On average, how many encounters do you expect players to fight within a single dungeon?

  • 1 - 3

  • 4 - 6

  • 7 - 9

  • 10 - 12

  • 12+

  • Way more...


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Frostorm

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Ok guys, new topic... I'm curious, roughly how many encounters do you expect an average player to engage in for a single dungeon? Obviously, players can grind more or less (usually) as they see fit and I also realize the length of various dungeons will vary. For those that use visible on map encounters, about how many battles would you expect your players to fight? And for those that use random encounters, how many encounters do you balance your XP/Levels around? There's no real right or wrong answer (unless that answer is in the 3+ digits lol). But for the sake of this question, let's say this is an early game dungeon.

For my game's 2nd dungeon (a forest level), I am considering somewhere between 6-8 encounters before that dungeon's boss. This is just a wild ballpark guestimation so that may be too many or too few. So, I'd like to narrow this figure down before I even create the encounters because w/ my setup, each and every encounter is unique and must be carefully crafted individually. This means I don't have the luxury of "testing" w/o creating an extraneous number of encounters. Therefore, narrowing this number down will save me quite a bit of work.
 

TheGentlemanLoser

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I mean, "within a single dungeon" can be so many different contexts. Some games might have 20+ dungeons; others might all be set in a single dungeon (one of my projects is the latter). I'm assuming you mean an RPG structured roughly like the early fantasies (or to use an out-of-genre example, the old school zelda games, OG through Ocarina) which generally speaking have more than five but less than fifteen good-sized dungeons. 10-12 sounds about right to me assuming that context (including the boss fight). That said, I'm not sure about this by any means but I think most final fantasy games prior to the modern era had more than 12 encounters per dungeon on average so the range of options feels a little low to me.
 

Frostorm

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You are right, I guess I wasn't thinking straight when coming up w/ the options...like "1-3" would be silly lol. I shouldn't have even made that an option, but it won't let me edit it now. Dang, I should've made the options in increments of 5 or so. I guess the "less is more" dogma really got to me. I did add a "way more" option just now though. :p

And yea, this would be for games that feature at least a handful of dungeons. I don't mind comparing apples to oranges in this case though. I'm just curious to see how you guys tune this aspect, regardless of what your setup might be. (feel free to elaborate on your game for context if you so wish)
 
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Finnuval

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Approx 15-30 seconds between encounters depending on how 'populated' the given dungeon should feel.

I tend to feel that is a good avarage guideline for a standard (j)rpg
 

PixeLockeT

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12+. (I didn't know what exactly "way more" implied or I probably would have chosen it) < .< What can I say? I was raised on oldschool grindy games. lol So this is just a personal preference.
 

Frostorm

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12+. (I didn't know what exactly "way more" implied or I probably would have chosen it) < .< What can I say? I was raised on oldschool grindy games. lol So this is just a personal preference.
Yea, not gonna lie, I totally screwed up on that poll lol. I actually do prefer that old school grindiness as well, but I got the impression that it's fallen out of favor. With people saying how "if the game requires grinding, then it must be poorly designed, etc..." so I've somehow developed a bit of a fear of having too many encounters.:kaoswt:
 

ShadowDragon

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depends on the dungeon itself like:

B2, B1, Ground level, F1, F2 etc is one question for a dungeon to go upor down and the rooms
it can have on that map as well for the size of the map.

if you use a big map, you can easely hit 12+ on map encounters and andom encounter to
get through those.

there are more general questions on those that need to get an answer in order to know
how many encounters you will face or not :)
 

TheoAllen

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I would answer based on a map, not a dungeon.
Per map, average size (40x ~ 50x grids), 1 ~ 3.
A larger map can have 4 ~ 5.

Now, answer "how many maps per dungeon", and you get the answer.
 

Wavelength

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I'm using a single, successful (make it to the boss) dungeon run in a traditional adventure-around-the-world JRPG as a context for answering this. Obviously it's different in something like a one-dungeon Azure Dreams-style RPG or an idle game.

I think 10 encounters is a good baseline average to start from. Think of the sum of battle time in your dungeon as a three-phase arc:
  1. The first few encounters you're discovering completely new stuff, and probably just trying to survive surprises
  2. The next few, you're working up mastery of how to exploit those enemies
  3. The final few you're expressing your mastery by easily taking most of them down
Put that entire arc together and you're working with about 10 encounters before the battles in that dungeon start to feel tired.

