[POLL] A POLL AND DISCUSSION ABOUT RANDOM BATTLE ENCOUNTERS: HOW THEY MAY BE IMPLEMENTED.

Poll

To you, which of the following is the best way to add random encounters to a game? Please read each option carefully. - Results

Old-school: Random battles are on. This means managing potions and mana as you explore dungeons.
15
39%
Encounter ring: The player has a ring or item that is worn or otherwise toggled on/off that can shut off random battles. Players warned beforehand that they may be inexperienced for a boss if used too frequently.
11
28%
Boss-kill disable: Random battles in a dungeon or area are disabled upon the player killing the boss. However, the player cannot level up further in that area after doing so.
7
18%
Level-cap disable: Random battles in a dungeon or area are disabled upon reaching a pre-determined level cap for that area. Prevents grinding for xp and gold.
5
13%

Posts

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The Topic

It is difficult to search google for a topic that goes into depth about random battle encounters. Most topics I have read tends to refer to them as "relics," or the fact that they are "antiquated." No further discussion about them takes place after that claim is made. I often feel that sometimes we as developers take drastic measures to avoid random battle encounters, when sometimes a random battle encounter system can be just fine. This topic is to discuss these issues.

Why I love them

As I have gotten older, I have found myself enjoying random battles more than when I was younger. There's a certain feeling of mystery lying behind every corner that only a random battle can capture. The surprise of an enemy you weren't expecting and, in some rare occasions, a mini-boss guarding a special treasure that you didn't see coming.

I enjoy random encounters because it means that I have to always be on my toes. If I go down six floors deep into a dungeon, I can't just rely on evasion tactics to avoid enemies. I don't always know when the monsters are going to attack. I have to manage my potions and my mana more carefully, and plan ahead for the event, such as buying antidotes in a dungeon with poison enemies, instead of just running away from all the enemies that I know are poisonous.

Sometimes, though not all the time, I enjoy grinding random battles as long as the random battles are in a fast-paced battle system; I have stopped playing some RPGs because every action in combat took a lengthy amount of time, though I suppose that is a discussion for another topic. In some games, random battle grinding can be a great resource for gathering items that are not easily obtainable otherwise. In games where enemies are on the screen at all times, I often find myself exiting and re-entering a room in order to force the enemies to re-spawn so I can battle them again for xp, gold and items.

One of my favorite moments in random battle encounters were these rooms - I believe they were in one of the early Final Fantasy games - that when you entered, you saw a tiny room with a treasure chest in the middle, and an extremely high encounter rate in that small room around the treasure chest. In the treasure chest was a valuable item.

The poll

Whether you enjoy prefer random battle encounters, or enemies appearing on screen at all times, the poll is a question of which method you prefer when it comes to random battle encounters. I understand that some people may not enjoy either of these: in that case, I encourage you either to select the option that closest reflects something you would enjoy, or alternatively, skip the poll and add a post below instead.

Finally, if there is an additional method of random encounters you enjoy that is not mentioned in the poll, please add it in a post below.

The Discussion

I would like to open discussion on this topic as to how you as a developer and as a player view random battle encounters. How do you feel about random battle encounters? Do you like them or dislike them? What is it you like, and what is it you dislike? I often feel that random battle encounters have been ruined for many players because of two things that I notice mentioned repeatedly: FFIV's insanely high encounter rate, and Zubats. But seeing that those two are extreme examples, I would regardless like to hear your thoughts on this matter, both as a game maker in your own games, and as a player of RPG's.
Personally, I HATE random encounters.

but

I voted for Level-cap disable: Random battles in a dungeon or area are disabled upon reaching a pre-determined level cap for that area. Prevents grinding for xp and gold.

Maybe you don't have to completely disable them. You could lower the encounter rate, or enable an "auto-battle" or instant-win against weak enemies.

It was between that, or an item/switch that toggles battles. Though I don't like the idea of reaching a boss under powered.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
A lot of it depends on how the game functions in other areas; if there's a rare item drop or a lower-level party member later in the game, it's kind of shitty to cut off grinding opportunities.

