The Two Types of Random in Game Design



From critical hits to random encounters, and from loot boxes to procedural generation, video games are stuffed to bursting with randomness. In this episode, I look at the way randomness is used in games – and why some forms are more contentious than others.

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Sources

Uncapped Look-Ahead and the Information Horizon | Keith Burgun

A Study in Transparency: How Board Games Matter | GDC Vault

GameTek Classic 183 – Input Output Randomness | Ludology

Why revealing all is the secret of Slay The Spire’s success | Rock Paper Shotgun

Crate | Spelunky Wiki

Random Generator | Tetris Wiki

Level Feeling | Spelunky Wiki

Plan Disruption | Etan Hoeppner

Fire Emblem True Hit | Serenes Forest

The Psychology of Game Design (Everything You Know Is Wrong) | GDC Vault

How Designers Engineer Luck Into Video Games | Nautilus

Roll for your life: Making randomness transparent in Tharsis | Gamasutra

12: Into the Breach with Justin Ma | The Spelunky Showlike

Find out more

Many faces of Procedural Generation: Determinism | Gamsutra

Why Our Brains Do Not Intuitively Grasp Probabilities | Scientific American

How classic games make smart use of random number generation | Gamasutra

Games shown in this episode (in order of appearance)

Cuphead (2017)
Enter the Gungeon (2016)
Octopath Traveler (2018)
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (2017)
Griftlands (In Early Access)
Dicey Dungeons (2019)
Hearthstone (2014)
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (2014)
Darkest Dungeon (2016)
Dead Cells (2018)
SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech (2019)
Into the Breach (2018)
Spelunky (2012)
Armello (2015)
Minecraft (2011)
Chasm (2018)
Downwell (2015)
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014)
No Man’s Sky (2016)
Celeste (2018)
Fortnite (2017)
Mario Kart 8 (2014)
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (2014)
Tekken 7 (2015)
Super Mario Party (2018)
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (2019)
Borderlands 3 (2019)
Call of Duty: WWII (2017)
Valkyria Chronicles 4 (2018)
Civilization V (2010)
Wargroove (2019)
Plants vs. Zombies (2009)
XCOM: Enemy Within (2013)
Chess Ultra (2017)
Mark of the Ninja (2012)
StarCraft II (2010)
Slay the Spire (2019)
Apex Legends (2019)
Civilization IV (2005)
XCOM 2 (2016)
Overwatch (2016)
FTL: Faster Than Light (2012)
Card of Darkness (2019)
Diablo III (2012)
Tetris 99 (2019)
Puyo Puyo Tetris (2017)
Phoenix Point (2019)
Fire Emblem: Three Houses (2019)
Tharsis (2016)

Music used in this episode

Cuphead soundtrack – Kristofer Maddigan (
Tharsis soundtrack – Half Age EP by Weval (

Other credits

RNGesus original artwork by Dinsdale

Super Mario Party – Luigi wins by doing absolutely nothing | Nintendo Unity

Fire Emblem: Three Houses – New Game Plus Maddening Walkthrough Part 43! | MrSOAP999

Deadpool 2 © 20th Century Fox

Pandemic Card Art © Z-Man Games

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