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Darkstar
04-02-2002, 23:21:28
Ok, all your computer RPG players...

Have you ever really noticed how often you hear this as a negative?

"Combat is repetitive between towns..."

That's from the Wiz8 thread, but after reading that particular phrase for perhaps the 1000th time in the past few years... It got me to thinking.

"Combat is repetitive between towns..."

When I was playing Baldur's Gate, I remember how much those repetitive combats between towns/travel targets was just plain irritating and boring.

"Combat is repetitive between towns..."

...Final Fantasy... Phantasy Star...

"Combat is repetitive between towns..."

...Dark Sun...

"Combat is repetitive between towns..."

...latter Temple of Asi series... Early Hacks with outdoors...

"Combat is repetitive between towns..."

Remembering, all the way back to Ultima and actually wanting to go somewhere...

Have you ever played a computer RPG in which combat is not repetitive between towns?

I cannot recall one.

If it's repetitive, then it's a chore. It's not fun...

"Combat is repetitive between towns..."

Now, it's a feature of the games, right? You walk out of town, have a bunch of basic wilderness random encounters, then reach where you are going, if you were going somewhere specific.

"Combat is repetitive between towns..."

Outdoor areas are like the gym... it's where you send your characters to get into better shape. They are also useful for mugging the monsters to get the goods to sell for money to get better equipment so you can better mug the monsters...

"Combat is repetitive between towns..."

In games where there is a food measure, mugging the monsters is the only realy way in most games to get sufficent extra money to stock up enough food to go adventuring...

"Combat is repetitive between towns..."

And if you get jumped that many times just walking from one village to the next, how in the world do the locals travel and trade? Many of these games have roving minor merchants that are NOT retired super adventures...

"Combat is repetitive between towns..."

But it IS repetitive. And quickly loses it's fun factor...

So why keep building the games that way?

Fistandantilus
04-02-2002, 23:50:50
Well, I have heard people complaining about too much 'bring this thing to x, return here, then bring this other thing there' and not much happening between those 'mailman' missions.
So I think it's just a matter of taste.

Diablo is 99% combat and many people like it that way. It's all about fighting, getting better, collecting powerful items and killing bigger monsters.

OTOH without combat it becomes more like an adventure game.

Don't know, for a RPG I'd like some sort of balance between the two things.

MDA
05-02-2002, 20:29:12
It doesn't HAVE to be as repetitive as it sometimes is - by having as much variety in terrain, monster types, monster strengths, etc. as possible it can be minimal.

But you're right, at some point in any of those types of games, its going to get repetitive. Strangely, Wiz8 was repetitive midgame, when you were of intermediate level (monsters scale to your level at least up to that point) and I hadn't built up spells to end combat quickly or avoid it altogether (portal spells and teleporters, not unlike moongates :)) Early in the game the monsters were not too numerous or tough, and late you can usually take anything out in a few rounds (the exception being one particularly nasty part of the Rapax castle). Most of the time I tire of it at the endgame, when there's nothing "new" in battle.

Qaj the Fuzzy Love Worm
05-02-2002, 21:01:54
I thought to myself after reading DS's comments that Fallout (and Fallout 2) was a game that had between town combat that I didn't get fed up with. In fact, I even welcomed it.

Then I remembered encounters such as "a pack of molerats attacks you" or mantii, or scorpions. These get boring (if you don't run for the exit zone).

The difference, I guess, between the fun encounters and the not fun encounters is that you get nothing out of the not fun ones. No ammo, little experience, it's a drain on your time, wastes ammo, you can get injured and for what? Very little.

It seems that good between-town-combat needs to be made more worthwhile to the player, rather than just something to pass the time and make things more realistic.

Fistandantilus
06-02-2002, 00:42:10
I agree, it all depends on the risk involved and the reward you're going to get.

The worst thing is when combat is tough and you're not getting much exp/items from it or when it is easy but it does take a lot of time to crush the opposition.

Shining1
06-02-2002, 06:04:43
This is true. The difference between an early encounter in Baldur's Gate with a Winter Wolf (Joy! 500gp for that pelt, if I survive this) or an Ogre Magi (half of party dead for 450XP? Cast 'Reload').

If the reward is good enough, you can come to rejoice in your good luck when a random even occurs. However, since they aren't really designed to be part of the game, the random events tend to favour the minor baddies who don't have any good treasure or other rewards. So it's basically just there to soften you up for the real badguys at the next town.