Overall, if there's random battles, the ability to (at least temporarily) turn them off is probably the best choice, since I've encountered a lot of instances where either I'm boned and just need to get out and heal, or the battles are offering no benefit and just waste my resources and GODDAMMIT GOLBAT JUST GO THE FUCK AWAY NOBODY LOVES YOU. >:(

I don't really like the other disable tactics unless they somehow fit in with the game's setting/story. Though, at that point, you may as well just make the encounters non-random in the first place.
Deltree
doesn't live here anymore
4556
Though I stopped tolerating games with random encounters long ago, I am totally on board with letting the player control their existence (e.g. with an accessory). This is for a couple of reasons.

Mainly, you can't judge a player's tastes ahead of time, so either forcing them upon a player or completely taking them away (such as after reaching a level cap) is likely to upset at least someone. Ideally, encounters are less about allowing grinding and more about resource management.

People who want to get to level 99 on disc one are out there. Similarly, people who want to do a low-level run are out there, too! So, having an on/off switch to facilitate either playstyle would be most appealing.

Also, any dungeon with an over-arching puzzle aspect absolutely needs the option to turn off random encounters. See also: the platforming sequences in Xenogears. Yes, random encounters while running and jumping; it was about as fun as it sounds.

You can also consider something like what FF13-2 did: encounters appear in close quarters randomly, and the player plays a skill-based mini-game of sorts to either engage or evade them. It's not the best way to handle it, but it's different, anyway.

Personally, I tend to implement pre-existing encounters that may or may not be skippable; however, the experience/rewards from these encounters are "spent" in some way by the player after the fact, so it's not a simple level-up. They can therefore be ignored by anyone looking for a more challenging experience, but they're still "banked" if the player changes his mind in the future.
I love 'em if done right.
First, make battles smoot hand quick if you have tons of 'em. No fancy animation for a friggin' normal attack, thanks. That makes ALL the difference.

It all depends on how well it fits into the game. How well the dungeons are designed as well as the combat itself. If it's a drag to prolong the game .. don't do it. That's really all there is to it.

Personally, toggling off sounds good in theory, but the dungeon should be designed in a way that you are able to progress without needing to grind more than through proceeding. Or if you are having trouble, you end up fighting more. Balancing will be REALLY hard if you go that route. How much should a player fight? Some will either progress as they usually would, keeping them on unless they go back or re-do things, some will try to keep any battles to the absolute minimum, some will just fight through all.

Disabling them after finishing the boss sounds like a good take for me personally, as it usually makes sense (or can make sense), and makes for a nice additional reward. If you beat a dungeon, you should be able to at least fight the random encounters on the next (barely if you have to)

Lvl-caps are a little annoying because unless you CHOOSE to grind (or have thousands of side-quests), you should not reach it unless you have trouble doing anything. Leveling and grinding itself allows you to get the upper hand even if you simple suck at the game or fighting - it reminds me of Radiant Historia where I beat the endboss 20-30 levels lower than a friend of mine and had overall more difficulties (it was on-touch encounters tho, and I avoided most since it was an easy game). It can make up for tactical or other difficulties, at least a bit.
That said, if it's reasonable, it sounds like a very good idea. And I am more of an advocate of tactics myself.
It's also really nice if you do so for areas you return to later or world map etc.
Ratty524
The 524 is for 524 Stone Crabs
12986
author=Infinite
Personally, I HATE random encounters.

but

I voted for Level-cap disable: Random battles in a dungeon or area are disabled upon reaching a pre-determined level cap for that area. Prevents grinding for xp and gold.

Maybe you don't have to completely disable them. You could lower the encounter rate, or enable an "auto-battle" or instant-win against weak enemies.

It was between that, or an item/switch that toggles battles. Though I don't like the idea of reaching a boss under powered.

... One thing I don't really understand is why people are trying to stop players from grinding?

Sure, it does have a chance of making level-based game mechanics "too easy," but at the same time, it's like trying to remove all instances of the infinite lives trick in Super Mario games and complaining that it makes the games "too easy." Unless your game is centered around it, in most story-based RPGs, grinding is a burden that players place solely on themselves, and it's something that other groups of players typically don't need to do in order to beat the game. Why do this?

