Random Encounter Schemes/"Systems"

Tiamat-86

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option as difficulty choice
story: encounter none trait and switch ON spawns visible encounters when map loads.
easy: encounter half trait and switch OFF no visual encounters spawn
normal: encounter half trait and switch ON
hard: normal encounter rate and switch ON

edit: 1 that dont think anyone's mentioned was how Breath of Death 7 did it
(this was an indie game on xbox360)(there was no 1-6, was joke about how most ppl 1st FF was 7 lol)
each map had a counter visible, the counter go down by 1 with each battle victory.
the encounter system was a normal random encounter type but when the counter hit 0 there was just no more encounters on that map, unless used skill to force an encounter.
(forced encounter victories also reduced the counter)
 
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velan235

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Option C looks good on theory but if implemented poorly, it becomes worst tag-game. The thing about option C is that it populate the map, and make me actively "dodge" them, and some games implement "Ambush" if the sprite touch you from behind (which is often happen if you are in a dodge mode"), also if it's implemented in a narrow corridor, it's same if not more annoying than option A.

I like option A better, because you can implement number and formula instead of asking the player to actively dodge/chase like in option C.

Option A is the easiest to implement, and thanks to that you can add extra mechanic to it, like how Wild Arms can negate random encounter with a cost, or manipulating the chance through item and equipment, or something like Atelier Iris 2 where there is a gauge for each map, that if you deplete the gauge, you won't encounter any random encounter (reset if you revisit the map). as most Turn-Based RPG is more of "number and calculation" rather than actively dodge/chase/timed for me.
 

GolvaeGames

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I've been toying around with the idea of like a stripe of encounters going across certain areas that all link to the same encounter and turn off after you complete them. This setup wouldn't really support any kind of grinding so as a plus you can keep numbers tight, but then areas become very empty and I don't know how you could fix that without going to one the other options
 

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Do these have to be mutually exclusive? You could have, for instance, characters with a scouting ability. Depending on whether that ability is sufficiently trained (some monsters may be harder to spot than others), encounters may be visible or not. Could be accompanied by a starting message at the beginning of the level telling what the player must be ready for, or if the Scouting ability is insufficient, that they'll risk ambushes if they progress:
"Sniff... there are beastmen nearby. Many beastmen. But also... something else. Something I don't know. Something I don't like. We better watch out."
Bravo - I always love this kind of creative thinking! As you said, there's nothing that necessarily says Visible and Invisible touch encounters need to be mutually exclusive from each other, and if you work hard to design an interesting and interactive Scouting system, you might have something that's far more than the sum of its parts.

With that said, there are some very real frustrations that come with invisible or random encounters (which can be reduced but never fully sifted out via thoughtful design), and I personally think these frustrations shift the scales far into the favor of using Visible Encounters, as a general rule, so long as you can implement them competently. If your game's dynamics (and theme) really can gain a lot by mixing the two types together with a Scouting system, go for it! But I would consider it more of a beautiful exception than a rule of thumb.
 

RCXDan

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Bravo - I always love this kind of creative thinking! As you said, there's nothing that necessarily says Visible and Invisible touch encounters need to be mutually exclusive from each other, and if you work hard to design an interesting and interactive Scouting system, you might have something that's far more than the sum of its parts.

With that said, there are some very real frustrations that come with invisible or random encounters (which can be reduced but never fully sifted out via thoughtful design), and I personally think these frustrations shift the scales far into the favor of using Visible Encounters, as a general rule, so long as you can implement them competently. If your game's dynamics (and theme) really can gain a lot by mixing the two types together with a Scouting system, go for it! But I would consider it more of a beautiful exception than a rule of thumb.

This 100%. This is kinda why I mix-and-match features so often, because sometimes they open up new avenues for Cool Gameplay that you wouldn't get on their own.

Like yeah, I'm aware of the faults in every system present here, but it's making the best of them that really matters. That said, the idea @Anthony Xue presented of invisible enemies you can't see sounds pretty badass: I can totally see myself using that for enemies that try to mask themselves so you can't see them with the naked eye.

... Something fun I thought about: so Super Mario RPG had sections where you could get an invincibility star and bump enemies off the overworld regardless of how strong they were yet still get EXP from them. So that really tempts me to do the same thing and stuff a whole bunch of enemies down a hallway so you'd steamroll them like a human train.

Of course to stop it from being annoying you'd have to use it like, two or three non-repeatable times across the entire journey.

I also feel for visual encounters games need to utilize line-of-sight and/or area of detection even if they're not stealth to make them not-annoying. So even if you get squished into tight corridors you can still sneak past them.

As well as a consistent counter that makes it so enemies go away for a while if you beat them. Kingdom Hearts did a two-room buffer, which I feel would translate well into 2D RPGs.
 
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Anthony Xue

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Bravo - I always love this kind of creative thinking! As you said, there's nothing that necessarily says Visible and Invisible touch encounters need to be mutually exclusive from each other, and if you work hard to design an interesting and interactive Scouting system, you might have something that's far more than the sum of its parts.

