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On character development/levelling pacing


IndiraLightfoot

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Hi!

 

I'd love to hear what you guys want to see in PoE as far as levelling pacing goes, which obviously is a matter of when, where and how often your characters develop during the game.

 

I'm playing through BG:EE right now, after quite a few years absence from that classic CRPG, and one thing has already struck me as absolutely fantastic about that 16 year old game: its slow and varied levelling pacing.

 

For instance, in my playthrough, I opted to roll up a party of six adventures via multiplayer, and after 26 hours of gameplay I still had one party member that was level 1. No, this is not a typo, it was still level one - a frail magic user, at that! :yes:

 

Some of you young 'uns may perhaps think "The horror! Boredom!"

But I rejoice over it, and I am having a blast at this slow pace.

 

After having experienced this in BG1, I then compare this with what we now about PoE, and I have some concerns:

 

When do level-up occur for each and every party member?

BG1: It is varied, since you get tiny lumps of xp for every encounter (on rare occasions bigger sums for really tough encounters) + skill checks like open locks and disarm traps. If one of your party members didn't kill something, or even worse, if it died in battle during each encounter, the xp goes to other members in the party. This even includes quest xp: If one or more in your gang are dead, they don't get the xp, unless they have been rezzed, obviously. The RPG dynamics of this is great. Also, you get a levelling that is scarce, desynchronized and varied for every replay, or even for every reload.

 

PoE: There are no resurrections, so level progression will never vary just because someone his dead. All you can do is either reload and "save" that party member/companion, or you don't, but then that party member will never see xp or level progression again. It's gone.

Moreover, there are no micro-increment xp, only a few points along quest lines, where the party gets xp to share. And Josh has said that having less party members only boost quest xp by 5 % or so. One differentiating thing, however, still exists in PoE - if you leave one of your adventurers at some inn, then you go and collect the quest xp with the rest of your party, the ditched adventurer won't get any xp.  Other than that, level progression is a synchronized event, and after having played the beta, if you follow the quest lines, levelling up will go considerably faster than in BG1, and if you don't follow the quest lines seemingly nice and very slow (but without desynchronized levelling) - however with one caveat: no xp at all for side quests, whereas level progression will still occur for the main quest lines, since otherwise the entire game will grind to a halt.

 

Summary: What is lost in PoE?

-All character development is a matter of party-synchronized quest triggers, your individual party members/companions won't stand out as different in the process of levelling. There will be a few pay-days, so levelling up is something you do in bulk.

- There are no rewards for roleplaying those situations where someone in your party dies, but you bravely carry on, just to see if you can make it back alive to some healer in a temple. Nor does any levelling progression reflect that effort on the player's behalf. Only reloading remains as an option. 

-Levelling progression will be too fast if you follow quest lines

-Players skipping side quests, or doing encounters without touching NPC and other stuff that trigger quest nodes, will level up much slower, or rather, this is not counted as progress. Not even this will make the levelling progression desynchronized for any in-party RPG purposes.

Edited by IndiraLightfoot
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*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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Sensuki: That's at least good news. However, the lack of incentives for playing on with dead characters is gone, and no mechanics are in to ensure a varied level progression, especially such that it rewards party members individually and differently over playthroughs, over play sessions. Reloads won't change a thing as far as levelling progression is concerned. LP is almost a meta system, a bit like those teachers in M&M, for instance. I reckon, lots of levelling pacing and RPG fun are recklessly lost by not accommodating for this.

Edited by IndiraLightfoot

*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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A few things I want to point out that I think are misconceptions:

 

1) Leveling may occur in bulk, but i think it's more likely that it will be staggered, as party members will join/leave/die at different times. I would prefer staggered myself, and I hope the game design facilitates that.

 

2) As leveling only occurs from quests, i'm wondering how you think it will be too fast? Wouldn't you think that this would be balanced in the game design?

 

3) If you "skip side quests" then you will by default fall onto the main quest line, and likely finish the game faster. I'm not sure if this is really refuting your point, but maybe just showing another side of the coin - too fast or too slow would be relative, no?

 

I personally would not like to see maxing out levels too fast - but rather would like to see the game have a relatively even pace for leveling throughout. I generally don't like that "slow" leveling feeling you get as leveling values start to become exponential. I like a slow and steady growth - with 6 champs in your party (and more available at the stronghold) I think leveling may even become a little overbearing with all the decisions. So hopefully slow and steady will win the race per say. 

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1) The more staggered levelling, the better!

2) Sensuki put one concern of mine to rest, that quest xp rewards are too high, but I'm still worried that for players beelining the quests, sneaking passed enemies (like Hiro plans to do, hehe), they'll reach levels much faster than in BG. Obviously, with meta-knowledge and a total disregard for roleplaying, you can level up rather fast in BG too.