Anyway, I kind of defaulted to "old school" just because I remembered how Dragon Quest pretty much handled itself competently, and that switching encounter methods would probably not work for that game.

As for my thoughts on random encounters itself, this post from the OP sums up why I can't really let it go:
author=Gredge109
As I have gotten older, I have found myself enjoying random battles more than when I was younger. There's a certain feeling of mystery lying behind every corner that only a random battle can capture. The surprise of an enemy you weren't expecting and, in some rare occasions, a mini-boss guarding a special treasure that you didn't see coming.
kentona
Your mom is a hero
20851
I'll just dodge the entire debate and suggest you implemented what you enjoy.
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4773
I don't have anything against random encounters. It's been a loooooong time since I messed with them so I'm a bit rusty. My past four projects have all been on screen encounters. Which I personally enjoy more, and it's easier for me as a developer.

Plus, god do people hate random encounters.
I don't know if it's an RM thing though, or if that's the general consensus for everyone that has played a lot of RPGs.

Pokemon is the only game where it doesn't bother me as much as say a Final Fantasy. because besides just training your pokemon you can also catch them which encourages you more.
I went for Old-School because i'm kinda against limiting the player on how they want to play. I know a lot of people who love grinding and want to be the strongest. On the other side having a player be able to turn off the random encounters will screw lazy people over for later game and boss fights and then the whole balance is really screwed up when trying to think about that for the developer.
author=Deltree
People who want to get to level 99 on disc one are out there. Similarly, people who want to do a low-level run are out there, too! So, having an on/off switch to facilitate either playstyle would be most appealing.

But then again, I agree with this. I guess the option is nice to have at least.
If someone hates the random encounters in your game, it's probably not because the encounters are random. As long as the gap between encounters is reasonably managed, I don't see a problem with them. That's really all I have to say on the subject.
Marrend
Guardian of the Description Thread
20932
I've been doing on-map encounters for a while, so, my opinion is to let encounters be on-map, and allow players to decide when and where to get into encounters. Though, now that I think of it, there was also a game on here, Draug's Resurrection, which had a difficulty mode where non-plot encounters wouldn't happen unless players pressed the "B" key (or something like that), and it would function even in towns.

Saying that, I was able to pull off a boss-kill disable... of sorts. Like, encounters weren't straight-up removed from the map, but, once the boss of an area was slain, any encounters players came across would display a little message, EXP and Gold would be given, and the encounter would be removed from the map.
author=kentona
I'll just dodge the entire debate and suggest you implemented what you enjoy.


This. It never stopped meeeeeeeeeeeee _(:3 」∠)_
Well, while I don't usually mind random encounters, if the encounter rate is really high, getting through the dungeons can be pretty annoying. So that's why is good for me when a game with a random encounter system has a way to temporarily lessen or avoid those encounters.

So yeah, I pretty much support the Encounter Ring option.
I clicked old school because the encounter method itself is rarely a problem - it's the fact that random encounters are so incredibly easy that there's zero effort to kill them on an even level (or sometimes even when severely underlevelled). The core problem of why grinding is so commonplace in RPGs is because bosses (or other types of difficult enemies) don't have anything that can be counterplayed - all the player can do to improve their chances is grinding levels or gathering materials.

However, random encounters themselves become annoying and unlikable when the enemies become repetitive. For instance, if you go through a dungeon in Pokémon and encounter six different species among 20 encounters, it won't feel as annoying as when 15 of them were Zubats, even if the encounter rate is the same in both runs.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
I'm constantly surprised that people have such strong opinions on random encounters as a general mechanic. Like, I can see hating its implementation in individual games (GODDAMN IT ZUBAT FUCK OFF!!!) but it never really struck me as something worth strong feelings in and of itself.

Of course that could go for p. much any gam mechanic
What people tend to dislike about random encounters is that they take control away from the the player. They hinder resource planning by not giving the player full control of when to expect combat to happen.

