Why Randomly Generated Content Sucks

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PsychedelicDiamond:
Well, some of the mindless automatic biases people think you have would be against:

AAA Titles
Nintendo
Japanese RPGs
First Person Shooters
Games with a multiplayer focus
Modern games in general
Games with quicktime events
Tolkienesque Fantasy
Long cutscenes

Did i forget anything?

RPG games that are like Skyrim
RPG games that aren't like Skyrim

And that's it I think. ^.^

Something about this story telling style reminds me of the second Onimusha game, albeit this is an advancement of those ideas.

Randomization can work but in Diablo 3 it feels too restricted (seems to piece together whole rooms in a square grid, previous Diablos generated all the walls and doors and whatnot randomly with a few predefined set-pieces in every area) and thus repetitive. I think that's the same issue people had with Hellgate London. These loot games simply aren't driven by level design, that's just a backdrop for you murdering tons of dudes. The variety of dudes and items is the real content by generating more combat scenarios. Contrast Borderlands which had a completely handmade map but very few dudes and little gun variety so the combat scenarios were extremely limited.

Has anyone played Spelunky? Now that is a very good randomly generated game, since it's about exploration and exploring the same thing twice kind of defeats the purpose.

As someone else said, a contained survival horror game can use randomly generated rooms/hallways well. A recent example is SCP: Containment Breach. While only in it's second Alpha I believe, the game takes place in a secure facility, with each playthrough changing up the environment. What may have led to a safe zone instead leads to more hallways, and what may led to a simple storage room instead leads out into a lab with important information. Supposedly, later builds are supposed to allow a system in which secret rooms which led to even more mysteries or horrors only appear in certain playthroughs, closing off one section while opening up another. From what I understand, enemies are also randomly generated, in that different playthroughs introduce different enemies.

Minecraft? Randomly generated worlds. It's fun.

The problem with Diablo's approach is that while it may be random it's not dynamic, and that's the key component missing from the equation in my opinion. A series of a different genre that has this is Civilization, not only do you get random maps but each game with it's variety of AI civs plays out differently.

I've been waiting for a long time, since the current gen came out with a supposed focus on multiprocessing, to see the gaming industry attempt to apply this approach to an open world RPG. If you look at TES II: Daggerfall, the game is far to big to have hand built so you have to figure the game world and everything outside the main storyline was generated by scripts. So take this principle, start with a versatile random map generator like you get in Civilization that. Generates maps on a 2D scale is converted to 3D for the player(like google maps -> google street view). In the background, run the world like a strategy game, in this case a Total War would be more appropriate, and depending on what the various nation AI or game pieces are doing convert that in real time as game scripts for the player to jump into.

It's a pretty ambitious idea but the technology should be there to do it. Dwarven Fortress is probably the closest thing right now with the adventure mode but that lacks a lot of polish... being an ASCII game and all.

Invadergray:

PsychedelicDiamond:
Well, some of the mindless automatic biases people think you have would be against:

AAA Titles
Nintendo
Japanese RPGs
First Person Shooters
Games with a multiplayer focus
Modern games in general
Games with quicktime events
Tolkienesque Fantasy
Long cutscenes

Did i forget anything?

You forgot Motion Controls

Not to mention anything else you like that he dares badmouth.

EDIT:

tehweave:
Minecraft? Randomly generated worlds. It's fun.

Oooh, good one. I hadn't thought of that. I guess the extent to which randomness affects your gameplay is dependent on what it changes. I suppose it does make a difference in minecraft, because the biome you spawn in and the resources at hand make a fairly significant difference.

After playing through Path of Exile about 30 times already, with only two acts released so far, I am still not bored of it so I guess it doesn't bother everyone.

Someone already mentioned the name already, but Disgaea did (does) randomly generated content amazingly well. The original's was a bit yawn-worthy, but Disgaea 2 and up have done a fantastic job of it (My 240hr save file from Disgaea 3 is testament to that).

