Let's Talk About Randomisers


#1

There has been a trend blowing through the retro games community for a few months now. I don’t know how it started personally, but the first example I saw for myself was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, although I am highly doubtful that it was the first example. Rather than playing A Link to the Past as the linear story-focused game that its designers conceived, ROM hackers converted the game into a kind of open-world collect-a-thon by mixing up item locations. Since seeing it in A Link to the Past, I’ve seen it crop up with other games, whether in JRPGs, platformers, or action games.

Randomisers are an interesting beast in my book. They take the setting, mechanics, and quirks of an original game and adapt them for new purposes. Speedrunning strategies, confined to the esoterica of optimisation, are given new life in new contexts. Understanding the logic of the randomiser, the variety of the flags, and how to adapt to one’s toolset are fresh challenges for many.

At the moment, I’ve been digging deeply into the Final Fantasy IV randomiser, Free Enterprise. The charity marathon RPG Limit Break has been hosting a tournament of the game on their YouTube channel, which has inspired me towards streaming it myself and beginning to get into the processes of understanding the randomiser from an inside perspective.

So, Waypoint community, I ask you – what is your experience with randomisers? How do you find them? Do you have any thoughts for what their surge to prominence indicates for our tastes as a broad gaming community?


(P.S. Just as a word of caution, we’re super happy if folks want to make a new thread for a particular randomiser, or discuss them here, to develop the discussion around a particular item. With that said, the mod team do want to make it clear that sharing direct links to randomisers would fall under Rule 7 and is something that we would discourage. Discussion around them is fine, but links is the line.)


#2

The LttP randomize really opened my eyes to a way procedural generation can be done in games. It’s not like the current trend in games to have procgen level design. The game world is always the same (save for a few specific modes). Instead it’s the sequence that’s procgen, and that’s so much more interesting.
As a designer it makes you think so much more about the level design. “How many different ways can a player get to this location and with how many different combinations of items/abilities?” Gosh, the spreadsheets one could make.

I really hope that aspect particularly is picked up by indie devs. I could see something like that working really well in a Resident Evil or Silent Hill styled horror game, or even an adventure game. Well, any game that has a contiguous world that gates access to different areas would be a good fit.


#3

For anyone interested in watching randomizer races speedgaming.org/ is the place to go. They stream multiple games and the fall Link to the Past tournament is starting tomorrow.


#4

Inspired by Giant Bomb’s end of the year “Hitsmas” videos (playing Hitman with self imposed outfit/weapon/“wild card” restrictions drawn from a hat), a person in the GB community put together a Hitman random challenge generator. It rolls a random level, and then lets you roll/reroll different targets, outfits, and wild cards.

A link directly to the challenge generator


#5

This is one of the things that I like, along with how the developers of the randomisers often take it upon themselves to build out game features that make intuitive sense, even if they don’t reflect how the game works – I think about the patches to the LttP patch to, for example, let you ‘read’ the Master Sword pedestal with the book or use the hammer to activate the tablets rather than your sword.


#6

I played a bit of Fire Emblem 7 with a randomizer that re-rolled the classes of all your characters. It was a lot of fun because you had the tactical complication of figuring out how to use your remixed characters as well as the novelty of seeing characters you are familiar with thrust into classes they probably aren’t very suited for. I got Serra with Hector’s class, which is quite funny if you are familiar with them, particularly since Serra kept her very pink color palate.


#7

OoT’s randomizer has some really neat things like that. If you read the pedestal with the spiritual stones it’ll tell you which dungeons you need to get through to get all the medallions, when you go to face gannondorf he’ll give you a hint where the light arrows are, and getting the stone of agony allows you to talk to gossip stones and get hints as to where items are. They also give out hints about “the way of the hero” which means that area should be necessary and theres other hints that are just silly things added in
I’m sure theres different versions of the randomizer but these things are def great QoL stuff since it could take you forever to realize that the kokiri sword is in the gerudo training grounds and thats needed to access child fishing in order to get the mirror shield or something.

Also i’m not entirely sure how it works since i’m only half paying attention but they don’t make you go looking for the master sword since that heavily opens the game by allowing you to access the adult section off the bat


#8

Hitman was mentioned above, there is also Hitman Roulette, similar to the other one. That’s something I’ve tried a couple of times, fun to do as a competition with a friend. While you do need some knowledge of the game it doesn’t feel as hardcore as a LttP randomiser.

I can’t think of games I know well enough to do something like this in. I’d consider playing something like Super Mario World with levels in random order.


#9

I hope they never remake FE7 because I think it’s amazing as is and don’t want to spend half the game forcing specific pairs to heterosexually reproduce for the optimal children, but if they do, Serra as a War Cleric will bring me solace. If I were an enemy soldier and saw that girl with an axe I’d just give up and go home.