Different factors adjust what the ideal amount is:
  • More than 2 wholly-new types of enemies - more encounters are appropriate (increases the length of the "discover new stuff" phase)
  • All enemies are similar to ones seen before - fewer encounters are appropriate (decreases the length of the "discover" and "learn mastery" phases)
  • Fewer than 4 total enemy types in the dungeon - fewer encounters are appropriate (ennui will set in quickly)
  • More than 5 total troop formations - more encounters are appropriate (increases the length of the learn-mastery phase)
  • Action Battle System - more encounters are appropriate (ABS's are more engaging and dynamically create different situations, increasing the length the express-mastery phase is satisfying)
  • Tactical Battle System or Long Battles - fewer encounters are appropriate (these phases are more about time; when battles are longer, each phase completes in fewer battles)
  • Player will need to visit (or attempt) this dungeon multiple times - fewer encounters are appropriate (on each subsequent run, only the first few battles will feel interesting)
Eternal Senia (an ABS with extremely breezy combat that lasted seconds and a huge variety of enemies in different combinations) felt great despite every single room having enemies that you need to kill. You might have to wipe 30 groups of enemies in a one-hour dungeon, yet it felt like the perfect amount.

Trails in the Sky (a Tactical Battle System with literally one or two enemy types in each dungeon) only threw you into about half a dozen battles per dungeon and that actually felt like too many - the first couple battles in each dungeon were quite fun but by the fourth, the sense of sameness would set in heavy.

Notably, it's easy to get lost in a lot of JRPG dungeons (especially in RPG Maker where the field of view is limited), so designers should always work that extra amount of time into their calculations when figuring out what the Encounter Rate should be. If you want 10 average encounters in your dungeon, a player who manages to hit the exact right path from beginning to end should end up in no more than 6.

Finally, a common question to ask here would be about balance - for example, if an enemy troop is draining 1/3 of my party's resources and there's no way to restore them mid-dungeon, shouldn't I have 3 encounters instead of 10? Balance is important, but I would handle it after figuring out the number of Encounters (which is an important Pacing issue). If each of the 10 encounters is taking 1/3 of your party's resources, consider giving them three times the current amount of resources, or adding two Full-Restore points in your dungeon at the one-third and two-thirds checkpoints. Don't reduce the average encounters to 3 unless each encounter is also taking a very long time!
 

sb~

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12+. (I didn't know what exactly "way more" implied or I probably would have chosen it) < .< What can I say? I was raised on oldschool grindy games. lol So this is just a personal preference.

I was as well, but going back to some of these older games can sometimes drive me nuts. I replayed Breath of Fire 2 recently and sometimes I wanted to throw my 3DS when I encountered an enemy every ~5 steps.

Also considering the fact that we're indie and not AAA developers, I would wager that most players wouldn't give your game the time of day if there were too many monotonous encounters.
 

Wavelength

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I was as well, but going back to some of these older games can sometimes drive me nuts. I replayed Breath of Fire 2 recently and sometimes I wanted to throw my 3DS when I encountered an enemy every ~5 steps.

Also considering the fact that we're indie and not AAA developers, I would wager that most players wouldn't give your game the time of day if there were too many monotonous encounters.
Right on - what dynamics are fun (and what peoples' expectations are) have changed as the genre has matured. When no one had played a video game RPG before, dozens of menu-based battles an hour against monotonous foes could still be a novel experience and even a blast. Don't try doing that today :D
 

Milennin

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Since I use touch encounters and track respawn timers, I don't really want to set up more than 10 encounters in one place, so that's basically the limit I set for myself. There's also always at least 1 optional mini-boss guarding some treasure. But I expect the average player to get into about half of the encounters I have in a dungeon, since there's secret and alternative paths and ways to bypass some of the encounters, so around 4-5 battles to get to the boss. I balance my boss fights having that number in mind.
But my regular encounters last at least 3-4 turns, and longer further into the dungeon, so they're a bit on the lengthier side for an RPG. That's why I keep my encounter rate fairly low.
 

PixeLockeT

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I was as well, but going back to some of these older games can sometimes drive me nuts. I replayed Breath of Fire 2 recently and sometimes I wanted to throw my 3DS when I encountered an enemy every ~5 steps.

Also considering the fact that we're indie and not AAA developers, I would wager that most players wouldn't give your game the time of day if there were too many monotonous encounters.

