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Shimeran

Monster Ambushes in RPGs

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I have to say one of my least favorite parts of most rpgs is the random battles. It''s not that I mind the battle, I just don''t like how these things are set up. For example: * Where did the the monster come from? You just start walking around and next thing you know something leaps out of thin air and attacks you. Why does this happen? This seems to happen everywhere but certain safe zones. One of stranger cases I remember was in FF2j. There were these poison panther things that attacked while I was walking around an enemy airship. I know it was hostile territory, but why the hell were panther leaping out of the woodwork? Didn''t the crew notice this? Why did the panthers only attack me? * I don''t like how you''re often forced to go through with a random battle. In some games, running away rarely works, so your stuck for the battle. This isn''t a problem if I''m going around leveling or want to see a different battle. When it does annoy me is when I''m trying to get from one place to another and have to stop every few steps to fight the same kind of creatures I''ve already beaten a good dozen times or more. The battle may be fun the first few time, but that can wear of fairly quickly. I''m much rather advance the plot than redo a battle I''ve already won so many times before. Perhaps the most annoying ones are those battles where the monster attacks, then flees on it''s first action. I was just forced to spend valuable time watching a battle that never started. This doesn''t mean I don''t think there should be monsters floating around. I just don''t like them popping out of nowhere and forcing me to fight. I had more fun with the approach from Chrono Trigger, Romancing Saga 3, and Super Mario Rpg. In those game, the enemy had a map sprite and battle would start if they touched you. This made you enemies part of the game world and let you avoid them if you really wanted to. Granted, this doesn''t work so well on world maps, due to the scale involved. When an entire city''s sprite is as big as the character it makes sense that you wouldn''t see the enemy on the map. However, unless the monster is very good at hiding shouldn''t you still be able to avoid them? Anyway, that''s my take on things. Anyone have any other opinions on this?

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I have a few things to say on this subject. First of all, a game should have a great combat system. The combat system should be so fun that a player would not mind fighting every 10 seconds. Secondly, random encounters should be far more rare. I remember Fallout Tactics had the worst problem with this. The supposed nuclear dessert had animals and all sorts of people, mutants, etc. every square cm (literally) of the world map. There seemed to be more life than BEFORE the apocalypse. Random encounters should be harder and rarer.

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I would welcome more difficult battles. Especially in a context like Fallout, I''d like to have about one random encounter each week, but instead of it being the "you happen upon a pack of radscorpions and didn''t notice them until they completely surrounded you, have it be "Raiders ambushed you and demand all your cash". You can do a number of different things here:

A. Kill them all and get the combat experience, and then loot their corpses for cash and ammo. This is crazy dangerous, because eight guys with guns against one guy with a gun is still eight against one, and you had better be really awesome if you''re going to take a shot at besting them all.

B. Convince them that 40 bottlecaps is all you''ve got, and get dialogue experience. If they don''t buy it, they''ll probably kick your ass and/or kill you, and take all your stuff anyway.

C. Talk them into hiring you on as a raider, and then either take jobs with them or kill them all in their sleep. Also risky, for a number of obvious reasons.

D. Make a run for it, and hope they won''t put a bullet between your shoulder blades.

E. Just give them all your money and hope they leave you alone.

F. Pull the pins on a couple of plasma grenades and inform them that if they shoot you, they''d better run faster than a pulse wave.

Other options are no doubt availanble, but you get the idea. If you''re looking for experience, you could use your outdoorsman skill to actually look for radscorpions or raiders or super mutant patrols or friendly caravans or whatever, and if you spot them at a mile or so, you can move to meet/follow/ambush them. It would make simple wealth hunting and XP farming more efficient and would cut down on the mindless slaying of mole rats, which aren''t even worth the ammo.

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I''ve been enjoying Gladius, which also has random monster battles. The nice thing, though, is that you can mostly avoid them by staying on the main roads. And you can check the opponents and flee before the battle without cost.



What abot this? What if, on the world map, you made icons that represented possible encounters. The icons could be topical, like a smoke cloud, or symbolic, like a icon indicating sounds in the distance. Or they could be animated versions of the dominant monster type.

The higher the player''s skill in navigating the world map, the farther range they could detect possible encounters. The better their equipment and observation skills, the more detail they could get about the encounters before they happened.

The encounters could be stable, but I''d vote for moving ones of varying speed that you have to risk avoiding. They could walk around the world map in set patterns, or use more sophistocated AI that actually sought goals. If you took the later approach, watching their behavior could give you hints as to what they had, such as noting a raiding party moving away from a village.

Then you could vary things by terrain. Sight would increase in hills and flat plains but decrease in swamps and forests.

