Random encounters considered harmful

Swivel

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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.
See, that's your problem. There is no "better or worse" about any encounter system, it all boils down to an opinion.
 

Gomi Boy

 
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Nothing is more tiresome than when people pretend that something being an opinion means that everything about it is exactly equivalent to everything else. There are merits and drawbacks that can be debated, contexts that can be used as lenses, and new experiments to discuss. "Well personally I like X" is a start, but... without a decent "why", it's nothing.
 
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Swivel

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Nothing is more tiresome than when people pretend that something being an opinion means that everything about it is exactly equivalent to everything else. There are merits and drawbacks that can be debated, contexts that can be used as lenses, and new experiments to discuss. Don't play dumb.
While there may be cons and pros for every aspect of mechanics in a video game, it still boils down to an opinion. Who am I to say a system is better or worse, without adding that it's just my preference ?
 

Gomi Boy

 
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Okay, can we get some people in this thread who aren't so tied up in pedantic nonsense and relativism that they're literally incapable of comparing two things?
 
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Sailerius

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See, that's your problem. There is no "better or worse" about any encounter system, it all boils down to an opinion.
Then why are you posting in this topic if you have nothing to contribute to the discussion?
 

Swivel

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Then why are you posting in this topic if you have nothing to contribute to the discussion?
It's contributing to the discussion when you cite your favorite battle system. This topic is about different battle systems, is it not ?
 

Celianna

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Let's keep it on topic guys, and not discuss whether or not something is irrelevant.
 
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Andar

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I don't think that you can give a general answer - it always depends on the context and the kind of game.

If I were to develop a story-based game with a lot of character development and NPC-interaction (or even a visual novel), I would get rid of all random encounters and even limit evented encounters to the minimum neccessary.

However, if I were to develop a horror game, I would emphasize on the random encounters, using script to randomize even the encounter rate (to prevent step-counting as a warning method) and spice it up by using invisible events for more surprize-encounters. That is because the shock of a sudden encounter could be used as one option to create the atmosphere of a horror game...

On a related topic, random encounters are often named as a grinding method. Grinding could also be done by respawning events, but using the unchanged mechanics of RPGM-random-encounters, those are almost always result in grinding.

And I believe that some players are opposed to random encounters not because of them breaking the story pace, but because of them enforcing grinding.

In my opinion that is also a wrong generalization.

Grinding is a game mechanism that can be used (or even be usefull), but it should never be abused.


In my opinion, any player that explores the game in a usual way (say 70%-80% of an area) should have enough power to handle the area boss at the end with above average chance of winning.


If a player uses a walktrough to get to the end with less exploring (ca. 50%), then he/she should accept that the boss will be very difficult, perhaps requiring another hour of grinding to prepare for the boss.


If a player explores everything and still finds that the boss is too strong and requires another 2-3 hours of grinding to get the power, then it's the game developer who has  made mistakes at balancing.


If a player wants to grind in order to make the boss easier, then he/she should be allowed to do so - but the game should place a limit against too much grinding to prevent balancing problems in later areas (perhaps allowing grinding to Level 12 if the correct way needs Level 10 to defeat).

Preventing an player from grinding by disabling random ancounters and not allowing any evented enemy to respawn has the big disadvantage that it forces the developer into a much more complex balancing problem.

In that case the developer has to make sure that the placed enemies plus the quest rewards of the area give the player enough power to beat the area boss.

Especially if the player was lucky in previous areas and entered the current area with a level below the one intended by the developer, then this is a much bigger problem when there is no way to grind those missing levels without going back to previous areas looking for more quests or enemies to gain XP - which is a lot worser than allowing a bit of grinding.
 
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amerk

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There are effective ways to add randomness into combat without resorting to "random encounters". Using variables in visible encounters, you can randomize which troops will attack when touched. This allows the player to see the enemy and decide to fight or avoid, and still prevents them from farming against certain encounters.

If you decide to use random encounters, consider using a visible range meter so the player is at least prepared for when the next attack will be. There are plenty of scripts that allow this, and they do make random encounters a bit more tolerable. Just please make the steps in between encounters large enough to be manageable. Anything under 50 steps is too often.

