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Exploration and Random Encounters


  

116 members have voted

  1. 1. What type of map/exploration do you prefer?

    • Baldur's Gate
      57
    • Arcanum
      14
    • NWN2 Storm of Zehir
      26
    • Other
      19


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I voted for SOZ, but a combination of SOZ & Darklands would be ideal.  I liked the way SOZ dealt with abstracted travel, use of skills, and certain encounters; but I would also like to see the mix of non-combat encounters (escorting traders, visiting with a hermit, etc.) that was present in Darklands.  

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Open map exploration fallout/darklands style, so that 99% of the regions you travel through isnt modelled ingame and abstracted. This not only is a solution to logic problems alá BG1 there the locations are much to small, it also allows for far more encounter variation and skill use while overland travel (traveling through wood areas gives a 10% chance to be attacked by wild animals every ingame hour, woodman skill lowers the chance; slaver caravans are encountered in dangerous regions while traveling on roads, with low diplomacy/wrong race they will attack the player, with fitting race/good diplomacy they will trade etc)

Edited by amarok
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I despise random encounters with a passion. They will **** up my pacing. I'm moving towards the end of a quest, then all decked out, towards it, I get interrupted 2 times. That's not fun.

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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Random encounters are wonderful in a tabletop RPG, but in a cRPG I'm generally less than thrilled with their implementation.  The former I always customized for the locale when DMing and they were part of the cost of doing business for the party.  The were an organic part of the world and the party wasn't going to escape a number of encounters over the course of the adventure.  The latter (cRPG random encounters) are nearly always trash mobs that bring little but aggravation to the player.

 

I understand quite well the reluctance of the designers to include high-quality random encounters as they might never be experienced by the players, Obsidian.  If you're going to include them, please make the effort and give us quality over quantity, exclusive sidequests only available through the random encounter (books/scrolls with pertinent info leading to Quest X carried by the raiders, raiders willing to barter for their lives with information, travelling merchants with stories to tell of unusual happenings two days ago on the road, etc.), and maybe an opportunity for the party to show a measure of benevolence toward the downtrodden.  Not all random encounters need be of a combative nature, after all.

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I despise random encounters with a passion. They will **** up my pacing. I'm moving towards the end of a quest, then all decked out, towards it, I get interrupted 2 times. That's not fun.

Maybe, like with what Amarok was saying, you could design the system so that sticking to the roads/paths provided you with almost no random encounters (maybe even none that are purely random... so only progress/story-based encounters would strike you, unless you literally wandered off the beaten path).

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I greatly enjoy meaningful scripted random encounters ala Fallout would like to see them as you travel. Then again some encounters Fallout had were just stupid monster battles. The latter are probably reason why people hate them and that I can perfectly understand. Arcanum's random encounters were nice compromise with way less annoying monster encounters, but it didn't have much interesting ones.

 

I voted for Arcanum because I like to be able to wander the map and find stuff. I don't like Baldur's Gate style fixed locations.

 

Best compromise would be to allow free travel and exploration, but make monster encounters rare and meaningful. Most encounters should not be pure monster battles IMO.

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I don't remember enough about Arcanum (really need to re-play that one) to vote, and never got into Zehir... but between Fallout and Baldur's Gate... I can't make up my mind. In practice, I like BG style exploration better--but in theory, I like that Fallout-style world maps present a game world where you may or may not know everything that there. For example, between points A and B in the world of Baldur's Gate... you know, or potentially can know, everything that exists between those two points. But in Fallout? There could be whole cities you're just walking past becasue they're not relevant. It makes the game world much more open to expansion content.

 

But, since most WRPGs focus on small segements of larger worlds, I don't think Fallout-style maps are really necessary--because if you always expand the map by going outside it. What really irks me is JRPGs, where you can explore the whole world, and the implication is that everything that exists in the world is in the world map. It makes the game worlds feel smaller than they should. In Final Fantasy VII, for example, it seemed silly that the entire planet only had one city, and only 5 or so different small towns. If they had done a Fallout-style worldmap, or a less direct representation (ala Romancing Saga, or most SRPGs) it would have been better, because then you could still travel the whole world without feeling like you had SEEN everything there was to see in the world.