3) What I meant was rather, you won't get any xp at all, by doing what I described above, which will be slower than beelining main quest lines and beelining side quest lines.

 

In addition, there is this big deal for me - where you can no longer "press on" with fallen party members (it's been replaced with maiming and some stamina-loss hiccups) - there are no RPG reasons for it, nor any level progression differentiation reasons.

Edited by IndiraLightfoot

*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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BG 1 wasn't made with 6 characters in mind from the get go LOL, you broke the game. That's why you have low level characters for so long. Well you can play it normally I guess, but you seriously gimped yourself.

 

I advise you play with SCS if you want a challenge, both vanilla BG1 and 2 are rly boring without it IMO.

 

Regarding topic: How do you know party members will have the same xp when you pick them up? How do you know there won't be character specific xp like in BG2?

 

But I don't really care about any of that, just give me more talents per level and all is forgiven!

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I have a feeling that pressing on with a maimed character is going to be every bit has harrowing, or even more so, than doing the same with a dead one in BG. The dead are after all immune to dying again, whereas the maimed will die permanently with one hit. Quite looking forward to that actually.

 

As to the XP, IMO it's too early to tell. A lot of us have made it clear that we have a strong preference for small, frequent XP rewards rather than large chunks. We may want to continue waving that flag. Beyond that, I don't think there's a lot that can change before release.

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BG 1 wasn't made with 6 characters in mind from the get go LOL, you broke the game.

 

Ahem! Technically speaking, even the original BG was made for this and all of these slow-paced rewards are its very nice way of solving it, depending on how many you have in your party. I have the manual here on a book shelf.

"In a multiplayer game, between one and six players may adventure together, cooperatively controlling both created characters and NPC's that join the party. The leader is the player who has control over such things as who can join, what kinds of characters can be brought into the game, and what abilities the players who are in the game actually have (in terms of gameplay – see Permissions, below). The leader can control one or more characters in the game."  p.29.

 

"Party Gold: Just as in the single player game, all gold is shared between the members of the party. Shared Experience: Just as in the single player game, all characters in the party share in the awarding of experience points." P.34

 

 

Hence, it was all by design from the very beginning. This slow pacing occur for all parties with six members in them, and I love it. :)

 

At page 29, there is also btw, Fatigue in BG:

"Fatigue: A character can continue to operate at peak efficiency for 24 hours game time (2 hours real time). After that the characters will start to complain, and the characters’ attributes begin to go down. For every 4 hours beyond this 24-hour mark the player will receive a -1 luck penalty (-1 to all of his rolls). As soon as the character rests all penalties will disappear."

 

Perhaps that kind of Fatigue would suffice, instead of that health/stamina-thingie?

Edited by IndiraLightfoot

*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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Just because they made it possible, doesn't mean it was designed with it in mind. You can play that way, the experience levels will even out eventually. You are however severely gimping your party in the early levels of the game, not that it matters if you play without SCS. Just pointing out that leveling wasn't designed to be as slow as you think it is. You start solo, then you add companions, companions are the same level as you are when you pick them up. By the time you have a whole party you're probably lvl 4 or at least lvl 3. If you start with 6 characters all the xp is divided from the start and the leveling in the early levels at least is painstakingly slow. You lose xp in a sense.

 

edit: Actually companions are based on the average level of your party, but they may not be the same level as your party when you get them. I think there are level ranges, but it's all kind of ****ed. Your average party level could be 3, but you might get a lvl 2 companion or a lvl 4, it's really confusing. Not 100% sure how it works. Maybe I'm even confusing tutu with enhanced edition, but I don't think so. :lol:

edit2: Fatigue is based on CON, in case your manual doesn't say.

Edited by Seari
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Perhaps that kind of Fatigue would suffice, instead of that health/stamina-thingie?

That's not the problem health/stamina is intended to solve. Priest as strategic healing resource, remember?

 

 

You are probably right, but what was the problem that the health/stamina division aimed to solve then?

And are maims sort of PoE's version of Fatigue, or is it another beast entirely?

 

(Off topic, I know, I'm just curious. I have a hunch it has something to do with healing during combat and in-between encounters.)

*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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Fatigue is completely different from injuries. I think it's a lot to do with "feels" and roleplay. But also to give a cap to an adventuring day.

 

edit: Health and stamina system was implemented because in PoE's world/lore you can't heal injuries, so they added stamina(endurance), an excuse for healing spells. They had to add a system to extend the adventuring days without healing health. In dnd games you extend the adventuring day with healing spells.

