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Default Rampant Games - How Fast Should Characters Level Up?

December 8th, 2012, 15:40
How Fast Should Characters Level Up, asks Jay Barnson:
Back in the (somewhat) earlier dice & paper RPG days, one of the key differences between skill-based RPG systems and class/level based systems (which have now married and have had lots of hybrid babies) was the pace of character progression. In a skill-based system, you typically gained abilities, or points to spend on abilities, after every session / adventure. In the case of point-buy systems, you could often spend the points immediately on small gains, or save them up for more impressive abilities.
Class / Level based systems – of which Dungeons & Dragons was the role-model – were generally slower, with intermediate gains usually in the form of improved equipment. But then you got all of your gains as one package of bonuses, which felt great. In skill-based systems, the incremental improvements were not as noticeable, but suddenly being able to cast 3rd level spells in D&D was huge – on top of extra hit points, better chances of hitting, better saving throws, and more spells overall. Instead of a constant slope, you had a staircase, where each step felt like a significant increase. Unless you were playing a fighter, I guess…
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December 8th, 2012, 15:40
In TDE, "adventure points" were scarce (depending on the game master, of course). The general view on (A)D&D is, that its leveling upwards is much faster than that of TDE.

I'm not sure, but I tend to really see both models xisting at the same time :

- slower levelling
- faster levelling

with my of course very subjective impression that faster levelling is an "american phenomenon", and the slowe levelling rather "an european phenomenon". But i must also add that I know onl a few role-playing systems. Therefore my personal impression might be wrong, too.

My very personal impression/opinion is as well that slower levelling creates a bigger "feeling/impression of an achievement" than faster levelling. Wandering on a country road vs. travelling by car on a motor-highway, so to say.

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December 8th, 2012, 16:11
Yeah I prefer slow levelling. Playing baldurs gate at the minute (latest patch got it working - fair play to beamdog for turning them out quickly) and I'm just out of the nashkel mines, ie several hours in, still level 1! I agree with Alrik, this kind of approach gives you more of a feeling of achievement when you level up, which I find more satisfying.
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December 8th, 2012, 16:37
I personally think that advancement shouldn't be too slow, where it feel like your character isn't going anywhere. Nor too fast, where it just feel pointless to gain levels in the end. Note that gaining new gear is part of this equation. Sometimes gaining a "+1" sword achieve the same thing as gaining a new level in the sword skill.

I think it's a difficult balance to get and dependent on the content presented. The skill-based vs class/level doesn't have much to do with it either, balance is required everywhere. It's all a question of "tweaking" improvement increase to the content available.

Unfortunately, these days most games have this balance skewed toward faster and flashier. Just like where marketing and consumerism have been going.
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December 8th, 2012, 17:41
I tend to like slower leveling. In BG series it was a BIG event to level. I prefer a major feast when I level versus steadily eating a bag of chips. Even if it takes a long time - when you get a new level and potentially new points to spend, new spells or abilities, etc. I like a bigger reward after a longer time then a bunch of steady small rewards.

of course the rest of the game has to be rewarding doing other things as well so that the longer time isn't seen as a grind or penalty.

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December 8th, 2012, 20:17
I definitely prefer slower leveling so that I can really feel the impact of leveling up. If you like that, though, games that have more frequent smaller level increments generally work fine — just save up your skill points or whatever to use them all in batches. I have arguments about this often with a friend I play borderlands with — she likes to use her skill points etc immediately, and when see sees I have a number of them not being used she accuses me of being lazy and forgetting to level up. No, I just want to feel it when I do!
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December 8th, 2012, 20:58
I think Gothic 1 & 2 had a pretty good leveling system. I always felt I earned my new power. The system always forced me to think of new ways to accomplish a task if I was too weak at first. I'd make a mental note to go back and try something later after I got stronger or better equipment. Not too smart tackling a Shadowbeast with a Club or Rusty Sword.
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December 8th, 2012, 20:59
It depends on what you're trying to do. For something like straight-up action RPGs, you don't want slow levelling.

I, personally, prefer slow levelling in most games - but games like Diablo wouldn't work well like that.
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December 8th, 2012, 21:03
I like slower leveling. In games like Skyrim and Oblivion, I think those games level up the characters too fast.

I wouldn't mind really but the level scaling makes it an issue. The issue to me comes when you level up and the gear you find in the world levels up too.

For example, in Skyrim, as you level up, the blacksmiths start carrying better armor. Awesome. But I just got this steel set an hour ago?? And before that I was using iron armor but that was over so quickly I barely remember it!

So I buy a few pieces of Dwarven gear. Clear a few dungeons, come back to town, and instead of completing the Dwarven set, the Dwarven stuff is gone and it's replaced with Orcish stuff. I didn't really get a chance to "savor" that Dwarven gear as long as I would have liked.

Same thing goes for weapons that you find. All leveled gear in general is over too quick and too quickly replaced. Simply because the game wants to level you up so fast.
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December 8th, 2012, 21:08
The slower the better. In PnP, GMs have a lot of leeway to customize the campaign and adjust the pace according to the group's preference. Many players want to gain at least a level by the end of each session.

As for crpgs, I like the pace of Skyrim's leveling. Levels 1 - 10 progress relatively quickly, then it begins to slow down and it takes me about 150 hours to reach level 30.

Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
I like slower leveling. In games like Skyrim and Oblivion, I think those games level up the characters too fast.

