[POLL] CHARACTER PROGRESSION MECHANICS

Poll

What kind of experience system do you prefer?
- Results

1. Typical XP: foes give a certain XP amount. When XP exceeds level requirements, player earns a level. All of the stats of the player increase.
7
26%
2. Adaptative XP: like in "Paper Mario". Foes give less and less XP as the player becomes stronger. This is to prevent grinding which eventually break the game and eliminates the challenge.
6
23%
3. Challenge, like in Wolfenstein. No XP. Achieving certain challenges gives skill points (like you'd get if you earn a level).
5
19%
4. No XP, only money: To simplify the experience. Money is used to buy upgrades and skills as well as items.
1
3%
5. No upgrade system: Player improve with practice (non-game experience). This is how they manage to progress in the game.
2
7%
6. Other ideas:
5
19%

Posts

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Hello!

Basically I'd like to feel the pulse regarding character development.

I'm actually looking for a unique, never seen before level system so I figured we might brainstorm ideas.
kentona
Your mom is a hero
20844
depends on the game mechanics!
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
29202
kentona
depends on the game mechanics!


Yeah, it's really going to depend on the game. Wolfenstein is a shooter. Standard XP and leveling wouldn't make sense. Meanwhile, in a game like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, upgrades and power ups (which the games have anyway) instead of leveling would be unrewarding.
slash
APATHY IS FOR COWARDS
4011
Other:

I like the idea of getting "sidegrades", which allow you to change playstyles, equipment, stats, etc. without changing the power level too much. As you progress through the game, you get more options and more versatility but don't straight-up increase in power.

For an experienced player, more options will indirectly mean more power, since they know how to pick the right tool for the right situation... but mostly, this is a fun way to add new abilities and unlocks without falling into "power creep" territory, and it also lends itself to a lot of creativity and self-imposed challenge. I've seen it work really well in short games like Binding of Isaac!
There are so many variables at play that this is a bit of a silly question.
Well, if you prefer, the character development system that appealed to you the most.

I think a challenge-based character progression could actually work even for an RPG.

@Slash: I think it would fit into "challenges" where beating certain challenges awards you with more options (I think that's the way Binding of Isaac did things).
Typical XP for me for sure, because I like the possibility to grind if I'm stuck.

Adaptive XP often has the problem that there is a limit to the grinding so you eventually won't get significant XP anymore. It also feels less like progress because the numbers never increase.

Challenge system is horrible, I avoid games that don't allow me to grind at all. And such a system makes it easy to mess up your build and be stuck forever. Worst progression system ever.

Only money... really doesn't matter, it's the same as typical XP just differently implemented. I'd need to write more about that in general so see below.

No upgrade system is also bad because it doesn't allow grinding, but at least it doesn't allow you to mess up your build either, so it's still better than the challenge system.

---------------------------------------------

So now let me put some words on the progression systems. Generally I will have the requirement that grinding is possible, but how that works is quite flexible and no matter how you do it, you do need to do it good so it works. When leveling up e.g. just changes monster damage from 1000 to 999, then it's almost as bad as no upgrade system.

In conclusion the first important part is that grinding needs to be possible, but it also needs to be meaningful. Losing at a boss and then go grinding for a few minutes, then going back to the boss should have a noticable effect.

BUT you have to be careful here. This works perfectly for linear games, but if you make an open world game, you'd rather have your character progress slowly, so the game doesn't end up ridiculously easy for players that like to explore all the places. In those games, if you lose at a boss, grinding a few minutes and then trying again isn't your only option. You can actually go into a completely different dungeon and clear that first and then return. In those cases it's perfectly fine when you need hours to gain noticable benefits from leveling.

