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Long time reader first time writer...

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Joined: 01/17/2011

Long time reader first time writer... I've read around the forums with considerable interest about the debate between rolling dice / drawing cards or tiles etc and the control of randomness in games. I’ve also seen how well researched probabilities along with the right amount or type of dice rolled or a “realistic” CRT can help increase the skill/tactical factor in a game whilst still allowing the premise that nothing is 100% certain and the best laid plans could all come crashing down because well thems the breaks baby!

Some people like the idea of pure tactics no chance (ie: chess) and others prefer low down dirty games like “One Card SlamTM“ where you all draw a card and slam it face down on the table… everyone lays some bids and the highest card wins all the cash!

I don’t particularly want to re-open that debate as it probably is more to do with peoples preferences generally and I suspect that if a game is “good” it won’t be due to whether it has randomness or not. Anyhow I do have one or two questions around these themes and I’d thought I’d post them to see what people think…

1) In games that are dice roll heavy (for whatever mechanic reason) I suppose that there is a risk that it all becomes a number crunching exercise especially when repeating lots of rolls, lots of times. Is there an amount of actual number of dice rolls per game where the game starts to feel that it is dragging on and on and on… or does it depend on the game?

2) In games that are stats heavy (particular wargames but I unclude other sports games such as strat-o-matic baseball for example) best defined as a “simulation” rather than a “game” because although there is randomness it is more about calculated probabilities and the chances you take/decisions you make with the information you have to hand?

3) Following on from 2) could it be argued that there is still a role for randomness in sports themed games… because even in sports that have lots of statistics there is always a chance that a player might be having a dip in form or just doesn’t quite connect with the ball/puck in the right way. Baseball leads itself to this for example with all the percentages that players have over a course of a game/season/career… a base hit / strike out / home run is presumably only a 2d10 roll away… AND although you may have terrible rolls time after time after time and your star players aren’t producing the base hits / home runs they should… over a “season” they are likely to average out because it is unlikely that the dice rolls are going to be permanently bad.

Not unless someone’s switched you a loaded pair (and not in a good way)

So what do people think?

treyalsup's picture
Joined: 09/08/2010
James Ernest did a fantastic

James Ernest did a fantastic lecture on Randomness and Volatility in games and the appropriate role of each at NeonCon in 2010. I'm trying to track down a print version of it because it addresses all the concerns you have raised here. Right now I just have a 30MB recording of the 1 hour seminar.

Joined: 01/17/2011
That's great... I've found an

That's great - I'd love a link if you find one!

I've found an interview from Protospiel from him and some other designers ( It was back from 2006 but has some good stuff there although probably old news to those in the know!

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