You tried to escape...And failed! (Repeat 5 times and die). Or...How fair should running away be?

jonthefox

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@ Wavelength I think that is exactly it.  I personally think that encounters should be challenging, and dungeons dangerous, so I wouldn't want the ability to freely escape any battle without expending SOME kind of resource or penalty that is non-trivial.  if encounters in a game are just meant to be easy sources of exp and gold, then I could see why people would want to always be able to escape them whenever they want (because the monsters weren't a real threat to you in the first place, so why should the player have to waste time trying to end or avoid the encounter)...I just personally don't agree with / find that type of gameplay on the boring side.  
 
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trevers18

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I think in terms of this preference, it would be better to just not have random battles at all at that point, and to perhaps have an arena or training mode to allow the player to interact with the battle system outside of story progression.

Basically, there are a couple of things that non-essential encounters do for the game.

- Provide feedback to the player as to the current difficulty

- Give the player a 'safe' environment to learn the battle system and experiment with abilities

- Make the player lose/expend resources in an attrition manner so that they must make long-term strategic decisions about resource usage. This allows the bosses to be weaker while still presenting the same degree of challenge, because the player will not reach the boss at full strength.

- Provide a soft barrier to the player entering areas that are beyond their current power level (but at the same time, reward players who figure out how to survive despite that with additional/early access to content)

- Give a sense of ambient danger.

 

So if you're going to be able to safely skip all random encounters, the first two things can be supplied by a player-activated training mode, rather than have the game serve up random encounters just to force you to hit 'run' each time when you didn't actually want them. The third point can be handled by making it so that you have sequences of essential fights that you can't interrupt to retreat and restock/heal, so that resource conservation is still a factor; for risk/reward decision-making, you can have things where you can either continue to the next fight and risk losing your gains, or interrupt the fight sequence but not be able to return back to that point without going through the previous fights again. The fourth point can be handled by having a few extra essential fights as preconditions for being allowed to access or progress through the area. The last point is pretty much lost if you do this though.

There's also practical aspects:

- Give the player the option to grind if they have difficulty advancing

- Extend the length of the game

- Make empty areas feel less empty

The first point would be good to just come up with alternatives for in general, since relying on grinding to balance things tends to make for self-induced boredom in players. The next two points are related, but there are a variety of ways to deal with them - design the battle system to be more strategic so that each fight goes further in terms of gameplay, have sets of fixed fights, etc.
Perhaps I was unclear on this. When I say "skip," I do mean "keep them and let me use them when I want to," not, "remove them entirely because they're so boring." The mobs have their use, but if I have no reason to fight them or I just don't want to, I should be allowed to exercise that freedom unhindered. I just think it's kind of pretentious to prevent a player from running when the reason for running isn't specifically state-able, but maybe that's just me. I prefer non-traditional combat in RPGs so maybe I'm different from everyone else. I can never get interested in a game where it expects me to do a bunch of inconsequential battles to gain progress, regardless of the purpose they serve. The only game where I was okay with it was Undertale, because the battles were infrequent, the battling was optional, and the characters were actually creative enough that I didn't feel like they were unimportant (that entire game added weight to all the battles as well, so maybe that's the secret key).
 

NichG

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Perhaps I was unclear on this. When I say "skip," I do mean "keep them and let me use them when I want to," not, "remove them entirely because they're so boring." The mobs have their use, but if I have no reason to fight them or I just don't want to, I should be allowed to exercise that freedom unhindered. I just think it's kind of pretentious to prevent a player from running when the reason for running isn't specifically state-able, but maybe that's just me. I prefer non-traditional combat in RPGs so maybe I'm different from everyone else. I can never get interested in a game where it expects me to do a bunch of inconsequential battles to gain progress, regardless of the purpose they serve. The only game where I was okay with it was Undertale, because the battles were infrequent, the battling was optional, and the characters were actually creative enough that I didn't feel like they were unimportant (that entire game added weight to all the battles as well, so maybe that's the secret key).
What I meant was, if the player can always choose to avoid an encounter, it makes more sense to me to have the player actually be the one to request an encounter, rather than to design the game around offering the player encounters at some rate and then having them accept or reject the event.

If the player asks for a battle and receives one, then they can feel proactive about that exchange. If the game is constantly offering and the player gets into a mode where they reject the offer, then the feeling is going to be that the game is constantly bothering the player, interrupting whatever they actually wanted to do. If battles are dangerous and provide attrition, then that interruption can be justified in the form of gameplay challenge, but if you aren't going to do that then I find it hard to justify the design decision to have that kind of interruption. Instead, you could for example have a 'hunt for monsters' button/ability, that just immediately spawns an encounter based on that area.

@Wavelength, yeah, I could personally go either way, but I think it helps to have a clear image of which way you're trying to go when designing it.
 
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