That Certain Randomness

There is this certain randomness in video games. There is fast learning involved especially when you start playing some game. Games are usually easy to pick up but hard to master. That gives you a feeling that you want to play this game some more. You learn a lot. How much does your skill develop when you are playing? It seems to develop a lot. That isn’t although the only thing your success in playing the game depends. It also has a lot to do with good luck. We can name this element “certain randomness”.

This idea became clear to me as I was one day playing again Need For Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered. I had to catch at least 5 racers as a police officer. The task seemed hard. I kept failing and failing. After trying as hard as I could I got lucky. There were several bad guys captured. It didn’t have so much to do with my skills as it had to do with pure luck.

You might be familiar with randomness in programming. While it is debatable if the random number generated is actually random or not there is a nice way to generate a random number between certain values that can be defined in almost every programming language. At least this is possible in Java and Python. How I first got to know this type of numerical behavior was as I had to deal with a Java application that had to generate a value of a dice getting tossed. You basically had to generate a number between one and six and do it as randomly as possible so that it would describe in the source code how a dice would act in real life.

If you know anything about dices and how are they used in games like Yatzy or some roleplaying game you can figure that their role is to create this random feature that gives you a nice feel when you are playing. It gives you an element of luck. For example if dice gives you 1, 2 or 3 your hit of axe has hit and if it gives you 4,5 or 6 you have missed. You can also define the enemy’s body part that was hit and define the amount of damage caused. A common way to use dices in board games is how many times you can move your character. You get to move the character the amount of times that the dices value is showing.

Playing video games is not only about your skills or your reaction time. It would be very boring to play games that only required skill and would have nothing to do with luck. But if everything in a game is random that isn’t satisfying also. Take poker for example. It is nice to play a game or two of poker. Would you play poker for three hours? Would you enjoy the game if there were no money involved? Of course the answer to these two questions are both “no”. Poker is such a game of luck, isn’t it?

I think the best games are the games that mix randomness smoothly to the skills needed to succeed. If you succeed all the time doing exactly the same thing it gets quickly boring. You want challenge. And you want some surprises. Nowadays video games are getting more complex. This makes things more interesting to us players and I think for also game designers. While you can mix things up by making them abstract and random you always don’t even have to. That’s because games are more complicated than this. You can watch the statistics, like how many kills you have in a shooting game, and make these figures random but in this case the number of kills depends also about the players skills and this forms the players performance. Some things can be simple and random while others can just be thought to be like that.

Anyways. Thanks for reading, again! I am going to continue to have my couple days of since it’s the mid summer party here in Finland. I am probably going to play, make music and read some books. We already had a small meeting with a friend. I have also something more to tell you about our game that we hope to have for sale soon. See you next time!

History Of Optical Drive (inside gaming)

Optical drives have existed in gaming consoles for tens of years. The technology existed way before it was used in mainstream game devices. Back in the 90s there were several consoles that were equipped with optical disc drive. One of the earliest was the expansion to Segas Mega Drive called Mega-CD.

As Compact Disc technology gained ground there was a strong change coming in the form of 3D technology. Sega maybe was one the firsts to make use of new technology but it made a slight mistake. It didn’t have a gaming console capable to produce 3D models and/or graphics. Later Sony made its entry to gaming business with PlayStation and claimed its spot as the developer of the most popular gaming system.

During this period there were several devices released from Philips, Atari and Panasonic just to name a few. The competition was tough. We can compare the amount of data that game cartridges had to what was possible through CD technology. An average CD-R disc holds 700 MB. Nintendo 64s cartridges hold only about 35 MB. This meant that there was 20 times more space for any game to be developed.

First CD-ROM made its way and later came DVDs in the form of Sonys PlayStation 2. This was back in the beginning of 2000s. DVDs offer about 4,7 GB of space. This format was followed by Blurays that hold data from 25 GB up to 100 GB depending on which technology it uses or to say more precisely how many layers the disc has. Blurays are used in the latest generation of gaming consoles but this is about to change as PS5 and Xbox Series X are making their way to the markets later this year.

Todays games can take up so much space that you have to download a large update during the installation of the game. As speeds of internet connections keep developing it is today possible to produce gaming consoles and computers that don’t have, or don’t need to have, any optical drives. This gives the consumer an ability to just pay the game and install it directly to the hard drive. Of course this makes it easier to manage game collections but maybe something is lost as there is no physical material to collect or showcase. All in all digital gaming makes manufacturing gaming devices cheaper and it also shows this way to the consumer. PS5 will be released as all-digital version and a version that has an optical drive just to mention an example.

My history in gaming – How it all started

My father ifluenced me as his profession was engineer. I somehow remember as he brought an old personal computer to our home. My mom was a bit concerned but finally agreed that it would be good for me to learn some skills with this piece of technology. So I started with PC.

First games I remember playing were Bubble Bobble, Sierras adventure games and Prince of Persia. When I first started at school being seven years old NES wasn’t the most powerful gaming console anymore. So everybody had Segas Mega Drive and I wanted one also. I think it was 1993 when I finally had saved money to buy this thing. I played Mega Drive for several years. My favourite games were Sonic, Streets Of Rage and NHL 94. It was 1997 when I got myself Sony’s PlayStation.

During PlayStations era gaming was becoming more popular and young adults were getting in to gaming more than ever. Before this gaming was thought to be a bit childish and stereotype of a player was a young child. This changed and when PS2 came out gaming started to be a very common hobby for consumers at every age.

At about 2000 I played Diablo 2 with PC. I enjoyed 3D gaming. I was studying in high school then and a profession inside gaming became a dream job for me. After high school I was living with almost no touch to gaming for some reason or another. 2006 I got original Xbox as a gift from my mom. I started playing it. My girl friend, who is now my wife, also had PS3 back then so I got back to gaming. I missed PS2 and I’m little bit sad that it went like this with my dear hobby.

I played many years with PS3. I then got PS4 maybe in 2014. I bought many classic retro consoles and took my Mega Drive back from my parents house and after moving to another appartment in 2018 I got myself television lever from IKEA and placed 7 differnet consoles to our living room. That was awesome. This is the tip of my gaming hobby. I also worked for half a year in store that was dedicated to gaming.

I have understood that there are lots of games around there. It’s important that you experiment and find the ones you like because there isn’t enough time, in humans living span, to play all of them thoroughly. I find best games to be sometimes retro and sometimes newest ones. But now all games don’t get me excited anymore. I have bought games from game stores and from flee market. I have also a friend who sells used stuff like games so I sometimes buy them from him. I have a nice collection. Some PC games as Big Box. I currently have these consoles, I play all of them, PlayStation Classic, PS3, Super Retro Trio+ HD, PSOne, PS4 and Xbox 360 and of course my PC.

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