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What will happen if I add some output randomness into "slay the spires"

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by hongwaixuexi, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. hongwaixuexi

    hongwaixuexi

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    In this game the cards have determinstic outputs. For instance, normal attack card deals 6 damage in normal state. If I add some randomness into cards values, what will happen? For instance, normal attack card have the same possibility to deal 5, or 6, or 7 damage. The expected value is still 6, but the output isn't determinstic. Is it more fun or let the player feel bad?
     
  2. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    you tell us!
     
  3. BrandyStarbrite

    BrandyStarbrite

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    Interesting idea.
    But I think, the random damage thing, might be better suited for magic type cards, with special magical properties. But I agree with BigTimeMaster. What do you want to do, with your cards?:)
     
  4. hongwaixuexi

    hongwaixuexi

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    I couldn't find a book about game's randomness. I just played some roguelike games and read some articels.

    if Adding some randomness output:
    First, the gaming process is more fluctuating, and the player needs more skill to control his fate. In other words, the game is more difficult.
    Second, if the variation is bigger, then luck will dominate over skill. It will become bad, so don't choose bigger varaition.
    Third, if the varaition is right, adding randomness can remove best pratice strategy of the player.
    Last, variation can be treated as a negative feedback loop to balance the game. When the player is too strong, no enemy can stop him, the variation can sometimes.

    I think there is no simple answer for is it more fun or more frustrating. Randomness has both good things and bad things, but not boring things.
     
  5. Murgilod

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    Test the idea.
     
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  6. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Who do you make games for? Humans, or to satisfy requirements you read in books?

    Make the thing, give it to people.
     
  7. hongwaixuexi

    hongwaixuexi

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    I think it's obvious.
    In charpter 8 of the book "Game mechanics, advanced game design" , there is a simulation of randomness and determinstic by Machination.


    The bold line is determinstic output.
    The other lines are the outputs due to variation.

    randomness.png
    if(( random * 10 < 1) && (Money > 4 + steps * 0. 04)) fire( Buy)
    The results are not determinstic.

    if(( steps % 20 < 1) && (Money > 4 + steps * 0. 04)) fire( Buy)
    Always get the bold line.
     
  8. hongwaixuexi

    hongwaixuexi

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    I admit there is a huge gap between game design books and game industry. While I still want to find some useful books on game design.
    The good book will show a big picture and instruct how to achieve it.
     
  9. Murgilod

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    People are rarely so easy to predict.
     
  10. Serinx

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    What about a concept of diminishing returns combined with randomness. If you use the same cards over and over, their effectiveness becomes either weaker or more unpredictable/unreliable.

    Say you have a fireball card. The first time you use it, it does exactly 10 damage. The next time you use it, it does 9-11 damage, next time 8-10.

    Over time, if you haven't reused that card, it would return to normal. Or you could add another card which "stabilises" your cards.

    This would encourage players to experiment with different strategies, as well as making the outcome different every time if they decide to go down the "unstable magic" route - give the power to the player!
     
  11. hongwaixuexi

    hongwaixuexi

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    Your concept is about a negative feedback loop. The more usage, the more unstable. "The darkest dungeon" uses a lot of these negative feedback loops. The hero can lost his mind, or get negative attributes or other diseases when he is used over and over.

    When I playeed "darkest dungeon", I feeled a lot of frustrations. I think this method is very good for balancing a game with the cost of frustrating some players.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  12. Murgilod

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    You can't please every player. Darkest Dungeon is a massively successful game, so it must be doing something right.
     
  13. DungeonBrickStudios

    DungeonBrickStudios

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    I don't think it's so much the mechanics as it is the presentation. The narrator was amazing, gave life to everything the player did and went through. Couple that with the dramatic presentation and art style, that alone was worth the price of admission. When I played it, I knew I was seeing something special. I wanted all my other games to have a crazy narrator too, and wanted a narrator in any game I made (not gonna happen though...).

