How do you handle encounters?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Aesica, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    So in my game, I've decided that visible enemies are the way to go for dungeons: Stationary enemies that block paths are once-offs, while wandering enemies will refresh in between area transitions. That works fine and all...for dungeons, but I'm still at a loss for what to do with overworld encounters.

    That said, I figured I'd make this thread both to get ideas, and just to see what everyone else does for encounters. So, how do you handle encounters in your game(s) and why that particular approach?
     
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  2. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I actually have no encounters on the overworld. But, my game takes place in a very populated area with guards and other people who can take care of themselves walking around and I figured why would these level 50 monsters still even be wandering the road? So I just got rid of them.

    For dungeons I use visible enemies, with some of them respawning and some of them not. I do occasionally have invisible enemies on the map too to represent enemies you can't see coming, which I just do the same as my visible enemies, but they have no sprite and start the battle when they hit you. But none of those respawn either.
     
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  3. ShadowDragon

    ShadowDragon Veteran Veteran

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    onmap encouters and respawn after xx seconds and/or through map switching.
    while I dont have a world map, you can do the same else random encounter.

    because while you cant level my player in game, those are optional, but some ara is required to kill it
    to get through or for items needed or to unlock other things.

    but there are many ways how you can handle encounters, every one use it on their own way,
    which makes things unique as well.
     
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  4. FleshToDust

    FleshToDust Evented Madness Veteran

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    I like random encounters in the tall grass pokeman style. on screen encounters I don't enjoy. You can easily run away from all of them and speed through the dungeons. I also don't like random encounters anywhere. There's no safe spots so everything is out of your control but on screen encounters you have too much control.
     
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  5. Oddball

    Oddball Veteran Veteran

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    I'm actually trying to make visual encounters interesting. Enemies you can defeat by clicking on them from behind before they see you. Enemies that mirror your movments that you can make walk into traps. Enemies you can distract by throwing a stone or something. Defeating them/bypassing them this way gives half the experince you would get if you defeated them. But, it will have some other benifit that i haven't decided yet that you can't get from battle

    Why? A member on the forum got me intriuged about doing them this way, and it's fairly unique at the moment
     
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  6. MechScapeZH

    MechScapeZH Veteran Veteran

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    For what I'm working on now? I plan to use visual encounters with a button that you can press to enter "stealth mode," with which in effect you can walk through enemies without triggering an encounter, but the effect can be used only while a variable is greater than one- every second you stay in stealth mode, the variable is decreased by one. I got it from some licensed game I played as a kid.
     
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  7. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    I have no overworld since my game is a pure dungeon crawler.

    I use visual encounters for a simple reason, visibility and something that I could expect. However, having the visual encounter means that my player could just dodge it and being under-leveled. That said, I have two approaches to attempt to solve this problem.

    My first attempt is to limit the visibility range. So the visual encounter works like a surprise random encounter while also make the dungeon feels huge. My second attempt is to make so that if you dodge the encounter, you will be chased by randomly spawn visible encounter near your location at high speed, forcing you to enter the battle. If you triggered the encounter, you will have a 30% chance of getting a surprise attack. If you didn't trigger it for a few seconds, it will disappear (the reason why this kinda makes sense is also relevant to the world-building I make for my game).

    I don't do like some people do like visibility cone, and preemptive encounter if you trigger the encounter in the back. Simply because my game is using Free Turn Battle which means you will always get the first turn. Once you pick a command, it's executed instantly like instant action.

    I'm considering to have some map skills to control the visual encounter like knock them back or something. But I haven't drafted the details yet.
     
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  8. rue669

    rue669 Veteran Veteran

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    I do visible enemies on the screen but don't do anything fancy like if you're behind them you get a preemptive attack or if they're behind you they have the advantage. They second you're in their radius they'll speed towards you.

    I don't refresh the enemies either. At a save point, the player has the option to respawn the enemies in a dungeon if he/she chooses to do so. This way the player can go through dungeons to find any loot they left or forgot or, if they want to grind, they can do that, too.
     
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  9. Cythera

    Cythera Veteran Veteran

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    I use visible on-map enemies that chase the player for a set time when the player gets too close. These enemies respawn after varying amounts of time, depending on the area. The enemies move at the same speed, or some even faster, than the player when chasing, so they aren't always avoidable. I find that helps offset significant under level issues.
    I also have a few fixed encounters that don't respawn. I use them when introducing new characters to show their battle style, or to show new enemy traits like a passive or a revive skill, and hint how to counter it. Those enemy showcase battles can be fled from, though chances are, a nearby boss will have those traits. Could be valuable to learn a bit more about it! I like this style as it doesn't throw people in the deep end with challenging new enemies, though it doesn't hold their hand either. Players have to read what characters say, understand the hint, and pick which character is better suited to counter the enemy.
    In terms of an over world, I use connector maps like ffx or pokemon instead of an over world. Those have enemies, though half of what one would find in a dungeon so it's less stressful to travel from town to town.
     
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  10. D.L. Yomegami

    D.L. Yomegami Sanely Insane Veteran

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    I'm going to be the odd one out here who actually prefers using random encounters over visual ones most of the time. From a game dev perspective, that's for several reasons:

    1. Less asset hunting needed. I can't art for -arg-, and visual encounters naturally need more art than random encounters do for the on-map sprites. That being said, if you don't mind using the same floating skull, black flame, etc. for every enemy type than needing on-map sprites is actually less of a problem for the art-challenged developer than it sounds.

    2. More mapping flexibility. Visual encounters work best when the mapping accounts for them, and that's a bit more extensive than people think. If you don't, you'll wind up with things like a lot of enemies in tight corridors where the supposed advantage of being able to see and avoid the enemies on the map is negated completely. This isn't something games with random encounters have to worry about, and considering mapping is hard enough as it is I'll take the extra breathing room.

