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[rpg]Character Progression/Difficulty


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#1 Eckhart   Members   -  Reputation: 108

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 09:43 PM

Hello Everyone, I come to you to ask about character progression, and how the environment should react to it. The game I'm working on is an RPG vaguely similar to zelda in feel. It focuses on the main quest with a few short side quests. I'm intending for the player to gain new abilities and equipment as he progressed, but I'm stuck on whether or not to level enemies, or how to level enemies. Here's a few ideas I have right now. I do not intend to make it easy for the player to increase his stats, if he can increase his stats at all.

1)The player gains better equipment and abilities as he progresses. Enemies in the gentle slopes are easy and remain easy as the character progresses, but enemies in mountains/desert/ruins are hard from the start and remain hard. Basically, the player must acquire the new equipment and abilities in order to beat the hard enemies in the different environments and progress.

2)The player gains better equipment and abilities. Enemies are partially leveled; enemies in the gentle slopes are still easy but get slightly stronger as the player progresses, and enemies in the mountains are harder but still level with the player to always give the player a fighting chance. Basically, the player can acquire new equipment and abilities if he wants, but if he chooses not to he will still be able to beat the game, though it will be tougher.

3)The player's equipment and abilities give the player more variety in his attacks and allow for more creativity, but do not necessarily make him more powerful. The enemies are always the same level, and it is almost as easy to kill liches and skeleton champions as it is to kill the wolves from the central plain.

Which plan do you think would work best, and why? Do you have other ideas on a plan that could work? Feel free to ask for more information.

Thanks for looking at this.

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#2 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4004

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 01:53 AM

1 & 2 - OK
3 - bad

Monsters should not level up, that beats the whole purpose of player's progress (the stronger you are the stronger the monsters become, sometimes levelling your party is a bad thing in such games (badly balanced) because your relative power is falling down then).

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#3 Bluefirehawk   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1232

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 03:12 AM

I agree with acharis
Progressing is very important in an rpg game.
If the first monsters stay always as hard as they were, they don't feel stronger, they don't feel any progress.

I always liked if you can visualize the progression, for example your fireball is in the end twice as big.

Edited by Bluefirehawk, 30 July 2012 - 03:13 AM.

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#4 kseh   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2205

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 10:01 AM

The last time I tried a game where the enemies leveled up I was unable to keep pace with them, gave up, and never loaded the game again. There's nothing wrong with keeping certain enemies hard or easy but you have to make sure that the player doesn't feel like getting through an area is impossible or will only happen with luck or a perfect execution of skills.

If it isn't just about making the game a challenge and there's a reason for the enemies getting stronger then you should at least make it clear. But ask yourself, what's the point of doing all the work to code in a leveling system or adding graphic resources for equipment if the net gain from them is going to be zero? I say it's better to have the main character keep his trusty sword or whatever he had at the beginning and keep the enemies the same strength.

#5 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1583

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 10:06 AM

I always thought it would be interesting to make areas effected by player interaction with the local enemies. If the player spends time grinding in a location that area should evolve into enemies that cannot be beat by the players level and gear (forcing the player to change their play style or move on to a different location). I was thinking over the span of 3 or 4 battles forcing the player to migrate, the only area this wouldn't occur would be the path the player is meant to take and instead of that area getting harder, the enemies in that location would disappear (no more encounters). Guiding the player with the "random encounters". I think the neat thing about this structure is the challenge of going your own way (cutting corners or trying to explore new areas) you will need be more then prepared and when a player dies trying to push too deep they are sent back to a local inn or in some cases where they've wandered far enough a local (witch, hunter, etc) could pick them up and the player can earn a secret side mission that would eventually take them back to the main path.

You could compare this to golf I suppose, the more you move off the green the harder it gets to play. Of course the rough is more of a challenge but I think for completionists this will be a fun challenge to push as deep as they can into the wild.

#6 Eckhart   Members   -  Reputation: 108

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 02:20 PM

I always thought it would be interesting to make areas effected by player interaction with the local enemies. If the player spends time grinding in a location that area should evolve into enemies that cannot be beat by the players level and gear (forcing the player to change their play style or move on to a different location). I was thinking over the span of 3 or 4 battles forcing the player to migrate, the only area this wouldn't occur would be the path the player is meant to take and instead of that area getting harder, the enemies in that location would disappear (no more encounters). Guiding the player with the "random encounters". I think the neat thing about this structure is the challenge of going your own way (cutting corners or trying to explore new areas) you will need be more then prepared and when a player dies trying to push too deep they are sent back to a local inn or in some cases where they've wandered far enough a local (witch, hunter, etc) could pick them up and the player can earn a secret side mission that would eventually take them back to the main path.

Cool idea, but not doing it. This is a simple RPG, meant for only a few hours of playing through. I think a system that complex would be a waste in this game.


The last time I tried a game where the enemies leveled up I was unable to keep pace with them, gave up, and never loaded the game again. There's nothing wrong with keeping certain enemies hard or easy but you have to make sure that the player doesn't feel like getting through an area is impossible or will only happen with luck or a perfect execution of skills.

