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Enemy Cascade Limiting (6/12/18)
Hi Everyone -
Passing this message below along from the team.
From Marvel Puzzle Quest’s release until now, every tile that’s dropped from the top of the board has been random, with the same drop rates for players and the enemy team. But our brains have this quirk called negativity bias: we remember the worst things that happen to us the most clearly (when the enemy team got a 6-match cascade and downed our whole team) and forget the times when we got just as lucky. Negativity bias probably helped us survive until we invented video games, but it’s making us enjoy Marvel Puzzle Quest less.
Most experienced players know that the drop rate is random, but newbies in particular sometimes come away thinking that the AI is cheating and getting extra cascades. It’s our most common complaint from new players. MPQ isn’t alone in this - this was one of the most common complaints in previous games in the Puzzle Quest series, despite the tile drops being totally random in those games as well.
We think game developers ought to make games for the pleasure of people and their actual brains, with all their quirky biases, not for some Platonic ideal of fairness. So in order to make the game feel fair to more people, we’re making it a little bit unfair, in your favor, and limiting the cascades that the enemy team gets in Story and Prologue missions. (In order to avoid disrupting the current balance when you’re fighting other players, we’re keeping the behavior of Versus battles unchanged.)
This will have a relatively modest effect on the balance of the game. With the previous, random drop system, the enemy team was only cascading into 3 or more matches 0.66% of the times they changed the board. But we’re hopeful this will reduce the number of phones that get thrown across the room and improve people’s first impressions of the game.
This will go live starting tomorrow with the daily patch on June 13th. Here are the precise details on how the new behavior works:
- This only impacts Story & Prologue missions. Versus missions are unaffected.
- This only prevents cascades on the enemy turn from new tiles falling onto the board. Cascade matches that consist entirely of tiles already on the board won’t be affected. And cascades on the player’s turn won’t be affected by this system at all.
- We count cascades from scratch after anything changes the board state - after any match or power changes what’s on the board. (So if the enemy cascades into a 5-match and gets an extra turn, they can still make another match and get a few cascade matches out of that.)
- After the first enemy match in a (potential) cascade, there’s a 5% chance that we do the following: for every tile that drops in from the top of the board, if it would create a new match, reroll its color until it doesn’t create a match.
- After the second enemy match in a cascade, there’s a 45% chance that we reroll tiles until they don’t create a new match.
- After the third enemy match in a cascade, we always reroll tiles until they don’t create a new match.
- Exception: There are some board states where any tile we drop results in a cascade (for example, if there are two Critical tiles with a one tile gap between them and we’re dropping a tile to fill that gap). There’s no way to prevent a cascade in those cases, so we don’t.