Also, if you do decide you'd like to include random encounters, consider keeping them to the world map, and leaving dungeon/field maps to visible encounters. Add safe paths on the world map (dirt roads) where random encounters won't occur, and create off the road secrets and optional areas that will award players who do venture off these safe roads.
 

Travatar

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Ranger: "All right everyone, we've reached the dark cave of Morgordorgorath. We need to fetch the treasure of Kliy'shae from its lowest level. But we're severely outnumbered by the horrors lurking underneath. We need a plan."

Thief: "Let us steal silently in, taking the shadows to remain out of sight. Maybe we'll get attacked once or twice, but we can use the element of surprise."
Ranger: "Not bad... but it seems a bit too 'plain'."

Wizard: "I will use one of my blinding spells to stun the enemy!"

Ranger: "Maybe, but it feels like it's missing something..."
Brain-dead Fighter: "Let's just wander in circles within the same 5-square radius and wait for enemies to attack us! Then we'll just use 80 healing potions until we're strong enough to just plow through everything. "

All in unison: "BRILLIANT!"

AND LO, A TRULY EPIC ADVENTURE WAS HAD.
 

light487

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Well I gave my answer but apparently it is a false dichotomy or some such nonsense..

meh.. whatever.
 

Travatar

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Well, I'm not sure about false dichotomies (my un-colleged brain has a difficult time grasping the concept,) but I checked the post you made, and you did indeed make a good point about the quality of the battle system being a factor in a game's overall execution. But I don't agree that it's a factor in the determination between Random Encounters and Touch Encounters. Here's why:

Even a great battle system will have people quitting out of rage or apathy if the encounter system frequently throws unwanted, unavoidable battles at the player. Since Touch Encounters are usually easier to avoid, people may be more inclined to show leniency toward them. On the other hand, if a Touch-based system had lots of battles that the player just couldn't dodge, chances are, most players would probably have a similarly negative reaction as they would for a badly-made (high-rate) Random system.
 

light487

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Well my point is that discussing Randoms vs Touch-Events is pointless when the problem is not that of either of the two types, in my opinion. The problem is with the battle systems AND the overall design of the entire game. Whether you as a developer choose to use Touch-Events eclusively or Randoms exclusively or a combination of the two, is purely a design decision that needs to incorporated into the bigger picture. Picking on one or the other in and of themselves and not considering the context they find themselves in, is just a debate over what I or you or someone else prefers.. they each have their pros and cons on many different levels but are simply tools to get you into a battle situation.. something that is intrinsically intwined with the rest of the game design. A poorly designed RE game is worse than a well designed TE game (or a hybrid) and conversely a poorly designed TE game is worse than a well designed RE game (or hybrid). So trying to say that one is "better" than another.. or one is "more or less harmful" than the other is in itself, in the words of the OP, a false dichotomy..
 
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amerk

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Ranger: "All right everyone, we've reached the dark cave of Morgordorgorath. We need to fetch the treasure of Kliy'shae from its lowest level. But we're severely outnumbered by the horrors lurking underneath. We need a plan."

Thief: "Let us steal silently in, taking the shadows to remain out of sight. Maybe we'll get attacked once or twice, but we can use the element of surprise."

Ranger: "Not bad... but it seems a bit too 'plain'."

Wizard: "I will use one of my blinding spells to stun the enemy!"

Ranger: "Maybe, but it feels like it's missing something..."

Brain-dead Fighter: "Let's just wander in circles within the same 5-square radius and wait for enemies to attack us! Then we'll just use 80 healing potions until we're strong enough to just plow through everything. "

All in unison: "BRILLIANT!"

AND LO, A TRULY EPIC ADVENTURE WAS HAD.
I liked this for one reason, which also coincides with what light has also said: The real issue, as shown in the quote above, is forced grinding.

