# Leveling increases grinding for next level

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Lets suppose player A is lv 2304, in a normal game with linear formulas he would be able to kill enemies up to level 4000 ( after than he begins to do 0 dmg ).

The problem is the following :
1) Player has to grind for 3 months non stop to get to level 4000 to beat that enemy.
After that the game creates enemies higher level so that he doesn't feel "bored". So even if he goes to level 4000, his next enemy will be 8000 = 3 years grinding.
This leads to a point where the player no longer levels up fast enough to reach his next "kill enemy objective" thus quits.

ps. The next enemy it generates is strong enough to force the player to grind in order to be able to beat him.
(You remember disgaia grinding ?)

2) The actual problem is the following : "the time to double your power" increases exponentially(doubles each time), which means that the player gets less satisfaction as time passes.
You can notice this in all games, for example in wow how much time does it take to double your hp :
lv1-2 : 5 min,
lv2-6: 40 min,
lv6-12: 6 hours,
lv12-20: 10 hours.
lv 20-30: 24 hours.
lv 30-40: 2 days.
lv 40 -50: 5 days.
lv 50-60 : 10 days.

This means that leveling in this system has "diminishing returns" which prevents the player for embracing the leveling up system.

Solutions :
1) Exponential xp gain. Player levels up faster the higher level they are. He may get 1% of his total levels per enemy kill, so that after 100 enemies he doubles in power.
This system is flawed as numbers have limited precision thus after 64 (double ups) all numbers will overflow and the game would crash.
Also numbers are hard to read i deal 12312323123 damage out of your 976421367899 hp pool.

2) Level has hidden exponential stats, for example the enemies deals 10% extra dmg per level difference. Lv 2304 Player A will now die from lv 2334 enemy ( he deals 300% more dmg and receives only 30% dmg).
Pros:
1) it works. It forces grinding for a specified amount of time to battle next enemy.

Cons:
1) The status screen doesn't display big numbers to make the player "happy". Thus reduces his will to grind.
2) Hidden stats will confuse the player and make them ask why they died to an enemy with 10 hp higher than them.

3) Wow style : Xp requirements increase exponentially every time you level up (200% more time), however when you level up you get exponential stat bonuses. For instance In wow lv 1 gives 10 hp and lv 80 gives 20000 hp.
Cons :
1) User has to grind too much to get a feedback of his overall stat increase.
This will lead to a point where he has to grind for 3 years to reach next level.

Any alternative ideas for making a "level grind" system ?

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A level cap?

The numbers just... hurt my head.

Each level gained provides the same increase in power. Each level gained is slightly longer to accomplish than the previous. Leveling to the cap shouldn't take forever, but it should certainly take more than two days played. Don't rely on "levels" to determine the full capabilities of a character.

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I think this is an unavoidable problem with leveling systems of any sort (and the same could probably be said about pretty much any stat progression system). Balancing it against time invested and power gained is going to feel wrong to someone, somewhere.

I'm a fan of linear progression though. X time invested = Y power gained, no matter how much Y you already have. This helps ease the pain of exponential time needed to gain a level, but has its own issues. Of the games that use this system in which I'm familiar, the game developers introduced monster leveling to keep enemies at a similar power to the player, which I detest. Why on Earth is that wolf now level 45 when yesterday they were all level 25?

I'm not really sure why this is necessary. I think the XP system of Final Fantasy VIII was close to what I'd aim for: it always took 1000 XP to level up, no matter what level you were. Killing enemies close to your level would give between 50 and 150 XP, depending on exactly what the enemy was. Killing weaker enemies gave less, but it would never take more than a couple hundred enemies to level up unless you were deliberately finding very weak things to kill (which was hard, as most enemies leveled with you). The problem with the game was that enemies leveled with the player, which as I said, I hate.

Stat progression in FFVIII was very strange, and I wouldn't recommend using it in any other game. Leveling up didn't do much actually (which is why some players played through the game without doing so, it made it easier because enemies were weaker), and most of your stats came from binding magic to them. You could have max stats at level 1 if you tried, and enemies would be crushed under your attacks in an instant. It was tremendously abusable.

Ok, rambling aside, how about something like this?

