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On Luck and Randomness In Games

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the real-men-use-the-railgun dept.

Games 156

Gamasutra has an article analyzing random events in games, and how they can add or subtract to a player's experience. It looks at the different ways luck plays a part in games; from landing a critical strike instead of a miss to the scatter of a shotgun blast to waiting for that blasted straight piece in Tetris. "Game developers are sometimes faced with similarly challenging decisions when contemplating whether to include some kind of deliberate randomness. For example, in the video game Unreal Tournament, when a player shoots at a target with the 'enforcer' weapon, the projectile does not necessarily hit the point that is aimed at; a random deviation is added that scatters shots. This introduces a degree of realism from an observer's perspective and no doubt gives beginners a fair chance against more experienced players, but it can also potentially frustrate skilled players."

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156 comments

..wow.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26071473)

Unbelievable...first post without even trying.

Re:..wow.. (0, Offtopic)

Guido del Confuso (80037) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072629)

How lucky for you!

Re:..wow.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26075689)

i wish the mods would have even read the title of the article before modding you offtopic. freakin' morons.

Always nice to know (2, Insightful)

playerone (903173) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071491)

Its always good to see that people who matter are actually thinking about ways to overcome obstacles.

It also annoys me greatly when a steady handed and well aimed sniper round misses by a algorithm calculated bees proverbial.

Re:Always nice to know (4, Insightful)

sykes1024 (1159247) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071683)

Even irl there's such a thing as wind, and even differences in air temperature along the path of travel can affect the path of the bullet. Not to mention irl you have to lead ahead of a moving target and account for the fact that the bullet will fall a bit on its way. :)

Re:Always nice to know (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26071951)

yea, yea. in real life u have real life

in a video game you have a target and your crosshairs, and in a video game if u die you can still talk

omg wtf bs hax lag this game/server/map sucks!

Re:Always nice to know (1)

mr_gorkajuice (1347383) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072523)

You're right, you're right... but these are not random factors.

Better physics! Less random factors! FTW!

Better physics is desirable? (5, Interesting)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073467)

Really?

I don't think so. The National Rifle Association in the United States has slapped their logo on various games that did a very good job of replicating the real-world problems involved in shooting accurately. IIRC, there have been games covering benchrest, hi-power, and varmint (if you're a shooter, you'll know specifically what those are).

Those games got panned by the gaming press as boring, boring, boring. They actually required people to think, account for all the variables, and then be satisfied when they merely score a correct hit. Just like real life. The gamers, however, wanted things to move faster. They wanted more Bang! Splat! Oof! to go with their game play. The notion of actually taking something close to real-life time to set up a shot was, to them, just needless tedium.

So, no, I don't think if you make the difficulty of in-game shooting more accurately mirror real life, gamers will be happy.

Then again, if you give them an infallible auto-aim, they'll complain about that, too.

Hmmm.

I'm really glad my livelihood doesn't depend on making decisions about these kinds of things.

Re:Better physics is desirable? (1)

lupis42 (1048492) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073867)

Which games? I've never heard of a game like that. Also, there is such a thing as a middle ground. Games can model that sort of information without requiring that the player account for it unless the player tries to shoot from extreme distances. At 100 yards, most of those factors are irrelevant. At 400 yards, the bullet takes half a second to arrive at the target, and falls maybe a foot (depending on the source). At 1200 yards, the bullet is falling several feet, and the travel time is multiple seconds. For CoD, though, even the 400 yard shots are few and far between, so making the distinction between cover and concealment is probably more important. It all depends on the game.

Re:Better physics is desirable? (1)

MuValas (91840) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075521)

and falls maybe a foot (depending on the source).

I'm pretty sure the distance dropped is relatively independent of the source, unless we're talking guns that shoot gliders or relativistic hyperbullets or something.

Accurate space travel is boring, too. (1)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074801)

So, for that matter, is much military activity. Most games provide entertainment, not a simulation of life. All a game needs to do is be honest about the level of accuracy offered. It's not a question of "right" or "wrong," but a question of which target audience you're aiming for.

Re:Always nice to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26071717)

Well, depending on the game, different weapons may have different randomness characteristics (e.g. going to shoot someone up with the minigun, your bullet probably isn't going to fly in a straight line and take them out, but if you're using the sniper rifle it might work out). This provides a measure of depth to the game. This is good.

Re:Always nice to know (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073097)

There's no physics reason that bullet paths can't be plotted accurately to include gravity, wind, humidity, etc...computers are great at that sort of thing. Instead, you either get ramrod-straight bullets (or Panzerfausts, I'm looking at you, Wolf:ET) or an algorithm that scatters the bullets without regard to aim.

My belief is that people who make games about firearms have never actually used them, and any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. You pull the trigger, the bullet goes straight...why do you have to lead to make sure that the bullet and the target arrive at the same place at the same time? It's not like this doesn't figure into EVERY SINGLE SHOT IN WARTIME. There's this belief that just because a bullet goes 2700 feet per second, it's the same as a totally flat trajectory...which is about as ignorant as talking about how "The Departed" won a Tony award last year.

Re:Always nice to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26073649)

I agree with this.

Golf games, from what i know, factor in such things. (well, maybe not humidity, anyone?)

Re:Always nice to know (2, Insightful)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074129)

There's no physics reason that bullet paths can't be plotted accurately to include gravity, wind, humidity, etc...computers are great at that sort of thing.

Sure there is. It's called limited computing resources. Collision tests involving parabolas and volumetric effects are far more costly than simple line-primitive collision tests.

Parabolic path, piecewise linear collision (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074687)

Sure there is. It's called limited computing resources. Collision tests involving parabolas and volumetric effects are far more costly than simple line-primitive collision tests.

Then don't use the parabola in the collision test. Compute the parabolic trajectory 60 times a second, and then use the line segment between this frame and the next as the path for collision tests.

Re:Parabolic path, piecewise linear collision (1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075189)

How does that help? If a bullet fired horizontally from shoulder height takes a half of a second to fall, that's still 30 times as many calculations.

Re:Always nice to know (2, Informative)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074271)

Amen to that. Exterior ballistics is quite complicated. I deal with bullets at 4000 fps, and I can tell you that predicting the performance of any particular powder brand+load/primer/bullet shape+weight/barrel combination is next to impossible.

If you want an overview of exterior ballistics, read this [exteriorballistics.com] treatise. Specifically, this section gives the horribly complex equations of flight. Note that the ballistic coefficients [exteriorballistics.com] are determined empirically, and any particular bullet has different BCs for different velocity ranges.

Re:Always nice to know (1)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074817)

Actually some games do (factor in at least rudimentary ballistics like BC), (looking at you RO).. most games do not or they use a cone-of-fire mechanism to 'approximate' it.

Many of the games out there today have fairly short engagement distances.. at those short distances, the return on stuff in all those ballistics is pretty minimal.. as a programmer I would probably not even bother calculating ballistics at such distances, or fall back to a simple Cone-of-Fire setup.

