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Anyone else fed up with RPG Leveling?

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I, for one, am getting tired of the whole Level-Up cliche of most all RPG games. Kill - Gain experience - Level - Increased stats. It seems like someone would have developed a better technique to improve your character. I think I have a solution for this... Instead of gaining experience every time you kill something, you become more dangerous -- increasing your "Danger Level" (DL). Your DL will reflect basically how dangerous you are, in aspects of being able to kill. The higher the DL a monster has, the harder he is to kill, so if you kill him, your DL goes up a bit (instead of experience). As for improving your character physically: The more you use a weapon, the better you''ll get at using it. So, the more you use a knife or something, the more efficient you''ll be at it over time -- being able to swing it faster, hit more often, and do more damage. Same goes for a gun, the higher your efficiency is for the gun, the farther you''d be able to shoot, and your accuracy will be determined on how high your efficiency level is for the gun. I''m a big fan of turn based games also, but that too gets a little old. So, how about instead of taking turns, each player gets a time interval in which he can complete actions (move, shoot, reload, run, head, etc.). The player''s turns will be selected at random, and when it''s your turn, a timer will start and countdown to zero. When it reaches zero, your turn is over and the next player gets to go. Anyone follow me? Now, for those that comprehend what I just said, would you be interested in playing an isometric, 2D game based on these concepts of gameplay, in a grungy type of suburban world?

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Have you ever played Grandia? I think it has an excellent system, it does pretty much what you wanted except for the danger level part. The more you use your sword the better you get at it, same goes with magic. And if you learn enough in multiple areas you can learn to use diffrent skills together. Like fire and ice magic or sword and fire.

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I still like the way it was implimented back with the original Legend of Zelda. You found hearts that raised you life, as well as stronger weapons, sheilds and items as you progressed through the game. Access to areas with stronger equipment was limited until you recovered certain items you could use to get there, usually by clearing a dungeon. There was no real leveling up in the game, just a lot of fun puzzles.

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Go find a copy of Darklands by Microprose. (Last time I looked, www.ultimatedarklands.com had retail copies available for purchase.) Best RPG I have ever played. Power wasn''t measured at all. You got better at skills through use, with the occasional boost through events.

Another aspect I liked was how combat was a dangerous predicament. The first clue you had that the encounter was too powerful was when you started picking the saved game you wanted to load.





ShadeStorm, the Day_Glo Fish

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to be honest I don´t like the idea much:

First, the Danger Level system is nothing but an experience system with another name, so you´re not really changing anything there.
Second, the "learning by doing" thing is a good starting point, but many things can go wrong there. For instance, how do physical stats interact with each other. What other skills will practising with a butter knife give you?
Have a look at Dungeon Siege, it´s about the most boring example of the "learning by doing" approach.

The semi-turnbased system you mentioned doesn´t really make sense, first of all roleplayers aren´t usually the twitch players, so a time limit would probably cause unwarranted stress. The random turns are just another hindrance, the turn placement should be determined by the characters stats (otherwise you can call it a delayed-action game).

How about making the players enter their moves simultaneously (i.e. each makes his turn, without time constraints) and then act out all the taken turns at once? Your characters speed and reflexes will come into account there - if you´re fast you´ll act before the other does and gain an advantage, if you´re too slow he might not even be there anymore. Of course that would require some ai effort to deal with unforeseen events (such as dodging an unexpected blow, jumping out of harms way etc).

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I forgot to say that the Danger Level would be on a percentage scale, not raw numbers. 0% = Least dangerous, while 200% = Most dangerous, with it being very hard to reach 200%. Sorry.

Hase: So you mean that reflexes won''t matter in my time interval idea? Of course it will. If you give the player 3 seconds to do whatever, he''d really have to move quick to complete a lot of actions within 3 seconds. It''s not random combat, all players will get their turn, then it will go back to the first person, and through in the same order unless a player is dead.

Hope that clears a few things up.

