Probability and Chance
Games need chance and probability to be fun. If a game played the same way every time then it wouldn’t be worth playing more than once. Also if there isn’t any variation in the gameplay then “working through” a level loses its fun because it is predictable and therefore boring.
In game making we use random numbers to add variety to our game play. Randomness may be used to determine when and where opposition characters appear or how the non-playing characters react to certain events. When using chance in our artificial intelligence we need to be careful that we get the level of difficulty correct, the way we determine how likely events are to happen may have a dramatic effect on the skill level needed by the player and therefore how fun the game is.
There are two methods we can use. The first is to look at the code and calculate the likelihood of various events happening, particularly looking at the unlikely events and how game play will be affected when they occur. Using a table may be useful in considering how two random events will work together to determine game play.
The second method is to play test. When play testing to determine how randomness affects your games you will most likely need to play the game a lot. When playing try to see how random events influence each other, if a series of unlikely events happen will this make the game either unplayable or too easy?
Determining the actual possibility of random events in your games won’t necessarily help you understand how the random events in your game will affect the perceived playability of your game. The actual differences between various random events may not always be apparent, the subtle differences may either not be apparent or seem to be greater than they actually are. Getting others to play test your games and discussing how random events are perceived is the only way to determine how random events affect the player’s mind.
Chance and randomness can be used effectively to increase the level of difficulty, and therefore the level of skill the player needs as the game progresses. Good games get harder and are perceived by the player to get harder as progress is made.
Finally, chance and randomness should not be used in way that the player perceives its role to be too great, and therefore believing that luck not skill will determine success in the game.
Game design patterns useful when using chance and probability in your games.