Thoughts on Random Encounters

DankRat

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I've heard from many designers that random encounters can get annoying, especially if enemies are hard to run away from. So obviously having encounters seen on the map would be better according to them. But that means its more overworld sprites to create for every enemy in your game (especially if done by only 1 person, it can be really strenuous), and if they were to spawn randomly like in Earthbound, that would be even more to consider.

Now obviously random encounters aren't really a bad thing. Lots of great RPGs like Final Fantasy and Pokemon are full of them. Just as long as they're executed correctly it can be a welcome game mechanic.

So what do you think about it? Should every RPG drop the mechanic or could this be here to stay just as long as it's not tedious?
 

Frogboy

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I'm old-school so I actually prefer random encounters. Because they are typically unlimited, it makes extensive exploration a strategic choice that the player has to make. On screen encounters tend to run out so once you clear an area out, you can run around for as long as you want checking every nook and cranny. Makes it harder to hide really good loot. Just my preference.
 

l8rose

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I actually really like the random encounters in Pokemon, the whole you're safe as long as you're not in long grass or specific dungeons. That being said, I'm also fond of the respawning monsters like in World of Warcraft. Kill a bunch and run around for them to respawn after a certain amount of time. Kind of a nice change.

But like @Frogboy said, it's a lot harder to hide really good loot if you're using the on screen encounters. Random encounters does give that idea of weighing combat versus reward.
 

gcook725

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My favorite implementation of random encounters is in Bravely Default.

In that game, you can enter the options menu to alter the encounter rate. You can set it so low that you get no encounters, or so high you can barely take 3 steps without triggering a fight.

This is useful for a couple of reasons.
  1. It allows the player to decide whether they want to encounter fights or not. By extension this means that a player can choose to grind if they want to.
  2. It gives the ability to adjust difficulty in another way. Consider it like Super Mario Odyssey's Assist Mode in a sense: If you're in trouble of a game over, you can turn off encounters so you can get out of the dungeon whenever you want to.
 

Sauteed_Onion

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For some reason, I prefer the random encounters, they don't make sense, but, I grew up playing tons of random encounter games. I think Lunar 2 was the first game I played with non random encounters. It kind of really bugged me at first, but also it did make grinding convenient, I wouldn't get scared on the way out of the dungeon, if I bit off too much grind, I could leave and feel safe on the way out. Overworld map was a different story.

Wait another game I played with non-random encounters was Ultima VI I think it was for the SNES. Man, that game really was hard if you got in a cave or dungeon you weren't supposed to find yet. You'd get rock and rolled quick like. A bunch of drakes and a dragon, or a cyclops or two and it was over, but you can run, kind of. It got pretty fierce if you didn't know what you were doing. I didn't. Hehe. Loved that game.
 

TheoAllen

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Problem with random encounter is you see in RM games (especially) there's barely good random encounter that I usually prefer map encounter. Pokemon games are good example. The grass tile has random encounter so that I could expect I would get one while walking through it. The feeling of anxiety is somewhat good, because once you leave out from the grass, you'll feel safer.

Make the random encounter not in a whole map, and personally I'd find it okay. There's danger zone, and safe sone. And ofc please no random encounter while you're solving map puzzle.
 

TWings

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I think the most frustrating part about random encounters is the suddenty and randomness it can imply. On those points, the basic RM system is not very player friendly, so I had to rewrite it a bit.
I do like random encounters as long as you can't run into a fight every two steps. On the other hand, visible enemies can also bring some interesting game mechanics. Any of those battle systems works fine if well designed.
 

Isabella Ava

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I think if you built great/ beautiful map and want player to enjoy it, explore it, you should get rid of random encounter.
Encounter has some plus points for meaning of strategies i think, like:
- Make players has to consider before he decide to run wildly around
- Dev doesn't have to make extra sprites for enemies :)
- Increases difficult
 

Frogboy

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I think one issue that has spoiled random encounters for a lot of devs is that some RM games I've seen played on YouTube make some very glaring mistakes. Having a really high encounter rate on a huge map with only one or two different battles you can encounter is just awful. But these mistakes don't really have anything to do with random encounters. The only reason why switching to on-screen encounters would be an improvement given these issues is because you might be able to avoid them. That doesn't make combat an interesting part of the game, though.
 

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I think a lot of 'funk' can be forgiven if the dev is stuck on not wanting to put specific sprites for the encounter. In games I've played in the past, there is just a generic'ish looking critter that they can run from or run into. Sometimes there is a mechanic like, if you're over the suggested level for the area, the monster moves more slowly, and if you're under, it moves faster. In Lunar I think the monsters had a pretty stupid yell they did when the were "provoked" to come toward you. I get tired of that. In another game I played you could swing your weapons at the monster and if timed correctly, you could get a surprise attack on them, starting the combat with a good advantage. I do think you should try to give SOME indication of what you're going up against with the sprites.. if you use the generic'ish blurbs/shapes, maybe use big ones to indicate a powerful encounter, and smaller ones to indicate less powerful encounters.. and maybe blinky ones to indicate special conditions encounters. I've seen something like this done before, it worked. Probably saved the dev team tons of cash money, and time, and still got the point across. Meow.

I really don't mind either system, I just kind of feel like if the combat itself is mash button -->> win, it sucks. If it's too "needy" like every fight needs to be done a certain way, it also sucks. I'm kind of interested in a Final Fantasy Tactics / Shining Force 1 or 2 system. I plopped a whole lot of hours into those games growing up, and something about strategy like that really charmed me, meow. BUT this is rpgmaker. Not playstation and sega genesis.