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You really should take a look at Grandia (on the ps1 and saturn I believe, you have a wait for a meter to fill up before you can attack and that fill up faster or slower depending on your speed and the equipment you are using, once your bar is full there are a number of things you can do, you have quick attacks that don''t really do much damage but can interupt your enemies spells or attacks causing it to fail. Physical attacks along with raising your weapon skill will raise your physical attributes same with magic with mental atributes. This has the most enjoyable combat system of any rpg I have played.

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[OPINION]

I''m still in agreement with Hase. Random turns throws a players elimates about 2/3s of strategy. Pre-combat is basically 2/3s of having a gamplan: knowing what your going to do and getting ready to do what your goint to do. With random turns you can''t plan what your going to do because you have no idea when your going to get a chance to do it.

If you make it so that at the beginning of battle it throws out random turn numbers to people and they go in that order until someone dies, interupting the turn order, then your still leaving things up in the air.

Action gamers and RPG gamers are usually two different categories. RPG gamers usually enjoy letting their characters hack away at an enemy unless it poses a real threat and then they develop a plan. They usually aren''t ready to start basing everything on instinct and losing most sense of rythm.

This isn''t a very good idea if your aiming for a hardcore RPG but if your looking for a Diablo with more on the RPG side, sounds like an okay idea I wouldn''t be attracted to.

Danger level, as you corrected it is just a dynamic level system. You gain experience and get stronger just like those games you claim to hate. But instead of representing it as a real number you show a pie graph or a scale up to a certain percentage. Also, I think "and it being hard to reach 200%" is a bit self-explanitory. Why diliberetly make a game easy to become all powerful. Not saying this idea is bad really, just saying it''s practically the same thing your flaming.

Try to avoid random occurances if your looking for something that RPGers can sit down and enjoy right out of the box.

About the physical character development. How does your personal experience effective the range of a gun? Last time I check a gun will shoot the same distance practically everytime. Only thing that probably improves is your accuracy at greater distances. I think gun efficiency would include the speed at which you can reload, the accuracy you have and at what distance, and finally your ability to do the job using the least amount of ammo possible. Of course some of these may not apply.

Take heed to what the guy said (forgot the name and too lazy to scroll) about Dungeon Siege''s execution of that usage = level idea. I pretty much said screw magic because it was too annoying to level up. It was basically Diablo 3.

[/OPINION]

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Your time-limited turns seem weird. They''d require that the quantity of available moves be lessened severely or that move selection is done through key combinations instead of menus. So given this system, players are likely to use one of several moves every time because they don''t have time or can''t be bothered to do something more complex. IOW, if you have a menu of thirty spells, not many people will be able to effectively navigate to the spell they''d like to cast in a short amount of time.

Maybe instead of giving the player a real time limit in move selection, make it so that when their turn comes up it gives them a certain number of move points they can spend. Then have every possible action consume either a static amount (eg: attacking uses 5 move points and the player has 10) or use percentages (eg: attacking uses 25% of your move). The player can then decide how many actions they would like to take and hence how much of their move to use up. Whatever''s left starts off the meter for their next turn letting their next turn come sooner.

Just a suggestion.

-Auron

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Well I think you can Experience, Danger Levels, Mana, and Spell Skill.

Experience: based on how many battles you''ve won. the more battles the more skilled you are in physical combat. raises in endurance not HP.

Danger Level: based on how many of the same type of enemy you face. if you fight 10 gargoyles then you would be dangerous because you know (or begin to know) there weaknesses and can dispatch them easily and quickly. raises critical hit level not strength

Mana: how many spells you can do before needing to recharge (pulled straight out of Diablo)

Spell Skill: (i know alot of people hate this idea) using a certain magic attack a number of times will increase its strength, using it in when a player has dangerously low HP or with other spells (from you or other players, for the latter think of Chrono Trigger) creates slightly more powerful manifestations (read in: altered version or even Fire now turns into Inferno)

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Morrowind did things nicely.

