that is their metagame. He also discusses how the simulator creates the possibility of "pre-analytics", which is the analysis of metagame simulator data that takes place before the actual metagame is even built.


Attendees learn about a new method for balancing metagames: simulation. They leave the talk with an understanding of whether it is the right approach for their project and, if it is, are sure to benefit from the experience and tips shared in the talk.

Intended Audience

This session should be interesting and accessible to any game designer who has worked with metagames. It is especially useful, however, for any designer or live ops engineer currently creating, balancing, or overhauling a game with a complex metagame.