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PhoenixSoul

Random Encounters: Style and Affect

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Alright. So here's my take on this well-discussed topic.

 

Random encounters are basically a building block of pretty much any RPG, though exceptions are there, and in my current project, is sort of along those lines.

 

I won't really get into the history of RE, because that's been done and re-hashed more times than I count on my hands, but I will let you all discuss it further if you so wish.

 

So, in my project, here's what I am doing.

 

There are actually two (and a half) systems in place.

 

I've integrated side-scrolling into this, and there will be encounters that will not be random, but there is a good chance that the encounter will be forced/semi-forced depending on the environment, and if it is a necessary encounter to move forward, among other things (think LoZ II and that's a good starting point of thinking).

 

Outside of that, the encounters will be random, but not entirely. Each map will have encounter troops set up, but the only way one will have any sort of encounters is if the player comes into contact with a random encounter event, which will be invisible. Said event will also disappear after battle, and not return until a specific state is removed. This of course, will affect all encounters. So, kind of like Luxaren Allure, but avoiding enemy encounters won't be so easy, that is, unless you're in an area that is safe from random encounters. I have this script by Galv called Move Route Extras, and this will allow for these random encounter events to not leave a specified area, defined by region ID.

 

So, what are your thoughts, ideas, criticisms, so on...

 

Feel free to discuss!

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@lonequeso You do bring up an excellent point, and yes, it would seem that way IF I was intending on just having an entire map being devoted to random encounters, which is where the .5 part of the system comes in. I intend to have a secondary, non-battle related system dynamically change random encounters, which involves weather, time, the player's reputation, among other things. Also, it isn't like after twenty-five steps, you'll encounter another battle.

 

Like, for example, the event may be invisible, but imagine the fact that it is only a single event, that has a total of over eighty squares. This will lower the odds of running into said encounter, but then, night falls, and suddenly, the one event becomes many, ah, but you were warned of such...

 

One could do this by changing the average steps, but the issue with that is the simple fact that this number is not one that can just be changed with an event call, so that would require many different iterations of the same map, and as is, with the way my maps are going to be like, that would likely max out my map limit before I am done making them. Ouch! WHOA!

 

In an open-world type of game, especially an RPG, being plagued by constant random encounters does not work well. Yes, like I said before, my project is going to be an open-world RPG, and on an unrelated side note, there will be some TES mechanics involved (lockpicking, sneaking, pickpocketing and so on).

 

Also, there will be times when the random encounters will be visible, just don't count on that happening too often...

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One could do this by changing the average steps, but the issue with that is the simple fact that this number is not one that can just be changed with an event call, so that would require many different iterations of the same map, and as is, with the way my maps are going to be like, that would likely max out my map limit before I am done making them. Ouch! WHOA!

I'm surprised no one came up with a script for that. Seems like it'd be easy enough, but I know nothing of scripting so :unsure:

 

19 minutes ago, PhoenixSoul said:

In an open-world type of game, especially an RPG, being plagued by constant random encounters does not work well. Yes, like I said before, my project is going to be an open-world RPG, and on an unrelated side note, there will be some TES mechanics involved (lockpicking, sneaking, pickpocketing and so on).

This bugs the crap out me even in a closed world game. 

 

Yeah it sounds like putting all the troops/conditions would work way better in an event. Clever use of Region ID's to make sure events don't spawn on impassible tiles :)

 

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8 minutes ago, lonequeso said:

I'm surprised no one came up with a script for that. Seems like it'd be easy enough, but I know nothing of scripting so :unsure:

 

If anyone has, it has likely vanished due to lack of diligence/care. Not that this surprises me since dropbox users tend to fall into that lazy pattern only to realize that dropbox fucks with people by dropping links. All my uploads, except to theisozone (which is by their policies that LOVE BANDWIDTH THROTTLING STORAGE SERVICES) are to MEGA (how can one beat 50GB just for signing up?)

