Crowfall addresses randomness, streaking and deck-style random outcomes


How much time do you spend thinking about random chance? If you play video games, probably a fair amount. The designers working on Crowfall certainly have, and they’ve also taken the time to talk about it with a new article. But said article also takes the time to discuss things like the Gambler’s Fallacy and other perceptions of random number generation, discussions that many players and some designers seem to forget on the regular when looking at these systems.

(If you’re unfamiliar with the fallacy, ask yourself the following question: If you flip a coin nine times and it comes up heads each time, what are the odds that it will be heads on another flip? The answer is 50%, but the fallacy makes us think it’s lower.)

The team is looking into ways to adjust its RNG systems so that players don’t feel that they are stuck with bad outcomes or subjected to excessive streaks of bad luck; one of the systems proposed (and noted as a likely choice) is the “deck” system, where every possible outcome is in a certain deck that you shuffle through, thus meaning that bad luck streaks have inherently higher chances to end as you get more failures. This also ties into the game’s crafting system that both discourages light dabbling and keeps players from feeling like failures produce nothing useful after lengthy gathering. Check out the full article for the details.

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There was a video by Preach a while back which discussed a lot of things about Legion combat mechanics, and one of the things he mentioned is that for some combat RNG mechanics Blizzard has shifted to a deck shuffling system to eliminate bad luck streaks and constrain the “random” chance of something happening X times within Y time to being exactly the stated percentage of X / Y, no higher and no lower.

So you’re guaranteed that a 20% chance item WILL proc 20 times within any 100 tries, and the only variable is where in the sequence of dealing out those tries the 5 hits will happen; could be 1 every 5, or all 20 up front and 80 misses, or all 20 at the end, but it will never be 100 . . . 200 . . . 300 with only 1 or 2 or 0.

For what it’s worth, it appears from the way it behaves that the drop chance of legendary items in Legion also works this way, since it’s highly predictable that you will get a drop within X rolls of things that can drop legendaries, with few streaks of total zeros. Basically you can estimate just about exactly when you’ll get your next legendary by, at the outside, just knowing approximately the number of hours people typically have before a drop, which is consistent with the behavior you see from a deck shuffling system.

Why all RNG systems across the board don’t work this way is a mystery to me; for what they’re trying to achieve with RNG in pretty much all cases relating to loot or combat or crafting or just about anything else, this is random enough to achieve the engagement they want, without the ragequit inducing streaks of 1,000 tries at a 1% chance with 0 reward that a pure random() based system inevitably will produce in some cases.

Max Sand

Tell me I wasn’t the only one who thought you meant an entirely different thing by “streaking”.

Colin Goodwin

Don’t worry, I was right there with you and so confused


The deck idea reminds me of the decks in the roguelike Slay the Spire. You can get a bad draw, but the decks are relatively small and rotate quickly so it fulfills exactly what Crowfall explained.