With that said, there are some very real frustrations that come with invisible or random encounters (which can be reduced but never fully sifted out via thoughtful design), and I personally think these frustrations shift the scales far into the favor of using Visible Encounters, as a general rule, so long as you can implement them competently. If your game's dynamics (and theme) really can gain a lot by mixing the two types together with a Scouting system, go for it! But I would consider it more of a beautiful exception than a rule of thumb.

Thanks! You're completely true, it will require vastly more work than "set random encounter rate to 13%". And yes, the vast majority of the encounters would still be visible - the idea is that the "invisible" encounters generate additional tension and unpredictability, but that only works if they are an addition to an otherwise predictable system. More below.

This 100%. This is kinda why I mix-and-match features so often, because sometimes they open up new avenues for Cool Gameplay that you wouldn't get on their own.

Like yeah, I'm aware of the faults in every system present here, but it's making the best of them that really matters. That said, the idea @Anthony Xue presented of invisible enemies you can't see sounds pretty badass: I can totally see myself using that for enemies that try to mask themselves so you can't see them with the naked eye.

I also feel for visual encounters games need to utilize line-of-sight and/or area of detection even if they're not stealth to make them not-annoying. So even if you get squished into tight corridors you can still sneak past them.

Thanks as well. Funny that you mention detection and line-of-sight... it probably matters that my game looks like on the screenshot below.

In general, the system is supposed to go like this - I won't have specific enemies show up on the map, but "encounter markers" in blue, red and invisible. Blue encounters are "dormant" and won't necessarily attack right away (think some bandits gathered around a campfire in their cave hideout). If you get into the event's trigger range, your scout will tell you what you are about to be facing. You will then have a choice of attacking them (surprise round!) or communicating, maybe getting them to leave with a bribe or questioning them and learning that they're not the bad guys at all etc. etc.

Red encounters are on the move, patrols actively looking out for someone they would have to fight. Whether you will get any options once in the event's trigger range will depend on your scout's ability; if it's high enough, the game will treat this as "you spotted them early" and give you more options, otherwise it's just fight or run (and maybe not even that last one).

"Invisible" encounters could either be enemies that are indeed hard to notice (wraiths...) or enemies that are specifically aware that you are coming, can be expected to react skillfully to a hostile intrusion and have thus been laying an ambush (ex.: the Doomguard in their own fortress, especially after you've been breaking doors and smashing chests all the time). Then it's an arms race between your scout's scouting ability and their ambush ability whether they will be revealed to you (not 100% sure how to do this technically - I could either have a parallel event that continuously makes scouting checks and thus sets other event pages active, or simply one check at the beginning of the level, although that could not account for equipping/unequipping scouting-enhancing items). All of this of course is somewhat more "believable" in a 3D environment, where danger can literally lurk unseen behind the next corner, than in a top-down view.

The system of generic encounter marks/scouting reports also lets me use vastly different troops for encounters without having to think about "correct" representation. You were able to catch the Doomguard Captain in his quarters? Then he won't be present in the fight in the throne room.

Obviously, all of this needs a lot of work to implement, and as a result, a random bandit cave will only have a handful of encounters instead of like 20. There also is the danger of the whole system being rather taxing on the player - "just slay whatever moves" is a somewhat primitive premise, but it also keeps things flowing. But I guess that's something that can only be found out through playtesting...
 

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Scorps

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Personally I use B,C,D.

Invisible "random map encounters" usually annoy me after a while, especially during exploration, when I navigate through more complex areas and have to go back and forth a lot. If the encounter is a blob on the map chasing me i have a chance to avoid it.
When the blob catches me It is my fault, if the "invisible random encounter" is dragging me into battle, tho technically still my fault for bumbling around, it often feels like a punishment for exploration.

The static enemy could be a golem, gargoyle or plant that attacks me if I touch it, step on it, stand to close or do something naughty in its presence(pulling a lever, opening a treasurechest ...). I may not have chosen knowingly to enter battle, but all warning signs were present on the screen.

The Invisible moving/chasing encounter suggested by estriole may be something, but I would add an optional ability, a quest or an item to make these enemies visible. As an example, if you made a game about someone who hunts monsters, there could be an equipmentslot for tools. Lets say the invisible enemy is some kind of ghost, if the player has equipped a certain kind of tool, these ghosts are visible to him. This way it is my fault for being unprepared when something invisible is dragging me into combat.

Long story short, i think that encounters that are on the map give the player control over their situation. If they get caught by an enemy, if they approach a boss, if they enter a situation underequipped it is a consequence of their action. They can learn, they can adapt.
If the invisible hand of the developer grabs the me by the throat and drags me off to battle I am not really in control.
 

ave369

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My favourite style is FF style invisible encounters, but with a visible and controllable encounter bar. You can always see a "Danger Meter" when you enter an area with encounters, and an encounter happens when it is full. There are items called "Lure" and "Repellent". A Lure instantly fills the bar and triggers a random encounter. A Repellent sets the step meter to negative so it empties instantly and allows you to walk for a while without filling it. Both items can be bought in shops. There are also accessories called the "Elven Cloak" and "Ring of Shadows" that halve or nullify the danger meter filling rate.
 

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