Random encounters considered harmful

ragnawind

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While i enjoy seeing enemies live on a map, it tends to get to the point where i want to avoid them entirely and then would lose out on exp, damning myself for tough, unavoidable battles later on. with touch encounters i see the enemy standing there and think "not again" or "no, go away!" lol, but with random encounters it forces me to just play and not worry about the enemies because i cannot see them. when battles happen, they happen, there is no avoiding them.
I ahree with this, basically. Many times, when you can see enemies, you usually tend to avoid them often when you don't want to fight, but in the end, it will make it harder to progress, since you will probably be left underleveled for the next areas, unless all monsters have around the same stats in each new area, which eliminates all difficulty in a game. An RPG is meant to challenge you while progressing a story. That is why they started with random encounters. They designed it that way, one because it was easier, and two, it made it so you had to fight and could more easily adjust levels of enemies in future areas to adjust to the levels and stats ou should have by the time you reach there. When I make RPGs in the RPGM Makers, I tend to use the Random Encounters method a lot. I just use a number to make it not as annoying for the encouter rate (which I believe is based on steps for a posibiity, rather than a percent per step). If I wanted to make it easier, I would have items that removed the random encounters for a set amount of time. Also, with touch encounters in a system like RPG Maker, it is MUCH hard to make a system where they regenerate, meaning you would have to leave a room and come back for the monsters to respawn. Random Encounters are also for adding surprise. It makes it harder to determine when and what you will fight, which makes things much easier. Some people are just too spoiled with the Touch Encounters. I would rather have random encounters whenever possible.
 

arekpowalan

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One reason I like Riviera the Promised Land's training system: you can grind to your heart's content via the main menu and you don't need to worry about random battle ever again.
 

Quigon

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I'm doing this in my game.

There are no random or touch encounters initially. You go into towns and accept priority hunting missions from NPCs if you want to go kill some monsters. Next to that, in each stage there are seperate 'hunting trails' you can go on and kill monsters for loot and gold and whatnot to upgrade your equipment/buy ****. The game is still perfectly fun without encounters with each stage having a puzzle, but its balanced well enough for you to not need tons of encounters to beat the bosses anyway.

Making them optional seems like a fun idea, and being able to repeat them seems like the best way to make sure the player has the OPTION to grind if they want to. And the rewards for grinding/not grinding are good too.
 

Travatar

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Making them optional seems like a fun idea, and being able to repeat them seems like the best way to make sure the player has the OPTION to grind if they want to. And the rewards for grinding/not grinding are good too.
This is a great way around it. Optional is good.

I find it funny that people are worrying over whether players can skip over some of the battles, or not being able to level up enough to fight the next boss. Really, we'll be okay. Please don't feel the need to helicopter-parent your players.

Yes, a low encounter rate or easily-dodged touch encounters could be terribly inconvenient if you have to fight 300 battles to level up enough to fight the boss. In my opinion though, the best way to avoid that problem while keeping the difficulty and fun of your game intact is to scale your boss battles and progression so the game doesn't require that in the first place. Don't punish the player for deciding to play your game.
 
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EternalShadow

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I don't like random encounters, either. I like monsters walking around, initiating battles when touched. However, the main problem for RPG Maker users seems to be the lack of matching sprites for the monster battlers. :/
This is the main issue at the moment. If someone's made matching sprites for every battler, please do enlighten me/us as to where they are! ^.^
 

West Mains

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This is the main issue at the moment. If someone's made matching sprites for every battler, please do enlighten me/us as to where they are! ^.^
This, this, this. Many of the default battlers don't come with sprites. (I think only a small portion of them actually do.)
 

Liak

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Well, on the other hand, you can always help yourself by making the monster sprites more abstract. Think of Tales of Symphonia if you know it. The monsters on the world map were represented by shadow-like sprites. Or think of Star Stealing Prince or The Grumpy Knight, both RPG Maker games. You don't have 1:1 representations of sprites for battlers, either.
 

OceansDream

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I tend to have a preference for on screen encounters, but I can deal with random encounters so long as it's not like every few steps. If there's a way to change the formula so it's not 1 to x and instead x to y, then that'd be better. It's not something I enjoy but from years of classic RPG gaming I can at least tolerate it. Some games change it up by having encounter rates that can change depending on the items you wear or skills you use (something to cut the encounter rate in half or double it if you want to grind), or timing a ! above your head so you can avoid that fight.

I know there's the tendency to go and want to avoid battles in an on screen encounter. I can't force everyone to fight but you might want to consider multiple things before you blame touch encounters for that.

I like to encourage players to fight, by trying to make the battles fun, give a sort of estimate on how strong the player should be (for example, showing the enemies level around so you can tell if you are underlevelled or not) or give a reward for fighting a certain amount. If you overcrowd the area with enemies, the less likely players will want to fight them all as well. Especially if they all just come back once you re-enter the map. Do you think players will avoid fighting if they only saw like one or 2 enemies in a map? But if you see 50 of them they'll definitely not want to fight any of them. I personally like having the enemy on screen encounters stay dead when you kill them and only come back after a while. You may want more ways for the player to grind and such if you take on an approach like that as I've experienced. I'm not really big on grinding though so I try to balance it for people just being on natural levels and not trying to fight everything. I honestly don't like "how many battles you fought" to be the main determiner of whether you win a fight or not anyway. I'd prefer a clever strategy over "be on level 16 and spam heal and you win" fights.