If it isn't just about making the game a challenge and there's a reason for the enemies getting stronger then you should at least make it clear. But ask yourself, what's the point of doing all the work to code in a leveling system or adding graphic resources for equipment if the net gain from them is going to be zero? I say it's better to have the main character keep his trusty sword or whatever he had at the beginning and keep the enemies the same strength.

The point of making the enemies stronger would be that the player wouldn't get bored whenever he had to travel through an easy area, he would still be challenged. I don't want the player to only keep 1 weapon and low level skills throughout the game. I want to give him a chance to learn better, more complex and more interesting skills.


Monsters should not level up, that beats the whole purpose of player's progress (the stronger you are the stronger the monsters become, sometimes levelling your party is a bad thing in such games (badly balanced) because your relative power is falling down then).

Thanks for your input.

#7 RedBaron5   Members   -  Reputation: 582

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 03:21 PM

Skyrim did a fairly good job of this. Each "dungeon" area had a level range that would level the enemies with the player, but would cap them at the top end. For example, there could be a level 1-7 area where the enemies level up with you until level 7. Or a level 10-20 area where the enemies start at level 10 and top out at 20.

This allows you to encounter areas that are too difficult for you at the time but also allows you to eventually become "more powerful" than enemies.

Cool idea, but not doing it. This is a simple RPG, meant for only a few hours of playing through. I think a system that complex would be a waste in this game.


Of course, if the game is going to be short, why not just make it linear? You can control pretty easily the level a character will be at by the time they reach anything. There are also ways to give players a false sense of freedom.

#8 laztrezort   Members   -  Reputation: 972

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 03:56 PM

If we examine Zelda (and I'm going back to the original, and through a bit of memory haze here), it seems they went with your #1.

Why? Well, for one there was an arcade feel to the game, quick reflexes and tactics were needed to defeat enemies. Combat was not stat-based or item based directly - better items made battles easier, but even late-game you still had to pay attention to what you were doing or you could get swarmed and die from easier enemies. With some exceptions, harder enemies could theoretically get defeated with lesser gear. Some items added directly to damage or survivability, some (such as the boomerang and bow) added new tactical options.

There was a certain amout of grinding for money, but I don't remember this being a major component of the gameplay.

Also, the world was small, so there wasn't a whole bunch of trekking through the beginning parts. If you did backtrack, you often had the choice to just avoid the enemies if they had become too easy.

Note also that item advancement also opened up new areas of the world to explore (bombs, ladder, boat, probably others I'm forgetting).

So, I'd say if you can answer these questions about your game, you might be able to close in on an answer:

Is combat stat- or item- driven, or twitch? Is combat with low-level enemies avoidable when they become trivial? Is the player going to be spending a large amount of time in the same areas, or are they always going to be pushing forward into new areas? Is "grinding" a part of the gameplay? How open is the world, i.e. are there areas that are blocked-off at the beginning until certain items or quests are completed?

#9 aattss   Members   -  Reputation: 387

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 02:06 PM

If we examine Zelda (and I'm going back to the original, and through a bit of memory haze here), it seems they went with your #1.

Why? Well, for one there was an arcade feel to the game, quick reflexes and tactics were needed to defeat enemies. Combat was not stat-based or item based directly - better items made battles easier, but even late-game you still had to pay attention to what you were doing or you could get swarmed and die from easier enemies. With some exceptions, harder enemies could theoretically get defeated with lesser gear. Some items added directly to damage or survivability, some (such as the boomerang and bow) added new tactical options.

There was a certain amout of grinding for money, but I don't remember this being a major component of the gameplay.

Also, the world was small, so there wasn't a whole bunch of trekking through the beginning parts. If you did backtrack, you often had the choice to just avoid the enemies if they had become too easy.

Note also that item advancement also opened up new areas of the world to explore (bombs, ladder, boat, probably others I'm forgetting).

So, I'd say if you can answer these questions about your game, you might be able to close in on an answer:

Is combat stat- or item- driven, or twitch? Is combat with low-level enemies avoidable when they become trivial? Is the player going to be spending a large amount of time in the same areas, or are they always going to be pushing forward into new areas? Is "grinding" a part of the gameplay? How open is the world, i.e. are there areas that are blocked-off at the beginning until certain items or quests are completed?


That was an adventure game.

#10 Giauz   Members   -  Reputation: 184

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 09:13 PM

@aattss: (Eckhart said) " Hello Everyone, I come to you to ask about character progression, and how the environment should react to it. The game I'm working on is an RPG vaguely similar to zelda in feel."
"... the challenge isn't beating the game but rather slaying the final boss in one round, with just one character, at level one, with the TV off, while having sex with a burning lawnmower."

- Best quote about Final Fantasy EVAR! by HtR-Laser from Penny-Arcade Forums

... Also, I was formerly Glass2099 here at Gamedev.

#11 aattss   Members   -  Reputation: 387

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 09:06 AM

@aattss: (Eckhart said) " Hello Everyone, I come to you to ask about character progression, and how the environment should react to it. The game I'm working on is an RPG vaguely similar to zelda in feel."


Then the question is to what extent. It really depends on what type of game the person is trying to make.




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