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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    In games with levels, you are better at something the higher level you are. What if instead of gaining more power, you would gain more abilities?

    For exemple, you could level up and take a diving ability. That will enable your character to reach underwater areas. Or an ability that would give you more options in dialogs.

    Sure, there can still be some hierarchy in the abilities you take - you might have to take the swimming ability before the diving ability, but taking diving won`t make you a better swimmer - the focus will move from the effectiveness of your actions to the number of actions you can take.

    Do you think it would work?
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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    It could work, but it mostly sounds like a grindy version of a metroidvania.

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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    There are a number of games that focus on gaining new abilities as you can progress rather than just flat power-ups.
    Typically new abilities result in being more powerful anyway, because you have more options for dealing with situations (and some abilities will be more powerful in certain situations).

    Two fairly recent examples I can think of would be Dishonored and Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
    Deus Ex in particular seems to fit with what you're talking about. With the skill-point equivalents you obtain you can unlock new abilities such as cloaking, a long range radar, the ability to move heavy objects, the ability to see through walls, the ability to fall from great heights and not take damage, to see enemies sight-cones and yes, even an upgrade to open up dialogue options.

    While there are also abilities that just increase your power (such as damage resistance), the new abilities are the real stand-outs.
    Last edited by Shovah; 2012-11-12 at 08:58 PM.

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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    You've described World of Warcraft. Or Modern Warfare and its decendants.

    The problem with progression games isn't that the rewards are linear, the problem is that no matter how long the track is, there's only so much countryside to see while you're riding down it. Or, to put it another way, progression suffers a precipitous drop in fun when you have to start grinding.

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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    Quote Originally Posted by Pie Guy View Post
    It could work, but it mostly sounds like a grindy version of a metroidvania.
    Half the time, though, Metroid itself is about upgrading your basics (Energy and Armor, Missiles, and Beam), gaining the other items primarily as mobility options more than weapons.
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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    There are a few reasons why this isn't fun. For one thing, it means you can't do things that you reasonably should be able to do unless you invest levels in it specifically. And this is a problem because, reason #2, every level that you're learning to do something like swimming is a level that you're not learning to throw fire from your hands or stun ogres.

    A variant would be interesting, though. Instead of focusing on exploration abilities, let's focus solely on combat and trade. Those are the main aspects of most MMOs, the parts that people actually like.

    Trade skills could easily fit with this. Something like "you learn one tradeskill at level 10, and another one every 10 levels thereafter". So maybe first you decide to pick up Alchemy, then later Smithing, then later Gemcrafting, then Gunmaking... The idea, then, is that you don't need to be a crazy high level to craft good equipment if you actually have the materials.

    For combat skills, it's a little trickier. The way I might do it would be something like... each character chooses two skills at level 1. Say, you decide you want to make a flame knight, so you pick Fire Magic and Armor Mastery. Those skills advance in power as you level up, like you'd expect from most games -- so maybe at level 2 you learn Fire Breath, at level 3 you learn Chain Mail Mastery, and so on -- but they caps out at about level 10.

    Well, at level 5 you pick up a third skill. It starts at level 1, and advances over the course of the next ten levels to max out at level 15. Every five levels, you continue picking up new skills, and mastering old ones. So in theory, even a 10th level character can have perfectly adequate combat capabilities. Advancing makes you more versatile, and more well-rounded.

    Your basic "stats" (health, mana, etc) would probably cap at around 10th level too, with maybe minor bonuses after that for each skill capped (a mana boost for knowing multiple magic skills, a health boost for martial ones, etc).

    It's nothing too complicated, and it's not perfect, but it might work, and shift focus away from "end game" characters.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    The majority of games, especially RPGs and MMORPGs, both give you more abilities and more power as you level up. Generally, these games scale up enemies' power faster than they scale up players' power in order to force players to integrate their new skills into their playstyle to succeed at each new level.

    So, in closing, yes this works.
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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    This has been done to death, honestly. Springing to my mind is DFO, League of Legends, every final fantasy game ever, Skyrim, etc, etc.
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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    I don't think I'd like a game like this much, to be honest. If there's one thing I dislike, it's having to switch between 23 different abilities during the course of a fight--two I can just about manage (left and right mouse button abilities in Diablo 2, for instance). As another example, I went through the whole of Torchlight 2 using just Flame Hammer, spider mines and the healing robot for most fights, maybe adding a gun robot for boss battles. The Engineer in that game has a couple of dozen different abilities to use, I didn't bother with any of them!