If people want to gripe about your Rpg Maker game and throw a fit over random encounters or visible encounters, you can maybe send @Kes a message and talk to them. I believe @Kes designs their games so you can choose at the very start for random or visible encounters, and it seems to work well for them. To be real, I do think that's the only way you're going to satisfy both crowds.. And in earnest, I think if you have a vision for a game, and you put a demo out, and ask people what they think, you will probably hear all kinds of stuff you didn't even think about, maps need work, music needs help, the fighting sucks.. etc. I'd be concerned with the general direction of the game more than a combat mechanic, but that's just me. I like finding out why I'm on my mission, or what my goals are, and how derailed things get when you think you're doing the right thing in the game, and realize you were messing up big time.. If I need to smash face I don't mind if it's totally random or I see a blurb running at me. Meow.
 

Tai_MT

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This discussion actually comes up quite a lot. I've posted replies in several topics about it. There was a thread over a year ago where we discussed it fairly in depth. https://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/inde...-on-the-map-okay-as-a-encounter-system.74195/ We discussed the benefits of both systems at great length, as well as the downsides.

That being said... I'm just going to kind of summarize my last post on the subject.

I've only ever seen one Visual Encounter system done well. That's it. Just one. Earthbound for the SNES. If you touched monsters you were too powerful for, you won instantly without going to the transition screen and into battle. Monsters ran away from you if you were too powerful. If you touched the back of a monster, you got a surprise attack. If they touched your back, they got a surprise attack. It was a full-fledged system.

Every Visual Encounter system I've seen since... Isn't a full fledged system. It's an attempt to "make combat less annoying". Which, let's be honest, shouldn't be your goal with an Encounter System. If you want to make combat less annoying, you start with the Combat System. Not with how Combat Starts. Few people understand that.

With that being said... Here's why I dislike 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.
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It's not that I think Visual Encounter systems couldn't be done well. It's just that nobody really does them well. People who put them into games don't turn them into full-fledged system. They're just there as a lazy attempt at an "anti-frustration" feature.

The excuse I see all the time is, "Well, if you want to backtrack or have to, you can avoid combat by evading them". To which I always reply, "In a Random Encounter system, you're almost always given an item to equip that eliminates all random encounters or halves them fairly early in the game for just this reason". Which then just invites the comparison of, "one requires you spend time and effort to evade battle you want, the other is flipping a switch". So, is the argument for why people include VE's valid then? I don't think that one is. I think it runs 100% counter to what they're trying to do with it. Meaning, they have no idea what they're doing.

So, my stance is that Random Encounters are better. I prefer them. Namely because they serve their purpose. They get you into combat. What you run into isn't known until the battle screen pops up. It puts focus on the combat system itself. Plus, with RMMV, you change things so that there's a minimum and a maximum amount of spaces you can travel before combat takes place. You can't do that with a Visual Encounter system.

Random encounters just seem far more versatile to me. With less Frustration features, or easily overcome ones. VE systems seem to me like the "lazy mans'" way to solve inherent problems in a system (like your combat is boring, you think players want to run from your encounters constantly, you're trying to guarantee a minimum amount of XP gained, etcetera).

Maybe, someday, I'll see another good Visual Encounter system. I hope so.

But, until then, I think that right now Random Encounters are vastly superior.
 

TheoAllen

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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.
Disagree. Remember how people hate RNGesus. Once you've beaten up an encounter, a few next step to encounter is set. The suspense is still there, and that put into anxiety trying to guess when is the next enemy. With Visual encounter though, once you've beaten the encounter, at least the area around there would feel safe, until you walk into another "forced" corner, which I personally think it's more fair rather than trying to win some luck. Unless, the dev put respawning system where the encounter is respawned exactly there (in short time, which I think it will also be frustrating), or your 8th point, which I personally think that goes into bad visual encounter design where the place of each encounter is tightly packed leads the player bumped into another one in short of time.

The excuse I see all the time is, "Well, if you want to backtrack or have to, you can avoid combat by evading them". To which I always reply, "In a Random Encounter system, you're almost always given an item to equip that eliminates all random encounters or halves them fairly early in the game for just this reason". Which then just invites the comparison of, "one requires you spend time and effort to evade battle you want, the other is flipping a switch". So, is the argument for why people include VE's valid then? I don't think that one is. I think it runs 100% counter to what they're trying to do with it. Meaning, they have no idea what they're doing.
This is not my excuse, but I'm intrigued.

Problem is... as far as I know, I see none the RM games actually give halved encounter rate / nullify encounter item, even if I played one, it might not really memorable. Maybe that also the reason why some people just hate it because you can't control it. Also, back on the popular "maybe I will need it later" syndrome. You can tell that people are really stingy on spending a limited item that they would prefer do the "effort" on evading it than spending item / spending money to buy the item, which it's not really "flip a switch" in this case. Unless it really is, like, did someone just said you can set encounter rate in option menu in some games?

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Your other points are interesting though, especially the farming one.
Random encounter is superior when it comes to grinding / farming something for a design that require grinding / farming since you can just walk around and "come on, where is the next?". But random encounter is recommended not to be done when there is a possibility player could enjoy something that is not a battle (not necessarily if battle is boring). Say, they want to rush a story, and suddenly bumped into a battle like "oh man, not again, at least please not this time".

I'm not really against random encounter. Those two give different vibes on the game. But most of time, when those two kind of system are poorly done (like, i'm sorry, majority of RM games), I prefer visual encounter over random one. Mainly because I could forgive the poorly done visual encounter than the random one.

Edit: now please forgive me if it's already discussed as I haven't read your link while typing this
 
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Milennin

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A bad random encounter system is way worse than a bad on-map encounter system, while a good on-map encounter system is better than a good random encounter system, so I really just prefer on-map encounter systems.

