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Party level versus enemy level during late/end game


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But i don't do the sidequest just for the sole reason of grinding out my character levels to completely roll over the game.

 

I play the sidequest because i like the stories they tell.  :getlost:

So do I. I don’t think that even completely removing XP from sidequests would bother me personally too much. But maybe it would. It would interrupt logic and consistency of the game further. Let’s not forget that many games manage to keep player engaged with grind and filling meters. Lvl up IS rewarding. Removing, or highly diminishing that part from a big chunk of content will have a big negative response. Maybe not from everyone, but from a reasonable chunk of audience, my guess would be. Getting a massive XP boost after defeating touh optional enemy or competing lengthy sidequests is par of the course.

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EDIT: What I'm saying is, scaling monsters is a cheap duct-tape-attempt at fixing bad game design, and is never a good thing.

 

And yet, by design, the entire campaign of the game has your opponents scaled such that the path you walk in the first 30 minutes of the game, when you're level 1, isn't populated by level 73 dragons, but instead by lower-level things that are feasible for you to face. The creators of the game world and campaign have literally forced the world to be reasonable to your starting party.

 

 

For the sake of clarity, when I use the word 'scaling' in this context, I mean automatic scaling relative to the player level, not static monsters that are just designed to be on the approximately right level for the individual encounters. An encounter shouldn't change based on the player's stats, it should be static so that it can be used as a measure for the character's strength and the player's ability. Homogenous challenge isn't a good thing anyway, you need contrast, otherwise you kill stories of those certain monsters that are more dangerous than others at that particular point in the game. You know, the kinds of horror stories nerds tell around a campfire at night in an attempt to induce nightmares upon others.

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^ Understandable. I've had this discussion before, :). You are correct that 1:1 scaling is generally bad. But, again, that's a bad implementation of the idea of adjustment, which is all scaling is. For example, JUST by simply changing the scaling factor from 1:1 to like 1:2, you end up with a huge difference.

 

Imagine a designed encounter is lvl 5, and you're lvl 10. With 1:1 scaling, the enemies are now all lvl 10, forcibly so. They're basically keeping up with you. With 1:2 scaling, when you're level 10, they're level 7.5 (I know that doesn't make sense... they'd be 7, I suppose. Unless you wanted to round it up... that's beside the point). Anywho... that's just one change. You can do that. You can say "don't start scaling until the player's party is at least 3 levels above the encounter level," etc.

 

The point is, it's a tool, just like anything else. If you hit a screw with a hammer, it's not going to hold stuff together very well. However, if you use the hammer on nails, it works much more effectively. Scaling can effectively be used to make sure that you don't encounter things that are simply insects. Doesn't mean you don't ever need to be able to encounter insects. But, you have to think of things from a developer standpoint. Just because you want to populate the world with encounters doesn't mean you want them all to be lvl X at all times. The world is not a static place. If you take out a big group of bandits, maybe an opposing group thinks "Finally! Now that we don't have to worry about them keeping us off that turf, we're gonna expand and take over the place!" Maybe those bandits have better equipment and/or training, and just couldn't get the resources to expand before.

 

A world in which everything staticly sucks compared to you after you improve a bit (which is part of the gameplay -- progression, that is) is just as boring as a world in which everything is always equally as improved as you are. "I want to feel powerful" is great and all, but if you launch a nuke at a mosquito, does that REALLY let you feel powerful? Or would it feel better to launch a nuke at the moon, and watch it blast apart. Then go "Man, that moon wasn't some tiny rock. That... that's a pretty huge deal to be able to damage the MOON like that!"?

 

That's why I don't buy the "everything should stay tiny lvl 1 rats, even if it was only intended to be lvl 1 rats when I was lvl 1 or 2 or so, because level 17 enemies at the time would've been preposterous."

 

So, I think that just like designing the world and the encounters in the first place, if the designing can account for the order in which you do things and changes in the world, it should. Does that mean everything is always super different when you get to it? Nope. But it definitely doesn't mean that nothing ever is. Why arbitrarily limit things to "that encounter I thought up when I guessed when the player party would be encountering it"?

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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But if mobs scale on 1:2 ratio, you'll end up with a system that is exactly the same as a system where mobs don't scale at all but the power progression is 50% slower, so again, there's no point in the scaling what-so-ever. The point is, level scaling is a completely worthless tool that doesn't really do anything, you're just tweaking two variables to achieve the same result you could've gotten by simply adjusting a single variable. In essence, completely pointless.