    But the game itself, if we strip it of all that, it's really unforgiving, requires tons of hours, and most people just give up on it. I really doubt it would have been successful without the elements mentioned.
     
  14. Murgilod

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    Yes, but see, that's the point.

    Darkest Dungeon doesn't really function without the difficulty, without the aesthetic, without the entire work coming together as a whole. There's a video on this I highly recommend watching:



    In stark contrast to how the OP thinks, game design is not an entirely technical affair. Those other elements on top of Darkest Dungeon you mention do not cover up a problem, but recontextualise the choices made and how they tie into presentation.
     
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  15. DungeonBrickStudios

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    That's a good point, even with the narrator, if one's face was not being dragged in the mud as he exclaims "mortality clarified in a single blow!", it wouldn't have the same impact. God that game has so many amazing quotes, "madness, our old friend...".

    Also liked the video and overall channel, lots of good tips on how to take what would be a normal, mundane game to the next level. Had he played DD, I'm sure he'd have added that to his list of examples, but his vid is 7 years old which was before its time I think.
     
  16. Ryiah

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    You'll make the game a little harder to predict which can potentially make the game more interesting.
     
  17. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    WTF is that? Rocket science?

    It's an art. The science is in the tools, not in the product.
     
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  18. Ryiah

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    Someone trying to do things in a way that no one does them despite of repeatedly asking how they're done. :p
     
  19. hongwaixuexi

    hongwaixuexi

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    Yes. I think I am on a right way to make the game interesting.
    Such as a lightweight roguelike game.
     
  20. Murgilod

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    You're not because you've insisted on brainstorming ideas to the ends of the earth rather than building prototypes you can test to see how they feel.
     
  21. hongwaixuexi

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    I think prototype has many levels, and brainstorming is one.
     
  22. Murgilod

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    A brainstorm is not a prototype. A brainstorm is like three steps before anything you could remotely call a prototype.
     
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  23. hongwaixuexi

    hongwaixuexi

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    Very well. Result (prototype or game or sth) is important, but process (learning or brainstorming) is more important.
     
  24. Murgilod

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    No it isn't. Literally everyone has told you that it is not more important.
     
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  25. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Are you a real human?

    Where do you get these ideas? How can process be more important than result? Nobody is buying your process, they are buying your result.

    Stop thinking and just make something. Play it yourself and tweak it until its fun for you. THen give it to every person you can find. Figure out what they like about it and don't. Then tweak.

    It's an art, not a science. That means, get fast at production so you can speed up iteration time. You won't solve a math problem to make games fun for humans. You get fast at production by producing, and then you produce lots of results quickly and refine them. There is no magical algorithm to solve. If there was, AAA would be producing hit after hit.

    I'm saying this not for hongs benefit because strangely he ask opinions but only uses them to reinforce his own bizarre thinking(as if he just enjoys the attention), but for anybody who has a similar outlook but is actually receptive to outside perspective.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
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  26. hongwaixuexi

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    Even the truth is result imporant than process. But in real factories they have process engineers, but no result engineers.
    If too result oriented, then will take shortcuts, finally lose the way.
     
  27. hongwaixuexi

    hongwaixuexi

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    No, that's not true.
     
  28. Murgilod

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    Keep telling yourself that. The rest of us will be making games instead of playing make-believe.
     
  29. Ryiah

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    Care to point us to some of these people?
     
  30. hongwaixuexi

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    I am talking about randomness output in game design, and you talk about me, not the game design. Then you say everyone has told you that it is not more important. It's you away from the point.
     
  31. Murgilod

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    I quite literally pointed out that if you want to see the effects of design, you can not rely on charts, but need to test the system itself. This is because game design is not technical, but contextual. Later, I posted a video where contextual and interconnected design is explained. The reason this is no longer about randomness is because you, as usual, reached a conclusion before even starting the thread.

