RyuRose

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I, as a RPG gamer, despise Random Encounters.

In my (upcoming) game, Crimsoneta, I am considering not allowing Random Encounters, instead just by setting it on the map.

How do you guys feel about Random Encounters.
 

TheoAllen

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What I don't like from random encounter is, it's really random. And when I'm a few tiles away from a door, edge of the map, switch, suddenly, I transferred into battle scene. It's just annoying
 

Sauteed_Onion

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Hmm it may be because I grew up in the time of random encounters, but I enjoy them or did.
The first straight JRPG style game I played that did not have random encounters (that I remember anyway) was one of the Lunar games for the sega cd.

I have played a BUNCH of games with varying methods of encounters and I have to say some of my favorite games were first person dungeon crawlers (blobbers as they have been known by for awhile) with random encounters as the primary form of fighting.
 

JtheDuelist

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@RyuRose My Fes made RPG, Downfall FES, didn't have random encounters and you want to know what happens?

THEY ABSOLUTELY HATED IT WHEN THERE WERE NO RANDOM ENCOUNTERS, AND INSISTED, NO- DEMANDED- I ADD SOME OR THREATENED TO GIVE 1 STAR REVIEWS!

Apparently, people think a RPG it isn't a RPG if it doesn't have random encounters... I eventually added two EXTREMELY rare encounters just to appease the haters but make the loyal still know the game still played the same before adding them.
 

Rhaeami

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I remember this being a big conversation piece during the PlayStation 1 generation. Lunar: Silver Star Story, Chrono Cross, and others started experimenting with on-touch encounters instead of random ones. Legend of Dragoon instead laid bare the mechanics with a colored arrow that turned red as your next "random" encounter drew nearer. These days, decades later, I'd say it's hard to tell whether random encounters are even the standard anymore.

Personally, I think both systems can be good or bad depending on execution. A bad random encounter system leaves you constantly swamped in enemies. A bad on-touch encounter system makes your levels feel formulaic and boring.

From your wording it seems you might not be aware of just how many games have tried to abandon random encounters already over the years, so I'd suggest looking into them and learning from their successes and mistakes to improve your own game. :kaopride:
 

Kes

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I give my players the choice, they can either have on-map encounters or random, though their choice cannot be altered later in the game. It is the only way to please everyone.

I think a good part of the reason why some people loathe random is the "3-steps-and-a-battle" problem. This is very easily solvable in Ace (and I assume, but do not know, also in MV). If you do that, and think very carefully about how many steps you want between encounters i.e. vary it as necessary from map to map, depending on all the elements you have to take into account, then those who enjoy random can have the experience they want.

I know I could put in either one or the other, but I believe that my personal preferences should not override the player's choices when these can be accommodated to the detriment of no one.

EDIT
[mod]Just a gentle reminder to everyone[/mod]
As this is 'Game Mechanics Design' replies need to be a bit more than just saying what our preferences are. There could e.g. be discussion about ways of getting round/preventing some of the more common complaints; a discussion (not a rant) about whether one should ever include this feature etc. etc.
 
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Tiamat-86

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im and avid gamer of the older style jrpg.
ive played a few games with a mix of both at same time (only 1 done well)
but both methods do have pros/cons.

Random Encounters
pros
- easier to grind out exp/gold when want to or if need to
- sense of real threat just to travel in a world full of creatures that want u for dinner
cons
- finding perfect encounter rate
- "almost there, i can see it" hype... "ughh"
assets
- methods to change encounter rate
(enemy lure/repel skills) or (reduced encounters after event)
(limited random encounter, IE. Breath of Death 7)

Static Encounters
pros
- avoid unneeded hassle by weak mobs
- less playtesting to find good difficulty balance
cons
- needing to leave and reenter if want to grind specific mobs (crafting/rare loot drops)
- mapping and placement gives a little less freedom with dungeon design
assets
- methods to grind exp/gold
(battle coliseums)
(mini games)

personally i prefer random encounter system but when they do have "some" static encounters
to introduce new enemy types and mini bosses. but only as 1 time things
 

Wavelength

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We've talked about this a few times in the past; see this thread from 1 year ago for a lot of good discussion.