Edited by Ninjamestari

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But if mobs scale on 1:2 ratio, you'll end up with a system that is exactly the same as a system where mobs don't scale at all but the power progression is 50% slower, so again, there's no point in the scaling what-so-ever. The point is, level scaling is a completely worthless tool that doesn't really do anything, you're just tweaking two variables to achieve the same result you could've gotten by simply adjusting a single variable. In essence, completely pointless.

 

If all mobs scale, sure. Even then, that's not exactly the case. Having the fireball spell as opposed to lacking it is not a direct mathematical measurement. Part of progression isn't direct power improvement.

 

Also, the second half of that quoted portion is entirely false. Your party progression is a singular thing. Unless you adjust your power progression by X for one encounter, then by Y for another, you can't simply adjust power progression overall and somehow achieve tuned scaling adjustments for various individual encounters or groups of encounters.

 

It's quite simple, really. In a linear game, would all the enemies be lvl 5, in the entire campaign, while you climb up to level 100? No. But in a linear game, you know EXACTLY when and where the player's going to have gone, so you can say "Hey, on this path through this forest, we'll put lvl 11 enemies there." You can STILL have quantities of optional content, such that the player can either be lvl 10 when they get to those enemies, or lvl 13. However, when you make the world/campaign non-linear, the player could be lvl 5 when they try to go there, or lvl 20. This simple fact comes about PURELY because you don't know the order in which the player will do stuff, and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with your desire for that encounter to be at that particular level. In general, the idea doesn't change. You want to give appropriately-challenging encounters to the player throughout their playthrough. Again, if you made ALL The enemies in the world lvl 5, that would be silly.

 

So, are there times that the developers intentionally want certain encounters to get easier and easier? Sure. But does this mean that anywhere you could possibly place a static encounter, and a player could encounter it either 2 hours in or 70 hours in, you don't want that encounter to be an appropriate challenge for the player? Not at all. The two factors are not mutually glued together.

 

To look at it another way, if I put some unique big bad dragon into the game, and I'm thinking "this is my game, and my game world, and this dragon is supposed to be really, really powerful compared to the player," then I COULD make the dragon lvl 25 when the player can only be lvl 20, tops. That would work, but now I'm just saying "I want the player to go fight this dragon at the very end of their progression," because facing it at lvl 13 would be infeasible. So, what if I want there to be a big scary dragon encounter, but I want the player to be able to do it starting at lvl 10 if they want, just because of the branching/openness of the campaign? How do I do that? By adjusting the dragon once they lock into facing it. If I don't do that, it's very likely to be either WAY too difficult (compared to what I want), or way too easy.

 

To say "No, developers... the only correct way to want to design such an encounter is to just make the dragon lvl X and be done with it" is silly. The dragon didn't exist until the developer thought it up and imagined pitting it against the player party to begin with. And until the players encounter that dragon, what lvl is it? It's lvl UNDEFINED, because the dragon doesn't freakin' exist yet.

 

No one's messing with the natural balance of things by merely deigning to adjust an encounters difficulty so that it's appropriate for the party even in a very flexible progression environment, because there is no natural scheme for this that was dug out of the ground on stone tablets. We didn't just find mobs in geodes in the earth, and now devs are unnaturally trying to genetically alter them before putting them into a game. That's not how it works.

 

So, scaling is a useful tool that does useful things, but doesn't always do nothing but useful stuff no matter how crappily you use it.

 

You're essentially just stereotyping game mechanics. "Oh, several guys with blue eyes have been crappy to me in life, therefore GUYS WITH BLUE EYES ARE CRAPPY HUMANS AND ARE USELESS!" That's not true, and neither is "scaling is pointless and useless just because I've seen it be used poorly a lot."

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Enemy level scaling is only really done well when it is applied in a highly limited way as part of a system that is generally hand-crafted; e.g. having a level range, or even better, a pool of enemy groupings to draw from, so that a group of bandits in spot X could involve three level 3 enemies or four level 4 enemies, one of them an archer. (Similar to how encounter pools mediate difficulty in games like POE.) In this sense, the level scaling isn't even the primary component of it. Using scaling is a universal tool, or as the primary tool, is guaranteed to produce subpar results - so the question isn't really scaling or no scaling, it's about what kind of balancing / pacing system we have as a whole and then how some scaling can fit into it.