As for XP vs Money... it really doesn't make a difference, except when you rely on money, there need to be sufficient options and well designed shops in the game. If you just reach a new dungeon and are instantly able to buy all the best gear which your money, then it's really bad because there can't be any progression. If there is always more expensive stuff available and it's basically impossible to reach a point where you have everything, then it's more interesting. Sure you might need to leave the dungeon again when you are stuck at the boss, return to the last down, buy new stuff from the money you got in the meantime and then return, but in the end when you finally beat the boss it feels good. All the effort paid off. Usually this also requires good dungeon design though. The dungeons need to have a "wide" design rather than a "deep" design, as in many possible paths but once you know the correct one it's pretty short, so returning to town doesn't turn into an ordeal and you might even find new paths on your second way through.

All of this should be kept in mind.

Finally, there isn't only the option of XP vs Money. You are indie, unlike the big developers you aren't forced to copy an old formula. You can take risks. So create your own leveling system. There are tons of more interesting systems. Akitoshi Kawazu's "characters automatically get stronger in the style you play them" is for example a lot more interesting and flows much better. You could also imagine that you get XP but you don't level up directly for it, but instead can buy feats or stat increases or similar from it. Or something like a grid system where you can move a step on a board that gives you a new benefit every some XP gained. Or something completely new that hasn't been seen in any RPG yet. I like it when it actually fits to the RPG itself. Like when you RPG is about elements, then it's interesting when the progression system itself also is based on elements. Like when you use fire skills then the stats and abilities associated with that element increase. There are unlimited possibilities really and I'd like to see more games that still allow grinding, but still use a system other than the traditional XP to gain levels.

And even if XP to gain levels is set in stone, there are still many factors that can make the implementation better. For example a game that actually shows me the stat increases it already more interesting than a game that just says "Level Up". Even better when the stat increases are seemingly random and only show one after another like "HP+22 (click) ATK+2 (click) DEF+1". This seems like a minor detail, but it really creates some excitement with each click. The Shining Force and the Lufia series implemented this particularly well.

That is all I wanted say about this topic.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5331
I know a lot of devs get mad at players grinding, but I am bad at games, so I want the option to grind, dammit! >:(
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
29202
Sooz
I know a lot of devs get mad at players grinding, but I am bad at games, so I want the option to grind, dammit! >:(


It's all in the name of perfect balance. If a dev has time for that, great. I tried to balance like that in Dry Fate, but I left grinding an option.
Cap_H
DIGITAL IDENTITY CRISIS
6615
I like system used in Gothic. You level up and then got skill points. With these and money you can invest in skills and stats.
I feel like grinding can break a the challenge intended for the game. That's why I personally find adaptive XP to be enticing. Sure you can grind to make things easier... to a point.
Typical is the only way I like it. All other systems tend to just lead to grinding some other resource (like money) or players not caring about progression at all.

Adaptive I've never really seen done right or more specifically I've never seen it done in way that made it and different than typical.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5331
author=pianotm
It's all in the name of perfect balance. If a dev has time for that, great. I tried to balance like that in Dry Fate, but I left grinding an option.


Yeah, but perfect for whom? Different players have different aptitudes. Also I am bad at video games, so I like to have more of a handicap so I can enjoy a game and not be reduced to frustrated tears.

Like I can see if the game's specifically designed for Only Hardcore Players but even then there's going to be some unforeseen optimal playstyle, so then the whole thing turns into a kind of glorified game of Mastermind.
author=Toaster_Team
I feel like grinding can break a the challenge intended for the game. That's why I personally find adaptive XP to be enticing. Sure you can grind to make things easier... to a point.

It's interesting with your game, because grinding might be the repetition needed to learn the things you want people to learn. But yeah, if I can grind the word "Sunflower" I might be able to breeze through other lessons. (I'm making broad assumptions on how the game works, obviously).

Maybe what you could do is instead of adapting XP so that groups of enemies are "locked" away from being beneficial, you could set a hard cap on how many times you can beat each type of enemy and still get XP.

For example, you can fight 10 Rats until they no longer help you in any way. Maybe the tenth rat gives you a skill, stat boost, or item, to make running out of rats feel better than worse. So now you can't Rat-grind.

