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Sensible random encounters


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#1 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1825

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Posted 19 August 2000 - 12:19 PM

Okay, here''s a "what if" brainstorm on random encounters. With a very large world, you don''t want to track everything in the world itself. Yet you want to make it seem like entities are moving about realistically. What''s a good system? How about this: Random encounters aren''t totally random. The chance for encountering anything is based on the map itself. The longer you''re in an area, the higher the chance for encountering something. So if you hang out on a road, there''s a higher and higher chance that you''ll meet someone. What you encounter is based on where you are. In the forest you encounter wolves, on the roads you encounter merchants, etc. (Nothing special yet). Now, somehow, it seems that the encounters themselves should change the more you have them in an area. Say you''re a highwayman. You keep ambushing traders. Eventually guards should come. Maybe a good way to track this is to increase or decrease what type of random encounter should happen in any area mostly based on what the player is doing. That way, if you''re sneaking around, you have a smaller chance of encountering the guards than if you keep attacking and keep attacking. I think the strength of some encounters should increase the more you encounter them. So if you slaughter the guards, many more guards should come. Now, if you vary the pool from which guards (or whatever) can come based on what part of the world the player is in, this might seem realistic. Less guards for poorer kingdoms, and thus much more robbery! One problem tho'': Leftovers. If you encounter a caravan that''s heading north, then you should be able to see them again if you head north. So you won''t be able to completely get away from tracking things in the game world. Maybe the game system should track them awhile, then, once they''re out of a certain range, delete them. -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...

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#2 crazy-vasey   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 19 August 2000 - 11:48 PM

Sounds like the fallout approach. Depending on your destination you get different encounters.

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#3 Paul Cunningham   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 20 August 2000 - 01:56 AM

It sounds like a set up that i had when i was running my last AD&D campain. These days i''m thinking about using pressure points in random encounters. The pressure points are area''s that generate crime. They act like cancers which amalgamate in area''s and when they are washed out then small parts of the originals start up else where. Ho hum

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#4 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 20 August 2000 - 04:09 PM

Expanding the idea:
I think you could expand the idea to include modeling events happening outside of the player''s immediate perceptions, but that may be influenced by the player''s actions.

Something like chaos mathematics.



#5 Hans   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 21 August 2000 - 04:01 AM

Those leftovers are not really a problem on current computers. Just track ''em all (=all that are necessary to track, not ogres wolves & such)! You must meet at least 1000 people until they start stressing the processor. Reason: you don''t have to track them every frame you move. Tracking a caravan you''ve encountered could be done only once per second.


-Hans

#6 Kaon   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 21 August 2000 - 03:31 PM

Random encounters need to be more controlled by the player. I remember I used to save/load about 100 times in Baldur''s Gate and Fallout II just to avoid getting an encounter. That used to annoy me alot. Instead I think there should be a choice for the player. Because if you make the player fight every encounter, he''ll just save/load 1,000,000 times to avoid it (I will ).

#7 Paul Cunningham   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 21 August 2000 - 04:13 PM

I think the big issue is is that random encounters shouldn''t come across as being random at all. They should fit in so smoothly that the player doesn''t think that there''s some sort of table generator in the background. It''s hard to believe that it''s still being done so poorly.

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#8 Anonymous Poster.   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 21 August 2000 - 05:22 PM

I''ve wondered about this, too. If you pick up any tabletop DnD module, (well, a good one, anyway) you''ll see a better random encounter table than in any CRPG I''ve seen. They''re modified by time of day, terrain, a slim chance of a "special encounter", (well, at least fallout had _those_) current status in the campaign; and then, when you go to the lookups, you see at least some sort of quickie description of what the creature/person was busy doing when you happened along. You would never see a creature "just hanging out". Also, not all encounters had to end in combat. Wouldn''t it be nice if in a CRPG, you once in awhile encountered something other than a group of hostile monsters, like a knight returning from a Holy War, a "monster" who was cast out of his/her tribe, some unemployed serfs from the castle you just sacked & looted, anything? What''s even worse is that DnD has some of the WORST handling of random encounters I''ve ever seen! I understand why they''re used in CRPG''s, but most human DM''s I know don''t even use them. The point is, all that CRPG designers would have to do in order to improve their systems would be to copy some look-up tables out of a book! How lazy *are* these game developer people?

