Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Kest

RPG: Creeping jumps

This topic is 4048 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

There are many different things that can progress in a game, and I'm not referring to anything specific, such as increasing combat stats. But one important aspect of the progression that I want to refer to is that it can do one of two things: creep, or jump. I'm unaware of any official names these two types have..? For example, if you work by the hour, if you get paid every two weeks, that's a jump. If you were handed your hourly wage every hour, that's a creep. Games like Morrowind have such a small jump, though, they feel like a creep. Fallout is an example of a pretty decent jump - if you spend all of your level-up points in one place. But even Fallout begins to creep once your level gets too high, since it becomes more difficult to increase abilities. Once you hit around level 10, you won't likely notice much improvement at all in your primary skills as you advance. But if you were to reload a game back to level 10 from level 20, you will likely notice the large jump you've made. And that's my concern. If the progression is so small that it isn't noticable, is there really any point in having it? Personally, I seem to have more fun in games that cap skills off rather than those that make them incredibly difficult to reach the end. For example, a lengthy RPG could have only 3 knife-throwing proficiency levels, where each level is a serious step up from the last. Your character gains experience by either throwing knives or training experience into knife-throwing, then at some point, all at once, a revelation is reached, and skills drastically increase. Here are some of the positive-negatives I can come up with for big jumps: +) Player can feel the progression. -) Longer periods of time between them. +) Friends and foes are easier to "understand" and measure. -) Less diversity in friends and foes. +) Much easier to balance the game. -) Player can more easily get in over his head with tougher enemies. My focus is on single-player RPGs, not MMORPGs. Any opinions?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
Quote:
Original post by Kest
Here are some of the positive-negatives I can come up with for big jumps:
1 +) Player can feel the progression.
2 -) Longer periods of time between them.
3 +) Friends and foes are easier to "understand" and measure.
4 -) Less diversity in friends and foes.
5 +) Much easier to balance the game.
6 -) Player can more easily get in over his head with tougher enemies.

My focus is on single-player RPGs, not MMORPGs.
Any opinions?

1.- Good. Hard to implement in "creeps".
2.- Very bad for me.
3.- ?
4.- I hate this with the strength of a thousand suns. For me, even a small chance of this happening is a reason to forget about a game.
5.- Sad, but true.
6.- That's not bad. I like games that punish the "Anything I find must be killable" mentality.


My opinion is: Big jumps are there to make balancing possible in a reasonable amount of time. There are other solutions (IMHO):
- Balance a bit worse (single player only).
- Balance by other means (different discussion).
- Balance the big jumps and then divide them in smaller sub-jumps (currently popular). Even if the smaller jumps are not perfectly balanced, the "big jump balance" keeps it reasonable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Big power jumps tend to break suspension of disbelief for me a bit, since there's usually not a concomittant plot-related reason why my character's suddenly so much more powerful. In reality you don't get that kind of suddenly-I'm-twice-as-powerful kind of thing; you need to work hard to gradually achieve improvement. And yeah, games aren't reality, but they need to maintain certain things in common with reality so that the player can understand them, and for an RPG, one of those things is that you simply don't get massive sudden jumps in ability.

Edit: This is not to say that you can't have big jumps at all, but I wouldn't make them dependent on the player's training. It makes reasonably good sense in an FPS that when you find the rocket launcher, you're a lot more powerful than you used to be; it makes slightly less sense in an RPG that the Electrum Sword is inherently more powerful than the Steel Sword, but usually players are willing to accept that. If you can find a way to make equipment upgrades interesting (i.e. more than just +ATK or +DEF) then even better!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Zanshibumi
1.- Good. Hard to implement in "creeps".
2.- Very bad for me.
3.- ?
4.- I hate this with the strength of a thousand suns. For me, even a small chance of this happening is a reason to forget about a game.
5.- Sad, but true.
6.- That's not bad. I like games that punish the "Anything I find must be killable" mentality.


