Sunday, May 29, 2011

Balanced opposition makes leveling pointless?

Have you ever encountered the idea that, if you level up and get +10 attack but then the monsters you face have +10 defence more than the previous ones you faced, leveling is utterly pointless?

I get the social pecking order of leveling. But in terms of gameplay it blows!

If you had a middle ground, like say a random 10% of the time you encounter an opponent from a lower level rather than a balanced opponent, then your +10 attack actually matters, because for once you ran into an opponent with +0 defence. Then you actually did get stronger, but the rest of the 90% of the time it follows the usual formula of delayed progression.


  1. Encounter-based play seems to be part of the problem here.
    I know in MMO's the big thing is to always provide a challenge, regardless of the player's level.
    Even then, though, I think the upshot is having more abilities that help you cope in new and different ways. Maybe your new protection spell makes you about as well-defended against new monsters as your old spell did against old monsters, but maybe you can cast a much better travel spell than before?

    Hm. Seems to me that leveling could ONLY give "amenities" (faster travel, more item conjuring, etc.) rather than increasing raw power, and still give an incentive to level up.

    Example: you're level 1 and you're trying to take down the bandits who've overtaken the inn. You don't have any men at arms to aid you, you can't afford siege equipment, and your special abilities all have long cooldown times.
    Still, you do just as much damage, and can take as much of it, as your level 10 friend.
    Fast forward a couple months. Now you're level 10, you have a gang of NPCs to fight at your back, your special attack cooldowns are only half as long, and you can use your Fame rating to get the nearby town militia to lend you a ballista.
    This could totally work in a tabletop RPG too, although I think only D&D actually uses cooldowns meaningfully. All the other stuff'd be easy to port, though - leveling increases your social "impact", but you're already a capable warrior or wizard or thief or whatever when you begin the game.

    Hmmm. Very interesting, indeed.

  2. Hi Zac,

    That's certainly a more interesting model than 'Hey, remember last week when a battle axe would cut me in half - well now I just shrug it wait, I'm still human, I swear!', where your model instead is more skill and contacts based.

    However, what about that inn the first time? Are you supposed to fail the first time, like automatically? Or is there some way a skilled player can beat it? If so, and assuming one enjoys playing skillfully, don't the new powers remove the need for skill?

    I could imagine that if your guys adventuring scope had expanded, then it could work. Like back in the old days he had to solve one inn, but now he's got 20 sieges to complete by the end of the week, so now this siege is a blip on his radar when it comes to a much larger war.

    What did you have in mind?

  3. Maybe you can put yourself less in harm's way by using these resources, but you must do more/other things to keep the resources under your control.
    One way to do it would be upkeep payments - mundane armies and specialists would need to be paid cash, while demon allies and the like would require you to:
    a) join a faction
    b) perform certain quests
    c) otherwise move yourself in a particular "story direction" that limits your overall options.
    If you choose to remain the Man With No Name (no followers, no retainers, no holdings), you can be just as efficacious, but your skill would need to be of the FPS variety, whereas handling all these allies and whatnot would require more of a multitasking/RTS skill set, maybe.

  4. Perhaps a question of whether you, as a player, want to affect the bigger picture (yet that means juggling a whole bunch of stuff) or simply live as you will.

    But if your just playing without those resources, how do you expand? Or do you at all (outside of player skill increase?). Would it be like quake live in that way (which obviously works, of course).