Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

4 February, 2007

Weekend Design Challenge: Data Mining
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:20 AM

Data mining has gotten a lot of attention in games over the past few years. Developers are learning that they have a lot of really important data they can use from the game, if only they knew how to unlock it. So, this week’s challenge is going to be pretty basic: Find a good link to information about data mining.

Some of my links after the break.

One of the more recent MMO developer blogs by Sara Jensen covers a lot of topics about data mining. She has some links to valuable information on the right sidebar, so no cheating and using those links!

Of particular note is the basic primer Statistics for Game Designers and Joe Ludwig’s wonderful post on formal logging (or “flogging”).

To explain a bit of motivation for this: I primarily want a good collection of data mining information available on the web. Also, part of design is looking up information related to a topic, even if it’s something icky like mathematics. So, go find some good data mining information, especially if you don’t already have a lot of good links.

Have fun!

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  1. Since I haven’t a lot of time to be insightful, I’ll just be cute.

    But really, that *is* a good starting point regardless. :)

    Comment by covert.c. — 4 February, 2007 @ 9:32 AM

  2. Emergent has a product based on Larry Mellon’s work with metrics. It’s been 6 months from release for a couple of years, but they were actually SHOWING it at AGC, and said it would be released about now, so it’s probably pretty close to baked.

    Comment by Joe Ludwig — 4 February, 2007 @ 10:24 AM

  3. Paul Barnett wrote:
    Is there really data out there that we don’t know? I mean really, is there? And if so what bleeding use is it going to be for us?

    Damn, someone went meta on the topic already! :) But, this is a legitimate question to discuss.

    I think you’re right in that most of the good designers know what a typical player does in a typical play session. If not, time to pick a new profession. I also think anyone with an IQ over room temperature knows the whole grocery “loyalty” card thing is just dumb because it’s not going to reveal much of interest.

    But, when we collect metrics on an online game, we’re actually not particularly interested in “normal” activity. No, what we really want to see is abnormal activity. This gives us more insight into what’s going on in our game.

    For example, say that the average number of experience points (or in-game currency) earned per player per hour jumps suddenly one day. This probably indicates either a location that is rewarding too many experience points is being farmed hard-core, or an exploit was found. In either case this can be a good reason to dig deeper into the data to find out what the cause of this is. Continuing the example, if use of a particular zone also increased, you know where to start looking for your problems. Observing individual players (or reviewing individual logs if you record them) can help pinpoint a problem instead of hoping for a lucky break.

    The goal of data mining is to allow you see these problems with a glance at a summary instead of pouring through individual logs to figure out if someone’s cheating or not. Having good data mining helps you catch issues sooner rather than later.

    Further thoughts appreciated.

    Comment by Psychochild — 4 February, 2007 @ 10:35 PM

  4. Here’s a great datamining link: Details on the first year of SOE’s Station Exchange service.

    I admit, I’m sort of cheating here. But c’mon: “Character auctions fetched as high as $2,000 for a single character, and none of the top 20 character auctions went for less than $1,000. All of the most valuable characters were one form of elf or another, the most-played set of races in the game. Character class did not apparently figure as much into sale price, though the most popular class (the Berserker) drew considerably more money over the course of the year than some other classes.”

    Good stuff. :)

    Comment by Michael — 7 February, 2007 @ 9:18 AM

  5. Weekend Design Challenge: Applying data mining…

    Last week we looked at information about data mining ( There are some good resources there; but more are always appreciated.
    So, now we’re going to talk about applying this knowledge. Let’s talk about what you can…

    Trackback by Psychochild's Blog — 11 February, 2007 @ 5:20 PM

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