My opinion is: Big jumps are there to make balancing possible in a reasonable amount of time. There are other solutions (IMHO):
- Balance a bit worse (single player only).
- Balance by other means (different discussion).
- Balance the big jumps and then divide them in smaller sub-jumps (currently popular). Even if the smaller jumps are not perfectly balanced, the "big jump balance" keeps it reasonable.

Your thoughts are much appreciated. To explain, my biggest reason for considering jumping over creeping is for #1. And how not having #1 may make it nearly pointless to have any type of progression at all. Balancing is one of the positive side effects of big jumps, but not something that's a large factor for me.

Quote:
Original post by Derakon
Big power jumps tend to break suspension of disbelief for me a bit, since there's usually not a concomittant plot-related reason why my character's suddenly so much more powerful.

I was mostly referring to skills. Attributes like strength and speed would most likely keep creeping, if they even become progressive at all.

People in real life can have major breakthroughs in their skills. But whether that is believable isn't really a large concern for me. At least not compared to the lack of fun that may come from having progression that creeps by so slowly, it doesn't feel like an accomplishment. That is usually the way real life works. You train hard, and improve a little over time. The only way to really be happy with your progression is to measure yourself at some point and keep comparing to it. That's why kids have those "height line" marks on the wall to watch how much they've grown - it becomes pointless if you update the line every day.

Quote:
And yeah, games aren't reality, but they need to maintain certain things in common with reality so that the player can understand them, and for an RPG, one of those things is that you simply don't get massive sudden jumps in ability.

I'm not sure what lead you in that direction. Almost all RPGs have some type of jump in their progression. The size of the jump is usually very different, though. I guess "massive" just depends on what you consider to be too much, and why, other than contrast with realism, they are bad.

One thing that I've considered is to have creeping with rewarding jumps. Basically, the characters progress by creeping, but at certain levels of progression, they are rewarded with a type of bonus. For an example, after reaching the "skilled" level of weapon-handling, the character could receive a +25% bonus to reloading speed. And then on the "mastered" level, a + 15% to targetting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm a big fan of the old 2D Black Isle D&D RPGs, so I'm used to RPGs with jumps (i.e. levelling up). Here's a response to your thoughts in that context:

+) Player can feel the progression.
-) Longer periods of time between them.

Neither of these are bad IMHO. I'll agree that the progression is easily noticed in most cases, especially if the skill is used frequently (e.g. ability to hit a creature) or an essential part of gameplay (e.g. movement speed). The player often needs such rewards in order to justify spending points in one area rather than another, and to indicate that the player character is in fact progressing. The progression of other skills that aren't used as often (e.g. persuasion or pickpocketing skill) may not be noticed as much, so it may be important to indicate to the player that something has improved (e.g. by biasing toward success first time after levelling up) in order to get the same effect.

The longer periods between jumps as your character improves are to be expected, and in my experience increase the appreciation of such skills. You have to be fairly committed to forcing your player down the fighter route, slowly building up the points until he's a complete tank able to smack down even the biggest nasty. It _should_ take a while, or there's no appreciation when the nasties get clobbered. There should be a connection between nasty gets clobbered -> because I've invested in appropriate skills over time -> I'm responsible for my character being able to clobber this nasty -> OMG I'm so 1337! Contrast this with nasty gets clobbered -> because I chose the correct stats five seconds ago -> whoopie it's like playing championship manager.

+) Friends and foes are easier to "understand" and measure.
-) Less diversity in friends and foes.

I think the former comes from allowing the player to recognise how other characters have been assembled. In Baldur's Gate, for example, I knew that most wizards would be physically weak, because I've been developing a mage character myself and know that I've spent most points in intelligence rather than constitution. I know that the wizards will be using magical spells to protect themselves, and depending on the levels of my own characters, what protections are likely. I know that stripping the protections with my mage and then bashing the mage with my fighter is likely to kill the mage. The point is that this has nothing to do with jumps or creeps - it's an appreciation of how the game world works that leads to an appreciation of the characters in it. I'd argue that a creep-based game will have roughly the same level of understanding of other characters as long as the game's underlying mechanics are visible to the player (in this case, the stats and strategies required to build and play a mage character).