When implemented well, I believe that Visual Encounters (visible on the map; battles generally start when they touch you) are a strictly better system than Random Encounters for RPGs (except in a few very specific subgenres like Roguelikes, where either can be good depending on the game's design philosophies). Visual Encounters allow the player some room to chase or avoid battles, as their mood dictates. Visual Encounters feel more immersive and intuitive, because you can see the enemies around you as you explore. Visual Encounters allow the player to clear out a room or area, making exploration easier to focus on if they're lost. Visual Encounters feel much more "fair" in that the player has a chance to avoid encounters when they are at low health and low resources, rather than having the encounter foisted upon the player. Visual Encounters are sort of like having a player skill-based Escape command that you can use before you even get into the battle, combined with a method for getting into battles on-demand if desired. I love VE's!

The single benefit that Random Encounters provide (for a competent designer who can make a decent VE system) is that they allow for higher flexibility in dungeon design, which @Tiamat-86 insightfully mentioned.

With all of that being said, a bad VE system can be even worse than a RE system. There are a lot of pitfalls that can turn a potentially fun and immersive system like VE's into a very frustrating one for the player. Make sure to avoid these pitfalls:
  • Having a VE immediately trigger another combat if the party Escapes from combat
  • Poorly representing the encounter (troop) type with the chosen VE graphic
  • Respawning VEs immediately upon re-entering a room, if dungeons consist of many rooms
  • Having VEs tend to cluster up in one place on your map
  • Making VEs too hard or too easy to avoid (some players don't mind too easy, but it does tend to reduce excitement)
  • Making dungeon paths too narrow, making it impossible to avoid a VE (unless you are including choke points as an intentional design choice)
  • Allowing VEs on the world map to wander way out of their intended territory
 

D.L. Yomegami

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Personally, I don't have a particular preference about encounter type. If the rest of the game's up to my preferences, then how the player meets normal enemies isn't really a concern.

I think most of the random encounter hate comes from "I just got into a fight three steps ago, why am I in another one already?!" sort of deal. To that end, I think setting up a system where there's a certain amount of steps the player can take after getting into a random encounter where they won't get into another one can help.

There's also the possibility of taking a page from Pokemon's book and making it so the places where players can run into random encounters and where they cannot, and making the areas visually distinct so that players who don't want to fight can avoid the random encounter areas.

A few games also have the option of manually setting the random encounter rate (I think Bravely Default did this? I'm not sure, since I never played that game or its sequel), so there's another option for you.

One benefit random encounters have over visual encounters is that visual encounters need additional graphics to represent them on the map. If you're like me and don't have a lot of artistic ability, then random encounters can help shave a little time/money off graphic hunting. Maybe not that much, but it's something?
 

bgillisp

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@Wavelength : A lot of those points can also be used positively or by design. For example, cluttering up a zone could be used to represent a monster nest, that you have to thin out to slip through. You just have to be careful to not always do that though.

@D.L. Yomegami : That's why many use the black ghost for the monster, as it is generic and gives an idea of a monster. I remember Skyborn used the gargoyle to represent all battles, and probably for the same reason.

As for me, I'd say it depends on your game design. A heavy dungeon crawler needs at least respawning monsters, else it will feel empty after a while. Plus, what do you do if you need to grind if you don't put a few respawning monsters? Just suffer?
 

Titanhex

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Random Encounters are like any other mechanic in games.
It can be done poorly or it can be done well.

Most the time people hate Random Encounters is because it's too random. People want a way to have some influence on what they fight and when they fight. Realizing this, a handful of developers have came up with systems that can do this.
Most notably, tall grass in Pokemon.

You do still run into the issue of a game without Random encounters feeling like a "Run from the monster" sort of ordeal, or "Wait til he's far away and not looking", which can be annoying and frustrating.