Like, a bad random encounter system gets annoying to a point where it'll make me stop playing the game entirely, while a bad on-map encounter system at worst just feels lazy. One would have to try to make an on-map encounter system worse than the average random encounter system.
A good random encounter system (Pokémon) is alright, but can still get annoying from time to time. Whereas a good on-map encounter system has just a lot more potential to be interesting for the player to interact with than any random encounter system would be able to provide.
 

Tai_MT

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Disagree. Remember how people hate RNGesus. Once you've beaten up an encounter, a few next step to encounter is set. The suspense is still there, and that put into anxiety trying to guess when is the next enemy. With Visual encounter though, once you've beaten the encounter, at least the area around there would feel safe, until you walk into another "forced" corner, which I personally think it's more fair rather than trying to win some luck. Unless, the dev put respawning system where the encounter is respawned exactly there (in short time, which I think it will also be frustrating), or your 8th point, which I personally think that goes into bad visual encounter design where the place of each encounter is tightly packed leads the player bumped into another one in short of time.

People only hate RNGesus, if it's "unfair" or requires "a lot of grind". Most people don't think about it in a Random Encounter system unless they walk two spaces and BAM! Immediate Encounter again. Most players are fine with a minimum of 5-7 seconds between encounters. You can cover a lot of ground in that amount of time, and it's enough of a "down time" to not feel frustration.

That being said, I've never experienced suspense or anxiety from an encounter system. Random or Visual. Usually because combat systems are so easy and so basic that just mashing "Attack" lets you win without any effort. I haven't felt even the urge to backtrack since Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow where there's a route you cannot backtrack on at all. Namely, the route that goes to Rock Tunnel. Once you're on it, you're committed. If you didn't prepare properly, you can be doomed.

But, RPGs are full of all these anti-frustration features these days. I mean, now, just to create challenge, they don't let you run back to town to heal up. They make you committed. That's considered "challenge" now.

Anyway, you can cure the problem of "RNGesus" with a simple tweak to game code. You can actually set up several of the RPG Maker programs to work with Minimums and Maximums. Namely, you're guaranteed X amount of steps before you get an encounter. You're also guaranteed an encounter if you hit a "ceiling" on those encounters. Can't really do that with Visual Encounters. Every room in a dungeon has at least two encounters in any Visual Encounter system I've ever played. But, a Random Encounter system? I might clear two whole rooms without an encounter at all. I might cross an entire screen without seeing combat at all. Without having to dodge stuff. Without having to waste time dodging things or kiting enemies.

This is not my excuse, but I'm intrigued.

Problem is... as far as I know, I see none the RM games actually give halved encounter rate / nullify encounter item, even if I played one, it might not really memorable. Maybe that also the reason why some people just hate it because you can't control it. Also, back on the popular "maybe I will need it later" syndrome. You can tell that people are really stingy on spending a limited item that they would prefer do the "effort" on evading it than spending item / spending money to buy the item, which it's not really "flip a switch" in this case. Unless it really is, like, did someone just said you can set encounter rate in option menu in some games?

You're thinking of "Repels". I don't like "Repels". I don't use them. I have Accessory Slot items you're given early in the game that serve that purpose. You want no encounters, equip an item, they're all gone while it's equipped. You want to halve encounters? Same thing. Equip the item, encounter rates are halved. The items themselves have "downsides" to them aside from taking up an equipment slot, but they serve the important purpose of letting a player "get back to town" or "traverse an easy area again". The downsides are to prevent exploitation as well as to make them more interesting. My "no encounter" item has the downside of Halving every single stat you have, so if you don't unequip it before a Boss Battle, you're hindered. My "Half Encounter" item doubles the amount of money you receive after combat so that there's a reason to continue to fight battles you get, even if they're lesser.

All the RPG Maker programs have this feature where you can attack "No encounter" and "half encounter" to equipped items. So, the only way it's "not a switch you can flip" is if you don't do it that way. Meaning, it's the dev deciding it shouldn't be a switch. I prefer it be a switch instead of an item you buy like a Repel. Mostly because the "Repel" items in Pokémon feel absolutely worthless, even with their "no encounter for 350 steps" nonsense.

Your other points are interesting though, especially the farming one.
Random encounter is superior when it comes to grinding / farming something for a design that require grinding / farming since you can just walk around and "come on, where is the next?". But random encounter is recommended not to be done when there is a possibility player could enjoy something that is not a battle (not necessarily if battle is boring). Say, they want to rush a story, and suddenly bumped into a battle like "oh man, not again, at least please not this time".

This is, again, where my items come in. No Encounter and Half Encounter are powerful tools. However, most players realize that by "rushing the story", they are making sure they are underpowered. I don't know many players (or have seen many/any at all) who skip all that much combat. Most RPG players tend to kill everything they run across to maximize loot, XP, and gold. All in prep of hitting the next boss. This is true of Random Encounters and Visual Encounters. But, funnily enough... Visual Encounters have a larger problem with "wanting to just get to the next story bit" than Random Ones do. It will actually take you longer with a Visual Encounter because you have to spend time dodging, kiting, walking around encounters. Whereas with a Random Encounter system, you can just run a straight line. Maybe you get combat, maybe not. But, if you do, you just hit "Escape" and keep moving. Whereas with Visual Encounter... Even if you have immunity from the battle you just ran from, you don't from the others which are piling up behind the first. Visual Encounters are good for Wasting Player Time and keeping you from "Rushing The Story". Or, for bloating your Dungeon Design where you need to include wide enough hallways to make escapes, and moving routes to be able to kite effectively... With a Random Encounter system, I can make hallways as narrow or as wide as I like. I can clutter them or not clutter them as I desire. Namely, I can focus on aesthetics with a Random Encounter system. I don't have to take functionality and "Anti-Frustration Design" into account with every single room.

I'm not really against random encounter. Those two give different vibes on the game. But most of time, when those two kind of system are poorly done (like, i'm sorry, majority of RM games), I prefer visual encounter over random one. Mainly because I could forgive the poorly done visual encounter than the random one.