 

....

 

Honestly, I think this problem-of-presentation applies more to the GAME WORLD than the WORLD MAP. In Baldur's Gate, for example, the titular city is only so big, and you know that because you can explore the entire city. Bethesda games are like that, too. Cities have finite sizes, and you can explore the whole city, but because of the games' inherent limitations, those cities are small. TOO SMALL.

 

I think the illusion created by Fallout-style world-maps needs to be implemented in games at the "real-world" level. The idea is to create the illusion of a massive city without actually constructing a massive city. A few games have done this well--but I'll limit myself to examples everyone should be familiar with. In Half Life 2, this was accomplished by making progress through the larger cities extreme linear--you couldn't explore the whole city, but you could see the vast cities and structures beyond. Diablo III was much more deft in approach: there were locations where you could see a huge city in the distance, but could only explore  certain specific areas of that city--but because that backdrop was always there, and because of some excellent ambient sound effects, they really managed to create an illusion of being in a large, well-populated city.

 

I don't think there should ever by an RPG where a player can say, "I know everything that is in this city," or "I have seen everything that is in this world/continent/area." The real world is massive, and I really appreciate it when games try to create the illusion that their worlds are equally massive.

 

....

 

But that really doesn't answer what kind of world-map I want to see in Eternity, does it?

 

Hm... well, I'd have to say I'd like a hybrid approach. In Fallout, you could easily fast-travel between any two locations. In Baldur's Gate, you had to go the long way. I would like fast-travel between a small number of locations (like, say, ONLY between cities/towns/villages--you'd hitch a ride on a cart or boat or something). But I also really like seeing the "path" the party takes through the world map, as in Fallout, rather than simply clicking on an icon and immediately being transported to a new area. It's the "Indiana Jones" kind of thing.

 

And, of course, I also want to see random encounters along the road.

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Since we have already seen some screenshots that indicates that someone has looked at the venerable Darklands, that is one thing that game did extremely well.

 

While traveling on the map, all manners of things could happen, depending on -where- you traveled. A few I recall:

 

Road encounters:

- A group of monks asking the party to provide escort to a nearby town.

- A priest and his retinue, demanding tithe from the party.

- An alchemist and his retinue asking: -The party to hand over all alchemical ingridients carried.

                                                            -Suggesting to buy or sell ingredients and/or formulas.

- Signs that something very large is terrorizing the countryside.

- And many, many more, some violent, others beneficial and some doing nothing at all.

 

 

Wilderness encounters:

- Wolves.

- Angry bear.

- Giant spiders.

- A shack, containing: - An old midwife.

                                   - A witch.

                                   - Nothing at all.

- A secret witch-coven.

- A robbers hideout.

- Etc, etc.

 

Because of the sheer number of different encounters, many of them would play out as menus, presenting a number of choices, sometimes depending on skill.

 

Eg: -Flee the wolves. (Possible if mounted)

      -Fight the wolves.

      -Sneak past the wolves. (Sneak-check)

 

You could play that game for years, (As I did) and keep experiencing stuff you had not seen before. That part of Darklands was just all kinds of awesome, and it was steeped in atmosphere. I'd ~love~ it if PE handles encounters in a similar manner.

Edited by TMZuk
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I'm reminded of an idea I had when I wasn't on these forums for so long, and still had fresh creative bouts ;)

http://forums.obsidian.net/topic/62261-a-wilderness-idea/

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Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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Awesome idea, JFSOCC! I think I missed that one! (Might've been before I was super-active here, 8P).

 

I really like the idea of roads/paths being a valid "I want to play it safe and/or just avoid delays" option, AND for Wilderness-Survival-type skills to affect the navigation of non-road/path... well, wilderness. Especially the ability to basically cut your own path through the wilderness to varying degrees of effectiveness (a path probably wouldn't be as safe as the main road, but it could make future navigation/travel through that area a little safer, and a lot speedier).

