RNG and "fun" of the game

Discussion in 'Game Ideas and Prototypes' started by HayateKung, May 8, 2019.

  1. HayateKung

    HayateKung Villager Member

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    I am currently working on a school project that is based on a true story. I would like to hear suggestions about how I should do random events in the game.

    As the game will involve real-life events, I am thinking of including real statistics in the game, but I am not sure what kind of negative impact this will have on the game. This would introduce an uncontrollable factor into the game. I would like to ask if there is anything like this before and how did you find it?
     
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  2. AfroKat

    AfroKat Villager Member

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    Depends on what you mean by real statistics. Like a hunger / bathroom / sleep system? A ultra realistic sim with swear and clothing changes every day etc etc
     
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  3. HayateKung

    HayateKung Villager Member

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    I meant something more like this example:
    • Implementing RNG death by malaria in an adventure game set in Africa. There would exist a way to reduce the chance but not eliminate it completely.
      • Having the chance based on real statistics alone would probably make the game frustrating (you would probably die a lot), but I'm considering adding "some" chance of it happening.
    The goal of my game is to raise awareness of a problem existing in the world, so I'm wondering if including these factors would make the game more realistic or immersive, or just frustrating.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
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  4. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

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    Well it depends on what you want to do (rpg, action, strategy, etc.), how you want to do it (coding, events, etc.), and how you want the player to influence it. Depending on your answers, it could be not too hard, but it could extremely hard.
     
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  5. Basileus

    Basileus Veteran Veteran

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    Strongly depends on what your gameplay actually is. If the game is just the player walking around and talking to people, then a chance to spontaneously die for no reason would be extremely bad design. If the player is given tasks to do or combat encounters, then the chance to get malaria could be based on how well the player completes the tasks or based on what actions the players takes.

    Since your RNG is based on a real world condition you really should research it carefully. You should expect at least some of your players to know about Malaria - and Google is always close by for those that don't - so if your game's malaria doesn't work like it does in real life then players will likely be angry. Especially if you prevent the player from taking common sense steps that would allow them to not die.

    RNG can be fun. Instant death basically never is. Be very careful with weighing your player options and the consequences.
     
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  6. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    Things like RNG sickness could be used to force the player to slow down, consume more resources, find medical clinics, etc., or else risk the chance of a player/character dying if they don't do those things. Make sure that it doesn't happen frequently enough that the player is constantly needing to do those things, because that wouldn't be fun - but occasional events like that to waylay the player's progress can be fine.

    Oregon Trail is a really old game and it wasn't totally my cup of tea, but I think it would serve as a good example as to how to do this kind of thing right. You could prepare in advance for some of the bad things that could happen, and you could react to some of the other bad things (like a party member getting sick) by slowing down your pace, eating more, etc. in order to give them the best chance to survive. And even if a party member did die in Oregon Trail, you could continue your adventure as long as you had any members left. Maybe not all of these will apply to the kind of game you want to create, but think about how these mechanics improve the overall gameplay dynamic.
     
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  7. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I've moved this thread to Ideas and Prototypes. Please be sure to post your threads in the correct forum next time. Thank you.

     
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  8. Calvynne

    Calvynne Veteran Veteran

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    As others have stated, there are two types of RNG and the line between good and bad is really really fine.

    I particularly like RNG, as long as it feels "progressive". I like having random events, random items, random enemies. As long as I'm building towards a greater narrative, or sense of progression, or accomplishment.

    I loathe RNG when it feels "punishing" or just wildly random. Oh, this time I started with a stick instead of a sword, and all the enemies in this area are a hundred levels above me. I guess I'm just supposed to die this time and try a different seed.

    That said: Real world statistics are a terrible source of RNG. The real world's randomness is actually influenced by many factors. Many of those factors can be prevented, mitigated, or negated entirely, however you want to phrase it.

    If you want to raise awareness of a real world problem, don't make it random. Randomness doesn't show how it might affect you. It shows how you might be lucky to avoid the problem, which makes it another person's problem.

    So, using that example. I would make your main character afflicted with malaria (or maybe they care for, or are close friends with someone who is). Make all of the tasks around how the condition affects them. How it affects others around them. How despite the condition there are still good times and bad times. Humanize the condition, and help bring awareness to the people with it. Talk about solutions, potential cures, and offer some hope.

    You will have a stronger message and a stronger game in the end.
     
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  9. HayateKung

    HayateKung Villager Member

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    Thank you for all the suggestions, this has given me some ideas and a clearer picture of how I should do it.

    Let's say that the player needs to take a journey either via land (truck) or sea (ship). One is more expensive than the others but "safer." I'm thinking of the different rate of random deaths on both of them, but this sounds like a bad idea, does anyone here have any suggestions on how to implement this? (Minigame to save your life (swim, run, steal, VN-styled conversation)? Tell player beforehand and let them find a way to prevent it (Bring life vest, bring meds)?)
     
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  10. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    Yes.
    Yes.

    You're on the right track now. Give the player opportunities to prepare and also opportunities to save themselves once the RNG strikes. For example, buying a life vest before the journey might cost money (or bringing it might cost inventory space or finding it might take time before the journey). Make sure the player's supply of money (or space or time) is limited enough that this is a real decision and not a slam-dunk. And if the boat sinks (or throws people overboard), start a tough minigame (or similar) where the player can try to swim to safety. This allows players to handle it through preparation or reaction (this tends to make RNG feel the "fairest"), and it also gives experienced players the ability to make a "choice" to prepare for the things they've found they're not good at reacting to.
     
