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The leveling and XP curve. What's wrong and the only way to fix it.

Leveling XP

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#21
Daemonjax

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So there's been much discussion of the difficulty of PoE (or lack thereof), and a good deal of the problem seems to be related to how easy it seems to be to hit the level cap very early in the game. 

 

I agree, and I would imagine that the xp requirement per level is something player-created mods can address.



#22
Atheosis

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There isn't just one way to fix it.  I think bounties are the biggest offenders.  After that side quest xp probably need a nerfs (especially the ones that basically amount to talking to people and nothing more).  Altering things so you have to have double your xp to level every time will actually make the cap unreachable based on the xp available in the game as it stands now. 

 

I never said this change wouldn't have to come with a rebalancing of the XP in the game - of course it would. This would be a very comprehensive change, and it would take a lot of time and energy (which is why it probably won't happen).

 

But this is the only way to fundamentally fix the system so that players who do everything and players who do the critical path are still within a few levels of each other. That or (as I said) make sidequests give little to no XP (not a preferred solution).

 

It's a mathematical reality - those are the only two solutions. If X is crit path XP and Y is sidequest XP, the only way to ensure that the level difference between "X" and "X + Y" is only a few levels is to make Y very, very small, or to make the XP requirement double each time (or triple, or multiply by 1.5 - the coefficient doesn't really matter. The important thing is the mathematical form.) The current system scales quadratically (exactly quadratically, actually), and you need the system to scale logarithmically. Again, I don't care if you double the XP requirements each time or just multiply them by 1.5 (or 1.2, or 1.8759 - it really doesn't matter). But you MUST base the requirement for the next level off of your current XP, not a linearly increasing amount.

 

Because the way the current system is, the amount of experience required for the next level is an increasingly small amount compared to your current experience. That's the fundamental problem. The amount of experience for the next level needs to be a constant percentage of your total experience at the previous level. Like I said - doesn't have to double each time, but does have to multiply by something each time (instead of adding something).

 

Maybe Obsidian will prove me wrong and fix it in such a way that sidequests still mean something and you don't overlevel to oblivion by being a completionist. But I'm not holding my breath. You can't fight math.

 

 

Sorry, but I just don't agree.  First of all, halving side quest xp and reducing bounty xp to ~1-2k xp per bounty will go a long ways on its own.  Then they just need to buff the underperforming monsters' damage/accuracy/spell selection.  It might not be as all-encompassing as your rebalance notion, but it would be a lot easier and would accomplish what most people want.  The issue as it currently exists is that there is too much optional xp in the game and too many enemies that don't live up to their level.  These issues can be fixed without wholesale redesign of the xp and leveling system in the game.

 

 

Disagree by countering my math, not with your intuition. The solution you propose could work... somewhat. It's basically equivalent to making sidequest XP negligible in comparison to the main quest. In PoE, that means making the total available sidequest XP roughly on the order of 20000 or so. Assuming critical path has 45000 (getting you to level 9), this would mean that sidequest XP comprises ~30% of the XP in the game. Fair enough.

 

But what about the sequel? What about when we're talking about the difference between level 24 for a crit path player (300000 XP, let's just assume that's the crit path max in PoE 2) and level... hmm, that'd be level 28 for a completionist at 406000 XP (if we want to preserve the "sidequest XP is roughly 30% of total XP" rule). So now we're talking about a difference of 4 levels. And the game becomes trivially easy for the completionist. Do you see the problem? I said it before and I'll say it again:

 

"If X is crit path XP and Y is sidequest XP, the only way to ensure that the level difference between "X" and "X + Y" is only a few levels is to make Y very, very small, or to make the XP requirement double each time (or triple, or multiply by 1.5 - the coefficient doesn't really matter."

 

The problem is not with the XP tuning. The tuning isn't great right now, granted - but even if its fixed the fundamental problem remains. The mathematical form of the "XP to next level" function does not support sidequest XP that is any constant percentage of crit path XP, because the percentage of total XP needed to level up decreases dramatically as you get higher in levels. Compare 2 -> 3 (3000 -> 6000, a 100% increase) to 11 -> 12 (66000 -> 78000, an 18% increase). And it doesn't get better. What about 24 -> 25 (300000 -> 325000, an 8% increase)? The functional form of the "XP to next level" function simply does not support sidequest XP being any constant percentage of crit path XP. I don't know how to put it any more clearly than that.