    I'm starting to think this isn't about game design at all, but rather it's just about you using the forums as your own personal whiteboard. You aren't using a whiteboard marker however, but instead scribbling everything down in permanent marker.
     
  32. hongwaixuexi

    hongwaixuexi

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    Is game design an art? I think it needs a lot of considerations.
    "Rimworld" author Tynan Sylvester wrote in his book "
    Designing Games: A Guide to Engineering Experiences"
    Recommend books:

    Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers
    from Everyone Else by Geoff Colvin Colvin’s book is about learning. It
    doesn’t matter what—golf, violin, programming, game design. Colvin
    shows how the key to world-class performance isn’t talent or time, but
    deliberate practice. Deliberate practice isn’t just doing the work; it’s
    straining to get better at the work in a very specific way. For anyone
    wanting to improve game design skills these high-level ideas and examples are valuable.
    51AH9tzzRYL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
     
  33. Murgilod

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  34. Owen-Reynolds

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    To follow up, I think this has been observed in many games. Mentally, people like to think of the expected outcome. If a skeleton has 6 health, then a 5-10 damage weapon is a 1-hit skeleton killer where the game sometimes screws you. But if Ogres have 10 health. That same weapon is also a feeling-lucky-can-kill-an-ogre item. It can't kill ogres, but if the game is going poorly, may as well take a shot.

    In general, if the result of a failed roll can be handled, and you make lots of them, randomness is fun. But say you have the card you need, manage your rolls, and arrange to land on the skeleton. You succeeded. Playing your 6-damage card to kill it is just fine. Adding more randomness would just be annoying.

    The other thing randomness does is sometimes makes games _simpler_. If all of your cards do an exact amount, you need to work out the math to kill every monster the best way. Desktop Dungeons is like this. If you fight a minster and are 1 hit point short of killing it, that's 100% your fault for not doing the math first. Adding randomness takes that away.

    == edit ==

    Consider HearthStone. If creatures or spell cards did random damage, it would be a worse game. There's plenty of randomness and uncertainty based on the shuffle. It also gives developers room to introduce randomness into a few cards, making them special. In fact, I imagine of all computer Deck games out there, a few have randomness in most cards, so someone could tell us if those are better, worse or the same.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
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  35. frosted

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    Adding RNG is very delicate and difficult game design.

    Many creatures and spells in HS did random damage, especially in the early design. They also did random targets, random effects (effect selected randomly from list), etc. I haven't looked at HS for years, but heavy RNG effects were a core of the design library they used.

    @hongwaixuexi if you add RNG, you should understand why you are doing it. Designers use RNG both to add randomness and variety to gameplay, but also in some cases as a way to reduce stress on the player ("I would have won except I rolled bad!" -- when secretly they would not have won because they made mistakes).

    This same benefit can also be a drawback, if the player feels they can't control winning they get mad. If they can blame their loss on randomness, they may also get mad, but getting mad at randomness isn't as severe as being mad at your own bad decisions.

    Uncertainty is a powerful effect and is an important part of many games.
     
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  36. Sendatsu_Yoshimitsu

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    Something else to think about when you're weighing the benefits of RNG is that humans are generally terrible at math, especially statistics and probability, and when probability doesn't work the way they think it will they don't blame themselves, they get angry at the game. Sid Meier has some story about playtesting one of the early Civ titles, I think III? The game would tell you the chances one army had of beating another, and they found that once your chances of victory rose above 70% or so, players expected to win that battle every time. Apparently in order to make the game feel fair, they actually had to stack a lot of things in the players' favor and weight the numbers in weird ways that you wouldn't expect.

