I am writing on an article from Issue 27. It was dated March 17, 2010. The secret of dice by natty_dread.
I was inspired to chat about this article because of your "hidden" complaint on your dice results over the last two weeks. You referred to them as "Intensity Cubes" so I searched for an article that dealt with exactly that, "Intensity Cubes". I did not have to read past the first line of this article to know I had come to the right place. Here it is:
A lot of discussion has arisen lately on the integrity of the intensity cubes...
This article is worth reading. I'll post it at the end of my critique.
In the article, the author very boldly tackles the age old problem of DICE, more specifically, BAD DICE. This subject never goes away. In fact, it doesn't even matter if I am on a different web site playing a different game. I can be playing poker on one of the poker sites and I will still hear the guy across from me complain about his run of luck. he will curse the site and make claims about the game being being rigged. The sad thing is that he believes what he spews. We have our share of those players here at CC. Why is this?
The author attempts to answer this question through a very humorous and professionally written piece that explores the actual source of our dice, Random.org.
What exactly do you study or evaluate, if there is a "perception" of unfair dice? The author of the article chose to investigate the source of the dice and to gain a better understanding of the factors involved, so he could determine if they were fair or not.
I would have considered a simple statistical study. That's what I did at my favorite poker site when I felt that I was being ganged up on by lady luck. I spent hours and hours over a period of 3 months, gathering data and evaluating data, only to discover that the numbers were bang on, right where they were supposed to be.
Instead of using statistical studies to solve this problem, perhaps we'd be better off studying human behavior. I know that I see player after player getting beat in a poker game and lash out blaming another player at the table for his loss (ignorant and factually incorrect). When we are beaten, we want someone to blame. It makes us feel better. We can handle losing provided we make it clear that, "it wasn't my fault". We want to feel like a victim. The last thing we want is to admit that we simply got beaten. The reverse is also true. When we have good luck, we want to believe that we are playing well. We are much more likely to notice bad luck than we are likely to notice good luck for those very reasons. Therefore, the last person you should ever ask about the fairness of dice, is a CC player experiencing a run of bad luck.
One other factor that seems to convince people that the dice are "off" is Oddities. Rolling eight of the same number in a row. Killing 12 troops without taking a single loss. Losing a 13v2 attack. Those things drive us nuts when they go against us but we allow it to roll off our backs when the luck is riding good. What is amusing about this common misunderstanding, is that statistically speaking, we should become concerned when these oddities disappear. Given the number of rolls we take here at CC versus our Real Life games from the past, in some cases thousands of times more here at CC, it stands to reason that we will see many more oddities. When you have a 99% chance of winning, you will indeed lose that one game out of a hundred. You will play enough here to see it occur and when it does occur, it won't be a miracle and the world won't be coming to an end! Those Intensity Cubes
are working just fine here at CC. ARTICLE BY natty_dread
A lot of discussion has arisen lately on the integrity of the intensity cubes, aka. dice. By "a lot" I mean a lot even by CC standards. Threads of dice complaints seem to be popping up like mushrooms in rain. General discussions is so full of them, that some are spilling over to Q&A.
What causes this sudden uproar of disgruntled dice rollers? Are the intensity cubes truly flawed, or is an unusually large portion of CC having mental PMS? The most vocal of the complainers are even threatening to quit CC over their dice troubles.
I set out to investigate the matter. It seems that dice complaint threads have been posted on CC ever since CC started. By searching the keywords "dice + complaint" one can find 256 matches, the first one of them from February 2006... that's one month after CC launched!
So obviously, this phenomenon is nothing new. So if the dice have been "flawed" for the whole existence of Conquer Club, how come we still have members? My next stop was random.org, from where CC acquires the numbers on our cubes. I read their website to find out how exactly our random numbers are produced:
Random.ORG wrote:Regardless of which physical phenomenon is used, the process of generating true random numbers involves identifying little, unpredictable changes in the data. For example, HotBits uses little variations in the delay between occurrences of radioactive decay, and RANDOM.ORG uses little variations in the amplitude of atmospheric noise.
So, atmospheric noise. What is atmospheric noise you may ask? Well, Wikipedia has the following to say on the matter:
Wikipedia wrote:Atmospheric noise is radio noise caused by natural atmospheric processes, primarily lightning discharges in thunderstorms.
So let me get this straight. Our dice rolls are dependent on the weather? Should I stop playing when it rains? Do I get more sixes when it snows??
Again I dug around at Random.ORG.
Random.ORG wrote:You could argue that the atmospheric noise used as a source for the RANDOM.ORG numbers can be viewed as a chaotic but deterministic system. Hence, if you knew enough about the processes that cause atmospheric noise (e.g., thunderstorms) you could potentially predict the numbers generated by RANDOM.ORG.
However, to do this, you would probably need knowledge of the position and velocity of every single molecule in the planet's weather systems. This is of course infeasible, and the inaccuracy of weather forecasts is a good example of how difficult it is to give even a rough estimate of the behaviour of weather systems.
Well. It seems cheating Random.ORG at least is largely impossible. Unless you can control the weather.
But the question remains, why do some people perceive their dice to be unrealistic or unfair? Is it just a matter of perspective? Do these players play in the wrong weather?
I started digging around in the old dice threads. Some of the stuff you find is kinda funny... look at this for example:
lackattack in an old dice thread at 2006 wrote:There was a problem for 2 hours between 16-Feb-2006 19:46:30 and 16-Feb-2006 21:48:29 (Montreal time) where the dice ran out and everyone rolled zeroes, which really sucked. I fixed that problem and I apologize for it.
Wow, that must have been a sight. I wish I had been around to see it... but not the shitstorm that undoubtedly resulted from it.
But apart from funny anecdotes, the complaints seemed to be the same in the past as they are in the present.
a dice complainer, 2006 wrote:I just lost a 13 to 2.
a dice complainer, 2010 wrote:I just lost a 9 to 1.
Personally, I do understand where the dice complainers are coming from. I have often posted vulgarities in game chat myself, after losing an assault that should have been a walk-through (and sometimes losing the game as a result). It may get frustrating, but the opposite side has a point as well: it is largely a matter of perception. Some people expect the dice to behave in a certain way, and when they do not behave as they expect they conclude that the dice are flawed in some way. But then, that fits the definition of random too: unpredictability.
This reminds me of an Arab proverb: "The dogs bark but the caravan moves on." Despite all the dice complaints, Conquer Club seems to be alive and well. Like they say, there have always been dice complaints, and there always will be. Maybe some people quit because of perceived "unfairness" of dice, but the member base of CC still seems to be in a steady growth.
I think we should all just loosen up a bit. Let's all spend the day losing points to our unfair dice, and laugh while we do. Let us learn how to enjoy losing as much as we enjoy winning. Hey, if the dice are raping your mind, take two steps back from the computer, go make sweet love to your special someone, and come back on a better weather...