 

If they want the game to remain fun for both completionists and non-completionists, and they want sidequests to not award pitifully small amounts of XP in the sequel, the leveling curve has to change. Again - I don't know how to put it any clearer, it's a mathematical fact. They can put band-aids on it for now, but the system is flawed and will give them buckets of trouble later in the series.

 

 

I didn't say make side quest xp negligible.  50% of what it currently is would still be significant xp overall.  The difference is that you would actually need to do most of the stuff in the game to reach the cap.  Presently my guess is that you only need to do roughly half the side content to hit the cap, though I'm not certain of the numbers.  Since reaching the cap is not necessary to beat the game it just shouldn't be this easy.  And projecting issues into the future with the sequel just seems silly to me.  Hell they can redesign the whole leveling system and simply convert characters to that system when you import them if they want.  The point is that they can't realistically redesign this element of the game after release, but they can adjust what is actually there to solve the issues that exist to an acceptable if not totally ideal level.



#23
Darthcast

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For me, having a overpowered Party happened at a certain point in the game, probably somewhere in the middle of act 2. I found (or bought, because I got rich suddenly) one magical item (armor and weapons) after another and my party started to level up really fast. I don't know which quests I did exactly, but I think quest xp and loot should be looked into as well. I still remember that I did all of the first bounty hunts and the endless paths until level 10. 

I don't think it would be right solution to only adjust the xp curves, also maybe to extreme (doubling it). Luckmann's idea of an exponential growth of 3-5% per level sounds good imo.



#24
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I get what you are saying, and I had the same mentality earlier on, but as I've progressed I've realized you can hit the cap while leaving huge amounts of stuff untouched.  And considering you don't need to reach the cap to beat the game (not even close), it seems rather clear that optional content is giving too much xp.  Bounties in particular are just absurd at the moment.

 

Fair enough.  I haven't done any of the bounties, so they haven't influenced my viewpoint yet.



#25
Atheosis

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For me, having a overpowered Party happened at a certain point in the game, probably somewhere in the middle of act 2. I found (or bought, because I got rich suddenly) one magical item (armor and weapons) after another and my party started to level up really fast. I don't know which quests I did exactly, but I think quest xp and loot should be looked into as well. I still remember that I did all of the first bounty hunts and the endless paths until level 10. 

I don't think it would be right solution to only adjust the xp curves, also maybe to extreme (doubling it). Luckmann's idea of an exponential growth of 3-5% per level sounds good imo.

 

The game economy is definitely a huge mess, especially late in the game.  I'm surprised that more people aren't talking about that.  It is so easy to basically buy every magic item and every high price gem in the game by the end.  I blame the stash, which I have disliked design-wise from the very beginning. 


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#26
Ohioastro

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I think that this is completely a matter of groupthink.  You have a bunch of people beating their chests about how good they are and how easy the game is.  And this is the current shiny object that is trotted out as an excuse.  If this was slashed I *guarantee you* that it will take less than a day for the same people to be back here complaining about the same thing with a different target. There's just no end to it. 

 

The basic reason is simple: this is an open world game (which allows you to control what level you do things at).  You can take advantage of terrain, which is a huge edge.  And you have both a ton of "burst" capacity in the form of per rest spells /abilities and health vs/ endurance - remember that in BG every "unconscious" player would be a dead player.  You can also create imbalanced parties and characters, which is basically impossible to avoid in a complex game like this.  And you can withdraw and rest (no respawning monsters).  None of these things are impacted, at all, by experience gain.

 

The bottom line is that experienced players will always be able to trivialize normal encounters; if you want more dificulty the only place to get it is in boss encounters where you can balance them around the players throwing everything at the wall and you can control terrain.

 

Any "fix" should be restricted to the highest difficulty level (and possibily target bounties, which really do seem to have too rich of an exp reward for their level.  Conversely, I'd pump up the gold rewards - as, after all, they are bounties, and the fights are tough.  And, no, you can't buy "every magic item in the game", or even close to it, with the cash available!)