I couldn't agree more. When I was young, I used to think the whole idea was fantastic. But really, all that has happened is as is described in this article. It's the same events in the same order, but the dungeons are different. The issue is that they are not actually different, if the story says this even happens in a cave, then it's always in a cave. So, that sucks. Terraria is a fantastic example of randomly generated since it generates a whole world and a whole world worth of enemies, events, NPS's, and textures are put in random places. In that situation, it is more than just rearranging things because the whole world is different. In D3, not so much.

PsychedelicDiamond:
Well, some of the mindless automatic biases people think you have would be against:

AAA Titles
Nintendo
Japanese RPGs
First Person Shooters
Games with a multiplayer focus
Modern games in general
Games with quicktime events
Tolkienesque Fantasy
Long cutscenes

Did i forget anything?

All other videogames that don't fit in those categories.
Yahtzee has never liked a videogame. I bet he is just kidding when he says he likes Portal, Silent Hill 2 and Prince of Persia.

Randomly generated content can be fantastic, it just has to be used correctly.

Level generation shouldn't be used as an excuse not to design levels, and shouldn't in any way be thought of as "this game now has 10000's of levels worth of content". People would rather play 20 well designed levels than have 10000 crappy levels, quality over quantity.

A GOOD attitude to have is using level generation to make sure that players have to be strategic and plan ahead. There are a lot of games where you memorize the level completely, Megaman for example, and it effectively removes the challenge. But in some games you won't want the player to memorize anything, and randomisation can be a great way to stop that.

Luke Toppin:
Someone already mentioned the name already, but Disgaea did (does) randomly generated content amazingly well. The original's was a bit yawn-worthy, but Disgaea 2 and up have done a fantastic job of it (My 240hr save file from Disgaea 3 is testament to that).

Does it? I love the Disgaea series to bits but I was never a big fan of the item world'y stuff. The randomly generated levels were just weird and chaotic :P

Rather than just making a list of Yahtzee's negative biases, perhaps we could use our knowledge to design the ultimate "Yahtzee bait" game, something he's guaranteed to like.

-For starters, it has to be developed by Valve

-Tim Schafer would have to design it, presumably he'd be kidnapped by the Valve secret army and forced to work under threat of a crowbar to the head.

-It needs to be a sandbox horror game with plenty of Prince of Persia style platforming. He also loves swinging, so lets give the main character some kind of hookshot contraption, possibly two of them to make it more like Spider Man.

-Environments have to vary wildly. Remember, this is Yahtzee we're talking about so he'll get bored with the same setting very easily. So lets have environments vary wildly. Oh! Maybe some temporal shenanigans are slowly causing multiple places on earth to collapse to a single point, so there might be a Gothic Cathedral a few feet away from a jungle, a desert, a thriving metropolis, etc. Sounds like a soft science nightmare, but whatever, I'm still not convinced Yahtzee actually cares about story.

-Absolutely nothing can be brown. Even dirt has to be some kind of brilliant purple color
-There must be tits at some point.

There, Yahtzee bait.

There was a particular game that was released a few years ago this thrived on a system like this, spawning zombies out to be different every single time. It was Left 4 Dead. However, due to the nature of the game's intelligence system, it probably wouldn't be considered "random". But, it is an example of how you can set up a game to do certain things like this that turn out different every single time and do it right.

cricket chirps:

RPGxMadness:
ok, then what about Minecraft? Doesn't it have the same problem as Diablo, but worse. The game and the level starts over every time you make a new world or when you start walking for an hour in a given direction, but you have the same exact objective with the same enemies(and I want you to forget about the mods for a minute), this means that the game has not that much of a value since it's a repeat of what you were trying to do, but with no direction, and as far as I know you love the game!...

:P

Sorry for the double post here but this man ^ had a good point that ild like to agree with and rebut at the same time. ^^'

I love that point becuase its exactly what i think minecraft is. I cant play through the game at all without thinking "done this, done this, repeititveness," and yes that aspect of the game holds little value. But that isnt the point of the game is it? Anyone including yourself will tell you the point of minecraft is to build your ideas into the world. And THAT is what makes it fun. The randomly generated world is just a slight change in setting each time.
In essence, that is why diablo falls short because your just running and killing through the same random areas.

In other words- Diablo is minecraft without the building....while searching for better pants and at the end you kill the big creeper.