It had the use-something-and-become-better-with-it-approach, but it never really was annoying. Let''s assume I''ve been using a LongSword from the start of the game. My LongSword skill could be at 80. Now I want to use a bow. But my MarksMan skill is still at 30. Meaning I won''t be able to hit any of the stronger enemies!!!

Tedious, no? Well, good thing is, there are trainers! Trainers can train your skill for money, depending on your attributes. If your perception is 60, you can train your skill to 60. Lower-level characters don''t usually have the funds to train their skills to the max, so will have to do it on-the-go. Higher-level characters have to shell out extreme amounts of cash to obscure trainers to increase their best skills. But a higher-level character can easily increase lower level skills, at low cost.

Also, when you have gained 10 skill points in your primary/secondary skills, you "level". This means you get to assign an extra point to three of your attributes. Each point is just that, a point. But you can also earn multiplyers. If I got all 10 skill points in skills that required strenght, my Strenght attribute will have a 5x multiplyer for that level-up, meaning my strenght will get 5 points if I award one point to it.

It was a fun system ^_^ Though since training could also give you levels, it was a bit of a powergaming heaven. Then again, training in four different sword styles *does* improve your strenght I guess :D

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quote:

Anyone else fed up with RPG Leveling?



Why, yes!

Instead of gaining anything when you kill something, what if you got NOTHING? Wouldn''t that be different?

The real problem for me in RPGs is not the fact that you gain experience to gain levels, but that the growth curve for your character is so ridiculous. Am I really to believe that my character spent his whole life training and maturing to level 1, and then in the course of a single adventure, which even assuming that such things as resting and travel times are compressed still adds up to less than a month of game time, he progresses up to level 65, at which he is fifty times tougher and stronger, and knows hundreds of times more skills and spells? No, my friend, I can''t buy that one.

What if, instead of starting at Level 1 and progressing exponentially upward, your character started out a well-trained and competent adventurer, and then improved himself slowly over the course of the game until by the end he was no more than twice as powerful as at the beginning?

What if, instead of learning to fight by beating the hell out of opponents he can easily dispatch, he only learned from fighting those tougher than he?

What if, instead of spontaneously picking up new techniques and skills, our hero finds teachers in the course of an adventure, who agree to teach him these new techniques and skills after the adventure is over but before the next begins? After all, even the most adventurous of adventurers spend some time off, and what better time to learn magic or ninja tricks than when you''re not repelling a demonic invasion?

What if, instead of having a more or less linear progression of weapons and armors to buy and find, with each clearly and decisively more powerful than the last, our hero''s combat abilities were determined largely by his skill and weapons differed in qualitative rather than quantitative ways? People don''t use spears because they''re +10 damage over swords... people use spears because they''re longer. People don''t always use the hardest armor... because it''s heavy and slow. I think FPSes have this one right - there''s no "best weapon" in UT2K3; each works well with different styles in different situations.

Just throwing out some ideas here - an attempt to really jolt you out of the current RPG paradigm. We''re all a little tired of the usual leveling system, so please do go ahead and make something really different.

Your turn system sounds like Worms'', which is not a bad thing because Worms is a fine game. Players take 60 second turns to move and attack with one of their worms. The worms can move as much as they like within the 60 seconds, but after they use a weapon once they can''t attack any more, and have only five more seconds of movement before their turn ends. It''s sort of like timed chess.

Yeah, 2D iso in a suburban setting would be different. In fact, I have no idea what you mean by "grungy suburban". Are we talking about lower-middle class neighborhoods birthed of urban sprawl, or are we talking about affluent suburbs where two-income household kids are left to raise a ruckus without parental supervision?