Many older RPGs did random encounters poorly by not establishing a good sense of "rhythm". Either they were too frequent, or the variance in how often they occur was too high (looking at you, Mother 1), leading to a lot of frustration. Worse yet, the difficulty among encounters in given areas were often uneven. I think a lot of stigma from those days has stuck throughout the years, and people are quick to dismiss random encounters as archaic design that brings all the frustrations with it.
I just stole something somebody here, I think Brickroad, suggested is having a population of encounters a dungeon can have. Beating each encounter reduces the population and once it's empty then that's it for the dungeon; No more random encounters until the player returns to the dungeon. My implementation also has any leftover population will buff the dungeon boss(es) with extra ads and it tracks what the player has fought to prevent same/similar encounters from occurring.

e: Forgot to say it also tracks where the player goes. If it detects the player moving a lot without covering much distance it assumes the player is running in circles trying to start an encounter and increases the encounter rate. /e:


I've also played with some touch encounters in another project that sit in place until the player gets close and they try to chase the player down. Nothing exciting except besides two final bosses everything is a touch encounter. It's entirely possible to skip bosses through fast, decisive movement and map obstacles (although there's five mandatory bosses due to a Super Metroid style boss door).


That is my hot take for my projects. For your game just

author=kentona
I'll just dodge the entire debate and suggest you implemented what you enjoy.
unity
You're magical to me.
12577
author=SgtMettool
What people tend to dislike about random encounters is that they take control away from the the player. They hinder resource planning by not giving the player full control of when to expect combat to happen.

Many older RPGs did random encounters poorly by not establishing a good sense of "rhythm". Either they were too frequent, or the variance in how often they occur was too high (looking at you, Mother 1), leading to a lot of frustration. Worse yet, the difficulty among encounters in given areas were often uneven. I think a lot of stigma from those days has stuck throughout the years, and people are quick to dismiss random encounters as archaic design that brings all the frustrations with it.

This. Also, I think RPG Maker's generally crappy way it built-in handles random encounters hasn't helped people's lack of fondness for random encounters as well.

I think random encounters are just fine if done well. Also, having played Bravely Default recently, I liked the option of being able to set how often they occur, but I'm not really sure how to correctly implement that as a Game Dev where it really adds to the experience.
Ratty524
The 524 is for 524 Stone Crabs
12986
author=SgtMettool
What people tend to dislike about random encounters is that they take control away from the the player. They hinder resource planning by not giving the player full control of when to expect combat to happen.

What I don't get about this is that towns exist for a reason. The player can prepare ahead of time by doing what they need to do in safe spots before venturing out into the danger zone, and the danger zones are very obviously danger zones where encounters would be expected, so I can't see how random encounters are that unexpected.

You are definitely right in that random encounters have been historically abused. At the same time, however, you can abuse and thoughtlessly implement just about any game mechanic and it'll result in the opposite of fun. Having an understanding of what you are doing is a part of being a game designer.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
author=SgtMettool
What people tend to dislike about random encounters is that they take control away from the the player. They hinder resource planning by not giving the player full control of when to expect combat to happen.


It feels weird to see complaints about taking control away from the player, since it's not like the player is controlling most other aspects of the game. What is it about this particular lack of control that causes such anger, when they can't control what skills they get and when, or what stuff they can equip, or generally any aspect of the plot?

It's just always seemed a weird thing to focus on to me. Then again, I've always approached traditional RPG gameplay of any sort as "what I have to get through to make more story happen," so as long as I can get through it without too much hassle, I don't have strong feelings about the fiddly bits of it.

I suppose most of the strong feelings about random encounters is just from it being handled poorly so many times that people don't consider it salvageable; I have a habit of looking at shitty things with an eye to making them not shitty (ask me about my bizarre obsession with a crappily done library skills show sometime :V ) so terribly done mechanics just make me want to find a way to make them cool. :3
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4773
There was a different standard back then, it was acceptable even if frustrating.

No excuse for it nowadays. Random encounters and turn based combat are competing against much bigger things now.
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