RANDOM BATTLES: CAN THEY BE GOOD?

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I use the RPGmaker VX Ace Engine, which means that the engine is pre-programmed to run on random battles.

Now, from experience, it seems that people very rarely enjoy random pop-up battles. Ones where you're walking through a cave and then suddenly you're assaulted by two bats. And you can either run away or fight. But if you fight, you can either attack, use a skill, use an item, or protect. Many times, I've found myself spam-clicking the enter button in order to continuously attack the monsters. In the end I may get some gold and experience, but where in the excitement in that?

Unfortunately, I've had to include that exact combat mechanic in my older games because I'm a low level game designer and that's all I know to do.

So how do you change up the random battle system in your game to make it more exciting? Make it stand out more?

I'd like to know how to do it without the use of plugins and maybe a little bit of script writing. I'm not much of a programmer yet, but I'll learn if I have to. What are some ways that you make a simple battle system more interesting?

And what's is a good way to move from random encounters from being "annoying" to exciting? Got any good ideas?

Any feedback is appreciated.

-DoctorRocket.
You don't have to have random battles, just leave the Encounter table blank for every map. Then make events that wander around (or not) and start a battle when they touch the player (Event Touch trigger).
I liked the way Wild Arms 2 and 3 did it. Shit was dope.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5331
No, never. It's a Scientific Fact.

Edit: Being a doctor, you should know that.
Battles don't just end with the battle screen, so think about how it feels in your package.
It can be fun if there is long-term planning, like extensive skill systems as well as potion, HP/MP managment involved and bosses strewn in as well. That way, while you can still spam buttons, you do so while looking ahead.
It's why many dungeon crawlers do great with it.

Similarily, if you have a crafting system where you need monster materials, battles can already feel more useful. If your crafting is really useful or even necessary, that is.

And you can possibly do low hp bars on either side that kick hard (so you have shorter but more interesting battles as you need to watch out) if you want the battles themselves to be interesting.
Of course, then there's fancy systems like the press turn system so you have to look out for a few things which some people like me already dig.
Random encounters are neither good nor bad by default. On touch encounters are not necessarily better than random encounters either.

Not the fact that you walk around and then get into a battle without touching any NPC sprite is the problem. The problem are the two bats in combat. Two times the same monster in the battle, often is pretty boring. Is there any kind of strategy needed for those two bats? Does it matter which bat to kill first? Do they have to be killed at the same time or you'll run into trouble? How often will you actually get into that battle with the two bats? This is what you need to think about rather than "Can I use random encounters?".

The reason so many people hate random encounters and even moreso in an RPG Maker community is because most indie devs simply can't get random encounters right. I'd claim that at least 50% (probably more like 90%) of the RPGs with random encounters uploaded here have only 3-6 different random encounter per area, you often see the same encounter twice or thrice and all those encounters can be won without ever selecting a target that is not selected by default.
Cap_H
DIGITAL IDENTITY CRISIS
6615
1)Make the encounter rate low and battles matter.
2) Random encounters should be as short as possible. 2, max 3 rounds.
3) Make them matter. Final Fantasy has pretty hard random battles later on and it feels like a decision to pursue a chest, which is ten tiles away from the main path.
Marrend
Guardian of the Description Thread
20691
I've favored touch-encounters for some time. Though, that's more about how encounters are triggered than how they resolve.

My theory is that spamming Attack can be fun, but only in certain situations. Like, nothing says that your party is a bunch of badasses when they don't need a strategy more complicated than "spam Attack". Though, Earthbound had a system where enemies where automatically defeated if the party was high enough level. I replicated this to some degree in Okiku, Star Apprentice, so, that might be something to consider.

However, if spamming Attack is the party's only offensive option until Level 10 (or whatever), you might want to reconsider what skills are available to the party and when. Players generally want a variety of options in both offense and defense.
Long answer - Yes with an if.
Short answer - No with a but.
Your issue with random encounters sounds more like its a boring battle system at fault than random encounters.
I feel that this topic is about two different subjects, how you encounter enemies and how you battle them.

As for how you encounter them, I don't think it makes that much of a difference. If you switch from random encounter to touch encounter, you change one problem for another as far as I'm concerned.

When it comes to making the battles actually interesting, most JRPGs does not succeed with it. I have seen a few exceptions though and they have all had one thing in common; you have to do something about the ability of the enemies to harm you. That is, you can't just attack them and heal the damage you take, you have to take actions that are designed towards preventing or weakening their ability to hurt you. If you just use offensive skills and healing, you get a game over or has to retreat from the dungeon prematurely.

