Dungeon Encounters: Infinite vs. Finite number

jonthefox

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jan 3, 2015
Messages
1,431
Reaction score
593
Primarily Uses
Consider two options.

Option 1: the dungeon has, potentially, an infinite number of encounters. If a player wanted to keep fighting and not complete the dungeon, they could. Or, after a player completed the dungeon, if they wanted to keep fighting in it for as long as they could survive, they could do that. A small variation on this option is keeping everything the same, except disabling encounters once the dungeon has been completed.

Option 2: the dungeon has a finite number of encounters. Whether these encounters are random, visual, or whatever - after X number of encounters (could be 5, could be 10...could be 20....dev's choice), the player will not encounter anymore enemies in the dungeon except for the boss or any other unique, mandatory encounters that are integrated into the dungeon.

Which option do you find preferable? Does your answer change from the perspective of a developer vs. the perspective of a player? What are the pros and cons of each? And finally, would your answer change if game balance was not at all a consideration? What I mean by this is -- some people might favor unlimited encounters, so that the player always has an opportunity to grind and get stronger if they feel they need or want to. But in a world where the game was somehow, magically, perfectly balanced - would you then favor only a fixed number of encounters?

Looking forward to hearing people's thoughts!
 

Kes

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Aug 3, 2012
Messages
22,297
Reaction score
11,712
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
Could you just clarify something for me, and that is exactly what you mean by 'finite'.

No, I'm not being sarcastic, but for example in my current project there are a fixed number of visible enemies. Depending on the particular dungeon, there might be 15 - 20 of them, and they do not respawn if you change maps within the dungeon. So you work your way through to the boss and going back (if you chose to walk out to check you've got all the loot) you won't fight the enemies again. You could say, therefore, that these were finite. However, if you leave the dungeon at any time they respawn, so you could go back in and fight them all over again. In which case, they become infinite.
 

taarna23

Marshmallow Princess
Global Mod
Joined
Jul 20, 2012
Messages
2,400
Reaction score
4,961
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
I don't really have a preference either way, but I do know random encounters (as is usually the "infinite" option) can get tedious. Especially if you complete a dungeon and now need to fight your way out. My current project falls under finite, although if you complete a dungeon and return to it, the regular enemies will have returned, but not the boss and/or final treasure.
 

jonthefox

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jan 3, 2015
Messages
1,431
Reaction score
593
Primarily Uses
@Kes hmmm....that's an interesting point. To me, that would fall under the encounters being "finite" - because there's a finite number of encounters the player can experience either before the boss, or before they leave the dungeon. It's simply that after leaving the dungeon, the counter "resets." Perhaps that is the best of both worlds--providing a cap to the number of encounters in a dungeon, while still offering the player the option to return to these encounters, as many times as he or she wishes.
 

Cythera

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Messages
146
Reaction score
252
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I personally use on-map encounters that respawn after X amount of time when you defeat them - so, infinite encounters in a way? I do this for 2 reasons:
1. Every player wants to play a different way - some want to grind and level up to crazy levels; that's fun to them. So, farm away!
2. On-map with respawn counters is a better option for me and my game than random encounters. Both are infinite, but I find random encounters - especially high rates - can discourage exploration.
Exploration is definitely something to consider when going 'infinite encounters'. If you're putting emphasis on exploration, have some mechanic in place to prevent constant battles that will discourage players from exploring. Just a side note there! :3
I'm not a huge fan of finite encounters. Simply going back to my other point: every player wants to play a different way. Unless it's crucial for your game to have limited encounters - first thing that comes to my mind in this situation would be a shorter, more challenging game where grinding levels would absolutely destroy your balancing - you typically don't want to be limiting how a player can, well, play your game.
My stance on the matter really doesn't change if I'm dev or player, since I'm ultimately making the game I want to play.
 

KakonComp

Lucid
Veteran
Joined
Jun 16, 2020
Messages
158
Reaction score
1,081
First Language
Ostinato
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
Always been a fan of doing Option 02 with a chance to leave and re-enter a dungeon if you felt like you had to grind, but bonus points if you don't have to.

Even more bonus points if the player wants to fight extra battles anyway, for whatever incentive you provide.
 

LovelyFlower

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Sep 6, 2020
Messages
31
Reaction score
10
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
I do not like finite instances as sometimes those are poorly designed. That is, players get unlucky with drops or attacks and find they don't have enough materials to last htem for rest of the story.

Or if they forgot to accept a quest and the monster can no longer be found in the wild
 

TheoAllen

Self-proclaimed jack of all trades
Veteran
Joined
Mar 16, 2012
Messages
5,573
Reaction score
6,503
First Language
Indonesian
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
As a player, I prefer infinite encounters. That way I could battle it out as many times as I like. And grind as much as I like.

