Fleeing from battles(And their consequences)

Wavelength

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It's a tough thing to "get right" by everyone, because people are looking for different things when they try to enjoy your battles and in the end I think it's something that has to line up with the dynamics you're trying to get out of your combat system. If your game aims to deliver enjoyment through a sense of progression, then it might make sense to enable Escape at 100% in every battle, whereas if your game aims to deliver a strategic or competitive feel (even as a single-player game) then it might make more sense to disable Escapes entirely or make their success rates highly correlated to stats.

Start by asking yourself what's fun about your battle system - that should give you some clues about what you should do.

I disable escapes in most of my games (either because defeats are acceptable and won't throw a Game Over, or because the amount of progress you'll lose is minuscule and the segment won't replay exactly the same way when tried again). One mechanic that I plan to try in the future if and when I make a more traditional "epic" RPG is to allow the player to attempt to Escape at any time (with no RNG influence), but to give the enemies one final turn before the party escapes. This alleviates the frustration of being told by the RNG that you can't escape, but it also makes the escape feel less "free" and keeps the excitement high as you traverse dungeons (since you can't just walk away from every single battle if monsters overpower you). Enemies could also escape if they think you're too strong for them - but of course you'll also get a final turn to try to take them down if you want it.

Action RPGs, as well as some Tactical RPGs and Beat-em-Ups, simply let you "escape" enemies by getting far enough away from them on the map (or by reaching the boundary of the combat area and then spending a few seconds of real time "escaping"), which feels very natural and is a good solution, but is harder to simulate in a game which doesn't have a mechanic to represent space in battle.

One last thought is that the best way to escape a battle is to never start the battle in the first place. A well-made Visual Encounters system gives the player a chance to avoid most battles when they don't want to fight (either because they're bored of encounters, or because they've been beaten down and are in jeopardy), and even some Random Encounters systems give fair ways to minimize the encounters a player will run into without completely removing the risk and excitement from their dungeons.
 

Aesica

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I have retreat disabled for most fights, however I'm not using random encounters. Most fights are initiated via event touch from creatures wandering around on the map, so either the player slipped past the dragon or they got to close and have to fight their way out. The idea of just making monsters magically go away by running is a bit weird.

That said, I don't see any reason for fleeing to have "consequences," since, in a sense, skipping the battle means less experience, gold, drops, etc. I've been considering adding random encounters to the overworld (with ways to avoid fights, such as vehicles) and if I do, escape is going to be 100% from the start.
 

arekpowalan

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The natural consequence of fleeing a battle is not getting EXP and money. I did that all the time when I was a kid and I had problems beating bosses and buying equipment. In case of Final Fantasy IV, I also lost chunks of cash for running. Trying to run away in itself is also a bad idea in some games because you can fail to run and you waste an entire turn getting beaten up by the bad guys, resulting in a party wipe.

I don't find a point to "punish" the player for running otherwise. At worst you get permanently called a coward and you don't get a lot of perks in the games (i.e. Dragon Quest 8).

NOT allowing the player to escape whatsoever from a random or a field-touch enemy is a bad idea. Sometimes your supplies run out or things go wrong. When those happen, either you reset or spend minutes going back to menu just to reload the game out of frustration.
 
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An idea I've just thought of is making escape have deminishing returns with each use per dungeon. What I'm mean is, its 100% the first time you escape during a dungeon, then its 90%, then 80%. Until you leave the dungeon and it resets back to 100%. The escape chance could even increase by say 5% for each successful battle.

The idea is not to punish players for making a mistake or two, i.e. only 5 steps from the save point, but not allow people to just 'escape through' the entire dungeon then cry when the boss one-shots them for being underleveled. And yes I see this idea working for both random and visual encounters.

Though this is an idea for a 'dungeon crawler' type play-style where managing resources throughout the entire dungeon is 70% of the gameplay. There's also the Etrian Odyssey method of giving out of battle 'escape the dungeon' items where the player is best choosing to 'return to base' before battle even triggers.
 

Doktor_Q

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I'd say the reasons and mechanics behind fleeing a battle are going to vary heavily based on what type of encounters you have. But in general, there's ~3 reasons for a player to flee a battle:
  1. The player is tired of fighting battles and want to get on with it. This means you have too many battles, or they aren't interesting/varied enough, and should probably be addressed by the developer.
  2. The characters are tired of fighting battles- your mages are low on MP, items are drying up, resources are thin, and they're hunting for a place to recover. This can be another symptom of to many battles, but also just difficult battles or inefficient tactics. Ideally the player wants to avoid the battles in the first place, but might want to flee if that fails. This is where you might want cost, so a player can't just go "instead of wasting MP on these chumps, or making an effort to avoid them, I'll just flee until the boss."
  3. Lastly, this particular battle is going very poorly, and the alternative is a game over. Unlike 2, they might not know ahead of time to avoid the battle, so having a way to run is good. Their back is to the wall so the cost isn't a big deal, which is where you get things like "chance of success" or "takes multiple turns," to avoid removing the tension.
When talk about ways to avoid encounters, it doesn't have to be a visual system. Maybe encounters are limited to specific, known parts of the map, maybe you have a chance to 'avoid' a random battle as it's starting, maybe there's just a spell that stops battles for a bit.

I've been personally messing around with a system with visible encounters where running away always works. In exchange, it sends you back to the last checkpoint, usually the entrance to that map, and doesn't provide the usual post-battle rewards, which include recovering a small amount of HP and MP. It's perfect for escaping danger, but you can't make progress while relying on it.
 

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