If you have a straight level = power system, it takes a set amount of XP to level up. Killing things close to your level gives X XP, so grinding takes about the same amount of time no matter what level you are. Gaining a level gives the same benefit at level 30 as it does at 2, adding the same amount of stats. Enemies are balanced for your expected level when you encounter them.

If you have an alternate state progression system (i.e. levels of strength, HP, whatever), then you do the same thing. You would encourage players to diversify their progression by keeping enemies from leveling with them, since eventually they will get diminishing returns on improving a stat. If you can kill all the enemies in an area in 1 hit, there's no point in improving damage any more.

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your solution # 1 is basically like... saying each level takes 100 xp, and each kill nets you 1 xp. Why won't you do that instead, and make weaker enemies return no hp? that removes a lot of the complexity.
Feels to me like you've had too much WoW in you ;)

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Think about it, the reason most rpg players quit a game after finishing its story, is because they "maxed" their character and there isn't anything else to do.
If you could continue leveling forever, with no caps, they will never get bored. However this will happen if the stats don't start to converge to a certain number.
If it takes 6 months to double my overall power then chances is that the player will give up the level grind.

So what we need is a controlled environment, where :
1) punishment : you cant kill target enemy if you arent level X.
2) motivation : Achieving level Y allows you to kill enemy X, however there is now enemy X2 to force to continue leveling.

The motivation part must happen in a reasonable amount of time that is always constant, e.g 1 day to reach this amount of power.

@Telgin
Yes its good to level at a guaranteed pace, but since stats per level are linear and you get the same amount per level, it means that the time needed to double your overall power will increase as time passes.
For example lets say i played for 8 months and i am level 5400, in 2 days i will go to level 5520. Total power increase 0.022% in 2 days.
Now lets say i am level 54000, in 2 days i will go to level 54120. Total power increase 0.0022%

Thus it cannot achieve the motivation aspect since the numbers "converge".

@Orymus
Basically what i meant with 1 is the following :
My lv 2304 player will gain 40-50 levels per enemy kill so that he reaches double potential at the set amount of expected time.

Ideas :
1) Maybe player chooses enemy level at stage start ?

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Think about it, the reason most rpg players quit a game after finishing its story, is because they "maxed" their character and there isn't anything else to do.
If you could continue leveling forever, with no caps, they will never get bored. However this will happen if the stats don't start to converge to a certain number.
If it takes 6 months to double my overall power then chances is that the player will give up the level grind.

So what we need is a controlled environment, where :
1) punishment : you cant kill target enemy if you arent level X.
2) motivation : Achieving level Y allows you to kill enemy X, however there is now enemy X2 to force to continue leveling.

The motivation part must happen in a reasonable amount of time that is always constant, e.g 1 day to reach this amount of power.

@Telgin
Yes its good to level at a guaranteed pace, but since stats per level are linear and you get the same amount per level, it means that the time needed to double your overall power will increase as time passes.
For example lets say i played for 8 months and i am level 5400, in 2 days i will go to level 5520. Total power increase 0.022% in 2 days.
Now lets say i am level 54000, in 2 days i will go to level 54120. Total power increase 0.0022%

Thus it cannot achieve the motivation aspect since the numbers "converge".

@Orymus
Basically what i meant with 1 is the following :
My lv 2304 player will gain 40-50 levels per enemy kill so that he reaches double potential at the set amount of expected time.

Ideas :
1) Maybe player chooses enemy level at stage start ?

I saw what I put in bold and your thought process is extremely flawed. Leveling forever =/= unlimited fun. What game should EVER have 54,000 levels? Not even arcade games go that far.

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Well a few things here.

For finite RPG's (A game that's meant to end, ala Final Fantasy sans 11), there's motivation beyond grinding to the next level to play. Typically there's some sort of story, or perhaps some sort of engaging mechanic that keeps the player interested in the play itself.

For MMORPG's, particularly EQ derived MMO's, the character progression is the prime motivation, or at least an inseparable aspect of motivation for play. If you want to competitively do arenas, well guess what you need to grind. Raids? Grinding. Battlegrounds? Hope you like grinding. Yeah, you can screw around in PvP on WoW for a while without high level gear and what not, but to truly be competitive there's a grinding aspect involved.

