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EdwinP

Why not random wilderness area encounters?

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Eeeeh, on the whole I've got to disagree with this idea. I'm all for making the wilderness more expansive and involving and I'd certainly like to see the Survival skill actually be good for something, but these kinds of procedurally generated mechanics - especially in RPGs - tend to devolve into tedious busywork when you put them into practice. Personally, I find the procedural Stronghold events grating enough when I can't travel more than 24 hours' worth in a go without running the risk of one coming and going, temporarily penalizing my rep with a faction on the way, so I can only imagine that having my travel from point A to point B continuously interrupted by the same small pool of randomly decided events, rabid wildlife and suicidal bandits would just be downright infuriating.

 

As said, I do agree that the wilderness could be more expansive and should offer more incentive to explore it, but I'd much prefer it if that incentive was properly written and realized quests, NPCs, and background storytelling (similar to finding Fulvano's gear and journey notes for instance). Using procedurally generated content to fill a void like this usually just makes it feel more hollow and unengaging than the one-and-done approach on display currently.

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I'm not a fan of the idea.  I think PoE--and RPGs in general--need fewer meaningless trash fights, not more of them.  Give me a focused, well-written 20-hour RPG over one with 100 hours padded out with dozens of hours of indistinguishable, unmemorable fights.  I wouldn't mind encounters during fast travel that were story-related, but more combats just to have combat or increase difficulty.? No thank you.  I don't want to feel like I have to reload and try again if I get beaten up pretty badly after a tough combat because I'm afraid that if I rest my characters will get killed by a random encounter.  

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I think the original suggestion was for meaningful scripted encounters that happened to be encountered at random whilst travelling. NOT random trash fights.

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Everyone knows Science Fiction is really cool. You know what PoE really needs? Spaceships! There isn't any game that wouldn't be improved by a space combat minigame. Adding one to PoE would send sales skyrocketing, and ensure the game was remembered for all time!!!!!

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I think the original suggestion was for meaningful scripted encounters that happened to be encountered at random whilst travelling. NOT random trash fights.

 

Honestly would not mind both.

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I think the original suggestion was for meaningful scripted encounters that happened to be encountered at random whilst travelling. NOT random trash fights.

I remain unconvinced about the presence of trash mobs. To go back to the idea as presented;

 

 

As another mentioned, wilderness areas are bland, devoid of content and yield no reason to explore them.

 

Why not make travel through wilderness areas more interesting?

 

Imagine, a base 20% of a randomly generated encounter when traveling through a wilderness area.

 

  1. Encountering a party of merchants or traveler(s) on their way. They could be a source of news, news that may have been affected by PC actions. Or you could demand money from them for safe passage ( this could trigger a future encounter with knights looking for bandits that match your description ).
  2. If your Survival skill is low, bandits appear out of nowhere to ambush your party - demanding cash for your safe passage. If your survival skill is high, your party may notice the absence of wilderness sounds and advise you to proceed with caution.(Survival Skill Check = "I don't hear any birds, we should proceed with caution)
  3. Encountering a patrol of knights looking for bandits, and if your reputation is low you may face a problem.
  4. Encountering a starving refugee, asking for help for their village, a village that is besieged and starving (this opens the path to a new encounter area with a new side quest). Do you offer the refugee food or not, and incur a reputation boost or penalty? Do you accept a quest to save the villagers?
  5. Encounter a young bear. Harm the young bear and his dire bear mother and father charge from the woods to attack. Ignore the young bear and the encounter with his parents is not triggered. (Survival Skill Check = "Its a young bear, his mother will be close by." )
  6. Encounter: Dragon - ( Survival Skill Check = "I see signs of a Dragon in the area, it might be best if we quickly and quietly left this area" ) . A very rare random encounter that most PC parties will want to avoid. Of course, it could be a dragon that you could talk. An encounter that player's will talk about - I encountered a huge dragon attacking a merchant caravan and sneaked away, or I encountered a huge dragon attacking a caravan and attacked, and died.

 

Survival Skill Enhancement: 10% per Skill Level - Textual (or audio) Alert when a potentially hostile random encounter is detected - "It's too quiet. We should proceed with caution." A suggestion for the party to turn back or enter stealth mode to see what lies ahead on the path.