So no system is guaranteed to be more fun than the other.
 

jkweath

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I honestly don't mind random encounters at all as long as they're done correctly. That is to say...

  • Not running into enemies every 5 steps (the original Final Fantasy was really, really bad about this). Balance the encounter rate accordingly depending on the map size. Smaller maps can have higher encounter rates IMO (35-40 steps, for example), while large maps, especially ones with a maze-like structure, should have much lower encounter rates (like 80-100 steps)
  • Puzzle rooms should most certainly not have random encounters.
  • Giving some way to avoid encounters--either by making in-game paths that don't have random battles or by giving items or skills that halve or disable the encounter rate. Also making it relatively easy to escape battles is a good thing.
  • Having the encounters be at least somewhat engaging and rewarding to begin with--if they aren't, I'll get frustrated even if the encounter rate is relatively good
That's my two cents. I grew up with random encounters so I'm okay with them; however, I acknowledge that on-screen encounters can be superior to random encounters when they're done properly.
 

Wavelength

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@Wavelength : A lot of those points can also be used positively or by design. For example, cluttering up a zone could be used to represent a monster nest, that you have to thin out to slip through. You just have to be careful to not always do that though.

No one loves Monster Nests more than I do, and as you said, if these (or any of my other 'pitfalls') are implemented occasionally and by design, they can be nice features in a game.

With that said, I think we'd agree that it would be very bad design to have a situation where, in general, you have monsters wandering way out of their intended zones before the player even gets there, leading to - for example - a room or two in each dungeon that is impossible to wade through without running into encounter after encounter, while most of the rest of the dungeon is strangely empty of life.

That kind of stuff is what I consider a design pitfall, and it's surprisingly easy to let happen (on a platform like RPG Maker) if the designer doesn't do some very specific things to prevent it from happening! :)
 

bgillisp

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@Wavelength : True. Which is why when I do it you can usually see the entire nest on screen, as well as the exit, so you know how to get out of there. Now you just have to get there...somehow, while dealing with the 4 - 5 stacks of monsters that are roaming that pit.

But I know what you are getting at. Most will put 10 - 15 stacks of monsters in a 20 x 15 room to simulate it, so you have no chance. But at 4 - 5 stacks you still got a reasonable chance to get out of there in 0 - 2 battles, unless you slip up and get cornered.

Plus, I also added the ability for the monsters stack to flee from you if you are way over their level. You can still chase them down and fight, but otherwise they will scatter and let you do what you want. I feel that way you avoid the whole getting worthless battles that take 3 minutes for 1% of the EXP you need for the next level.
 

Redeye

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I rarely use random encounters. I wish that the "Steps Taken" feature determined the MINIMUM amount of steps you needed to take before becoming vulnerable to encounters instead of the average amount of steps you take before fighting.

The only RE system that was ever done right imo is in Wild Arms 3 with the "Migrant System", where a "!" would display over the character when a monster was about to attack you. In order to avoid this encounter, you simply pressed a button. Fight avoided. The downside? Avoiding Battles costs Migrant Points, and if you run out of Points, you can't avoid battles anymore. Thankfully, those points could be replenished, and sometimes by pure chance you would obtain a Green "!" that allowed you to avoid battles for free. The only time where you were truly forced into a RE would be when you receive a Red "!", which means that you got ambushed.

Another cool feature about the Migrant System is that you could also increase your max capacity of Migrant points, and there were special passive skills that allowed you to do things like have Green "!"s appear more often or even completely nullify the chance of receiving a Red "!".
 
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Tai_MT

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Personally, I don't enjoy Visual Encounter systems all that much. As mentioned before by @Wavelength there was a very lengthy discussion on the topic. We did a lot of back and forth on the subject.

My issue with VE systems is that I've only ever seen a single instance of them that was "done well" enough to the point that I'd considered the system "fun". Everything else about a VE system just seems to run contradictory to me and what I feel as "fun" to me personally.

