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Respawn: Why Random is Fun

Posted Thu, Dec 12, 2013 by Xerin

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I was recently writing an article and remembered the joy of /pizza, the humorous thing that was in EQ2 that pulled up a pizza ordering page whenever you typed it. It spawned some kind of crazy Panda Express April Fool’s day joke from Blizzard and the entire community kept laughing.

/pizza

Then it occurred to me, a lot of gamers eat really unhealthy snacks. Like, for real, Cheetos aplenty in the world of gaming. It got me thinking - why do gamers eat such terrible food. An apple is not only super sweet, but also somewhat good for you. It’s an easy raid snack too, just cut it up. Same for a lot of other fruits, in addition they’re rather inexpensive.

Snacking isn’t the top topic today so much as procedurally generated content and the amount of time for the entire Internet to realize that Diablo 2 was fun and people should do more of that. Like, I don’t get how this works. D2 is a runaway success, best game ever, people still play it, D3 gets hated on for not being D2, and no one bothers to go hrm… maybe one of the reasons D2 is so popular is that there is something new each time you visit a dungeon.

I’ve been playing a little bit of Starbound and then it made me realize that pretty much everything on the Internet, outside of AAA rpg releases is moving directly toward random content generation. Thanks to Minecraft making it cool to use 8-bit graphics, it’s easy for anyone to implement a system. See, for Skyrim to have random dungeons it’d be a bit harder. They’d need to manually craft different sections (ala Neverwinter) and then randomly glue them together, having set spawn points inside of each section with compatible mobs. That’s not as fun as say Diablo II and walking into the dungeon for the 400th time and nothing is the exact same.

D2 was capable of having a diverse random dungeon simulation thanks to the simplicity of how the game engine rendered areas. Each type of area in D2 was rendered differently, from static content like the cities (having different preset variations and it picked from those variations) to the dungeons, which act like mazes. The maze is drawn out and you get something different each and every time.

That was the issue with D3, hilarious enough. It just wasn’t random enough. There were different variations of maps, but there was no true dungeon randomization. Hilarious enough… probably because the graphic engine was too advanced.

So yeah, getting back to blocky graphics. More and more games are cool with taking the easy way out and making super 8-bit games, which gives them the ability to quickly and easily generate random content. This, in turn, gives games an infinite amount of replay because everything is random. Random content = good content.

Think about if every time you went into a dungeon in WoW it was slightly different. If every time you went in, the same path didn’t work again. Imagine if the bosses changed and the monsters changed and you didn’t know the tactics each time.

Wouldn’t it be a bit more fun? Now, we get to the impractical part which is that you have to grind dungeons so many times that some would find it a bit harder, but hey it would be more interesting and easier to stay awake.

Well that’s my thoughts this week. Join me Friday as we recap the week and talk about something exciting (to be determined).


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