This can come in many different shapes, you can redirect their attack towards a tank, cast a defensive buff, hit them with a status effect or even use a non conventional RPG mechanic like the ability to cancel enemy attacks in the Grandia series by timing your attacks correctly. Further, you methods have to wary between the encounters. If every battle has you taunt the enemies with the tank or cast a party wide defensive buff or pretty much anything, that turns into a mandatory chore rather than a tactic.

author=Ky
Battles don't just end with the battle screen, so think about how it feels in your package.
It can be fun if there is long-term planning, like extensive skill systems as well as potion, HP/MP managment involved and bosses strewn in as well. That way, while you can still spam buttons, you do so while looking ahead.
It's why many dungeon crawlers do great with i


I agree with this. In particular;

author=Ky
Battles don't just end with the battle screen


This is a powerful sentence.
author=Crystalgate
I feel that this topic is about two different subjects, how you encounter enemies and how you battle them.

I think they are related at least in such a way that people who do random encounters are often more lazy about making them interesting.
Now, from experience, it seems that people very rarely enjoy random pop-up battles. Ones where you're walking through a cave and then suddenly you're assaulted by two bats. And you can either run away or fight. But if you fight, you can either attack, use a skill, use an item, or protect. Many times, I've found myself spam-clicking the enter button in order to continuously attack the monsters. In the end I may get some gold and experience, but where in the excitement in that?

Your problem isn't with random encounters.

Your problem is with encounters that aren't engaging.
Alright, that should do it. Thanks for your suggestion guys, I'll take them in.

A lot of people said stuff about making the battle itself more engaging by adding stuff like making the battle system more complicated and having a mechanic where certain enemies surrender immediately if you're level is high enough.

I'll consider what you guys have said. Thanks!
I wouldn't say it's about making the battle system more complicated.
It's about variety and making choice matter.
And usually, the easier to understand, the better.
Two keys to good random encounters:

1. Fairly even difficulty among formations. Don't be a jerk and throw WARMECH into the encounter list.
2. Establish a sense of rhythm. Players should be able to roughly gauge how often they'll be in combat. For example, having encounters stick to a rule of about 30-40 steps, or "about (X) number of times on a map of (Y) size", rather than at complete mercy of the RNG (hello, Mother 1)
I think it's okay to have encounters have varying difficulty. You might throw in some trivial encounters where you better not use any spells and conserve MP instead and a few battles that can actually be lost if you don't use spells.

But of course no encounter should just wipe the group on the first mistake directly. Except maybe if it's a "save anywhere and fully recover after combat" type of game.
author=DoctorRocket
So how do you change up the random battle system in your game to make it more exciting? Make it stand out more?

I'd like to know how to do it without the use of plugins and maybe a little bit of script writing. I'm not much of a programmer yet, but I'll learn if I have to. What are some ways that you make a simple battle system more interesting?

And what's is a good way to move from random encounters from being "annoying" to exciting? Got any good ideas?

Any feedback is appreciated.

Random encounters shouldn't exist period, so IMO any method employed to "fix" random encounters or make them more exciting would serve only to reinforce the false notion that random encounters are somehow not a game breaking flaw.

author=SgtMettool
2. Establish a sense of rhythm. Players should be able to roughly gauge how often they'll be in combat. For example, having encounters stick to a rule of about 30-40 steps, or "about (X) number of times on a map of (Y) size", rather than at complete mercy of the RNG (hello, Mother 1)

See that's funny because, on other sites, I am repeatedly told that random encounters are good because they simulate the element of surprise, and also that, supposedly, random encounters are the ONLY way to achieve this. (even though, y'know, survival horror and stealth games use scripted encounters) So the idea of scheduling random encounters so stringently should be counter intuitive. If the player can get a sense of how often encounters occur, then it's no longer realistic. (of course, not that this argument made sense to begin with, because there's nothing surprising about random encounters after the second or third time. For this argument to work, encounters would have to occur VERY rarely, to a point where the player might think an area is encounter free, even if it isn't.

author=Loxus
You don't have to have random battles, just leave the Encounter table blank for every map. Then make events that wander around (or not) and start a battle when they touch the player (Event Touch trigger).

Yeah, to say VX Ace has random encounters "built in" is really just to say that it includes the option to have them without requiring a script. Touch encounters and scripted encounters are much simpler since they're just handled like any event, and a game is forced to have them anyway. (for bosses)
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