If your curious and don't want to read another topic, that system was what you have in "Earthbound" for SNES. You can chase weaker monsters in that game, you can instantly win battles on the field if the encounter is too weak for the party, if you touch the back of an enemy, you get a Surprise attack, if they touch your back, they get to surprise attack you. It was a full-fledged system.

So, free tip, if you're going to go with a VE system... You need to actually make it a system. It needs to be a full game feature and not be left merely as "an alternative to Random Encounters", because it will end up being among the games that just don't do it well. Make it your own. Add your own style and flair. Treat it as a fun mechanic to be played around with. If you don't, then it's actually much worse than any Random Encounter system there is. Because it will be functioning with all its inherent flaws intact.

Okay, here's why I don't like VE Systems:
1. They make grinding more difficult and require me be engaged with your game when I am deliberately trying to disengage with your game in order to just gain some levels or Job Points or whatever. If I have to keep watching the screen to walk into the enemies, I begin to feel "bored".
2. Enemies are often packed into tight hallways or corridors or even rooms to prevent the player from avoiding combat. The major draw of a VE system is that you can avoid combat with enough movement skill as a player. If you forcing combat in these encounters then you are doing something worse than a RE system, because at least with an RE system, you can straight up win with RNGesus and avoid combat for several dozen spaces by pure chance (or several rooms, depending on how lucky you are). May as well use a RE system if you're just going to force encounters that aren't Boss Fights anyway.
3. Enemy AI is usually fairly basic and that breaks my Immersion. Nothing is more immersion breaking than basic AI that just says, "move towards player". It's funny to watch a Bat get stuck behind a rock that only spans 1/5th the height to the ceiling. Please, program some AI pathing if you're going to do anything with this. Give some enemies unique movement patterns or something. Something other than, "move at player at X speed".
4. Many VE systems make their enemies move "too fast" so that it's difficult to avoid combat. Others make it "too slow". Personally, I prefer if your enemies move at roughly the same speed as the player, unless there is some kind of Lore reason that these monsters should move faster. At which point, you might want to introduce Stealth Mechanics on top of the VE.
5. No rewards for avoiding combat. The reason you have a VE System is to give the player the option to avoid combat in the first place... But, there's no reward for doing so except for "I don't have to engage in your combat system". If a player wants to avoid my combat system, I much prefer knowing why they want to and what I can do to fix it. But, on the other end of the spectrum, if you have a good combat system and players don't want to avoid it, they'll be seeking out your VE's anyway instead of avoiding them. So, you end up with two problems. The first problem is that your players have a reason to avoid your combat system solely because they don't want to engage with it, since they get nothing out of avoiding combat otherwise and the second problem is you have a system that players actually enjoy quite a lot, at which point, they won't bother to avoid combat at all, so they may as well be playing a RE System instead. In short, if you're engaging with a VE System, you need to have really great reasons to have it. Not just, "I prefer it". You need to incentivize it's use in your game and all the baggage the system comes with. Otherwise it's just, "I put it in the game because I thought it was cool" and your game quality will suffer as a result.
6. It makes farming difficult. Say you've got a monster that drops a sword I want. But, it's a rare monster, so it doesn't spawn up (assuming, of course, that your VE system doesn't just respawn the exact same encounters over and over again, but picks from a range of them and range of locations to give the appearance of monsters that are actually alive... or just to add depth and complexity to the system) very often. So, I then have to go back and forth between loading screens to find it. I have to run into your room, check all the encounters, run from all of them I didn't want, then run back out of the room... then back in... just to reset the room. To do it all again. I'd much rather run in circles with a RE System to farm that sword. It's less intensive work. It's "put on Netflix, walk in a circle, when I hear battle music, see if it's what I want. If it is, kill it for the drop. If it's not, hit Escape and resume".