 

Anyway, yeah; I wouldn't even know where to look in the scripts for this, and it may very well be a hardcoded issue that only @Kayzee or someone else with said level of expertise would know about.

 

13 minutes ago, lonequeso said:

This bugs the crap out me even in a closed world game.

 

Playing @Ninjamida's game right now (well I started it anyway), and yeah, that is definitely present, but they did warn about it in their topic so...

 

15 minutes ago, lonequeso said:

Yeah it sounds like putting all the troops/conditions would work way better in an event. Clever use of Region ID's to make sure events don't spawn on impassible tiles :)

 

I actually just have all the possible random encounters setup, with random encounters turned OFF, and have the event on event touch, call up a battle event command that treats it like a random encounter, with winning or escaping being possible.

Clever use of Region ID's to make sure that bugs stay in thickets of roses and such...and slimes in shallow water...

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I think if you are going to do something like that, why not just go with on-screen encounters? I don't see the point of using something like invisible events rather then just using visible ones myself.

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@Kayzee I could, but there is one caveat. I absolutely and without fail would need representative event graphics. I do not believe there are any that would represent bees/hornets, and that would be one of at least fifty. Most artists don't work pro-bono unless I do something in return or they have the time, so it would be on me, and I struggle with NPC sprites as is.

 

But even if I were to use visible encounters one hundred percent, I'd be changing my system as well. I'm not currently using any sort of event chasing, and that would likely force me to do so.

 

But, I thank you for your input, greatly appreciated.

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Uh, are you sure about that? I am pretty sure there are bug character sprites as part of the RTP...  yeah Monster3 has a nice hornet. I guess you are not using the RTP though? Anyway would I recommend you do what the SaGa games did and use sprites for different enemy types rather then every individual enemy. But still, that can always be a problem for sure...

 

Good event chasing is kinda tricky, but I donno, I like being able to avoid enemies myself. But it's up to you!

Edited by Kayzee

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@Kayzee Yeah, I see that, though to be honest, I'd rather have a swarm (since they appear as pairs or more in battle). At any rate, I'm really going for something above and beyond the usual. What if a piece of equipment repelled insects but attracted slimes? Yeah, things like this.

 

I may look more into using visible events, or semi-visible, if the need arises and/or I can get certain things. At the very least, I have the region ID restrict going for me, and that works.

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Getting/making custom art will be a pain. Pretty, shiny graphics are nice, but not the most important thing. Don't be afraid to use RTP as a last resort if you can't get what you want. It's a silly reason not to release a fully playable game. 

Edited by lonequeso

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The other thing I thought about is instead of using events, if it wouldn't be better in your case to use random encounter pools? It would need to be scripted, but I could imagine each map or region to have a shuffled array of encounters it pulls from whenever you get into an encounter. I personally think random encounters are kind of a pain anyway, but if you want to use them you want to use them.

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Hm. RE are a good way to hide rare enemies, in my opinion. I use a blend of on-map and random encounters, in which I'll provide a (spoilerish) example.

 

In SD&D, you eventually get into Roa Forest, getting another partner and then after continuing to the next map, you're warned about the multiple Star Dragons the two main demons left behind for you to possibly face. What's annoying about using the sprite is that it takes 1.5 tiles in any direction, but only the true tile it takes up is the encounter trigger. Earlier in the game, you're also given information behind the different sprites used for map encounters. Ghosts mark ground based enemies (Frezeragas, Bolveragas, Drake Worms, Demon Guards, etc) while bats mark your air based enemies (Most Elementals are in this group, but most of the most can be hit by Earth, Bloodfangs, Chaingras, etc). This is to get the player thinking on using all the characters in their party, since you can't tell exactly what enemies are in each encounter until you start. Now, the on map REs are used for hiding enemies like Leeches, which steal experience from what they attack, the rare Frost Demon Blazes, and Forest Chimeras. This is all done without any scripting/major eventing, and I haven't gotten a bad review about it yet. (Yes, random encounters tend to not happen during on map encounters, unless the map encounters can kill you easily)

 

As your style reminds me a bit of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, I do recommend a healthy amount of encounters that aren't forced. The setup is there, but are the smarts and cunning there? Only the player can decide whilst playing your game.