Diversity isn't used enough. In the RPGs I've played, you rarely get a complete mix of skills and character types as NPCs. Instead, you get the most successful combinations of the skills and characters - stereotypical mages, clerics (or druids), assassins (i.e. backstabbing thieves), archers (i.e. ranged thieves) and tanks (fighters). There's plenty of opportunity to give diversity to characters if your character creation and progression system is complex enough, regardless of the level of said characters (again, note that jumping and creeping has little to do with the diversity here). Diversity will depend on the available options and useful combinations available to the player. More interesting characters (i.e. those further from the stereotypes above) tend to be less effective (e.g. due to spread of skills), or take longer to build (e.g. battle mage). A better selection of available skills, and an emphasis on their combination might improve diversity (e.g. allow skills to affect one another so that the mage is still improving his casting abilities by spending points on combat abilities).

+) Much easier to balance the game.
-) Player can more easily get in over his head with tougher enemies.

I'm not sure I agree with either of these. How does creeping vs jumping affect game balance? Surely game balance is going to focus on the available skills and abilities and their combinations (i.e. aiming for player skill and progression choice to determine success in the game world), rather than how often one levels up? What are your thoughts here?

I guess you might encounter an enemy character with one more point in their combat skill than your character, and if each point gives a big boost, then you are going to have a problem (especially if you're building a more diverse character). However, a good game should be about more than the abilities themselves - the game should be about players using the skills and abilities appropriately in order to affect his success - for example, using a taunt skill to anger the enemy and thus reduce the affect of his additional combat point.

Quote:
I was mostly referring to skills. Attributes like strength and speed would most likely keep creeping, if they even become progressive at all.

...People in real life can have major breakthroughs in their skills.

...The only way to really be happy with your progression is to measure yourself at some point and keep comparing to it.

...One thing that I've considered is to have creeping with rewarding jumps.


Dungeon Siege had a great system whereby your skills improved through use, and once they reached a certain point, you got to spend points in order to guide further progression. I really liked the idea, and I think you're working along similar lines. I think a mix of creeping of jumping is the right way to go, especially with strength: you would expect one's strength to improve quickly at first, and slower later. Having certain points where one realizes that progression has been made, and makes decisions regarding further improvement ("I'll try heavier weights") allows the player to remain in control.

My 2p (sorry it's a bit long-winded - I'm bored!).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Im also a fan of the old Black Isle games, but I find myself a little bored with the mechanics themselves after seeing them for so long, so this is a discussion that strikes a chord for me...

That list of pros and cons is good, but I do agree with Zanshibumi about point 6. I dont necessarily think the player should get in over their head - I think they should generally know what to fight and what not to - but rather, I think the way the designer guides the player on what to fight should be based on mood and the character of the world instead of on meta-knowledge of mechanics. To base it on mechanics breaks the immersion, and also can make opponents feel like they were put there to be opponents instead of being a part of the world.

My other thought is on the theme of achievement needing to be measured, eg the example of a child marking their height on a wall. Once again, Im not positive that mechanics are the best way to deal with it... In this case its more of a problem in terms of effort, but for a designer to include points where previously uber opponents return can serve the same purpose as a jump, and imho provides an extra boost to the experience over simply presenting a jump.

By the same token, though, the same can be done in a creep system as well, so they arent necessarily points against the jump method. I agree that a combination often works well... and using both systems for different sections of the same game can often be useful too, for example creep for physical abilities and jumps for skills

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm a big fan of the Ultima Online (UO) raise through use system. It created both a creep and jump system.

Take magic for example:
There were 8 levels of spells to cast. Level 1 was the easiest and Level 8 was the hardest. The higher you raised your magery skill, the higher spells you could begin to cast. It wasn't a fixed value though. 50% magery didn't mean you could cast Level 4 spells, it meant you could cast Level 5 spells 37% of the time (or whatever the formula was).

As you raised your Magery, spells were always being added to your attack plan (creating a noticeable jump) while your Magery skill was creeping along.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well for the game I'm currently floating around in my head, I plan to have 3-5 tiers of strength for abilities, so the higher tiers will defintely feel stronger.

