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This fantastic world of video games that we’ve created has managed to birth some of my favorite acronyms ever. There’s the SNES, MMORPGs, ROMs, and plenty more. In this article, I want to explore an acronym that is becoming more and more commonly mentioned during routine conversations in our gaming culture. I’m talking about RNG.

Let’s look at an introduction by Wikipedia:

A random number generator (RNG) is a computational or physical device designed to generate a sequence of numbers or symbols that lack any pattern, i.e. appear random.

Have you ever been to a casino and played a slot machine? That is, in some form, random number generation. When a gamer mentions that they’re hoping for good or favorable RNG, it’s almost like a gentleman’s way of asking for good luck. Taking that into consideration, we can dumb down this entire discussion to the point of saying that RNG is simply luck.

However, as a pretty hardcore gamer myself, it’s a major turn-off to hear that any gameplay revolves around luck. There are a lot of different scenarios to consider.

When is RNG good?

Without elements of gameplay that don’t revolve heavily around RNG, some games would be completely destroyed. They’d be useless. Let’s first take “loot” games into consideration. Games like the Diablo series and Path of Exile Path Of Exile Is A Free & Addictive Alternative To Diablo III [MUO Gaming] Path Of Exile Is A Free & Addictive Alternative To Diablo III [MUO Gaming] Despite breaking the single-day record for sales of a PC game, at 3.5 million, I feel as if Diablo III has turned out to be a bit of a flop. The game had a rocky... Read More have a cult following behind them. It’s not because it’s so exciting to go through the exact same playthrough over and over again. It’s because of the grind. The drops and rolls, which are entirely based on RNG, make these games what they are.

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Looking into another specific example, Hearthstone Blizzard's Hearthstone Free-To-Play Card Game - Is It Worth Playing? Blizzard's Hearthstone Free-To-Play Card Game - Is It Worth Playing? A free-to-play collectable card game doesn't sound like something you'd expect to see from Blizzard, but it's surprisingly fun and addicting Read More is one of the fastest-growing online games in the past few years. It’s unlike any other we’ve seen in recent times, too. It’s a strategy card game. Knowing this much alone is enough to safely assume that there’s going to be an awful lot of luck involved. In what card game isn’t that true?

If you have ever played any RPG, you are guaranteed to have experienced some form of RNG. RPGs are all about randomness. If you dodge an attack or land a critical strike, that’s an influence of RNG. If you get into some ridiculous number of random encounters on a world map, it’s RNG again.

RNG in RPGs has been picked apart so finely that certain speedrunners have found ways to manipulate it to make it more “NG” and less RNG. For example, the number of saved file you have and/or have deleted in Chrono Trigger influences several battle mechanics that occur throughout the game. The number of steps you take in a game like Final Fantasy VII Square Enix's Final Fantasy VII Re-release: Worth It? [MUO Gaming] Square Enix's Final Fantasy VII Re-release: Worth It? [MUO Gaming] Final Fantasy VII is the most beloved game of the series, and arguably the best JRPG of all-time (if we all forget about some guy named Crono). This re-release (not remake) comes with a few... Read More will influence how many random encounters you experience. As these depend on actions that you can control yourself, they can’t be labeled as random. However, until the gamer discovers what actions they are dependent on, it’s not wrong to consider them under the umbrella of RNG.

This really squashes any myth that games that require some form of luck are of a lesser quality than games that revolve solely around mechanics and skill. RNG offers replayability. RNG is what makes the game fun and exciting. If it wasn’t random at certain points, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy it.

When is RNG bad?

There are some incredibly obvious situations where RNG makes no sense to appear.

The MOBA genre is spreading like wildfire. Blizzard has even announced that they’ve got their own under development, and League of Legends is already the most popular game in the world Why Is League Of Legends The Most Popular PC Game In The World? [MUO Gaming] Why Is League Of Legends The Most Popular PC Game In The World? [MUO Gaming] Earlier last month, news broke that League of Legends, the addictive rehash of MOBA games like DotA and Heroes of Newerth, has officially earned the right to call itself the most popular game on the... Read More . Dota 2 isn’t doing so bad Love Dota 2? Here Are 4 iOS Apps You Need Love Dota 2? Here Are 4 iOS Apps You Need So, you've spent hours upon hours playing Dota 2. Now, for one reason or another, you are being forced to leave your home to face the scary outside world. This means you can't play the... Read More , either. These are games where balance teams do whatever they can to keep RNG out of sight, at least in many situations. Things like critical damage and stun chances are a necessary, though frustrating, part of the game. In these PvP arenas, no one wants to lose to a stroke of luck.

If you’re not fond of League, what occurs in the above video is that the Fiddlesticks player (the scarecrow) uses an ability that causes a few particles to bounce to (allegedly) random targets near the enemy or minion and deal damage to them. Basically, he killed an opponent that was out of range by clicking on a minion near them to get a lucky bounce that hit the enemy.

I’ve looked up the mechanics of the ability that this player uses in the video, and it doesn’t mention if the particle bounces at random or not. However, imagine being the guy on the other end of that play and dying to (what we’re assuming is) pure luck. You didn’t get outplayed. The opposing player didn’t beat you with skill. They managed to get lucky. In a game like League of Legends, that just sucks.

In most other player vs. player games with a fast pace to them, this remains true. It’s the same with a fighting game such as Street Fighter.

If at any given time during a Street Fighter match a player was able to land a critical hit or randomly dodge or reflect something (without the player doing this through input commands based on their own reaction times), it’d be awful. It could ruin the outcome of an exciting, high-skill match and players would feel completely cheated.

Conclusion

RNG cannot be classified as something that is either good or bad. It’s something that some games have a lot of while others have very little. The execution of this RNG is what determines if it fits the game.

Do you have any RNG horror stories? What parts of which games could be greatly improved if they did or didn’t include RNG? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

  1. Alex B
    February 5, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    So, and what about RNG is slots? I can`t understand... you want to say that there is only luck and no strategy?? because I have been trying to create my own way of playing slots at webslotcasino.com on free software. I even read a lot guides and tips...

  2. Alex D
    January 21, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Some people have found ways to manipulate the RNG in Pokemon so they can hatch shinies, or Pokemon with the ideal stats. I haven't seen this level of manipulation since Platinum though.

  3. Xie Min Xuan
    January 21, 2014 at 4:09 am

    What's the difference between RNG and PROc (Programmed Random Occurrence)? Or do they mean the same thing?

  4. Joel L
    January 21, 2014 at 12:25 am

    I find that the difference between good and bad RNG is the amount of time/space you have to properly influence and react to a given random element. A mystery box that has a 50% chance to kill you or a 50% chance to give you a million gold is the epitome of bad RNG design because the result is 100% outside of the player's control.

  5. Tom W
    January 20, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    In many games, the RNG is much more than luck. It is so important to the gameplay and mechanics that it becomes personified, and in some cases there are players that say "prayers" to the RNG when they are hoping for something specific to happen (or not happen). The RNG is almost always female as well.

  6. Bobby L
    January 20, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    randomness alone makes gaming interesting

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