#9 Kylotan   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3338

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Posted 22 August 2000 - 03:34 AM

Personally, I don''t mind either way, as long as I''m not pulled away from my usual adventuring into some convoluted ''combat
system'' like the Final Fantasy systems have. I don''t want to be stuck watching some overblown 30 second video clip of a combat move in a battle I couldn''t avoid. Give me the Ultima, or even the Zelda system, where if you don''t want to fight, just run away.

#10 C-Junkie   Members   -  Reputation: 1099

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Posted 22 August 2000 - 05:32 AM

If you ask me, It''s simpler if you just make the game turn based.

But, unless you''re going for infinite accuracy...Try giving each npc priorities for running. Closer ones have priority 1. further have 2 etc..

then run them like 1 2 1 3 1 2 1 4 1 2 1 3 1 2 etc...

But keep track of "timeframe" in each NPC and give them orders long enough to bring them to the next time they''re AI runs.

So 1 runs every say 2 frames, 2 every 4, 3 every 8, 4 every 16 etc.

#11 Anonymous Poster.   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 22 August 2000 - 01:00 PM

Kylotan-

Right on. (god I hate that phrase) In fact, the Final Fantasy series is mainly what prompted me to post. Sure, the stories were great, and I''ve seen worse combat systems, but every sequel seems to take more control away from the player. In fact, when I beat FFVIII, I set the controller options to remember the last command, plugged in my turbo controller and walked away when there was a long fight, or when I had to Draw magic from beasties. Who plays games for the tedium? Show of hands? Yet these are some of the best selling "RPG"''s?!?! (and I use the term loosely)



#12 Paul Cunningham   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 22 August 2000 - 02:59 PM

I''d just like the ability to talk before entering combat. This way i will get motivated to fighting them. Just killing something because it''s some sort of generic enemy is soooo bad. Orc and Kobald my be extremely stupid but it doesn''t mean that they will always in the positiion to attack you or want to. How about catching them off guard and spying on them or something. There''s so many variations that can be put into a random encounter table that wouldn''t be that hard to implement which would lead to a lot more enjoyment. I don''t think that people make new crpg''s these days, they just copy what works and they don''t risk changing anything. Either that or they don''t know how to manage their development time.

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#13 dwarfsoft   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1217

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Posted 22 August 2000 - 05:40 PM

Taunting is always fun...

My friend was suggesting that there should be a scream button in Diablo II for during the battle. Just picture the scene where the battle is drawing to a close against either a boss or a hoard and it is not clear who will survive. You have just used your last potion and you are standing your ground. As you are attacking, hold down the scream button and you just scream as you attack and I can just see the great scene it would make! We can only do this with text at the moment

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#14 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1825

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Posted 22 August 2000 - 06:36 PM

quote:
Original post by dwarfsoft

My friend was suggesting that there should be a scream button in Diablo II for during the battle.



A friend was telling me that this is part of the Barbarian''s natural ability. He''s screams are so terrifying that he can make enemies flee...



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Just waiting for the mothership...

#15 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1825

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Posted 22 August 2000 - 06:43 PM

quote:
Original post by Kaon

Random encounters need to be more controlled by the player. I remember I used to save/load about 100 times in Baldur''s Gate and Fallout II just to avoid getting an encounter. That used to annoy me alot. Instead I think there should be a choice for the player. Because if you make the player fight every encounter, he''ll just save/load 1,000,000 times to avoid it (I will ).


I think you should be able to avoid random encounters. As mentioned in another thread, this should be a function of some ability or stat, like Perception.

I also think you should be able to run away from any fight, or you''re right, the player will just restore around it and get annoyed.


--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

#16 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1825

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Posted 22 August 2000 - 06:46 PM

quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster.

If you pick up any tabletop DnD module, (well, a good one, anyway) you'll see a better random encounter table than in any CRPG I've seen. They're modified by time of day, terrain, a slim chance of a "special encounter", (well, at least fallout had _those_) current status in the campaign; and then, when you go to the lookups, you see at least some sort of quickie description of what the creature/person was busy doing when you happened along. You would never see a creature "just hanging out". Also, not all encounters had to end in combat. Wouldn't it be nice if in a CRPG, you once in awhile encountered something other than a group of hostile monsters, like a knight returning from a Holy War, a "monster" who was cast out of his/her tribe, some unemployed serfs from the castle you just sacked & looted, anything?


