What do you think of random encounters?
I like the undertale/zeboyd solution of having a static number of random encounters per area. Undertale has them occur after a static number of steps too.
I’m generally fine with random encounters, as long as they’re tuned well. The bigger issue with them is they basically give people unlimited resources to grind than their random nature, which is totally acceptable for this implementation in my view.
Perhaps the other issue is that you gotta walk to trigger them which is time consuming. Zeboyd also made the right move here, adding a menu option to deliberately trigger a random encounter. Chrono Trigger and Tales games have a great implementation too, especially the Tales games, which get their implementation from Zelda 2. Chrono Trigger all being static encounters prevents the lame states of having to walk for an unspecified thing to happen, and prevents the scenario of just doing 10-20 random encounters through the menu then walking through an empty area. Tales has the enemies respawn when the screen is switched, so it prevents the chrono trigger scenario of clearing an area then it’s just empty. Tales also has movement patterns for the enemies, and randomly generated enemies on the overworld, and you can shoot these enemies to freeze them and go around them too, so it’s a mini gameplay challenge to bypass enemies.
The Pokeradar in some Pokemon games is also really cool, showing you which patches of grass have encounters.
The key thing is making it so their time moving through areas is populated with encounters inbetween, sometimes allowing the player to have a say over which encounters they go through, but not allowing them to bypass all of them easily.
I mean, random encounters aren’t critically unfair most of the time in most games, and don’t have very strong potential to be unfair because for some reason it occurred to designers a billion years ago to generate them relative to a step counter, rather than just flat-out random chance each step.
re: random encounters. I was mostly asking in the sense, do you think they do a good job of testing the players planning/strategy? E.g. I’ve left a town, have I planned accordingly, brought in potions/items, created a well-rounded party, have enough tactical skill to defeat all the monsters I encounter? I mean, I can think of any games that do this well b/c you can usually just backtrack or in cases like Pkmn, just avoid tall grass. But that’s what I was getting at (in some hypothetical game).
Okay, testing planning/strategy is actually a tricky topic. It kind of comes down to, how much should long term choices affect the outcome of a scenario? In my opinion, testing planning/strategy isn’t really that important, especially in singleplayer games, because the feedback loop, the iteration loop, is so long that it doesn’t really make sense to have players lose an hour from now because they messed up in this moment for something they can’t readily see they messed up until an hour from now.
This question isn’t really about random encounters at all, this is about any type of game where you set a loadout and venture out into the wilderness. Slight randomness, not knowing what you might run into, can promote building flexibly, so you are prepared for a lot of scenarios instead of just dumping all in. Though good encounter design can do this too.
I don’t think backtracking ruins this, because backtracking typically means going back through more monsters instead of pressing on ahead, unless you expend resources to get like, escape rope or something.
Though one scenario that comes to mind out of the blue is that situation in the FOE video where they forgot to buy warp rope. Instead of screwing the player for not having something, always give them an option to come out on top, but maybe it’s a trickier option than otherwise afforded. Suddenly realizing you fucked up a long time ago can be a funny situation, but if you have no form of recourse, then it sucks.
On that note, that video is hilarious, here it is: