Sunday, October 16, 2005

"Hot" Games

People, including me, come up with all sorts of measures for
enumerating and ranking the "best" games. I personally am a big fan
of Joe Huber's "Happiness" metric, but find it not quite complete.
Briefly, the Huber Happiness of a game is: (rating-baseline)*(game
length * number of plays) where the rating and baseline are on a 0-10
scale (baseline of 4.5 is recommended) and game length is in minutes.
It's a good metric, especially for "best games of all time" and that
kind of thing. However, it misses two qualities I often want included in such a ranking: novelty and "replayability".

Actually, it partially encompasses replayability, in that it includes
number of plays, but this can be canceled out by game length. That
is, 9 plays of a 20 minute game (total, 3 hours) seems likely a
stronger indicator of replayability than 1 play of a 3 hour game or 2
plays of a 90 minute game. So, times played needs to get some more
weight. Of course, "novelty" only applies when looking at a time
window. When you're talking about "all time" there's no such thing.
But, when making something like a "game of the year" or "hot games
this month" list, older games should at least be penalized somewhat.

To this end, I've got a "hot games" metric I've been using for a few
years which I find does a great job of matching my subjective
perception. Having an objective measure of my subjective perception
has an advantage because I can look at my games lot and say "what was
the hot game for me in fall of 2003?" or the like without having to
have recorded it then.

So, my "hot games" metric is as follows:

P = plays of game during interval
T = plays of game, ever
H = Huber happiness from game during interval
S = 1 + (P/T)
X = S*S*sqrt(P)*H

where X is the final score. The "S" term gives a substantial (but not
overwhelming) bonus for novelty and the sqrt(P) term gives a bonus for

What this yields is that my current hot game (looking over the past year) is Fiese Freunde Fette Feten. A year ago today, it was San Juan. A year before that, Electronic Catchphrase. A year before that, Puerto Rico. At some later point, I'll have to generate my (retroactive to 2000) "Matthew's Game of the Year" list or perhaps even "Hot Game of the Quarter".

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