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Author Topic: Random battles - what do you think?  (Read 1069 times)
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Americanidle
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« on: August 28, 2006, 02:01:36 PM »

So I started up Shadow Hearts Convenant yesterday and figured I should like it fine with everything I heard.....but after a few hours I stopped as I can't deal with random battles anymore. I'm not a rpg fanatic but I like to play them around the action titles. I didn't have any problems with random battles back in the day but now suddenly can't stand them. It's almost like they are "interfering" with the game flow. I guess after playing games like KH, it's hard to not see my enemies at all. It's a shame too since I bought a used DQ8 recently.
I'm curious how you guys view random battles.
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2006, 02:05:12 PM »

I don't care about random battles themself- it's the frequency I have issues with.  I thought all of the Shadow Hearts games, for example, had excellent frequency where I never felt like it was interfering with progress.  My general rule of thumb is that if I become overly frustrated because I take wrong turn in a dungeon and have to retrace my steps then the random encounter rate is way too high. 
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Scott
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2006, 02:59:48 PM »

Hate random battles.  To me, they remove any desire I have to explore the areas I'm travelling through.  Usually I just take a straight line through to avoid the extra, usually easy/meaningless battles.  DQ VIII's random battles weren't so bad, as the style of the characters were great, and the battles were a challenge.  But in games like Final Fantasy, I hate them, as the battles usually are trivial, introduce extra load times, and just serve to lengthen the games, as opposed to any cool extra content. 

Plus again, I can't explore areas and be subjected to the random wastes of time.
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Calvin
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2006, 03:00:27 PM »

Quote from: Kevin Grey on August 28, 2006, 02:05:12 PM

I don't care about random battles themself- it's the frequency I have issues with.  I thought all of the Shadow Hearts games, for example, had excellent frequency where I never felt like it was interfering with progress.  My general rule of thumb is that if I become overly frustrated because I take wrong turn in a dungeon and have to retrace my steps then the random encounter rate is way too high. 

I could not agree more. This is exactly how I feel about random battles-frequency is key.
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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2006, 03:33:50 PM »

It depends on the combat.  DQVIII's combat and monster designs were so fun I really didn't mind the random battles.  The one I remember hating was Final Fantasy IV - seemed like every 20 seconds or so.
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wonderpug
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2006, 03:42:50 PM »

I've just been replaying Golden Sun, and I'm trying to put my finger on why the random battles don't bother me.  I think it's because your mana recharges as you walk along, so as long as you don't cast like crazy you can keep on exploring without having to resort to recharge items or heading back to an inn.
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kathode
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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2006, 06:30:30 PM »

Like them less and less as I get older.  I was going to say it's really the frequency I dislike, but I realize that's just code for me saying I want to control the frequency - i.e. I don't like random battles. 

DQ8 is my most recent game with random encounters.  I loved it when I found a new enemy because the enemies in that game have so much personality.  But you start to realize soon that each area only has about 3-4 enemy types and you fight them over and over and over again.  I think it's mostly that all the tiny parts eat up time - like "oh boy, another cinematic reveal of... a slime."    I hammer on the button after each round when Jessica's staff causes her to regain some piddly amount of magic points, and I have to watch the message scroll by complete with an effect.  I guess the problem is I feel that unless it's a boss or a new enemy type, a random encounter forces me to take 3-4 minutes away from doing something I really want to do, which is usually just exploring.  I like to play through games to see new cool things, not the same old cool things over and over.
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2006, 06:33:42 PM »

Quote from: kathode on August 28, 2006, 06:30:30 PM

DQ8 is my most recent game with random encounters.  I loved it when I found a new enemy because the enemies in that game have so much personality.  But you start to realize soon that each area only has about 3-4 enemy types and you fight them over and over and over again.  I think it's mostly that all the tiny parts eat up time - like "oh boy, another cinematic reveal of... a slime."    I hammer on the button after each round when Jessica's staff causes her to regain some piddly amount of magic points, and I have to watch the message scroll by complete with an effect.  I guess the problem is I feel that unless it's a boss or a new enemy type, a random encounter forces me to take 3-4 minutes away from doing something I really want to do, which is usually just exploring.  I like to play through games to see new cool things, not the same old cool things over and over.

But how much of this is about actual random battles and how much is about overly repetitive encounters?  You can put the enemies onscreen and still have to deal with these same issues. 
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EddieA
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« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2006, 11:31:45 PM »

I've been playing console RPGs since the original Dragon Warrior, so I've becomed so used to them, I doubt I'll ever tire of them.  However, I do prefer being able to see the enemies so that you can choose which ones to fight.  For me, variety is important with random battles.  Even with the very high encounter rate in the SMT games, it rarely bothered me due to the excellent combat system, which made every battle different.  I'd rather go through 100 fun battles than 50 where you just use the same attacks for each one.
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Dante Rising
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« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2006, 12:22:34 AM »

What amazes me is that developers know people are fatigued by massive numbers of random battles, but instead of thinking outside the box they just added an "Autobattle" feature. If a player is letting the game handle things on automatic pilot, the developers have failed. I spent 25% of Suikoden III not even looking at the screen. I'd just hit "auto", and then cruise the Internet while the game did whatever. Tragic.
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Scott
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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2006, 12:27:56 AM »

Quote
But how much of this is about actual random battles and how much is about overly repetitive encounters?  You can put the enemies onscreen and still have to deal with these same issues.
Its the random battles for me.  Put enemies on screen.  I can deal with them or not, and then cruise the area and explore.  Random encounters remove exploring from the game, as no matter how many enemies you clear, there are always more.  Games with enemies in set locations let you clear out the map, then see if you miss anything.  Or you can just choose to ignore things.