One of the other things about war games is, statistically, most people miss what they are firing at. A popular statistic used for WW2 is something like 2% of all rounds fired actually hit their opponent. This is in part to the subliminal influence of the combatant to NOT want to kill people. This is a factor that obviously doesn't exist in games.. you can call it something like the lack of 'fear of death' because you know that your opponent won't really die in a game.. and likewise, you won't really die either.

When was the last time you played a game and got only a 2% hit ratio? Personally I average like 30-40% in L4D.. and I often just shoot indiscriminately through walls.

I haven't played alot of the newer SWAT series, but the Sniper training scenario in SWAT (3?) was prob the most realistic I've played.. probably because in that section of the game, it's geared 100% towards putting a bullet on target.

---
In conclusion.. you will never be able to simulate everything that goes into putting a bullet on target inside of a video game 100% realistically, but most game developers are to (lazy|deadline bound|never thought about it) and stick to a simplified random style Cone-of-Fire for most of their ballistics. It's easier for the programmer, faster for the game.

FFXI (2, Insightful)

Chlorus (1146335) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071515)

I used to play FFXI, but one of the things that eventually drove me away from the game was the randomness of nearly everything. It was irritating to go nearly 0/10+ (and I've heard horror stories of worse) on rare item drops while Billy teh n00b would get it on first drop. Oh, and there's nothing more fun than fighting a hard fight and getting nothing as a reward. I can understand the developer's desire to keep certain items rare, but such low drop rates aren't the way to do it. I would have preferred they made the fights harder, not more random.

Re:FFXI (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071559)

But, harder fights won't accomplish that goal of making them rare. Players will just get better.

The drop rate is just as crude, but at least there, you've got the possibility of cheating and completely arbitrating it -- of setting a drop rate by some unit of time, say, or as a percentage of the player base, rather than simply a percent chance on every attempt.

Re:FFXI (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072343)

Ohhhh... the joys of camping Leaping Lizzy. I spent so many hours running around that small sloped patch of South Gustaberg. It got to the point where I had 18 kills and not a single drop of those stupid boots. I swore never to camp her again.

The next week, I'm running through the area on a chocobo and she spawns right in front of me. I dismount, get the pull and she drops the damned boots. The next day, I go back out there with a couple of friends and we get two more pairs.

After that, I had a run of the most incredibly flukey luck on some of the rare big-ticket drops. Emperor Hairpin on the second kill of that fly in Valkurm. Venemous Claws pretty much every time I did a KS30. Then when they switched the Peacock Charm's drop location to that BC20, I managed to get the drop on the one and only attempt I ever did on it.

Yeah, I bet you really hate me now.

Re:FFXI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26073831)

Actually, I feel sorry for you.

Re:FFXI (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074597)

I was on my way to North Gustaberg, I was playing 3rd view and Leaping Lizzy popped right behind me. If I had been playing in 1st view I would've missed it.

This was the first time I ever saw it. I managed to kill it and got the boots. I bet your really hate me now.

----

Okay, how about this then: a few days ago I was in a party of three, and we were leveling in that area. We were, of course, killing lizards, just in case we might make LL pop. One of the guy seemed to be AFK, but what the heck, we kept fighting and let him have free exp. In such a low-level area, who cares.

Then, LL pops. We managed to kill it, and would you know it, we got the boots. However, since I already had them, and the other non-AFK player also already had them, we both passed on it. Let the AFK'er have them.

Well, the AFK guy had a full inventory so the boots were lost.

How's that for a sad story?

Re:FFXI (1)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073765)

I'm having a similar experience in WAR currently. There is a set piece you can only get from doing Keep Sieges. Since I started trying to get it in my tier (tier3) they've even made it so 3 'loot bags' that you can select it from are guaranteed to drop and I've yet to win it. Currently at 51 Keep Sieges.

These are sieges that for the most part I've organized and lead, which is fairly exhausting when they are PUGs. Something about getting 24 complete strangers pointed in the same direction and willing to listen to you just takes time. Oh and then the siege themselves take time, particularly if there are enemy players defending. Technically its closer to 60-65 keep sieges if you count the ones we had to abandon.

I've pretty much just given up on it. I could really use the extra set bonus, and the armor is better than any chest piece I can currently get really. Plus its a Tome of Knowledge unlock when you get every piece of a set. So I guess I just can't "beat everything" in WAR unless I go back as a Chicken (and be instantly killed) and ninja the loot bag from someone with a lucky roll.

Re:FFXI (1)

lupis42 (1048492) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073899)

That was part of what caused me to abandon WoW as well. The whole "collect 10 of X where X has a 60% drop chance on these creatures" mean I should have to kill appx 15-16 of the stupid critters, not 20, 30, or in one case 50.

Re:FFXI (2, Interesting)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075739)

It's got much worse than leaping lizzy and valk. emperor! (Though I know a guy with multiple 75s but still no leaping boots). In Salvage, a 2 hour event, there are certain items from certain monsters that have a horrific drop rate. We're talking 0/142 or more. If split evenly between the 4 areas you can go, we're talking over a year of doing this same event 2 hours every single night, and getting NOTHING. Not just you didn't get it because somebody else did, but your group has still never even seen it. Then they also added ZNM. It's a system of tiered monsters you fight, in 3 "branches". To get to tier 2 of branch 1, you kill one of the tier 1 branch 1 monsters. TO get to tier 3 branch 2 you kill one of the tier 2 branch 2 monsters. To get to tier 4 branch 1, you kill all 3 tier 3 branch 1 monsters. Tier 5 has no branch, and you get to it by killing the tier 4 monster from all 3 branches. Only, the tier 4 monsters, unlike the rest, have about a 10% drop rate for their "trophy", instead of 100%. Assuming your group is good, and you never lose, you have to collect 66k points to get a shot at each tier 4 once. You get points by taking picture, pokemon safari style. Pictures are worth 50-100 points, but its rare for the "pic of the day" choice to be worth more than 80 except if you chose a really hard version to track down. (And you have to take those pics with it claimed by you, and at 1% hp). So thanks to the drop rate, although it's possible to only spend 100 hours grinding out a tier 5 pop item, on average you'll spend at least 500 hours, and only 50% of people who spend 1000 hours will accomplish a full set!

On top of that...the name of the tier 5 monster is "Pandemonium Warden". Look it up. It's been on the fucking news. It's one of two unbeatable gimmick monsters in the game. There's Absolute Virtue who's been around what, 3 years now? That's been defeated by what SE considers cheating, and whenever its been beat it's been adjusted so the strategy people came up with doesn't work anymore. Pandemonium Warden is newer. AV always wins because it 2hrs at will, so you're doing fine till it recovers full HP, or it uses chainspell at does back to back to back to back to back AoE spells for 1000 each (most people have about 1200 HP, nobody has much more than 2000 under best conditions). Or it uses manafont and casts meteor, which hits everybody within a stupid radius for 3000 damage. You can get killed while so far away you can't even see him on screen.

