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Ambush Spawns are good (maybe)

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I personally don't ever recall reinforcements feeling unfair in Code Name: STEAM. Perhaps because permadeath wasn't a thing so even if one of them did gank someone near the end of the map, the consequences wouldn't be as dire. But I only played it once and don't remember it well now.

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50 minutes ago, Dark Holy Elf said:

I personally don't ever recall reinforcements feeling unfair in Code Name: STEAM. Perhaps because permadeath wasn't a thing so even if one of them did gank someone near the end of the map, the consequences wouldn't be as dire. But I only played it once and don't remember it well now.

Yeah I don't remember being annoyed by them either.

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On 12/24/2021 at 3:49 AM, Dark Holy Elf said:

I personally don't ever recall reinforcements feeling unfair in Code Name: STEAM. Perhaps because permadeath wasn't a thing so even if one of them did gank someone near the end of the map, the consequences wouldn't be as dire. But I only played it once and don't remember it well now.

Even then, you only get 4 units a map, so losing even one is a big handicap.

And there are enemies that rush you that are only triggered when crossing certain parts of the map, so you can enter an area and have it be clear...only for a bunch of enemies to round the corner and take someone from full health to dead out of your control. (Like the big Berserker dudes.) 

It's happened to me on more than one occasion so now I'm crippled unless I pay a bunch of money at an unused save station to revive them and get a score penalty at the end of a mission. (Assuming there's even a save point nearby.)

 

Edited by Samz707

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As a player, I cannot stand ambush reinforcements (or fog of war, for basically the same reason, but that's another topic).

As someone who analyses video games as art, I love both mechanics, because they fit the theme so well. War isn't fair. People die in war, without warning. Ambush spawns are Kaga's will.

Basically, I guess, I strongly disagree with the notion that getting rid of permadeath is the only way ambush spawns should be acceptable. As far as I'm concerned, there's no point in ambush spawns without permadeath, because there's no actual risk of loss involved.

I can think of ways to make a non-permadeath FE-style game fun, but as it stands now, Casual mode FE is just boring for me, and random ambush spawns don't really change that.

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On 12/25/2021 at 5:56 PM, Seafarer said:

Basically, I guess, I strongly disagree with the notion that getting rid of permadeath is the only way ambush spawns should be acceptable. As far as I'm concerned, there's no point in ambush spawns without permadeath, because there's no actual risk of loss involved.

Hm... how about ambush spawns who are programmed to target your Lord, wherever possible? That way, there's a chance that they could trigger a "Game Over" condition, costing the player the map, even with permadeath off. Not that I'm advocating for such a system, merey considering it as a counter-example.

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On 12/26/2021 at 5:56 AM, Seafarer said:

As far as I'm concerned, there's no point in ambush spawns without permadeath, because there's no actual risk of loss involved.

it would seem theres no loss without permadeath, but thats only because we limit it to FE, or specifically the way FE handle risk and reward.

for example, in another game where your performance in completing the map affect reward, neglecting ambush spawn could affect the extra reward from end of battle. or just plain failing you in meeting optional objective (which is absent afaik in any FE games). its not major loss like FE, but a loss thats still acceptable for most people.

19 minutes ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

Hm... how about ambush spawns who are programmed to target your Lord, wherever possible? That way, there's a chance that they could trigger a "Game Over" condition, costing the player the map, even with permadeath off. Not that I'm advocating for such a system, merey considering it as a counter-example.

Valkyria Chronicle says hello to that. i've been through that exact situation (late enemy spawn? meh... just one more turn from victory. o wait where did he go.. o shit he's firing my "lord" from behind. and.. game over) XD

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On 12/25/2021 at 10:56 PM, Seafarer said:

Basically, I guess, I strongly disagree with the notion that getting rid of permadeath is the only way ambush spawns should be acceptable. As far as I'm concerned, there's no point in ambush spawns without permadeath, because there's no actual risk of loss involved.

I can think of ways to make a non-permadeath FE-style game fun, but as it stands now, Casual mode FE is just boring for me, and random ambush spawns don't really change that.

To be clear, I don't think that just straight up removing permadeath and not doing anything else would make ambush spawns good or make Fire Emblem good. My point was more along the lines that if permadeath wasn't a thing then that would open up more different design space which could be used to implement ambush spawns in a way that I would find interesting.

I agree that Casual mode FE is pretty boring, but that's because of the way it's designed. Every map in FE is deisgned to be possible to get through it without taking any casualties, which means that just completing a map is seldom challenging in and of itself. There are a few exceptions, mainly in the form of defends maps (eg, the harbour map in Conquest) and maps where your lord (or some other loss-condition unit) is under threat (eg the Micaiah + Black Knight level of Radiant Dawn), but they are pretty rare. The challenge in Fire Emblem isn't just completing the maps; it's completing them without taking losses. If you're resetting when you lose people, then the challenge is in getting a perfect completion of every level. If you're ironmanning, then the challenge is in taking few enough losses that you're able to hold off attrition and still field an army.

As things stand with Fire Emblem as it currently is, ambush spawns in Casual Mode are pointless but ambush spawns in Classic Mode are unduly punishing. When trying to keep as many people alive as possible is the main challenge of the game, killing people off arbitrarily just makes a mockery of that challenge. For me -- and I believe for many people -- challenge is only fun when it feels like I'm the one in control and that I would manage to succeed and overcome the challenge if only I could do better, be better. If there's too much that's reliant on luck or circumstances out of my control then I'm just going to find that frustrating.

On 12/25/2021 at 10:56 PM, Seafarer said:

As someone who analyses video games as art, I love both mechanics, because they fit the theme so well. War isn't fair. People die in war, without warning. Ambush spawns are Kaga's will.