As a designer, it is a hard choice. Although I always go back to infinite encounters because that is the core design I like. I will just try to make it's not frustrating enough to have infinite encounters for the players.
 

LovelyFlower

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Sep 6, 2020
Messages
31
Reaction score
10
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
With inifinite encounter I think you have to make sure paths arent clogged with monseters so players arent frustrated when they backtrack.
 

Sigony

Crusader Masochist
Veteran
Joined
Aug 18, 2020
Messages
74
Reaction score
461
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
The constraints make the game.
So what kind of game are you going to make? That determines what constraints you choose.

The player will eventually get from point A to point B if they persist, the only thing that differs is the constraints. There's many reasons as to why you'd add certain constraints, and it stems mostly from the experience the player has, and secondarily from the constraints that the developer is under (time, budget, scope, skill).

In a dungeon, you are constrained by SOMETHING. With either choice, you must understand the set of constraints, and the game that a set of constraints makes the player engage in, in their own minds.

With unlimited encounters, it might be how many times you can heal, how many enemies you can defeat before your ability to heal runs out, and can you get to the target of the dungeon within those constraints.
This considers the constraints of MP, HP, and the shortest path that the player takes to their goal.
Is there any skill, meaning can you make blunders, can you gain advantages if you possess enough skill, or any other trait, like curiosity, persistence, etc?


If you have a fixed number of encounters in a dungeon, then the constraint of a limited number of encounters is something around which you can make a game.

For example, let's say you rank the player on how well each fight goes, and this determines the drops and exp they get. And if they don't reach a certain threshold, they don't get a particular goal. So, the player thinks... "hmm, how can I maximize my performance in each and every battle such that I get at least x result, considering the limited tools at my disposal, how can I improve my odds?"
 

Dororo

Gespenst MKII pilot
Veteran
Joined
May 24, 2020
Messages
264
Reaction score
920
First Language
Italian
Primarily Uses
RMMV
In the root of all RPG (D&D), you got both.
You have mostly predefined encounters AND a table for random encounters to roll each X rounds.
Why so?
Again: RPG are HP management games -the challenge is to complete the dungeon before the party lose his last HP. Monsters are there to deplete your HP or your wildcards.
You'll usually meet the given, finite monsters hosted in rooms.
But...
If you take the wrong path, you explore the thing badly, if you backtrack too much or spend time into sillyness, you encounter random monsters that deplete a bit your resources. And such encounters are infinite - you can die of getting lost and meet a lot of random monsters.

Random monsters doesn't move the plot onward and as experience is computed AFTER the dungeon, not just after each combat, you don't get any benefit to fight random beasts around - they usually drop nothing too. They are just a punishment.

RPG simplified the thing for coding issues, but practically speaking you should fight given "plot" monsters to proceed, and try to go fast enough to trigger the less possible random fights. So, both is for me the ideal scenario.
 

duty

Keepin' it simple
Veteran
Joined
Mar 13, 2012
Messages
120
Reaction score
130
First Language
English (US)
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Based on your description, I'm voting for finite dungeon encounters, but maybe put some kind of arena or battleground feature into the title. If the player really enjoys combat, they have the opportunity to get as much as they can stand.
 

gstv87

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Oct 20, 2015
Messages
2,245
Reaction score
1,241
First Language
Spanish
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
google FTL or Invisible Inc.
infinite combinations, but always towards a pre-determined ending.

in both cases, you objective is to get to the final boss, but each time you play you'll find different challenges, so no two games are the same.
any unlocks or secrets you discover along the way, are kept, and more often than not that's the point: beat the game, unlock a new character, try it again with that character, unlock a new one, etc.
on top of that, the difficulty setting, making the individual enemies more or less challenging.
 

cekobico

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
May 8, 2015
Messages
353
Reaction score
159
First Language
Indonesian
Primarily Uses
Why not both and let the players decide?

Make on-map evented encounters that dies on defeat. Fighting these hand-placed troops should give you enough exp to level up for the main boss of the dungeon.
Then at the end of the dungeon (or at the save point one would conveniently place before the boss room), make an event that can turn on/off invisible random encounter for those who want to get stronger or just farm/grind stuffs.

That way everyone wins.
 

Richard John S

Rpg Maker Music Pack Contributor
Veteran
Joined
Jan 31, 2014
Messages
203
Reaction score
759
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I like both myself. Option 2 is a good option if you don't want things to get too tedious and grindy. However, an area could feel pretty empty when all of the encounters are done with. I think option 2 where encounters reset/respawn over time would be pretty cool. That way it wouldn't be too grindy or too empty.
 

