Game Design 101: Luck

Luck is an interesting topic in Game Design. Different games require different degrees of 'luckiness'. But what makes a game luck-based? I define luck as something the player has no direct control over. If your game is a random coin flip, then it would be 100% luck-based.

So is luck in game design a bad thing? Some players would tell you it is. Luck causes different players who perform the same to get different outcomes. It can kill the competitive nature of the game and lead to a lot of frustration. Anyone who has hit a 'Chance Time' square in Mario Party knows what I'm talking about here.

But there's arguments for luck as well. Firstly, it's easy. Every time a decision is made in a game, there has to be a rule telling the computer which side to pick. Instead of coding a complicated formula in order to figure out the winner, you can simply let the computer pick one at random. This saves a lot of time for the programmer.

Secondly, if handled correctly, luck can make games far more intense. Not knowing the outcome of an action makes that action much more suspenseful. Think Pokemon. If you could determine whether or not the pokeball would work before you threw it, a large part of the appeal would be gone. The very lack of control the player has at that moment makes it much more exciting.

So is luck good or bad? In the end, it's your call. Think which of these arguments apply most to your game and target audience. And keep coming back to this blog for more game design tips!