Is there such thing as too many enemy types?

omen613

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I'm a fan of enemies being unique from one another and not just copy and pasted with different skins.


But as I design 30 unique enemies (non-boss) I start to wonder if people will have a hard time remembering what each enemy does and how to defend/defeat it.


Most games tend to have 3ish enemies per area and mix and match the troop combination for the players to defeat. 


But what if there were 10+ enemies? Old enemies from previous zones sprinkled in with new enemies for new interactions.


For discussion reasons lets say you had 100 battles and each battle you meet a new enemy unit and the rest are previous enemies you have encountered (thats 1 new and up to 7 old per battle.) What are you opinions on how complex this would be. Is the scale too fast?


Pros? Cons?


And for the sake of discussion lets assume "depends on how you do it" isn't an answer lol 


*Edit


Lets say each battle is strategical. And the player can't just use strong attacks to win.


Example: Flying enemies can only be hit by ranged attacks and heavy armored enemies have to be hit by piercing skills.
 
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Andar

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It depends a lot on your game and your battlesystem - even if you don't like that part. That is partly due to the mathematics involved and partly due to how you want the enemies defeated. I'll explain:


If your battlesystem requires strategy to defeat the enemies, then the enemy needs to repeat often enough for the player to learn the needed strategies.


If it's just bashing on, the number of different enemies won't matter.


And with your numbers, an enemy would be used a maximum of eight times (on average) in the entire game, because every battle will contain only one new and seven old enemies, which means that you need to drop used enemies (or don't use newer enemies as often as 8 times).


Additionally, each enemy is more work for the developer - not only designing but also balancing and so on. Do you really want to make that work for enemies that are rarely used?
 

omen613

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Good points indeed.


The battles would be strategy heavy and require the player to use the proper skills to win. Example being a Flying enemy that could only be hit by ranged attacks or an enemy that counters all melee attacks with a powerful magic attack.


Rock Paper Scissors for most enemies.


As for the additional work on development, the experience is the most important yes? 
 

Wavelength

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You're going to hate this answer - but it really does depend on how you do it.  More specifically, like Andar alluded to, it depends on what your purpose and primary play aesthetics are as you design your battle system.


I do see some games go the route you mentioned, having only 3-4 different enemies in an entire dungeon, and by the time I fight about the fourth battle in such a dungeon I usually start to feel really bored.  (Again it depends - a very quick or Action-based battle system has an easier time floating on fewer enemy types.)  Except where enemies have highly varied "threat levels" (for example glass cannons appearing alongside healers and tanks), the number of different troop combinations they appear in is basically irrelevant and doesn't stave off the boredom.


In a standard Final Fantasy-esque RPG where you expect the player to spend 30 minutes in a dungeon and fight 15 battles while they're there, I would recommend about 8 different enemies, with up to half of them being upgrades of monsters you've seen in previous dungeons (for example, an Ice Slime that's just like the Woods Slime you saw earlier in the game, except with better stats and one or two new moves).



In general, I would advise strongly against having every battle contain completely unique enemies.  It doesn't give the player time to develop a long-lasting or satisfying strategy against the enemies unless lots of information about them is immediately available.  However, I have done this at least once - in timeblazer, every battle is a boss battle (about 10 over the course of a 2-3 hour game), most last around 5 minutes, and nearly all have story hooks and complex troop eventing so that the feel and the strategy is different in each one.  I think it fits the game well because improvisation is one of the primary play aesthetics and one of the goals is to make every battle feel like a memorable experience.


To answer your question, if players will average 100 total encounters in your game (this suggests either fairly short length, or a low encounter rate), and 15 of those are unique bosses or minibosses, you could figure on about 25 unique enemies just for the mini/boss fights, leaving 85 encounters.  Assume 3 enemies in the average encounter, meaning 255 total "random encounter" monsters to fight.  In general I think 6-10 total instances of each monster (fewer for really big monsters that tend to appear alone; higher for stuff like bees where 6 might be seen in a single encounter) is a good "sweet spot" - for figuring out how a monster works, developing a rewarding strategy to beat it, and moving on before you get really tired of "the same old monster".  So 255 / 8 = 32 different monsters; added with the 25 unique enemies that would make 57 different Enemies in your database and perhaps 120 total Troop formations.