 

Another thing I've thought of regarding this matter that would be awesome (I think) is the whole "sense heading" ability being incorporated in. For example, if you've got a map, perhaps, and you're out in the middle of nowhere, your character might attempt to orient the map. This might even orient your minimap (or, your view of your map, even if it's not a traditional always-down-in-the-corner video game minimap) accordingly, so that you THINK you're heading north. But, really, you're not. You won't know until you account for your traveling on the map, and fail to run into a road/landmark that you "should" be at if you were actually going the direction you thought you were. At which point, you could then re-attempt to figure out which direction is which.

 

I haven't really thought about how this would translate into an actual, works-with-the-rest-of-the-game mechanic, but I just thought it was a cool idea regarding exploration and the ability to get lost, etc.

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Games without random encounters tend to have ridiculous (because solely stationary) encounters. Nothing makes the world feel more artificial than knowing exactly when and where you will meet what enemies, then making time to have an appointment with them at your sweet leisure.

 

I disagree: Random encounters aren't a solution because this kind of artificiality is a symptom of a larger problem: The problem of enemies being thrown in solely because the designers think the player will get bored if they go 30 seconds without killing something, rather than being properly integrated into the setting. So long as the enemies have a clear, good reason to be there (and why they'd attack you on sight) the encounter won't feel arbitrary whether it's randomized or not.

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Storm of Zehir has a perfect overland map. It instilled a sense of purposeful adventure and discovery better than any game that immediately comes to mind. There is so much that can be done with that format. The incorporation and utility of non-combat skills was also extraordinarily rewarding, and made class diversity and party composition very intriguing. I would be elated if they followed with a similar map.

 

Frankly, if P:E could be a fusion of the adventure and party dynamics of Storm of Zehir with the narrative and depth of Planescape: Torment, I might stroke from sheer anticipation.

Edited by Mr. Magniloquent
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Games without random encounters tend to have ridiculous (because solely stationary) encounters. Nothing makes the world feel more artificial than knowing exactly when and where you will meet what enemies, then making time to have an appointment with them at your sweet leisure.

 

I disagree: Random encounters aren't a solution because this kind of artificiality is a symptom of a larger problem: The problem of enemies being thrown in solely because the designers think the player will get bored if they go 30 seconds without killing something, rather than being properly integrated into the setting. So long as the enemies have a clear, good reason to be there (and why they'd attack you on sight) the encounter won't feel arbitrary whether it's randomized or not.

 

 

Actually, I tend to enjoy random encounters to a degree. Handled properly, they provide and element of danger and surprise. I agree with Sacred Path, in that random encounters create a journey, rather than a series of destinations.

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Storm of Zehir's overland map was its best feature (the dialogue system wasn't to bad either) so I wouldn't mind that kind of map, but in this game with all of it's axonometric 2.5D environments and "old-skool" sensibilities, I'd like to see "ye olde" Baldur's Gate "parchment" map with areas of note accessible only after traversing one of the game's areas.

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  • 2 weeks later...

pfffffff... this seems harder than I expected. The more I think about it,the more I get my thoughts divided. I voted Baldur's Gate,mainly because I want to see it "redone" in a sense,as it deserves.

In my desperate hunger for rpg,I want to explore the living sh.. out of the P:E,slowly and fanatically. But the Arcanum/ToEE/Fallout system has a strong grip on my liking too,and it can provide an exact and equal level of exploration pleasure... Yet these two cannot be successfully combined,I'm afraid. It's one or the other. All variations come down to these two basics.

 

So in a war of area by area versus click-to&discover...  Gods,it's hard.

 

I will shortly be done with the SoZ,at least the impression you all speak off;I decided to play it in spite of being discouraged by many friends and my personal disappointment in NWN 2 in general. I haven't checked the solution from SoZ,it might shed a new light on this.

Lawful evil banite  The Morality troll from the god of Prejudice

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