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Why would you ever want your player to be able to kill a level 25 dragon at level 13? Having a situation where a player has access to an encounter he cannot yet defeat is an incredibly powerful way to convey growth, it's not a flaw as you suggest. Take a look at how Gothic I and II work, and the first Risen. The mobs are all static, although new ones spawn as the game progresses, and if you encounter something you can't yet defeat the game lets you find it out for yourself, it doesn't hand-hold you like a nanny by telling not to go there, or even worse, scale that encounter down so that little timmy can beat the dragon at level 13. Having the dragon be level 25 gives you something to measure yourself against, you can see the difference between facing it at level 13 and dying instantly, facing it at level 22 and being barely able to defeat it, facing it at level 25 when the encounter is challenging but not overwhelming, or even at level 30 when it becomes pretty easy if your game lets the player progress that far. Having the player be able to do anything at any point in the game is a supremely bad idea, and a big part of the reason TES games suck so much rat-ass; they offer absolutely nothing of interest, nothing to achieve, nothing to work towards and nothing to struggle against. The only way your game can 'need' scaling is if it suffers from really bad design.

 

And having enemy get increased levels and learn new abilities is even worse than simple statistical increases. Having an enemy wizard learn to cast fireballs just because I helped one kitty too many down a tree is just plain retarded, it creates wonks and cranks in the difficulty so that certain encounters might be easy up to level 6 at which the enemy wizard gets spell x and then up to level 8 the encounter is incredibly difficult, after which your party gains spell y to counter the spell x and the spell z the enemy wizard gains isn't game-changing and it becomes easy again. Level-scaling monsters have never caused anything but one hell of a mess that is impossible to balance properly so that it remains both challenging AND intersting via facilitating the player growth and acting as a proper measure for your party.

 

None of the stuff that level-scaling allows you to do makes the game better, it makes the game worse.

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I really think the "PoTD is too easy" crowd needs to take it down a notch. Obsidian got a finite amount of money and staff hours to make this game. And balancing combat/progression/items/xp on high difficulty, so the hardcore min max completionists are satisfied and the average player wanting a challenge isn't completely deterred is not an easy task. 

Honestly, I'd rather have them work on making other aspects of the game better. 

 

The modding community will eventually deliver the challenge needed for anyone who thinks the vanilla settings are too easy.

 

I have to strongly disagree here. The game is already a CRPG and a 2D throwback. That means its audience is destined to include a large percentage of difficulty-seeking gamers. I don't think it's right to insist that the developers focus on your personal criteria without taking this larger context about the community into account. Moreover, there are plenty of options, which no one has complained about afaik, for having easy and very forgiving playthroughs.

 

There's nothing wrong with calling for an included, team-designed *maximum* difficulty that is harder than it was in the original. Importantly, a specific problem being complained about is that the second half of PoE1 is the specific complaint here. For just one example: Nothing after Gilded Vale, in my experience, feels as difficult as the Raedric fight feels if you do it before Defiance Bay. That's two-thirds of the game!

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Most RPGs have very steep power progression levels, too steep, and that makes it very difficult to balance. IE games (accidentally?) were helped in this by D&D rulesets; no longer were you going from doing 8 damage to 80,000 like in many JRPGs. Of course, some later D&D games "solved" this problem by making you go from level 1 to godlike 20+ levels in a single campaign. 

 

I would have been fine with POE1 going from levels 1-9 where you get kitted out with a lot of meaningful spells and you can build a clear character concept. So many people would say, I want more levels, it's more fun, I want to be powerful. Yes, but you actually lose meaningful sense of progression with more levels; in P1, going to level 12 (then 14 later) meant that you could take every talent you could possibly want and still have some left over, and later levels mostly meant numbers going up rather than any meaningful change in your tactics. The system they built was really for a smaller level range, and then they could have picked it up in Deadfire (e.g. 5-14) while changing how it works relative to now.

 

Anyway, flatter curves would certainly help mitigate the sidequests/overlevelling conundrum - provided that you also start dissociating so many important bonuses with leveling. The worst part of POE1 system is the way accuracy is the single most important stat for anything, and it is overwhelmingly defined by leveling. It basically meant that getting an extra level, rather than what you do with those skills or the gear you have, was the most important aspect in steamrolling your enemies. In that sort of design, it becomes much more significant that you are overleveled.

 

I agree with much of what you're saying here. I am reminded of the original Baldur's Gate and how few levels you actually achieved despite it being a long playthrough. BG really benefited from being very stingy with experience, especially in the early levels. This allowed players to learn the game's systems and monsters a bit before spending valuable class skills.

