Utilising Random Content

As far as Roguelikes go, using randomness to increase playtime and quantity of gameplay possibilities is not exactly uncommon, it is, in fact, one of the core aspects of the game style.

One core reason why this is the case, is all about the difference between linear and exponential content generation, and how important it is for indie developers to grab onto all means of generating new and interesting content. Unfortunately, explaining why this is so useful is going to involve a little bit of maths, lets assume that any game update or feature added, is 'x' hours worth of content, then we are simply working out how much of that the player can spend playing the additional content. Linear content generation can be seen everywhere, it is when a game releases some new story element, or another quest; the nature of this is that it add x amount of content and the player gets x amount of gameplay time out of it, every hour of content is simply worth one hour of playing (this obviously doesn't include replay value of the same content). Then exponential content generation, is when there are y new features that can all be interchanged in the content, and x hours of actual different content, the content time will generally be less than linearly, however, because of the changing nature of the varying content, you have added x to the power of y content for the player to enjoy.

This is done through many ways, but the way I enjoy the best, is through something called Modularity. This is when all the content can swap in and out of specific elements, this is the reason Borderlands can boast millions of weapons, when developing that many unique elements would take way too much time for any team. Each element of Borderlands weapons can be swapped, each weapon has a Magazine, Stock, Barrel, Grip, Base and Name, if you have 5 of each type of attachment, you suddenly have 15,625 unique weapons to choose from (ignoring level differences as that just changes base stats and is hardly a 'unique' weapon). 

We have done something similar with our cards, they each have a beat cost, used to decide how long the card will take to be played, and 3 abilities. These abilities have a strength and duration, determining their effectiveness, allowing us to have a huge number of cards and variations thereof to allow players to take 7 cards and craft truly unique decks.

Add onto this an elemental advantage, and randomly generated maps, means that every players experiences will differ, to the point of allowing for a dramatically larger amount of play time than the content takes to produce, something that is incredibly important for a small team, building a small game for mobile devices.

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