If you were to double the encounter rate using these guidelines, you'd want about (32 * 2) + 25 = 89 different Enemies in your database.  Most developers don't have the creativity or stamina to create this many, but it's usually necessary to create a fun experience when the player will be spending so much time in battle.
 

Titanhex

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This question is rather complex.


First, you have to understand the difference between good difficulty and bad difficulty. A monster that just has high numbers is bad difficulty. A monster that requires strategies that the player learns through experience is good difficulty. A boss should be the summation of those strategies.


In order to fulfill that need, enemies should be introduced to teach the player a strategy, or multiple strategies, that will become important later on. This keeps monsters both relevant and interesting.


In order to do this, you need to know what resources the player will have when entering the area the monster is in. Resources include items, abilities, and PCs.


Knowing when you'll introduce the monster, and what strategy is needed to beat the monster, and making sure the player has access to that strategy, is important. That is what you should be designing your monsters around.
 

Azurecyan

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You can also look at the real world and think, almost all of the animals we see are either a "reskin" or a slight variation of another. You don't want too many different enemies with different or similar strategies. It can overwhelm the player and have them think that it may prove too much to switch out or remember what strategy should be utilized on certain enemies. Each new place can introduce at least 1 or 2 new species and have a few old ones that are a variation or "reskin."


Games such as Tales of Symphonia 2 has various enemies(the reason is because you can capture them and use them in battle), each looking slightly unique but the same species. A medusa and naga are from the same species but look completely different with a variation to strategy(a medusa is more susceptible to getting hit by magic but still susceptible to physical attacks(but only by a 25% margin), whereas a naga is more susceptible to getting hit by physical attacks), but a medusa and gorgon may be a reskin with some slight stat adjustments(both are susceptible to getting hit by magic). What I mean is that have species with various enemies with slight variation to strategy, but the same strategies can still be pulled off on certain monsters of the species, that way players are not too overwhelmed with a naga must be killed in this way only, and a medusa the same.


In summary, it all depends on what you want the game to include. Strategy-wise you don't want to memorize every unique enemy's weaknesses and strengths or have it too difficult; you want strategy to be a challenge but not see battles as a chore, especially normal battles.
 
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Clangeddin

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The short answer to the topic's title is no. Variety is good (it keeps the game fresh and engaging, it also helps "hiding" the grind a lot if there's any.) and, if we take the opposite propositions to the extremes (having 1 enemy type vs infinite types) I think that everyone will prefer the latter.


Of course there's a little disclaimer. The "different types" have actually to be different, and not just a reskin of old enemies with different graphics and more stats.
 

Randy

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I think folks are forgetting the biggest game that does this: Pokemon. There are hundreds of enemies and something like 20 attack types. I think the way that Pokemon gets away with it, is that the enemies can all be used by the player at some time. So instead of just fighting different enemies, you are also constantly gaining new party members. In fact the party organization is huge when you think about it like that. Instead of worrying about 4 characters, you could have dozens of party members that you can switch out.
 
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While Variety is a good thing, too much of a good thing is just as bad as something harmful; i.e. we need water to live but too much and we drown.

When it comes to memory there is a limit to how much info we can store at any one time. This 'magic number' is 7, according to George A. Miller (yes, I got it from Yanfly's 'Lets make a dungeon' comic :p). I wouldn't go much higher than this in terms of monsters per area, but f you do include monsters from previous dungeons you could possibly push it up by 2 or so.

One way around this would be akin to pokemon where encounters cycle due to an event (time in this case) or if you 'swap terrain' (surfing), these are distinctive triggers that allow the mind to 'switch tracks'.

And on the topic of Pokemon, they too seam to rarely break this magic number in terms of wild pokemon per area (after factoring time and terrain), I even did random spot checks using this handy page https://pokemondb.net/location.
 

acidhedz

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Depends on the game.