Minecraft is procedurally generated not randomly generated. It's a similar concept but where it differs is in the coding, which dictates what the features the world should have and how they should be laid out. For example - lava in the mines.

Eric Morales:
Rather than just making a list of Yahtzee's negative biases, perhaps we could use our knowledge to design the ultimate "Yahtzee bait" game, something he's guaranteed to like.

-For starters, it has to be developed by Valve

-Tim Schafer would have to design it, presumably he'd be kidnapped by the Valve secret army and forced to work under threat of a crowbar to the head.

-It needs to be a sandbox horror game with plenty of Prince of Persia style platforming. He also loves swinging, so lets give the main character some kind of hookshot contraption, possibly two of them to make it more like Spider Man.

-Environments have to vary wildly. Remember, this is Yahtzee we're talking about so he'll get bored with the same setting very easily. So lets have environments vary wildly. Oh! Maybe some temporal shenanigans are slowly causing multiple places on earth to collapse to a single point, so there might be a Gothic Cathedral a few feet away from a jungle, a desert, a thriving metropolis, etc. Sounds like a soft science nightmare, but whatever, I'm still not convinced Yahtzee actually cares about story.

-Absolutely nothing can be brown. Even dirt has to be some kind of brilliant purple color
-There must be tits at some point.

There, Yahtzee bait.

Screw Yahtzee, I want to play that game.

Eric Morales:
Sounds like a soft science nightmare, but whatever, I'm still not convinced Yahtzee actually cares about story.

Disrespect Yahtzee all you want, but at least get your facts straight.

Not that you'll read this Yahtzee, but that whole idea of AI's reacting due to programming in scenarios with different characters has already been done before in Valkyrie Profile, a really good playstation game I'd recommend, and in one of the sequels, though in that sequel they weren't random, the player had input, but not to alter the dialogue, or choose where to go, they slightly altered the main characters personality, and the rest of it was dictated by the character himself, as far as I'm aware only the first game is entirely dictated by the characters with no input from the player.

Another place randomly/procedurally generated content is good is in rts games like age of mythology. the overall layout stays largely the same, but there are usually just enough differences in the map to keep things interesting, while still being able to guess where things will be.

I agree. But let's have some examples of random generation done right.

Dwarf Fortress
Daggerfall
Dynamically and procedurally generated ArmA 2 missions, populating a hand-crafted map with randomized tasks and enemies

CD-R:

lord.jeff:

PsychedelicDiamond:
Well, some of the mindless automatic biases people think you have would be against:

AAA Titles
Nintendo
Japanese RPGs
First Person Shooters
Games with a multiplayer focus
Modern games in general
Games with quicktime events
Tolkienesque Fantasy
Long cutscenes

Did i forget anything?

He hates sequels too, written a few extra punctuations just to bash the them but everyone has bias, Yahtzee just likes overstating his and passing it off as fact.

I agree that random generation suck for the most part but it has worked in Disgaea, it had pre-made story levels but randomly generated extra stages that was great to help make the grinding in that game more bearable.

Real Time Strategy games. Maybe strategy games in general since he wrote that whole rant about Warhammer 40k. Management sims too. Games that do that X-Ray kill cam thing. Games that are hard.

Also games that are easy. Can't forget that one.

Apollo45:

CD-R:

lord.jeff:

He hates sequels too, written a few extra punctuations just to bash the them but everyone has bias, Yahtzee just likes overstating his and passing it off as fact.

I agree that random generation suck for the most part but it has worked in Disgaea, it had pre-made story levels but randomly generated extra stages that was great to help make the grinding in that game more bearable.

Real Time Strategy games. Maybe strategy games in general since he wrote that whole rant about Warhammer 40k. Management sims too. Games that do that X-Ray kill cam thing. Games that are hard.

Also games that are easy. Can't forget that one.

[quote="Apollo45" post="6.377537.14741009"][quote="CD-R" post="6.377537.14735301"][quote="lord.jeff" post="6.377537.14735104"][quote="PsychedelicDiamond" post="6.377537.14734892"]Well, some of the mindless automatic biases people think you have would be against:

AAA Titles
Nintendo
Japanese RPGs
First Person Shooters
Games with a multiplayer focus
Modern games in general
Games with quicktime events
Tolkienesque Fantasy
Long cutscenes

You forgot America, and fanboyism of any kind.

