Hearthstone: Wie der Zufall so spielt

Lang ists her, das letzte Video. Offenbar habe ich das Schicksal herausgefordert, als ich mir voller Zuversicht erstmals ein zeitgebundenes Thema vornahm: eine Reaktion auf einen Artikel von meinem VGT-Kollegen Eron Rauch, der Mitte letzten Jahres über die Rolle von Zufall in Blizzards Sammelkartenspiel Hearthstone schrieb. Jetzt, kaum sieben Monate später, folgt also meine zeitnahe Antwort: eine kurze Analyse der Zusammenhänge von Game Design, Zufallsfaktoren und dem Verhalten von Spieler_innen.

Wer Text bevorzugt, findet hier das Skript. Ich würde mich aber trotzdem freuen wenn ihr Likes oder Kommentare hinterlasst, die mir helfen mich bei Youtubes Algorithmen beliebt zu machen.



For me personally I think much of the dilemma around RNG in those games and the failure to address it from the side of the publishers/developers is that those games are sold mostly through being "competitive" - meaning most of the appeal to players comes form some sort of a promise of progress in some sort of ladder, often inspired by esports as the ultimate goal of progression nowadays.
And to make sure even bad players can at least have some feeling of success here RNG helps a lot, as you can make the wrong decission and still come out ahead via RNG - or your opponent can make all the right decissions and still lose handily.
Evidently this seems to be the prefered modus of operation for the publishers, although it can create heavily frustration for players that understand the games better and know that in many situation they could not have played better but lost to RNG, not to their opponents brilliant play...but browsing through the numbers Blizzard, Riot and co provide the feeling of accomplishment every now and then for the many seems to outweight the frustration of the few that know what went wrong exactly at least from a monetarian point of view - although from a purly design perspective it brings a lot of unnecessary harm/confussion to the game and leads to some sort of false promise with the marketing as "competitive", when most of the times if players are evenly matched RNG has the last word.

Especially for Riot i think they seem to willfully spread the confusion about how impactfull RNG still is in those games, as you´ll still find lots of players that will "quote" some old Riot statements that crit is no true-Rng despite having no idea what that actually should mean (or the simply fact that less RNG still is too much RNG in a competitive Situation where a lot of money is on the line ultimatly and players should be able to come through via skill, not via prayers) and you will about never hear about it in their esports league analysis (just as a recent example https://clips.twitch.tv/FlirtyPerfectCheddarDxCat/edit?muted=true happened just a week ago and the kog´maw did get a lot of praise for the "outplay" while in reality he had been caught and should have lost the game there if tristana had only 1crit more in the trade, not an unlikly outcome considering she only had 2crits in her 5 hits despite rocking 80% crit chance).
Also taking in account that Riot already has solved exactly this issue on one of their champions named Ashe that just translates crit into dps without an RNG-factor it seems to be absolutly willfull for those type of "mass market competitive" games to include amounts of RNG to help players win despite doing it all wrong while being vague/confusing enough about it that those players will feel truly successfull in their playing instead of questioning the underlying mechanics of the game..and thus keep thrwoing money at it.

It's definitely weird the way some of these games balance around a tiny competitive community while trying to hold onto millions of casual players: the extreme ends of those two groups are so far apart they'd almost certainly be better served with two entirely different versions of the game (Also, I remember when both critical hit and dodge percentages were a thing in LoL, so I see what you mean there).

That being said, I don't think losing to a random outcome necessarily has to feel frustrating. The thing that strikes me the most about watching these Hearthstone pros is how rarely they get mad if they lose: they've made peace with the things they can't change and focus on those they can. For Hearthstone specifically, random chance is such a fundamental component of the game that a deck that wins 60% of the time on average instead of just 50% is considered absolutely phenomenal. What distinguishes great players from everyone else is their ability to eke out a few extra wins here and there by playing every match-up to the best of their ability. Why get upset that somebody beat you with a lucky dice roll if you know that's not going to happen again for hundreds of matches.

Interessanter Punkt, den du da machst: dass eine bestimmte Art von (kompetitivem) Gamedesign einer freundlichen Community gewissermaßen grundsätzlich im Weg steht. Blizzard macht meiner Meinung nach mit Hearthstone hier immer noch einiges falsch, weil Frust und Ärger in manchen Momenten wirklich massiv werden können. Das bezieht sich aber weniger (oder nur teilweise) auf zufällige Karteneffekte als mehr auf den Arena-Draft: Man selbst draftet circa jedes fünfte Mal ein besseres Deck als sonst, bei den Gegnern hat man aber das Gefühl, dass viel mehr von ihnen überdurchschnittlich gute Decks haben. Statistisch sollte das unmöglich sein, man empfindet es aber verlässlich immer wieder so.

Das ist so ziemlich der Kern des Ganzen über den sich stundenlang diskutieren lässt: die Schieflage zwischen den tatsächlichen Wahrscheinlichkeiten im Programmcode und der gefühlten Wahrnehmung die ich als Spieler davon habe, die einerseits emotional und andererseits durch die kleinere Stichprobengröße geprägt ist. Wenn ich nur zwei Matches spiele hab ich da leichter extreme Ergebnisse.

Eigentlich ist es müßig darüber zu reden, dass sich das im Großen und Ganzen eh ausgleicht, weil wir Spiele halt nicht so abstrakt erleben, deswegen auch die Frage wie das alles im Design kommuniziert wird.

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