Pandemonium warden is much less overpowered, but in his own way, more retarded. He appears, then transforms into a new form, complete with 8 "lamps" that assist him. These lamps are super powered, and you have linked hate so you can't fight one at a time, and kite the rest around. People eventually managed to repeatedly die and burn all the lamps down, then fight PW. They beat it and it reverts to its original demon form. For 3 seconds, then it transforms to a new form. Fast forward 18 hours, they've gone through over a dozen forms, and now it's back to demon and staying demon. They kill its lamps again and get it to 75%. Astral flow. It pops out 8 avatars, not one, does over 8000 damage with 8x astral flow. Then the people who were out of range, it charges at them and does it again. And again. And again. At least 4 times, until everybody was down. They surrender. Yahoo news and kotaku and several other gaming websites all pick up this story, of the valiant 18 hour fight that ends in unavoidable loss. People played 18 hours straight and are vomiting due to sleep deprivation and exhaustion. (morons but anyway). Square-Enix blames it on them being dumb and not using the secret. People say they are doing it wrong, they should have known soon as it change forms a second time. They counter that it seems like they were making progress, and they kept going because you hate to give up when you're making progress, and the longer you go the bigger a waste it is to stop early ;) Plus, in an interview about Absolute Virtue, a SE deveolper said that while it's theoretically possible to kill it in 2-4 hours, the average is somewhere around 18 hours, so 18 hours doesn't stick out as unusual for those sadistic bastards. Anyway, all these gaming websites are giving SE awards for having the most brutally sadistic and heinous game ever created. Bad press. Anyway, SE releases a press release saying that they were fighting it wrong, and the fights are short if you know the trick, and they never thought people would grind away at it without the trick, that they'd just give up right away (even though it appears that they are making progress, especially since they eventually stopped it from transforming). So they have an emergency maintenance to lower their max HP, and added a 2 hr time limit to the two monsters...Absolute virtue was beat a bunch using an army of dark knights, so SE made it immune to soul eater so it would remain unbeatable. PW on the other hand, still unbeatable. If you really try you can get through all the forms in 2 hours (They are less forms and they have much lower HP now). But still, once you get it at 75% hp, it still does back to back to back to back to back astral flow with 8 avatars at once, and just keeps going until everybody is down. Yay, secret trick to not instant wipe...but here's the thing. It takes an average of 1000 hours work (though you can split the work 3 ways or more with buddies). Nobody damn well wants to waste 1000+ man hours testing theories to figure out the trick. (most theories have been tried anyways). Neither gimmick monster has a single hint anywhere in game. Anywhere. SE released a video a year ago, showing the "trick" to beating AV. But nobody has managed to duplicate it. It showed 3-8 pt members 2hring whenever AV 2hrd. People have tried, even using the same combination of jobs to 2hr. No observable effect. No hints at all for PW. In fact, in interviews, nobody is allowed to even bring him up...

On top of that, the new mythic weapons, after you spend 1 year in Salvage collecting Alexandrite (if you convince your group to let you be the sole beneficiary, otherwise more like 6-10+ years of going 5 nights a week), and 6 months in einherjar collecting ichor, and 6 months in nyzul collecting tokens, and 2 months spamming assaults till you've filled your log books...you have to collect all 3 tier 4 trophies. Somebody finally did. They traded them in, and had to fight a monster to claim their final mythic weapon. At 1% it became invincible and they lost. Now they need those 3 trophies again. At 1000+ hours of picture taking to get, not even counting the time it takes to actually fight all those ZNM!

In summary, 0/10 on Leaping Boots or Emperor Hairpin is nothing. NOTHING. They are fucking evil incarnate. Nobody has hated anybody more in all of history, than they must hate their customers. Back to the 0/200 drop rates in salvage. Last week they announced at their fan festival that they would be fixing these obviously broken drop rates. And in the patch this Monday...NOPE. They must have meant "eventually," and just felt like jerking people around to announce it at the same time as the next patch was coming out.

Incorporate Psychological Hacks (5, Informative)

bazald (886779) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071517)

I recently had the opportunity to hear Sid Meier talk about random events in the Civilization series. It is unfortunate that this article doesn't mention any of his insights regarding player's psychology when it comes to "luck".

Apparently the average player expects to win regularly, even if probability allows for long strings of losses. If you lose two even fights in a row in a game of Civilization, you are literally guaranteed to win the third, IIRC. This is how their "karma" system is implemented.

Additionally, players expect a fight of 30 vs 20 to be much more of a sure thing than a fight of 3 to 2, even though the ratio is the same. Apparently you ought to get some sort of boost when the numbers are higher in order to satisfy most players. This actually makes a degree of sense to me, because I would expect the variance to be less in the first case, but he didn't address the issue and I didn't ask.

This article gives an interesting categorization of the types of randomness and luck that can exist in games, but it appears to do little to address these ideas. This is too bad, really. It might be interesting to see how these hacks affect these probabilistic features of Civilization according to their charts.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26071613)

With 30 vs 20 vs 3 vs 2 you would expect the small random events to average out more so the 30 wins, where as if 1 of the 2 get lucky then the fight is an even 2 vs 2 and could go either way.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (4, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071647)

In actual combat though, 30 vs. 20 tends to have a higher win rate than 3 vs 2(with good commanders anyway). 30 people gives you a lot more freedom to implement various tactics that would be impossible or impractical with just 3 people.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

GodaiYuhsaku (543082) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075071)

Also it allows more CYA aspects.

In a group of 3, 1 person makes a mistake that is a 33 1/3% failure rate.
In a group of 30, 1 person makes a mistake that is 3 1/3% failure rate.

So the group of 30 is more successfull.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072235)

And thats why I and everyone I know haven't played civilization since 3 came out. Seriously that game has not changed at all, which means with greater understanding and computer power means it has actually gone backwards. As a kid playing civ I knew it wasn't realistic, but I forgave them becuase of the limitations at the time. Now it's gotten simpler, and they have no excuse.

The way the cities grow piss me off the most. Historically if you look at city growth the cities and country side tended to support the maximum available at that level of tech, and population levels grew as better techniques came about. Where as in civ, your cities population is due completely to the "improvements." And the way tech advances is painful. Why does it take ten turns to develop something only to have it do nothing? Would it be that hard to design between units rather then lame jumps from cavalry to tanks? And what is with the construction? Do they really expect me to believe that it takes 120 years to build a library? cities support all they can and build it in what historically amounts to one turn.

I would like to see them make the game where your city sizes are about constant and the only way to grow them is through tech, conquest leading to imports, or changes in social organization or institutions. That is, when you discover heavy plows you get an extra food per grassland, leading to an extra urbanite that contributes more to tech and helps maintain more buildings or social institutions, slowly leading to the exponential growth curve, or can be conscripted in times of war. Or how about when you discover stirrups, you get mounted cavalry, and as you develop better things the unit improves, like steal, or improved bits, which also helps with production.

