Julian Frommel, Dietmar Puschmann, Katja Rogers, and Michael Weber. 2019. Take Back Control: Effects of Player Influence on Procedural Level Generation. In Extended Abstracts Publication of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY ’19 Extended Abstracts). ACM. doi:10.1145/3341215.3356288
Many games use procedural content generation (PCG) to create varied game experiences without having to create all content manually. They allow varying degrees of player influence on generation, from retaining all control to giving full control to players over a number of parameters. Despite the prevalence of PCG in commercial games, little research has examined how player influence on PCG parameters affects their experience. We present a preliminary study examining the effect of three degrees of player influence on PCG parameters of game levels, by means of a dungeon crawler game featuring 22 parameters for level design. Participants played the game with varying degrees of control (none, limited, high) over those parameters and reported subjective player experience measures. The results show that degree of influence affects player experience; high control elicits significantly higher autonomy than the other conditions. While future research disentangling agency and challenge is necessary, our preliminary findings suggest that player control over PCG features potentially improves experience by eliciting increased autonomy.