First, before I comment specific to things already said, I wanted to mention a few of my thoughts towards Luck as a concept of game design:
The first thing I wanted to mention is that Luck isn't a bad thing when it comes to games. There are bad applications of Luck, and good applications of Luck (I'll be talking about this later).
Luck is randomness, but it doesn't always make things completely 'random'. In fact, an element of luck can be used to smooth sharp edges in diagrammatic representations of elements like damage. A classic example of this would be Diablo's use of luck when it comes to weapon damage. It has a lower range and an upper range, and the damage is calculated somewhere between then. By sheer probability, there would be an average damage that represents how much damage the weapon actually deals, yet when you look at a graph representing the weapons damage, it becomes a line or a curve rather than an individual point. Now, this is particularly useful
in a game like Diablo because it blurs the lines of balance between that weapon and others (to some extent). When a player picks a weapon up and compares it to his current weapon, he doesn't automatically see which weapon is better (based purely on damage. I'm ignoring other things like ethereal-ness or ability upgrades). Sometimes, when the weapon is really inferior, the difference is obvious and the weapon is discarded. But like danuese
said, the player has a choice of 1-8 or 2-7. In reality the choice might not make much of a difference, but it presents the player with an interesting choice. A choice that is completely balanced no matter which side is picked, and yet in a small way impacts the players future performance. And in an RPG of course, providing a player with as much choice as possible while staying on the path of the story is a goal.
Another good application of Luck in single-player (and sometimes multi-player) games is positive reinforcement of a player characters abilities. A classic example of this would be critical striking in games. Games nowadays have linked critical strikes to visually obvious cues like your player beheading an enemy (Skyrim / Dragon Age) or them simply blowing up (Fallout 3). They give the developers ways to provide the players with increasingly satisfying kills. These kills reinforce the image of the player being an unstoppable killing machine, or a sneaky backstabber, or whatever else they want to feel like. Even though they're quite random, its randomness isn't recognized by the average player.
A last good application of Luck brings me back to RPGs and the realm of loot collection. Random epic loot drops might seem disappointing or frustrating from a game developer's point of view (And sometimes from a players view -> WoW), but a lot of RPGs successfully implement random drops quite well. Well enough, in fact, that exploring new dungeons, killing new monsters and opening chests of loot are like presents, waiting to be unwrapped by an eager player.
Specific to the last two points I've made, I think the best way to implement those kinds of luck would be to establish a base level, before using luck to sometimes give the player a positive push. For example, while roaming in Diablo or Diablo 2, you expect moderate / average loot, a few blue (magical) items here and there. When you find a gold item (unique) or a green item (part of a set) you feel elated, glad that you were lucky enough to find such awesome loot. Likewise, in Skyrim, combat is pretty regular most of the time, which makes those critical hits all the more satisfying when they get pulled off. The baseline is important. I earlier mentioned how players could be disappointed by loot dropping in a game like WoW. A classic example would be a WoW raid. You raid a certain dungeon to get certain loot that's dropped by a specific boss or creature. When a player enters a raid, in their minds they have a 100% chance of obtaining said loot. However, when a random % chance stops that from happening (like a dice roll from a player in your party), the player suddenly feels that they have wasted their time.
That's all I can really think about right now, I hope that you found it interesting.
This only works if you 'roll' often.
Otherwise a single roll can make the difference that makes it frustrating to the player
I agree with this for the most part.
glhf, on 08 April 2012 - 05:25 AM, said:
Luck should not be part of the game if you want competitive players.
But if you want players who just play for the fun of it and aren't that hardcore then add as much randomness as you want.
I disagree. Knowing that there is a random factor in competitive play is a nice way to put players in high risk high rewards situations. The player has to tell himself : Okay i have 50% chance of this happening no matter what, is this worth the risk?
This is the kind of choice you want players to make in competitive play.
I personally think that luck undermines competitive play for the most part. It takes a certain amount of power away from a player's skill level and makes it random instead.
While Risk is an important aspect of competitive play, it's important to remember that the real Risk you want players to interact with is the Risk of competing against each other. A player needs to gauge the decisions and actions of other players, friends and foes, and calculate his own actions.
Also, if the designer decided to make the bomb do 200-9999 dammage and the avarage health of a structure is 8000 he did somethign wrong and its not because of its random factor, its because of balance of random numbers.
I agree with this. Random numbers can
be balanced, and they should be.
And of course you're right about something I forgot to mention: Being Lucky is
fun. It's the appeal of gambling. Definitely something a game designer needs to consider. You could even take advantage of this: A possibility would be to increase critical hit chances when your health is low. (of course without the player knowing)
I agree with this. It's part of what I mentioned earlier. Establish a base line that the player is satisfied with, and then let him win big from time to time. Negative impacts of gambling might negatively impact the players experience.
Luck serves to level playing field for kids and adults. So, if you are making a casual family multiplayer game where kids and parents are supposed to play together luck is a must (that's why kids love all sort of luck games, they can beat adults in these).
The second major purpose of luck is replayability, althrough you can substitute it with other mechanics (but not always and not as perfectly).
I completely disagree with this.
1) I don't think you should ever have so much luck in a game that it makes vastly different levels of skill comparable. That much luck simply degrades the game down to throwing dice. An important part of every game (to me at least), is to give the player a circumstance, a set of rules and possibilities and to let them decide the course of action. If their decisions have little impact on the outcome, then it isn't a game, it's a movie.
2) I also don't think that a game should be called 'replayable' simply because of lucky possibilities arising. Again, it takes away from the amount of control a player has on the outcomes that are created.
If you want a good example of where randomness is applicable in competitive play you should look at MOBA games like League of Legends. In these games, certain champions are particuliary good at benifiting from crit chance so if at the begining of the game they have 10% crit chance, they might decide to use their abilities that proc crits on champions instead of on creeps.
Actually, competitive MOBA games like League of Legends are removing certain random elements from their games (like the recent removal of dodge chance). I play League of Legends myself quite a bit, and I can safely say that most tactics using crit chance usually involve having enough crit to almost ALWAYS crit, thus increasing the entire baseline average to the point where you simply do more average damage.