I'm tired of Sid Meier's civilization, I want to play Jared Diamond's civilization and actually have an evolutionary approach to growth not some magic "top down" over glorified chess game.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26073001)

Heh, you're just nitpicking. There were bigger issues in Civ.

In the beginning of the game, a turn is what, four centuries?

That means it took eight hundred years for a unit of spearmen to get from the city century to the outskirts.

That's not just silly, it's mindbogglingly ludicrous.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (2, Interesting)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073299)

Do they really expect me to believe that it takes 120 years to build a library?

Maybe not. But how long does it take to write all the books that go into it? The building 'library' is a token representing the development in that city of an intellectual elite that considers ideas to be things worth writing down, storing safely and making available to others.

And anyway, if you want a building and don't want to wait for it, you're an ancient-world ruler. Get out your whip! Cities with a granary and decent food production will replace their populations quickly enough, so discover Bronze Working, implement Slavery and have yourself a construction boom.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

TempeTerra (83076) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073789)

<blockquote>I'm tired of Sid Meier's civilization, I want to play Jared Diamond's civilization</blockquote>

It would be great fun briefly to see it play out, but it wouldn't be a great game. The Eurasians got a bigger continent with a large band of temperate farmland, consequently better crops, animals and resistance to worse diseases. How would you create a game using JD's principles so that the native americans could win the encounter with europe?

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072445)

i wish the developers of Aedis Eclipse: Generation of Chaos would have implemented these type of psychology hacks, or perhaps the problem is just that they use wau too much randomness, which really undermines the strategy element in a strategy RPG.

Aedis Eclipse is different from other Strategy RPGs in that each of your party members is actually a captain commanding a set of units (from 10 to 30, depending on your rank). when you engage in a battle, you basically just choose a starting formation, which affects your stat modifiers, and then decide whether to charge/attack, wait (let the enemy come to you), or run/retreat (if you initiated the battle). once you've made your choices, you're basically just left to watch the battle play out on its own. and that can be really frustrating when your ranged units don't attack the enemy's melee units until they're close enough to hit you, or when your captain is just walking in circles while his/her units are getting slaughtered by the opposing captain.

i would chalk it all up to bad AI, except that the enemy's AI seems to have no problem behaving the way they're supposed to--they don't stand around doing nothing, and their ranged units actually initiate attacks as soon as they have targets in range. this means quite often the player can go into a battle with a superior force comprised of much stronger units and still get decimated by the computer.

i can understand the need to add randomness/luck to a game, but it should not be implemented in a way that impairs the AI--for instance, using luck to determine whether a unit will attack the enemy or stand there like an idiot. deliberately using dumb AI algorithms to add an element of luck to a game just creates really frustrating gameplay.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072703)

This actually makes a degree of sense to me, because I would expect the variance to be less in the first case

For samples of a normal distribution, the sample variance is f(samples)/n. That makes the deviation sqrt(f(samples))/sqrt(n).

Whether you care about deviation or variance, the more points you sample, the less they deviate "on the whole" from what one might expect.

[30 vs 20 -- or -- 3 vs 2]

I'm no military tactician, but one might expect the gang of three to be able to perform maneuvers that a gang of thirty couldn't pull off; like, say, hide better, or sneak around, or attack the two from multiple directions.

I'm not sure it's clear cut.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073209)

one might expect the gang of three to be able to perform maneuvers that a gang of thirty couldn't pull off

      And vice-versa. But at the end of the day, three people is ONLY three people. If one dies, you've lost 33% of your force. The more people you have, the more options you have. Numbers will usually always win, all other things (weapons, skill of the commander, etc) being equal.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (3, Interesting)

bokske (1429119) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072967)

There is no need to add some sort of boost when larger armies battle it out, because the user's intuition about better odds is correct.

I believe that Civilization defines a battle between two armies as a series of duels between a unit from either side. This goes on until one army has no units left anymore.

Assuming even chances (50/50 in each duel), a 3-to-2 battle has 68% odds in favor, but a 30-to-20 battle has 92% odds. It has to do with the sample variance, like Jonas Koelker said.

Likewise, a 5-to-4 battle has 63% odds in favor, but a 50-to-40 battle has an 85% success rate.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073085)

Apparently the average player expects to win regularly, even if probability allows for long strings of losses. If you lose two even fights in a row in a game of Civilization, you are literally guaranteed to win the third, IIRC. This is how their "karma" system is implemented.

M.U.L.E. does something similar. Each of the four players is ranked throughout the game, 1st place through 4th place. At the beginning of each player's turns there is a ~25% chance of a random event, good or bad news for the player which helps or hurts them in some way. The player in first place never gets good news, and the two players in last place never get bad news.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073127)

In a fight of 30 vs 20 the chances ARE better for the stronger side than in 3 vs 2.
The expected value is the same, the variance is different.

Toss five coins. What is your chance that at least three show heads up? Now toss 50 coins. What is the chance that at least 30 of them show heads up?

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073289)

In both cases, 60% of the time, at least 3 (or 30) heads will show up (assuming fair coins).

Turn in your statistics card (parent). Assuming equal strength, 30 vs 20 or 3 vs 2, repeated over time, will have the same win rate.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

ZombieWomble (893157) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073581)

Turn in your "Turn in your statistics card" card immediately.

The odds of 3 heads turning up when 5 coins are tossed is 50%, wheras the odds of 30 heads turning up from a set of 50 coin tosses is only 10%. (The appropriate formula is (n!/(n-k!)(k!))*0.5^n, if you want to check).

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074897)

I'm sorry, but are you trying to suggest your 50 coins are distinct and in order? Mine are interchangeable.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

AdamWeeden (678591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075727)

Wrong. 3 vs. 2 in some games will have a completely different dynamic than 30 vs. 20.

Let's assume some sort of turn based strategy game where you have a group of units. Let's also say it takes 2 hits for these units to die, and they get a shot off in beginning of a turn. The turns will go as follows:
Turn 1 ends:
3 vs 2 becomes 2 vs .5 (1 man at half health)
30 vs 20 becomes 20 vs 5
Turn 2 ends:
2 vs .5 becomes 1.5 (2 men, 1 at half health) vs 0
20 vs 5 becomes 17.5 (18 men, 1 at half health) vs 0

As we can see in the first scenario, 3 wins with essentially half their man power left over. In the second 30 wins with MORE than half their manpower leftover.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

TempeTerra (83076) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073705)

From gut feeling I would expect 30:20 to be much preferable to 3:2. It depends on how the combat system is implemented of course, but if I am told that my odds are 30:20 I interpret that as telling me something about the granularity of the combat system.

