No dice rolls here

I’ve recently been playing some Catan online, which is acting as a solid game to play while my character in DF is doing less input-heavy tasks (gathering, crafting, etc), and it reminded me how much certain games factor in luck over others. Because even though Catan is a strategy game with a lot of depth, a heavy dose of randomness and luck plays into every game, which is vastly different than playing something like Chess, or DarkFall for that matter.

Initially luck having such a heavy influence on Catan turned me off from the game, but having played it some more (the major advantage of having the online version is that you can play a lot of games in the same time it would normally take you to play one off-line) I can see that luck and randomness are important factors in keeping the game interesting when you play it repeatedly. In the long run the better players will win more than they lose (think Poker), but in any given game a poor player with luck on his side can beat a pro. If it works when millions of dollars are on the line, it can certainly work for Catan.

And this brings me back to DarkFall, because when you really think about it, DarkFall has almost zero luck/randomness in its combat, which is very unlike MMO combat. The only truly random factor I can think of is spell fizzles, and I guess you could make an argument for insta-decapitations, although that is only a factor AFTER any individual combat (though it heavily factors into group vs group combat). Everything else is based on player and character skill. The damage range for any hit is very limited, there are no random crits, there are no hit/miss dice rolls, there are no “if this happens you can use this” style events, and, most importantly, at the end of any duel you can’t point to some random factor and say “well, if that random event went my way, I would have won”.

But unlike Catan above, the absence of randomness in DarkFall’s combat is a huge plus rather than a negative IMO. Because combat is so heavily player-skill based (character/items/etc are big factors as well, DF is an MMO after all), I think luck/randomness would remove some of its importance. It would feel very out of place if during a duel against a better player, you end up winning because some random event triggered your ultra-rare “I win” ability. That works in a themepark or PvE-based game, but only because the mob you just used that “I win” button against is designed to die, and won’t start sending you hate tells about what a lucky bastard you are.

The removal of luck also allows for deeper strategy and the reliance on your own actions. Again think Chess vs Catan. In Catan you can go into a game with a basic plan/strategy, but once the dice start rolling you have to adjust and go with what you are given, and if it’s not your day, no amount of adjusting is going to allow you to win. In a game of Chess, nothing happens randomly, and who wins or loses ALWAYS comes down to who played better. In a player-skill heavy game like DarkFall, the latter is a much-preferred system, and encourages everyone to constantly improve their ability in-game.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Combat Systems, Darkfall Online, MMO design, PvP, Random. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to No dice rolls here

  1. sid67 says:

    Your right about there no dice roll luck, but there are still plenty of external factors. When you have to “aim” to shoot something, getting a lag spike (either load lag or network lag) is going to be unlucky.

    Situational luck is also much higher in DF than other games.

    Like not facing the right direction and missing something important like a PK who just spotted you. It can happen in any game, but is more likely to happen in DF because the camera doesn’t free look swivel unless you are resting or on a mount.

    Or for that matter, simply stumbling upon other people at inopportune times. Again, can happen in any game but the consequence of such bad luck is more severe.

    • SynCaine says:

      Well not even Chess is played in a vacuum. If you catch your opponent on a bad day, you might beat someone who you would normally not. But like Chess, I think DF does a good job in limiting the truly random factors (like a dice roll).

      Plus sometimes ‘bad luck’ can be improved with more game knowledge. For instance, since I’ve been playing for so long I know the exact sounds different things make, stuff my buddies new to the game do not immediately pick up on. So when we go out PvPing, I can ‘spot’ a miner or player running long before they do, simply because the sounds they make I pick out first.

      • sid67 says:

        I think Malakili and I hit on the crux of it below. DF, like Chess, doesn’t have probable outcomes for actions. If you take a pawn, you take a pawn. You don’t have a 5% chances of losing your pawn instead.

        That’s distinctly different from “luck” which is really about specific moments or opportunities.

    • Malakili says:

      I think you’re confusing luck, which is basically a nebulous term without much meaning, (I had bad luck that there were enemies on the other side of the hill), and chance (I have a 5% critical chance). The issue is really with chance, and not with “luck.” I think its a useful distinction, because what we are really talking about in terms of die rolls is chance, not “luck.”

      • sid67 says:

        I agree to a point. Syn’s entry is about chance, but ‘luck’ plays it’s part. Lucky, in this sense, would be hitting that 5% chance at an opportune moment.

        As I see it, luck is really about what happens at specific moments. Which is distinct from the ‘chance’ or ‘probability’ of something happening.

        That’s really my point. That DF might have less probability factors in it’s game mechanics, but it still has plenty of “lucky” or “unlucky” moments.

        Due to the nature of consequences in DF, an ‘unlucky’ or ‘lucky’ moment has greater weight than another game.

  2. Jomu says:

    catan rocks :) just takes a long time!

  3. Max says:

    Luck maybe not a very big factor but the grind certainly is. If you didn’t macro for past 6 month – well tough luck buddy, bend over.

    Luck actually almost never a big factor in mainstream MMOs such as WoW – if you think high ranked matches arena are decided by luck you are delusional , only luck involved is what comps you face .Abilities are reliable and produce stable damage (unlike fizzles in DF)

  4. mbp says:

    I note that even in on-line shooters serious players often disable critical hits to remove the element of chance. Yet it is possible to have very skillful games that still include an element of chance. Backgammon and Poker are obvious examples but just about any serious card game qualifies. The impact of chance adds an extra dimension to these games but the skillful player will still always win out in the long run. Indeed in poker of backgammon the skillful player may even exploit chance through the wagering system to further their dominance of weaker players.

  5. Coppertopper says:

    I’d say there’s plenty of luck in Darkfall combat. All of the ranged combat for instance. Although aiming may take some skill the outcome is random since you don’t have any control over your targets’ movement. Then there is the spell fizzle chance. The only thing fixed is damage done if you actually hit, which, outside of crits and a small variability, is pretty predictable in all MMOs.

    • Malakili says:

      This is a very odd definition of “random” and “luck.” Spell fizzle chance sure, but the rest isn’t ‘luck’ its just…two people in competition with each other. If you threw a dodgeball at someone and they moved would you say it was “luck” that you didn’t hit? I’m actually curious here, because I wonder if I define luck in a significantly different way than a lot of people.

      • SynCaine says:

        Naw I would not call what he is calling luck luck either. It’s not luck that wins a CS match.

  6. Coppertopper says:

    I guess what my arguement boils down to is in FPSs if I spray bullets at my target, there’s a chance I’ll hit him, but if I get lucky I’ll score a headshot. I don’t know what the equivalent of a headshot is in Darkfall or if there is one, but this is more of a semantic arguement along the lines of ‘is it really an expansion’.

    But if your

  7. Max says:

    I guess what my arguement boils down to is in FPSs if I spray bullets at my target, there’s a chance I’ll hit him, but if I get lucky I’ll score a headshot.

    If you talking about CS there are very few luck in headshots. Certainly there is lag, spray factor and all this stuff -which is roughly equal for everyone. But top players HS percentage is much higher than your average scrub. that is because scoring a HS is about aiming at the head (duh) , using controlled burst and doing it at right time (not when you are jumping etc)

    If you are a scrub HS is “luck” , but its anything but luck for seasoned player. In fact there one thing you should learn very fast in CS. And its simple “always aim for the head” rule (unless you use awp). that is your first step on becoming better player.

Comments are closed.