 

One thing about PoE1 that was a bit of a missed opportunity was how quickly the game shot you up to level 3. Level 2 is almost entirely skipped! This is despite the fact that early game fights are still quite engaging. I realize that perhaps there's business decisions to design RPGs so players get some quick levels so they don't get bored. But I think they could take a risk here, especially on a sequel, and let players enjoy more low level content.

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I've taken to playing PotD with five party members (partially inspired by deadfire's scaling down to five party members) to give the game more reasonable difficulty. I still end up roflstomping fights if I level up too quickly in e.g. the White March, but it's better than before where any priest or wizard in my party basically had only enough time to cast their per-encounter spells before the fight was over.

 

That being said, I think feeling powerful (read: overleveling) is important, and anyone who's ever played Oblivion and its utterly broken scaling system should know that wishing for high-level scaling to make enemies universally harder is basically a cursed monkey paw wish.

 

However, one thing that annoys me a bit about PoE is that there's not much to do at level 16. You have all these immensely powerful spells and abilities, but not really anyone to use it against. It's immensely overkill for Sun-in-Shadow even with high-level scaling, and even in part for the Kraken and Llengrath fights (not to mention that some of the end-game stuff you get from killing Llengrath herself, so that's one less hard fight to get a chance to use it). I'm mostly fine with the difficulty curve as it is, and--unlike apparently many others--I recognize that my PotD-face-melting (and The Ultimate achievement-getting) self puts me into a small percentage of masochistic players. BUT I just want a small section of the game where I actually need to use things like Wall of Many Colors, Defensive Web, Reaping Knives, Hand of Weal and Woe not as a roflstomp-win-more but as an important part of my arsenal. Otherwise, what's the point of having all these cool toys?

Edited by thelee
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the real issue is not what people believe it to be, but will get back to that in a bit.

 

regardless, if overleveling is a real problem, then solutions is easy enough.  no xp for side quests solves.  a functional progressive "tax" for side quest would be more complicated, but would also solve.  sure, the developers would need make certain there were still rewards for doing optional side-quests (e.g. 1007, stronghold security/renown bonuses, achievements-which-are-the-2010-equivalent-of-pog-collecting, etc.) but if overlevel is a problem, then alexander can sever the gordian knot with one stroke.  the more optional xp rewarding side-quests a developer includes in a game will necessarily lead to a gap 'tween the xp achievable by critical path players and completionists.  obvious solution is to nix xp rewards outside the crit path.  completionists will still be completionists w/o the xp rewards just so long as is other meaningful rewards for completing optional tasks.

 

socialists belong in dante's sixth level o' hell, no?  am a little fuzzy on our dante at the moment, but while a progressive tax may be objective evil, such a scheme could be utilized to reduce the over level problem.  have a player's optional side-quest xp totals tracked (should be easy enough based on how josh described the capacity for developers to track xp in poe) and at certain thresholds, subsequent xp rewards would be taxed.  10%. 20%. 30%.  more optional xp you accumulate, the more xp you need to keep pace.  won't be a perfect solution, 'cause progressive taxes never work as advertised anyway, but it would reduce a portion o' the bloat which is resulting from non critical path xp rewards.

 

'course the real xp problem is not what anybody in this thread is talking 'bout.  the real problem is the mystery behind obsidian's poe xp confusion.  Before the release o' poe, particular evidenced during the debates regarding per kill xp v. task/quest/whatever, the obsidians revealed their complete confidence 'bout relative leveling rates for poe.  the developers had access to tools which made it easy and clear to be seeing possible xp rewards and to alter such rewards w/o much fuss.  when exploration and token per kill xp were added to poe later in development, josh shrugged off any sorta balancing concerns as baseless given how easy it were to maintain a kinda xp homeostasis with poe developer tools.  pre white march, obsidians were certain they had a handle on xp rewards for poe and they were extreme confident a completionist would need be near exhausting all possible tasks to be achieving the level-cap. now admitted the bounties threw the obsidian math outta wack, but even when the bountie rewards were corrected soonish after release, the over-leveling issue remained. developers were wrong-- they didn't understand xp and their predictions were much off-target.

 

...

 

again, the "solutions" is easy and obvious, but is likely less than appealing. am suspecting critical path only is a solution few will champion.  'course there is a question as to whether the problem needs be solved as the xp bloat issue only affects hardcore completionists and we are, by-and-large, a negligible minority-- will leave that debate for another thread. however, the real problem is the obsidians and their capacity to correct xp bloat.  we never did hear an explanation as to why their extreme confident prognostications 'bout xp were so flawed, so for all we know, the fog which obscures obsidian vision regarding xp rewards remains.  gonna be difficult to fix an xp problem (short o' Gromnir's proposed crit path solution) if the developers have no idea why they got xp so wrong in poe.  if the developers have not experienced some kinda epiphany regarding the accuracy o' their predictions o' poe xp rewards for completionists, then am suspecting most changes the obsidians seek to implement will be of limited efficacy.  is tough to fix a problem when you do not understand the problem.

