Why Randomly Generated Content Sucks

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I like randomly generated content; specifically dungeons. IMO it was a huge fault of Titan Quest and Dungeon Siege 1 & 2 to have the same maps every time. Maybe I'm some kind of super genius (I'm not), but I generally remembered where important things in each area were and it took any exploration out of it. In random ARGPs you can happen upon an experience shrine, or a rare monster, or when you find the dungeon you at least don't know where you're going.

It makes it a reason to explore and it keeps you guessing about what could be in the next hallway, or behind that next door. Would nethack and dungeon crawl: stone soup be the same if you played through the exact same floors every time, with the same bosses on each floor?

It would be awful; no one would play it.

I tend to agree with Yahtzee on a lot of things, and I think this is one of them. Randomly generated content is not inherently bad, it's just another tool that developers can use. I'm sure that a game will use it effectively at some point in the future.

I think many are missing the point Yahtzee has made. Procedural generation can be great, where the designer writes algorithms which create content based on specific rulesets, with the focus being on producing interesting and replayable content. At the heart of things it involves making a basic AI level designer. Diablo III doesn't do this, it just randomises room placements, with all the rooms being samey. There is no procedural design. It's just rolling a dice to see if you get room x or y.

The likes of Dwarf Fortress, ADOM, roguelikes, and a fair few modern indie games all use procedural design, not simplistic random placement. Left4Dead's AI director uses procedural algorithms rather than just throwing random waves of enemies at you (imagine how crap that would be). Random sucks, procedural rules :) And you can have procedural stuff that involves very little random number generation that still produces vastly different results with each playthrough.

I'm not sure procedural text narrative has much of a future though. In stories we care too much about character motivations, desires and actions, and getting an algorithm set to make a story with interesting elements of this is quite difficult. There's been some cool stuff done, but it's nowhere near believable. However in games there are ways to effectively make use of procedural narrative but without writing, instead using light touches and letting your imagination and the context fill in the details. A bit like the computer making an interesting and compelling charcoal sketch, though it's incapable of every producing a lifelike portrait oil painting.

I think yahtzee is getting kind of tiresome with the whole anti-mainstream crap. Now I don't really enjoy DIII but it's got nowt to do with random dungeons.

Get over yourself, you're not the new games-prodigy, if you were someone would've hired you by now. Mainstream is mainstream because apparantly they hit a stroke with the general public, deal with it.

There's no such thing as randomly generated content, only procedurally generated content. A good procedure will make interesting designs that promote strong replayability, a bad procedure will make you think the design is random.

Diablo 3 is the latter and uses it badly. Still, there's a baby in that bathwater.

Iron Criterion:

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.

There's no such thing as randomly generated content, only procedurally generated content.

All generated content in actual games is procedural, but that doesn't mean it's not random. You don't know what your Minecraft world will look like until you play it, and neither does Notch.

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.

User generated content is a lot better generally. I've been playing Portal 2, which recently got an easy to use editor. There are now over 100,000 maps available, which are mostly terrible, but there are still lots of really good ones, more than Valve could ever make themselves. I don't think any algorithm could even generate new puzzles at all.

Users can write quests with real stories and interesting dungeons. Much better than randomly connecting rooms and filling them with a random assortment of monsters.

However, there is a slight flaw in using user content for an MMO. City of Heroes allowed user content once, and it took roughly 3 nanoseconds before there were maps designed for powerlevelling. Diablo 3 would probably suffer similar abuse.

The problem with procedural design is when it's used as a crutch, as opposed to as a tool. Procedural design does not allow you to not do any level design, it forces you to do it differently.

BoI does it right. So does Spelunky, in a completely different way. BoI creates good levels by having solidly designed rooms with iterations of monsters and treasures. Spelunky creates good levels by putting together chunks which are solidly designed to interact with each other in different manners. But both are solidly designed, and are completely aware of what procedural generation lets them do and what it doesn't, instead of using it to replace their work.


Did i forget anything?

"Video games", I think.

ooh I know
a Battle Royale game
where you start as a different person each time
and being a different person with different combat skills from some to none, the weapon (or item) you are given would be different
that'd be insane cuz you'd have to play differently depending on who you're stuck with that round

I'd be proud of the idea, but it's not exactly mine lol
but it would be nice to (maybe) see it done in a game?

I have to say, that was an excellent article and--as an added bonus!--some of these posts are also excellent.
Kudos to you all (except the slackers, you know who you are)!

This message was brought to you by a randomly selected algorithm. Have you hugged your procedure today?

So I took some time to wonder why I managed to clock so many hours in Diablo II and didn't find the randomly generated items and maps a problem from 2007 when I hit "addict" level.

You found your particular bar and you set to jump over it. Any character class has several builds which can be made viable, and the drops are rich enough that you'll find something in a few 20 minute runs, if not for the character you're playing, then the one you're building on the side. Blizzard included enough variety and challenge in D2 that you didn't mind the fact you were running the same bosses over and over and over again.

Now, if it's not your thing, I'm fine with that. But I didn't see the randomly generated dungeons as much of a hindrance as other aspects of the game. It took the edge off the monotony, but I can't say that in itself it completely blunted the sameness.

Unfortunately for Yahtzee, someone has (again) beaten him to the punch. There is already a flash-based procedurally-generated text RPG called Corruption of Champions.
And it's very...Interesting >:D

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