Random Number Generation – Chaos in Gaming

by Klaus on October 22, 2019

in Articles

Random Number Generation or RNG has changed the gaming landscape forever with a lasting effect. RNG has proven itself to be both a blessing and a curse for videogames, with some gamers enjoying RNG based games while others completely hate them. For game design studios, understanding RNG and the power of adding chaos to game design is very important. 

What is RNG? 

RNG stands for random number generation and is a junction where chance, probability, and videogame design meet. You have probably already played an RNG game if you have ever played a game with some element of chance. Such games make use of random number generators to create unlimited scenarios. The best part is RNG games don’t rely heavily on the internet, so I never have to worry about my connection or is 100 Mbps fast. 

What makes RNG so popular? In role-playing games or RPGs, the element that every replay will be somehow different encourages replayability. It also makes games that much more challenging and unpredictable. It continuously creates new challenges and scenarios for players to engage with. 

How much of an impact RNG has on a game depends on the design used in the game. This is a tricky part of incorporating RNG into game design. On one hand, too little RNG is wasted effort on something that does not affect the player at all. On the other hand, too much RNG takes away the perception of control from the user. 

RNG Games – Controlled Chaos 

Random number generation introduces an element of controlled chaos in the game. Controlled chaos means there will always be some hard coded elements in the game. These allow players some form of consistency and knowledge of their surroundings and possible options. 

Without some consistency and hardcoding, it becomes very difficult for players to make sense of the game. A strong foundation is very important. Otherwise, the game just appears to be too chaotic. 

RNG can have either an extremely good or an extremely poor impact on a game. This means designers need to have a careful eye on balancing out the chaotic elements with the rest of the game. A good example is Resident Evil 7. The item drop locations on the map are random, thanks to RNG. But the game does give weight to a player’s particular inventory and what it is lacking. This means that as long as a player keeps moving, they have a virtual guarantee of finding items, weapons, ammo, or health packs that they need. 

How Good is Random Gameplay? 

RNG is a lot like spice while you’re cooking Indian food. Too little, and the food becomes boring. Too much, and it becomes almost indigestible. Less RNG in your game design means there is a limited number of set outcomes in the game. Beyond the first play, the game will not offer any worthwhile challenges to players. On the other hand, too much random number generation is also not good. It can make the game appear too chaotic and difficult to control outcomes.  

However, even tiny RNG placed at the right elements in game design can have a huge impact on the outcome of the game. These elements have a huge effect on both the game’s development as well as the player’s reaction to them. However, it is important to ensure the player retains some measure of control over the outcome of the game or stage. 

The Takeaway 

RNG elements help create different iterations of the same scenario based on a common foundation. Games with sensibly used RNG keep players interested no matter how many times they play it. Unless the RNG is just window dressing, players will have to adapt and improvise to changing scenarios in every replay. 

At the same time, if there is too much use of RNG in the game’s design, the game will lose a solid foundation. This makes things too chaotic for players to want to play the game. Players need to retain some form of control over the outcome of the game, otherwise, the entire exercise becomes pointless. 

The main things that I need to make a game enjoyable for players are RNG used efficiently in design and good graphics. The perfect game may not exist, but those using RNG come very close. Have fun with controlled chaos while still retaining control over how the game proceeds. 

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