While Randomness (often referred to as RNG) often gets a bad rap, it is an essential part of creating a good game experience. Even games that state they focus on minimizing randomness have a clear element of randomness in them. Gloomhaven, for example, would not be nearly as fun if the enemies did the same thing every turn, instead of draw a random action from their action deck.
That said, anyone who has rolled two 10+ leadership tests in Warhammer Fantasy on a key battle to flee and cause you to lose the game knows it can suck. There is good randomness, and bad randomness. And we are making conscious decisions to add elements of good RNG into our game, that in turn makes the game more fun.
If you want to read all about how randomness can make games better, our favorite game designer Dan Felder has an excellent write up on randomness: https://www.gamedeveloper.com/design/design-101-the-role-of-randomness.
As described in the article, as we work to incorporate randomness into our game, we focus on adding Christmas Randomness. Randomness that feels like picking a present on Christmas vs a game of Roulette.
To quote Dan Felder’s article (bold emphasis mine)
When I go look under my Christmas tree and see six presents with my name on them, I don’t know what they’re going to be yet. This is a fun type of suspense, wondering which of several good things is going to happen. Am I going to get that new game I’ve been thinking about? How about that collector’s edition of Calvin and Hobbes? I don’t know what it’s going to be, and it feels great to rip off the wrapper.Dan Felder, https://www.gamedeveloper.com/design/design-101-the-role-of-randomness
It is with this in mind we go through all of the randomness elements of the game, and ask ourselves “is this Christmas Randomness?” And if it isn’t, we change it. All outcomes of the random event should be good.
Here are two examples of how we have used Christmas Randomness to make our game better.
Card 1 – Militia
version 1: Draw a card when played. If it is a unit card draw it, else discard it
version 2: Draw a card when played.
The original text would only be Christmas Randomness if during Christmas you burned some of your presents after opening them.
Card 2 – Call In The Reinforcements
version 1: Chose a card from your hand, and play it for free
version 2: Draw cards until you draw a unit, deploy it and discard all other cards
version 3: Draw cards until you draw a unit, deploy it. Reshuffle other cards back into deck.
Here, in version 2 we added an element of randomness. But this would only be Christmas randomness if you had to pick a type of present and throw out all other presents you open before finding the correct type. Version 3 corrects that.
So that’s it folks – that’s a brief overview of how we are adding fun RNG to our game as we develop. It has added a dynamic element to the game that has made it more enjoyable to play.