I would expect a confrontation (especially in modern civ, with hit points rather than win/lose) to bea series of rounds. I would expect losing one round of 30:20 to cause the loss of some portion of strength, perhaps 3 points, and trigger another round at the new rate of 27:20 - still highly in my favour. Losing at 3:2 sounds much more likely to reduce the odds to 2:2 for the next round, which is merely even!

In the system I imagine, battles with high values (30:20) will be much more likely to have the odds-on victor because losing one round merely triggers another round with slightly reduced positive odds. A low value battle (3:2) could be lost by one unlucky roll (now 2:2), a slightly unlucky roll (1:2) and then not being very lucky (0:2, dead)

The solution is to make the player aware of how combat is calculated so they know what 30:20 actually means. Modern (mostly German for some reason) board games like Settlers of Catan are very good for this; because the game rules must be implemented by the players during the game they must be perfectly clear.

I had big trouble with unclear game mechanics in Diablo II and World of Warcraft. I tend to play defensive characters and in D2 the blocking ability of shields is barely specified. The item will have a property like [Chance to block: 40%], but what that actually means is anyone's guess. Blocking presumably negates one attack. Is it melee only, or can you block projectiles and spells? Is blocking instantaneous or does it carry an interrupt like being hit does? Is it a bigger or smaller interrupt than being hit? If I get 50% increased chance to block, is my chance now 90% or 60%? The formula for blocking is also based on DEX apparently, but there's no clue as to precisely how. See (a href='http://strategy.diabloii.net/news.php?id=551#Chance to Block'>here for someone's attempt to calculate it. And, after all that uncertainty I'm meant to figure out whether carrying a shield is better than using a two handed weapon which does 1.4x as much damage as my 1-hander? One solution is to trust that the game devs have balanced the items properly and just assume that a high level shield is better than a mid level one regardless of what the stats hint at.

In WoW I played a defense warrior; massive armour, blocking and dodging ability. Mosly solo since I was in an odd time zone and it was hard to find regular players. I discovered after an embarrassingly long time that defense warriors just aren't meant to solo; it's a multiplayer game and their skills are (were? I don't play any more) balanced so they can hold a lot of damage while someone else does the killing. Even though I had some of the best gear available for my level and had built a sensible ability set my character was ineffective solo and I couldn't observe this from looking at my abilities or item stats because the combat mechanics weren't clearly specified.

Re:Incorporate Psychological Hacks (1)

Beezlebub33 (1220368) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075723)

From gut feeling I would expect 30:20 to be much preferable to 3:2. It depends on how the combat system is implemented of course, but if I am told that my odds are 30:20 I interpret that as telling me something about the granularity of the combat system.

I would expect a confrontation (especially in modern civ, with hit points rather than win/lose) to bea series of rounds. I would expect losing one round of 30:20 to cause the loss of some portion of strength, perhaps 3 points, and trigger another round at the new rate of 27:20 - still highly in my favour. Losing at 3:2 sounds much more likely to reduce the odds to 2:2 for the next round, which is merely even!

In the system I imagine, battles with high values (30:20) will be much more likely to have the odds-on victor because losing one round merely triggers another round with slightly reduced positive odds. A low value battle (3:2) could be lost by one unlucky roll (now 2:2), a slightly unlucky roll (1:2) and then not being very lucky (0:2, dead)

In the board game Risk, the odds change drastically with the number of units even when the ratios are the same. Attacking at 3:2 wins 36% of the time (due to defenders winning tie) but 6:4 wins 64% of the time; 30:20 wins 94% of the time.

Eating your cake too (1)

mark_hill97 (897586) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071541)

Look, game developers cannot have it both ways. Either they make it possible to have newbies have a chance against the experts and annoy the experts or they make it a game of skill and drive new users away from the experts. It sucks for the experts but they do find ways to win anyways if they have any real skill at all.

Re:Eating your cake too (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071617)

> It sucks for the experts but they do find ways to win anyways if they have any real skill at all.

Being able to find a way to overcome the imbalance doesn't make it less annoying.

I wouldn't like to run in a competition where everyone faster than a certain speed must have an arm tied to their back. The possibility of the good runners winning anyway doesn't change the game's quality loss caused by the "balancing" manipulation.

Re:Eating your cake too (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072431)

Would you bother playing Squash against your friend who is much better than you, or Guitar Hero against someone who is much better than you without implementing any kind of handicap?

Personally I dislike the Unreal example given, as it is chance based (In a running example it would be more like having the distance run randomly vary between competitors. I much prefer systems that give buffs or debuffs to players, it makes it fairer and more challenging which is more enjoyable for both players.

Re:Eating your cake too (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072937)

> Would you bother playing Squash against your friend who is much better than you, or Guitar Hero against someone who is much better than you without implementing any kind of handicap?

No.

But neither I would play with a handicap. I would simply choose between "find a better suiter partner", "play alone if possible", "train".

"Play a crippled version of the game" is not an enjoyable option for me.

Re:Eating your cake too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26073691)

whatever karate kid, you go train all you want.

playing rock band the first time you pick it up and getting through a song using only 3 strings is much more fun than buying it and practicing for weeks to catch up with your friend who has played it for hundreds of hours. sounds like you have problems with having to win all the time.

that's not quite right (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071569)

in UT 99 and 2004 and probably the rest there's also that chain gun weapon. On regular mode that thing shoots like Helen Keller with a paintball gun. Seriously at about 20 feet they can be up to about 5 feet off target. But you don't rely on luck yo hit what you're hitting from a long distance with that gun, you do what you're supposed to and only use it short range, duh! That's why it shoots so poorly, it's a short range weapon! Same the the enforcer really. Use the sniper or lightning gun or even the shock rifle to shoot long distances cuz that's what they're made for. I also can't help but mention that luck when it comes to rare drops in MMORPGs SUCKS! I know people who got 3 SOX items in one day and it took me 2 months to get one. It makes you feel like the game hates you.

Re:that's not quite right (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073053)

Speaking of MMO's, in WoW for a long time there was speculation about the name of the raid leader being the seed for the Random number generator [wowwiki.com] for loot drops, as some guilds found that the same gear kept dropping until they changed their raid leader.

Many random number generator conspiracy theories sprung up in MMO's, I remember one, i think it was everquest, where people would do their crafting in Churches because they thought it gave them a better chance of success, and another involving quest item drop rates in Warcraft, where, for example, an item had a 1 in 3 chance of dropping, and three people were killing enemies for the item, if each person killed the enemies at the same rate, one person would continually recieve the item while the other two wouldn't.

Where people spend so much time around a random number generator they begin to see patterns in the randomness, and even believe they can control it [wikipedia.org]

No (4, Insightful)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071585)

For example, in the video game Unreal Tournament, when a player shoots at a target with the 'enforcer' weapon, the projectile does not necessarily hit the point that is aimed at

Personally I think it does the exact opposite. I think Far Cry 2 *may* have done this. But if I line up a head shot (sniper) and put a bullet in the AIs head and he doesn't die, then this makes it seem far less realistic to me--especially when I let loose two shots to be sure and then aim down for a direct body shot and the guy still somehow manages to stand.