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#27
Atheosis

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I think that this is completely a matter of groupthink.  You have a bunch of people beating their chests about how good they are and how easy the game is.  And this is the current shiny object that is trotted out as an excuse.  If this was slashed I *guarantee you* that it will take less than a day for the same people to be back here complaining about the same thing with a different target. There's just no end to it. 

 

The basic reason is simple: this is an open world game (which allows you to control what level you do things at).  You can take advantage of terrain, which is a huge edge.  And you have both a ton of "burst" capacity in the form of per rest spells /abilities and health vs/ endurance - remember that in BG every "unconscious" player would be a dead player.  You can also create imbalanced parties and characters, which is basically impossible to avoid in a complex game like this.  And you can withdraw and rest (no respawning monsters).  None of these things are impacted, at all, by experience gain.

 

The bottom line is that experienced players will always be able to trivialize normal encounters; if you want more dificulty the only place to get it is in boss encounters where you can balance them around the players throwing everything at the wall and you can control terrain.

 

Any "fix" should be restricted to the highest difficulty level (and possibily target bounties, which really do seem to have too rich of an exp reward for their level.  Conversely, I'd pump up the gold rewards - as, after all, they are bounties, and the fights are tough.  And, no, you can't buy "every magic item in the game", or even close to it, with the cash available!)

 

I'm sorry but I was an early defender of the way things are, but then I did all the bounties and realized there was a genuine issue with xp availability in the game.  Difficulty is much more subjective, but hitting the xp cap with huge amounts of content untouched?  That's a quantifiable problem.


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#28
gkathellar

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I do think you have a point, Matt, but there's another issue to keep in mind, IMO.

 

I think it bears remembering that each level provides fairly dramatic improvement, probably more so than for most classes in the IE games. Compare BG2 - you could easily end up tackling De'Arnise hold at anywhere between 8th and 13th level, without the difficulty changing tremendously until the very end of that progression (although it would change quite a bit, don't get me wrong).

 

In PoE, each level matters a lot more imminently. I like that, but it doesn't play nice with the open-world aspect of the game, because content has to be balanced for a party at the lowest likely level. Heritage Hill needs to be doable for a party of 4-5th level characters, because the player may get to it at that point. But they might also get to it as late as 9th, by which point they are dramatically overpowered for the area.

 

It's not a problem with an easy solution.


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#29
NoQuitt

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I think that this is completely a matter of groupthink.  You have a bunch of people beating their chests about how good they are and how easy the game is.  And this is the current shiny object that is trotted out as an excuse.  If this was slashed I *guarantee you* that it will take less than a day for the same people to be back here complaining about the same thing with a different target. There's just no end to it. 

 

 

 

This is way off. Some people like a challenging experience when they play video games and it has nothing to do with chest beating or stroking their own ego. The way I see it is people are concerned with a legitimate issue - not beating their own chest.


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#30
View619

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It would be nice to get some information regarding how individual experience requirements are stored. Maybe that way, a mod could be created to mess around with the experience requirements with minimal effort on Obsidian's part. Honestly, this would be the first thing I would try for myself.


Edited by View619, 08 April 2015 - 02:30 PM.


#31
Bersercker

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I think getting xp requirements to grow exponentially, while making it so that getting the 12th level requires completion of 99% of the quests is a good idea. Obviously totally rebalancing all the xp rewards so that both "completionists" and "modern gamers" were happy would be better, but are we completely sure Obsidian is up for that? Might be a waste of effort too, since most people that were happy with the xp rewards probably already completed the game and forgot about it. 

Imo just put normal xp, and reduced xp options into expert mode, just in case, and problem solved(the xp related part at least).

P.S. Apologies if you read the this post of mine in every related thread. :)


It would be nice to get some information regarding how individual experience requirements are stored. Maybe that way, a mod could be created to mess around with the experience requirements with minimal effort on Obsidian's part. Honestly, this would be the first thing I would try for myself.

If you mean xp requirements for each level, see here. https://forums.obsid...-7#entry1648191


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#32
Serdan

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Another solution would be to just do away with XP entirely and hand out levels at appropriate intervals.



#33
gkathellar

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Another solution would be to just do away with XP entirely and hand out levels at appropriate intervals.

 

That is a great approach for TTRPGs, but terribly constraining and uncomfortable for CRPGs.