    The X-Com remakes are another great place to look: everyone who's played those games loves to complain about missing 91% chance-to-hit shots, but in all but the highest difficulties the game actually cheats in the player's favor. (X-Com is a fascinating case study in general, because constantly missing highly accurate shots actually has more to do with the weird way accuracy works- the number that they display as percent chance-to-hit is actually an aggregated value that represents something like 10-12 different values including cover, distance, whether the shooter or target was injured recently, and so forth. Players couldn't consistently deal with that system, so it got boiled down into one number which is close enough to let you make smart decisions, but is also a lie 100% of the time.)
     
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  37. frosted

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    Sid gave a really, really excellent talk at an old GDC on this. It's a shame that Sid isn't the best public speaker, because the actual points he makes during this talk are phenomenal, even though the presentation is kinda hard to watch.


    You have a source reference on this? I've seen xcom mods that show a different to hit calc than the one presented, which is I assume the more correct one, but never really understood where that was coming from or why it existed.

    I've spent more time thinking about RNG in strategy games than most have. It's such a pervasive tool across strategy games despite the risk of angering players.

    Most of the time people argue that RNG adds variety and uncertainty - and that those elements on their own are enough to overcome the negative chance of angering players.

    I think this is not actually correct, that the real reason RNG has such immense presence in strat games is:

    - Strategy games are also usually power fantasies for players, it's just that unlike action games the fantasy isn't physical dominance, it's mental dominance. "I'm a tactical genius!"
    - A player facing straight up loss in a fully deterministic game is forced to accept the fact that they screwed up. That their decisions weren't brilliant. "Wait...maybe I'm not so smart"
    - RNG allows the player to refocus their frustration away from their own decisions, "nah, I'm still a genius, the dumb RNG is just broken!"

    In this way, RNG provides protection for the gamers ego and allows them to not accept full blame for when things go wrong (and to sometimes, based on chance, make it out of bad decisions unscathed).

    This also helps explain why players are so bad at the math. If you told a person, "you have a 70% chance of surviving this surgery" trust me, their math skills would suddenly go way up. In strat games, something else is driving player expectation, not just bad maths.

    RNG adds tension and variation, but really I think that absolving the player of full responsibility is why it's so core to strategy games as a genre.
     
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  38. Owen-Reynolds

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    ?? Creatures and spells do set amounts of damage in Hearthstone. A 2-slash-4 creatures does 2 every time it hits something. Spell cards say things like "does 4 damage". The most random ones split it randomly among enemies, but it's still a set amount. You can look over popular decks - the cards all have a nice mouse-over. Most have 1 or 2 cards with anything random about them. But there's even a trick to that: "destroys a random creature" is meant to be used after you kill weaker ones, so it always kills a creature you wanted it to, and isn't really random.

    A big part of the game is planning out an attack: who might block who and who dies as a result. If a 2 power creature actually did 1-3, attacking would be totally different.
     
  39. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    In the game @frosted and I are working on, there is no randomness (as far as I understand) in the enemy AI. However, just by nature of player having free reign in an open map and a pretty large amount of enemies scattered around, I almost never play a level the same way twice. It feels like there is an element of randomness, but it solely comes from my actions as a player. One small change in the way I do things compounds and gives a unique play experience each time.

    So, point is, maybe start you game using zero randomness, and only introduce it if necessary. You know, keep it stupid simple and only add complexity if absolutely necessary. Fun games aren't made by sheer genius of design but by disciplined, focused iteration and tons and tons of playtesting.
     
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  40. Sendatsu_Yoshimitsu

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    I think I must've either misremembered this, or seen a talk about their production process and thought something they iterated on made it to the final game- everything I've looked up on 2's in-game math suggests a super-complex bunch of stuff that isn't transparent to the player, but it's nowhere near the level of complexity I recall.

    This is a bit tangential to the discuss, but I have a friend who writes a lot of pen & paper RPGs and he spends a ton of time balancing RNG around the average over time. Like, he'll sit down and go "This could do 2d4 damage or 1d8 damage, let's roll each variant ten million times, see what damage output each one averages out to, then consider what we want."