I also generally disagree with the idea that it's desirable to accurately depict war in video games. Actual war is shit. Just really really shit. That's true now, it was true in the medieval period, and I'm sure it would be true in the various faux-medieval fantasy worlds depicted in Fire Emblem. On the other hand, video games are generally supposed to be fun. So we get a highly santised fictional version of war which is designed to be fun to play far more than it's designed as an artistic commentary on war. Adding a few random unfair deaths isn't nearly enough to make an accurate depiction of war but it is enough to hurt the game mechanically.

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Not all ambush spawns are the same. Some are fine, some are unfair. I think ambush spawns in 3H Maddening are among the worst I’ve ever seen. FE6 is generally much better about telegraphing where ambush spawns will appear and/or having them appear so far away that it doesn’t matter, but it does have cases of unfair ambush spawns too, like Ch6 enemies appearing right by the boss while you’re trying to fight the boss.

I agree with whoever has said that they don’t like getting punished by something they couldn’t have known about. But sometimes ambush spawns are telegraphed better than other times. I’ve seen the suggestion before for the games to allow you to see ambush spawns the turn before they appear which I think I like.

Something I noticed from my own experience is that I actually found ambush spawns in FE6 very frustrating on my first playthrough of that game, but the more I replay that game the more I like it. I don’t have all ambush spawns memorized but I have a good idea of what to expect ahead of time and I find that trying to play quickly to beat the enemy reinforcements can be an engaging challenge. Ambush spawns often incentivize and reward playing quickly. So arguably, they aren’t as good for first blind playthroughs but actually are good for players familiar with the game.

Non-ambush spawns are often not much of a threat at all. You can just kill them immediately before they even get a chance to do anything. I don’t think that is wholly better. I do think ambush spawns definitely could be done better than they have been though.

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On 12/30/2021 at 3:54 PM, Whisky said:

 

So arguably, they aren’t as good for first blind playthroughs but actually are good for players familiar with the game.

This is what I think it all comes down to. Ambush spawns are bad for first/blind playthrough, but good for those experienced at the game, or are using outside information.

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Having experimented a ton with spawn types in SRPG Studio, I'll share my quick thoughts:

Ambush spawns are really useful under some circumstances.

For example, I made a map where the player was being chased, and the objective was to reach a certain point. Starting on turn 4, enemies would spawn at the start of the map every turn to chase down the player. (I had to switch it to every other turn, because every turn ended up spawning too many). Ambush spawning worked really well there because it A) added a sense of urgency, as it felt more threatening and B) forced the player to play the map as intended. They couldn't just react to enemies as they appeared forever and grind out a million levels. So, really useful there.

Another situation is plot-ambushes, but those fall under the heading of "tripwire ambushes." Nevertheless, they are useful for specific plot-related moments, as they feel more natural and add extra intensity. Ex, the player enters the center of town, and enemies jump out and ambush them. It felt a lot better to playthrough if the enemies got a turn first.

And.... that's it. In basically every other circumstance, they were bad. For all the reasons that have been mentioned above, they're just too frustrating in moment to moment gameplay. Even if you carefully control and telegraph spawn points, they don't add anything over regular reinforcements.

Ok, so why not do both?

Because everyone who tested my game hated it. It was just fundamentally too confusing. There isn't a great way to tell the player "these enemies will attack and move on the turn they spawn" and "these enemies won't do that", which just led to people being frustrated.

All in all, ambush spawns can be really valuable, but I found that they aren't worth it. The situations in which they help are too rare, and usually can be worked around by changing up the design.

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2 hours ago, dragonlordsd said:

Having experimented a ton with spawn types in SRPG Studio, I'll share my quick thoughts:

Ambush spawns are really useful under some circumstances.

For example, I made a map where the player was being chased, and the objective was to reach a certain point. Starting on turn 4, enemies would spawn at the start of the map every turn to chase down the player. (I had to switch it to every other turn, because every turn ended up spawning too many). Ambush spawning worked really well there because it A) added a sense of urgency, as it felt more threatening and B) forced the player to play the map as intended. They couldn't just react to enemies as they appeared forever and grind out a million levels. So, really useful there.

Another situation is plot-ambushes, but those fall under the heading of "tripwire ambushes." Nevertheless, they are useful for specific plot-related moments, as they feel more natural and add extra intensity. Ex, the player enters the center of town, and enemies jump out and ambush them. It felt a lot better to playthrough if the enemies got a turn first.

And.... that's it. In basically every other circumstance, they were bad. For all the reasons that have been mentioned above, they're just too frustrating in moment to moment gameplay. Even if you carefully control and telegraph spawn points, they don't add anything over regular reinforcements.

Ok, so why not do both?

Because everyone who tested my game hated it. It was just fundamentally too confusing. There isn't a great way to tell the player "these enemies will attack and move on the turn they spawn" and "these enemies won't do that", which just led to people being frustrated.

All in all, ambush spawns can be really valuable, but I found that they aren't worth it. The situations in which they help are too rare, and usually can be worked around by changing up the design.

Aren't there direction-conditional tiles you can make in SRPGStudio? What if you made structures it's possible to leave, but impossible to enter, in order to make sure the player can never get the drop on the reinforcements because they're invincible until their first move?

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On 1/25/2022 at 11:05 AM, Alastor15243 said:

Aren't there direction-conditional tiles you can make in SRPGStudio? What if you made structures it's possible to leave, but impossible to enter, in order to make sure the player can never get the drop on the reinforcements because they're invincible until their first move?

OOOH!

That's clever. Definitely trying that out.

That said, I don't like the idea of them being on the map but invincible, but I'll play around with it.

Even if it doesn't work for that specific example, that's still a really cool trick.

Edited by dragonlordsd

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