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Default Julian Gollop - The good, the bad, and the ugly of RNG

December 16th, 2017, 23:03
Writing for PCGamer, Julian Gollop explains the good and bad of RNG in games.

Never has there been a more controversial topic in the history of strategy gaming than the use and abuse of RNG, otherwise known as Random Number Generators. I know this from experience, since my last game, Chaos Reborn, reveled and delighted in the liberal use of RNGs (it wasn’t called 'Chaos' for nothing).

It was based on a ZX Spectrum game I made in 1985 called Chaos and published by Games Workshop (a company not shy of randomness itself—usually in the form of buckets of dice rolled in their army games). In Chaos Reborn you play a wizard, and the casting of spells and combat were subject to binary outcome randomness. The combat is especially brutal, with a success killing a target outright and a failure doing nothing at all. Even a lowly giant rat had a 10% chance to kill a dragon.

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December 17th, 2017, 00:16
Most games have moved away from pure RPG because it's actually a silly system.
"A rat killing a dragon" is a good example.
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December 17th, 2017, 00:21
If I'm the rat then it is a fine system.


Originally Posted by Wisdom View Post
Most games have moved away from pure RPG because it's actually a silly system.
"A rat killing a dragon" is a good example.
Last edited by you; December 17th, 2017 at 03:14.
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December 17th, 2017, 01:11
Real men aren't afraid of the RNG.
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December 17th, 2017, 01:23
Quantum Mechanics is a RNG. The Universe is a giant RNG engine.

The problem isn't RNGs, it's the weighting of the outcomes.
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December 17th, 2017, 01:24
For me it all comes down to how well you are given the odds, understanding why your odds are what they are and then sucking it up if your roll is bad. Then again I played a lot of board war games growing up so getting buggered or blessed by the dice is just part of the game.
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December 17th, 2017, 10:04
Originally Posted by Wisdom View Post
Most games have moved away from pure RPG because it's actually a silly system.
"A rat killing a dragon" is a good example.
There is no reason this has to be the case. Consider Dungeons and Dragons. The system is full of RNG. A rat has 3 hit points, and does 1-3 damage. On a critical it does 2-6. A silver dragon has 195 hit points and 5 attacks, the average attack does 14-20 points of damage. The dragon has 5 chances at 95% to kill the rat in one round. The rat has a 5% chance to reduce the dragons health by an average of 1%.

This is a good kind of RNG (in my opinion)
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December 17th, 2017, 10:12
RNG also reflects real life. Why do when the same two sports teams play each other multiple times in a season do the games result often in dramatically different scores? Its because of uncalculable factors that rest outside of each player's individual skill.
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December 17th, 2017, 10:24
I'm a fan of randomness even in real life. It is what makes everything interesting.
Although, in games equal randomness for all actors makes it chaotic and unfun. Forgottnlor's example from D&D is great and shows how it should be done.
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December 17th, 2017, 10:47
RNG speeds things up and stops things from becoming a maths game of careful calculations. It's like forced approximation only.

As for chaos, we have enough memory now to have hitpoints for every unit. Lose the illusions mechanic, add hitpoints then the game would be more fun. Hitpoints give you something to soften the RNG.
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December 17th, 2017, 15:45
Problem of rng in xcom is that in theory your high percentage misses are balanced by low percentage hits, but the players never take low percentage shots, always feel getting screwed.
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December 18th, 2017, 06:54
Originally Posted by you View Post
If I'm the rat then it is a fine system.
It all depends on the game and the expectations in a game I guess. In ArmA I obviously want maths and physics. I.e. like bullet ballistics, wind deflection etc.
But e.. Chaos (Reborn) is a different game, built around strategy plus probabilities. It's simple, such games exist. Probability management as a part of the game. For both sides it is part of the excitement if you are totally unlucky, but in a desparate action kill a dragon and the oppenent wizard with your rat.

- It happens rarely but if it happens, people have something to talk about.
- Good players still have a better win/lose ration over n->inf games, if that is importan to them
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December 18th, 2017, 20:40
My roll luck on loot in raids in SWTOR is legendarily bad, so to say. That's the real ugly side of RNG, and I've fully experienced that.
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December 18th, 2017, 23:18
I've generally been on the favorable side of RNG. My luck hasn't always been over-the-top-amazing, but it's above average in either MMOs, single player games, etc. I tend to push my luck sometimes, too.

I think it's a fine system, as long as games don't have absurd rates. For example, rolling a 20 sided die has 20 possibilities, and that could prove to be interesting in a board game or something otherwise. Playing a game where a monster has a 1/4000 chance to drop something is, to me, absurd. I think at that point you're fighting the system.
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