    At least for me personally, I hate "number" RNG: if something does damage, or defends you, or heals you, I personally prefer it to act deterministically. Where I think RNG really shines in games is when it can modulate the game in interesting ways. Roguelikes and roguelites are a great example of that: the games aren't testing your skill at optimization so much as they are demanding that you master the systems well enough to a) mitigate RNG wherever you can, and b) deal with suboptimal conditions in your game- low food spawns, not enough potions, too many enemies of types that you're bad at dealing with, and so forth.

    In some roguelikes this can also backfire spectacularly and result in occasional rounds that are anywhere from abusively difficult to straight-up unwinnable. I've always thought that Binding of Isaac was a great highlight of both the upsides and downsides of RNG. That game is absurdly replayable, and the fact that all progression, utility, character growth and strategy is determined by the item drops works great for it. Buuuut, it's also a game where really terrible luck can lead to a round that is winnable but not much fun, and it can lead to some weird optimization like starting every game by rushing to the first treasure room and restarting if it's not something at least moderately useful.
     
  41. frosted

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    At least a few years ago - there were tons of effects that had random damage or random damage distributions. Imp-splosion was one of the higher profile RNG based damage cards, crackle was another, shaman had some rng AoE effects. All were tier 1 at some point. As for creatures there were a number that could override targets and attack randomly. I don't recall a creature that did literally random damage, but I'd be surprised if there really wasn't ever a creature printed who had some degree of random in its attack damage.

    I'm not trying to criticize HS, I'm just saying that they definitely experimented with RNG driven damage ranges and the like. I think that later they shifted away from pure RNG (4-7 damage for example) into more controllable damage or effects because players tended not to like more "in your face" rng effects like crackle.

    As for the role of RNG in HS, I would say that it almost entirely is designed around reducing player responsibility. Making the game "wacky and unpredictable" reduces the displeasure from losing, and keeps HS feeling casual. Adding in more variety is also important, but IMO is a distant second to absolving the player of responsibility for losing (honestly a big deal in a game where 1 person must always lose in every game).
     
  42. Owen-Reynolds

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    Take the US 2016 election as a well-known example of 70%=100%. The most analytical political prediction site (five-thrity-eight) predicted 71% Clinton, 29% Trump. Afterwords, people were all "how did they get it so wrong?" Of course, they weren't wrong. 29% means it could definitely happen, but in observers minds, 71% meant 100%.

    (to be fair, some people may have been confused and thought that was the predicted popular vote, but even smart people who knew it was the final chance to win, based on electoral votes, were acting like 71% prediction = sure thing).

    It's like my 5-10 damage = "will kill something with 6 health" example. People break down odds into "coin flip", "more likely" and "X will happen, with only small chance of an error". Somewhere between 55/45 and 80/20, it mentally flips from more-likely to X-will-happen.
     
  43. frosted

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    That's different though, those were polling samples. Very different. That's an attempt at kinda simulating an election via polls and reporting the result percentages. Not an odds calculation.

    If 90% of people vote for a politician, there isn't a 10% chance he doesn't get elected. It's a different equation entirely.
     
  44. Owen-Reynolds

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    So we're in agreement? : the basic, most common cards have no randomness, a few common ones have some randomness, but random damage ranges were gotten rid of since they made the game worse.

    Those very random cards were actually the Goblin expansion. In the WarCraft universe, goblins are mad-scientist types, using unpredictable, dangerous to everyone devices. It was a prefect time to break out the extreme randomness.

    In a collectable card game, there are 2 different reasons for random cards: adding skill, and removing skill. Cards where you flip a coin on casting and it's either bad or good, those add more luck to the game, doing what you wrote. But take "does 4 damage divided randomly among all opponent creatures." That adds skill. A good player can get much better performance from it by waiting for or causing a situation where it won't 1/2-kill a bunch of things that heal later - like the opponent creatures have exactly 4 health left. Or they can cast it in advance vs. a horde when they're able to mop up no matter what it hits.
     