Sewer Rats are a bit harder, and the sewer is some place you don't want your player coming back to just to grind, so you set the cap on Sewer Rats to 3.

You can either have something on the results screen telling you how many of each enemy you've killed (Red Jellies 2/5!) or you can have a section for that in an in-menu bestiary.



EDIT: Another thing to note with Adaptive is that even when you get to a certain point, you never stop gaining something minimal. Paper Mario and the early .hack games would at least give you 1 XP if you beat some measly twerp. That's a good idea in general. If the player kills a creature they should get at least something for it. So in the hypothetical system I just suggested, I'd probably drop 1 XP after the max is reached.
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
14360
whatever fits the theme because it should never be a decision made via a poll
Adaptive XP. I don't like games where you can grind, or even worse where you are expected to grind. Balance the game so that you don't have to grind.
@Craze: It's mostly a discussion about character development. The poll is mostly secondary.

EDIT: Another thing to note with Adaptive is that even when you get to a certain point, you never stop gaining something minimal. Paper Mario and the early .hack games would at least give you 1 XP if you beat some measly twerp. That's a good idea in general. If the player kills a creature they should get at least something for it. So in the hypothetical system I just suggested, I'd probably drop 1 XP after the max is reached.


The solution you suggested in your message is adaptive. In Mario RPG on the N64 (or was it called paper mario) you actually got to a point where you got nothing at all from killing weaker foes.

Regarding my game, your attack power is determined by the vocabulary cards. So if you stick to the same cards, you won't be able to best the stronger opponents. This forces the player to continuously learn new, more powerful cards to be able to best stronger opponents.

I'm definitely aiming towards adaptive at the moment. I just wish I could use a new, fresh idea for character development rather than sticking to the same old conservative ideas. Try something new I mean.

One thing I like is XP modifier which is fairly rare surprisingly. You get a bonus XP depending on your performance in combat.

Cap_H
DIGITAL IDENTITY CRISIS
6615
Actually, western rpgs feel less grindy than jrpgs and mmorpgs. For example in Bioware games grind doesn't exist. Every battle is unique and moves player somewhere. Sure, you can avoid some conflicts, but they are by no means a mere grind.
Icewind Dale comes on my mind as an example of game where every battle matters. Also, i'm all for an original system of obtaining new skills. If it doesn't make game better, it makes it interesting at least.
slash
APATHY IS FOR COWARDS
4011
author=Craze
whatever fits the theme because it should never be a decision made via a poll


author=Sated
There are so many variables at play that this is a bit of a silly question.


True, but it's a general question offers a good opportunity for discussing why you'd vote for something, and why you prefer a certain method for the games you make and play. It's like an icebreaker!


I definitely can see the benefit of grinding when it comes to balance. The only thing about grinding is that it tends to be boringly designed and not all that much fun - although if it's done well it can be pretty relaxing and enjoyable.

Most of the time I prefer the self-imposed difficulty & challenges - like, you can beat the game, or you can beat the game using your favorite weapon & skillset, which is a little harder, or you can beat an alternate super-boss, or you can easily find some pretty good items that make the game easier. It's like having a difficulty adjuster that you can switch only when you need to and feels more natural than "set slider from Hella Hard to Easy Peasy".
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5331
author=slash
I definitely can see the benefit of grinding when it comes to balance. The only thing about grinding is that it tends to be boringly designed and not all that much fun - although if it's done well it can be pretty relaxing and enjoyable.

Most of the time I prefer the self-imposed difficulty & challenges - like, you can beat the game, or you can beat the game using your favorite weapon & skillset, which is a little harder, or you can beat an alternate super-boss, or you can easily find some pretty good items that make the game easier. It's like having a difficulty adjuster that you can switch only when you need to and feels more natural than "set slider from Hella Hard to Easy Peasy".


Yeah, this. Like, a game shouldn't be built around grinding, because why would you do that it's boring as balls. But I really prefer that games have some form of grinding available as a handicap for the incompetents like myself.
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