This week I had a great conversation with NYU Game Center director Frank Lantz about randomness and general game design philosophy. We meant to get to three other topics – execution, reading and improvisation, but not all-that-surprisingly, we never got there in the 70+ minutes of this episode.
Frank Lantz wrote an article last night called “Against Design“. When I read the article, I was kind of confused by what I was supposed to take away from it, as there are some conflicting statements in the article. However, based on the title and what I know of Frank, I took it as “to some extent I am rejecting the idea of game design as a discipline”.
For thousands of years, we’ve relied on randomness of various kinds to help our interactive systems work. While there will always be a place for randomness of all sorts in some kinds of interactive systems, I believe the current assumptions with regard to randomness in strategy games are largely wrong.
The major point I’d like to make is that noise injected between a player’s choice and the result (here referred to as output randomness) does not belong in a strategy game.
What is “randomness”?
For the purposes of this article, randomness refers to “information that enters the game state which is not supposed to ever be predictable.” The process by which random information is generated is designed to be something that humans can never figure out. Classic examples of random systems are rolling dice, shuffling cards, or random number generators. Continue reading →