I've played games with RE and TE that do the same as above, forcing you to repeat rooms over and over again and wander aimlessly just to grind against monsters in order to have a chance against the later areas of the dungeon. Regardless of the battle system you use, the player should be able to walk through the entire dungeon and be at a decent level to take on the boss, without being severely under-leveled, assuming they fought everything they met on their course through the dungeon.

The enemies you fight should also have given you enough gold to be able to purchase a few supplies and some of the needed equipment, allowing players to decide which is more important. If the player wishes to buy even more supplies or armor, or wishes to level up even more, that's their perogative, but it shouldn't be required.

For TE, I recommend no more than 2 enemies for every 17x13 area of space. For RE, I recommend no less than 50-75 steps for every encounter in smaller dungeons, and no less than 75-100 steps for larger dungeons. Exceptions might be made for extremely small areas, like a 17x13 map, in which case you might consider lowering the steps for each encounter to around 35 steps, only because the player won't be in the area for longer than a moment.

Regardless if TE or RE, no enemies should be present in puzzle-based rooms. There is nothing more frustrating than breaking my chain of thought in solving a complicated puzzle by enduring agonizing torture at the hands of a mod squad.

Finally, think of ways to spruce up encounters on the field. For RE, you can create items that turn off encounters temporarily (a repel system), or have lower level encounters turned off when the player reaches a certain level; after all, if I'm forced to go back through a level 1 cave when I'm at level 10, the last I want is to find level 1 enemies that won't put a dent in my needed EXP gain. For TE, you have even more control, since you can alter the enemies, randomize them with variables, use switches to change them up, and even create on field events that allows the player to engage the enemies in ways that can turn the table of battle. The most common is, if you surprise the enemy first, you will get a pre-emptive attack. But you can also create on field abilities that may allow you to stun or slow the enemy down, or other things as well.

But regardless of the encounter, the player should never have to "wander in circles within the same 5-square radius and wait for enemies to attack".
 

Doobles

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I appreciate random encounters as part of the RPG genre, but to be honest I hate the system with a passion.  If I want to go do something and I have pointless monsters that keep popping up in my face it gets incredibly aggravating to the point where I will just quit or start swearing like a sailor.  Being able to see the monster I'm heading for gives me a chance to avoid it, and if I hit it and battle it, whatever.  If the monsters just pop up when I'm walking to complete some fantastic quest or get some fantastic item, my forehead veins start bulging.
 

Travatar

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I appreciate random encounters as part of the RPG genre, but to be honest I hate the system with a passion.  If I want to go do something and I have pointless monsters that keep popping up in my face it gets incredibly aggravating to the point where I will just quit or start swearing like a sailor.  Being able to see the monster I'm heading for gives me a chance to avoid it, and if I hit it and battle it, whatever.  If the monsters just pop up when I'm walking to complete some fantastic quest or get some fantastic item, my forehead veins start bulging.
But... but... if you don't have random encounters every 3 steps so that the player is FORCED to fight, how can you be sure that they'll be leveled up enough? If you just let them dodge encounters, then by George, they won't fight the 356 battles needed to level up to fight the next boss! Soon enough, they'll be growing their hair out, listening to vulgar, profane music like Bill Haley and The Comets, skipping church... and next they'll be dancing.

</sarcasm>

Seriously, I know that feel, Doobles. The thing is, random encounters aren't bad in and of themselves. The reason people get bent out of shape about them is that 99.9% of every time they're implemented, they're done wrong. Because "right" in game design is a moving target. Some people like fighting a dungeon with 300 battles. The problem is, the people who don't like to do that are pretty much S.O.L. because random encounter rates are cold, compassionless numbers that don't care about your feelings or return your phone calls after a good roll in the hay.
 

hian

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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.
While that may be true in a philosophical sense, it is utter BS in the practical sense of development, which is why the point remains valid.

If a good Random-Encounter system is easier to make than a good Touch-Encounter, then it would be better for the average developer to choose the system they feel certain they can make to their best capacities rather than picking the more difficult option and then failing abjectly.

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.
Maybe his objection then, is to the faulty dilemma presented that there even is such a thing as "better or worse battle system". That would still be topic relevant.