Randomness is good, but I don't think making bullet paths random is great. Sure, in real life there is random wind and other influences (projectile shape/smoothness, the barrel, and all that), but at the distances (and speed of projectile) I am talking about it's negligible. Two direct head shots and a just-for-fun/'cause-I-can body shot in quick succession should not fail just to add 'randomness'.

Re:No (3, Interesting)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071881)

The enforcer in Unreal Tournament is a quick-fire weapon, so it's not comparable to a sniper rifle - in far Cry, if you spend 5 second lining up the perfect snipe and it misses because rand(t) = 0.5 instead of 0.1, I understand your frustration.

On the other hand, Unreal Tournament uses randomness to add a level of strategy to the game, rather than pointless realism. You can shoot the enforcer in "primary" mode, which is a semi-accurate but slower shot. Or, you can shoot in "secondary" mode, where you shoot twice as quickly, but half as accurately. Think of it as a dynamic shotgun, where the gun sprays all over the place. In this case, randomness was truly the best way to implement the spray.

The game would be boring if this gun (or any of the automatics, for that matter) always hit the target dead on - the opponent would die from 20 bullets in less than a second. Instead, the player has to plan out his distance from the opponent and his path so he has enough time to do some damage.

Hunters (2, Insightful)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071589)

A skilled hunter can still miss a shot, and will be frustrated when the game gets away. If realism is the goal, getting the perfect shot the first time is not the way to go.

Re:Hunters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26071705)

Exactly. If you were to go head to head in a real life contest of whit and guns, what is commonly termed "war", you would find the same thing happening. Sometimes you just get lucky. Someone's gun jams and the shell-shocked Private First Class kills the seasoned veteran. Or the flak gun just happens to pierce the fuel of the enemy zero, causing it to explode instead of crash into your aircraft carrier. In fact, the video game is already dumbed down so that there's much less chance than reality.

Life isn't fair. Get used to it.

Re:Hunters (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26073159)

Realism is never the goal in computer games - or any games. The goal of a game is to allow the player to have fun.

Depending on the game, a certain amount of realism may be needed in order to accomplish that; sometimes more, sometimes less. But realism is always a means to achieve an end, namely fun, and never an end in itself.

Re:Hunters (2, Interesting)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075151)

Unlike you, I play Gran Turismo and grew up playing Flight Sims. Lots of games can be both realistic and fun.

Re:Hunters (3, Insightful)

misof (617420) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073641)

WTF? A hunter can miss a shot because the game catches his scent and gets away. A hunter can miss a shot because his hand slips a little before pulling the trigger. For _some_ weapons and _some_ distances things like gusts of wind may play a role, but most definitely not always. In a computer game, pointing/clicking two pixels to the left of your opponent is the equivalent to the hunter's hand slipping. And this is when you miss, even with a "perfect" weapon. Nobody guarantees you that in the heat of action your [the player's] every action will be perfect. Precise weapons do _not_ make _you_ precise, and this is why it does not break an action game if the weapons in it are precise.

Re:Hunters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26073665)

It's important to note that while that is true it is not as random as tends to be implemented in games.

Uh huh... (3, Interesting)

djupedal (584558) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071633)

Game devs would be well advised to remember they are creating a G A M E - not an alternate reality.

They are subject to the same limitations as story tellers, song writers and actors...their imaginations.

Re:Uh huh... (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071767)

> They are subject to the same limitations as story tellers, song writers and actors...

Talent? Skill? Intelligence? Empathy with their public?

> their imaginations.

I can perfectly enjoy a story told, a song written or a character interpreted with no imagination whatsoever.

Re:Uh huh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26071941)

I can perfectly enjoy a story told, a song written or a character interpreted with no imagination whatsoever

Then, what kind of enjoyment would you feel if imagination were to be employed?

Chaos of Combat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26071725)

I think realism is a good thing. It's scary how controllable some people think war is.

In the real world, SWAT members with 20 years experience slip on pieces of gravel and accidentally shoot their team members. Rangers walking through the forest push a branch that swings back and stabs someone else in the eye. These aren't freak occurrences - this sort of thing happens on every other mission. These guys are elite because for the rank and file, it happens on a daily basis.

A high percentage of Russian soldiers are drunk at any given point in time in combat - even tank drivers. A percentage of soldiers will stand idly by while a rookie gets himself killed, because they never liked him in the first place. Some hand grenades have bad fuses and immediately blow your hand off. A sniper will be staring at a butterfly and forget he's in a war until he's shot. While patrolling through an alley, you might find some guy getting a blowjob from a schoolboy.

Any predictability is unrealistic. The veterans are the ones who know insane ass, brain melting shit is around every corner, and are prepared to deal with it. It's better to be lucky than good.

Random But in a Good Way (1)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071759)

To me as an individual i always enjoy it when when a random event occurs and it helps me. Conversely i always hate it when a random event occurs that hinders me. Im not sure why more game designers dont realize this simple fact of human nature. A real world comparison of this would be doing some auto repair. Some individuals enjoy it most individuals would be happy if they found 10 bucks under there car once they had it up on a jack. Not too many people would be too happy if some jerk randomly came over and kicked the jack out from under the car. Particularly if you were still under there

WoW combat table (4, Informative)

nekozid (1100169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071777)

Example 4 - A player of World of Warcraft shoots accurately and delivers a Critical Strike. (Once a strike is successfully inflicted on an opponent within World of Warcraft, it has a probability-based chance of inflicting double damage; any such Critical Strike that occurs is reported to the player by an on-screen text message.)

Except that isn't true. The result of an attack is derived from a single roll. It gives rise to the property of defense being able to 'push' critical strikes off of the combat table by raising the chance to be missed, as the roll needed to score a critical cannot occur.

Yes I have no life.

Re:WoW combat table (1)

glavenoid (636808) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071967)

Except that isn't true. The result of an attack is derived from a single roll. It gives rise to the property of defense being able to 'push' critical strikes off of the combat table by raising the chance to be missed, as the roll needed to score a critical cannot occur.

If that is indeed true, then I applaud you! That kind of dedication to the minutiae of gaming is laudable.

Yes I have no life.

Well, when you get one, I'm sure your knack for details will do you well :-) Really!

Re:WoW combat table (1)

blankinthefill (665181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072091)

This is not actually 100% true. Many attacks are based off a two roll system, not a single roll system, and the number of attacks that are based of a two roll system seem to have been increased with the release of WOTLK. Of course, the article seems to be poorly written, unless they have input from the devs, since many of the two roll mechanics are not well understood at this point, being very very new and not well tested yet.

Re:WoW combat table (1)

nekozid (1100169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072113)

Well that's more of a band-aid for certain mechanics more than a general rule. I could of course be pedantic and say those are 3 roll attacks, due to damage ranges, at the risk of collapsing my original argument.