 

HA! Good Fun!

 

ps the ie game purists should be happy 'bout xp bloat.  for all the unwanted improvements forced 'pon them in obsidian's "spiritual successor," the developers managed to flub the xp bloat issue near as bad as did bioware with bg/totsc.

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"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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socialists belong in dante's sixth level o' hell, no?  am a little fuzzy on our dante at the moment, but while a progressive tax may be objective evil, such a scheme could be utilized to reduce the over level problem.  have a player's optional side-quest xp totals tracked (should be easy enough based on how josh described the capacity for developers to track xp in poe) and at certain thresholds, subsequent xp rewards would be taxed.  10%. 20%. 30%.  more optional xp you accumulate, the more xp you need to keep pace.  won't be a perfect solution, 'cause progressive taxes never work as advertised anyway, but it would reduce a portion o' the bloat which is resulting from non critical path xp rewards.

 

No experience during side questing would make side questing boring. This is not a solution. Moreover, fixed experience rewards means that experience is already a "taxed" reward. Experience points produce diminishing returns as players level up because the gap between levels increases. Ironic that you're lecturing Obsidian on experience while missing this obvious fact.

 

Moreover you're missing the central criticism of people talking about the game's difficulty. It's not so much over-leveling, as simply that the late game enemies are not that difficult. This can be solved by doing nothing to the player, rewards, or messing with the game systems. It simply involves tweaking the difficulty of the monsters a bit upwards. This is not a big ask.

 

Also, with respect, your stylized prose makes for a tedious reading experience. Why insist on writing that way in a discussion forum? The point here is to communicate ideas clearly.

Edited by cokane
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I really think the "PoTD is too easy" crowd needs to take it down a notch. Obsidian got a finite amount of money and staff hours to make this game. And balancing combat/progression/items/xp on high difficulty, so the hardcore min max completionists are satisfied and the average player wanting a challenge isn't completely deterred is not an easy task. 

Honestly, I'd rather have them work on making other aspects of the game better. 

 

The modding community will eventually deliver the challenge needed for anyone who thinks the vanilla settings are too easy.

 

I have to strongly disagree here. The game is already a CRPG and a 2D throwback. That means its audience is destined to include a large percentage of difficulty-seeking gamers. I don't think it's right to insist that the developers focus on your personal criteria without taking this larger context about the community into account. Moreover, there are plenty of options, which no one has complained about afaik, for having easy and very forgiving playthroughs.

 

There's nothing wrong with calling for an included, team-designed *maximum* difficulty that is harder than it was in the original. Importantly, a specific problem being complained about is that the second half of PoE1 is the specific complaint here. For just one example: Nothing after Gilded Vale, in my experience, feels as difficult as the Raedric fight feels if you do it before Defiance Bay. That's two-thirds of the game!

 

My personal criteria? Are you joking? The amount of gamers who cares about PoTD being harder is such a tiny minority. I think you're the one, who confuses personal criteria with the wishes of the larger community. Personally I found PoTD easy. I played these games for 20 years, so I'm well equiped for whatever is thrown my way. But it hardly matters in a broader perspective, where the wast majority of gamers never touches PoTD, because they find it too hard.

Edited by TheisEjsing
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first shot is free, however, am gonna make a couple observations:

 

1) "No experience during side questing would made side questing boring," made us guffaw.

 

thanks.  we rarely get to use guffaw legit in a sentence.  so, the magnitude o' the xp award controls and/or limits the interest level o' a quest? good to know.  makes quest design much easier for the developers. let josh know "boring" can be balanced with a bit o' a push to the xp award for a quest.

 

we did observe in our post that folks would be unlikely to champion the idea o' zeroed out xp for optional side quests (you missed?) however, the reason for such universal rejection would hardly be the result o' the transformative impact o' absent xp rewards 'pon the overreaching evocative, compelling, intriguing, captivating elements o' quest design.  finish raedric's hold and all you get for troubles is a whole lotta 1007 and a digital slap on the back from companions... am predicting many folks would complain.  would need alter rewards to be a successful change. however, the complaint would not be 'bout lack o' stimulating or engaging gameplay, but rather the failure to match expectations, yes? 

