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Ideas / Resources for Random Encounters?

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Does anyone have any links or resources for random encounters? I'd love science fiction themes, but I can adapt just about any genre. I've been working on a system for a space trading game that's for all intents and purposes a semi-random encounter generator. Basically, you get popups when you dock at port based on cargo you may be carrying, past reputation or the environment itself (similar to the old game Escape Velocity or Strange Adventures in Infinite Space). In general, I've got these categories: Derelicts In general, salvage ships and loot cargo. Could also be a dungeon crawl. Cargo Items / minerals in general, but could also be frozen people Ports You're intercepted trying to do something at the port, like hire escorts in the bar or outfit your ship. Non-Combat Space Encounters Accidents, requests for escort, rush deliveries. Ruins Items, curses, monsters. Definitely a dungeon crawl. Passengers Chance to give the player short stories based on one or more characters who are trying to do something. I've got a handful of actual encounters in each, but I'm finding the ole idea generator stuck in neutral. Thanks for any help.

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Could you give any details about the gameplay? You mention dungeon crawling - are you referring to the crew getting off of the ship and wandering around? Is there combat associated with that? If so, does it include melee combat, or just ranged combat? What type of view is it - isometric, first person, shoulder cam, top down? Does the player control one character, or the whole crew? Is it real-time or turn based? Is dungeon crawling designed to be heavy on combat, NPC interaction, exploration, or something else?

Details will make it much easier to generate useful ideas.

As far as general ideas go, one tactic might be to raid IMDB and other TV internet resources to check out the episode plots for the tremendous amount of space exploration shows that have aired over the years. Lot of unique ideas in some of them.

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Details are up in the air at the moment as I bounce between game engines.

Mostly you play as a ship but when you dock / land, I want the potential for a lot of stuff to happen that will affect how you play as a ship. An example might be one of your crew falsely accused of murder.

Much I know depends on the granularity of interaction and how detailed things can get.

For ports, I will either do all popups, 2d isometric or 3D 3rd person. Whatever I do, I'm going to rely heavily on exposition / narrative, either as an outright feature or camouflaged as messages / reports / stories from NPCs.

If I do popups, there'll be no character control per se. It'll look like Escape Velocity or SAIS but maybe with a clickable minimap and actions in each "room." This is the safest route but the least satisfying.

If I take on trying to do bodies, it'll be your standard RPG party/X-Com interaction. I'd prefer to make it exploration heavy with environmental challenges mixed with some combat and NPC interaction, with you controlling a single character but able to direct allies. Even still, I've decided to rely on exposition up front to reduce animation / asset expectations.

Thanks for the IMDb suggestions. I've also been raiding Star Trek plot summaries.

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Risky Ventures?

Every so often, an NPC will offer some very rare, very hard to get item for a reasonable, but highly expensive, fee. The player can take a chance and purchase it from him with results (something like) the following:

--The item is Real: it's worth every penny
--The item is Real, but Stolen: having it hurts reputation elsewhere
--The item is Fake (depending on how deep your trading engine goes, the player may only find out it's fake when he tries to sell it to a merchant, much to his chagrin)
--The item is Real, but Hot: the item is worth every penny, but it may get the law chasing after you, or worse see you barred from entering a port for a while
--The item is Real but Dangerous: for instance an explosive or Hot item

If you really wanted to get in depth, though the code would be monstrous to do it right, you could have a long conversation with the offending NPC during which time it drops hints as to whether or not the item is worth buying. Appraisal skills and that sort of thing may come into play (again, I don't know how deep of a simulation this is).

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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Thanks for the IMDb suggestions. I've also been raiding Star Trek plot summaries.

tv.com has a pretty thorough system. Choose a show, navigate to the episode list, then click on a title. If the plot summary seems interesting, you can click on the recap button to get a full episode outline. Makes a useful research and idea sparkage tool.

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Since I got 4th ed D&D, I have been thinking about a gameplay structure that is found in it: The Skill Challenge.

The basics of the skill challenge is that there is a sequence of skill tests and that if you complete the tests, then you succeed, but if you fail a certain number of the tests, then you fail the challenge. The skill challenges are fairly short (around 4 to 6 individual skill checks).

The interesting thing is that the skill challenges does not have to be linear.

Each skill challenge can have several paths through it based on different skills the player could use, whether that test succeeded of failed (remember failing individual skill tests does not cause the player to fail, only accumulated failures).

This makes it more feasible to procedurally generate such tests on the fly.

By using templates and filling in details from the context (there might be a few variable that you track for such an occasion), you could quickly generate a set of skill challenges for a player as a random encounter.

These might not literally be "skills" as in a RPG skill list, but might be a sequence of choices the player has to make, or some other such situation that the game engine can detect (maybe even as simple as just visiting a certain port).

The important thing to remember is that the player can't fail the test just by failing a specific check, only by accumulated failures can the player fail the whole test.

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