    Now, if the extra abilities you unlocked were more in the line of buffs rather than additional active abilities I could maybe get behind that.

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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    The majority of games, especially RPGs and MMORPGs, both give you more abilities and more power as you level up. Generally, these games scale up enemies' power faster than they scale up players' power in order to force players to integrate their new skills into their playstyle to succeed at each new level.

    So, in closing, yes this works.
    I'd say the tendency anymore is for RPGs to have an essentially inverted difficulty curve, where the (post tutorial) beginning is challenging, but by the endgame you're the next best thing to indestructible.
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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    I'd say the tendency anymore is for RPGs to have an essentially inverted difficulty curve, where the (post tutorial) beginning is challenging, but by the endgame you're the next best thing to indestructible.
    Yes, that's the reward system of progression. If the game got less and less challenging as you gained in power, you'd have two problems. #1, the game would be laughably unengaging to start with, and #2, you'd quickly get alienated from progressing at all.

    Good progression games give you progressively more impressive and difficult foes to tackle AS they give you progressively more power with which to take them out. Some games fudge this with a difficulty slider (Skyrim, City of Heroes) and others do not, but the outcome is the same: 1. Your power grows. 2. You're able to take out bigger and bigger badasses. 3. Goto 1.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Jackal View Post
    Yes, that's the reward system of progression. If the game got less and less challenging as you gained in power, you'd have two problems. #1, the game would be laughably unengaging to start with, and #2, you'd quickly get alienated from progressing at all.

    Good progression games give you progressively more impressive and difficult foes to tackle AS they give you progressively more power with which to take them out. Some games fudge this with a difficulty slider (Skyrim, City of Heroes) and others do not, but the outcome is the same: 1. Your power grows. 2. You're able to take out bigger and bigger badasses. 3. Goto 1.
    The problem with that loop is that power is entirely comparative. The guy with the flint spear has more power than the guy without it. Both have less power than the guy with the assault rifle. So if the difficulty - proxying for power differential between me and my enemies remains constant - I'm not getting more powerful in any meaningful sense.

    When it comes to numerical increases in player power, you've essentially got three options:
    1) Your power grows faster than your enemies'. You rule as a god among insects.
    2) Your power grows at more or less the same rate as your enemies'. You are trapped on an eternal treadmill.
    3) Your power grows more slowly than your enemies'. The endgame becomes a twisted wilderness of smoldering player corpses.

    Games are good at making us feel like we're getting more powerful, while mystically keeping the balance more or less the same. Particle effects, experience bars and numbers going up cover a multitude of sins.
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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    I'd say the tendency anymore is for RPGs to have an essentially inverted difficulty curve, where the (post tutorial) beginning is challenging, but by the endgame you're the next best thing to indestructible.
    I find that while this can seem true, what's really happening is that you're usually playing a game that has an optional difficultly curve, and you're just not pushing into the game hard enough. For instance, in RPGS, this is typically done by over power-leveling.
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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    The problem with that loop is that power is entirely comparative. The guy with the flint spear has more power than the guy without it. Both have less power than the guy with the assault rifle. So if the difficulty - proxying for power differential between me and my enemies remains constant - I'm not getting more powerful in any meaningful sense.

    When it comes to numerical increases in player power, you've essentially got three options:
    1) Your power grows faster than your enemies'. You rule as a god among insects.
    2) Your power grows at more or less the same rate as your enemies'. You are trapped on an eternal treadmill.
    3) Your power grows more slowly than your enemies'. The endgame becomes a twisted wilderness of smoldering player corpses.