Whoa. OK, shame on me. I wasn't even thinking of making a table with this depth, and yet this is exactly the kind of thing I need. Any pen & paper suggestions to take a look at (geared toward science fiction, if possible)?



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

Edited by - wavinator on August 23, 2000 1:47:29 AM

#17 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1825

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Posted 22 August 2000 - 06:54 PM

quote:
Original post by C-Junkie

If you ask me, It''s simpler if you just make the game turn based.

But, unless you''re going for infinite accuracy...Try giving each npc priorities for running. Closer ones have priority 1. further have 2 etc..

then run them like 1 2 1 3 1 2 1 4 1 2 1 3 1 2 etc...

But keep track of "timeframe" in each NPC and give them orders long enough to bring them to the next time they''re AI runs.

So 1 runs every say 2 frames, 2 every 4, 3 every 8, 4 every 16 etc.


Thx! I''ll look into this. I''m (maybe overly) fearful of processor load because I''m shooting for a BIG friggin'' universe. Not all of it''s planned to be populated, but if you think a Star Trek RPG and the idea that you could travel to a number of worlds, you maybe see my fear.

I think what might work is tracking random encounters after the encounter, up to a certain point. So if you meet a merchant, and remain near him, he''ll be tracked. But as soon as he gets far enough away, the game can get rid of him.

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

#18 Paul Cunningham   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 22 August 2000 - 07:26 PM

How about having a random encounter system add to the games map locations. Say you run into a pack of trolls then the random encounter table would put a lair somewherer near by which stays there for the rest of the game. This way a random encounter doesn''t seem random at all.

Example Expansion...
If you clean out the lair then the encounter system only keeps track of the fact that there is a lair there and next time an enounter occurs in the same spot the encounter system will only put creatures there that have lair or a passing stranger enroute to somewhere else

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#19 Anonymous Poster.   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 23 August 2000 - 03:12 AM

Of course, you could just do away w/ random encounters and make every encounter meaningful. But that is kind of unrealistic in terms of player expectations & development schedules, unless you''re going w/ the idea of making a short, compact experience. So the next best thing would be what we''re describing, basically giving the illusion of meaningful encounters through better random tables.

Paul, do you have an idea for implementing random lairs & such in pre-made maps? As a matter of personal taste, I''ve never liked random maps.

I think a good design approach would be to consider these random "encounters", not random battles. Let me explain: If from the start, you''re going w/ the supposition that not every encounter will end in combat, and allow many other options to the player before combat even starts, such as negotiation, stealth, tactical choices such as plotting an ambush or whatever would work w/in the context; and if there''s exp. pts. in your game, grant appropriate experience for each course of action (a barbarian would get less experience for negotiation, a thief would get more experience for using stealth to ambush or avoid combat). You could even have small side-quests based off of random encounters.

Still, I think overall that random encounters are a kind of clumsy feature to have in a game. I would much rather see logical encounters that further the story. In my eyes, any section of the world where you can''t travel twenty paces w/out encountering a malicious beast should be rather remarkable, and the existence of civilized towns in the midst of this turmoil is also something that should be explained.

If these are non-sentient creatures, it doesn''t make much sense for them to attack every passer-by, unless they''re hungry or you''re invading their territory. On the other hand, if these creatures think & feel, it would seem they would have some sort of organization & purpose to their attacks, however crude. This could be done w/ better random encounters, but once you''ve gone to that extent, why bother? I think that if I were working on an RPG, I would have randomly wandering wild-life that would attack if provoked, but I would be alot more careful w/ creatures that are supposedly able to think. One design goal that I hold dear is that when players think about the gameworld and characters, their actions will make sense in retrospect.

#20 Paul Cunningham   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 23 August 2000 - 03:57 AM

quote:
unless you''re going w/ the idea of making a short, compact experience. So the next best thing would be what we''re describing, basically giving the illusion of meaningful encounters through better random tables.


This is what i was thinking when i wrote my previous post. I can see now how dangerous it can be to use randomness to add to the plot/storyboard or world for that matter. It could really screw things up. Which is why randomness is kept it place unless you were going for a more arcadish rpg like diablo.

quote:
You could even have small side-quests based off of random encounters.

That''s an interesting thought, but then you would be making random quests.

So what you are saying is is that if you''re going to put so much effort into the details of random encounter then you might as well just place them in deliberately. If so then that fair enough.

I''ve got to think more before i go on so i''ll come back later and reread all this when my minds clearer

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