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Why Random Encounters Shouldn’t Disappear in RPGs

How random encounter system can be designed in a modern and enjoyable way in current RPGs

From left to right: RPG dice (escapistmagazine); The boys from ‘Stranger Things’ celebrate a moment of victory (Netflix).
  1. Each step set x to a random integer between 0 and 99.
  2. If in plains, and x < 8, a random encounter occurs.
  3. If in swamp, desert, or forest, and x < 16, a random encounter occurs.
From left to right: Chrono Trigger; Final Fantasy VI.
From left to right: Dragon Quest XI in 3D mode (with Visual Encounters); Dragon Quest XI in 2D mode (with Random Encounters).

Visual Encounters vs. Random Encounters

From left to right: Dragon Quest XI 2D and 3D.
  • Better immersion when presumably playable characters would be able to see enemies nearby and anticipate some of their actions;
  • Allows the creation of ecosystems from creatures which the player can establish visual encounters with;
  • It tends to have a more fluid transition from exploration moments to battle moments.
From left to right: NieR: Automata; Dragon Quest XI.

Random Encounter System Updates

  • Coherence of the random encounter system with other game design elements;
  • Specialized algorithm;
  • Good audiovisual transitions;
  1. Set x to a random integer between 64 and 255.
  2. For each step in plains, decrement x by 4. For each step in forest, swamp, or desert, decrement x by 8.
  3. When x < 0, a fight ensues. Go to step 1.
A random encounter in Dragon Quest (1986). Source: resetera.com.
“Battle”, Final Fantasy I Original Soundtrack, Nobuo Uematsu. Source: Spotify.
Final Fantasy battle theme sheet music excerpt. Source: Author.
“Battle 1”, Final Fantasy IV Original Soundtrack, Nobuo Uematsu. Source: Spotify.
Final Fantasy IV battle theme sheet music excerpt. Source: Author.
“Battle 1”, Final Fantasy IX Original Soundtrack, Nobuo Uematsu. Source: Spotify.
Final Fantasy battle theme sheet music excerpt. Source: Author.
“Battle at the Big Bridge”, Final Fantasy V Original Soundtrack, Nobuo Uematsu. Source: Spotify.
Final Fantasy V “Battle at the Big Bridge“ sheet music excerpt. Source: Musescore.

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Vítor M. Costa

Brazilian historian and philosopher. Nintendo Blast (PT), SUPERJUMP (EN) writer. Here, I write gaming essays about what video games are and what they can do.