Disagree. I still love grindy games. I don't have and never have had nostalgia goggles so what was good back then is still good, what was bad is still bad. I do hate Breath of Fire tho. XD But I love the grind on games that are worth it.
 

CraneSoft

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I'll not say a number as it's affected by way too many factors like you said yourself (dungeon size in particular), so I'll say mixing "number of unique enemies x 3" and "number of maps x 3" is a good balance in terms on-map encounters. As a player I'll move to the next map and/or avoiding enemies altogether if I ain't fighting anything new for the 3rd battle (or the 1st battle if the following map is also making me fight the same enemies as the previous), and I expect my players to do the same.

With that said, I do "force" a number of unavoidable encounters per dungeon so the player will fight anywhere between 2~5 mandatory battles ( for the short, early dungeons ) at the minimum before they can reach the boss.
 

Tai_MT

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Honestly, for me... it depends on what your battle system is.

If your battle system is entirely built around stats... I only want like 10 or less encounters per dungeon. Why? I've already grinded my level to be more than enough to curb stomp your content anyway. I've already burned myself out on your combat and just want to move along. I already broke your game and I'm just here for the story or whatever else is compelling me to play. It's probably not your dungeon design, combat, or boss encounters.

If your battle system is more tactical in nature, then it depends on how many troop formations you have to show me and whether those formations are teaching me new things. If you have 5 formations and each will teach me something, then I expect about 2 battles per formation. Two battles to either pound the lesson into my head, or one battle to teach me and another for me to curb stomp the battle to show I understood the lesson.

If your battle system is highly complicated/time consuming... like say... you've got a Break System implemented... I want as little to do with your combat as possible. 5 encounters. Maybe less. I understand your mechanics, but they're annoying, tiresome, tedious, and massively time consuming for very little payoff. I'd rather not engage in combat at all if your combat is designed this way.

But, no matter what battle system you've got in place...

It's probably not balanced very well to begin with. I've probably already broken it before the first fight. I'm probably already over-leveled. I'm probably already curb-stomping your enemies and that's just because I don't run from any fight, or avoid any combat what-so-ever. I also complete every sidequest I run across before completing the main story quests. And, if you've got some kind of crafting system or system where you earn points in combat that you use to unlock new skills (like most job systems), then I'm doubly or triply over-leveled for your content as I've now spent time grinding to get the best possible gear/skills I can.

At which point... I'm only in your dungeon for the loot. So, if your loot is underwhelming... I'm REALLY going to be annoyed and impatient with your combat system and any encounters I have to deal with. Oh look, the 5th chest in this dungeon with useless consumables I'll never use. Thanks, I hate it. Oh, a new piece of equipment! Oh, it's objectively worse than anything I've already got, but it's got a weird little feature on it that could be situationally useful! Yeah, no thanks. Oh, hooray, a chest with 2000 currency in it. That would be useful if I ever bought anything in the game. Or rather, needed to buy anything.

Anyway, yeah, it largely depends on what your combat consists of. Combat needs to be "not too fast" and also "not too slow". There's a "happy medium" in there somewhere. If you find it, I don't actually get annoyed with 20+ battles per dungeon. Mostly because you've at least kept combat engaging.
 

Grunwave

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Disagree. I still love grindy games. I don't have and never have had nostalgia goggles so what was good back then is still good, what was bad is still bad. I do hate Breath of Fire tho. XD But I love the grind on games that are worth it.

Did you ever play Xeno Gears?

If it had not had such an awesome story: there is no way I would have ever deal with how wretched its grind was.

And I too come from the old school of grind. I really enjoy when a game ask you to stop for 10 mins, 30 mins or even an hour and level up.

To the OT:

Probably 5 encounters per "floor" ?
 

Aesica

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Depends entirely on the size of the dungeon. My approach is a bit different than most in that the player is the one that chooses whether or not to engage foes by walking up to them and pressing the interact button. Some are roadblocks that sit in the way until defeated and never respawn, while others wander around aimlessly and respawn on map change. For dungeons, anyway.

I'm still not sure how I want to handle the overworld: Traditional random encounters with ways to avoid them such as a DQ-style Repel effect or a temporary mount. Or maybe something like Zelda 2? I guess I don't want the overworld to feel completely safe, but also, I don't want it to be annoying to navigate...
 

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