rpgs and in-game character growth

rpgs and in-game character growth

Postby serpentblade » 01 Mar 2013, 07:23

I noticed that different rpgs, especially mmorpgs, have different modes of growing the player's in-game character. Some rpgs have the common experience and level system, usually requiring increasing amounts of time put in to get improvement for the character, and stats result from character level. Others have a skill-points system that works a little different than an experience system, usually there is more than one thing to gain points in, some of which are stats, and probably has less difference in effectiveness between a new player and an advanced player than would happen in an experience-and-levels based system. I suppose it is possible to have a skillpoints system that has very big differences between advanced players and new players, or an experience system that has minimal differences between advanced players and new players; and that skillpoints really is having more than one "type" of experience. Any thoughts on this?
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Re: rpgs and in-game character growth

Postby qubodup » 02 Mar 2013, 02:40

1. I'm very interested reading (and hopefully participating in) more game design discussions in this community!

2. I'm not sure I understand the two leveling systems you describe. The first one is an automatic increase of skill points at level up and the second one is a manual increase of skill points at level up?

For freely licensed game examples: Valyria Tear would then be case 1 while FLARE and DNT would be case 2.

Differentiation in case 1 can be achieved by having different classes (mage, warrior, thief) or by automatically increasing the skill points of the skills that have been used the most. For example: if there is a 'sword', 'bow' and 'magic' skill, the distribution of uses of the different items/actions will determine which of the skill(s) get increased the most. Unfortunately I know of no freely licensed game that uses such a system. (SCOURGE 1 perhaps? I don't quite remember.)

Please note, that I don't play MMORPGs and speak from experience as a single player RPG player only. :)

3. I have trouble reading text blocks that are not structured inside paragraphs. :)
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Re: rpgs and in-game character growth

Postby Jastiv » 03 Mar 2013, 09:33

Level systems tend to cause characters to get significantly stronger from newbied to maxed character, meaning that characters could mow down hundreds of thousands of newbies without taking a dent including hit points over tens of thousands of times greater than the newbie. This is awful for pvp, especially given the long time to get a maxed level character since it gets hard to find two characters who are evenly matched enough.

Maxxed characters should have no more than ten times the number of hit points as newbies. Upgrades in stats should be notable from newbie to maxed, but no so much as to preclude a group of newbies from taking down a maxed character.

Skill point systems, on the other hand, give characters various abilities or options based on their levels, without significantly increasing core stats such as hit points, to hit chance, etc.

Other problems with level systems include grouping with other players around your level. Often, some characters play the game more than others, thus leveling up faster and no longer being able to get much benefit from the same areas.

Basically, I know that my game will benefit from keeping such discrepancies to a lower level.

Most of these issues I talk about here have bearing on multi-player games in a way that does not effect single player rpgs at all.
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Re: rpgs and in-game character growth

Postby Evropi » 03 Mar 2013, 17:12

I am a propontent of Hacklike mechanics regarding the power curve˙of RPG games. That is, the items and skills you have and use at the start of the game should be similar to the ones at the end. I think one of Fable's great failings, despite being an awesome series of games, was that the character was almost invincible at the end, and additionally, that going back to locations on the map that you were at as a child was boring as all the baddies were so weak there (or, well, nonexistent as you had already killed them all). And yes, Jastiv, this definitely affects single-player RPGs as well. Diablo II is a good example of this.

As for classes, I never really believed in them. I don't like being restricted to classes and it always causes a little dilemma for me. If it's an MMORPG, I usually drop it, unless it works very well regarding the PvP aspect, such as World of Warcraft.

I think the RuneScape approach of 'localising' PvP, i.e. removing most aspects of the 'outside world' such as the gear you own is the best. It lets you pick your class specifically for that minigame you are playing (e.g. Castle Wars is freeform, but you can generally go either mining, attacking or defending and Barbarian Assault has specific classes) but not for the rest of the game.

So my conclusion on classes is that if your game has highly restrictive classes, especially if it's single-player and makes you replay the game, it has already failed. You should get the opportunity to play with every playstyle and be able to switch with relative ease, or at least in a fun way (e.g. in RuneScape you have to complete quests to unlock major parts of certain skills).
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Re: rpgs and in-game character growth

Postby xahodo » 21 Apr 2013, 19:35

It really is a question of what you expect your players to do inside your game.

Do you want your players to customize a character as they see fit, or do you want to lead them down a certain path? Do you want your players to feel like gods or do you want your players to feel weak and keep them always wanting that extra ability/attribute/skill/power/equipment/experience/reputation point?

What does your game, its setting and the target audience need in this regard? Is the game's setting a horror setting, or a fantasy setting? Is the target audience the 12 year old, who wants to feel like god; or is your audience that gamer geek who is looking for a challenge? Is the game a lot like a fps, or does is it obvious that it's turn based? Requirements change as these change.


Classes (or whatever name your game chooses to uses for classes), are an easy way to control character progression. It makes it predictable and thus you can adapt your game to the current level the player character has.

Some RPG systems don't have levels and classes and just give experience (in whatever form) and the player is allowed to assign ranks in whatever can be upgraded or new abilities. This gives the player control, but the developer of the game has no way of knowing whether a needed ability is available to the player of his adventure.

Jedi Academy did this nicely (a fps, I know). All the needed abilities got an upgrade when needed, while the rest were extras. Jedi Academy basically was a skill based system.
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Re: rpgs and in-game character growth

Postby beoran » 05 Jul 2013, 19:33

For my RPG, Eruta, I'm currently planning a hybrid skill based / level based system. Your skills go up as you use them, and your level goes up as your skills increase. There are no classes, but every character has it's own 3 to 5 "favorite" skills, that is skills that grow faster, and 3 to 5 "disliked" skills that grow slower. And there will be probably some "focus" feature where you advance faster if you use only a limited set of skills. This to emphasise that you can be a jack of all trades, but a master of only a few.
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