 

Bandit ambush kinda sounds like a trash mob fight or pay to not have to put up with a trash mob fight to me. Encounter a young bear is potentially a trash mob fight once, after which it's a complete dud event because you already know the correct response which makes nothing happen. Knights are either a blank or a trash mob fight, except the outcome depends on what you did outside of the encounter. All three options share the common trait of the trash mob fight being the only actual thing you'd get out of them (unless you count losing what would ultimately end up a trivial amount of coppers). So yeah, that's three glorified trash mobs in my book.

 

My wider objection though is not to having to fight things once in a while (I can deal with that, at least it's something to engage me on the commute) but rather the prospect of having to scrape through an increasingly samey pool of 'random' events every time I need to stop by a wilderness area. Half of these could relieve the tedium all of once...after which you know the correct answers to give and they just become another repeating feature of the tedious commute. This all sounds great for when you picture getting the odd dragon, the quest, maybe one case of the bear cub...but what if you keep rolling bear cub off the table? What if you get nothing but bandits over and over? Unless there's a limit to keep options from re-firing, dragon and quest in particular are going to get very silly very fast, whereas if you do impose limits but not across the board you're narrowing the pool down until we're basically down to the bandits, the knights, and the bears again. As stated, I'd rather have properly scripted and fleshed out content with a similar ambush premise rather than a random dice roll. And honestly, if I'm going to have to deal with trash mobs, I'd rather we got onto the combat rather than having them waste my time by running the same dialogue by me every time first.

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Put points into Survival, all wilderness encounters become avoidable, so you have no chance of encountering a trash mob.


Everyone knows Science Fiction is really cool. You know what PoE really needs? Spaceships! There isn't any game that wouldn't be improved by a space combat minigame. Adding one to PoE would send sales skyrocketing, and ensure the game was remembered for all time!!!!!

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The trash mobs would be tedious, doesn't make it worth diverting points into Survival and away from skills that actually give me tangible benefits.

Edited by Aea

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The trash mobs would be tedious, doesn't make it worth diverting points into Survival and away from skills that actually give me tangible benefits.

As already pointed out, whilst you might find them tedious, others like them. It's not like you would actually be giving anything up to max out Survival on a party member, so what you have is an entirely optional gameplay element.

 

 

If you have any other ideas about how you could make Survival give tangible benefits, I'm sure we would all love to hear them.

Edited by Fardragon
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Everyone knows Science Fiction is really cool. You know what PoE really needs? Spaceships! There isn't any game that wouldn't be improved by a space combat minigame. Adding one to PoE would send sales skyrocketing, and ensure the game was remembered for all time!!!!!

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The trash mobs would be tedious, doesn't make it worth diverting points into Survival and away from skills that actually give me tangible benefits.

As already pointed out, whilst you might find them tedious, others like them. It's not like you would actually be giving anything up to max out Survival on a party member, so what you have is an entirely optional gameplay element.

 

 

If you have any other ideas about how you could make Survival give tangible benefits, I'm sure we would all love to hear them.

 

Thing is, all that's being proposed here is you'd get an advance warning on your upcoming fight with a procedural mob. That's...not all that tangible at all. It's introducing busywork into the game so that we can then turn around and claim that Survival is useful for eliminating the busywork, whereas the skills that currently do matter matter because they have a serious impact on your ability to survive. Mechanics clears traps and locks and lets you set traps for encounters, Lore unlocks the permanent easy mode that is Scrolls, Stealth lets you dodge unwanted encounters and position yourself favorably for wanted ones, Athletics protects you against eating fatigue penalties mid-combat and against needing a rest every time you move from one screen to the next and it's already kinda in the 3-and-done bracket. Without a relevant bonus of its own to match, Survival is always going to feel token in comparison.

