Random or deterministic fights


I’m working on a project that includes some fight scenes and at the moment I am thinking about how to simulate that fights.
The character will have different fighting skills depending on your choices in the beginning of the story including a “Power”-value. These points can be used to pay for special maneuvers in the fight - Heroes Rise used a similar system.

Now to my question:

Would you prefer a deterministic fight, i.e. every time you replay the game and enter the same fight with the same character and choose the same maneuvers you would end up with the same results.
Or better a random fight simulation, where you could choose between more and less risky fighting strategies, without knowing for sure if the random generator will reward or penalize you for the risk.

I think the second approach sound more exiting… but could also be very frustrating if you lose a fight just because of bad luck.

So, at the moment my plan would be to make it “only a bit random” - i.e. include randomness such that it effects whether you would win a fight with or without an injury for example.


But that’s the point. There’s still a chance that your choices won’t matter. While this is realistic, it’s also pretty much antithetical to the point of a CoG.


Deterministic; the onus is always on the players choices, then, rather than on unknown machinations.


But there are always “unknown machinations” - if I decide that whenever the player chooses “punch him in the face” instead of “kick him between his legs”, he will lose, the player does not know more or less, or has more or less power over the situation compared to giving the first action a 40% chance to succeed and the second a 90% chance.


It’s somewhat predictable the first time, whereas variability isn’t; and it’s a factor for consideration on future occasions, whilst variability is a constant irritation.


You could also say:
Making it random is like letting the player play a new game every time he starts the game - and every time he could choose the right or wrong moves.
With random fights he could rely on his common sense, since obviously good maneuvers would have higher chances to succeed - and would not have to take into account that a creative writer who wants to throw in some unpredictable twists could have set some traps.

…which would make it in the end fairer.


I cannot speak for anybody else, but I wouldn’t like replaying a game with fuzzy options. I have enough of a nagging feeling that I’ve missed certain routes as it is, without making repeating past choices uncertain.


“It’s somewhat predictable the first time, whereas variability isn’t”
I think about a number from 1 to 10 - guess which!

Is it harder or easier for you, when I promise to roll a ten sided dice to simulate the outcome?

In my opinion there is nothing more unpredictable then a writer who wants to make a fight more thrilling by artificially adding some kind of “narrative randomness”.
As a mathematician who specializes in probability theory and statistics I think realistically randomly simulated outcomes of fights are much better to predict, than narrative designed ones.

But, I was thinking more about replayability. (is that a word?)
Is it more fun to have a thrilling fight again every time you start - or would you just want to correct all the mistakes you made last time, since you now know the correct answers?


Generally, in my opinion, options presented during a fight should roughly correspond with the various stats, rather than with a roll of the dice. So there’ll be an option that will succeed if you have a high Strength, say, and fail if you don’t. And while you don’t have to make it blindingly obvious that’s the “Strength” option, there should at least be subtle clues as to which option you should go for depending on your stats.

And randomness rarely makes things fair. As a player of many types of games, few things annoy me more than dying/losing because I got unlucky on the RNG.


Regarding thrilling fights vs. correcting mistakes, I think such is a false dichotomy. Striving to perfection by testing out new, constant routes which yield new outcomes is perfectly thrilling.

Also, the ‘1 to 10’ example doesn’t really hold, since were choices to be that arbitrary the game wouldn’t be worth playing anyway.

Also: seven.


deterministic with roll dice if the character don’t have the skill appropriate to determinate action is a good way to go. You aren’t strong enough to handle correctly a sledgehammer in a normal situation maybe adrenaline let you kill the monster with or maybe not … I love roll dice


the randomization would work as long as the randomized events dont end in death. instead they could be used to simply speed up the progress of the fight. but no one wants to die randomly, it wont work well that way. just my 2 cents


I think you could have combat with simulated dice rolls be fun as long as you take some measures to make it feel fair to players.

One thing I’d want is some kind of indication of how risky certain options are. Either in some way where I can see all the numbers and estimate the risk for myself (like a dice roll in D&D), or where the game gives me a verbal explanation like “This is a moderate risk” or “This is almost certain to succeed” (a good example would be the StoryNexus system). That way, losing a roll feels more like the result of my actions, since I chose to gamble on a risky option, rather than the game arbitrarily screwing me over.

Another would be letting players bounce back from losing fights, since having to start the game over again because you got a bad roll would be irritating to most players. Some kind of “return to checkpoint” feature like Tin Star uses might work for this.


In CoGs, I very much prefer deterministic battles; there just isn’t enough room in a CoG for RPG-style battles, and randomness really takes away from the impact of your choices. In an RPG or other more complicated simulation, randomness can increase the impact of strategy and choices, but here, they mean that even if you get all the choices right, you can still whiff on a bad roll (and CoG really isn’t built for complex battle systems). Losing for some reason other than your choices reduces player agency.

If I get into an important battle in a CoG, then I would want the game to answer the following three questions.

#1: Have the choices I have made up to this battle prepared me to win this fight?
#2: What are the consequences of success?
#3: What are the consequences of failure? The best CoGs, I find, are ones where you can fail because of poor choices, and have this failure have consequences, without necessarily being killed or otherwise ending the story; this is one thing that Life of a Wizard does well.

Note that #3 is why I dislike MaraJade’s suggestion; if the failures are interesting enough or lead to different paths in the game, you wouldn’t want to be cheated out of them by being able to randomly win despite poor choices.


@Ramidel in my suggestion you still have the failures but you could have a little possibility to win maybe 1 100 like in real life happen weird lucky things like found 100 euros in the floor. I came from table rpg background so dices for me are the most normal in the world and I used it a 1 100 is a really difficult throw good for a life opportunity 1 10 for a easy and 1 20 for a normal but Cog isnt a place to over use this so only in special situations


your choices still matters but you have lucky is like in real life you decide don’t study for a exam and just before enter read a lesson and that was the question they asked to you and you pass that meaning your decision of study not matter?
it’s question of opinion I love some randomness like critical strike chances or missing if all is determined loss replayability at least for me


And, at least in CoGs, I find that randomness damages the play value and encourages save-scumming, so I’m against it. My opinion, obviously.


@Ramidel You’ve summarized very well the official COG outlook on the subject.