Ickabod:

Minecraft + Procedural storytelling = Greatest Game Ever!

Yes please!

The thing I always find with randomly generated dungeons, is when I get stuck, I always wonder if it's a bug, like the random generation made the level impossible. I used to play a game in the 90's called Captive, and that randomly generated all the levels, but based on a preset seed, so everyone plays the same levels, but the game ends up being massive. To complete Captive, you'd have to play it for your entire life. Captive is a dungeon crawler, a lot like Dungeon Master, and the levels are pretty complex, and they would have bugs, like not giving you a key to get past a door that you need to get past to get the key. I played Captive a lot, if the game was 10 levels then your done, then the game would last a couple of weeks, I played it for years and still didn't max out my characters. It can make a difference, even when it is flawed, it extends the life of a game.

Another factor is development fun. Designing levels isn't fun, it's tedious, and very difficult to not end up with a boring or predictable level. If you take that burden away, then designers can concentrate on adding content, and also the game is much more fun to develop because the levels haven't had to be painstakingly laid out. It's not as if the locations on games like Diablo3 or Torchlight are memorable, maybe that's the problem... these games don't let you interact with the environment as much as they should. Players don't see an elaborate mine complex, or dungeon, they see what it boils down to... a grid, these games actual mapping systems are about as complex as a Cluedo board. Environment is just not the focus in these games, so it might as well be randomly generated, giving designers more time to add loot. I have to say, the first videos we saw of Diablo3 seemed to be a lot more environmental, like boulders falling and stuff like that... probably done before the levels were randomly generated.

I guess what would be ideal, is for Diablo3 to get a level editor, let people design their own dungeons and quests, that's really a better way to extend the life of a game IMO.

I always thought that Diablo did random levels because they were trying to imitate a roguelike game (Nethack, angband, ect) just with graphics.

It doesn't quite work the same way, though. Random levels work in roguelike games because you play them over and over again, and part of the charm is that you keep finding new and horrible ways to die and then restart. Yes, Hardcore mode is sort of a nod to that as well, but even then you're likely to play the same level hundreds of times the way you do in roguelike games.

To be honest, I tend to disagree here. For some reason, I for one find the thought of a story or setting being finite almost unbearable. That is why I gravitate towards simulations and simulationesque strategy games (Dwarf Fortress, Civilization, Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis...) instead of pre-scripted games. It is also the reason why I write, and sometimes while writing a story use RPG-like dice mechanics to come up with twists that I didn't expect.

Sure, you need human input to make something entirely random into something entirely new, you need to create a narrative around it. But at some point, having the possibility of letting "random dungeon #4891878937" become "the narrow corridor where my character heroically fought for her/his life" is worth more than cynically rejecting any sort of emergent story and random content.

Yes, random content is not for everyone, but for those more creatively inclined, for those that like to tell stories, even a crude random content generator can be an infinite supply of these.

Edit: I should also note that a system that automatically generates a completely new, fresh, coherent storyline would be my personal holy grail.

canadamus_prime:
Let's see Yahtzee's known biases:
JRPGs
Online Multiplayer (I personally agree with that one)
Quicktime events
Motion Controls
and now Randomly Generated Levels/Dungeons

Am I forgetting anything.

Games he doesn't like?....

What we're talking about is basically a non-interactive text-only Bioware-style RPG...

That sentence sounds like Yahtzee just reinvented the Visual Novel medium. :P

Not the randomly-generated-plot idea itself, that part is original, but this strating point's description was worded incredibly awkwardly, it's like describing an interactive theatre play as "Imagine a movie that's played out by living actors right in front of you, and..."

Well to solve the problem completely is to:
A. STOP MAKING ME BE ONLINE TO PLAY SOMETHING I PAYED $60 TO GET AHOLD OF.
I know this won't actually fix the problem, but it probably would make people more apathetic towards the flaws in the game. I know its taking out DRM to shove problems under the rug, but personally i would care a lot less about the problems of a game if I didn't have to always have to be online with it.