Sirius Black
06-02-2002, 07:34:56
Maybe this means RPGs should only have towns? Hmmm... that's brilliant! I'm gonna make a ton! :D

Saying such, the best part of BG was the town of Baldur's Gate. The cities are fun, the forests and dungeons aren't.

Beta1
06-02-2002, 10:10:44
I liked the real wilderness areas in BG - not the annoying random events when you tried to travel too far. The village full of little blue people was quite cool as was the ruined gnoll fortress and that area full of basiliscs.

Funkodrom
06-02-2002, 11:17:42
I've only had one experience of combat between towns in an RPG so far.

MDA
06-02-2002, 21:13:49
There are always town games like Bard's Tale and Alternate Reality if you really get down on boring combat between towns :)

Vincent Fandango
06-02-2002, 21:20:57
I can't remember how it was in Dragon Wars, but I remember large areas with unique encounters.

Greg W
07-02-2002, 05:17:24
The only time that I have ever really found a problem is in Wiz8 - and that's only cos they scale the encounters to match you (for a while at least). I don't mind it if I have to travel back and kill a few wimpy bandits with a few flicks of my sword, I do care when those same bandits have suddenly become as tough as me despite the fact that I have raised 9 levels. :eek:

Case in point was BG. I explored every piece of wilderness in that game, and never actually got bored with it. I was exploring new places, seeing what was then a very pretty game, and generally fighting new monsters. But of course once you had explored you could just click directly on the area you wanted to go to, and appear there (with some combats between possibly). Having said that, BG2 was an improvement. I did enjoy being able to just go to the dungeon areas that I was supposed to go to without all that boring inbetween stuff.

Ultima IV was a good example - first time I played I had to visit each town multiple times. And yet I never really got bored with all the travel and encounters. By the latter part, all the encounters were easy, so it was only a short interruption. Didn't mean I didn't enjoy getting a boat tho so I could bypass them all and/or blast them with a cannon. ;)

MDA - early Wizardrys were another example of no boring "inbetween bits" - they were ALL dungeon. ;)

Darkstar
07-02-2002, 09:46:54
Actually, I detested the 'random encounters' while travelling between areas in BG. I loved exploring every little bit of it... and I didn't mind the area randoms too much... but in BG, each area is a 'town' or 'dungeon' basically. So they were interesting.

Japanese games are the worst about 'Combat is repetitive between towns' syndrome. A study published in Gamasutra (I think it was Gamasutra) claimed this was on purpose. The Japanese use these games in place of 'Hunting', 'Fishing', etc. Generally, anything that is done 'outside'. A good Japanese targetted RPG was expected to have at least 120 hours of play in it... with 110 of it or so of 'Combat is repetitive between towns'. So... 10 hours of plot, 110 hours of nothing but basic monster mugging...

The study compared that to American good RPGs... where the 'plot' time was something like 30 hours, and the 'Combat is repetitive between towns' factor of being HALF that (15 hours). Otherwise, we'd just get bored of it, as we have a wider range of hobbies (Gamer versus Gamer).

(And for the curious, it detailed several games which had two versions... one for America, one for Japanese... the American was always significantly shorter in monster mugging and higher in plot... titles you might recognize included: Phantasy Star and Final Fantasy...)

...just remembered that, catching up on this thread...

If in an RPG, the Adventure and Plot are the keys, it just seems to me that pointless encounters between Interest Areas is just a waste. And nothing is funnier then dispatching a pack of wolves or jackals, and have them drop 'random treasures'. Talk about blowing the immersion factor.

'The kobolds had wands of instant death and rings of immortality? And my adventuring kobold thief can use both of them? Then why weren't THEY using them? Huh?'

Well, it's traditional. I wonder if anyone will break from it? Or if people just don't feel like someone played their game if the reviews and fan comments do not include 'combat is repetitive between towns'?

Funkodrom
07-02-2002, 09:52:38
Whenever I was playing paper RPGs we used to spend ages devising cunning sleeping strategies and working out how we were travelling etc. to help protect against random attacks, I like them, keeps you on your toes.

Darkstar
07-02-2002, 10:14:46
Yeah Mike, it definately has its root in paper RPG (or TT-Table top). But unlike when you game TT, you don't have a human ref. The better refs would just 'ignore' random results, if the ref thought NOONE is going to have any fun, or it screwed up whatever else they had planned.

We are talking about a CRPG... you don't have that helping, guiding hand on the chain of events.