That's understandable. I just prefer a poorly designed Random Encounter system over the "no thought put into it" Visual Encounter type. That's because at least I don't have to see a VE system and constantly think, "This could've been done much better. Why can't I avoid encounters in this hallway? Why did these respawn so I have to dodge them on my way back?", Etcetera. For me, this just feels worse than "Hey, encounter showed up, I don't want it, hit escape".

I just can't forgive the "constant harassment" of a Visual Encounter system. Fight all three battles in this room back to back, then it's empty and lifeless. Next room, same thing. Or, there are forced encounters that is the Game dev giving me a middle finger just to ensure I'm the "proper level to take on the boss".

For me, what really counts is a good Combat System. Visual or Random Encounter system don't matter that much to me. Not unless implemented in a boring way. If the combat is good, that's what I appreciate. Why? Because I'm fighting every encounter anyway. To maximize XP, loot, and Gold. I think a majority of players do this. At least, from every "Let's Play" I've ever seen. And every game I've seen my friends play.

I just prefer encounters not feel "forced" on me and would rather feel like, "Hey, dice rolled on me this time and now there's an encounter".
 

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People only hate RNGesus, if it's "unfair" or requires "a lot of grind". Most people don't think about it in a Random Encounter system unless they walk two spaces and BAM! Immediate Encounter again. Most players are fine with a minimum of 5-7 seconds between encounters. You can cover a lot of ground in that amount of time, and it's enough of a "down time" to not feel frustration.

That being said, I've never experienced suspense or anxiety from an encounter system. Random or Visual. Usually because combat systems are so easy and so basic that just mashing "Attack" lets you win without any effort
The suspension / anxiety mainly, again, comes from a frustration of "I don't feel like doing battle, for now". While true some combat may be easy enough to just spam attack and win, that might be the more reason they don't want it which bring back on your 11th point of "boring combat".

Anyway, you can cure the problem of "RNGesus" with a simple tweak to game code. You can actually set up several of the RPG Maker programs to work with Minimums and Maximums. Namely, you're guaranteed X amount of steps before you get an encounter. You're also guaranteed an encounter if you hit a "ceiling" on those encounters. Can't really do that with Visual Encounters. Every room in a dungeon has at least two encounters in any Visual Encounter system I've ever played. But, a Random Encounter system? I might clear two whole rooms without an encounter at all. I might cross an entire screen without seeing combat at all. Without having to dodge stuff. Without having to waste time dodging things or kiting enemies.
These might be a thing, but now that you mentioned two visual encounters, isn't it good to make sure that you at least gonna get "guaranteed" 2 encounter on map? Or two is too much? You can try to dodge, or just ... well, deal with it? It just two anyway?

The min-max next step encounter would be a different matter. I mean, you can try to run test then/or make a completely different topic for this talking about the optimal next step encounter, a proper next step encounter and how the map layout will be (which I think I'm gonna interested to read it). But talk about done it properly, if the average step of it is the same as visual one (two encounters in map, or maybe lesser, or not at all). I think it could work too.

You're thinking of "Repels". I don't like "Repels". I don't use them. I have Accessory Slot items you're given early in the game that serve that purpose. You want no encounters, equip an item, they're all gone while it's equipped. You want to halve encounters? Same thing. Equip the item, encounter rates are halved. The items themselves have "downsides" to them aside from taking up an equipment slot, but they serve the important purpose of letting a player "get back to town" or "traverse an easy area again". The downsides are to prevent exploitation as well as to make them more interesting. My "no encounter" item has the downside of Halving every single stat you have, so if you don't unequip it before a Boss Battle, you're hindered. My "Half Encounter" item doubles the amount of money you receive after combat so that there's a reason to continue to fight battles you get, even if they're lesser.

All the RPG Maker programs have this feature where you can attack "No encounter" and "half encounter" to equipped items. So, the only way it's "not a switch you can flip" is if you don't do it that way. Meaning, it's the dev deciding it shouldn't be a switch. I prefer it be a switch instead of an item you buy like a Repel. Mostly because the "Repel" items in Pokémon feel absolutely worthless, even with their "no encounter for 350 steps" nonsense.
Fair enough, so you're thinking of "repel" item is being useless too.

I can see where that "No/Half encounter" equip comes from. But to me it's kinda unfit, like why it has to be equip? and at the start of game? might as well as go with game option to control the encounter rate. Unless your purpose is indeed to punish player for their oversight of equipping a wrong equip. Or when they think "what was this slot again before I equip no/half encounter again?". However, aside from that, let's get a bit real though since it was from your "game design". Do you recommend every RM games with random encounter to have this equipment from the start? like, this is a must have feature.... no, a must have equip?