 

(So I'm surprised Sawyer hasn't done it already.)



#34
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Yep.  I've been suggesting significantly reduced sidequest xp as the solution because I do sidequests for the story and any item rewards, so them not having a major impact on my levelling is not a problem for me.  But this would certainly be another way to ensure that the devs are better able to predict where people end up and balance the game reasonably for different playstyles.  That said, whatever the solution, it needs to be coupled with straight-up difficulty tuning of the encounters in some parts of the game.

 

 

It's a single-player game.  Why does it need to be "balanced"?

 

My only comment on this "problem" is "I don't care, and it doesn't matter".

 

Yet another mindless "the game needs to forcibly prevent people from playing a certain way because I imagine that way as somehow being 'less fun' or 'suboptimal'" complaint.


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#35
Serdan

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Another solution would be to just do away with XP entirely and hand out levels at appropriate intervals.

 

That is a great approach for TTRPGs, but terribly constraining and uncomfortable for CRPGs.

 

(So I'm surprised Sawyer hasn't done it already.)

 

How so? If you want players to be in the level range a-b at point x in the game, then you just make sure that % completion of the content up till that point lands them somewhere in that range. I don't see how there's any practical difference (from the player's perspective) between doing it that way and perfectly tuning XP gain and level curves.



#36
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I think it must be mostly Caed Nua stuff that's putting things really off.  I ended up at 11 after getting bored of the Endless paths fairly quickly and not bothering with the other stronghold things.

 

But rapidly increasing XP might well be a good idea.  They could also/alternatively look at scaling rewards based on what level you are compared to your "expected" level.


Edited by Wulfram, 08 April 2015 - 02:50 PM.


#37
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Another solution would be to just do away with XP entirely and hand out levels at appropriate intervals.

 

That is a great approach for TTRPGs, but terribly constraining and uncomfortable for CRPGs.

 

(So I'm surprised Sawyer hasn't done it already.)

 

 

 

Personally, I find the entire "leveling" ethos to be kind of silly unless the game is intentionally meant to be a sort of "coming of age" variety of story.  It's regularly attended by ridiculous nonsense like people heralding you as some kind of Hero of the Ages when you have a bent pin for a weapon and know 2 spells or, conversely, people laughing about how weaksauce you are when you just hacked your way through an entire mountain of Evil Dudes.

 

The only excuse for it is that building your complete character before you know how any of the mechanics work would kind of suck.  A lot.



#38
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It's a single-player game.  Why does it need to be "balanced"?

 

My only comment on this "problem" is "I don't care, and it doesn't matter".

 

Yet another mindless "the game needs to forcibly prevent people from playing a certain way because I imagine that way as somehow being 'less fun' or 'suboptimal'" complaint.

 

Currently the game "forcibly prevents" players that want to do side quests from enjoying combat because apparently "the optimal" way is to rush main quest, finish the game ASAP and buy the next game.



#39
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Yep.  I've been suggesting significantly reduced sidequest xp as the solution because I do sidequests for the story and any item rewards, so them not having a major impact on my levelling is not a problem for me.  But this would certainly be another way to ensure that the devs are better able to predict where people end up and balance the game reasonably for different playstyles.  That said, whatever the solution, it needs to be coupled with straight-up difficulty tuning of the encounters in some parts of the game.

 

 

It's a single-player game.  Why does it need to be "balanced"?

 

My only comment on this "problem" is "I don't care, and it doesn't matter".

 

Yet another mindless "the game needs to forcibly prevent people from playing a certain way because I imagine that way as somehow being 'less fun' or 'suboptimal'" complaint.

 

Well, I know I found your contribution on this matter to be very valuable.


 



#40
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It's a single-player game.  Why does it need to be "balanced"?

 

My only comment on this "problem" is "I don't care, and it doesn't matter".

 

Yet another mindless "the game needs to forcibly prevent people from playing a certain way because I imagine that way as somehow being 'less fun' or 'suboptimal'" complaint.

 

For many things, I'd agree with your comment. But when you can hit the level cap by the middle to two thirds of the way through the game (without even going out of your way to do so) and thus be overpowered to the extent that the rest of the game becomes trivial, that's an issue.


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