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How to pace level progression, when a game has no end?


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#1 Nabisco   Members   -  Reputation: 125

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 10:18 AM

New here, so jumping in feet first with my question...

 

I'm developing a leveling system for a poker game. Players earn XP as they play (each time they play a hand, win a pot etc) and they move up the levels based on their XP. We've already figured out how calculate the XP and the level ramps , which will be based on a classic exponential growth chart.

 

The question really is how to pace the progression. We've already analyzed historical data so we can predict what pace players will move through the levels, so it's really just a question of deciding what's the optimal pace.

 

For example, we could start with 50 levels and set it up so that the most active player will reach this in say 3 months. Or we could set it up with, say, 100 levels and have tit so the most active players gets to level 100 in 12 months. 

 

Once the top level is hit, say it's level 50,  we could wait until, say, 10% of active players have reached it, before adding another X levels and just continue doing that forever.

 

Anybody have any advice, tips or things to consider when tackling this? For example, are there any established rules to help ensure the pace isn't too slow or too quick?

 

Thanks!

Nabisco


Edited by Nabisco, 31 October 2013 - 10:19 AM.


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#2 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7648

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 10:38 AM

What is the primary function of player levels currently in your implementation?



#3 mippy   Members   -  Reputation: 1002

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 10:56 AM

Eye through some psychology books, especially those that are about memory and habit making. When does these cognitive breaking-points occur? I know that 30 days is about the time it takes to create a habit. 

 

 

Look at learning science. How many times and when should you repeat an action / task to learn it well? Repeating it every day for 15 minutes or should there be several days in between the sessions? There is this rhythm of "practice - rest - repetition -rest- practice -rest" etc. that follows a very specific pattern. 

 

The end goal is to make your players feel like they learn and that they grow the habit of playin your game. The learning part comes from the rhythm, while the habit comes from 30 days. The leveling systems breakingpoints should match these cognitive breakingpoints. 



#4 Nabisco   Members   -  Reputation: 125

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 11:42 AM

Thanks for the speedy response folks. 

 

Orymus3: Good question. The levels are used to unlock badges, for example reaching level X unlocks Silver Achievement Badges (to collect). No doubt they'll be used to compare one player to another. We may decide to use them also for exclusive tournaments and other promotions, but this has yet to be decided. The idea is that they're an indiciation of your loyalty/activity on the site and not a ranking (ie, I'm a higher level than you thus I'm a better player). Hence you get XP even when you lose a hand, if you've been involved in that hand; and you get XP for simply registering to play in a tournament. There's scaling there, so if you're playing in a higher stakes game or a tournament with a bigger entry fee, you'll get more points.

 

Mippy: I agree with your analysis, I think the exponential progression curve fits this nicely, and gives a good flow.

 

One approach might be: So perhaps day 1, you should be easily able to move up to level 2 or 3, then each day after than 1 level for the next 3 days, then maybe 1 level every couple of days, until it settle to 1 level per week, so a player active every day could hope to get to maybe level 75 after a year. Is that the kind of reasoning you think works?



#5 Navezof   Members   -  Reputation: 1225

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 07:19 AM

I also agree with Mippy. At start It's always nice to unlock new level easily, it encourage the player to continue playing, in order to get more rewards. If the reward are to slow to come at first, player will quicly give up because there is no immediate benefits

I think the achievment system on Steam is a good exemple.



#6 Nabisco   Members   -  Reputation: 125

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 07:40 AM

It sounds like it's more of an art than a science, judging how quickly players should get awards in the first days, then first first weeks, then first months etc.



#7 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 02:59 PM

There's a problem with using exponential growth, which can be illustrated like so

 

xh0a.gif

 

Imagine the blue line is Level, becoming less profitable over time. Eventually of course it won't be worth doing at all, often happening surprisingly suddenly and soon. As an extreme exaggeration: If a player can earn 100xp/second by killing stuff with their continuous beam atomic ray gun, how long will it be before the player's character no longer levels up in a 40-hour week of gaming? Briefly, with a doubling xp/level rule, that's 14million xp/wk, taking the character to level 23. It will be several weeks before level 25, and over a hundred years of 8-hour days to get to level 30.

 

What happens along the way is that prize xp is increased (the red line in the graph) in an attempt to create the more linear balance (the gold line) for player level progression. But as time goes by, the difference between red and blue becomes very large in different directions, and it becomes apparent that x^2 - log(x) is not a linear graph. Also, as the two competing forces diverge, even the most subtle random variances throw the thing out of balance. Eventually the whole formula engineering thing is tossed out the window, and the developers rely almost exclusively on quest and level-specific xp opportunities to arrive at the level-up time frames.

 

So rather than go through that whole rediculous bit of re-discovering that exponential diminishing returns models are problematic, just make a table of how long the player will wait to get their next reward, and assign level-ups to it.


Edited by AngleWyrm, 01 November 2013 - 05:08 PM.

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#8 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4819

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 04:11 PM

The "classic exponential growth chart" isn't the optimal solution.  A better solution is a ramp that caps out at a player being able to level up at least once a week, and the leveling-up turns into a weekly bonus or every-other-day bonus, where the actual number no longer matters, but the player is motivated to play more hours per day than they usually would because they can see that they are close to earning the bonus.


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#9 Nabisco   Members   -  Reputation: 125

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 03:34 PM

Thanks for the replies everyone, that's given me something to think about. I'll let you know how we decide to set it up.



#10 DecadeDesign   Members   -  Reputation: 141

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 04:34 PM

I liked the leveling situation in the old Halo games where losing games/matches also caused you to go down in levels. Kept too many people from peaking and made it easier to get an idea of how good of a player your opponent is.


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