 

Now, to look past your token snark and actually mention things that Survival could do to make itself useful? An impact on crafting, at least of consumables, could be a start. If a higher rank in Survival granted you access to crafting higher level foods and potions with better buffs, it would pretty effectively justify itself in a Mechanics kind of niche where you'd have one character highly focused on the skill. To expand it towards more generally viable rather than something you max out on a hireling and make use of in-stronghold, there's the option of having Survival let you get more detailed information on monsters you're fighting (say, specific info on any monster whose level is lower than or equal to your Survival skill), things like specific defenses, accuracy, health totals, special abilities, resistances etc. Heck, I'd even welcome Survival giving a general boost to your visual range or letting you detect hostiles at range with some kind of visual indicator (as opposed to restricting that to event-specific things). At least then it'd have value for letting you get set up for combat or avoid encounters, similar to Stealth. And of course there's also the option of having it impact how many materials you can salvage off plants and dead monsters, on the grounds that a survival expert would be better at harvesting the relevant bits without damage. Y'know, something that actually has an impact outside of specific 'you must have this much survival to pass' things.

 

Like I already said, I'm all for a more engaging wilderness and better use for Survival as a skill. I just don't think a repeating pool of random events would make the wilderness engaging and certainly don't think that Survival would be useful just for the ability to avoid encounters that you can already get a zero-sum outcome of with some dialogue choices.

Edited by Aea
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Personally I would rather see the time, money and resources put into creating availability for players to mod the game.  Then they could create their own wilderness areas or enhance the existing ones as they wish and share them with other players.

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When you fast travel it would be nice to get attacked at times.

I disagree, considering how resting and stuff works in this game, it'd break iron manning and soloing the way the game is set up right now. Unless you restrict random stuff to like, special areas or something, like with the assassins in Defiance Bay.

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When you fast travel it would be nice to get attacked at times.

I disagree, considering how resting and stuff works in this game, it'd break iron manning and soloing the way the game is set up right now. Unless you restrict random stuff to like, special areas or something, like with the assassins in Defiance Bay.

 

I also disagree.  I hated those random encounters in BG II that added nothing to game story and broke immersion.  


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I never saw random encounters as immersion breaking - I felt that they mostly added to the immersion by reminding you that it's a dangerous (attacks) or interesting (other encounters) world - to me the lack of any interactions or encounters traveling between maps is actually more immersion breaking especially with the long loading times.

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The game that had the most interesting approach to "between areas" travel was the Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion "Storm of Zethyr".  I thought the small-scale "overland map" was a clever way to convey the sense of a larger world, as opposed to the postage stamp-sized open worlds of Bethesda or the approach used by Bioware (and in PoE) which doesn't really give you any sense of scale of the in-between map areas.

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The original proposal was for a 20% of a random encounter. That's about 1 in 5 journeys through the wilderness.

 

Some or all random encounters could be one time only events. Other encounters might have level based, quest based, or stronghold based prerequisites. Perhaps an encounter only occurs after you have rebuilt the keep. Other random encounters may only occur if a specified quest has been completed. Perhaps you can only encounter an ancient dragon if your average party level is eight or higher.

 

Some of these encounters may occur on custom maps - such as encountering trolls at a bridge, an encounter in a swamp, in a ravine or near the ruins of a burned down house.

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The game that had the most interesting approach to "between areas" travel was the Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion "Storm of Zethyr".  I thought the small-scale "overland map" was a clever way to convey the sense of a larger world, as opposed to the postage stamp-sized open worlds of Bethesda or the approach used by Bioware (and in PoE) which doesn't really give you any sense of scale of the in-between map areas.

It's pretty much copied from Final Fantasy 7.


Everyone knows Science Fiction is really cool. You know what PoE really needs? Spaceships! There isn't any game that wouldn't be improved by a space combat minigame. Adding one to PoE would send sales skyrocketing, and ensure the game was remembered for all time!!!!!

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The game that had the most interesting approach to "between areas" travel was the Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion "Storm of Zethyr".  I thought the small-scale "overland map" was a clever way to convey the sense of a larger world, as opposed to the postage stamp-sized open worlds of Bethesda or the approach used by Bioware (and in PoE) which doesn't really give you any sense of scale of the in-between map areas.

It's pretty much copied from Final Fantasy 7.

 

 

Overland maps existed well before Final Fantasy 7.

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The game that had the most interesting approach to "between areas" travel was the Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion "Storm of Zethyr".  I thought the small-scale "overland map" was a clever way to convey the sense of a larger world, as opposed to the postage stamp-sized open worlds of Bethesda or the approach used by Bioware (and in PoE) which doesn't really give you any sense of scale of the in-between map areas.

