The Two Types of Random in Game Design

From critical hits to random encounters, and from loot boxes to procedural generation, video games are stuffed to bursting with randomness. In this episode, I look at the way randomness is used in games – and why some forms are more contentious than others.

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Uncapped Look-Ahead and the Information Horizon | Keith Burgun

A Study in Transparency: How Board Games Matter | GDC Vault

GameTek Classic 183 – Input Output Randomness | Ludology

Why revealing all is the secret of Slay The Spire’s success | Rock Paper Shotgun

Crate | Spelunky Wiki

Random Generator | Tetris Wiki

Level Feeling | Spelunky Wiki

Plan Disruption | Etan Hoeppner

Fire Emblem True Hit | Serenes Forest

The Psychology of Game Design (Everything You Know Is Wrong) | GDC Vault

How Designers Engineer Luck Into Video Games | Nautilus

Roll for your life: Making randomness transparent in Tharsis | Gamasutra

12: Into the Breach with Justin Ma | The Spelunky Showlike

Find out more

Many faces of Procedural Generation: Determinism | Gamsutra

Why Our Brains Do Not Intuitively Grasp Probabilities | Scientific American

How classic games make smart use of random number generation | Gamasutra

Games shown in this episode (in order of appearance)

Cuphead (2017)
Enter the Gungeon (2016)
Octopath Traveler (2018)
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (2017)
Griftlands (In Early Access)
Dicey Dungeons (2019)
Hearthstone (2014)
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (2014)
Darkest Dungeon (2016)
Dead Cells (2018)
SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech (2019)
Into the Breach (2018)
Spelunky (2012)
Armello (2015)
Minecraft (2011)
Chasm (2018)
Downwell (2015)
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014)
No Man’s Sky (2016)
Celeste (2018)
Fortnite (2017)
Mario Kart 8 (2014)
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (2014)
Tekken 7 (2015)
Super Mario Party (2018)
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (2019)
Borderlands 3 (2019)
Call of Duty: WWII (2017)
Valkyria Chronicles 4 (2018)
Civilization V (2010)
Wargroove (2019)
Plants vs. Zombies (2009)
XCOM: Enemy Within (2013)
Chess Ultra (2017)
Mark of the Ninja (2012)
StarCraft II (2010)
Slay the Spire (2019)
Apex Legends (2019)
Civilization IV (2005)
XCOM 2 (2016)
Overwatch (2016)
FTL: Faster Than Light (2012)
Card of Darkness (2019)
Diablo III (2012)
Tetris 99 (2019)
Puyo Puyo Tetris (2017)
Phoenix Point (2019)
Fire Emblem: Three Houses (2019)
Tharsis (2016)

Music used in this episode

Cuphead soundtrack – Kristofer Maddigan (
Tharsis soundtrack – Half Age EP by Weval (

Other credits

RNGesus original artwork by Dinsdale

Super Mario Party – Luigi wins by doing absolutely nothing | Nintendo Unity

Fire Emblem: Three Houses – New Game Plus Maddening Walkthrough Part 43! | MrSOAP999

Deadpool 2 © 20th Century Fox

Pandemic Card Art © Z-Man Games


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  • My friends invited me luck not a civ 5 game and I have 2k hours so yer when they found me on my island they were suprised. I have no fun I'm that game I hate it seems much because I can't have fun it it's just about winning. And that's no fun

    The Archives
    Posted July 11, 2020
  • As someone whose first ever Terraria run was graced by a pre hardmode Drax, I can confidently say I thought Terraria was much easier than it actually was for a long time. RNJesus has never given me such luck since.

    Breezy Wind
    Posted July 11, 2020
  • Dont forget the "random chance that actually isnt random"

    SomeRandom Person
    Posted July 11, 2020

    UnLucky Panda
    Posted July 11, 2020
  • Whos watching this to help with their 2020 GMTK game jam

    Posted July 11, 2020
  • Here for the jam

    Posted July 11, 2020
  • 2:00 I have some objections!
    Minecraft worlds aren't infinite, they are very very large.
    You can see that for yourself by typing in the following command:
    /tp @p ~200000000 100 ~200000000
    You will see the edge of the world. If not, repeat the command, eventually you will be there.

    FunGi Channel
    Posted July 11, 2020
  • The two kinds of randomness:
    Good randomness: When all outcomes are desirable, but there's a variety
    Bad randomness: When you randomly get either a "good" result or a "bad" result

    Posted July 11, 2020
  • 9:26 No, if someone makes it to a later world or even beats the game in spelunky, it was a result of skill. The game is freaking hard.

    Posted July 11, 2020
  • warframe.

    Posted July 11, 2020
  • 100% orange juice be like:
    Skill? Lmao that's for noobs I have luck

    ponks _
    Posted July 11, 2020
  • never said epidemic so many times eh mark? well get ready to say pandemic!!

    Rasyad Iskandar
    Posted July 11, 2020
  • When he said “I’m Mark Brown. You’re watching…” I immediately said “Disney Channel.”

    Posted July 11, 2020
  • Oceans series plan goes perfectly

    Jack Kohlsaat
    Posted July 11, 2020
  • Honestly the point was not very good… there aren't really "two types" of random

    Stefan Reich
    Posted July 11, 2020
  • RNGesus, lol. That is the first I heard that!
    The RNG gods are known by many names indeed.

    Posted July 11, 2020
  • This was very entertaining, thank you for making a video so good.
    The editing sure took you some time but it was worth it.

    Posted July 11, 2020
  • Thought he would talk about csgo

    Jisung Seo
    Posted July 11, 2020
  • If I may say, the "flawless plans" can be fucked over by the RNG of zombies being sent over in PvZ.

    Posted July 11, 2020
  • I like this video

    Posted July 11, 2020

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