YESDEV[7] = Defy the RNGod; Game Design Atheism

YESDEV[7] = Defy the RNGod; Game Design Atheism

Ryan Jake Lambourn here YESDEV so today i
wanna talk about snakes and ladders snakes and ladders is an awful terrible terrible
terrible game it’s made for kids but not even kids like it they’re enticed by the pretty
board and then they come to understand that it’s just not a game they have no choice there’s
no fun you just get tugged around and learn the inadequacy of being a human snakes and
ladders is a game where you roll dice and the dice decide whether you do good or not
and that’s it you have no actual contribution to the game it’s just designed so that within
about a hundred moves you’re done if you keep participating for a hundred moves and and
that’s it just ya start it ya participate and then you finish how it’s still sold today
i don’t know who thought it was a good idea to keep making this terrible game? who buys
this for their kids? it’s possibly the same people who buy jrpgs because jrpgs are snakes
and ladders you have no control over success or failure all you can do is participate until
it ends consider; in a jrpg you win a battle you get more stats and it helps you get further
along in the game you lose a battle you dont get your stats but you get to keep trying
again and again until you do get your stats and then you can move on it’s no different
from snakes and ladders where if you keep hitting the snake it’s a little setback but
as long as you keep participating you’ll eventually win it’s not fun it’s not interesting it’s
terrible game design in essence the game is just playing itself there’s no point in the
player being there at all and so alot of gamedevs they start using that random generator and
um you might not have a game that is so terrible that it’s taking options away from the player
with random number generators but you are taking away the concious of yourself the designer
is playing a game with the player and if you put in a random number generator to make your
decisions it is on your behalf being lolrandom instead of having any meaningful input of
course random number generators are not necessarily a problem and i say that very cautiously the
problem is uncertainty so there’s a quote not sure who said it whoever is cited to have
said it probably didn’t say it which is “insanity is doing the same thing expecting different
results” and RNG facilitates this sort of behavior because used poorly and it normally
is used poorly a random number generator will generate random results for the same inputs
game developers often use it this way citing that they want dynamic situations or dynamic
thinking strategic uncertainty and that’s a load of bullshit what they want is the player
to be insane this is why gambling is built around uncertainty of your inputs and results
doing the same thing and getting different results is a good way to facilitate addictive
behaviors to facilitate irrational behaviors in your players it might be what gambling
is about gambling is about getting the player to contiously play and let go of money and
try to “play the odds” but games gaming traditional gaming is about learning and you can’t learn
things that can’t be learned irrational randomness you can’t learn how to predict a random number
generator now that’s not to say that random number generators can’t be used in a non-addictive
gambling-sorta way because it’s more than just being randomness it’s the uncertainty
of knowing what your actions result in so if you do all the randomness before there
are any actions to take place like in a shuffling of a deck there’s nothing necessarily wrong
shuffling a deck is no different then procedurally generating a level the only problem is if
knowing the layout of a level knowing the composition of a deck is important to the
game and it’s being withheld from them shuffling a deck can end up in bullshit not knowing
what the hell you’re doing like solitaire and completely legitimate variation like freecell
it’s just a matter of how you manage the randomness but the best way to manage randomness is just
to not have it whenever possible and most of the time it is very possible to not have
randomness for example Monopoly is a pretty good game and it manages it’s randomness very
well the randomness of the dice rolls some might think it’s completely mandatory “how
would you play Monopoly without dice rolls?” it certainly manages the randomness perfectly
fine i don’t think anyone has ever said that their dice rolls made or broke their game
of Monopoly there’s alot of player decisions that go into any single of Monopoly that cannot
be broken down into the results of random number generators but i think it could be
better so consider this: if instead of dice rolls controlling movement what if the players
decided where they would end up in the next six spaces? so in that situation they would
obviously always pick the most desirable square right? so the first problem would be how do
you even make them fall onto opponent’s spaces? so rather than saying “ah i can’t do it this
way lets use a random number generator” i would say that’s just a problem that needs
to be solved we can solve that we can do that by making it so each player has to leapfrog
the other so the first player moves three spaces the second player has to start from
where the first player left off with each player leapfrogging the other it’s no longer
just picking the best space for yourself it’s also figuring out what options you want to
leave open for the following player and so not only have we gotten rid of random number
generators we’ve also introduced a metagame and uh ah well i haven’t actually tested this
so i don’t know if that would actually work it might need to change the number of spaces
from six to three or whatever buit it could be made to work i believe Monopoly could be
made deterministic and actually enjoy a better gameplay from it cuz the only time that i
really think it’s suitable for random number generators for you to be asking the RNGod
for guidance is when you’re so low level into the system of your gameplay mechanics that
there’s no other relevant data to source from cuz if you’re making like AI instead of picking
a random number to decide yknow where the AI goes or what action they wanna take it’s
better to just yknow figure out what the player’s doing and create actions based on that figure
out what other AI states are doing the layout of the level there’s plenty of things you
can source data from rather than the RNGod RNGod! so yeah don’t be a dick to your players
don’t facilitate addiction have meaningful deep mechanics that are based on actual things
instead of random numbers yeah YISSDIVV

16 thoughts on “YESDEV[7] = Defy the RNGod; Game Design Atheism

  1. Have you seen Prismata?
    Anyway, nice to see other people understand why RNG can be a problem when designing a game. It boggles my mind how commonly it's used in competitive games.