Swimming on random waters (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071815)

So much about how to use and manipulate randomnes to fit all tastes, and so little about randomness itself.

Some people simply like randomness. Some people enjoy a game of "highest result in the dice wins". Some people hate go or chess because they lack randomness.

Then there are people who like wading through a higly random environment in games like poker, where the number of hands reduce the randomness to a homogeneous atmosphere.

It's not possible to make a single game be go and dice. You can't add both randomness and it's lack to a game, to appeal every target.

Re:Swimming on random waters (1)

glavenoid (636808) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072209)

People are competitive. It's a survival instinct, although some types of competition seem rather irrelevant (male member length in particular)[Preemptive Citation Needed]. Some people equate "luck" with "survivability".

Skilled competition is one thing. If it takes a modicum of thought, or physical stamina then the game is on. But that is only really "fair" if all competing parties are of the same "level" of skill -- whether that be physical or mental (or whatever). A chess neophyte really doesn't stand a chance against a master. Same for players of go or poker or Halo or judo... In today's online gaming world, there isn't really much room for a total newbie to get the necessary playing experience (or incentive) to succeed.

With luck based games, like rolling a higher die (dice) score, or whoever can get a greater streak in a heads or tails coin toss, then all parties are on fair grounds by default. The competitive aspects are still there, but there is no need for skill, and as such, there is no need for the amount of time investment to develop the skills needed to win. That would be totally silly and counter-productive since the game would probably become very boring very quickly. In video games, this idea of randomness mixed with skills, to a degree, can really balance out the playing field and help *sell* the game to people who are otherwise afraid to "fail", or who otherwise don't wish to develop the (really mad) skills it takes to survive in the particular gaming ecosystem.

Of course a purely luck based game would wear out really quickly. But a game of skill, tempered by luck *may* help to keep the otherwise "non hardcore" players interested. This IMO was one of the greatest selling points of the original D&D -- A game of thought, and attention, tempered by the luck of the dice throw (and the temperament of the DM, sometimes unfortunately), where if the rules were set forth, the flow of the game campaign would often take care of itself. New players could join in without a major investment of time to learn the rules, and most importantly, could enjoy themselves while learning and playing.

Re:Swimming on random waters (1)

TiggsPanther (611974) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072659)

It's not possible to make a single game be go and dice. You can't add both randomness and it's lack to a game, to appeal every target.

I guess one of the problems with many videogames is that the same game (or game genre) can by played by people with totally differing skill levels.

Not even necessarily playing at the same time. But just playing in general.

The problem this raises is that for the highly practiced and skilled FPS gamer, they want it to be Go or chess. They have the decent screen, the precision controllers, and the decent hand-eye coordination. When the cross-hairs match up, it hits. Because they are (genuinely) that good, and when it doesn't hit it must be highly frustrating.
End result: Too much randomness and it's not fun.

Then there are the people like me. Mainly avoid FPS games. Sometimes play them for a quick fun round or blasting. In this case, it needs to be closer to poker or dice. I know I've don'e well in (casual) games of UT in the past, purely because of luck and chance - as my skills are.... somewhat lacking. But without that randomness, I'd probably never last more than a munute - at best.
End result: Not enough randomness and it's not fun.

So, for the developers they are between and rock and a hard place. They have to try and appeal to every target. If it's hardcore-only then it'll have great cult appeal, but might not sell as well. If it's casual-gamer-only, they get lots of instant sales but it might not have as undiring a long-term appeal as the more advanced gamers won't contunue to buy/mod/play it too much beyond the next big release.

Random? (5, Funny)

ChinggisK (1133009) | more than 5 years ago | (#26071919)

waiting for that blasted straight piece in Tetris

Random? That isn't random. It comes right after you block off the slot you were saving for it.

Re:Random? (1)

Reorax (629666) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072469)

Random? That isn't random. It comes right after you block off the slot you were saving for it.

You mean like in this game [rrrrthats5rs.com]?

Tetris randomizer != luck (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074837)

waiting for that blasted straight piece in Tetris

Random? That isn't random. It comes right after you block off the slot you were saving for it.

Then why didn't you use the hold box to save an I tetromino? And why aren't you exploiting the fact that pieces come in groups of seven, one of each shape [pineight.com]? You must be thinking of Bastet.

Re:Random? (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075957)

I bought a handheld version of Tetris (under a different name) from RadioShack and discovered I could actually induce the game to only give me straight pieces. It apparently used the time it took the piece to fall to determine what the piece after the next would be. If you allowed straight pieces to drop at their own rate to hit the bottom standing upright, it would always give you straight pieces. Drop it faster or not upright or on anything else and the next-next piece would change. As long as you didn't have any holes, you could play this way forever. If you got it to start doing it on a clear (or clearable) screen, all the better.

After getting bored enough to roll the score over twice in one game this way, I gave it to my mother one Christmas. It's the only video game she has ever learned to play, and we had pong.

something missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26072007)

How can you have an article on "Luck and Randomness In Games" without at least mentioning rogue/nethack?

Re:something missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26073119)

Nethack is for noobs. You can actually win if you play well. If you play the original BSD hack you will learn what randomness is.
*You miss the rat*
*The rat hits!*
*You miss the rat*
*The rat hits!*
*You miss the rat*
*The rat hits!*
*You slaughtered the dog*
*The rat hits!*
*You miss the rat*
*The rat hits!*
*You hear the voice of Cowboy Neal*
*The death ray missed the rat*
*The death ray bounces!*
*The death ray missed the rat*
*A death ray hits you!*
*You die*

TF2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26072285)

God damn mother fucking CRIT ROCKETS!

Randomness is huge issue with WoW PVP (1)

emanem (1356033) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072437)

At least imho, apart the randomness of critical strikes, a lot of weapon/spells have a too wide range of damage. Reducing that range of damage (keeping the average damage constant but setting the max and min damage towards the average) would balance a lot the game. Then we have even critical strikes. As a rogue player the latest season I had chances to down =mail armoured opponents in arena in 10 seconds. Some other time I was so unlucky that I could only pray to be defeated fast. Cheers,

Valve notorious for randomness (1)

Aereus (1042228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26072817)

Valve likes to implement the random factor into their games a lot lately, much to my dismay. Going from Day of Defeat to DOD:Source had a large dumb-down to the gameplay, and far more random weapon spray to benefit newer/bad players.

Similar could be said about Counterstrike after the first few post-release patches. It was originally a good mix of realism and deathmatch with a Rock-Paper-Scissors balance. With the patch after 1.3 it basically became "Riflestrike" if you actually wanted to be competitive.

Then of course the random death to criticals in Team Fortress 2...

Re:Valve notorious for randomness (2, Informative)

Rutefoot (1338385) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074417)

Team Fortress' randomness is more structured than you'd think. Critical chance goes up as you play well and down as you play poorly. While it might piss you off from time to time, it tends to have an overall positive affect on gameplay.

