GeekNights Tuesday - Randomizers

Tonight on GeekNights, we consider the humble Randomizer. Scott is into ALTTP, and Rym is obsessed with FFIV Free Enterprise. Randomizers were not foreseen, and they will likely have a significant impact on game design and esports in the years to come.

In the news, Facebook and Sony pull out of PAX East and GDC due to Coronavirus, the mayor of Boston is oddly mad about it, and PAX has a statement for you. (Wash your hands). Also, Animal Crossing and Doom share a birthday now. We'll be live at PAX East, and a ton of our standalone tabletop reviews are on youtube!

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Another point I wanted to make about randomizers, but forgot.

A lot of games, the default speed run category is any%. In any% you skip the vast majority of the game. There is a huge wide world out there, and you only ever experience a small portion of it. Only the places essential for beating the game are visited. Every other area is ignored.

In the 100% category, you see a lot more of the world, but still not necessarily all of it. It depends on the game. Consider the basic case of Zelda. If there’s a cave with a treasure chest containing some rupees, that isn’t going to be required for any% or 100% categories. It’s never getting visited by anyone ever.

The developers designed and made this place in the game world. It feels meaningful to a first-time player who gets the joy of discovering it and a reward for finding it that feels meaningful. A skilled and knowledgeable player will never visit that place. The game world effectively shrinks for them, and becomes less interesting.

Randomizers do a lot to bring all, or most, of the game world back into play. Suddenly many rooms and areas that players would normally ignore become potential item locations. Every different seed you end up visiting different places. More of the game world is relevant, and therefore the game is more fun.

Breathing new life into some of the content in the game that was effectively dead is one of the key reasons for the success of randomizers.

Scott’s extreme ignorance at the beginning of this episode is truly something to behold. He’s so ignorant he doesn’t even understand how ignorant he could possibly be. Literally doesn’t even know there is an entire realm of knowledge he has never even heard about. And can’t imagine it might exist, and denies it could possibly exist when hearing about it.

Dr Luke over here. I’ll call you next time I need medical assistance.

Not even worth responding to.

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Is this about public health as a field of study?

I haven’t listened to the show and don’t want to break my streak. :wink:

Rym said it was prudent of SONY to pull out of PAX, and I said they were being more cautious than necessary.

Well, risk assessment is the core of public health, and that’s all an odds calculation. Technically, all precautions are “more than necessary;” you do a cost-benefit analysis and decide how to roll the dice. Some precautions make sense because they’re low-cost/high-return; like, handwashing is easy and works well, so do it. Sterilizing all of your clothes is technically better but heinously impractical, so sure you could do it but it’s probably not worth it.

You have to examine the risk factors at the macro level. Like, how many immunocompromised people attend PAX? Elderly people? People with an undiagnosed respiratory disease? How likely are any of your people to have encountered the virus and to be asymptomatic but still infectious? How many of your people will be exposed, and what are their risk factors?

Once you start climbing down the hole of specific scenarios, the decision tree gets wildly complicated, so public health agencies (CDC, WHO, etc) put out broad guidance and leave it up to individuals to determine their best course of action.

If I were in charge of doing risk assessment for a bigass company like SONY, you’d better believe I’d be second-guessing sending anyone into a concentration of humans in the midst of an epidemic.


If that’s the correct move, then PAX itself should be cancelled.

I mean, if they’re smart, it’s an option on the table.

Current estimates for case fatality with COVID19 is 2.9%. It’s highly infectious. Put 15000 nerds in one place and then tell me which 3% should get sick and die.

Public health is all about large numbers, and that’s the kind of calculus you need to do to be responsible.

Of course, I also have biases. There’s no “right” move, there are just moves that square with your goals. Sure, you could try to hit 0 risk (although even the most risk-averse public health official will call that overkill), but then what kind of quality of life do you have? I could ensure the food supply is 100% safe by testing all of it - and then nobody has food to eat.

I will always put the onus on corporations and large structures in these cases, because again, public health is about large numbers. If you do a thing that attracts 15,000 attendees, sure you could say “eh but they didn’t have to attend,” but that’s a dick move that ignores reality. Of course nerds will abandon common sense to go to PAX - that’s the culture they’ve built, and PAX exploits that to make money.

But if you follow my logic everywhere you have no fun, and then what’s the point?

There’s no cut-and-dry answer, so ultimately I do not fault any entity for being overly cautious. I will only fault for insufficient caution among power-wielders, because they had a choice.


I definitely fault an insufficient level of caution the most, because that is dangerous. But being overly cautious is still laughable when it crosses a line venturing near paranoia.

There are people who are pushing for that exact thing. ECCC too.

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Apreche: Doesn’t believe in spoilers

Also Apreche: randomize my game so I don’t know what’s coming


I think I did a pretty good job explaining why a video game is different from a narrative.