Finally, your combat and observation related skills would determine if a monster even shows up on your ''radar'' and how much time you have to get ready. The more stealthy the group, the less time or action points or whatever you have to place yourself and any others, and the closer you end up to the group. If you''re really inept, you start random encounters right in the midst of the enemies with all their weapons trained on you.



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Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
Other options are no doubt availanble, but you get the idea. If you''re looking for experience, you could use your outdoorsman skill to actually look for radscorpions or raiders or super mutant patrols or friendly caravans or whatever, and if you spot them at a mile or so, you can move to meet/follow/ambush them. It would make simple wealth hunting and XP farming more efficient and would cut down on the mindless slaying of mole rats, which aren''t even worth the ammo.


As NecroMage said, if the combt system is really good, the XP farming will be really fun. Right now combat is the only system I know of that is so rich and versatile when it comes to random encounters, simply because every battle impacts every other battle, mostly in terms of resources (ammo, hit points, etc.)

One of the things I''d really like to see, even on a abstract "world map" level, is more life on the map itself. I like the possibility of being ambushed, and all the ideas you presented, but what about the possibility of role reversal? I want to be the raiders ambushing caravans and lying in wait for hapless travellers. Heck, for XP farming, I''d have loved nothing better than playing a sniper character hiding in the hills and using warning shots to waylay fat and greedy merchants.

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Just waiting for the mothership...

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the SNES game earthbound had a decent idea with battles, i believe the enemies were on the world/dungeon map so you could avoid them but also if you were a good deal higher than the enmey you automatically won the battle w/o actually fighting.

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Zelda II: The Adventure of Link had a crude system for this sort of thing. If you strayed off the road too far, little shadowy monsters would appear. There were "weak" monsters and "strong" monsters, and they''d appear a few "steps" away from you and rush you. If you could get to a road before the touched you, the random encounter would be devoid of enemies. It was pretty much impossible to avoid them right out, since they could walk through mountains and were faster than you, but you could usually make a dash for the "weak" enemy (occasionally a healing fairy would appear in the group, and that was nice) to avoid the more dangerous ones.

It was rudimentary, but at least it gave you some clue as to what you were dealing with.

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Great ideas guys. Lemme me see how may of these I can hit.

I''m not sure if an excellent combat system would save things on it''s own, unless the emphasis of the game is on combat. If the game has a rich story, I might get more interested in uncovering the plot, which can be slowed down by random battles. In order to keep my interest, new battle would have to be significantly different from the previous ones. If I know I can beat a given foe in so many moves and know exactly how much it''s going to take, then that kind of leeches some excitement out of it.
I definatrly agree that few random battles would be nice. It would cut down my urge to scream on seeing my umpteenth goblin pack for that map. In fact, maybe fewer battles would make each a bit more important, instead of just speed bumps. As is, they''re so frequent that figure if I can''t blaze through them, then I have to power up if I want to be in any shape to get to and defeat the boss. I''d like to fewer, more significant/interesting battles.
Making them harder can help make them more memorable. I''d suggest giving a warning or option to run though. Getting repeatedly beaten and having to reload can lead to a certain amount of paranoia.

Adding in a bit more roleplay/decision making to encounter would be nice. Though I''d want to be able to speed past the text if it''s something I''ve read before. Being able to bargain or bluff would be a nice change of pace from just suddenly being under attack.

I actually did think of something along the lines of throwing in an alertness/tracking skill. In fact, it was going to be a character stat/skill. That means some character would make better "scouts" than others, giving you more time to react.

Another idea was the ability to use previous battle results on repeats. For example, let''s say you beat a group of 4 goblin raiders and it cost you 20 hp. The next time you run into 4 goblin raiders, you could "autorun" the battle. You''ld automatically win, but it would cost you 20 hp. Granted, this is more useful when random battles are frequent and repeating.

Actually, you could make an entire game based on wilderness encounters. The thing is you''d want to make them more varied and interactive. Give the player a few more choices for handling each and give those choices consquences. Let''s say they attack a caravan. First, off they''d be wanted, so bounty hunters might come after them. Caravans would also get scarcer or more heavily guarded. On the other hand, as your infamy grew you could attract a band of fellow outlaws. You could get a decent game going with this. I think the trick would be making the encounters a bit richer and more varied, with each affecting the world and the character''s place in it.

That last one might seem to contradict my original post. The thing is, I wouldn''t mind the battles if they were significant. The problem is that the way most rpgs use them they feel more like roadblocks or speedbumps. They don''t add to the story and the fun of the actual battle get diluted by all the repetition. If these issues were dealt with, I''d appreciate them a lot more.

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I agree with you, I hate random battles, I don''t play RPGs like that anymore and I''ve never finished one.

One exception are the Pokemon games for gameboy, the random battles only occur when you walk on the grass (or inside of a cave on on the ocean) and you can journey from place to place without getting into too many encounters, they didn''t seem to get in the way of the game.

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