Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Don't think "random", think "statistics"

Principle: Make die rolls random, but outcomes statistical.

While dice and other random number generators may appear to go against the notion that players should be in control of their fate, they are, in fact, a great way to mimic complex systems without having to simulate the myriad elements that make up the real thing. You don't make a game like Civilization by constructing accurate models of medieval weapons, or by modeling the human musculoskeletal system and pitting simulated humans against each other; what you do is come up with a statistical model for battles and incorporate that into your game's mechanics.

Think of a roll of the dice as obtaining a single sample from a statistical model: The number that comes up is determined at random, but it's the state and rules of the game which determine what happens when that particular number comes up. Players win by making choices, manipulating the game state (or, sometimes, the rules) in such a way that random outcomes are biased in their favor.

The outcome of the game is determined not by the act of rolling the dice or clicking a button, but by choices like how to move, when to attack, when to retreat, and when to upgrade.

4 comments:

Blaisem said...

The problem with RNG as a game element is that it rewards playing the game correctly, or biasing the statistics in your favor, on an inconsistent basis.

A much better imitation of reality, not only in terms of authenticity by avoiding this artificial numbers game, but also as a play experience, is one that tunes into reaction time and decision-making.

Having simply these two elements present will naturally induce luck factors that are much healthier for the player experience as well as a more elegant expression of randomness than artificial RNG components.

Logan Tucker said...

I am confused on what you are saying. At first you sound like you are talking like you think randomly generated games are bad, then you continue with “Think of a roll of the dice as obtaining a single sample from a statistical model: The number that comes up is determined at random, but it's the state and rules of the game which determine what happens when that particular number comes up.” And this makes me believe that you use random data to find the statistic so do you like randomly generated games or not, and how does No Man’s Sky make you feel?

Adrian Lopez said...

I'm saying use random numbers and feed those numbers to a function that determines the outcome for that "roll", but give players a way to improve their chances of winning on subsequent rolls.

Adrian Lopez said...

Haven't played No Man's Sky.