I wouldn't mind really but the level scaling makes it an issue. The issue to me comes when you level up and the gear you find in the world levels up too.

For example, in Skyrim, as you level up, the blacksmiths start carrying better armor. Awesome. But I just got this steel set an hour ago?? And before that I was using iron armor but that was over so quickly I barely remember it!

So I buy a few pieces of Dwarven gear. Clear a few dungeons, come back to town, and instead of completing the Dwarven set, the Dwarven stuff is gone and it's replaced with Orcish stuff. I didn't really get a chance to "savor" that Dwarven gear as long as I would have liked.

Same thing goes for weapons that you find. All leveled gear in general is over too quick and too quickly replaced. Simply because the game wants to level you up so fast.
I haven't experienced this, but I have never had any high level characters. When I played a mage, I noticed that the spell tomes in the leveled lists were based on the skill level for that school of magic, rather than character level.

It would be relatively simple to make a mod which adjusts the availability of certain types of armor or other goods based on a skill, for example, Speech. Does that sound interesting?
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December 8th, 2012, 22:49
I just wear whatever armor I like best. I finished my first play through at level 45 wearing just fur armor for chest and simple leather boots and gauntlets, no helm. I liked the bare chested barbarian look for my Ranger/Hunter. I did get them to superior using blacksmith however I used no enchantment of any sort.

My current warrior is wearing iron armor and I don't plan on changing it at all for the entire game. I really like the rugged look and even the help is cool. I will upgrade my weapons but only for certain types.

EDIT: Oh I should say I will try a few things on for fun but overall I tend to find a theme and look for a character and I actually enjoy sticking with it more then changing all the time. It is one reason I have trouble playing MMO's with gear progression … I often find myself stuck wanting to wear lower level stuff. That is harder to get away with in an MMO than a SRPG where you have more control over game play.

Granted sometimes I will find a better look later on …but that still means I tend to change gear pretty slowly so I didn't find this to be a huge issue in Skyrim.

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December 9th, 2012, 00:02
Originally Posted by CountChocula View Post

I haven't experienced this, but I have never had any high level characters. When I played a mage, I noticed that the spell tomes in the leveled lists were based on the skill level for that school of magic, rather than character level.

It would be relatively simple to make a mod which adjusts the availability of certain types of armor or other goods based on a skill, for example, Speech. Does that sound interesting?
I didn't notice if the armor and weapons started showing up based on my skill. I'll have to pay attention to that next time I play. I just noticed that once I started getting Iron, Steel suddenly becomes available, then before I even get a full set of Steel, I'm seeing pieces of Dwarven, and on and on. It just went by in a flash really. I would have prefered to "savor" each piece of armor and weapon before having to switch out because something better was available.

I mean, by the time I got out of the first dungeon (Bleak Falls Barrow), I was already seeing Steel for sale. The rate of progression was just absurd.

I will say this though. I got to level 46 or something and played a total of 180 hours, so when you look at it like that it doesn't seem so bad. But I got to level 46 pretty quickly if I recall. Reason I stopped leveling so fast was because my major skills that I used were near or at 100 already…

I just would prefer the pace to be stretched out a bit. I would like to see a system where you hit level cap (or level 75 or whatever) after you've scoured 90% of the dungeons. I had 100 in my major skills and I had only been in less than half of the total dungeons in the game.
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December 9th, 2012, 00:11
I like slow leveling too. In Skyrim, I just maxxed out blacksmithing and got Dragon Armor so that I wouldn't have to change again, just skipped past the rest. It didn't even take me alot of time, I think I played the game for about 80hrs total and finished somewhere around level 45. The whole experience was kind of meh to me, although I can't reallt say I didn't get my moneys worth since I played it for that many hours. Still not a fovorite though. I'll take the infinity games or wizardry games and leveling type any day over that. As someone pointed out, as long as your equipment progresses in between levels you still get to feel more and more powerful. And the whole level scaling of enemies and merchans. Yuck. I HATE scaling.
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December 9th, 2012, 02:33
It's odd; I keep racking up tons of XPs at work, but I never seem to level up. It must be a really slow leveling system.
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December 9th, 2012, 02:39
This is specially important in MMOs. I loved in EQ1 that levels were slow (at least in the first 2-3 years), you got to play and enjoy every area. But after WoW changed the way things worked, it's just stupid. Pretty much you watch the tutorial and you're already level 2. Usually after the first play session (say, 3 hours) you're already level 10. It's usual for MMOs nowadays for people to get to max level in 2-3 weeks. That's just stupid imho, might as well just give you a full level character from the start.
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December 9th, 2012, 13:10
For role playing games, whenever makes sense for your character's progression. For our NWN PW I wanted to allow players to level up whenever they wanted, so they could tell their character's story in terms of their progression (forwards only). I got overruled by the other devs
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December 15th, 2012, 08:57
Currently, the fastest possible.

Developpers have not yet managed to implement a reliable environment and tend to compensate by allowing the PC to turn into a polymath.

A reliable environment, which the PC could use steadily, would allow slow levelling up. But so far, most of the possible interactions with the gaming world has to go through the PC. The PC is the one to craft his own gear, his own potions etc The game world provides those items randomly and not on command.

As the PC is the only reliable provider to himself, the faster he can achieve reliability, the better it is.

Slow levelling up, at the moment, only provides a false sense of achievement as what must be acquired quickly is acquired slowly.
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