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Level scaling - don't scale individual enemies, scale ENCOUNTERS

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This is an important thread. I'm still traumatized by fighting some ridiculous buffed up level 15 wolves in Dragon Age Origins, otherwise a good game. A single stupid encounter like that just erases any feeling of progress you think you might have made. Fighting the same enemies after leveling up is the best indicator how much progress your party has made. So even if they would have some "reasonable level cap", I don't want enemies leveling up with me. At all.

 

So indeed, encounters need to be adjusted instead of stats of individual enemies. Instead of level 2 bandits -> level 4 bandits -> level 6 bandits just have more bandits and throw in a bandit warlock and/or leader.

 

On a related note, I would like a more patient power curve for the PC's in general so the encounters wouldn't have to be scaled as much to begin with. A high level warrior surrounded by 10 low level warriors should be a life threatening situation, instead of just launching one whirlwind attack to kill them all. That's the kind of realism that helps make the stories more believable as well - so no level 20 superhumans who are only challenged by giants, dragons and level 15 "bandits" please.

Edited by 1varangian
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Level scaling was one of the major flaws of Skyrim. It killed any motivation to explore the world, unless someone enjoys walking for walkings sake.

Well I guess?

 

I did do a lot of walking around as you have to go to a lot of random places to complete quests and you can't fast travel to places you haven't been to. I suppose that's a separate thing to exploration? Since you aren't just randomly around looking for things to see and do?

 

I'm not sure how level scaling relates to exploration though.

 

I thought even a man of a simple mind could see scaling being directly related to exploration.

 

Basically there's no point in walking around to check dungeons, since every place has the same set of scaled enemies and the same scaled loot. Maybe for sightseeing, if the graphics was better.

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"The world still scaled."

 

When you're saying that the world scaled, you're implying that it scaled as a whole. And you just said that deathclaws and radroaches for example didn't. So what you're saying is in contradiction. Do you even know what exactly scaled?

If I recall correctly the way it worked was like this.

(Numbers made up)

 

Each mob had a certain level range. A deathclaw might be level 15-20 whereas a radscorpion might be level 1-5.

Each area also had a certain level range. The first area in the game would be level 1-5, a latter area might be 10-15.

 

In addition, once you enter an area it's 'level locked'. If you arrive in the level 10-15 area at level 12 it will always be level 12, if you arrive at level 20, it will always be level 15.

 

It's a pretty awesome system to be honest.

 

On a related note, I would like a more patient power curve for the PC's in general so the encounters wouldn't have to be scaled as much to begin with. A high level warrior surrounded by 10 low level warriors should be a life threatening situation, instead of just launching one whirlwind attack to kill them all. That's the kind of realism that helps make the stories more believable as well - so no level 20 superhumans who are only challenged by giants, dragons and level 15 "bandits" please.

This is probably what they are going to do. If they made say Act 2 a level 10-15 area and there's not a huge difference between level 11 and level 14 then level scaling isn't required.

 

I thought even a man of a simple mind could see scaling being directly related to exploration.

 

Basically there's no point in walking around to check dungeons, since every place has the same set of scaled enemies and the same scaled loot. Maybe for sightseeing, if the graphics was better.

Oh I see. Dungeon crawling. I'm more of a quest person.

Edited by moridin84

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If I recall correctly the way it worked was like this.

(Numbers made up)

 

Each mob had a certain level range. A deathclaw might be level 15-20 whereas a radscorpion might be level 1-5.

Each area also had a certain level range. The first area in the game would be level 1-5, a latter area might be 10-15.

 

In addition, once you enter an area it's 'level locked'. If you arrive in the level 10-15 area at level 12 it will always be level 12, if you arrive at level 20, it will always be level 15.

 

It's a pretty awesome system to be honest.

 

 

For sure. Awesome like the awesome button.

 

And now to change subjects from how you guess level scaling was handled in F:NV to a response from a developer some time ago via PM:

 

"Side locations - not scaled to your level

Crit path - scaled to your level"

 

And indeed, assassins that were sent to kill you were scaled, for example. The large open world and all those locations weren't.

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Zero level scaling forces the player to follow a set path, the problem with that is people like freedom of choice.

Except zero scaling does not force the player to follow a set path.