Funkodrom
07-02-2002, 10:19:22
Yeah. When I've had more random encounters in BG2 I'll let you know.

The bandit attacks between areas of the city are a similar thing. I quite like those so far too. Makes me think about what I'm doing before I rush off anywhere.

Vincent Fandango
07-02-2002, 10:46:39
Would be interesting to have a skill, spell or item to prevent you from random encounters ...

Sirius Black
07-02-2002, 11:25:00
Fallout had that... and Outdoorsman skill which limited the number of random encounterd, and if you had any would push the luck factor up so you get some good ones.

King_Ghidra
07-02-2002, 11:25:29
Originally posted by Darkstar

Japanese games are the worst about 'Combat is repetitive between towns' syndrome. A study published in Gamasutra (I think it was Gamasutra) claimed this was on purpose. The Japanese use these games in place of 'Hunting', 'Fishing', etc. Generally, anything that is done 'outside'. A good Japanese targetted RPG was expected to have at least 120 hours of play in it... with 110 of it or so of 'Combat is repetitive between towns'. So... 10 hours of plot, 110 hours of nothing but basic monster mugging...

The study compared that to American good RPGs... where the 'plot' time was something like 30 hours, and the 'Combat is repetitive between towns' factor of being HALF that (15 hours). Otherwise, we'd just get bored of it, as we have a wider range of hobbies (Gamer versus Gamer).

(And for the curious, it detailed several games which had two versions... one for America, one for Japanese... the American was always significantly shorter in monster mugging and higher in plot... titles you might recognize included: Phantasy Star and Final Fantasy...)



cool post darkstar, but this article you mention is horseshit.

The japanese don't need computer games to replace hunting, fishing, etc. They love fishing, they are obsessed with their gardens (just like english people). Several japanese rpg's actually have fishing sub games, like Breath of fire III and Zelda ocarina of time. Not forgetting Get Bass Fishing originated in japan on dreamcast.
Anyway i digress.
Final Fantasy VII, VIII and IX all have special abilities or spells for main characters that diminish or remove completely the incidence of random battles. This hardly dovetails with the idea of padding out the game with them.
Also, something that happens a lot when japanese games are ported to the west is that extra diffculty is added. This happened with Metal Gear Solid, whch would be too easy and short for most western gamers. This too hardly fits the idea that the japanese expect hundreds of hours of play.
Anyway, not knocking you darkstar, just don't agree with that magazine article.

I agree though, returning to the thread title, that these things are a bit of a con and pad the game out saving development time on plot etc. Of course if the battle system in the game is fun, then random battles are fun too.

In Baldur's gate it was cool the way that there were scripted fights in the wilderness areas as well as the dungeons/story arc. It shows what a great series Baldur's gate is really.

I agree with Greg's frustration about the monsters leveliing up to match your level. This happens in FF VIII and is so annoying. It means that spending time battling to level up is almost pointless, because the game will always be just as hard.

Darkstar
07-02-2002, 22:30:44
KG, I didn't have an opinion one way or the other about that article. It was interesting, but one article is just an opinion or a single study... which makes just one data point. ;)

I don't remember any skill for the characters in FF7 that changed whether you got randoms or not. But it's been a long while since I played it.

Strategically speaking, leveling up by random monster mugging, even when they scale the randoms to your party level, is rarely pointless in the long term. Except where the ADVENTURE areas are also scaled accordingly, rather then being a basic preset or preset range. When the adventure areas aren't scaled, then investing lots of random monster mugging time either enables you, or outright toughens you, to easily get through the adventure area (as well as fund you through the adventure area, when random muggings results in goods and treasures from the corpses). That a basic mechanism in the games... but when a game isn't a pure dungeon crawl (in other words, it has a lot of plot), all that combat eventually gets boring...

In FF7, I can remember being interested in finding fights, when I had just gotten new gear or specials or what not. Just to see the animations... but after that, it was just meaningless combat and knocking out stuff to get to the next plot point...

MDA
12-02-2002, 18:53:43
I suspect an enemy in Pool of Radiance 2 used a lightning wand he dropped on my party before he died last night. If I see more of these "coincidences" I can do some save/reloading and check the item charges after each battle. I remember my wife commenting on it when I picked it up. It would be cool if its true

Too bad that game is so unstable, the crashes are just often enough to bug me without making me shelve the game altogether, and don't get me started on the not-so-intuitive interface.