Not too long ago, a friend told me about an experience she had at a local game store. The topic of Privateer Press came up, and she mentioned my name in conjunction with some development topic. Much to her amusement, the guy’s response was something along the lines of: “Oh, yeah; I’ve heard of DC. He’s the guy who does math.”
I guess my interest in mathematics shows through a bit in my blogs or in projects I’ve worked on, but my actual day-to-day work usually involves a whole lot more writing, editing, planning, proofing, and discussing than it involves hardcore mathematical calculations and analysis. What little math I get to indulge in on a frequent basis is pretty simple stuff, from basic computation to numerical distributions to some probabilistic and statistical analysis. Yeah, I know, a bit yawn-worthy.
There are, however, times I can really dig into the mathematics behind a particular project, and one of my current projects ideally fits the bill. I spent some time earlier in the week developing a mathematical model that takes all of the numerical data on a given card and parses it out into different terms that ultimately define the card’s final cost. There are simple additive terms, multiplicative terms, scaling terms, exponential terms, and they come together in a variety of ways to make the final card cost. There’s even one part where four different individual card stats come together into several sub-terms within the model in a way that would make good ol’ Pythagoras proud.
Anyway, I suppose none of that is all that exciting since I can’t even share the game concept yet much less the secret recipe. But it all goes to show the various elements that go into the game-making process. Our playtesting today led to some very close and hard-fought games, but it also revealed one particular card rule that I had initially mis-valued in my calculations.
By using a variety of development tools at our disposal as well as playtesters who approach gaming from a wide array of perspectives, we can get a broad picture of how well-balanced a game is, how clear its rules are, and which areas still require additional attention and development efforts.
Though I’m now about to dig into a lot more planning and writing over the next few days, I’m already looking forward to my next opportunity to pull out the “spreadsheets of doom” and tune up some new mathematical models. Don’t worry; as soon as I get the green light to tell you about any of this stuff, I’ll be sure to do so. :wink:
The Guy who does Math,