Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Legendre

Designing "leveling up" in competitive multi-player games.

This topic is 1639 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

In a multiplayer free for all death match situation, what is a good "leveling up" system? The obvious problem is that high level players can dominate the game, while level players face a long grind before they can actually compete with the old-timers.

 

The "obvious" solution is to make leveling only work in the match and not carry over to the next match. Also, one can make it similar to First Person Shooters: players go around the map collecting power ups, armor and weapons. But when they die, they go back to square one and respawn with nothing.

 

Unfortunately, I don't really know much about this topic beyond these few points. I will be so grateful if anyone has any good input/insight about this or has links to good articles talking about the design of these systems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement

Subspace did it right.  Fast paced 2D space shooter, you would level up fairly quickly on the remains of blown up people.  Even a no level ship could scavenge stray explosions and take advantage of the chaos on screen to hit max pretty quickly.  Plus the upgrades were random, which made things interesting.  As long as the leveling process isn't too drawn out and doesn't keep you out of the competition.

 

Although truth be told, servers with no leveling are always the most popular.

http://www.subspace.net/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I can't say I can recommend the "best" Level Up system for a Multiplayer Free for all, I can offer this idea:

 

Something like king of the hill.  Multiple terraces, each terrace can only be accessed at certain levels.  I.e. terrace 1 can be accessed by anyone.  Every person you kill is worth % exp to the next level.  higher level people are naturally worth more points.  

 

Terrace 2 can only be accessed by people level 2 or above.  Which means if you die and restart, you can get back to level 2 quickly, but if you run through the open of Terrace 1, you leave yourself exposed to lower level players hoping to level up faster on your corpse.

 

Each terrace would provide new weapons or abilities, but you don't get them until you reach that level.  (I.e. if you die, you come back with level X exp, but you can't use the bonuses until you are in the levels.)

 

You can shoot at people in other terraces.  Lower terraces make you very little points, so it mostly waists ammunition.  Higher level terraces are worth a lot more for taking people out.  

 

Each terrace may have look out towers that make it easier to take out high level individuals, but they are easier to target from lower terraces and even your own.

 

It would really suck with just a few players, so you would really need NPC challenges as well.  AI's that spawn out of sight of all other players, and then run to take tactical positions.  Worth no more than someone at that level.  

 

As the game would be terraced, I like the idea of exploding debris, like trucks and dumpsters that keep getting launched into lower levels from explosions higher up.  And of course objects that keep respawning when players aren't looking, 

 

Terrace 1 might only have a hand gun, with minimal armor.  (3 shots dead)

Terrace 2 might offer short burt machine guns.

3 grenades

4 rockets.

etc....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series did a good job of balancing most of their weapons, so most people thought that their preferred weapon loadout was the best.

If they can convince millions of people that their favorite weapon is the best, with them all choosing different weapons, they did something right. I strongly suggest playing one of them if you haven't before - they did alot right when it comes to persistent player level-ups without unbalancing things. Not perfectly balanced, but very very close, while still feeling meaningful.

(I'm talking about Modern Warfare 1,2 & 3. The Black Ops series is made by a different developer and doesn't quite have the same level of polish, IMO)

 

Despite my above praise for the series, I'm actually not a heavy FPS player, and only have dabbled at Modern Warfare here and there - but I was really impressed with the single player and the multiplayer portions of Modern Warfare. Kudos for the Infinity Ward developers - they did an amazing job, and this from someone who barely plays the genre (but I have experienced enough of the genre in other games to know quality when I see it).

 

"Leveling up" should unlock new tools for overcoming challenges, without making any existing challenges easier.

 

The new tools really do need to be different. Not the same thing with a different visual appearance.

A sniper rifle and a shotgun are two different tools with different uses in different situations.

 

What if, for each level up, you are presented with five different pieces of equipment, and you get to choose two of them to unlock and add to your possible choices.

When you begin a match, you choose which three pieces of equipment of your unlocked equipment you want to actually bring into battle.

 

You can replace the word "equipment" with "skills", "items", "abilities", "magic", or whatever - the concept is still the same.

 

The important thing is that new tools you unlock don't make old tools obsolete. Getting a sniper rifle doesn't make a shotgun obsolete, or vise-versa.

 

What if one piece of equipment is boots that let you double-jump? It doesn't make you more powerful than other players, but it does make you more maneuverable.

Someone else, for their boots, is wearing one that lets them constantly run slightly faster (25% faster, let's say), and another person is wearing boots that let them run alot faster (100% faster) but only for 5 seconds at a time (requiring them to use it cleverly, and to make them _work_ to have it be a real advantage).

 

The best thing you can do is to introduce meaningful choices (choices that actually affect the gameplay) to the game, without overwhelming the players with too many options presented at once.

