When you spend some time perusing the Ludia forums, you tend to notice a few trends. People tend to vent about a lot of the same things.
Some are natural parts of Augmented Reality games, like complaints about not enough spawns, not enough supply drops, not enough parks or park drops, etc. No matter what a company like Ludia does, there will always be some complaints about these items, so Ludia cannot be blamed for this. And frankly, as a former avid Pokémon Go player, Ludia did a much better job at keeping rural drops involved in my experience. Pretty much any rural road I’ve driven on wayyyy outside my closest metro area has had a supply drop every 50 meters.
Other complaints are valid concerns, like what to do about spoofers and cheaters and how they ruin the internal economy of Jurassic World Alive (more to come on this). Or how certain glitches need fixing, or certain dinosaurs might need a little tweaking or rebalancing.
And then there’s the deluge of complaints that tend to amount to losing in the arena against better teams (that aren’t spoofing/cheating teams), and how a player was stunned 3 times in a row or how they were critically hit when they should’ve won. This is when the big bad terrible “RNG” (Random Number Generator) word gets tossed around next to words like “fairness” and “improbable” and “unlikely” and “impossible” and “the world is against me.”
Don’t get me wrong. I feel your pain. I’ve been on the receiving end of it more than once. I’ve dropped a few hundred trophies. I’ve lost 10… even 20 games in a row. It hurts. It’s frustrating. I’ve nearly thrown my cell phone across the room amidst a flurry of expletives. But that’s just me. I’m passionate and competitive, a rough combination.
But what you NEVER hear on the forums, what is completely absent to the point where you’d think it didn’t exist, is how this element of randomness went well for you. Better than expected. How you managed to string together 2 or 3 or 5 unlikely stuns in a row. How you landed a critical hit at the last second to win a game when you knew you were going to lose. How you hit an Indominus Rex or an Indoraptor right through that cloak two or three times in a row. When that happens, you don’t go to the forums to celebrate. You smile, you feel good, and you dive back in.
Funny, but true.
A friend of mine works as a financial advisor, and he always tells me about this exact phenomenon. When the market is down, his phone blows up with clients tearing their hair out, worried that they’re going to lose money. But when the market is up, when things go well, silence. He doesn’t get calls on those days. He doesn’t get happy text messages saying “HEY! Wonderful job on your choices in the market today!” Because somehow, in our heads, we expect good stuff to happen and take it for granted when good stuff happens.
What does this have to do with terrible RNG?
You see, random number generators provide a SMALL chance that an unlikely outcome will occur. The point of RNG is unpredictability. Without RNG, you get this –
Your level 15 T-Rex versus an opponents level 16 T-Rex. Your opponent wins every time without question. Every time. Without question.
In fact, you might as well not even play out what takes place when trading moves. It’d be like playing a card game with all your cards face up. The only way the outcome isn’t a forgone conclusion is if someone plays a dumb move — like in our T-Rex versus T-Rex example, the higher level T-Rex uses the weakest move twice instead of the strongest moves.
Actually, you might as well just pick a dino, have the computer tell you who won, pick another dino, have it tell you again, and pick a third. It’d be like flipping up cards and seeing who had the higher card.
In fact, without that small 5% chance of a critical hit, without those stun moves that have a 33% chance and a 75% chance of success, the arena would be bland, boring, and completely uncompetitive. It would simply be measuring whether you’d memorized the right order of moves that ALWAYS wins versus the opponents dinosaur. And all our strategy articles would be this –
Use nullifying strike, thagomizer, armor piercing impact against the following list of 20 dinosaurs. Use Thagomizer, ready to crush, armor piercing impact, against the following 17 dinosaurs. If you are a level lower than the following 32 dinosaurs, you will lose unless your opponent is an idiot and just keeps striking you.
So What, Brian? RNG Is Still Annoying!
You’re right. When it goes against you, it is a little annoying.
But I guarantee you that it doesn’t go against you all the time.
- When you win a 75% chance of stunning your opponent, that’s winning RNG. That was not a guarantee. A guarantee is 100%. Just because you have better than a coin-flip chance to win, doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee.
- When you hit through a cloak – that’s winning RNG. That’s calling a coin flip correctly. That changed the outcome of the game.
- When you critically hit an opponent, that’s an INCREDIBLY improbable thing that benefited you and likely changed the outcome of the match.
A friend and I went to a fast food place and bought some food. The total came out to $12.00 even and he thought it was the coolest thing ever. “What are the chances! Twelve dollars even!”
I replied, “The same as the chance of it having been $12.01, or $12.37 or any other non-even number.”
Because we see something like 75% chance to stun and think 100% chance to stun. And we see something like 50% chance to dodge and we assume it means we will only get hit every other turn. But that’s not how it works.
Because when you have a 75% chance to stun and you miss, that doesn’t mean your chance of getting a stun next time goes up to 80% or 85%. Next time, you have the exact same chance (75%). Because sure, if you flip a coin 100 times, you probably won’t come up heads 100 times in a row, but you absolutely could. And that wouldn’t be “wildly improbable” or “nearly impossible” or “unfair” or even “unlikely” — because every individual coin flip had a 50/50 shot of being heads, and the coin doesn’t remember what happened last time.
So maybe you feel like you keep getting “bad rolls” — but that tiny chance is the only thing keeping you in a game that you SHOULD lose. Because random numbers and random chance are a part of every video game in existence, and generally the only reason we get so salty about it is because we are only focusing on the times we lose, not the times we win.
Probability is an estimation of the expected outcome, not a guarantee.
So next time you find yourself frustrated when you lost a game you should’ve won, think back on the times you’ve won when you should’ve lost. Take a deep breath, take a step back, and try to figure out if you made any missteps that would’ve helped you. The best players don’t hate RNG. They try to win despite it.