  45. frosted

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    Firstly, cards like crackle didn't necessarily "add luck" or "lower the skill cap", having unreliable damage can increase the skill cap (in some ways) as you mentioned before. There is little difference in skill level between crackle and knife juggler or randomly distributed damage. It's just a matter of how players felt about them and how stark the differences were.

    That players can tell themselves there's a difference, or that they prefer the "high skill" variation is more about feeding player fantasy about their own skill level or the deservedness of their victories.

    I argue that the role of RNG is deeper than "add/remove" skill, and that primarily game developers have been searching for more and more ways to absolve the player of the negative feelings associated with losing, while still presenting competitive feeling situations.

    This same effect is also why battle royale is so popular these days. In a battle royale you're facing off vs a hundred other players, so your chances of winning are tiny. You understand that your chances of winning are tiny, so you expect to lose. You can lose 50 matches and still think of yourself as a "very good player" because the odds are so stacked against you.

    MOBA also worked on similar premise, with 4 random teammates, you only constituted 1/5 of the team. You can lose over and over while telling yourself that you're a really good player, and that it was all your allies fault.

    Most popular modern competitive games are really designed primarily around absolving the player of responsibility for losing, and that goes for RNG in Hearthstone, crazy odds like battle royale, or being outnumbered by the scrubs on your team in moba.
     
  46. frosted

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    You can also look at it the opposite way, the absolute least popular competitive games these days are low randomness, high skill 1v1. Why? Because in games like this all you have is your skill, and when you lose you have no excuse outside of being outplayed.

    It's a shame because for me personally, I love those kinds of games. I like hard, skill based competition.
     
  47. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Maybe you are talking about diff genre, but Rainbow Six Siege is a purely skill based shooter. Haven't played overwatch and fortnite, but I think they might fall in that category. Not 1v1 though.

    A little dated, but PVP mode in the dark souls games was this exactly. High skill 1v1. Very popular of course.
     
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  48. frosted

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    AFAIK, Shooters have never ever been strict 1v1. They're always team or free for all deathmatch style, which makes losing not so bad.

    RTS is the only real genre centered on strict, skill based 1v1. And that's more or less been replaced by MOBA games. I think a large part of the reason why is the whole blame your teammates thing.

    When you lose in a pure skill 1v1, you really just have nothing to blame but yourself. People who really get into them are also generally focused on developing their skill at the game. Chess is an example where people studied, Tennis is another example where people train (hire coaches and stuff). Long time ago I played pool semi competitive, and I used to rent a table solo to practice for a few hours every week.

    One reason people focused so hard on developing their skills in these games because when you lose, you had nothing to blame your loss on except yourself. You were simply out played and out skilled.
     
  49. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
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    There's a number of shooters I've played that, while not being 1v1, they are elimination based and are small team focused (or included gametypes like this that were popular). So when you go down, it does very much feel like your fault. Or, if you're a liittle bitch, you blame your teammates.

    But, Siege like I mentioned, older Ghost Recon games, Counter Strike, The Last of Us Factions, Uncharted 4, Arma, way back in the day I played Return to Wolfenstein a lot, all of these games had/have elimination style game tpyes that were pretty popular among the "hardcore" crowd. Elimination meaning, you die and you are out until the end of the match, which could be a few minutes or thirty.

    And I haven't played them, but all those popular shooters right now -- fortnite, overwatch, etc -- are highly skill based to the point that parents are hiring coaches for their kids.

    I'd even say that competitive shooters and competitve RTS's are really similar in some regard. It's just a difference of how much skill is reflex/short term decisions makign focused versus longer term. But the last time I played strat games was like, Command and Conquer Tiberian Sun so I'm just guessing.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2019
  50. Martin_H

    Martin_H

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2015
    Posts:
    3,745
    Afaik Quake Live always had a healthy 1v1 scene with leaderboards and stuff.