7. Respawning enemies. I'm probably in the minority on this... but if I can see enemies and kill them, I kind of expect them to stay dead. Like... forever. I don't expect a location to restock its supply of monsters in the time it takes me to leave the screen and come back. Maybe monsters can move back into a location, fine. But, personally, I prefer they at least stay dead for a while. Especially in a dungeon. It gives the subtle clue of, "I haven't been here before, there are monsters to kill". Though, this does conflict with my wanting to farm some. Still, it'd be better that rooms have a certain number of encounters that could "spawn up" and ones I've finished would "stay down" for a while. So, I kill the 3 Bat encounters, leave the room, come back, and 3 more new encounters are in there, one of them is a Baby Dragon now. I'd probably even settle for just cycling out the encounters whether I complete them or not. I just find it frustrating to leave a screen after killing everything, realize I need to go back to get more supplies, and all the encounters are back again. Hooray.
8. Enemies can "corner you". I just don't like being cornered and forced into a fight. At least with a RE System I don't feel "forced" into a fight. I feel like it's just something that happened, I can hit "run" and get away and not worry about it again for another Average of 35 steps. No such luck with a VE System.
9. No item to permanently or even temporarily avoid all combat for a time. I like games that give me an item like, "half encounter rate" or "encounter rate zero". These items are useful for back tracking, or avoiding lots of pointless combat when you're already leveled up pretty high. VE Systems don't have these features. So, you're basically forced to take most every encounter on the map... Or spend time avoiding the encounters manually. This is why I liked Earthbound... because enemies too weak to you just ran away from you. They cleared a path for you. The "instant defeat" also helped that "clear a path" stuff.
10. Lack of interactivity with the encounters. I feel like if you have monsters on the map, it might be more fun to be able to "interact" with them in some ways. Like, if you Kite the Lion encounter over here to the Wolf Encounter, they animate to look like they're going to fight each other instead of you. Or, you can play with the environment to move some of the "cover" about, or change the dynamic of avoiding combat. Maybe, you can toss some raw meat down somewhere and the enemies will gather around that and leave you alone. Maybe, you could even lay "traps" on the map to start enemy encounters with a debuff or something. I dunno. I feel like there's just not a lot going on with a VE and that it's merely a "dumbed down" version of a RE that does everything it does... except the players feel better because they can see the encounters. And, if that's the only difference... Then I feel like we need to improve one or both versions of encounter systems.
11. I mostly feel like the reason players want a VE System is simply to "avoid boring combat". Or, maybe that's "Avoid Constant Combat". Though, you'd have to design your VE System in such a way that "Constant Combat" isn't a thing to get away from that. Anyway, I think that the problem isn't really in whether you use a VE or a RE System, but rather what your combat is like. Boring combat is boring combat. If the player feels it's tedious, then you need to do something as a game dev other than implement a basic encounter system. I feel like regardless of which option you pick, there are right ways and wrong ways to do it, so the Encounter System itself really doesn't matter all that much.

Now, to sort of springboard off of number 11 here. I've never bought and played a game solely on the feature of what "Encounter System" it has. Likewise, the "Encounter System" itself has never made me like or dislike a game. I've never decided a game was good or bad based on its Encounter System either. More often than not, the deciding factor for me is, "Is it fun?". If your combat bores me to tears or gets repetitive or feels unfair... I'm not going to care whether that's Random Encounters or Visual Encounters. Why? Because it's not the Encounter System that is the problem. It is that the game itself doesn't make an aspect of itself "fun" and the Encounter System merely compounds those problems.

Personally, I'd love to play a really good VE system. I just haven't seen one yet. Earthbound was the closest I ever got. So, if you are dead set on using a VE system, I suggest you turn it into a Feature of your game. Make it your own. Make it robust. Do stuff with it you haven't seen people do before. Flesh it out! Then, maybe I'll finally find a VE System I enjoy and can point to in order to say, "This is how you do this Right." and I can stop pointing to just Earthbound for that.

That's my two cents and highly subjective personal opinion. Hope it was useful.
 

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