This is, again, where my items come in. No Encounter and Half Encounter are powerful tools. However, most players realize that by "rushing the story", they are making sure they are underpowered. I don't know many players (or have seen many/any at all) who skip all that much combat. Most RPG players tend to kill everything they run across to maximize loot, XP, and gold. All in prep of hitting the next boss. This is true of Random Encounters and Visual Encounters. But, funnily enough... Visual Encounters have a larger problem with "wanting to just get to the next story bit" than Random Ones do. It will actually take you longer with a Visual Encounter because you have to spend time dodging, kiting, walking around encounters. Whereas with a Random Encounter system, you can just run a straight line. Maybe you get combat, maybe not. But, if you do, you just hit "Escape" and keep moving. Whereas with Visual Encounter... Even if you have immunity from the battle you just ran from, you don't from the others which are piling up behind the first. Visual Encounters are good for Wasting Player Time and keeping you from "Rushing The Story". Or, for bloating your Dungeon Design where you need to include wide enough hallways to make escapes, and moving routes to be able to kite effectively... With a Random Encounter system, I can make hallways as narrow or as wide as I like. I can clutter them or not clutter them as I desire. Namely, I can focus on aesthetics with a Random Encounter system. I don't have to take functionality and "Anti-Frustration Design" into account with every single room.
I guess you have a valid reason on this story point, I won't object, although story was an example. Rushing something could be story, or maybe something else. If your map design is pretty straight forward where it has been designed the player to follow a straight line rather than exploring in a mini-maze (a few dead end), then it might be good to have random encounter. But if it requires you to explore a tiny bit of detail like checking every branch for treasure chest, personally I prefer visual one, mainly because... no, not dodge. I can just deal with it, beat it, and it will be gone for a while and I can feel 'safe' while exploring, or at least if they don't put another encounter nearby. I mean, that encounter could be an encounter you fight on a "dead end" with a lot of chests, and you're free to check everything there without wasting your "next step" encounter countdown. I know, you already threw your statement of "this is where the item comes in handy", but that brings back to my question. Do you recommend it on every games?

I agree though about the freedom of doing mapping if you're using random encounter. I kinda struggled to make one while I was designing a game with visual encounter one.

That's understandable. I just prefer a poorly designed Random Encounter system over the "no thought put into it" Visual Encounter type. That's because at least I don't have to see a VE system and constantly think, "This could've been done much better. Why can't I avoid encounters in this hallway? Why did these respawn so I have to dodge them on my way back?", Etcetera. For me, this just feels worse than "Hey, encounter showed up, I don't want it, hit escape".

I just can't forgive the "constant harassment" of a Visual Encounter system. Fight all three battles in this room back to back, then it's empty and lifeless. Next room, same thing. Or, there are forced encounters that is the Game dev giving me a middle finger just to ensure I'm the "proper level to take on the boss".

For me, what really counts is a good Combat System. Visual or Random Encounter system don't matter that much to me. Not unless implemented in a boring way. If the combat is good, that's what I appreciate. Why? Because I'm fighting every encounter anyway. To maximize XP, loot, and Gold. I think a majority of players do this. At least, from every "Let's Play" I've ever seen. And every game I've seen my friends play.

I just prefer encounters not feel "forced" on me and would rather feel like, "Hey, dice rolled on me this time and now there's an encounter".
This bring back to personal preference where I like everything is expected, like "well, the dev put the encounter here alright, so here we go" rather than "No! why now!?". As for mashing escape button, it feels boring that I need to hit that button many times when I don't want to have encounter. In visual encounter where, maybe I get cornered and swarmed with them (since it's poorly done), I can just be like "come at me bruh!", I know how many battles I will get until all (or some) has been slain, then take a runaway.

But yeah, it's all back to combat system. Being cornered by 3 visual encounter and one already take a half hp of your party without a chance to recover would also be suck too.
 

jonthefox

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personally, i've come to believe that it doesn't matter so much whether or not the encounters are "random" or visual, but rather whether or not they're fun and engaging.

I've played games that use random encounters that were fun, and I've played games that use random encounters and they were horribly annoying (I'm sure we've all experienced this one). I've also played games with visual encounters that were fun, and I've played games with visual encounters that were horribly annoying.

As a general rule, I think people tend to prefer visual encounters, because when the battles are not enjoyable, the player REALLY suffers when the encounters are random. Also, random encounters are very polarizing - some people just really don't like being interrupted randomly; other people like the challenge or nostalgia of it.

In the end, you have to focus on which would be better for YOUR project. This depends on the kind of game you're making, your personal philosophy as a designer, the kind of combat system you're using, how many sprites you have available, etc.
 

Tai_MT

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The suspension / anxiety mainly, again, comes from a frustration of "I don't feel like doing battle, for now". While true some combat may be easy enough to just spam attack and win, that might be the more reason they don't want it which bring back on your 11th point of "boring combat".

Personally, I would just rather the combat be good and players couldn't spam attack/best spells and move on. But, that's just me. If a game wants me to turn off my brain during combat, then I seek to turn off my brain for everything except the story. Which... kind of just makes me more annoyed with Visual Encounters, because you can't really turn off your brain for them, despite the combat being so boring that you basically turn off your brain for that.

These might be a thing, but now that you mentioned two visual encounters, isn't it good to make sure that you at least gonna get "guaranteed" 2 encounter on map? Or two is too much? You can try to dodge, or just ... well, deal with it? It just two anyway?

This is going to kind of bleed into my personal design philosophy some. From what I've run of "tests" on the matter making my own game, and what I've seen with watching other people play RPGs, there needs to be a sort of "minimum down time" between battles. If down time between combat encounters is too long, the world feels empty and boring. If it's too short, it feels cluttered and like you're harassed constantly. The closest I've ever been able to pin this magical number down to is roughly 5-8 seconds. Some people can tolerate more, some can tolerate less. Someone else more inclined to do this research would probably nail it down better than I could.

So, that being said, I tend to design around the idea of "a player should take X amount of steps before they ever see a fight". Without "dashing", this tends to be 15-20 steps. With dash, it's sometimes as many as 40 or so.

So, do I think a map should always have at least 2 encounters? Honestly? It depends on your map design. If there's minimal clutter, then no. If it takes my player 5 seconds to cross from this room to the next room, then I think they should maybe have one possible encounter in that room. But, if they're on a bigger map with a lot more exploration available, then I usually think somewhere in terms of "how much playable space do I have?" and "how long does it take to cross these rooms?" I scale up from there. If you're spending 20 seconds in a room, then I want the minimum of 2 encounters there. If it's a much larger space, then I want even more. If it's somewhat "maze like", then I might want more as well, but not as many as are in the larger space. Playtesting is important for this. But, at least when you do a "Random Encounter" system, you need only tweak the map. If you do a "Visual Encounter" system, then you need to tweak which enemies you're using, how many are in the room, their position, if they're too close to each other, if they're too far, whether the encounters are fair, and other things. At least... if you want to present a "good experience" to the player. I find that most people who use Visual Encounter systems don't take any of these things into account. They just go, "I need to ensure a player has two battles here to make sure they're at the proper level for the boss" and thus their entire design philosophy revolves around getting the player to the Stat Goals and not around Good Map Design or Fun Enemy Encounters.