Edited by Seari
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You are probably right, but what was the problem that the health/stamina division aimed to solve then?

And are maims sort of PoE's version of Fatigue, or is it another beast entirely?

 

(Off topic, I know, I'm just curious. I have a hunch it has something to do with healing during combat and in-between encounters.)

 

 

It was to mitigate degenerate gameplay like rest spamming in the IE games. But this is better off in the healing thread.

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Summary: What is lost in PoE?

-All character development is a matter of party-synchronized quest triggers, your individual party members/companions won't stand out as different in the process of levelling. There will be a few pay-days, so levelling up is something you do in bulk.

- There are no rewards for roleplaying those situations where someone in your party dies, but you bravely carry on, just to see if you can make it back alive to some healer in a temple. Nor does any levelling progression reflect that effort on the player's behalf. Only reloading remains as an option. 

-Levelling progression will be too fast if you follow quest lines

-Players skipping side quests, or doing encounters without touching NPC and other stuff that trigger quest nodes, will level up much slower, or rather, this is not counted as progress. Not even this will make the levelling progression desynchronized for any in-party RPG purposes.

 

1. Yep, pretty much. Handing in a few quests will probably level you up. As you do more quests, you'll level up more in one go, if all your party members are at the same level. I'm expecting when you pick up party members along the way, they will be lower in xp than you. Some party members may be levelling up at different times when you come across those xp check points like entering the ogre cave.

 

2. I'll be save scumming before every encounter and task. If a party member dies, I'll just reload.

 

3. Yep, if you don't click on those quest givers, you'll miss those xp check points. It's up to the player if they want objective xp along those routes or if they want all the xp at the end of the quest. It's up to the player how they want to receive the xp. I'll be clicking on every quest giver I come across to get all those xp check points.

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No, to mitigate rest spamming they limited resting, i.e. resting supplies.

 

No. It was to mitigate degenerative gameplay like rest spamming and save scumming. By taking health healing out of the game, it would make players play strategically by not rest spamming with a regenerating stamina mechanic. With regenerating stamina, this would mitigate rest spamming.

 

 

in cases where design mechanics tend to lead to degenerate gameplay (e.g. savescumming, rest spamming), we try to think of ways to remove the degeneration without harming the enjoyable mechanical elements. if a mechanic seems like it's not adding genuine challenge, we question if it should stand as-is

 

with regard to regenerating health and spell cooldowns, we're not intending on having the former (though we have talked about a darklands endurance-like stat), and spells will not have cooldowns in the way that some people have assumed (per spell). when we discuss spell mechanics, i've tried to use the term "lockout" to communicate that it's much like a sorcerer exhausting an entire level of casting in 3E D&D."

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You are probably right, but what was the problem that the health/stamina division aimed to solve then?

And are maims sort of PoE's version of Fatigue, or is it another beast entirely?

 

(Off topic, I know, I'm just curious. I have a hunch it has something to do with healing during combat and in-between encounters.)

The reasoning is something like this: in the IE games, how deep you could go was (often) limited by your party's priest's (or druid's) reservoir of healing spells. This had two implications:

 

(1) every party "needed" a priest or druid, and

(2) the priest or druid spent most of her juice on heals rather than all the other cool spells (unless you had more than one).

 

So Josh's solution is to get rid of the mandatory party healing battery and give each character one instead, thereby freeing the priest and druid to use their other spells, or players to go without a priest or druid altogether, without gimping their party more than they would by foregoing any other core class.

 

The reasoning is sound IMO and does make for potentially more interesting gameplay. It just falls down somewhat ATM because the priest's spell selection is a little dull, so she's been turned from a heal-o-mat into a buff-o-mat. That's easy to address just by giving her more and more interesting spells.

 

I do know I often played with multiple priests/druids for this very reason. Not so much more healing capacity (I'd be out of other spells etc. by the time that ran out), but to get access to all the cool divine magic while still retaining the healing capacity.

 

(I don't think rest-spamming has anything much to do with this mechanic BTW. It doesn't really affect it one way or the other; in both cases you need to rest when your strategic healing runs out.)

Edited by PrimeJunta
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No, to mitigate rest spamming they limited resting, i.e. resting supplies.

 

No. It was to mitigate degenerative gameplay like rest spamming and save scumming. By taking health healing out of the game, it would make players play strategically by not rest spamming with a regenerating stamina mechanic. With regenerating stamina, this would mitigate rest spamming.

