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Let’s talk RNG

What do you think of the different kinds of RNG implemented in games?

For me, RNG is usually a hit-or-miss kind of thing.

  1. The good kinds.


RNG-based level/enemy layouts: Roguelikes/-lites and old Diablo games (and similar titles)

In this case, RNG gives massive replay-value to the game in question. Not having 2 runs in a row look and play the same is a huge boon to the game's longevity, especially in singleplayer-scenarios, but also MP (too few MP-games implement that as far as I know).

This is in my opinion the best kind of RNG any game could have.

BUT it would be absolutely horrendous with random encounters (2.b)!


RNG-based AI: Most combat-oriented games (RT and turnbased alike)

Having a somewhat unpredictable combat-AI usually makes the encounters more thrilling, while still keeping it relatively 'fair', as long as I can predict incoming attacks by other kinds of 'tells', like seeing the enemy charge an attack or something similar.

My personal prime example for this is Ludwig, the Accursed (not so much Holy Blade) from Bloodborne. This fight is eratic, fast-paced and the randomness of his attacks adds to the beastly nature of his. Yes, the RNG in this fight *can* screw you over sometimes, but it rarely so happens and the fight still feels mostly fair. And in the second phase, the RNG feels a lot less severe, adding to the theme of Ludwig's sanity coming back.

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Of course, this is something that is implemented in pretty much all games to some extend.

  1. The bad kinds…


RNG-based hit-chance (damage and afflictions alike): most turn-based RPGs

This is usually what puts me off of turn-based RPGs, especially JRPGs that are supposed to be 'challenging'. No, giving me a random hit-chance of 50% that I cannot even see the value of, does not make the fight challenging, it makes it only frustrating.

The only way to make this feel good, IMO, is to always show your hit-chance (Disgaea does this to some extend), thus essentially giving you a (fake) choice to play with RNG or not.


Encounter-RNG: Most JRPGs

Especially in more difficult ones, like the Shin Megami Tensei series, this ranges from mildly annoying to just soul-crushingly frustrating. Even in grind-heavy games, I much prefer to have encounters via 'overworld-sprites', as to being able to actually decide whether or not I want to fight that specific enemy (or if mandatory, at least prepare). The Persona series does this, as do Tales Of games and many others as well.

I think nowadays, with how capable computers are, random encounters are mostly a tradition thing, instead of a thought-out design choice, as having the encounters visible not only lowers potential frustration, but also increases immersion with the game's world.

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RNG-based equipment and equipment values: Monster Hunter and Diablo among many other games

This is, again, in my opinion, a bad design choice. MH and Diablo both to some extend have their game-progression based on their RNG-based loot, which is just awful. Having to work through hours of random garbage to get your desired perfect drop that others got in 20 minutes – not because they are so much better than you, but purely out of luck, is *bad*. Especially in skill-based games like Monster Hunter, having to rely on chance to get that one gem you so desperately need, while getting hundreds of other gems you never use, and no way to exchange these for the ones you need (which makes no sense in their established world), is off-putting. At least you can actually *see* how lucky you need to get to find what you need.

Diablo 3's random loot with random stats is even worse. The chances to get the Ancient item you want with the stats it needs to be competitively worth a damn are nowhere to be seen. So, all you can do is get lucky with your drops in the rifts and pray. Again, giving the player the option to exchange Ancients they don't need for the ones they need would solve that problem.

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Reducing RNG and increasing the influence of the player on the loot *does* take away from the time spent in the game, but IMO *does not* take away from the quality of the game. Spending 20 hours only getting garbage and making no progress in that time VS spending 20 hours getting garbage that you can then exchange for good stuff sounds like an easy choice to me.


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