Enemy Cascade Limiting (6/12/18)

LakeStoneLakeStone ADMINISTRATORS Posts: 876 Site Admin

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.


  • ThaRoadWarriorThaRoadWarrior Posts: 4,559 Chairperson of the Boards
    Huh. I'm curious if I'd have noticed this change had I not read this thread. There are definitely times when I've been burned by some serious cascades, but it doesn't happen so often I'd have accused the AI of "cheating."
  • huktonfonixhuktonfonix Posts: 214 Tile Toppler
    Has testing been done to determine how much additional time (if any) these repeated recalculations add to the enemy's turn?  I'm concerned that an unintended consequence of this fix for what is admittedly a not a real problem will exacerbate a more fundamental issue of the game that hasn't been addressed: story mode placement being entirely a function of the most optimal clear times, and the degree to which network connection speed and phone speed determine placement rewards.
  • justsingjustsing Posts: 394 Mover and Shaker
    edited June 2018
    Cool! QoL changes are always good (even if this hasn’t really been an issue for me personally). Thanks! :)
  • JackTenrecJackTenrec Posts: 805 Critical Contributor
    Oh noes, they nerfed Jean Grey!
  • FeloniusFelonius Posts: 289 Mover and Shaker
    Oh great!  Teen Jean PvE Nerf inbound.  ;)
  • Moon RoachMoon Roach Posts: 2,863 Chairperson of the Boards
    Coming next - AutoWin.
  • SlappyDingleSlappyDingle Posts: 60 Match Maker
    Seriously? Like this game isn't easy enough?
  • turulturul Posts: 1,622 Chairperson of the Boards
    edited June 2018
    @Brigby @LakeStone please dont do negative steps for players.

    Unrandom, unmatched  new fallen tiles affects players too!

    Also, maybe it will generate more match-5 chances for AI!
  • EdelkinEdelkin Posts: 46 Just Dropped In
    It's not the cascades that make me think the game cheats, it's the color manipulation that makes sure certain tiles almost never resolve (Switch:arcane incantation, See the math of it, etc.)  There is not way it is totally random when I can go an entire event without certain countdown tiles resolving.  I especially like when the board drops a match four in the column to destroy a pesky tile that might actually go off.
  • rbdragonrbdragon Posts: 479 Mover and Shaker
    This logic needs to be applied to countdown tile placement for Scarlet Witch and 2* Magneto - the randomness of their placement should never include a spot that doesn't allow the full effect of it to conclude (corners mainly)...the mechanics would be the same: while tile = corner, choose new tile
  • mbarenmbaren Posts: 183 Tile Toppler
    Yeah, I tend to agree that this feels like a problem that didn't need solving.  I mean, when I was a new player, I got burned a few times - who didn't?  But it's just a thing that happens sometimes.

    Still, my roster is strong enough that I generally don't get affected by randomness to the point of phone-throwing frustration, either.  Maybe this is a good thing?  Mostly I suspect I won't even notice.
  • Punisher5784Punisher5784 Posts: 3,175 Chairperson of the Boards
    edited June 2018
    This change would have been amazing like 3yrs ago but at this point I'm just used to it. It's great for the new players though. We all experienced the hatred of AI cascades.

    Ironically I find cascades more frustrating on Versus (PvP) which isn't getting changed. There's nothing more annoying than climbing to 900 and losing to a cascade on what was supposed to be an easy match then as I quickly beat the next match I get the screen of '-125' points.. that's a phone breaker. We're not actually fighting other players so why not make this change across all matches?
  • furbear00000furbear00000 Posts: 148 Tile Toppler
    edited June 2018
    I hope this isn’t their solution to the Wakanda event, because I have a feeling it is, and it’s not the solution. 

    Ive never felt that the enemy RNG is any different from my own. While I do get frustrated when I get smashed by cascades, I easily remember all the times I’ve done the same to the enemy. 
  • fmftintfmftint Posts: 3,653 Chairperson of the Boards
    All the people asking why now?  Duh! Obviously they are having issues with new player retention
  • furbear00000furbear00000 Posts: 148 Tile Toppler
    fmftint said:
    All the people asking why now?  Duh! Obviously they are having issues with new player retention
    The problem with this reason is that these people are probably the rage quitters, and these types of people can never be pleased. 

  • Punisher5784Punisher5784 Posts: 3,175 Chairperson of the Boards
    edited June 2018
    veny said:

    So, nerfing AI in PvE (literally the easiest and most rewarding part of the game) i personaly see as something... useless? Correct me if i am wrong, but cascades already have their damage limited, plus they dont happen that often.

    I think it has to do more with the AI gaining a load of AP from the cascades and unleasing all their powers next turn than the actual cascade damage. For new players, the wrath of a cascade from Ares and Juggs is def phone thrower
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