 

 

in cases where design mechanics tend to lead to degenerate gameplay (e.g. savescumming, rest spamming), we try to think of ways to remove the degeneration without harming the enjoyable mechanical elements. if a mechanic seems like it's not adding genuine challenge, we question if it should stand as-is

 

with regard to regenerating health and spell cooldowns, we're not intending on having the former (though we have talked about a darklands endurance-like stat), and spells will not have cooldowns in the way that some people have assumed (per spell). when we discuss spell mechanics, i've tried to use the term "lockout" to communicate that it's much like a sorcerer exhausting an entire level of casting in 3E D&D."

 

That's funny, everyone would "rest scum" in this game if they didn't add resting supplies, because you can't heal health+ the ridiculous sustained damage(almost all attacks are hits). More so than in the IE games or even NwN2. :lol:

Edited by Seari
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You are probably right, but what was the problem that the health/stamina division aimed to solve then?

And are maims sort of PoE's version of Fatigue, or is it another beast entirely?

 

(Off topic, I know, I'm just curious. I have a hunch it has something to do with healing during combat and in-between encounters.)

The reasoning is something like this: in the IE games, how deep you could go was (often) limited by your party's priest's (or druid's) reservoir of healing spells. This had two implications:

 

(1) every party "needed" a priest or druid, and

(2) the priest or druid spent most of her juice on heals rather than all the other cool spells (unless you had more than one).

 

So Josh's solution is to get rid of the mandatory party healing battery and give each character one instead, thereby freeing the priest and druid to use their other spells, or players to go without a priest or druid altogether, without gimping their party more than they would by foregoing any other core class.

 

The reasoning is sound IMO and does make for potentially more interesting gameplay. It just falls down somewhat ATM because the priest's spell selection is a little dull, so she's been turned from a heal-o-mat into a buff-o-mat. That's easy to address just by giving her more and more interesting spells.

 

I do know I often played with multiple priests/druids for this very reason. Not so much more healing capacity (I'd be out of other spells etc. by the time that ran out), but to get access to all the cool divine magic while still retaining the healing capacity.

 

(I don't think rest-spamming has anything much to do with this mechanic BTW. It doesn't really affect it one way or the other; in both cases you need to rest when your strategic healing runs out.)

 

And basically he achieved the same thing. You still need priests in your party for heals(hard difficulty). :lol: Actually it's worse right now, since priests are mandatory and can't be replaced.

Edited by Seari
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And basically he achieved the same thing. You still need priests in your party for heals(hard difficulty). :lol: Actually it's worse right now, since priests are mandatory and can't be replaced.

Do you? How so?

 

What are you gonna do when someone gets poisoned? Oh wait, you can just let them take a power nap, you're right. LOL

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DoT is bugged. I suspect once they've got that sorted out, poison won't be anywhere near as punishing as now. Nor do I think poison will be as frequent an occurrence on average as in the beta. Give us some potions of antidote and ways to craft them, and we're good.

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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That's funny, everyone would "rest scum" in this game if they didn't add resting supplies, because you can't heal health+ the ridiculous sustained damage(almost all attacks are hits). More so than in the IE games or even NwN2. :lol:

 

Rest supplies helps with resting. It's my understanding from Sawyers comment that the regenerating stamina and health mechanic was to reduce rest spamming because your stamina regenerated after each battle (which it didn't in the IE games) and you had a health reserve to keep you going and continue your adventures. In theory, you would still adventure and keep going and wouldn't need to rest. But as we've seen in the beta, this isn't working as intended as after a couple of battles, you may need to rest - especially if you're new to the game. And as others have said, it needs tweaksTM to solve it.

 

TBH, the whole stamina/health mechanic is a flawed design, another theoretical paper design that doesn't work in practice imo. And we've seen many theoretical paper designs over the last two years. But as I said, this topic is probably best in the healing thread.

Edited by Hiro Protagonist II
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That's funny, everyone would "rest scum" in this game if they didn't add resting supplies, because you can't heal health+ the ridiculous sustained damage(almost all attacks are hits). More so than in the IE games or even NwN2. :lol:

 

Rest supplies helps with resting. It's my understanding from Sawyers comment that the regenerating stamina and health mechanic was to reduce rest spamming because your stamina regenerated after each battle (which it didn't in the IE games) and you had a health reserve to keep you going and continuing your adventures. In theory, you would still adventure and keep going and wouldn't need to rest. But as we've seen in the beta, this isn't working as intended as after a couple of battles, you may need to rest - especially if you're new to the game.

 

TBH, the whole stamina/health mechanic is a flawed design, another theoretical paper design that doesn't work in practice imo. And we've seen many theoretical paper designs over the last two years. But as I said, this topic is probably best in the healing thread.

 

Hahaha, now we are in agreement. But who knows, maybe if they tweak the ratios. All I know is that this system works worse the higher the difficulty is, kind of hard to balance IMO.

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