Basically, I think of using a "Visual Encounter System" as something only really experienced game devs should be doing. It certainly shouldn't be used for a "first project" as there's a lot of stuff there to tackle to make it work properly, not feel annoying, and be interesting/fun to a player. Lots of things new devs just don't think about or take into account. Heck, lots of AAA devs these days don't take those things into account.

But, that's my opinion. I want a Visual Encounter system to be awesome. I want it to be fun. I want it to have features and goals and interactivity. I want it to serve a purpose other than, "It's so players don't get annoyed with my combat system". Because, if that's your only goal with it... Just nix your Combat System entirely. It'll solve your problem, require less work, and won't look like you put in zero effort into a Feature you implemented just to solve a design problem more easily tackled in other ways as a dev.

The min-max next step encounter would be a different matter. I mean, you can try to run test then/or make a completely different topic for this talking about the optimal next step encounter, a proper next step encounter and how the map layout will be (which I think I'm gonna interested to read it). But talk about done it properly, if the average step of it is the same as visual one (two encounters in map, or maybe lesser, or not at all). I think it could work too.

I just find the "min/max" step encounter works for me. It works for my design. It's also backed up by the minute amount of research I did (watching a dozen or so "Let's Plays" of other RPG games, including RPG Maker ones as well as putting my friends through "gauntlets" during Test Plays to hammer out features. We're talking maybe 20 or 30 person sample size. Not very conclusive, but I'm running with the trend anyway, since I'm not a scientist and I'm a game dev.).

For me, 15 steps minimum before you get a random encounter seems to work. A hard limit of 40 steps to guarantee an encounter works. Those values may fluctuate, person to person, or even game to game, but that's what I find tends to work for the RPG's I've been designing.

However, I think it's not so much the "Oh crap, another encounter" aspect of any RPG. I think it's more the aspect of, "I'm overleveled for these enemies, they offer no challenge, they drop nothing good, I need to get to the next area to get better Rewards for my time". Few people "backtrack" in an RPG unless they're severely underprepared. Let's face it though, modern RPGs hand out so much loot and money and consumables that it's very difficult for a player to die or make mistakes unless they're trying to play the game with their mouth instead of fingers. So, it isn't so much "rush to get to the next story bit". It's, "I need something more challenging, this is boring, I'll keep moving forward as long as nothing poses a challenge". It's just what we do as players.

That being said, I don't think it's so much whether you hit two random encounters crossing this room or two visual encounters in this room. I think it's more about offering challenge, variety, and player engagement.


Fair enough, so you're thinking of "repel" item is being useless too.

In the world of Pokémon, it's pretty useless. It's also more trouble than it's worth. See, the goal of Pokémon is to "catch them all" as they say. Plus, you already have a system of, "If you don't want battles, avoid tall grass". So... what's the point of a Repel at all? Using it in a Cave. That's it. That is it's only use. You also have to spend money to buy these Repels. You also typically have to navigate 3 layers of a Menu to activate them (and scroll to find them). Then, unless you're in a cave, you're going to waste the vast majority of that Repel in areas you can't even have combat to begin with. It's just not good design. Should just create a "Hold Item" to put on a Pokémon when you want to avoid combat.

I can see where that "No/Half encounter" equip comes from. But to me it's kinda unfit, like why it has to be equip? and at the start of game? might as well as go with game option to control the encounter rate. Unless your purpose is indeed to punish player for their oversight of equipping a wrong equip. Or when they think "what was this slot again before I equip no/half encounter again?". However, aside from that, let's get a bit real though since it was from your "game design". Do you recommend every RM games with random encounter to have this equipment from the start? like, this is a must have feature.... no, a must have equip?

I recommend all RPGs have a system in which they can turn encounters entirely off at the very least. How "easy mode" that makes your game is going to depend on your personal taste as a game dev. However, I like games where I have the option to not worry about combat for a while if I don't want to engage with it. "Look, I just need to go through this low level area and get to this one screen where there was something I couldn't interact with before. I just want to get back there, do the thing, so I can get to the next area I haven't been to yet." Let me turn off the encounters for that, I'll turn them back on in the new area where I want to gain levels, loot, and money.

I do also prefer I'm given this option at the beginning of the game instead needing it later and not having it.

As for the question about why I prefer it as an Equip piece? Because, then it's tactical. It isn't just breaking immersion, going into a menu, and turning off encounters, or lowering them to say 53% or whatever. It is very much, "I could equip something better in this slot, but instead, I want to equip this "No Encounters" item to serve a purpose, and it won't save me from Boss Fights, Scripted Encounters, or Personal Mistakes". I also like it as Equipment, because players spend a lot of time swapping equipment out. More than even popping Consumables. Open a chest, "You got Sensuka Blade!" Wait, what's that? Open inventory, check it out. Basically, it's "ease of use" and you'll be reminded every time you look at your equipment, that you have it on or don't have it on.

To be honest, I prefer my "run" and "sprint" option be tied to equipment too ~_^ So if you want to move faster, you're sacrificing character optimization to do so.