For creeping however, the levels will allow allocation of stats to which ever stats you want.

Gear will also alter stats, but in bigger jumps. Gear will be balanced by increasing some stats at the cost of others, as well as having different effects like chance for healing or extra damage etc. Heavy armor might be good resistance, but it slows you down etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Does anyone here play Dungeons and Dragons? I don't like a lot of things about their system, but one thing that works pretty well for me is that they seem to have this balanced out in a fairly decent fashion. Let me explain, especially for the benefit of those who've never played (and haven't played KOTOR or similar, which is directly based off of the D&D system):

Each character has what is called a "Character Level" (hereafter abbreviated "Level"), which is a general understanding of how powerful their character is. Each level increase allows the player to improve their "skills," such as climbing, swimming, knowledge skills, and similar abilities. These skills are rarely usable in combat. This progression is a definite example of "creep," and I think it works well in this situation, because, I guess, the skills aren't as "cinematic."

There are other abilities, though. "Feats" are powerful combat-related abilities, giving characters impressive new abilities or enhancements, instead of merely allowing them better chances of success on certain checks, as skill improvements do. Some allow the character to perform combat maneuvers, such as a "whirlwind attack" that strikes all adjacent enemies, or shooting multiple arrows at once, or wielding two weapons at once. Such improvements are obviously noticeable in a big way during play, especially during combat. The characters only get one feat per three levels in most cases, which is quite a while to wait. Thus, these are an example of a "jump." Because many feats have an ability score requirement or skill requirement, they can be earned in a relatively "natural" way, because the character must work up to being able to take the feat.

Ability scores improve in big jumps - one point in one ability score every four levels. Because they have such a broad game effect - an ability score broadly affects many areas, including combat - it's very exciting for the character to get improvement here. D&D doesn't tie which score improves to what the character actually uses in-game, so a weakling wizard who never physically exerts herself could potentially increase her strength, which would make little real-world sense. However, it would be very easy in a video game to tie ability score improvement to skill use.


Anyway, I guess the point of all that was that "creep" gives an RPG a more "natural" feel that helps prevent breaks in immersion. However, "jumps" are definitely more exciting. Perhaps "jumps" could be tied to "creep," to maximize both effects... once you have the necessary "creep" skill level, you can seek out the wise combat master to learn a powerful new ability in the relevant area.

Or maybe the character could do that in reverse. They approach the wise old master, who teaches them how to use the "jump" move or ability. They then go out to practice it, with low odds of success at first that improve over time and with use. This would allow a more natural improvement of "jump" skills, although at the expense of making them feel more like "creep" abilities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In my experience, gaining a new skill is fun, improving old skills tend to be less fun. The most recent example I can think of is Psychonauts, every 10 "levels", you got a new skill that improves your character. It was a lot of fun for me because it was similar to the RPG-style progression in that you had to perform an activity in order to enhance your character, but at the same time very different, mostly because you don't "level up", but you learn more about being a Psychonaut, and thereby get more powers. A very beleivable system in my eyes, and a very interesting variation on the "level up" system.

That's the kind of jump I feel is interesting from a user perspective, while watching my "Sword" skill jump from 10 to 20 isn't, even though that may be a jump too (unless getting to 20 sword skill will enable me to gain a new skill of some sort, in which case, getting to that level of sword skill will easily fall into the "tedious obstacle" bin, together with the game).

As some other people mentioned, it's really hard to come up with beleivable ways to make jumps in the character's skill using a more standard method of progression for RPG's.

Another thing to remember is that jumping and creeping can be fairly similar if you're balancing the monster's numbers to match the player's numbers, meaning that the game isn't perceived as easier when you level up (look at MMORPG's for example, when the player gains a level, he/she goes to kill monsters that are one level higher than before).

Also, it's important to figure out what is rewarding or fun, and what is tedious for the player.

I personally don't play RPG's to watch my numbers rise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

Participate in the game development conversation and more when you create an account on GameDev.net!

Sign me up!