Really, random battles serve no other purpose but to add time to a game, as opposed to developers adding a new dungeon, or other content.  Random battles just artficially lengthen the games.  There have been games with fixed enemies, that did allow you to return to optional dungeons to fight more if you want.  Other games had encounters and bosses that scaled to opponents, knowing the minimum of encounters the characters had to face, or scaled if the characters fought extra.  I've found these to be by far the best.

Oblivion lets you dodge encounters, or fight through them.  There aren't really any random battles at all, and the character has great freedom.  I think the scaling of Oblivion is broken in some ways (bandits should never get the best armors), but the major fights are done pretty well.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2006, 12:30:05 AM by Scott » Logged

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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2006, 12:43:41 AM »

Quote from: Scott on August 29, 2006, 12:27:56 AM

Other games had encounters and bosses that scaled to opponents, knowing the minimum of encounters the characters had to face, or scaled if the characters fought extra.  I've found these to be by far the best.

Ugh.  While random encounters in general don't bother me, I *hate* scaling systems.  I defended it in Oblivion where I think that the unique open ended nature of the game necessitated it, but in most other games it's a game breaker.  FF8 comes to mind.  The hallmark of any RPG to me is that if I I'm finding something overly difficult then I can grind a few levels to make it easier.  Scaled systems break that.  Just look at Gratch's recent Final Fantasy Tactics thread- it's a great game but he has to purposely keep his main character (whom the enemy levels are scaled from) a few levels below the rest of his party just to keep the difficulty in check. 
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Godzilla Blitz
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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2006, 01:57:35 AM »

Quote from: Scott on August 29, 2006, 12:27:56 AM

Its the random battles for me.  Put enemies on screen.  I can deal with them or not, and then cruise the area and explore.  Random encounters remove exploring from the game, as no matter how many enemies you clear, there are always more.  Games with enemies in set locations let you clear out the map, then see if you miss anything.  Or you can just choose to ignore things.

This is a big element why I generally don't enjoy them. There is little to no sense of accomplishment to clearing out a zone. They seem so pointless. They make my characters stronger, sure, but the physical world has not changed at all.

For me, though, I think the frequency, amount, variety, duration, and challenge are important elements of random encounters.

Frequency: Too many per minute and it drives me nuts. One a minute is usually not a problem.
Amount: Does every level have them? Are the maps huge, so that I have to fight a billion battles? Ugh.
Variety: Are the battles different on each level? How frequenty do new enemies get introduced?
Duration: Do the battles take a long time, or are they relatively quick? Nothing sucks the energy out of me like seeing four on nine battles that take four or five minutes to run through. Yikes.
Challenge: So often, the battles are mind-numbingly boring. I do not have to think at all. If the battles make me think about how to fight the battle, I am a more forgiving of the fights.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2006, 04:45:47 AM by Godzilla Blitz » Logged

depward
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« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2006, 06:38:54 AM »

I'm playing Sigma Star Saga for the GBA right now (Fred Meyer $9 game woot!) and it has a different sort of take on the whole random battle thing.  See, you still have random battles... but you 'spawn' as a different kind of ship and you have to shoot down a varying amount of ships each battle.  It kinda plays out like more 'old-school' sort of side-scrolling ship action - kind of a neat kind of random battle scheme.

So it plays kind of like a RPG with this ship sort of random encounter element.  I'm finding it quite refreshing!
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Nth Power
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« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2006, 07:24:32 AM »

Generally I dislike random battles, but I grin and bear it as long as the rest of the game is worth it.  The only time in recent gaming where it became noticeably annoying was the Digital Devil games.  That encounter rate is absurdly high.   
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Wolves
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« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2006, 07:44:06 AM »

Quote from: Americanidle on August 28, 2006, 02:01:36 PM

I'm curious how you guys view random battles.
HATE!!!

That's all I have to say about them.
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Calvin
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« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2006, 01:33:18 PM »

I think people are forgetting that non-random battles still force you to fight what amounts to random battles. Think about it this way. I think most Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy type games have random battles both as a gameplay "feature" but more importantly to ensure constant character progression through the game so that you can handle the boss fights and things like that. If you are playing a game that lets you choose your encounters, if you avoid enough and can't beat a boss, you are going to be back to square 1 wandering in circles fighting when you can to get to the appropriate level-its just as random in the end, just delayed.
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