B. Make the world large enough that randomly generated dungeons would become difficult to notice.
I know this another throw it under the rug and hope no one notices kind of thing but hear me out. When i think of this i think back to the elder scrolls series. that game doesn't have randomly generated dungeons, but the world is large enough that players don't care. in fact I think that if Bethesda were to put a few randomly generated dungeons in there RPG no one would care or notice. Since D3 is an online game they could implement this over time. Slowly making the world larger and large with the updates that are forced unto players anyway until they have a world large enough that permanent dungeons become the norm over randomly generated and that people can get a different experience without having to completely change there playstyle. I understand that the way that D3 is shown and played may not support that kind of map construction, but I'm throwing up ideas.

C. Stop being lazy asses.
What i mean by is using the forced online gameplay and making different versions of the dungeons. In fact if they want to be lazy with it they could just post something on there forums asking players to make dungeons for them so that they don't have to. D3 has something that the MMO environment has enjoyed for a long time. Changing the game to suit the community. This means that they can make constant improvements to the gameplay allowing them to make more and more variantions to dungeons, bosses, and story. The reason that I am afraid of this forced online gameplay is that they will squander this chance to improve a game over time to something far better than what you originally paid for. I know this kind of thing probably wont happen because blizzard has to much money to care. you arn't paying monthly to use D3 so more than likely they wont hear you over all there money.

I have have have to say that Left 4 Dead 2 does the randomly generating pretty well. The AI director works like a charm and really adds to the the replayability.

Binding of Isaac works because a "full" game is meant to be maybe 90 minutes from beginning to end.

Diablo is a much longer term so it is a bit of apples and oranges comparison. Compared to something like Titan Quest where every map was the same the minor differences the random generation make for a noticeable if inconsequential increase in variety.

The best example of pseudo random generation is ADOM where the story and overworld map are fixed, but the individual dungeon maps and items are random. It works very well.

I know yahtzee doesn't like the idea but procedural gen is the wave of the future. Games will just be too big to design every element.

I'm of the view that random maps would work a lot better in a multi-player game since story is a lesser concern (sadly) and players will in effect replay multi-player much more than single player. Games would feel new and fresh each time you played, and players who know maps creepily well would no longer have such a huge advantage. You could do it in interesting ways as well. Rather than just having a purely random map you could have a total war style RTS where players each add terrain to the battle field before the battle could create an interesting tactical dynamic for example.

That's an interesting idea, but I'm a writer not a programmer, so I have no idea how to make that.

RPGxMadness:
ok, then what about Minecraft? Doesn't it have the same problem as Diablo, but worse. The game and the level starts over every time you make a new world or when you start walking for an hour in a given direction, but you have the same exact objective with the same enemies(and I want you to forget about the mods for a minute), this means that the game has not that much of a value since it's a repeat of what you were trying to do, but with no direction, and as far as I know you love the game!...

I think one flaw in Yahtzee's argument with random-maps is he is only analyzing individual rooms with single encounters, but is not considering how they are all chained together. Sure if you walk into a room with three skeletons and three pillars lined up again, you'd have an understanding on how to solve it. But repetition of this could drain resources like health, mana, or healing potions that a new "room" of the dungeon which might be even easier could be even more difficult. This is why I think the "Sheol" level in "The Binding of Isaac" is even worse then the fight with Satan himself. Technically the rooms repeat themselves such as the fights with the Fallen bosses in three rooms in a row, but each one is taxing on your reserves before you can even get to the final boss.

But as for comparing "Minecraft" with "Diablo 3," the former encourages you to think about what to do in a given situation with the resources handed to you--while the latter doesn't. For example one map I created spawned me on an island in the middle of an ocean with no trees--so right there I'm in trouble as I don't have any wood to rely on for making tools to mine coal. "Diablo 3" only gives me "fancier pants" to dress my avatar in, but only does little effect to my overall statistics--which are static to another avatar equal level to mine. Plus with the skill tree simplified and no need to distribute ability points, leveling up in the game feels more like a typical JRPG where you don't get to customize your character. Once you have a level 60 Barbarian, all you have to do is play "Barbie dolls" with it instead of re-rolling a different Barbarian to get a different build and management of resources.

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