# A matter of luck

The odds for and against a particular action are often described as &quotA matter of luck: it could go either way&quot. Now, as far as I am concerned, that &quoteither way&quot confirms unambiguously that the odds are 50:50. However, as I approach a slightly higher level of the game (my two principal qualities stand at 73 and 40 respectively), I have run into a statistically highly improbable run of bad luck, with &quotA matter of luck&quot resulting in &quotyou were unlucky this time&quot about 30 or so times on the trot; the fact that these were nearly all critical rolls, resulting in sending my nightmares level over the edge twice so far, is making me wonder whether in fact the odds are not 50:50 after all…

Can anybody comment on this matter?

Ah, the infamous RNG. There are a few discussions of it, here’s one:

http://community.failbettergames.com/topic4317-why-is-math-so-wrong.aspx

And if you wish to forgive it: http://community.failbettergames.com/topic9739-seasons-forgivings-for-the-rng.aspx

Edit: these discussions often turn into repetitions of how the coding might or might not be wrong, whether or not FBG have incorrectly implemented a RNG and generally get tedious. The TL;DR is: it’s a RNG, strings of bad luck happen, so do strings of good. There are so many people playing that it’s inevitable that they happen. You got unlucky. Boo hiss to luck.
edited by babelfishwars on 1/17/2015

Fair enough.

But can you confirm that &quotA matter of luck: it could go either way&quot really does represent a 50:50 chance, and not something else?

Fair enough.

But can you confirm that &quotA matter of luck: it could go either way&quot really does represent a 50:50 chance, and not something else?[/quote]

Not me, 'guv. I just play and shake my fist at the screen on occasion. There are some people who’ve made spreadsheets and the like tracking results, not sure what time they tend to post, but they’ve done analysis. (It’s almost certainly linked in one of the posts on this forum, but I haven’t a clue where. Might look later if no one else posts it.)
edited by babelfishwars on 1/17/2015

Both have links to the spreadsheet where some people have been entering the results.

Edit - but the RNG is notoriously fickle and people do have unlucky streaks which I think are more noticeable or at least mentioned more often than lucky streaks.
edited by reveurciel on 1/17/2015

[quote=Silentarius]… &quotyou were unlucky this time&quot about 30 or so times on the trot; …[/quote]Wow. The probability of failing (or succeeding) with a 50% roll 30 times in a row is 1 in 1,073,741,824. That’s a billion rolls. An entire year of rolling nothing but 50% luck chances, 24 hours a day, would be 52,560 rolls. And if 20,000 players did that, they’d have rolled about a billion times together. So then you’d expect one of those players to have such a string of bad or good luck one time during that year.

It’s actually twice as rare as that because the average length of a streak of failures ending in a success is 2 (ie one failure then one success), which is the average length of a trial then, and the odds of a trial being 30 failures long is the number you gave.

Anyway I’m going to guess it’s probably hyperbole because human brains are notoriously bad at remembering details like that accurately, and something like failing 10 times in a row is likely to happen in 2048 actions, or just over two weeks of playing constantly.

Guilty: hyperbole indeed, alas. But it certainly felt like it.

What might however be relevant is the fact that the fails were very consistently those of actions undertaken in &quotSeeking curios and secrets in the Forbidden Quarter&quot. So is it likely that the odds change depending on location?
edited by Silentarius on 1/18/2015

I once failed at a 70% &quotPretty Good Odds&quot luck check 32 times in a row.
But I’ve also done it about 30,000 times.

In my experience, sometimes you get these massive patches of failures that last for as many actions as you’re willing to waste on them.
I find if, after about 4, you clear your cache and reload the page, that usually puts it back on the right footing.

Now this could mean nothing and it’s little more than a ritual akin to an athlete’s superstition or praying to the rain gods.
But they’re my rain gods, so what’s the harm?

I tend to wait a couple seconds after getting a fail. Pure superstition, but at least it makes me feel a little more in control.

I tend to do this as well. It feels like I frequently run into strings of probability defying successes and failures when performing the same action multiple times in rapid succession. I also seem to run into opportunity cards in chunks. I’ll go a week without seeing a card at all and then for a few days they’re everywhere and then disappear again. If it happened occasionally that would be one thing but it seems to happen all the time.

However, the unfortunate truth is that the mind is designed to recognized rhythms and patterns. Spend too much time with it pointed at an inherently random system and eventually it goes a bit nuts.

And, for some of us, it was already kind of dodgy to begin with.
Nightmares is increasing.

Some of it is clearly just human frustration.
Say I’ve had a bad day; work sucks, the wife is angry, the dog is loud, etc.
I come home and play 30 luck based actions on my favorite game, Fallen London. Then I get 30 success!
That doesn’t really change my mood much. Maybe a little, but the fun of the game is not succeeding at challenges, it’s creating a character and exploring the world.
But if I come home and get 15 failures, I’m absolutely livid. It’s just one more thing that went wrong that day!
It takes a lot of success will make up for a little failure.

When I get like that, I just take a statistical average of all my luck based action to show that it had, indeed, been about 70%.
Sometimes more. Often I’ll check it think it must be a lot less than 70% because it feels like I’ve gotten nothing but failures lately., but it turns out I’m actually over 70%. I just only noticed the failures and not the successes.
I try not to let that stuff get me down, but it’s hard.
edited by Nigel Overstreet on 1/18/2015