If you cannot avoid fighting any of the touch screen encounters because they're too fast or its too cramped, you might as well just have every battle be forced scripted. Give the players some room to dodge them, even if it might take a little skill to do so.

There are other systems you can use as well or think up on. Some are just additions to the random encounter thing (adding a bar that fills when you get into a fight so when it's maxed out you don't fight any other encounters) or some other thing. I just kinda go with what I think will work for the project and what I find enjoyable.
 
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Milennin

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Well, on the other hand, you can always help yourself by making the monster sprites more abstract. Think of Tales of Symphonia if you know it. The monsters on the world map were represented by shadow-like sprites. Or think of Star Stealing Prince or The Grumpy Knight, both RPG Maker games. You don't have 1:1 representations of sprites for battlers, either.
This is what I'm doing in my game. Besides it costing much less time to make, it also works very well. For example, I have 3 different sprites. 1 is a small one that indicates an easy encounter, 1 medium sprite for a normal difficulty battle, and a big sprite to indicate a tough fight.


The problem with having sprites match monster battlers is when you have encounters consisting of different sorts of monsters. So, unless you only ever use 1 and the same type of monster in all of your encounters (which would be boring BTW), it's not gonna work out well anyway. But if you really want it that badly, it wouldn't be hard to make if you can somewhat sprite (and really, it's not that hard). It would just take quite some time if you have a lot of different monsters in your game...
 
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Sygma

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First time posting (just bought RPG Maker Ace VX today..yayyy sales on steam!).

Been reading over this forum, I can see the draw backs of random encounters, but I do like the minimum step-before-encounter idea.

So, idea.

Example:  Just finished a random encounter, you have 30 steps of 1% likelihood of getting back into one.  After the 30, next step it goes to 5%, 10%, 20%, etc. etc. etc.  The Likelihood of random encounters double with every step when you go beyond the 30.  Just a thought :D
 

ragnawind

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First time posting (just bought RPG Maker Ace VX today..yayyy sales on steam!).

Been reading over this forum, I can see the draw backs of random encounters, but I do like the minimum step-before-encounter idea.

So, idea.

Example:  Just finished a random encounter, you have 30 steps of 1% likelihood of getting back into one.  After the 30, next step it goes to 5%, 10%, 20%, etc. etc. etc.  The Likelihood of random encounters double with every step when you go beyond the 30.  Just a thought :D
That would actually be a good idea for random encounters, but not higher than 30%. I think it would actually be possible to make a system like this with the use of scripts and changing the encounter rate. You would just need to have a variable keep the amount of steps and use conditional branches to adjust the encounter rate, but only if you have the step count reset after each battle. It would need scripting knowledge, though, to make initially, at least
 

Sygma

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I'm doing this in my game.

There are no random or touch encounters initially. You go into towns and accept priority hunting missions from NPCs if you want to go kill some monsters. Next to that, in each stage there are seperate 'hunting trails' you can go on and kill monsters for loot and gold and whatnot to upgrade your equipment/buy ****. The game is still perfectly fun without encounters with each stage having a puzzle, but its balanced well enough for you to not need tons of encounters to beat the bosses anyway.

Making them optional seems like a fun idea, and being able to repeat them seems like the best way to make sure the player has the OPTION to grind if they want to. And the rewards for grinding/not grinding are good too.
I like this idea too.  Was considering it because it reminded me a little bit of Borderlands.
 

zeraf

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Thought of doing this in my game. I am using touch encounters. For the enemies that are a few levels weaker than you, you can automaticaly defeat them instead of going to a battle screen. Of coarse the draw back is half the EXP and money. If you don't want to skip the battle system, you can turn off the Weaker Enemy Auto skip feature.

Also the one touch sprites generate a random group to fight instead of always fighting that same group of slime and skeletons.
 

hian

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Random encounters compliment these styles of game play

-A game based around survival without main goals outside of leveling up or finding a rare encounter.

Pre set encounters compliment these styles of game play

-A main story and goals that are not solely based around the games combat.

In other words, if the player ever has a goal other than to fight random stuff in an area then you want to avoid random encounters. If you do intend to use random encounters when the player has other goals in mind outside of just the games combat then you want to make sure you limit them and give the player the option to turn them off or avoid them.

Random encounters are only good when they are the point of the game.
I don't really agree with this at all. Random encounters, if loading times, encounter rates and difficulty are well balanced, work well in almost any environment.

Touch encounters, or real-time action systems, require much more work to be functional, and therefore are also much more likely to fail if the developer hasn't spent enough time and planning on the system.