  2. I don't really think your points against JRPGs holds, as it would be easy to make a JRPG that's just as grindy and boring (EDIT: in the exact same way and for the exact same reason) without any RNG. Rather than being dependent on RNG, these games depend on what the player perceives to be likely. If I made a game with the Dragon Quest combat system but fixed damage amounts per attack, hit points per monster and a fixed amount of encounters per area, different players would still win or lose time depending on how early they decide to go back to the church to heal up.
    It's more related to withholding information than it is to RNG. You could argue that these uninformed decisions can also be substituted with random chance but it's very obviously a different kind than what you're describing in your video.
    Because of causality you could also say that all RNG is just withheld information and processing power but let's not go there.

    Really, it's still shitty treadmill design, but for a slightly different reason. With enough choice in character building I feel like these games could theoretically be not shit. I've only played an hour of it but from what I've seen of The Last Remnant it seems like it could be accomplishing this pretty well.

  3. This actually makes a lot of sense, relying too heavily on RNG's has made me a weak programmer in my opinion. Problem solving should be just that, and not based upon the RNG Gods mood.

    I liked where you were going with AI in the end there, if possible you should do a video going in depth on that. It's interesting to see how AI's can be chalked up to a few lines of coding or be walls of texts like Overgrowths AI.

  4. Dude your voice is so droll and monotone. It puts me to sleep. You have great points, you're informative, and I agree with what you say but none of that matters if I can't stay awake during the video. Add some flare. Modulate your voice. Create a persona. Do SOMETHING

  5. Hey Googum, I think someone from Extra Credits is watching your vids. They just did an episode on Snakes and Ladders, calling it "one of the best uses of mechanics as metaphor we've seen."

    Love your videos btw.

  6. Played 'Key to the Kingdom' the other night. Couldn't help but think of this video the whole time. It's like someone took D&D and turned it into a harsher Chutes and Ladders. By the end of the game one person had fallen asleep and everyone else was begging the RNG gods to end it. But they wouldn't. We just had to walk away.

  7. Googum, what you said in this video is completely and utterly biased. Deterministic games versus in-deterministic games is an almost futile discussion. In fact, some game types might even have to use randomness in order to create a sense of replay value.

    Think of this. When you play hangman, you are given a word and you must be able to find the word by guessing letters. Now imagine playing the same game of hangman over and over again, guessing the same word again. A deterministic game of hangman is terrible. Hangman requires in-determinism. The same goes for rock-paper-scissors, Googum.

    Some games, including the horror genre, use in-determinism as a useful tool as well. Horror games can control certain events that will or will not happen during a game, increasing game-play value instead of playing through it once. It gives a player a sense of caution.

  8. I love RNG. It depends how its used. If, for example, its used to decide whether a particular AI is aggressive, defensive, or sneaky, its great, it creates a new experience each time. But a slight change to that, if it decides if the AI is aggressive or cowardly, yeh it isnt great

  9. Hey, these videos are fucking great and as a developer slowly getting there your videos are both a confirmation/revision of a lot of stuff I've learned myself and a nice tidy up on things that I thought I already had nailed but in fact missed a few things. These videos are fucking great and I love your presentation and content. Whatever you do, don't stop making these.

  10. I think that your videos are generally very good and insightful and I agree with most of your points, but I think that there is room for random number generation in games, and you touched upon it. To me, when RNG is used well in certain situations it becomes about risk assessment, which is an actual skill that one can learn.

    For example in Dota, a fantastic game that does suffer from several game design problems but remains great for other reasons, there are skills that have a chance to proc when certain things happen. I know that if I attack this person there is a 25% chance that they won't take damage, so I have to properly assess whether doing so is worth the risk or not, and I think that that is, if used well, a good thing when it comes to games and their design.

    You have an example of Fire Emblem gameplay where a character evades two attacks in a row which seems really dumb and unfair, but the game tells you your chance to hit and, in going through with the action, you had to have assessed that it was worth the risk.

    Of course, this is typically inherently bad in most RPGs and single player games in general because you can win or lose a fight based on RNG alone and will just have to do the fight again, but I think it can work in some situations and in multiplayer games. Ah well.

  11. Actually, the board in Monopoly itself would have to change because given your druthers of 1-6, you can always find a space to land on that's either Chance, Community Chest, or the corners.

    Instead, I'd go with giving the player a 6, a 5, a 4, a 3, a 2, and a 1 and forcing them to use up five of them every five turns. You can't do all six every six turns because that would force people to go to jail every 20 laps or so. So this turn I use up my six to get New York Avenue, but next turn I don't have a six so B&O is out of my reach. In such a way, players have to decide to whom are they going to give money. Also, at this point, you could also give a player a "7" to use and take away, say, the "3".

  12. I stopped watching at "JRPGs are Snakes and Ladders"
    Your other vids are decent, but at a certain point you stop giving dev advice and start sounding like a typical indie hipster.

  13. How bizarre, I keep hearing from boardgame fans how Monopoly is pretty much Snakes 'n' Ladders 2, but yeah.

    I find it interesting how fully deterministic multiplayer games tend to mimic RNG by simply pitting players against each other. You kind of keep coming back to see how various people react to you using the same tactics. It's actually very much similar to gambling when you think about it.

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