It's part of Valves 'Forward Momentum' system. The problem of many other games is evenly matched teams will often result in stalemates while unevenly matched teams will result in the weaker team being crushed over and over. Valve has addressed that issue by rewarding the winning team with slight advantages. Critical chance is one of those advantages.

However this system would be pretty unfair if it didn't operate under some level of randomness. Otherwise the losing team would just continue to lose pretty much all the time. Things can still be turned around by a random critcal rocket or sticky grenade and then as a result momentum gets switched in the other teams' favour.

The system is designed to make the game much more enjoyable to the casual player without completely removing the advantages of simply being a better player.

It's all about working the odds towards you. (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073091)

Of course the enforcer is random. The chance of the enemy surviving is pretty high.

OTOH the chance of survival of enemy surviving a hit by a volley of 6 rockets is exactly zero, no matter what his armor, health or other bonuses. That's why I don't use enforcer.

Random loot and levelled loot. (2, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073297)

...the primary killers of motivation to explore.

Why should I climb the tallest tower in the furthest castle, if I get the same stuff as from the chest behind the entrance door?

Why should I conquer the strongest enemies and explore their castle if I'm better off killing millions of rats, then open a chest in the tavern cellar?

Re:Random loot and levelled loot. (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074675)

Explore both? You get more chance of good stuff then.

Though in games, not everything can be truly random, as otherwise a string of bad luck can ruin the player's perception of the game. Likewise, a string of good luck can make a game too easy.

On a related note, I always hated oblivion due to the fact that the game levelled enemies everywhere up with you, so you didn't really gain anything by killing anything. Why bother levelling if it doesn't help you to kill anything because they all level too?

Re:Random loot and levelled loot. (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075581)

unless they all respawn.

respawn is the third killer of immersion and motivation.

That's what really discouraged me from Stalker. An enemy spawning right behind my back in a place I had checked to be empty, and killing me in one rapid burst from his gun.

from developer pov (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26073345)

I can only add small tidbit from developer pov.

Actually few games are truly random at low level. On many occasions I was faced with trivial matter that "pseudo" random numbers are not really all that random.

The mentioned above problem is easily visible in aforementioned Tetris example and is direct result of poorness of random numbers.

On one occasion, analyzing one source code, I have found clever trick with premade chains of "random" numbers: applying the chains twice (two level indexing), overall the random generator had for numbers in 0..127 range loop far above 32k and all delivered numbers were well distributed: as per definition there were no same number streaks longer than 3.

As gamer though, I'd say, too much randomsness is often very distracting. Some console RPGs (e.g. mentioned above FF) are especially affected. If you look at real life, few events around us are really random...

As fan of SRPG and strategical games in general, I prefer games where random events are normally consequences of your past actions. Or even games like Heroes of Might and Magic where there are essentially no randomness in battles (or it is always in known bounds) so that outcome largely depends on player's capabilities.

Items (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074443)

I'm more annoyed with item drops in MMO's. Adding randomness to FPS games and using probability to do miss/critial strikes makes sense. It doesn't make the game so easy it's boring while adding a bit of realism. It is much cheaper (as in CPU time) to random a shot than to add wind and gravity into your game and compute a ballistic path.

As for item drops, when you're in a group and you have to hope the item you want drops and then hope you win it, it gets frustrating; especially when everyone else is getting stuff and you're "unlucky." I used to play Final Fantasy XI and this is one of the reasons I quit. Though, they did add a game element called Assault where after beating a level you earn Assault Points. Each area has a set of items you can purchase with Assault Points. Clear enough areas and collect enough points, you can buy whatever item you wish. No hoping it drops, no praying that you out-lot another player, no bitching and moaning from people who say they get more use out of a specific item than you do.

anybody remember N64 golden eye? (1)

eniacfoa (1203466) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074527)

To "clock" golden eye 007 on N64 you had to pass every stage in a certain amount of time... The time given for the facility stage was 2:10... This was so low to actually pass it you needed 2 random events to happen. 1 - You had to collect a key to a door off a scientist. He would randomly appear in 4 different places, but you could only pass the stage in 2:10 if he was in 1 of the positions, (the one least out of your way) and 2 - you did not have time to stop at all or really even to turn around and shoot backwards, so you needed to get a crapload of headshots and take out as many enemys as possible so you would actually survive the run till the end, not easy with a controller. So not easy I consider it to be a random event with luck involved...If you missed a few head shots, youd have enemies chasing you shooting you from behind as you bolted through the stage... sometimes you could make it and sometimes you couldnt...even if you did make the 3/4 of the way in to meet the scientist he wasnt there most of the time to give you the key and just not enough time to go to any of the other positions he might be in...It took sooooo many attempts, but I beat that sucker!!!!!!! If i remember right that unlocked invincibility cheat lol...

Bejeweled (1)

neonskimmer (1265854) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075415)

Funny this gets posted today because just yesterday I was playing Bejeweled (iPhone version) and thinking about the fact that if it were purely random, you'd be hitting 'No Moves Left' all the time and it would be crazy frustrating.

It seems to me that the game works this way: When you destroy some jewels, the game will give you either helpful, harmful or random jewels.

As you go up levels the balance changes - between level 1 and 3 you get mostly helpful jewels and sometimes random ones. At level 4 it starts throwing in harmful combinations. By the time you're at level 10 or so you mostly get random or harmful combination with the occasional helpful.

The helpful combinations make you feel lucky, or at least I think that's the idea.

Doom and stochasticity (2, Interesting)

Spacelem (189863) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075745)

I recall that the original Doom did random amounts of damage (since the designers were also roleplayers). This was most evident for the berserk pack, where you might do the same damage as an ordinary punch, but occasionally your fist would cause demons to explode. Also the shotgun would usually kill an imp in one shot, but not always. I loved this style of randomness, as it makes the game a little different each time, and not completely deterministic.

Meanwhile, I like the idea of adding a random direction to a shot fired. It means that a pixel perfect shooter doesn't always get his mark, but on average he'll still be more accurate than a poor shooter. I don't think I've ever heard anyone complain that their machine gun has spread, so unless it becomes too random, why worry if it affects the rest of the weapons? In real life there are plenty of factors that make guns not shoot the exact same spot every time.

Finally, (being someone who enjoys tabletop roleplaying, and also a researcher who mainly deals with stochastic simulation), randomness is a great way to allow people to play games without substituting the character's abilities for the player's. If your character is supposed to be good at shooting, and you point him at an enemy, then he'll hit more often if he's good. If you give your mook a gun, don't expect him to shoot accurately just because you can move the mouse to the right spot, because your character isn't very good at it. Conversely, he'll sometimes make a shot which is very difficult, but less often than the trained sniper (the same argument applies to other activities than shooting guns).

Dedicated to randomness. Maybe.

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