My last game has over 200 enemies, but most of them are either limited appearances or even one shots. Because it's a comedy/parody game.
This will take a bit of explanation...
One thing the game parodies is how the lands/areas of RPGs tend to have terrain themes. I did that, but each also has at least one other theme.
The first one is Monty Python, so all the regular enemies are named Bruce. Which is a reference to a sketch they did. Bruce, Angry Bruce (who is green), Mighty Bruce (switch it around it you should get it), and the boss is Ultimate Bruce (who looks like a woman).
The second is 90s music, so the enemies are Jeremy (Pearl Jam), Iris (Goo Goo Dolls), Jane ('s Addiction), Alice (in Chains) and the boss is Mr Self Destruct (NIN song).
From there each area may have a lot of enemies with limited appearances, or a few with more. It just depended on what I could think of to go with the theme.
The last area's theme is youtubers, so you have Epic Rap Battles of History, Honest Trailers, the Green Brothers, the Fine Brothers and React kids, etc. Each battle is against someone new, so there's lots of different enemies there with few repeats.
The really important thing, is that most of the enemies in the game have unique dialog. So even though I did a lot of work to make sure the combat was challenging, even a bit mean at times, the reason there are lots of enemies is because of the dialog.
The Epic Rap Battles fight, for example, has Peter and Lloyd doing a full Rap Battle between JackSepticEye and Markiplier, with Pewdiepie jumping in at the end.
I knew it would mean extra DB work to make the enemies work, but I wanted to get the jokes in, so I did it.

I have a bunch of stuff written down for a sequel that will have a lot more enemies, because it will be a horror-comedy RPG, and horror is a big genre, with plenty of things to draw on for spoofing and references.

Another project I've got simmering has loads of enemies, with lot's of different types. It takes place in a vast dungeon area with a big evil tower over it. It's full of factions of goodies and baddies and "depends on how you deal with thems", so that game needs lots of enemies, with different types.

On the other hand, for a project I've been doing ideas/notes for recently I plan to only have a few enemies. Mostly people infected with a demonic disease, gangs, cultists and government agency types. I plan to make a pretty big number of sprites for them, and some variations for things like different weapons, but will probably use Yanfly's enemy levels plug-in and use a, comparatively, small number of actual enemy spots in the DB.

My advice, as always, is do what feels right. Never do anything just for the sake of doing it.
That, and like others have said, don't make things harder on yourself if you don't need to.
Trying to solo dev a game is hard enough, even with RPG Maker, without giving yourself unnecessary headaches.

@ShadowHawkDragon Not just drown with your water analogy. Drinking too much water can flush the electrolytes out of your system and kill you though nervous system failure. That's why drinks like Gatorade were invented.
A few years ago, here in the States, some dip*&#@ radio station host had a water drinking contest during the summer, and a girl died that way.
 
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atoms

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Yes you can have too many enemies, you have to balance them well with the maps. Maybe 3-7 enemies per dungeon seems about right depending on how you design your dungeon. It also depends on what skills you give the party members and if there is strategy to defeating the enemies or not. You don't want to confuse the player with too many enemies at once but you don't want too fewer enemies either.
 

ScientistWD

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I would love to include my opinion, especially by being as redundant as possible!

Lately, I played a game called Epic Battle Fantasy IV. I didn't notice the first time through, but that game has a very large number of enemies. Some were similar to re-skins, (a "Fire Sprite" versus an "Ice Sprite") but they did have unique behaviors. This led me to believe that my game had too few enemies. But I have yet to test it out. Anyway, maybe you could, too. Epic Battle Fantasy wasn't perfect for me; often it was just a process of scanning a foe and then targeting their weakness over and over. It wasn't bad; it was definitely more complicated and interesting than that. But I think the game had to have lots of enemies to stay engaging because of it.

Enemies are one of the most engaging parts of an RPG. With such a style as "rock-paper-scissors" like you say, it I think depends on how much information your players can get at once and how unique they are in the first place. I mean, if flying enemies always need to be hit by ranged attacks, a player can figure this out quickly and having lots of new enemies that fly is easy for players to get a handle on. But if that's the case, then how different are these flying enemies in the first place? That would be my concern, anyway; they have to be similar enough to communicate, but different enough to be interesting, right?

I'll share another anecdote. In my game, there are enemy "types", such as Insect and Fairy. All Insects can come back to life. All Fairies are weak to the "Banishment" attack element. So that much information can go to the player at once. Otherwise, Insects and Fairies can have a lot of different behaviors; some attack, some heal, or whatever. That much players will have to learn by experience.

So I guess with all this in mind, my answer follows. Complicated enemies take a long time to learn, and simple enemies take a short amount of time to learn. That might be the difference between enemy numbers here, within my experience and Epic Battle Fantasy.
I mean, I can imagine a new area adding just one enemy. One complicated enemy that changes the way you approach all the others. For instance, it made all its allies immune to magic or something. Something like that. Done right, it could work. Probably.
Introduce as many enemies as you need to keep things engaging. Is the moral of the story, I guess.
 

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