Random Encounters vs. Visual Encounters

Mordridakon

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I'm about to start dungeons in my new game and I don't know which one to use. I got trashed by one beta tester for random encounters in my first game(Quest to Score) so I made it visual encounters, and got trashed by someone else for the visual encounter system I used(because I forced people into battles with static enemies). I've also heard people trash both systems in various thread. Now I'm more confused than ever.

This is how I see it:

Random Encounters:
-Harder to balance for due to the ability to grind easily.
-Can get really annoying, really fast.
-Allows the player to amass gold easily.

Visual Encounters:
-Far, far easier to balance for because battles can be finite so you know what level people will be at for boss battles.
-Much less annoying, but can be annoying if you force people to battle to do such things as open chests.
-Finite amount of gold which restricts purchasing power, so they can't load up on healing potions when they need to, for example.

Personally, I'm in favor of a hybrid system, in that the visual encounters reset when you leave the map and come back. This would allow for grinding, but still allow people to avoid battles if need be. This is probably what I'll end up using.

Your thoughts?
 
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J-G

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Don't worry what people think so much, many like one way and some don't. That's how it will always be. So go with what you like, as for me, I could go either or. Doesn't matter to me. I love rpg games period.
I do lean more towards the random encounters though.
 

D.L. Yomegami

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I prefer random encounters most of the time, for reasons I've stated here.

With that being said, I don't think the exact kind of encounter matters too much. Implementation is everything; bad visual encounter systems can be every single bit as bad as bad random encounter systems, and good random encounter systems can be just as good as good visual encounter systems.

I'd recommend going with whatever your personal preference is, or whatever you want for this specific game, and just fine-tuning it as development progresses. Don't try to please everyone, because you won't.
 

ShadowDragon

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I prefer visual counters as long its not forced to kill, but kill for a specific quests or keys.
Which im going for probably if ABS gets to hard.

I dont have level so they can skip enemies, but some are required to get through.

Whatever you decide and is needed for YOUR game, do that, follow your heart,
its your game, you decide how the battle system comes into play.

if the testers dont like it, dish though :D
 

Wavelength

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@Mordridakon It's worth noting that you are not using the term "Visual Encounters" as most people here use the term. You are describing Fixed Encounters, where players are simply forced to engage in battles at fixed points in order to move forward (and the only agency they may have is whether to fight encounters down side paths to, for example, obtain chests). When most people here describe Visual Encounters, what they mean is encounters that wander around dungeons (and/or the World Map) - a battle will start if you run into one, but they can usually be avoided if you're careful about not letting too many chase you at once.

So with that said, this topic has been discussed a lot of times, and usually most - though certainly not all - people say they enjoy Visual Encounters more (though it's obviously harder to make in RPG Maker than Random Encounters are). The advantages of VE's are that they connect the player to the world more, they provide a form of skill expression for the player (outrunning or dodging the encounters), and they give the player more agency over when and where they fight enemies (without taking away the element of risk like an "encounter rate" option would).
 

Morizel

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I played some old games where there are random encounters (like DooM and Sailor Moon fangames), and some I even tried to create. After them, as well as "The Chosen", I decided that visual encounters are more friendly for the player. Especially the current one, who sometimes prefers not even to play, but to watch a video walkthrough.
 

Mordridakon

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@Mordridakon It's worth noting that you are not using the term "Visual Encounters" as most people here use the term. You are describing Fixed Encounters, where players are simply forced to engage in battles at fixed points in order to move forward (and the only agency they may have is whether to fight encounters down side paths to, for example, obtain chests). When most people here describe Visual Encounters, what they mean is encounters that wander around dungeons (and/or the World Map) - a battle will start if you run into one, but they can usually be avoided if you're careful about not letting too many chase you at once.
You just confused me even more. :confused:
All I meant by visual encounters was encounters on the map instead of randomized. Different versions of this system are fixed or not.
 

HexMozart88

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It's kind of hard for me to say, really. I tend to prefer visual encounters because when you're just trying to get to safety to heal and such, they're easy to avoid and you're less likely to get into an unwinnable battle. The reason why it's hard for me to say, however, is because I've never actually seen random encounters done well. It's either that the rate is too frequent, or the battle system isn't interesting enough to grind, or the battles take too long. Not to say that these problems can't happen with visual encounters; I just don't see them as frequently.
 

RachelTheSeeker

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A lot of people like on-map encounters, and I'm one of them. But it's easy to screw those up too, and there are moments where I'm like "I'd take random encounters instead of this nonsense". There's been at least a few instances in Dragon Quest 9 where there are a bunch of on-map foes piled into a tight corridor, so it's almost certain you'll run into a fight. I hate that. At least with random encounters, you can push your luck instead of knowing that you're bound to do another throwaway fight.

Whether randomly found or encountered on-map, be smart about how you handle throwaway fights in games? You don't even need to go the route of games like Etrian Odyssey, which hint of how likely you'll run into a fight after X number of steps. There are methods to make both random and on-map encounters less annoying. Pokemon is a prime example for random fights: tall grass notwithstanding, the Repel item is more useful than the Holy Water in Dragon Quest tends to be. Given that enemy Pokemon levels are common knowledge and each version of the repellent tells you how many steps you get, it's better than how classic DQ handled it.

Overall, I don't care either way. Random feels retro and I dig it. On-map is cool, but if handled poorly it bothers me more to know I can't escape a fight. Both can be done well and with innovation, or handled poorly and be annoying. The fact that poorly-handled random encounters in RM is more lazy doesn't mean that on-map is perfect, or that random is garbage.
 