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well i think my idea is good enough!

but really you take a look at my post you noticed there''s no talk of raising HP. how the hell do you raise more life? you can''t! the only way i think can of is well you have more "life" when you are a young adult than anything else (as compared to a 5 year old and 70 year old). but in these RPGs it may be 6 months to 3 game years that pass in the story. so i believe it''s not life they''re raising but endurance and skill mostly. other attributes such as strength, speed, vitality (?), dexterity (have to look that up) are taken to account as well.

games should give you a set number of HP and allow you to build endurance so that your HP doesn''t drop as quickly, therefore sustaining more damage. that''s more accurate of real world phenomenon, IMO. if you "need" to raise HP do it through magic or something but not by killing 100 monsters.

and whoever heard of a wild, raging forest beast carrying 24 GP?
geez be real!

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Alpha, about your last post. Just think of your raises in hp as raises in end, etc... Even if you started with 100hp and ended with 9,000hp, its not that you are 90x as healthy... you just know how to take damage better, etc... Also, the reason the hp go -up- is because most people need a number to identify where they are in the game, and because if I started with 100 hp, I doubt I will take anything less than 1hp in damage, so eventually the damage would bottom out, thus having a higher number is easier to calculate the exact numeric value of the damage you take.

Also... danger level is just another name for experience, as mentioned before. I could say I start at level 1 and go up to 200, and if I slack off I go down in level... its all numbers, and since if you have gaining of ANY kind, and you use numbers... its just another system of leveling.

On a side note, my mmorpg is based on experience. Thusly someone with 1,000 xp will be disadvantaged to someone with 1,100 xp, not getting rid of levels, but diminishing them so low that they are unnoticed and you are "always leveling"... always gaining.

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I think this is going in the wrong direction, we shouldn´t be trying to find little improvements to the well-known and explored types of levelling (no matter if it´s xp-based, learning by doing or training based on secondary skills), we should be trying to find new solutions to the underlying problems.

Spitting Trashcan touched upon some of the subjects which should be covered... and I think they can be summed up into "Realism". In RPGs we use the flaming sword of asswhooping +5 because it does 15 points more damage, and 20 more to mummies. Some people (including me) find these kind of number-games interesting, but they have been explored, done, polished and revisited a number of times. If I want that I´ll play D&D, or a more far-out number based game.
So lets put our heads together and do somethign bright and new.

I´ll put up a few points I´d like to solve:


1) Power Curve
Already been mentioned. Top-level players overpowering new chars by a factor of 20 or more.
The problem: If you take that away, you take away one of the big motivating factors - you also have a much more homogenous playing field, because then almost all players can go everywhere, fight all kinds of monsters.


2) Weapon Linearity
Weapon A has a higher damage rating than weapon B.... already been discussed. What if weapons were more suited to a special situation, or what if the weapon dependen much more on the characters preferences than on stats?
The problem: Huge balancing issues, much more complicated weapon mechanics.


3) Learning and Advancing
Ties in with the Power Curve... if you can advance only in little steps, or with the help of certain masters, then what does the player do instead of levelling? What kind of reward system could you implement instead?
How far apart can different skill levels be and still be realistic?


So basically all of these need a major redesign:

- Character Creation
- Experience System and Skill Gain (Skills, Attributes, Learning Curves, Interdependancies)
- Combat Mechanics

any bright ideas? shoot!




edit: formatting


[edited by - Hase on October 18, 2002 7:49:16 PM]

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Great analysis Hase

Power curve - I don''t think the power curve is a big issue really - although I prefer systems where a new character can have a comparative advantage over more powerful characters by virtue of a different skill-set or character type.

Weapon linearity - this is mostly a problem with simplistic mechanics. Balancing can go out the window as far as I''m concerned - I want interesting weapons that I can RP or create strategies with.

Learning and Advancing - I''m inclined to go with the ''trainer'' solution. Rewards for doing stuff can come in other forms - virtual money and power come to mind.

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I guess I didn''t explain things thoroughly enough in my first post, and it''s sorta too late to attempt it now, but I''ll try.

The leveling-up system I mentioned doesn''t just mean going from level 1 to level 2 to 3... etc., it deals with having to increase your strength and agility or whatever to be able to do more damage, have better accuracy, carry a weapon or armor, and so on.

I agree on Alpha''s post about having HP''s being just numbers which are taken down according to damage taken, not the character''s endurance or strength -- or ability to deter damage.