    Games are good at making us feel like we're getting more powerful, while mystically keeping the balance more or less the same. Particle effects, experience bars and numbers going up cover a multitude of sins.
    Ideally, a good difficulty curve is like Portal. It's not just bigger numbers... it's actually teaching/forcing you to get better at the game, slowly introducing new elements and then incorporating them. This is, of course, much easier to do with puzzle games than RPGs.
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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    Well, of course there should always be challenges that, well, challenge you, even as you become more powerful. However, that doesn't neccessarily mean that you don't feel more powerful. For once, there'll be encounters that are now much easier than before, and, well, for me being able to tackle stronger opponents and therefore being able to go to places I couldn't go before is "becoming more powerful"
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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    I agree with GolemsVoice. It's possible to make new parts of the game challenging in an RPG while still being able to go back to an earlier area and simply blitz through everything there. Back when I played WoW I used to have enormous fun soloing Scarlet Monastery (a level 40-odd elite instance) with my level 60 Rogue--it made for an interesting challenge, and you could get quite a bit of gold and mid-range materials that way as well. This is the one thing I dislike about Bethesda RPGs--they're so determined that you can go anywhere in the world at any time that they have to scale everything to you, so you can't get that "I blasted through those tough guys from earlier with ease now" feeling of power.

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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    I think the best way to implement a system of this sort is in a mostly freeform game.

    Let us just say it is an MMO. At the start of the game is a tutorial where you learn the basics. This tutorial teaches you four basic abilities that go into your four slots. You only have four slots for abilities. If an ability is not in one of these slots, you can not use it. You are also given two passive abilities and two passive slots.

    So your character, after the tutorial, will never have access to more than 4 abilities and 2 passives at any time (These are arbitrary numbers).

    Once the tutorial is over, you are essentially dropped into a world where hundreds of Orbs of Learning scattered across it. These Orbs teach you new abilities. Each Orb has a challenge you must complete in order to gain it. These challenges come in three types.

    -Platforming/Tasks: Using the game's physics and your own ingenuity to overcome puzzles and the like to reach a destination where the Orb is.
    -Fighting: Taking on foes who are either in your way or drop the Orbs.
    -Prerequisites: Use of previously unlocked abilities to access the Orbs.

    Several of the Orbs are easily gained by overcoming one of these three types of challenges. Some of these first gained Orbs give you access to Orbs that you would otherwise not be able to access (such as walking on water to get to an Orb in the middle of a lake that is on a timer). The game gets harder as the player becomes more skilled. The challenges get harder in these ways:

    -Platforming/Tasks: The Platforming becomes more precise and the puzzles become more difficult.
    -Fighting: The foes become more difficult to fight and their weaknesses become harder to exploit.
    -Prerequisites: The Orbs required to proceed become more difficult to access and efficient use of them is required.

    Combine these difficulty increases with things like Timed Challenges or other difficulty enhancements (having to avoid cannonballs being shot at you) make it so that even though all but the Prerequisites are possible from the very beginning, the player likely can only do them after having spent a great deal of time honing their skills in the game.

    The game would likely have a large emphasis on PvP, as once you gain all the skills, there isn't much left to do PvE.

    This would likely have to be a more active type of gameplay than most MMOs, and there would likely be a lot of instancing to separate things that players are supposed to complete alone to things players are supposed to complete together.
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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    I've always liked systems where you buy abilities as you level up, although I find this works best if the abilities aren't crucial but cool and useful (ie: Removing falling damage) or if the upgrades enhance abilities you already have to make them much cooler (Borderlands does this well).

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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    Eve Online does this in that everything is in skills that you just queue up to train and they train even when you're offline. Having x rank in skills will unlock types of gear you can use.

    It shifts the balance towards how you outfit your spaceship. The gear you place on your spaceship is probably not even expensive or rare, just how all the pieces combine together.

    It works great for the type of game it is (a slower sandbox game); but I wouldn't see that approach working well for a theme-park style game like WoW.

    You'd be hard pressed to have attractions(example: raids) when Bob may have spent 20 million skill points on being barely competent at everything and Jim spent 20 million skill points on being the best tank ever. Jim is going to find playing a tank in that raid very easy while Bob is going to quit because he made "the wrong choices" as there isn't an attraction where a cook-engineer-mage-warrior-rifleman-scout-alchemist-underwater basketweaver can shine.

    In a sandbox game though Jim and Bob can both be happy in their choices as they make their own fun and do not rely on the developers to make it for them.
    Last edited by illyrus; 2012-11-15 at 10:36 AM.

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    Default Re: Leveling up - new abilities instead of more power

    Quote Originally Posted by Makensha View Post
    I think the best way to implement a system of this sort is in a mostly freeform game.
    What you go on to describe is basically the entire Metroidvania genre, except Metroidvania is single-player.
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