Randomness and Observation

Lucky strings of matches in match-3 games are reminding me of critical hits in RPG games.

Players love randomness and seeing big numbers. A smaller subset of players know that randomness usually works against them. A critical hit against a monster means that it died in 2 seconds instead of 5. A critical hit against a player character could be a one-shot kill from a monster that otherwise probably would not do any damage.

Playing Marvel Puzzle Quest, I sometimes get huge strings of chain reactions, 3s and 4s and 5s just falling into place and destroying the enemy. I was already 95+% certain to win that round, so it just sped things up a bit. It feels like the enemy gets them a lot more; I have seen columns of matches fall in repeatedly, so the enemy matches several dozen tiles with one move as yet another set of 4 reds falls in from off-screen. I am reasonably certain a careful accounting whould not show any advantage to the computer’s side; it is just far more noticeable when it happens against you than for you, especially since that random, 20,000 damage chain reaction pretty much is your 5-or-less percent chance of losing that round. I have had my entire team taken out in one round as the tiles just kept falling, matching, falling, matching, free turn!, use abilities, falling, matching, free turn!, falling…

: Zubon

3 thoughts on “Randomness and Observation”

  1. Grabbed the game for the iPhone based on your posting, it’s interesting in some ways and annoyingly F2P in others. The biggest issue I have is roster size, the inability to remove heroes from a roster without selling them, and the limited amount of time you have to claim/use heroes not on your roster.

    Hero levels being limited by skill, and skill being limited by number of copies of said hero, is also (IMO) abusively P2W.

    The matching game itself is what it is. Abilities range from useless to gamebreaking, as you have noted in the past.

  2. I found randomization to be polarizing on an old blog post of mine. I LOVE randomization in games like Blood Bowl – you can win/lose the game on a streak of good/bad dice rolls. I understand this and expect this, so when it happens for/against me its just “part of the game”.

    Star Wars tabletop was amazing with the one red die that could kill a perfect role or save a disastrous roll. It created a sense of tension and excitement.

    Things in life and games rarely go as planned. Unless you take out the element of randomization.

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