This post was by desperate, yet productive, search for originality. Keep thinking of ideas

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What if you just didn''t tell people what levels and so on they were on? The thing that makes no real sense to me at all is why the levels are so obvious. If the player just ''gets stronger over time'' without it happening at any specific times, that would be better. It wouldn''t matter if that getting stronger was actually implemented using XP and levelling.

The only problem I could see this causing would be that if players came across an item that was beyond their ''level,'' they wouldn''t know how much stronger they''d need to be to use it. The solution, of course, it to make sure that you don''t show the player the Sword Of Largeness +5000 at the beginning of the game - you make sure that they only see items that are either in, or *just* out of their range. The exception would be an item that was explicitly ''someday you will rise to use it'' - i.e. where the player is told by in-game characters that they can or can not use an item.

In fact, that could be extended further. At, say, a weapons shop, when you buy a sword, the shopkeeper could tell you ''Are you sure you want it? It looks a little too much for you. Maybe you should stick with something lighter for a while.''

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates
- sleeps in a ham-mock at www.thebinaryrefinery.cjb.net

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Like I said before, I''m totally fond of a graduated system.

For example : Character A, using Weapon A, fights a bunch of monsters. Each time you kill a monster with Character A using Weapon A, tack on a certain percentage of what Character A''s "skill level" with Weapon A was, until you reach the maximum potental of Weapon A. Or an arbitrary number, depending on how you want your mechanics to work. This also promotes the idea of having characters keep the same equipment throughout the game. For example, a Ninja might get really good with an "Ornate Dagger", but all of the sudden, when he switches to "Giant Demon Broadsword From Gonnadan", it''s heavier, he has balance issues, and he needs to practice a whole lot more to get good at it.

Other than that, stats such as power, vigor, etc., instead of having them jump by some set amount each time you level, just have the gradually increase. Like they did in Quest for Glory, where every time you''d use the stair master, you''d get a bit better, or every time you practiced climbing, your climbing stat improved a little.

And that, you must see, is the perfect solution, because it allows for excercise equipment in games

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quote:
Original post by Hase
2) Weapon Linearity
Weapon A has a higher damage rating than weapon B.... already been discussed. What if weapons were more suited to a special situation, or what if the weapon dependen much more on the characters preferences than on stats?
The problem: Huge balancing issues, much more complicated weapon mechanics.

I don''t see why this leads to huge balancing issues. In fact, the way I see it, it makes balancing easier, as the weapons are now more comparable with each other. As long as you keep the "special situations" in mind and work out how often they are likely to apply, there shouldn''t be a problem.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost | Asking Questions | Organising code files | My stuff ]

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I don''t think you''re so angry with the level up process as the lack of any motivating factor. Beat an enemy, gain a level, beat the enemy faster, but not the next one. I get fustrated with games that have a flat level system, though, when theres some other purpose to it, like the PS points in WA2, or SP in Star Ocean 2, or S.Level in FFX, then you have some motivation involved. I wouldn''t suggest something so bold as allowing the player to be in complete control of the process, like letting them allocate the points to stats directly, but one could figure out something. Let them put a point into say STR GROWTH, so that the character does get stronger by a few point, but spread out over the rest of the leveling process.

-> Will Bubel
-> Machine wash cold, tumble dry.

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@Superpig:
The problem with some items being "beyond" the player atm is an artificial one, something I´d not include - after all, everyone should be able to use everything he wants, it´s just the results that may be less than excellent.

@Kylotan (weapons balancing):
If you use a more diversified weapons stystem you´re bound to run into problems, because you can´t create a new set of weapons (such as in a FPS) which complement each other, but you´ll always have to use existing categories (i.e. swords, spears, axes, etc.). That means you have to create a system which is believable and well-balanced, which will be hard to do because you have to find a special field of application for every weapon.
I´m not saying it can´t be done, it´s just much more effort that "damage/speed" distinctions.

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