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Researchers decode the evolution of action ga


Analysis of the different versions of the God of War series.

image: The boss battles in the God of War series were analyzed via the game-refinement theory and motion-in-mind, where their entertainment aspects were determined. These aspects provide exciting game experience for players and insightful design principles for developers.
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Credit: Mohd Nor Akmal Khalid from JAIST.

Ishikawa, Japan — Action games have developed drastically with advancements in graphic technology over the last decade. Unlike the single character-based Super Mario series, modern action games involve simultaneous fast-paced elements such as shooting and fighting. Further, they have exciting visuals, complex narratives, and boss battles. In action games, the players always have to overcome ‘enemy boss’ characters to reach the next level.

Despite their significance in modern games, boss battles have scarcely been investigated. In this vein, a group of researchers led by Assistant Professor Mohd Nor Akmal Khalid of the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST), have studied the evolution of boss battles in the God of War (GoW) series for identifying its underlying entertainment aspects. The paper was published in volume 10 of the journal IEEE Access on 30th November 2022 and co-authored by Prof. Hiroyuki Iida of the JAIST.

Dr. Khalid briefly explains the research methodology. “First, data on boss battles were collected for six GoW games: I, II, Chains of Olympus, III, Ghost of Sparta, and Ascension. The process involved five participants with different levels of play experience, ranging from beginner to expert. Next, the boss fights were analyzed using the game refinement theory and its extension, motion in mind. These methods utilize specific parameters to model the game information progress, attractiveness, and sophistication. In this study, two metrics were recorded for each round of boss battle: game length and successful attacks. Here, the game length is the total number of attacks by Kratos – the game protagonist controlled by a player.”

Using these parameters, the researchers found that the main GoW series (I, II, and III) progressed differently from the remaining games. In GoW I and III, the challenge peaked around the final three boss battles. In contrast, it was maximum in the middle in the non-main versions. Further, their anticipation building was similar to that in GoW I. It increased with the progression of the game. On the contrary, the anticipation level fluctuated throughout the games in GoW II and III.

Overall, the different GoW versions are sophisticated enough, making them popular and attractive. In addition, the series increases in difficulty. The new releases are also highly unpredictable and provide a roller-coaster-like experience. It retains the interest of the players for a repeat experience. The success of the GoW series can also be attributed to the exciting narrative design, parallel development of human-computer interfaces, harmony between skill and chance, and learning comfort for game mastery. Therefore, it provides a balanced game experience for beginner and advanced players.

Discussing the future potential of the research, Dr. Khalid says. “The successful application of the motion-in-mind concept to the GoW series demonstrates its ability to capture the player experience intended by the creators. It is now possible to elicit such information without extensive computational resources such as deep learning. The resulting unified view of the game design would provide insights beneficial to game developers and publishers. Further, it would help design an enjoyable digital experience on various interface devices for the users.”





Title of original paper:

Action Games Evolution Analysis: A Case Study Using the God of War Series


IEEE Access






About Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Japan

Founded in 1990 in Ishikawa prefecture, the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) was the first independent national graduate school in Japan. Now, after 30 years of steady progress, JAIST has become one of Japan’s top-ranking universities. JAIST counts with multiple satellite campuses and strives to foster capable leaders with a state-of-the-art education system where diversity is key; about 40% of its alumni are international students. The university has a unique style of graduate education based on a carefully designed coursework-oriented curriculum to ensure that its students have a solid foundation on which to carry out cutting-edge research. JAIST also works closely both with local and overseas communities by promoting industry–academia collaborative research.  



About Dr. Mohd Nor Akmal Khalid from JAIST

Dr. Mohd Nor Akmal Khalid is an Assistant Professor at the School of Information Science, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, a member of Research Center for Entertainment Science, and a member of the International Research Center for Artificial Intelligence and Entertainment Science. He obtained his B.Sc., M.Sc., and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Science, Malaysia. His work focuses on the methods for optimization and game informatics in the fields of operation research and entertainment technology. His topics of interest include artificial intelligence techniques, manufacturing systems, search algorithms, evolutionary computing, advancement in scheduling and planning, and machine learning.



Funding information

This study is funded by a grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, in the framework of the Grant-in-Aid for Challenging Exploratory Research.

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