The worst thing you can do is add additional items to the game that become the obvious choice, because they are unbalanced. This removes choices from players.

 

Other areas where there might be a couple different choices:

If you have explosives in your game, you could have: Timed explosives (you throw them and they detonate after a set time - i.e. grenades), proximity-mines/claymores that are triggered when players walk near but make a 'click' noise when triggered and have a two second delay, or remote mines that players manually detonate but that detonate instantly when the player triggers it.

Other familiar explosives are smoke grenades and flashbangs. What about poisonous gas grenades? Or what about noise grenades that sound like someone firing an automatic weapon, and show up on the radar as a player? What about hallucinogenic gas grenades that make a knee-high colored gas that spreads from room to room and flows over ledges and distorts the screen of people that are inside it?

Edited by Servant of the Lord

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What purpose does leveling have in your game ?

 

I think this is the most important question to answer before even considering a level system for a free-for-all deathmatch game. What does this system do to make the game experience better?

 

Do you want these benefits to be persistent, or should everyone start on equal footing at the start of each match?

 

If newbies lack both the skill and experience level to compete with veterans...what's going to stop them from giving up and playing something else?

Edited by Adam Moore

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

What purpose does leveling have in your game ?

 

I think this is the most important question to answer before even considering a level system for a free-for-all deathmatch game. What does this system do to make the game experience better?

 

Do you want these benefits to be persistent, or should everyone start on equal footing at the start of each match?

 

If newbies lack both the skill and experience level to compete with veterans...what's going to stop them from giving up and playing something else?

 

 

Good question. Why do I want to have leveling in my game? Note: I am using a broad definition of leveling up, which includes getting items (weapons, armor, usable items) during the match or equipping them before a match.

 

1) I want an RPG "feel" in a match, without the grind or the imbalance (high level dominating lower levels).

 

Within a match, I want my players to be able to go around picking up weapons, armor and usable items. Essentially "leveling up" by collecting them and using them to overcome other players. This gives variety and I imagine some players will have stories of how they managed to get a set of X or Y before being killed.

 

2) I want my players to have a sense of progress outside of a match. (again without grind and imbalance)

 

I want my players to be able to look at all the matches they have played and see the abilities, items, classes etc they have unlocked through playing these matches. Also, it allows me to "slow roll" my content, enticing the players to play to unlock new content and getting excited about future content.

 

3) I want to monetize.

 

The project, currently under developing, is a small free experimental game hosted on a server that I am paying for. But I want to have the option to ask for some donations to keep the server running or expand in the future. Being able to sell special items will help me do that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I can't say I can recommend the "best" Level Up system for a Multiplayer Free for all, I can offer this idea:

 

Something like king of the hill.  Multiple terraces, each terrace can only be accessed at certain levels.  I.e. terrace 1 can be accessed by anyone.  Every person you kill is worth % exp to the next level.  higher level people are naturally worth more points.  

 

Wow. Ever thought of developing this into an actual game? Sounds really interesting.

 

So, what you're essentially recommending is to stick to the traditional level up system where higher levels are more powerful than lower levels, but segregating them. Then, allow some ways for them to interact, and some incentives to control that interaction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You want to do a bit of research on game mechanics and mechanism design. Because leveling up is part of game mechanics. Understanding game mechanics will help you understand how to create a balance in the game. 

 

There is something called "Risk and Reward" in games. If a person wants to get one thing, it has to require giving up something else in order to get it. So, if one player has great speed, they have to give up a bit of strength. The opposite has to be true also, if a player has great strength they can't have great speed. This is how they do it in fighting games. There are other types of mechanics that can balance a game also. 

 

They do the same thing with weapons upgrades. One gun might have a high rate of fire, but low damage. etc.

Edited by Tutorial Doctor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series did a good job of balancing most of their weapons, so most people thought that their preferred weapon loadout was the best.

If they can convince millions of people that their favorite weapon is the best, with them all choosing different weapons, they did something right.

 

"Leveling up" should unlock new tools for overcoming challenges, without making any existing challenges easier.

 

This is a brilliant post. +1

 

Yep, leveling up should unlock new tools, not just increasing stats or unlocking more powerful weapons. I am surprised more games don't do it this way but instead just make higher level characters more powerful. I guess it make sense if they are targeting casual or young players: they are more likely to think dying to a "low level" is "stupid".

 

E.g. Kid: "I just unlock the ultra cool Death Knight class and I just died to a basic Warrior class! Lame!!!!". But given that I am make a small indie game as a hobby for free, I get to experiment. :D

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.

We are the game development community.

Whether you are an indie, hobbyist, AAA developer, or just trying to learn, GameDev.net is the place for you to learn, share, and connect with the games industry. Learn more About Us or sign up!

Sign me up!