 

It might cause some paths to become very easy if you do them later, and it might cause some paths to be very challenging if you do them sooner. Or, even better, some paths might be harder or easier depending on your party-makeup if you meet them earlier or later.

 

Or, and this is the real prize, a shallower overall power curve in the game allows no scaling and player freedom, since the power difference from the minor enemies and more powerful enemies is smaller.

 

There should be encounters which, should you meet them too early, kill you easily. There should also be encounters which, once your character has developed, are trivial to defeat. And those trivial encounters shouldn't just vanish because you're stronger. City guards should be a fixed level. Bandits should be a fixed level. Wild dogs should be a fixed level. If I fight Ogres, and learn that I can kill them by doing 15-25 damage, then the next time I meet ordinary Ogres again that should still be true, even if I now do 45-60 damage per attack.

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God used to be my co-pilot, but then we crashed in the Andes and I had to eat him.

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As someone else already pointed out you can't properly implement a non linear main path without some level scaling. For example if you need to perform 2 activities before progressing to the next chapter the 2nd one needs to be more difficult than the first. But if the designer wants to give the player the option of doing either first he can't make the second activity challenging without some form of scaling.

 

Secondly if you compare the playthroughs of two people one who does all side quests and one who doesn't do any it will be very difficult to balance game difficulty to both these players requirements without some form of scaling.

 

Not that I'm a big fan of level scaling but I can see why its used and I didn't mind it in the BGs and at certain points in DA:O.

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Except zero scaling does not force the player to follow a set path.

 

It might cause some paths to become very easy if you do them later, and it might cause some paths to be very challenging if you do them sooner. Or, even better, some paths might be harder or easier depending on your party-makeup if you meet them earlier or later.

 

Or, and this is the real prize, a shallower overall power curve in the game allows no scaling and player freedom, since the power difference from the minor enemies and more powerful enemies is smaller.

 

There should be encounters which, should you meet them too early, kill you easily. There should also be encounters which, once your character has developed, are trivial to defeat. And those trivial encounters shouldn't just vanish because you're stronger. City guards should be a fixed level. Bandits should be a fixed level. Wild dogs should be a fixed level. If I fight Ogres, and learn that I can kill them by doing 15-25 damage, then the next time I meet ordinary Ogres again that should still be true, even if I now do 45-60 damage per attack.

 

It may not force YOU to follow a set path but it will force a sizeable chunk of players to follow the set path (the easiest one first). Very few players are going to grind through the difficult main path before doing the easy one.I completely agree that there should be encounters that when you meet them to early should kill you easily but I think that should come from side quests and exploring. That said when the main path is linear scaling shouldn't be necessary.

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"The world still scaled."

 

When you're saying that the world scaled, you're implying that it scaled as a whole. And you just said that deathclaws and radroaches for example didn't. So what you're saying is in contradiction. Do you even know what exactly scaled?

 

I was not implying, it is all in your head.

 

I think you are just blind with annoyance that you just want to nitpick and fight. Too bad, I have no interest in arguing with you about it.

Edited by Aedelric

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"The world still scaled."

 

When you're saying that the world scaled, you're implying that it scaled as a whole. And you just said that deathclaws and radroaches for example didn't. So what you're saying is in contradiction. Do you even know what exactly scaled?

 

I was not implying, it is all in your head.

 

I think you are just blind with annoyance that you just want to nitpick and fight. Too bad, I have no interest in arguing with you about it.

 

 

Ok, so actually "the world still scaled" doesn't mean anything at all.. you wrote it just like that... randomly and meaninglessly. Alright.

 

Of course bunny, it's very annoying when people randomly state "it's like this and it's like that", without having a clue what they're talking about. When people are interjecting with false informations presenting them as facts, it prevents a constructive conversation.

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Anyway, I find it odd that Feargus would invent something on the fly just to be corrected by a developer later. They probably discussed about level scaling prior to his answer about it and I think it's reasonable to assume that Sawyer took part in such discussions, as well. That's where I believe "some will scale" comes from.

It's entirely possible that, in the meantime, their opinion transformed from "some" to "if at all". It's also possible that someone misunderstood their initial goal regarding this subject.

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Zero level scaling forces the player to follow a set path, the problem with that is people like freedom of choice.

Except zero scaling does not force the player to follow a set path.

