Underrail - Dev Log #25, Experience System
Before we even begin I want to make it clear that, even though I consider the new system to be the "default" way to play the game, the old system is still available for those who prefer it. Upon starting a new game you will be able to choose which experience system you want to use and you can also choose between easy and normal difficulty. On easy difficulty player character will have twice the health and the healing consumables will heal for twice as much and have a lower cooldown.
With this change, I'm only trying to re-balance the experience economy and not anything else regarding the character progression. The experience economy concerns the way the player gain experience and how does that affect his character build and play-style.
Since the early development phase of the game I was set on the game utilizing this old-school linear level/skill progression system. I'm fond of this kind of system and I had a pretty good idea how I would handle various combat calculations within it. What I never liked about it, though, is how the games that implement it handle experience gains. The problem is similar to that presented in the previous dev log in regards to the trading economy. Most of experience you gain by completing quests and killing enemies. So in order to get as much XP as possible and progress through levels as fast as possible, the player is encouraged to resolve most situations by combat. With Underrail being a challenging game as it is, there exists a very real need for the player to maximize their power level at any stage of the game.
One of tweaks I did in the past of ease this up a bit was to increase the XP gain from quests and reduce the XP gain from kills. It did help a bit, but in a game which involves a lot of combat you'd really have to go to the extremes when shifting the XP gains (from kills to quests) before they actually change the nature of level progression. Otherwise, it will still be heavily based on XP from kills, you'll just slow the progression down. You could go to one extreme and say, let's only award XP for quest completion. This is one way to go about it, and certainly some games have utilized this or something similar. I personally I don't like, though. I find it a mostly boring and non-dynamic way to progress and it also encourages you to complete as many quests as possible, instead of just those you want. In my opinion, you should only have to do quests that progress the story (or alter the game world) in the way you want or have other in-game rewards you desire, and not because it's the only way to become more powerful. For me, playing RPGs is about making choices based on preferences. Anything that limits this is bad.