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  11. Calvynne

    Calvynne Veteran Veteran

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    Really good advice there on how to handle the nature of "RNG" and give the players choice and agency.

    It's important to remember that human brains are weird when it comes to both Randomness and to Percentage Chances.

    So, let's say you have a 40% chance to fail a task, but a 60% chance to succeed. We think those are pretty good odds right?
    Well the brain is dumb (for this, these are survival mechanisms we rely on for other things), and it will highlight every failure and magnify it about 3-4 times. It won't remember the successes, just the failures. This skill/task/event will "always" fail for the player. Even though the odds are stacked in their favor.

    So we add a skill that reduces the failure chance to 25%. 3/4 times, we should succeed right? Well the brain is going to say: "I only succeed ~50% of the time" now.

    X-Com is classic for people taking a 95% shot, and missing, and complaining that they always miss. Because that's how our brains handle percentage chances and randomness.

    Where does this impact your game?
    Well, when you make preventative skills, you have to consider how the brain is going to interpret this information. If 1 skill reduces a 50/50 chance to 25/75, and the bad thing still happens? That skill is "worthless". Particularly if that event only happens once, or is an instant death event.

    If 2 skills reduce it to 10/90, and it still happens? It will feel like you invested a lot into prevention, and the bad things still happened.

    How you can mitigate this: Be upfront with the consequences. Avoid instant death. Avoid severe negatives. Allow the player ways to get back on their feet again.
     
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  12. Kupotepo

    Kupotepo Fantasy realist Veteran

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  13. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    This is good advice in general, but it's somewhat misapplied to the question at hand. In decision theory (particularly where human cognition is concerned), it's important to identify the type of decision being made. Examples of types of decisions are:
    • Stochastic - Decisions where, controlling for all factors that are under the decision-maker's control, outcomes are certain. For example, following a recipe that you have followed before, or choosing whether or not to go to work at your salaried job where there is a very clear "no show = fired" policy.
    • Risk - Decisions where the probability of each outcome is known, but are not certain because the probabilities rely on outside factors or luck. For example, gambling on a spin of the Roulette wheel. Your example of X-Com's 95% Shot is an example of Decisions Under Risk.
    • Uncertainty - Decisions where the potential outcomes are known, but the probability of each outcome is unknown. For example, the decision to eat healthy or unhealthy food, in the frame of the enjoyment from eating the unhealthy food versus the possibility that it will cause an earlier death, is a decision under Uncertainty because the decision-maker doesn't know what the chance is, for him personally, of unhealthy food leading to an early death.
    • Naivety - Decisions where the potential outcomes (and their probabilities) are mostly unknown. For example, deciding whether to move to another country (when you're not clearly being pushed out of your own), or choosing between vaguely-worded Detours in The Amazing Race. @HayateKung's game, as described, seems to feature Decisions from Naivety. (After a lot of plays, it will turn into Decisions under Uncertainty.)
    Interestingly, the human brain employs different heuristics and biases depending on the type of decision at hand. The Allais Paradox is a really interesting read, and exhibits how small chances of big loss loom large in Decisions Under Risk, but I don't think that the same holds true for Decisions Under Uncertainty - consider how people underrate the small chance of big loss when they speed on the highway.

    My (long-winded) point is that in a game where Decisions are being made from Naivety - for example where the player can take the "safer but longer" option of going around a lake on foot versus the "quicker but more dangerous" option of sailing across the lake - it's okay for things to happen; it's okay to still have a percentage chance for different dangers to present themselves on the foot-path. The player understands that they are on a dangerous adventure either way, and part of the appeal is in making tough choices not knowing what will come of them. It's a lot different than a decision under Risk, like when the player sees onscreen "95% to hit" and then their character misses and nothing interesting comes of it but now they're further behind in the battle.

    Decisions under Naivety can still be unsatisfying. When you chose a path in a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and it gave you the equivalent of "Rocks fall, You die, The End", it was profoundly unsatisfying. How do we go about making these decisions satisfying?

    1) Offer counterplay. Use the events with RNG influence as input rather than output. For example, if the long path through the forest and around the lake has an event where you walk into an area with lots of vipers, the player could play a minigame to avoid the vipers (taking damage/poison if they fail), or could be thrown into a combat encounter against the vipers if the game has combat.
    • I think this is a reason that Combat has been such a staple mechanic of RPGs - it provides a deep, fair way to make players fight for their lives when their decisions (or RNG) lead them into danger, and can be interesting even through hundreds of encounters.
    • Dialogue trees can be a good method of counterplay as well for games taking place in civilized areas, but you need to be careful to make sure the options telegraph their consequences.
    2) Focus on narratively-interesting consequences. Game Overs tend to be a much less interesting consequence than meaningful changes in social relationships (between characters or factions), loss of a single character, or more challenging gameplay (from, for example, the loss of some of your resources). If the RNG decides that a group of bandits raid you in the forest, rather than having them kill you and game over, it would be better for the bandits to pillage specific types of supplies, which would force the player to, say, start foraging/hunting in the forest if their food was taken. Even better yet, this could open up a quest where the player has the option to try and track the bandits back to their hideout - think about all the interesting possibilities that could result from that!
    • Note that simply offering a lot of good writing that spells out the consequences of different actions can be good enough to create narratively-interesting consequences. If a random event happens where a character is kidnapped (with no chance to get them back until the end of the game), and the characters spend a lot of time worrying about their family member/friend and narratively making efforts to free them, then it can still contribute to a good experience for the player. Think of it in the vein of Pen-and-Paper RPGs, where even massive failures resulting from a roll of the dice could be interesting storytelling hooks.
     
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