 

It might cause some paths to become very easy if you do them later, and it might cause some paths to be very challenging if you do them sooner. Or, even better, some paths might be harder or easier depending on your party-makeup if you meet them earlier or later.

 

Or, and this is the real prize, a shallower overall power curve in the game allows no scaling and player freedom, since the power difference from the minor enemies and more powerful enemies is smaller.

 

There should be encounters which, should you meet them too early, kill you easily. There should also be encounters which, once your character has developed, are trivial to defeat. And those trivial encounters shouldn't just vanish because you're stronger. City guards should be a fixed level. Bandits should be a fixed level. Wild dogs should be a fixed level. If I fight Ogres, and learn that I can kill them by doing 15-25 damage, then the next time I meet ordinary Ogres again that should still be true, even if I now do 45-60 damage per attack.

 

You just saved me 10 minutes of typing Sylvius!

 

The only thing I would add is: Level scaling removes Character Progression. Since the Character now remains static in relation to the world, Character Progression becomes irrelevant. In extremes, you get Oblivion, where you could be the greatest warrior in the land at level 2, and could even beat the final boss if you could get to him. Gaining a level is pointless if you don't actually gain in power in comparison to everything else.

 

IMO, Level scaling is the worst thing that's come out of this generation of consoles, it's a truely horrible mechanic present only so the Developers don't have to be bothered with doing the work of designing a logical and compelling world. It's a way for them to avoid having to do experience projections to tweak the game areas to fine tune difficulty. As with anything, it has a price, and the price for level scaling is steep.

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I don't think you should scale anything to the character's level. The whole point of levels is to make your character more powerful, if the world levels up with you then there's no point in having levels in the first place and you can dump the whole mechanic. A well done game will predict the level your character will be at a certain point in the game and will have challenging but doable encounters and dungeons to offer. If the bandit group that has a camp near that bridge consists of five members it consists of five members. Cutthroat Lenny, Bob the Butcher, Slippery Joe, Gary the Grey Wizard and Daring Dave. Why should they magically get the help from Stone-fist Steve who lives far away behind the mountains and doesn't even know the guys if the adventurer that happened to stop by just happens to have two more levels than the guys were expecting? Also, why should Gary the Grey Wizard suddenly be able to summon meteors from the sky?

 

Just plan the encounters properly and there won't be any real problems. Trying to scale encounters just makes them feel more computer generated and kills the personality of the fight. Trying to scale individual enemies is an even worse idea.

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I think level scaling makes a more boring game. As previously stated:

* You need to see that your character is getting stronger.

* If going too deep you will be killed. So, just don't go there. Yet.

* Being the worlds best warrior and having big troubles with "regular bandits" at a random encounter is just rediculous.

 

I thought of the problem when going at low level encounters with your high level character. If your group is at lvl 20, one would think that they should have earned some reputation that should scare some of the level 1 thugs away? Or is it common for rookie thugs to be suicidal?

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IMO, Level scaling is the worst thing that's come out of this generation of consoles, it's a truely horrible mechanic present only so the Developers don't have to be bothered with doing the work of designing a logical and compelling world. It's a way for them to avoid having to do experience projections to tweak the game areas to fine tune difficulty. As with anything, it has a price, and the price for level scaling is steep.

Level scaling is hardly a new concept. Ultima IV had it back in -85.

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Yeah, as a 250$ backer, the most important thing for me is NO LEVEL SCALING!

 

It removes all challenge and makes character levelling almost pointless.

 

It makes the game boring.

 

I've seen some people find excuses to this. But let me give an example, based on Final Fantasy VII, which I'm sure many of you have played. Once you had left Midgar, there were very scary monsters ("Midgar Zoloms") that would instantly kill your whole party using a single spell ("Beta"). That spell could be learned (provided that you survived) but that you be for later (once you have much more hit points); you were supposed to use a Chocobo to pass that area safely. I loved staying there, training for a while, in order to be tough enough to learn that spell using the elemental materia; I simply loved the challenge! And many people did: I've just seen that there are many videos about that on youtube.

 

I don't want player-friendly areas. I like when NPCs tell you "don't go North, there are extremely dangerous things there" and that it turns out to be true: monsters eat you for breakfast there. What makes this great is that you can then start to think of ways to defeat these enemies, and then go there earlier than you were supposed to, and still manage to win, because you had prepared for it thoroughly.