 

regardless, if you genuine see "boring" as linked to magnitude o' the quest xp rewards, then am suspecting we will be at a functional impasse.

 

2) preventing overleveling avoids the diminution of late game challenges due to player xp bloat

 

kinda axiomatic, no?  suggesting we miss the "central criticism" appears to be on shaky ground as our solutions specific address the problem o' a player being too powerful for encounters to be challenging based on perceived excessive.  you appear to believe fixing the problem should take place through level scaling of enemies.  fine.  is a different approach and far more difficult to balance than is Gromnir's solution(s).  there is also a rather poor track record for games which attempt level scaling beyond very limited ranges. nevertheless, the perceived problem is hardly altered by the means which one seeks to fix said problem. 

 

3) overlevel is not a late game problem

 

you, and others, mischaracterize the problem as a "late game enemies" issue.  where player level (and not 1007 or other factors is the real problem) late game is actual not an issue with titles such as poe. 'cause o' the level cap, late game level disparity 'tween enemies and the player will be negligible/non-existent.  late game challenges is designed with capped/near cap players. yes, developers often fail to make late game challenges appropriate, but such is rare a matter o' xp bloat as the player is forcibly prevented from being overleveled late. is some nebulous region 'tween mid and late wherein xp bloat is typical an issue.

 

will let the other silliness slide other than to offer an additional chuckle at your seeming pointless recharacterization o' our obvious tongue-in-cheek progressive tax bit.  sure, our notion o' limiting the problem of excessive subquest xp grants through a progressive numerical penalty were serious, but your desire to redefine were... funny.

 

HA! Good Fun!

Edited by Gromnir
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"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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My personal criteria? Are you joking? The amount of gamers who cares about PoTD being harder is such a tiny minority. I think you're the one, who confuses personal criteria with the wishes of the larger community. Personally I found PoTD easy. I played these games for 20 years, so I'm well equiped for whatever is thrown my way. But it hardly matters in a broader perspective, where the wast majority of gamers never touches PoTD, because they find it too hard.

 

 

I don't understand why you insist on dumping on a suggestion that expands the game's capacity to entertain. "Personally I found PoTD easy" directly contradicts your suggestion that they shouldn't make it harder. Again, no one is insisting that normal playthroughs should be harder. Nor -- afaik -- is anyone from here jumping on other suggestion threads to say "don't work on that." You're the only one here insisting that a facet of the game not be tweaked because you specifically do not care about it.

 

FWIW -- per Steam stats, about 6% of people who beat the game also beat PotD. And that stat isn't even showing folks who have tried PotD or just not done it all the way through. When more than 1 out of 20 members of your core audience want a feature that was universally seen (even by you!) as a bit under-developed -- maybe it merits focus?

 

Edit to add: Also per Steam stats, of all the hard, game ending achievements, PotD is tied for the most popular along with expert mode. Beats out by a wide margin ironman, playing solo, no knockouts, few rests, and pacifiist. Since expert mode isn't something that requires labor, yes, there is a constituency for tweaking PotD upwards just a bit!

Edited by cokane
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thanks.  we rarely get to use guffaw legit in a sentence.  so, the magnitude o' the xp award controls and/or limits the interest level o' a quest? good to know.  makes quest design much easier for the developers. let josh know "boring" can be balanced with a bit o' a push to the xp award for a quest.

 

 

I'm going to focus on one little part here. Point me to where I said the *amount* of experience reward is what makes quests not boring?

 

Experience works as a quest reward for three reasons. First the obvious, it's intuitive player character progression. Second, it's a universally good reward -- gear or reputation boosts aren't going to help every player. Experience is guaranteed to. Third, it allows designers to add a dynamic element to quests that have multiple solutions. For example, you fetch some powerful amulet but you can either keep it and thus get less experience points or return it and lose the gear but get more experience. Not saying they always do this, but it allows for these kinds of options. Striking experience from sidequests means never having this in the toolkit. I think it's uncontroversial that less varied quest rewards = boring.

 

I'm struggling to understand why or how you extracted such an uncharitable reading from what I wrote, since I never said anything about experience amounts being relevant to boring/interesting. Lastly, I'll just note that while you clearly have a lot of passion and lots to say, you are not making an effort to have readable posts. I'll ask again, why make folks slog through prose like that if you actually want to participate in a discussion on the substance of these games?