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How will encounters work in the side scrolling parts? You referenced LoZ II, but obviously there were no random encounters. Can the player kill the onscreen enemies or does touching them result in starting a battle? Are there going to be random encounters in these areas, too? 

 

I could foresee some fun platforming maps where the player can try to dodge onscreen enemies. I could also forsee the player being able to strike enemeis and stun them, and from there either avoiding them or engaging them w/ a preemptive strike. Radiant Historia did that with their onscreen enemies. Also if an enemy engaged you from behind, they got a preeempitve strike. 

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@Rezanta I've never played Mystery Dungeon, to be honest...

 

Yeah, those encounters aren't forced, they are avoidable even if one cannot see to avoid them, unless they are in a safe area that the encounters will not tread in.

 

@lonequeso In LoZ II, random encounters DO occur, but it is more like a whole level where one can fight enemies or just bounce.

 

As far as what touching enemy sprites does, if one jumps on top of the enemy (this is all I have working for now since Arc Engine provides little to work with in this regard), the enemy is hurt. If the enemy touches the player, the player takes damage. No battles occur (like, no Battle_Manager stuffs).

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In LoZ II, random encounters DO occur, but it is more like a whole level where one can fight enemies or just bounce.

I think I was 5 the last time I played. The only thing I remember is being turned into a goddamn eggplant. 

So you're going all Super Mario, eh? :) Are you planning to expand upon it, or is jumping on enemies it for you?

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I have to say, I ignored it before but I am confused about mentions of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon and the whole Mystery Dungeon series are roguelikes. They don't have random encounters in any way shape or form (or really 'encounters' of the traditional sort at all), unless you are just talking about the way enemies are put in random places or are somehow talking about traps, but that's kind of a stretch.

Edited by Kayzee

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@Kayzee Gates to Infinity gave you ways to force encounters, and the whole series had monster houses, which of course, were random. Considering the age of the series, I didn't fully explain due to thinking Phoenix knew about the game.

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What does 'force encounters' mean in this context anyway? Locking you in a room till you clear out a bunch of enemies? But I guess you sort of have a point with monster houses. Still doesn't sound like you are talking about the same type of 'random encounters' we are talking about really. Does make me think a bit of the encounters in Chrono Trigger though, where a lot of encounters are scripted to trigger if you step in particular zones.

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Eh, either way, it's a style or mechanic you look at to inspire something.

 

Anyway, back to the main topic, something I didn't dabble in at first, your hidden encounters move right? Are they constant with the movement, or is it set up to be in different places, like a randomizer or a trigger to each time the player enters the map?

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@Rezanta Yes, they do indeed move. As far as randomizing where they appear, as well as IF they appear, that will depend on things like time of day, weather, and other factors. But it wouldn't necessarily be every time the player enters the map...

 

Another part of this, as aforementioned is the region ID lock, thanks to Galv's Move Route Extras. If the event is locked to region 1, it will NOT move beyond the bounds of that region. So, yes, there are safe spaces. I'm considering creating some sort of system that will inform the player at a subtle level of when they are entering/leaving a potential encounter hazard as well, though as of now I've not put much thought into it.

 

I also have plans for some maps to not have this system in place, and the encounters will be entirely random, or the encounters will be (to an extent) avoidable.

 

There's going to be a condemned construct of some kind, that is filled with all sorts of phantasma. Using the system for hidden encounter events in such a place would have over 300 events. I don't want any player to experience lag, so this is best avoided.

 

There's also plans for an arena or something similar, where the encounter events would be better off with sprites.

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 I'm considering creating some sort of system that will inform the player at a subtle level of when they are entering/leaving a potential encounter hazard as well, though as of now I've not put much thought into it.

Sound effects would work nicely. Some menacing growls or what have you.

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