Tiamat-86

old jrpg gamer
Veteran
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
545
Reaction score
221
First Language
english
Primarily Uses
RMMV
option 2 + whistle skill to force encounters past the area limit

edit: breath of death 7 did this style well. was an indie game on xbox360
 
Last edited:

ghorba96

Villager
Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2014
Messages
16
Reaction score
30
First Language
Italian
Primarily Uses
N/A
I kinda like a mix of both options, for example:
Your party is in a cave where you can find 2 types of monsters, slimes and bats, they both are infinite as they respawn after a while. BUT, if you check all the nooks and crannies, you can find the mother slime and the alpha bat, which are optional minibosses (which can either spawn immediately as soon as you enter the dungeon or after you kill a certain amount of specific monsters), and if you manage to kill them, you can stop the respawn of the other monsters. So the decision is up to the player, if he wants he can keep grinding, otherwise he can decide to stop the respawning
 

Seacliff

RPG Maker Mastermind
Veteran
Joined
Nov 8, 2012
Messages
2,982
Reaction score
1,129
First Language
Yes
Primarily Uses
RM2k
Both have massive pros vs cons.

A Finite number enemies sounds like a great idea for an anti-grinding mechanic. A lot of RPGs get criticized for relying on numbers more than strategy, so this could be a step to encourage players to work out their team composition and equipment more than increasing their raw numbers. However, nothing but a little waste of time is preventing the player from fully healing themselves after every other encounter.

On the other hand, Infinite encounters allows a dungeon to always be at least somewhat threatening, at the very least they're good when you don't want the players to simply get to the dungeon boss in peak condition, and can encourage resource management. Players will have to decide when to fall back, or when to push forward. However, this just opens up to repetition and the ability to grind.

You can layer different mechanics to get around either one, but if you're designing the game with traditional RPG mechanics, these are inevitable with the two approaches.
 

SoftCloud

Aspiring Game Alchemist
Veteran
Joined
Nov 28, 2018
Messages
59
Reaction score
119
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I do either circumstantially. Sometimes it's better to have respawning of enemies. My current project deals with time, so, if a dungeon is revisited then perhaps in a day the enemies will respawn, maybe even a couple days. Part of the reason I like having a finite number of on-map encounters is that I can show various dead versions of enemies. Allows for a bit of solidity.
If say the protagonist fights a bandit, at the end of combat, the sprite can be replaced with one that was stabbed in the stomach and left to die. Conversely, the infinite method is great for farming XP, especially if respawning is done when map shifting or a short wait period. I honestly like both.
 

KoldBlood

Innovation from Limitation
Veteran
Joined
Feb 5, 2014
Messages
77
Reaction score
55
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
Personally, it doesn't matter to me which one is used as long as the encounter rate isn't too high with an infinite system or you are able to beat the boss at your current level if you beat most of the enemies in the finite system. A fun combat system always helps too.

Lately, I've been kicking around the idea of using a mix of both systems in my current project. Currently I use a visual encounter system that respawns enemies upon leaving the map. My concept is the for the player to be able to locate a specific object within the dungeon (such as a monster nest, magic circle, crystal, etc) and destroy it to stop encounters from respawning after defeat. Destroying this object would award the player with experience (and maybe even other resources) equivalent to defeating the monsters manually which should circumvent the under leveled player problem and would add some incentive to seek out the object but allow players who didn't want to bother to still ignore it and complete the dungeon normally. Furthermore, players who wanted to grind could still continue to do so or defeat the enemies first then destroy the object for bonus exp. I think it would also encourage dungeon exploration and could make treasure gathering easier if the player wanted to eliminate the enemies first. Lot's of cool choices for the player in this type of system I think.

The actual object used in this system could be tailored to just about any theme to fit with the theme of the game or even change depending on the dungeon or specific enemy types in said dungeon. Additionally, you could have the object require the player to possess a certain item, complete a mini-game, or even fight a mini-boss to destroy the object.

Of course, all of this is just speculation at this point as I have not yet tested the system and it would obviously need balancing but I think it sounds like a cool idea.
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Latest Threads

Latest Profile Posts

I think I've created a monster.
...and I love it. <3
Today represents my one year anniversary of throwing out the tile map. :LZSexcite: One year ago my game looked like...


And now for those that don't know, it looks like..


What a year, what a year indeed. RIP Tile Map, nobody misses you. :LZSwink:
There is now a demo released for [Beyond the Mirror]! Check the team recruitment thread to learn more!
'Tis the season to see shipping prices and go 'Yikes'.

Forum statistics

Threads
105,696
Messages
1,015,678
Members
137,379
Latest member
ytviews123
Top