So, what's better or worse, apples or oranges?

I, and several others, have already raised this point, but here we go again:

Battle systems have to be implmented with the overall design in mind(and the target audience) - Whether the battle system works or not, is generally a result of the above, not the encounter type by itself. Arguing in a vacuum, "which is better, RE or TE?" is like arguing "which is better, fighting games or RPGs".

At the end of the day, a good game is better than a bad game, but if they are completely different in nature, they're still incomparable, and the issue dissolves into a matter of preference.
 
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Necromus

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Is this the 2nd thread already, or the 3rd?

I swear those keep popping up every few months lol

People really need to stop looking at just the encounter type, there is way more to it than just rnd vs touch.

If it's fun to lvl up, meaningful, people will want to fight, no matter the system.

Doesn't matter if it's random or on touch, if the battlesystem is fun, then I want to bash in some monster skull.

Why is "but you can choose - most of the time - when to fight with touch encounters!" even an argument for touch or rather against rnd?

It's not like you can't do rnd encounters with a system that warns you about an aproaching battle and lets you dodge it?

It's all about overall design, not just the encounter type.

For both encounter types you need to think about things like the player gaining enough exp for boss fights, the player not beeing able to easily outlvl everything (exp decline per lvl, like in FF8, just with a harder penality) and so on.

One thing I really like about on touch encounters, is that they fill the map with more life, make them more busy.

That imo, is something really speaking for on touch encounters, but that has - oh surprise! - nothing to with fighting at all, it simply improves the overall look/detail of your maps.

There is way more to consider than simply rnd vs on touch when it comes to battles, stop beeing so nitpicky about that and focus on overall design and gameplay.
 

Sailerius

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Is this the 2nd thread already, or the 3rd?

I swear those keep popping up every few months lol
This thread was authored more than a year ago.

If it's fun to lvl up, meaningful, people will want to fight, no matter the system.

Doesn't matter if it's random or on touch, if the battlesystem is fun, then I want to bash in some monster skull.
That's not relevant to the discussion at hand.

It's not like you can't do rnd encounters with a system that warns you about an aproaching battle and lets you dodge it?
For the sake of definitions, I'm considering any encounter system where you can avoid or dodge encounters not random, regardless of whether or not they show up on screen.

There is way more to consider than simply rnd vs on touch when it comes to battles, stop beeing so nitpicky about that and focus on overall design and gameplay.
But this thread isn't about them. We have countless threads on overall design and gameplay; it's much more interesting to debate something specific. Considering the longevity of this thread, I think there's considerable value to be had in these highly-specific discussions.
 

Necromus

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This thread was authored more than a year ago.

That's not relevant to the discussion at hand.

For the sake of definitions, I'm considering any encounter system where you can avoid or dodge encounters not random, regardless of whether or not they show up on screen.

But this thread isn't about them. We have countless threads on overall design and gameplay; it's much more interesting to debate something specific. Considering the longevity of this thread, I think there's considerable value to be had in these highly-specific discussions.
Well maybe it was another forum then, it just pops up everywhere.

It's not relevant? How so?

If you're arguing about what kind of encounter type is better, you simply gotta point out that have their own flaws, and that both can (and need to) be improved.

That however is simply part of a bigger process, like I said before.

A random encounter occours in random intervals, that's all there is to it and this is specificly about on touch/visible encounters vs those who are not.

So imo it's absolutely part of a random encounter system to have something that let's you dodge or avoid encounters.

This thread is about opinion vs opinion, often without proper thought behind it.

The longevity just comes from constant arguing about how one is definitely! superior to the other, no matter which forum you read btw.

Most arguments how rnd encounters are bad are without thinking about any improvements that could be done, or how an actual bad battlesystem might also be at fault for getting players burned out or bored.

If you want to discuss different encounter types you need a bit than just meh rnd sucks! -That's not aimed at you btw, just something in general-

Tbh, I don't think there is much of a discussion at all, without thinking about the bigger sheme of things because both (or rather all, if someone comes up with something different) types of encounters suffer from specific problems.
 
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