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PixeLockeT

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I vastly prefer random encounters: I can grind without having to exit/re-enter maps or wait for respawns, I get the element of surprise so it can make the game a bit more challenging when navigating areas, and many more reasons.
 

Soryuju

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Personally, I don’t mind either system so long as encounters aren’t too intrusive as I’m trying to explore the map. In this context, “intrusive” encounters could mean things like having random encounters occur at a very high rate, visual encounters which can chase the player down at high speeds, encounters which interrupt puzzle-solving segments, etc.

That said, @Mordridakon, it might help if you gathered some information from more testers to get a better idea of where the problem lies, because the style of encounters may not actually be the main factor driving their frustration. You got two different pieces of feedback from two different people (that you’ve mentioned). However, if that’s the extent of the information you have available right now, that’s probably not enough to assess whether there’s an issue with the system you chose, or whether your implementation was faulty, or whether those particular testers just have very strong preferences for one particular system.

Also, while feedback from testers is invaluable, sometimes the best they can do is express how the game made them feel, and you may need to read between the lines of their complaints to find the genuine source of their frustration. Say, for example, you get a dozen more people to test your game, and you have them test both random and visual encounters, but all of them come back with more complaints about battles. If you can’t identify any sort of trend in their feedback, maybe there’s something else at play which the testers haven’t been able to clearly express. Maybe in both systems, you’ve got the battle frequency up way too high, or you’ve got encounters regularly occurring in frustrating locations. Or maybe your battles are too easy, and players can just use the same patterns to win every time. They feel good that they’re winning, but the encounters become a simple chore, so they get frustrated when they keep having to repeat that chore just to grab a treasure chest or get to the end of a hallway. In either example, testers might blame your encounter style instead of the underlying issue, because their frustration peaks specifically at each moment they get forced into battle.

At the end of the day, there are lots of different levers you can pull to fine-tune your encounters, rather than just switching your system to what you think most people prefer. You should absolutely respect the feedback of your testers, but you also shouldn’t treat it as gospel, especially if you’ve only gotten feedback from a couple different people. Trust your own instincts and vision as a designer even as you work to adjust the things which people have criticized. Good luck with it!
 
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I'm planning to make encounters visible/avoidable on location maps (but refreshed/reset upon exiting the location), while random in the world map, but with the option of purchasing an item in-game (with in-game currency) that can temporarily turn off random encounters (as well as an item that increases encounter rate).

Every player has their own personal preferences as to whether they want to grind or not. As long as the developer doesn't make excessive grinding necessary to continue the main storyline, it shouldn't be a problem to make it possible to grind.
 

Wavelength

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You just confused me even more. :confused:
All I meant by visual encounters was encounters on the map instead of randomized. Different versions of this system are fixed or not.
@Mordridakon Let me clarify then. You are correct that different versions of Visual Encounter (VE) systems will have different mechanics, and that placing encounters at fixed choke points is, technically speaking, one version of a VE system. HOWEVER, your listed takeaways about VE systems...
Visual Encounters:
-Far, far easier to balance for because battles can be finite so you know what level people will be at for boss battles.​
-Much less annoying, but can be annoying if you force people to battle to do such things as open chests.​
-Finite amount of gold which restricts purchasing power, so they can't load up on healing potions when they need to, for example.​
...are only true when talking about VE systems that have encounters at fixed choke points which never respawn. They are not true when talking about most VE systems, such as the on-map encounters in Tales of Symphonia:
In such VE systems, you are not forcing the player into any battles (except storyline battles and boss fights), so you don't know what level people will be for boss battles, there is not a finite amount of gold, and it's awfully unlikely a player would be forced to battle in order to open a chest in such a system. Encounters on the map exist, they try to chase down the player, but a skillful player can avoid most or all of them if desired - or charge head-on into the encounters if they're having fun with battle.

This may sound pedantic, but I think it gets right to the heart of what your playtesters are trying to tell you. They want agency in when and where they battle. They don't want random encounters which throw them into battle without any player input, but they also don't want to have boring, static enemies blocking their path and non-negotiably forcing them to do a battle right now in order to move forward. A Tales-like system is a good compromise that gives the player some agency and provides a little bit of fun and adrenaline as you explore dungeon maps.
 

CraneSoft

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This is the kind of system where there can and will be people trashing you regardless of the encounter type you use. Some games work better with random, others visual - and some mix them together when appropriate, so the typical solution would be stick to the type where you think suits your game the most and do not worry about it too much. Unless the people trashing it uses constructive feedback to support their opinion of why you shouldn't use a particular system instead of "I don't like this" which is a purely personal preference thing. You won't be able to satisfy everyone so don't try.

Random encounters tend to raise the difficulty bar (and therefore frustration for people with less patience) a bit due to their random nature which is good if you intend to make your game difficult and you want players to grind, otherwise you'll need to balance the game around the assumption players can and will avoid all combat altogether - the default play-style of everyone who doesn't play for the grind.

Fixed (Non-respawning, Forced) encounters are an aspect of Visual Encounter whose purpose is usually a "Level Checker" to test if a player is ready for the challenges to come. Remove them, and the next thing you see will be someone complaining the boss is too hard because they have skipped every possible battle in the area. If you could make the encounters themselves interesting and actually contribute to the story or at the very least keep players entertained, I really doubt people would be complaining over that.
 

rue669

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I do visual encounters with an option at “save points” to respawn the enemy. But it’s all up to the player. Player control and ease is important to me. The easier the game is to play (not necessarily easy difficulty), the more likely the player will continue playing it.
Random encounters are not for me at all. The only kind of random encounters I do like are where there’s like a radar that as it gets redder there’s a chance you’ll get in a fight. I think this happens in shin megami tensei games.
 

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