Thursday, July 12, 2012

Diablo 3: Random Numbers are Random

Let me start by saying that I don't mean for this to come across as me being butthurt.  It may have started as me being butthurt, but I've tried to do something constructive with that feeling.

The other day my RL friend got this:

I'm not sure how to explain those numbers to someone who doesn't play Diablo 3.  So, I'll let the image he posted on a forum explain the situation for me:

He sold the bow for 467,500,000 gold, after Blizzard's 15% cut.  That is an absurd amount of gold.  When you consider that, right now, the price of gold is around $1.35 for 1 million, it gets even more absurd.

More absurd than that, though, is what happens when you compare our numbers.

Hours played:  400
Magic Find %:  257

Hours Played:  130
Magic Find %:  140ish

I'm at around 35.5 million gold, and $304.30 in profits from the RMAH.  With that one item, my friend has surpassed me.  I did everything I was supposed to do to succeed, and my friend passed me via pure dumb luck.

I'm not sure what to make of that.

It's not about being jealous of his wealth, or the ease with which he obtained it.  I realized that loot generation is random, and everyone who farms Inferno has access to the same pool of item drops.  You could kill a random normal mob and get the best item in the game.

What may have happened is that my ideas of strategy and success were shattered when he got that item.  When I previously said that loot was random, I did so with the mental qualifier of, "Yeah, but I have 252 Magic Find, so I'm in a better position."  I didn't think Diablo was pure dumb luck; I thought the system was gameable.

But it doesn't seem to be.

Diablo isn't a poker game, or a Blackjack table.  It's a slot machine.  I mean, granted, you only put money in at the beginning...but you literally just pull that handle and hope for luck.  The only effect of Magic Find, in a very stretched metaphor, is to pull the handle slightly more efficiently.

We can qualify this with sample sizes and probability.  We can stifle my worries by resting in an idea that "in the long run" I may end up making more than him if we maintain our current playstyles.  His drop was a fluke.

Except that doesn't seem to be true to reality since every drop is a fluke.  It really, honestly, is nothing more than random number generation.  And you hope that if you generate more random numbers then yours will be higher than the other guy's.

You can stack Magic Find armor.  You can read farming guides.  You can maximize your efficiency and farm for countless hours.  But in the end it's all just dumb fucking luck.

Because random numbers are random.

I'm not going to ragequit or anything.  I don't feel as if I've been slighted by the RNG Gods.  It's just very strange to have thought one's self successful, and then be presented with evidence to the contrary.  It's strange to think of yourself as doing X, and then discover that, in reality, you're doing Y.  I haven't actually done anything meaningful or commendable.  I just generated some random numbers, and my random numbers happened to have presented me with items that sold for my present gold and $ amounts.

The only thing I can really take any pride in is the few dollars I made flipping crafting patterns the other day.  Everything else was just dumb fucking luck.

And that's not a nice thought.


SM said...

_J_ said...

Well played, sir.