A Random Encounter Approaches!

What do you think of random encounters? Do you think they warrant as much hate as they get? What would you do to make them more interesting?

There’s some really easy solutions to random encounters. They’re irritating because if you’re trying to grind intentionally, they drain a ton of your time just walking around. They’re irritating because if you’re trying to get some place, they pop up and drain your time with a fight you don’t want to participate in at that moment.

There’s some really simple solutions to this. You can go the Tales/LoZ2 route and have the encounters be monsters that you can dodge and avoid, which makes the process of entering random encounters interesting. You can also go the Tales/Chrono Trigger route where encounters are at statically defined positions, so there’s always a set number of them. You can also go the Zeboyd/Undertale route, where encounters trigger after a static number of footsteps have been taken and there’s a fixed number of encounters per-area which you cannot exceed, so once you clear an area out, you never need to deal with random encounters there again. Zeboyd games even let you trigger random encounters manually from the menu, to save you the time walking around.

The reason we have random encounters is because turn based RPGs don’t use the environment you’re standing in for fights. They cut to a battle screen. It’s tradition and memory limits of old games probably. They’re random because they don’t want enemies standing in the same place, and they want the areas to remain populated with enemies even after you pass through them. It’s really super easy to implement and it works well enough.

You need enemies to be cut down in turn based RPGs for the hero to level up. The issue is just that it’s too random, doesn’t give the player what they want when they want it. There’s simple ways to remedy this, as mentioned above, just nobody wants to fuck with convention. Also randomness creates a slot machine effect which people “like”.

3 thoughts on “A Random Encounter Approaches!

  1. MastuDenton March 14, 2017 / 2:44 pm

    Bravely Default did this really well I thought. At any time from the menu you could change the encounter rate from 0% to 200% in increments of 25 or 50, cant remember exactly. The auto battle function also used the last action of a character rather than just a basic attack, so you could auto grind encounters with spells and skills.

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  2. VectorSatyr September 12, 2017 / 9:59 pm

    This has been a well worn and well explored problem in jRPGs for years.

    I’m reminded of Wild Arms 3, where you would be warned of when random encounters were about to occur. You could then expend points to avoid the encounter, which could be refilled by crystals strew throughout the dungeon. (These crystals would not re-spawn until you left the dungeon) The amount of points paid depended on the strength of the enemy party compared to the strength of your own. If you could not pay enough to avoid the encounter, you’d be forced to fight. And if the enemy was so weak compared to your party you could eliminate them easily, the game would spare you the trouble and let you avoid the fight for free.

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    • VectorSatyr September 12, 2017 / 10:02 pm

      It also had an auto-battle feature, but it made sure to punish you if you tried using it on bosses by changing the bosses behavior or even adding new attacks it wouldn’t use otherwise. (For example, having a boss spam an insta-kill attack that it would otherwise only use once or twice in the battle normally)

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