Fast Travel with encounters.

Extazee

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♦ Fast travel encounters
Basically I'm avoiding the route of a fully mapped continent. Instead, I'm introducing a fast travel mechanic around the world where the player goes into the world map and selects locations for travel depending on current active quests. For this, I'm introducing a mid-travel encounter system.
Explanation
When the player selects a location to travel to, the game shows an "animation" which is basically a series of events of them traveling. I will have a "travel" map biome for different regions and I'm thinking of putting a movement route event to one specific direction, probably left to right, and including random encounters as well (2-3 per travel), while the location traveled to would have on-map encounters. And these would be different. Certain monsters could only be encountered while traveling and vice versa.

There will be different encounters, such as battles, short quests, small dungeons, traps, traders, etc.

What do you think? Any suggestions/improvements?

@barnzie8 (moved this to a new thread due to mod's request)
 

barnzie8

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Nothing wrong with removing the world map and implementing this system, at least for me. I remember reading about how some people who played Final fantasy x, were not to happy how the airship went from fully controlled to a list. Another concern is when looking for a certain thing, it could be annoying. If I wanted to grind a certain enemy or a shop which had a item I could not afford yet. Could be fixed with items I guess?
 

bgillisp

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I'd say make it a chance of a random fight. FFTactics did this and it seemed to work well. But if it is always a fight every time you travel, people are going to not want to backtrack ever as they will be like "I gotta fight through 2 - 3 fights just to go HERE?".

Or, you could also do no random fights on the map. I did that in my game and no one seems to have complained about the lack of them. I figure since you going through a highly civilized part of the world for 99% of the game why would all these monsters exist anyways? Wouldn't the guards clear them out?
 

Extazee

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@barnzie8 What I'm thinking about is not actually removing the world map. The world map may still exist, however, for example, when you leave a certain area, it pops you to the world map, where you have to choose where to travel. And when you pick your destination, the "travel" screen appears, where based on variables, certain events would happen, not related to the story or any important progression.

@bgillisp Well, random fights were somewhat similar to what I was thinking. But what I thought was basically having a certain set of random events pop up inbetween travels. Let's say the player wants to travel from Forest Village to Capital City (hypothetically). They leave the village, and on the map select the city. Of course, since there's distance, that's where the "Travel" screen comes. Where a certain amount of random events happen. Could be nothing at all, could be the party camping to rest and regain health, could be a random discovery of an item, a dungeon, or a surprise attack from a monster.

The system I'm thinking of is similar to that in the game "Pixel Piracy". Where you control a pirate ship and there's a grid map of the ocean. And once you select where to go next, it has a travel screen and in that travel screen you are fully capable of controlling your ship with the occasional encounter. Where it's just that in this system, the "Control" part disappears, instead, there's a bunch of random events from which one or two can occur.
 
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They had a random encounter with fast travel in Baldurs gate.
Killed my whole party.
I was not happy.
 

Wavelength

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I'm of a few different minds about this.

On one hand I worry that players will feel frustrated at having to battle random encounters between their travels to different locations, when they just want to get to the location. I know this is completely irrational given that they'd need to do the same thing if you used an actual world map, but player psychology can be irrational and you still have to kowtow to it in order to make a fun game - and psychologically "quick travel" makes you feel like you deserve to get to your destination immediately. Additionally, I personally feel like having a world map creates a sense of coherence and immersion that games without it lack somewhat - it's not a dealbreaker, but it's not negligible, either.

On the other hand, having this kind of convenience can really keep the player "in the action" if there's a lot going on at each location (and less that would go on in the World Map if it existed), and the originality alone will be enough to get your game noticed a little better, assuming you give the fast travel menus some really slick UI.

A couple of suggestions and ways you could go about making it into a system that people really enjoy:
  • Keep the sense of danger; skip the tedium. Force the random encounters the first time the player travels to a location on the map, but from that point on, consider that destination "obtained" and allow the player to choose whether to fight the random encounters along the way or skip them entirely and go directly to the location. Alternatively, if you don't like that structure, then allow the player this choice once they have leveled up well beyond the average level of encounters for this area, or once they have beaten X encounters in this area.
  • Go all-in on the adventure aspect of this encounter-quick-travel system. Go beyond the standard encounters, and introduce other fun roleplaying elements that are hard to simulate on a traditional world map. For example, randomly give the player scenarios where he must choose between actions (cross the river? hike a mountain to bypass the river? or team up with an unsavory-looking group of adventurers that's in a similar quandary?). Have rare shops (traveling merchants) randomly appear as you adventure. Create some "traps" or "hazards" that are essentially little action minigames that the player needs to cross (else they'll take damage, lose cheap consumables, or whatever else). Mix some of those in along with the random encounters in order to keep the player on their toes as they traverse your simulated world!
 

Extazee

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@Wavelength The last bit of your post is actually somewhat the system I am thinking about. It's been rotating around in my head all scrambled, just putting the pieces together. I think it would be an enjoyable system. Basically it wouldn't necessarily be enemies only. Random dungeons, travelers, merchants, small quest givers even, clues to treasure, etc... a lot can go into the system.
 

Redeye

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I'm of a few different minds about this.
  • Keep the sense of danger; skip the tedium. Force the random encounters the first time the player travels to a location on the map, but from that point on, consider that destination "obtained" and allow the player to choose whether to fight the random encounters along the way or skip them entirely and go directly to the location.

Oooh, this actually brings up something cool that you could do with a system like this. In the Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall, whenever you fast traveled to a location, you could choose to travel cautiously or recklessly. Travelling cautiously would cause you to make it to your destination without getting beaten up along the way, but the downside is that it takes you longer to get to wherever you need to go. Reckless travel would cause you to arrive at your destination with missing health and resources due to you fighting things along the way there, but you do end up reaching your destination fairly quickly.

Perhaps you can give the player the option to travel Cautiously or Recklessly, in which reckless travel would cause you to fight enemies along the way, and cautious travel would allow you to avoid encounters along the way. To prevent the player from never fighting anything on the world map, you could also install a variable that goes down whenever you choose to be cautious, and when that variable hits zero, you can no longer take the safe route. This variable would obviously be replenishable.
 

Wavelength

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@Wavelength The last bit of your post is actually somewhat the system I am thinking about. It's been rotating around in my head all scrambled, just putting the pieces together. I think it would be an enjoyable system. Basically it wouldn't necessarily be enemies only. Random dungeons, travelers, merchants, small quest givers even, clues to treasure, etc... a lot can go into the system.

Ah, I did fixate on the larger paragraph, and missed that you said there would be different types. With that in mind - yes, I think it would be a very nifty system! Just be careful not to slow the pace of the game down too much with these encounters, unless you want to make the game more about this mechanic and the exploration it takes place in (as opposed to being more about a traditional RPG kind of narrative and adventure).
 

Llareian

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Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age 2 both used a system like this - but only with random encounters. In DA2 the random encounters were sometimes story or quest related (when traveling through certain areas), but they were still basically just random encounters. The system never bothered me personally.

There was also the restriction in this system that you could travel to any area from any area and only had one chance of a random encounter. I think that helped. If traveling from point A to point D means I have to travel from point A to B to C to D, with three chances of random encounters, that would probably get tiresome. So that's my suggestion; as long as you can travel from any point to any other with only one random encounter/discovery, that would be good.

Oh, I guess I have another. If they discover a random dungeon, I'd suggest that either be a fairly common option or if it's rare that they then have the choice to return. It would be frustrating to find a rare, really rewarding, time-consuming area that you can't go back to if you were headed back to town because you're low on supplies.
 

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