    3. Ease of grinding. Yeah, there are people who try to fight against grinding, but I'm not one of those people. For the people who don't mind grinding, random encounters are a bit easier to grind on than visual encounters are. At the very least, grinding on visual encounters requires going between two different rooms if they respawn (and if you're particularly unlucky visual encounters won't respawn at all), while grinding on random encounters just requires running back and forth between two different spots, which is noticeably faster (especially if you're trying to go for a random drop from a certain enemy, though having items that can only be acquired that way is not something I will ever recommend doing nor ever do in my own games).

    4. Since the player has no way of knowing when random encounters will pop up, I feel random encounters could work better for games with a more tense atmosphere than visual encounters. However, that really depends on what the rest of the game is like, and for people who know what they're doing then this point probably doesn't matter as much.

    I think the big issue people have with random encounters lies in the fact that the player generally isn't given a whole lot of control over whenever they get into fights. That leads to situations where the player gets into four battles in four steps when they're trying to explore, which is a little annoying to understate it. Which is why I like to throw in a few alleviating factors:

    1. Early access to an item (or even just a game option) that allows the player to effectively shut off random encounters. In a lot, perhaps even most, RPGs with random encounters, you don't get such an ability until late in the game. I can see the point in doing something like that, but I don't like to do so in the event the player wants to backtrack or explore without having to worry about getting into unwanted battles. If using an item I like to give it a downside as an incentive for the player to not have it on 24/7 (as it'll be a hindrance in mandatory fights). This can lead to the player being underleveled, but that's actually a plus in my book. It's a double-edged sword: have an easier time elsewhere while having more difficult mandatory fights, or deal with random fights while being more appropriately leveled for mandatory ones? Admittedly this can also negate point 4 made above, which is a noticeable downside.

    2. Reasonable encounter rates. Larger rooms should probably have a lower encounter rate than smaller ones, as the longer amount of time the player spends in that room will probably mean they'll get into plenty of fights even with a reduced rate. Furthermore, I like to tweak the default formula to add a minimum step count, so that the player always has breathing room between fights. This can affect people who like to grind by making it take a little longer, but making exploration less tedious is worth the added difficulty for grinding as far as I'm concerned.

    A third way that I haven't done but some other people have is to give some way for the player to avoid fighting even when a random encounter is triggered, like a quick button press. In theory this could make basic exploration more engaging while still avoiding the pitfalls of random encounters, but as I've not used it I can't say for sure how effective or non-effective it is.

    Sometimes I like to mix visual encounters and random ones. The random encounters would be normal run-of-the-mill enemies, while the visual ones are stronger than usual enemies. Or maybe the visual enemies are mandatory fights while random enemies are not.

    As a player? I've found that I don't particularly care about whether there's random encounters or visual encounters. I think the implementation is far more important and has a greater effect on the player's enjoyment than the exact type. Poorly implemented visual encounters are every single bit as frustrating as random encounters, even with the supposed upside of being able to control when fights happen.
     
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  11. gstv87

    gstv87 Veteran Veteran

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    all dungeons are worlds, but with more walls and bends.

    if one method works, it should work for any *world*, over or under.
     
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  12. Prescott

    Prescott argggghhh Veteran

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    I'm doing exactly what you're doing for dungeons.

    For overworld, I have boss enemies walking around. If you don't walk on the roads, you'll get random encounters. It still provides player choice, but it might take a little bit longer to walk on the roads. Not by much though.
     
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  13. CraneSoft

    CraneSoft Filthy Degenerate Veteran

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    My overworld is a simply point and select world map so I don't have any encounters there - both random and visual can work here however depending on your definition of "overworld" and how big they actually are, and whether or not encounters are actually necessary.

    My dungeons mainly use 2 types:
    1. Standard visuals encounters. My enemies are mostly half-visible apparitions - your vision is limited in dungeons and they don't become fully visible until you are 3-4 tiles away from them. Respawns occur during map transitions.
    2. Scripted, invisible "ambush" spots or trigger points where there is a random (about 20~50%) chance you can be surrounded by enemies and have to fight your way out, you also cannot flee from this type of encounter. The scripted ambush will not occur again at the same spot until a revisit.
     
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  14. alice_gristle

    alice_gristle Veteran Veteran

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    I was thinking that if you wanted to do random encounters on the overworld, you could mix it up by terrain type... like, you get no random encounters on road tiles, a few on plains, a few more in woods, plenty in mountains... or whatever. No idea how easy it is to do this, though. I still haven't touched the engine, as I'm stuck making assets. :biggrin:
     
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  15. Prescott

    Prescott argggghhh Veteran

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    Exactly what I'm doing. You use the terrain tags. In fact, if you go in the terrain tag mode my overworld looks like a clown threw up on it.
     
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  16. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    Even though it was nearly 3 weeks ago, I've appreciated and enjoyed reading these responses. Why so long? Because I kind of said "screw it" to mapping for awhile and decided to work on skills and a bunch of other things that had nothing to do with mapmaking. :)

    Anyway, after reading everything, I think I might go this route:

    ...but with something of a twist since I don't have paths between locations: Instead of no encounters on paths:
    • One character has a teleportation spell that will whisk the party away to a previously-visited town of their choice when used on the overworld. This is mostly to trivialize backtracking. (already in the game)
    • Visiting churches (or certain NPCs in church-less towns) lets you obtain a blessing to repel random encounters for a short while. Eventually, the healer-archetype party member will learn a spell to do that at will. (easy to add)
    • When the repel effect isn't up, walking on grass will rarely result in random encounters. Walking in forests, hills, deserts, etc will result in much more frequent combat. (hopefully also easy)
    Thanks again, folks. :)
     
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