It's pretty much copied from Final Fantasy 7.

 

 

Overland maps existed well before Final Fantasy 7.

 

I can't speak for the ones in FF7, but I would have described the Storm of Zephyr ones as a refinement of the approach used in Fallout 1 & 2, but considerably more dynamic.  Of course, using a battle map and a world map has been a common approach in strategy games (e.g. Heroes of Might & Magic) for a long while.

 

As I've said before, I don't think random encounters would really add anything to PoE.  I like the overland map approach, because it adds a new gameplay element, as opposed to just additional battles devoid of any real context.  But doing something like that would not be a small undertaking, so I'm not advocating it.

 

As far as whether it's really more immersive to have random encounters, I think it's important to remember that the villages in PoE are actually pretty close together.  Adjacent maps are only a few hours apart.  I don't think it's that unreasonable to think that if you kill all the monsters near the road that you probably won't encounter any more in that area for a while.  It's not like you're traveling hundreds of kilometers through trackless wilderness and then returning months later.

 

Think of a monster encounter as an apex predator.  Most predators aren't nomadic.  They operate within a particular range around their den and avoid moving into the territories of other predators..  Sure, after some period of time, the amount of prey in an area where the apex predator has been removed will increase and attract new predators into the unexploited territory, but it won't happen overnight.

 

And while I've used a biological example, I think the analogy works for bandits.  A group of bandits would normally operate out of a hidden camp and work the local area where they know the terrain better than the travelers and can use it to their advantage for ambushes.  They're not going to just wander about through unfamiliar terrain where they might encounter other bandits or dangerous monsters.  So if you defeat the bandits who operate along a particular stretch of road, I'd expect it would be some time before a new group will appear to take their place. 

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As I've said before, I don't think random encounters would really add anything to PoE.  I like the overland map approach, because it adds a new gameplay element, as opposed to just additional battles devoid of any real context.  But doing something like that would not be a small undertaking, so I'm not advocating it.

 

As far as whether it's really more immersive to have random encounters, I think it's important to remember that the villages in PoE are actually pretty close together.  Adjacent maps are only a few hours apart.  I don't think it's that unreasonable to think that if you kill all the monsters near the road that you probably won't encounter any more in that area for a while.  It's not like you're traveling hundreds of kilometers through trackless wilderness and then returning months later....

 

And while I've used a biological example, I think the analogy works for bandits.  A group of bandits would normally operate out of a hidden camp and work the local area where they know the terrain better than the travelers and can use it to their advantage for ambushes.  They're not going to just wander about through unfamiliar terrain where they might encounter other bandits or dangerous monsters.  So if you defeat the bandits who operate along a particular stretch of road, I'd expect it would be some time before a new group will appear to take their place. 

 

 

I think you've raised some good points, but I'm not as against random encounters and overland maps as you.

 

Overland map - Yes the amount of work would be considerable, but with each game made in the engine, Obsidian is building their toolset.  While it might make sense to limit work on the current game, future games could be built with this technology.  This is especially true since it doesn't seem like this engine will face graphical obsolescence for a long time.

 

There are some kinds of stories that are told particularly well with overland maps.  Games of exploration & discovery, like Fallout and Exile/Avernum.  They could work very well with the PE aesthetic and rules.  

 

Random battles - Random battles can add depth and even reactivity when skillfully created.  In Fallout 2, the Morton brothers would appear after you killed one of them seeking revenge.  In Baldur's Gate 2, I believe slavers would come after you after you took down the slave den.  And your place in the story would create special encounters between thieves and vampires.  However this means that you need an equal mix random and intentional encounters, or encounters can be a trudge.  (Or they can be boring bull****).   

 

Random encounters can also provide flavor to ecology.  In Fallout 2, the overland map had the impression of such distance that you could plausibly run into whole dens of Deathclaws.  You would find more salamanders around the salamander den, etc.  

 

But you are absolutely right that eventually a pile of corpses should change the spawn rate.  That means that if you wipe out a den it needs to take seasons to repopulate.  Bandits should take even longer to repopulate, and none of them should have high level gear.  On the other hand, you would expect patrols from armies to intensify with conflicts or the plot until you kill the army leader.

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