For that reason, I'd say it's the other way around - "Random encounters" is the easiest, most accessible and less worrisome battle system a game can have, while touch battles and real-time action systems should only be used if the entire game has been made with that system in mind.

Of course, at the end of the day, a botched battle-system is a botched battle-system.

The more complex a battle-system is though, the more effort it takes to not botch it.

I do agree that random encounters demand attention in development too though, and that when other aspects of the gameplay are more central than the battles, the battles should be removed or toned down. This is true for everything though. Devil May Cry 1 is a good example of a game(without random encounters), where the battles occasional are extremely annoying and distracting(when you're backtracking etc).

A side note to the topic in general -

One way of balancing out random encounters would be to make consumable items that turn on/off encounters for a period of time.

Alternatively/additionally, you could have a consumble item(s) that allows you to exit battles.

Or you could do the above with a skill that uses TP - I.E when you've battled some and gained TP, you could use that TP to turn off the encounters for a time, or exit following battles.

In any case, there are many ways to make random encounters barable without having to do large amounts of changes to the core RPG Maker system, using common events etc.

Making a good, non-intrusive touch-battle system, IMO would be much harder(so hard in fact, that even veteran developers from large companies often fail to do it right).
 

TheCastle

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I tend to think that it is a red flag if you are trying to solve a problem with an indirect solution. Adding consumables to avoid random encounters in a game where you often find yourself backtracking to progress the game in some way could just mean that you are avoiding the problem. If all I care about while playing the game is solving a puzzle or progressing the story then battles of any kind will just feel like they are getting in the way.

Making random encounters work is definitely doable but you have to look at the overall grand design of your game to know if it will compliment random encounters or not. Pokemon has both static and random encounters and the game works just fine.
 
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One note I hadn't seen come up in this discussion: when using touch-based encounters, the player knows they can save mp/consumables by not healing until it's inevitable they're about to go into a battle.  In games that use random encounters, the player needs to compulsively heal after each battle since they don't know exactly when the next one will come.

This isn't an argument for either side, but it's something to keep in mind when it comes to difficulty and setting fair prices on consumables/cure spells
 

light487

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I think a good blend of both can work well. I do dislike IRE's when the rate is set too high but touch encounters can be both hard to balance and/or hard to evade as well. In my test games so far I've added IRE's to the world-map and outdoor areas where there is not much detail to the map and then in highly detailed areas, tinkered with added touch-based enounters (TBE's). I think for a story event, such as the time honoured tradition of killing the rats in the basement of the inn, having visible TBE's is a good thing because while you can have a quest counter to keep track of how many rats you've killed, I feel it is more intuitive for the player to see just how many rats are left on the map itself.

The point I found the most interesting is to do with the battle system itself. If the battle system is interesting enough to provide REAL strategy for the player rather than just mashing the attack button for every encounter, I don't think it really matters what kind of encounters there are. Balancing the encounters to force strategy and not having too many junk encounters (those filler ones that aren't worth the player's time) makes having an encounter enjoyable rather than an eye-rolling distraction that too many junk encounters and/or a lack of strategy usage in battles causes.

So my conclusion here is that the type of encounter (IRE or TBE) is not the problem but the balancing of the encounters and the rate of the encounters themselves being at fault.
 

Sailerius

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I think a good blend of both can work well. I do dislike IRE's when the rate is set too high but touch encounters can be both hard to balance and/or hard to evade as well. In my test games so far I've added IRE's to the world-map and outdoor areas where there is not much detail to the map and then in highly detailed areas, tinkered with added touch-based enounters (TBE's). I think for a story event, such as the time honoured tradition of killing the rats in the basement of the inn, having visible TBE's is a good thing because while you can have a quest counter to keep track of how many rats you've killed, I feel it is more intuitive for the player to see just how many rats are left on the map itself.

The point I found the most interesting is to do with the battle system itself. If the battle system is interesting enough to provide REAL strategy for the player rather than just mashing the attack button for every encounter, I don't think it really matters what kind of encounters there are. Balancing the encounters to force strategy and not having too many junk encounters (those filler ones that aren't worth the player's time) makes having an encounter enjoyable rather than an eye-rolling distraction that too many junk encounters and/or a lack of strategy usage in battles causes.

So my conclusion here is that the type of encounter (IRE or TBE) is not the problem but the balancing of the encounters and the rate of the encounters themselves being at fault.
You can take it as a given that any game with a good battle system is better than a game with a bad battle system. That has nothing to do with the topic at hand and is a false dichotomy.
 

Swivel

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 For me, when I come up with a game concept, I always prefer the idea of on-screen enemies, not only because I just happen to like it better, but it is not as commonly used on most RM games. 
 

Sailerius

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 For me, when I come up with a game concept, I always prefer the idea of on-screen enemies, not only because I just happen to like it better, but it is not as commonly used on most RM games. 
That's great and all, but if this thread is going to stay open, can we stay on topic, please? The topic is about why different encounter systems are better or worse, not what your personal preference is.
 

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