Edited by cokane
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Like I've said, simply listing every single xp source in the game up to a point X is ridiculously easy, you can then calculate the level at which the player would be at that point and adjust the encounters accordingly, or adjust the XP rewards, or both. The fact that obsidian had the tools but didn't bother to use them sounds kinda shameful to say the least. Level scaling is a lazy solution, which is why big-money companies love it as they seek to automate the design process and rid the world of the evil of handcrafted masterpieces that make their mass-produced pieces of junk shrink in shame.

The most important step you take in your life is the next one.

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I'm struggling to understand why or how you extracted such an uncharitable reading from what I wrote, since I never said anything about experience amounts being relevant to boring/interesting.

am not sure if you are being intentional obtuse to make some kinda point, so apologies if such were your goal.

 

"No experience during side questing would make side questing boring."

 

your words.  the absence o' sufficient experience clear renders questing boring.  is clear a claim that the measure o' experience affects "boring/interesting."

 

regardless, arguing this point, you is reinforcing your initial mistake.  the quests is no more or less interesting 'cause the xp reward for a late game quest resulted in 0xp or 1xp or 5xp.  the quest itself is no less compelling for the absence o' xp, but this is all simple repetition bordering 'pon spam.  if you genuine believe the xp reward can affect how boring is the quest, then am at an impasse.

 

that said, we did already observe how failing to meet expectations would cause confusion and consternation and we already mentioned how for Gromnir solution to work, quest rewards would need be altered a bit as crpg players have developed expectations regarding the payoff o' questing. 1007 rewards alone would no doubt keep many sidequests vital with little need for change and as Gromnir can imagine alternatives to 1007 and experience (we mentioned stronghold prestige/security earlier) am suspecting the developers can do better. but again, am largely repeating self.

 

why take xp out of the "toolbox"?  *chuckle* answer is obvious... is the reason why folks is posting in this thread-- xp rewards from tangential and optional side-quests is causing xp bloat for completionists.  the unbalanced xp a completionist will acquire compared to a critical path player is precise the problem being debated.  as such, find ways to reduce completionist xp is a simple option for fixing the problem... if it is a problem.

 

*shrug*

 

relative overlevel results in a less than insignificant % of the game lacking challenge.  possible more meaningful than the diminished challenge factor is our observation 'bout expectations.  bis/obsidian developers, when making their d&d titles, mentioned how they were aiming for a rough level-per-hour kinda rate.  am doubting developer goals for poe leveling differed much. the games is effective running a skinner box experiment and the rats is being conditioned with levels and 1007 as rewards.  with an easily attainable level cap, sudden, midway through game, the rats is no longer getting the reward they expect.  the poe rats is subjected to possible dozens of hours of conditioning, not to mention years o' previous conditioning from similar games. reward fail and developers end up with lots of unhappy rats. regardless, if cheese is making the rats sick, then obvious solution is to not use cheese to reward the rats.  

 

obsidian wants to keep the rats happy.  with poe the obsidians genuine believed they had an xp scheme which would result in completionists reaching the level cap only near the extreme end of the game.  fail.  first step o' any real solution is to be certain obsidian understands how they could have been so wrong in spite o' their extreme confidence. 

 

btw, is a whole host o' pnp rpgs which do not provide individual quest rewards.  even d&d, for much o' its existence, recommended dms to provide lump xp awards at the end of adventures.  what has kept any number o' folks playing playing pnp rpgs for many years is not the xp grind.  even so, am gonna observe how pnp and single-player crpgs is not the same.  what works in pnp don't necessarily translate to crpg.  need discover what works for crpgs.  unfortunate, crpg xp bloat resulting from rewards for tangential and optional side quests doesn't work... or maybe it isn't the problem some suggest. regardless, the notion o' insufficiency o' xp rewards rendering quests boring is utter ridiculous.  almost feel silly for responding a second time to such.

 

HA! Good Fun!

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"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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It's kind of hard to follow the thread (I agree that Gromnir's in-character writing can be tedious to parse at times, though frankly I'm impressed s/he's kept it up for literally years), but I just want to reiterate some points, underlining something I wrote, and possibly distill some confused discussion:

 

1. Overleveling is actually important. There's no point in levels/experience/advancement/whatever in a RPG if every encounter feels just as taxing as the one before you leveled up. Anyone who's ever played Oblivion would get a firsthand experience of this, which actually had a game system that for min-maxers actually encouraged staying at level 1-5, because at those levels enemies were handicapped and past that enemies scaled virtually as strongly as you did (and for suboptimal characters, moreso). (There are many other games that have similarly broken systems--like Final Fantasy 8--but I suspect a game like Oblivion is more on the radar of people in discussion here.) Notably for Fallout 3/New Vegas (which was based on the same engine as Oblivion), Bethesda/Obsidian learned the lessons from Oblivion and stopped level scaling for enemies at a certain point (and focused more on enemy mixes), and made it more of a step function instead of a continuous function.