 

I don't want monsters to be tougher (= be the same level as I am) because I'm higher level, where's the fun, what's the point? Am I so important to the equilibrium of the whole world that everybody (wild animals included) are constantly following my progression and train in order to be able to defeat me (but just barely)? I can understand if it's done in very specific occasions, like an assassin coming for you at some point in the story (it then actually makes sense), but that's nothing like designing the whole game that way.

 

I don't like the way it's done in DragonAge either (said to be the great successor of Baldur's Gate..); the level is based on the level you had the first time you entered the zone (if I'm not mistaken). It's more refined but it's still the same crappy idea.

 

I don't understand why people design games this way, basically use the same monster but change its color to give a sense of "evolution": we might as well all remain (monsters and players) level 1, then. It might be just me, but I wouldn't call that an RPG.

 

If only this tendency in the video game industry could just stop at last!

Edited by the.only.ara54

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This is an important thread. I'm still traumatized by fighting some ridiculous buffed up level 15 wolves in Dragon Age Origins, otherwise a good game.

 

Yeah, I remember that. Who'd have thought a bunch of wolves would provide such a ridiculously tough obstacle? :wacko:

 

At least in mixed battles, I'm okay with moderate level scaling of the elites and leaders, as long as the cannon fodder doesn't scale nearly as much (or only by quantity). That way I feel like the NPC levels actually matter.


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No, don't have scaling at all. If I'm too weak to do stuff I just go quest more and come back later. And if I'm very strong I want to breeze through everything. Scaling is EXTREMELY discouraging in regard to doing quests and killing monsters, there is no good aspect to it at all.

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No level scaling. I can't think of anything besides the dialogue systems with a voiced PC that manage to break immersion more for me.


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No level scaling indeed, probably worst mechanic to be implemented into RPG's, it is not only super unrealistic and immersion braking but also goes against logic of how world works.

 

Monster scaling is the the way to go and only up to a point....

 

instead of meeting pack of goblins you encounter ogres this time etc.

 

It should also be applied only to some encounters and not whole game, it feels good to hit the low level area with high lvl characters and feel like "god" once in a while.

Edited by Aoha

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I think it's okey to go from regular Goblin to something like {Clan name} Goblin with a different hue avatar that's a few levels stronger.

That way you don't need to create so many diverse monsters while keeping some of the encounter scaling. (changing only 1 bit of gear on them would be even better, to make them more distinct)

However fighting a group of challenging goblins/kobolts/gnolls at level 20 is a big nono.

It's fine in special cases like a single powerful gnoll with a special name that's a leader of some group though.

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This is an important thread. I'm still traumatized by fighting some ridiculous buffed up level 15 wolves in Dragon Age Origins, otherwise a good game.

Yeah, I remember that. Who'd have thought a bunch of wolves would provide such a ridiculously tough obstacle? :wacko:

While I'll agree the scaling made that encounter more difficult at later levels than it should have been, animals in DAO had really low Will saves, so they were incredible vulnerable to things like Sleep spells. Casting Sleep at the start of that encounter rendered it trivial.

 

And that's the sort of thing I would like to see, but without the scaling. Some encounters should be difficult for some types of parties while very easy for others, while with other encounters it will be the reverse.


God used to be my co-pilot, but then we crashed in the Andes and I had to eat him.

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No level scaling indeed, probably worst mechanic to be implemented into RPG's, it is not only super unrealistic and immersion braking but also goes against logic of how world works.

 

Monster scaling is the the way to go and only up to a point....

 

instead of meeting pack of goblins you encounter ogres this time etc.

 

It should also be applied only to some encounters and not whole game, it feels good to hit the low level area with high lvl characters and feel like "god" once in a while.

 

And this is were Oblivion was going. Yeah, that worked out well...


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No level scaling indeed, probably worst mechanic to be implemented into RPG's, it is not only super unrealistic and immersion braking but also goes against logic of how world works.

 

Monster scaling is the the way to go and only up to a point....

 

instead of meeting pack of goblins you encounter ogres this time etc.

 

It should also be applied only to some encounters and not whole game, it feels good to hit the low level area with high lvl characters and feel like "god" once in a while.

 

And this is were Oblivion was going. Yeah, that worked out well...

 

I think what he's describing is the kind of level scaling Morrowind had, which worked well. I would definitely not mind if that existed in PE.

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