I guess you have a valid reason on this story point, I won't object, although story was an example. Rushing something could be story, or maybe something else. If your map design is pretty straight forward where it has been designed the player to follow a straight line rather than exploring in a mini-maze (a few dead end), then it might be good to have random encounter. But if it requires you to explore a tiny bit of detail like checking every branch for treasure chest, personally I prefer visual one, mainly because... no, not dodge. I can just deal with it, beat it, and it will be gone for a while and I can feel 'safe' while exploring, or at least if they don't put another encounter nearby. I mean, that encounter could be an encounter you fight on a "dead end" with a lot of chests, and you're free to check everything there without wasting your "next step" encounter countdown. I know, you already threw your statement of "this is where the item comes in handy", but that brings back to my question. Do you recommend it on every games?

I do, but my opinion might be biased. If I really don't want to fight enemies, I really don't like, "Just taking it" or "just dealing with it". I'd rather there be an option where if I decide your combat isn't worth it for whatever reason, I can choose to not engage with it.

Heck, with a "Visual Encounter" system, you could even make that a REWARD. I slew 150 slimes, I get a "Slime Charm", which I can equip to make it impossible to get into combat with Slimes and they ignore me. Anything else doesn't ignore me, however. I mean, that's already more depth than most "Visual Encounter" systems have. Or, you beat the boss of the area, it flips a switch, then every encounter in the area can only be "engaged" if you walk up to it and click it. It just stands still otherwise. That might at least preserve challenge until you've proven you're too powerful for the area.

Just... as a player, I don't like the "Just take it" attitude devs seem to have. "I could've totally beaten that guy! I'm like max level! Why does the story say I got my butt whipped!?" No. I don't want to "just take it". Not for the sake of anything. I don't like being robbed of my agency because a game dev thinks they know how to play a game better than I do. The dev needs to convince me to do the things they want me to do. Not force me to do so.

As such, I just want to turn off combat if I'm finding it unpleasant for whatever reason. You can leave the boss fights in or scripted encounters or whatever. That's fine. But, I prefer having the option to avoid combat. Visual Encounters just feel worse about letting you avoid it than Random Encounters to me. Sure, I can more efficiently avoid combat with a Visual Encounter, but it always feels like I'm wasting my time to do it. It's usually just easier to run in, steam roll it, then move on. And if that's the case, why is there an option to avoid it at all? If it's easier and faster to just engage the encounter, and kill the enemies, then why isn't this just a Random Encounter system? Other than the fact that you want to create "limited amounts of enemies in an area" to tightly control the levels the players have?

I agree though about the freedom of doing mapping if you're using random encounter. I kinda struggled to make one while I was designing a game with visual encounter one.

Yep, I've tried to design VE systems as well. They're... kind of hard on a lot of areas and have a lot of flaws most people don't consider.

This bring back to personal preference where I like everything is expected, like "well, the dev put the encounter here alright, so here we go" rather than "No! why now!?". As for mashing escape button, it feels boring that I need to hit that button many times when I don't want to have encounter. In visual encounter where, maybe I get cornered and swarmed with them (since it's poorly done), I can just be like "come at me bruh!", I know how many battles I will get until all (or some) has been slain, then take a runaway.

But yeah, it's all back to combat system. Being cornered by 3 visual encounter and one already take a half hp of your party without a chance to recover would also be suck too.

That exact situation is why I prefer players get the "you can turn off combat encounters" item or whatever early in the game and can use it when they want. Keeps you from having to hit escape. Keeps you from, "No! Why now!?" moments. Visual Encounter systems just don't have these features and I've never seen anyone try to implement them either.

So, people who design random encounters go in knowing that at some point combat will get annoying and tedious. Thus, they design gameplay around it, items around it, systems around it, etcetera. People who design visual encounters assume with 100% certainty that their combat will never get annoying and tedious. It can't, you see, they're using a Visual Encounter system! So, they design no ways around it. No ways to avoid it (aside from just kiting enemies and moving faster than them, which feels like you did work for no reward as a player). They design nothing to alleviate any of the problems the system inherently has. It's just assumed that, "Oh, they're just universally better".

That's kind of the reason I haven't seen a Visual Encounter system "designed well" except for Earthbound. People just toss it into their games like they do with Crafting and mini-games. "Oh, people just like it better". Or, "It's cooler". Or, whatever other reason they tell themselves, and then ignore all the other problems with it.

And believe me, I really really really want to see a good Visual Encounter system. I want someone to take the time to make it a fully fleshed out feature. It's just that... Nobody is willing to do it because everyone defaults to, "Nah, it's just better in every way".
 

Touchfuzzy

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I'd honestly like to see alternatives to the dichotomy of switch on/off random encounters and visible encounters. It feels like people seem to think those are the only options.

Look at something like Wild Arms 3, which had random encounters that were avoidable and had an entire system based around it.

Also @Tai_MT, I think both Dragon Quest IX and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE did well with visible encounters being avoidable with something other than dodge/kite. DQIX had items/spells that could turn you invisible, this meant monsters just walked randomly rather than actively pursued you, making them easy to avoid. TMS#FE you have a sword swing button when wandering around dungeons and if you swing and hit the visible encounter, it gets knocked down. You can then just walk around it or run into it to get a good chance at a first strike when it is knocked down.
 

Tai_MT

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I'd be happy to see new stuff as well. It's just that right now, I don't really see very many alternatives.

Personally, I think it'd be fun to involve environmental puzzles with the Visual Encounters to provide a way to "avoid all of the encounters on a screen.

I dunno, I just think that there would be lots of good ways to create a Visual Encounter system, but nobody does them because everyone is just under this false impression that a default VE System is "better than random encounters". In my experience, unless you put a lot of thought and love into VE systems, they're just not better. They have potential to be better, but not many people utilize this potential.

Though, honestly, as a player, I'd rather just turn off encounters in some way if I don't want to deal with them for whatever reason. It's not like I want to turn them off often, but as a player I feel like "mucking about" to avoid encounters in any way detracts from the "fun" of the game.