I think the issue here stems from gameplay itself in a lot of RPG's being fairly shallow or repetitive. Players do not particularly enjoy the act of playing the game, thus grinding is introduced to give a concrete goal that players can latch onto. MMO's in particular are often guilty of this as a result of their technical limitations, not always lazy design. While we'd all love the MMOFPS with 20k people on the same server providing a truly massive experience and skill based gameplay, that's not easy to execute.

Anyway, if you want grinding to be less of a pain, then you can do a couple things:

1) Rest Experience: I love this mechanic. It gives people who can only play for a little bit of time every day some extra incentive and reward without directly punishing people who can afford to play constantly.

2) Forgiving Death: This may come as a shock, but players hate dying all their own. Even if you don't put in any penalty for death, players will still avoid it due to the psychological aversion humans have to failure. Making heavy death penalties, especially those that affect your experience, are a big no no in my mind. It's just an underhanded way to force even more grinding.

3) Offloading progression into other character aspects: Ok, so maybe it does take you a while to level up. How about giving your players something else in the meantime? Look at the elements that makeup your character and see if there's a way you can bust some of those out of the leveling system so they can be dolled out an independent schedule. Loot and equipment is a good example of this. You could have bonus talents/feats that occur off-level, or skills that you purchase with some sort of currency, etc.

4) Flattening the Experience Curve: I don't like the FFVIII system, or really anything from FFVIII, so I wouldn't go with a totally flat leveling curve, but one that doesn't have an insane increase can be more accessible to players. Really, the only number that matters in any leveling system is TTNL (time to next level), and if you make sure this doesn't wildly grow out of control you'll make the grind less intense for the player.

Of course, my philosophy on grinding in general is to make grinding a tertiary incentive to playing the game. The player's primary motivation should not be to grind, it should be to play the game. I never had to grind in Call of Duty for unlocks because the act of playing the game was enjoyable in and of itself. Leveling up and getting a new piece of equipment was just gravy on an already fun experience.

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(I may have got the wrong end of the stick so sorry in advance if I did)

I would never say that "most" players quit because they hit the level cap. Instead they quite because there is nothing else for them to do. Now depending on the genre those two things go hand in hand but my point is that never having a player hit the level cap doesn't mean they won't quite. If there's nothing for them to do but keep killing the same enemies over and over then i can't see a reason for the vast majority to keep playing.

I don't really see the problem you put forward. Surely the reason for such long "grinds" would be to keep the player playing said game for as long as possible, changing this formula may let the player kill said monster earlier but then what's the point of having such a system in the first place. You can simply put rewards closer together.

If you think about what the levelling system represents, the "WoW" system as you called it, makes perfect sense to me. It doesn't take long for me to become proficient at the process of stabbing someone with a knife but it takes a lot longer for me to master that process. I would also like to point out that the stats a person gains each level are not as important to the player as say the new things they can do/wear.

If your intent is to go for the classic levelling system, i.e. kill mob = exp, enough exp and gain a level which means you become more powerful, I don't think you can really improve on the basic mechanics. Instead its up to you to balance time/reward as best as possible and thus make it worth the players while to keep playing the game.

Choosing an enemy's level at the start of a stage is essentially changing the difficulty of the game (which most games currently do anyway). If it's not for the challenge but for maximum exp gain with the least hassle then you may as well choose the level for the player since they will most likely go for the most optimal.

(I could go on about theories as to which method is best depending on the situation but i think that would end up being dangerously off topic.)

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Well I found that oversimplification made sense.
Rather than level, have the amount of experience points directly matter in your equations.
Damage = (insert math formula including experience as a variable).
etc.

Basically, your leveling is turned into millions of levels instead, and each matters.

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Well I found that oversimplification made sense.
Rather than level, have the amount of experience points directly matter in your equations.
Damage = (insert math formula including experience as a variable).
etc.

Basically, your leveling is turned into millions of levels instead, and each matters.

Not a bad approach, but very fine incremental gains can feel unrewarding to the player. It's the whole frog in a boiling pot thing, it's often more gratifying to players to receive +20 hp after killing 20 monsters than it is to receive 1 HP per monster they kill. You're spending the same amount of time to get the same reward, but its presentation matters.

Not to say an incremental power progression can't work, it totally can, but you have to make sure the player actually feels like they're getting a reward for their effort, which is easier to accomplish with big leves.

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