In recent years, an unlikely phenomenon has gained traction in the gaming industry: randomizers, mods that turn your favorite old games into utter chaos. Here’s why they’re an industry benefit that studios should support.
If you’ve attended a Games Done Quick event in the last couple of years, chances are you’ve seen a familiar game played in an unusual way, where players don’t just run through a classic too faster than technically. possible, but totally flipping the game by rearranging the locations of objects or enemies. For the uninitiated, these are called randomizers, usually fan-made mods that completely randomize classic games.
They exist for everything from the first generation Pokemon games, to Final Fantasy 4, the PS2 era and even newer blockbusters. I watched Griffin McElroy play The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past with randomized enemy and item locations and 1-hit kills enabled so he can’t take damage without resetting – oh, and Link has also been replaced by Guy Fieri. It’s absolute chaos, in the best way.
While these might be dismissed as crazy things streamers can use to get views, there’s a lot of potential for good to come out of randomizers, similar to other challenges like speedrunning or “Final Fantasy V 4-Job Fiesta. Here are five reasons why they create exciting entertainment and the benefits they bring to the gaming industry.
1) Renew interest in old classics
I like Zelda series as much as any longtime Nintendo fan, but I never got into A link to the past. Between not having an SNES as a kid and being more interested in other titles, it just didn’t click with me. But as I watched Mr. McElroy toil through an almost unbeatable piece of madness to reach a chest and find a useless piece of heart or a rupee as a reward, I thought to myself, “I should give A link to the past the old college essay.
Somehow, watching a stranger toil upstream in a custom nightmarish version of an old game may actually encourage us to try the real thing again. It might be the new perspective, or just the sheer madness that randomizers can spawn, but totally destroying an experience can really make the normal version more appealing.
2) Capitalize on the popularity of Roguelike
Roguelikes have been a big part of the industry over the past few years, from the likes of dead cell to the game of the year 2020, underworld. Several games over the past year have revolved around the concept of loops, replaying segments of the game and improving your efficiency through these individual chains of events, like the aptly named Death Loop, loop heroWhere The forgotten city.
There’s a roguelike element to randomizers. Each race is unique and challenges the player to find resources blindly; they may know the map inside out, but it’s impossible to know where the most useful items are. Sometimes a race is not even possible, if certain critical checks cannot be carried out. With these mods, the whole Game becomes a roguelike on top of its own mechanics, and the replayability increases exponentially.
3) Keep stale IP addresses alive
If you were confused when Metroid fans everywhere cheered at E3 last year, it’s because Metroid DreadThe announcement took nearly twenty years. Fans have been clamoring for and patiently waiting for an all-new traditional episode since 2002. What helps fuel their passion? Partly the speedrun, and now also the randomizers.
The lion’s share of games with randomization mods are significantly outdated, often abandoned by their developers or moved to more modern design sensibilities. Rare did not touch Banjo-Kazooie in the ages, and the trigger of a stopwatch may never see another successor, but hopeful fans can always find new challenges in the old faithful. Crafty modders can achieve what IP managers may not be willing to do.
4) Fostering community, in-game and beyond
Randomizers are prevalent with the Games Done Quick community, which is more than just a massive tournament. To date, they have raised over $34 million for various charities, such as Doctors Without Borders and the Cancer Prevention Foundation. Likewise, many Extra Life participants like to use them to keep their marathons fresh as they raise money for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals across North America.
These mods keep charity participants on their toes during competitions and add excitement to the audience. The inherently goofy nature of random gameplay, coupled with a healthy dose of “can they pull it off” drama, creates the kind of thrilling stream that draws in more viewers and more donations. Everyone thrives, from the participants to the beneficiaries of the charity.
5) Breaking the game is a good thing, actually
We learned a lot about the inner workings of classic games through speedrunning and randomizers. The same way beta testers hunt for bugs, these challenges push games to their limits, sometimes exploiting glitches and other workarounds or simply forcing the code to do things it wasn’t supposed to. TO DO. Through these mini industries, we’ve learned a myriad of little quirks and tricks hidden beneath the surface of some all-time classics, little cut corners that hold the whole device together.
This practice and the esoteric knowledge it spreads in the community make better coders and, potentially, game developers. It’s like reverse engineering with dynamite.
Ultimately, randomizers are a boon to communities and support at all levels, on top of just being entertaining. In a world where major studios are creators in copyright infringement or even just people posting soundtracks to unmonetized playlists, it’s reaffirming to see this goofy sandbox left untouched. The sandcastles that come out of it are crazy and inspiring, all at the same time.