Using the example you had with the sword. Would you rather whack everything with the sword when going through this area you already traversed 'cause you need to get to a specific room or need to head back into town... Or would you rather just hit a button and turn those encounters off in the first place so that it feels like you're moving faster and not wasting time? I think this is why I like the Earthbound system so much. While there isn't a way to turn the encounters off, after you're powerful enough, enemies run from you. They "clear a path" so you don't have to deal with them if you don't want to.

But, that's my bias and opinion. I think I'll prefer Random Encounters until we end up with a new default standard for Visual Encounters.
 

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The problem I run into with a lot of designers who add a feature into a game is designers adding a feature to a game simply because a "'popular title' had it"; without ever considering what made that feature engaging in a said title or because the said feature "sounded cool".

So what do you think about it? Should every RPG drop the mechanic or could this be here to stay just as long as it's not tedious?
I will first admit that I am a Visual Encounter > Random Encounter.

Nevertheless, I think instead of simply dropping it simply because people say it is bad, developers should take the time analyze it. Never take anything at face value!

I believe the purpose of "all" encounters is to craft an experience, literal, not numerical. Whether the developers have accomplished this is up for debate. Let's say you are traveling to point A to point B and you encounter a random encounter on the map and orcs appear and you have preemptive. This is showing. The telling would be text with: "While traveling from point A to point B, you encountered a band of orcs they have not spotted you, do you lay an ambush or attempt to avoid them?" Which sounded more interesting? They are literally two perspectives on the same situation.

As the saying goes, "show, don't tell." The goal of the developer is now to craft the "showing" to be more interesting than the "telling" part. How you go about this is what separates good games from great games.

Games with really good visual encounter system actually do exist. The developers are just really good at hiding them. One such game is, believe it or not, Elder Scroll V: Skyrim. If you follow the series and see how it progressed and has its roots in western tabletops, it isn't actually all too surprising. In Skyrim, you do actually find random bands of monsters who have or have not noticed you while traveling from point A to point B. What these randomly generated bands do is generate a player experience. Experience such as "you overestimate the strength of the band, however, using your base levels spells you would able to come out alive." The draw of this system is that this particular experience belongs to the player and player only. Creating experience that belongs only to the player is exactly why western RPGs are popular as oppose eastern RPG where most encounters are crafted, not to say that eastern RPG is bad. Crafted encounters actually allowed for a deeper player experience as opposed to individual experience, however, I'm going off topic.

With that said, I believe random encounter is a mechanic that should have really went out of style like with text-based games. In RPG maker games, where visual encounter could literally be done by eventing alone, a developer should really aim for visual encounters. As to say, players should be given more agency.

Before you get out the pitchforks, I'd like to say this doesn't mean your combat should be lackluster. An "engaging" combat system is always a plus. Even the default battle system is well aware of this and has "preemptive" and "surprise" to spice things up. "Combat" actually starts before the battle event is even running. My rule of thumb is: "if you have to have a vanilla auto battle in your game, remove your combat system".

If anyone is curious how Preemptive and Surprised actually works in the default system, spoiler below.
We'll start with the code:
Code:
BattleManager.onEncounter = function() {
    this._preemptive = (Math.random() < this.ratePreemptive());
    this._surprise = (Math.random() < this.rateSurprise() && !this._preemptive);
};

Game_Party.prototype.ratePreemptive = function(troopAgi) {
    var rate = this.agility() >= troopAgi ? 0.05 : 0.03;
    if (this.hasRaisePreemptive()) {
        rate *= 4;
    }
    return rate;
};

Game_Party.prototype.rateSurprise = function(troopAgi) {
    var rate = this.agility() >= troopAgi ? 0.03 : 0.05;
    if (this.hasCancelSurprise()) {
        rate = 0;
    }
    return rate;
};
What this code is implying is that your battling party's average agility is weighted against the enemy troop's average agility. If your party's average agility is higher, you have a 5% chance to perform a preemptive encounter, otherwise, you'll have a 3% chance to perform a preemptive encounter. If a preemptive fails, you will now be able to be surprised and it is exactly the same deal, except if your average agility is higher it is 3% chance to be surprised versus 5% chance to be surprised.

If you have the Raise Preemptive party trait, your preemptive chance is times 4. IE 20% and 15% respectively.

If you have the Cancel Surprise party trait, your surprised chance drops to 0%.


What does preemptive do, you ask? More code!
Code:
BattleManager.processEscape = function() {
    $gameParty.performEscape();
    SoundManager.playEscape();
    var success = this._preemptive ? true : (Math.random() < this._escapeRatio);
    if (success) {
        this.displayEscapeSuccessMessage();
        this._escaped = true;
        this.processAbort();
    } else {
        this.displayEscapeFailureMessage();
        this._escapeRatio += 0.1;
        $gameParty.clearActions();
        this.startTurn();
    }
    return success;
};

BattleManager.makeActionOrders = function() {
    var battlers = [];
    if (!this._surprise) {
        battlers = battlers.concat($gameParty.members());
    }
    if (!this._preemptive) {
        battlers = battlers.concat($gameTroop.members());
    }
    battlers.forEach(function(battler) {
        battler.makeSpeed();
    });
    battlers.sort(function(a, b) {
        return b.speed() - a.speed();
    });
    this._actionBattlers = battlers;
};
This first part implies that escape is 100% success if you preemptive. However, this does not mean escape is 0% if you were surprised. The second part implies that enemies are excluded from the first turn, if you have preemptive, and your party is excluded from the first turn if surprised.

I won't go into why 3% and 5% chance are interesting numbers because it is a western/eastern RPG philosophy thing again. Never be afraid to ask how something actually works. I do hope someone learned something.
 
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