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Penalty for overachieving?

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http://www.menshealth.com/cda/article/0,2823,s1-2-72-0-2350,00.html (yeah the fact that I'm giving you this shows that I try too hard at times). In RPGs should the player lose out if they "try-too-hard".? Obviously is bad form to punish the player when they are doing well. But, think about it if the player is continually the best! the most powerful! and ruthless with it, then they are going to make other characters uncomfortable. Some people will be jealous. Likewise, if the player isn't a overachiever, they might get sympathy ie. when they come third in the race.

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Overachieving is still playing within the rules of the game, right. Just faster and longer than game norms. I mean being top level isnt a crime (even if its done quickly).

So I wold focus on the bad effects they cause, not how they got to such a high level so quickly.

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It's not really an RPG, but the old NES game Castlevania II: Simon's Quest seems to combat overachieving in two ways:

- Location based experience. When you level up, you no longer receive experience from killing baddies in the "easy" screens near the starting location.

- The ending you get is progressively worse, the more time you take to get there.

The first is OK to me as it solves the problem of player being too powerful and lacking challenge when entering the later stages, the second seems a bit evil & low, though I guess it fits with the protagonist being cursed & all.

[Edited by - AgentC on May 16, 2005 12:11:30 PM]

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Well I don't think that even then you would tell the player that you are penalizing for overachieving, instead you are penalizing for not getting the right balance.


However time could be used for players who stay in one area to lvl up till the boss in that area is a breeze...

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I don't think penalizing overachieving players is a good idea, but I think giving them extra challenges would be interesting. Suppose an RPG player is extremely powerful and thereby becomes king of the land. This gives him a lot of power on top of what he already had, but you can challenge him by generating frequent assassination attemps. Perhaps the power of being king isn't worth the headaches of constant threats, and the player decides to step down.

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The trouble with saying "you're too powerful, lose half your HP" (or whatever) is that what you actually mean is "I've let you get too powerful, now I have to penalise you for exploiting my mistakes". There are also related issues with the effective reward for mediocrity - unless you're very careful, you just demote the current top-rank players, leaving the second-tier players top-rank by default.

Yes, it may well be necessary to tweak power levels in order to fix mistakes in your design, but that shouldn't be anything other than an emergency measure - you certainly shouldn't design the game to automatically nerf the top ten players every month - otherwise the competition then becomes not to be in the top ten,
but to be number 11-15 or so at the end of every month, being automatically promoted at the start of the next month, and dropping rapidly near the end of the month in order to spend most of your time near the top...


I do very much like Dobbs' suggestion of throwing more "interesting" challenges at the higher ranked players - just publicising someone as the greatest X in the realm is liable to generate a stream of wannabes aiming to boost their own ranking by defeating the best. Besides, there's a long and venerable tradition of the reward for doing well at a game being the chance to do it again only more so (or, in the case of some arcade machines, for free...). Also, as any Spiderman fan can tell you, "With great power comes great responsibility" - rather than penalising overachievers, try thinking of ways to use them - maybe giving them (limited) DM privileges or otherwise letting them have an official voice in how the game evolves.

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How about penalizing players who stand around leveling up? Especially useful in MMORPGs.

Could work it into the game:

- Perhaps a local tribe of trolls are pissed off that you've killed all the rats they use for food?

- Perhaps some god is pissed off that you're still engaging in goblin genocide [grin]

- Perhaps a local band of orcs are owed a favour local wizard?

- Or perhaps that wizard becomes concerned when his orc army suddenly becomes destroyed by one annoying player charcter.


Indeed - all these things invove a bigger nasty comming along. It dosn't necessaraly have to be a penalty - but an over achieving player is likely to attract the attention of an adversary that is a better match for their over-achieved level.


Better yet, and if you can program it, then you could have your besties adapt if you keep killing them. If your charcter keeps blasting them with fireballs - then perhaps some creative use of anti-magic fields, or better still - douse the player in some flamable oil. Then he'll think twice about being boring and sitting leveling.


Think creative [smile]. If your game is creative - then your players must be creative too.

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Quote:
Original post by Ketchaval
In RPGs should the player lose out if they "try-too-hard".? Obviously is bad form to punish the player when they are doing well. But, think about it if the player is continually the best! the most powerful! and ruthless with it, then they are going to make other characters uncomfortable. Some people will be jealous.
Likewise, if the player isn't a overachiever, they might get sympathy ie. when they come third in the race.


I think that when it comes down to it, we're not talking about 'punishment' - we're talking about 'dynamic difficulty.' Players who are finding the game hard and are not doing very well will find NPCs more sympathetic and willing to help them out; players who are doing very well ("overachieving") will find the game gets harder as fewer NPCs are willing to help them, etc. It's something that any good GM will do.

It's a very nice dynamic because it helps to ensure that players don't get bored or frustrated. If you become a very high-level warrior, it makes sense that high-level monsters will seek you out for a battle; while if you're a poor newbie then the bandits won't bother with you. Etcetera.

I'm never a fan of explicit manipulation of stats in any situation, because I dislike explicit stats, full stop. But if you can create something that will damage a player proportionally to his level of achievement, and you can do it without making the player feel cheated, I say go right ahead.

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