 

2. I don't think hitting the level cap should only be possible for completionists. Some of the assertions being made here sound like Obsidian screwed up by letting you hit the level cap without getting 100% of side quests and critical path in PoE. I disagree. PoE was a little too generous with XP before bounties got scaled back, but I think it's perfectly reasonable to let people play with high-level toys without having to do 100% of the game. Completely made up but illustrative numbers here: if the critical path is 60% of level cap, then doing all the side quests should get me to 120%, with 20% wasted exp. I should have the freedom to not do quests if I want, because forcing me to do every quest just so I can see the high-level toys seems to me like a grind.

 

3. I don't think the problem is overleveling, but simply that: if you design a game with a level cap, design encounters that are intended to be done at that level cap. Overleveling past even whatever nominal high-level scaling for critical path is fine to me, both for the sake of mainly-critical-path-players and also the sense of power that completionists should feel for juicing up their characters (e.g. grinding to the star level in Chrono Trigger or level 99 in Earthbound). But if you're going to design high-end toys, I want there to be some a significant number of encounters that actually needs it, or at least lasts long enough where you can unleash them (i.e. the Lavos fight in Chrono Trigger, lengthy multi-form bosses in many Final Fantasies; whereas in PoE I can roflstomp high-level-scaled Thaos in what seems like a few seconds). It doesn't need to be a critical path thing (because that would be a hard gate for normalsauce players), but just give me/us somewhere to play with our big toys for a while. It doesn't even need to provide rewards, it could just be some special sigil that appears next to your character portrait. I think if such a thing existed, I think it would quell a significant share of "PotD is too easy" sort of complaints.

 

(Arguably for #3 Llengrath was the level 16 content in PoE, but I disagree. Concelhaut was a refreshing high-level playground for the White March I level cap [ignoring the fact that you could use the Destroy Vessels effect on that soulbound two-handed sword to one shot Concelhaut himself] but for whatever reason it feels like Llengrath's difficulty did not scale up to the power one could have with the White March II level cap.)

Edited by thelee
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Why would you ever want your player to be able to kill a level 25 dragon at level 13? Having a situation where a player has access to an encounter he cannot yet defeat is an incredibly powerful way to convey growth, it's not a flaw as you suggest.

You wouldn't, which is why I did not suggest you would. You have misunderstood my point by omitting key details from what was said.

 

In my proposed example with the big bad dragon encounter, you want there to be a big bad encounter for the player, but you don't necessarily want it to be at the end of the game. You can either make several different encounters of various levels so that the player always has a relatively difficult encounter, just to technically not scale the dragon, I suppose. But this doesn't really meet your goal, because your goal wasn't to have 5 dragons in this particular example scenario. Also, the dragon isn't lvl 25 until it exists. You're not taking a lvl 25 dragon and making sure a lvl 13 party can take it on. You would be making an encounter, then making sure that a lvl X - lvl Y party could take it on, instead of JUST a lvl X party or just a lvl Y party. It's pretty simple design reasoning, really.

 

If you can't imagine that example scenario effectively, then imagine it's the big-bad-boss of the game, whom you're following (or maybe he's chasing you? *shrug*), and you encounter him at various places throughout the game. The whole time you're playing and progressing, so is he (relative to the time that's passing whilst you're questing and whatnot, not literally every second you play the game, he gets more powerful). Well, if you have optional quests such that you could either encounter him when you're level 3, or when you're level 5, then how do you make sure he's appropriately difficult once encountered? Should he just be a static level no matter what in that encounter, and if so, why?

 

Sure, some encounters should be static and should just be a big challenge for the player that probably can't be taken on much below the level cap. But to have every single encounter in the game be like this is silly. There is absolutely nothing declaring a specific level that you want certain encounters to be. Their entire purpose as a game design element is to be appropriately challenging when they are presented to you. In tabletop games, the DM literally manufactures encounters on the fly based on your party's capabilities. Even in the event one isn't designed for you to win (you're supposed to run away, or its difficulty is some other large part of the ongoing plot, but isn't really just a combat challenge you're supposed to overcome with combat), that still means it's gotta be a certain level of difficulty. And if you make it level 1 billion, how do you know it won't kill everyone instantly? You've got to adjust something on it (like just giving it a bunch of HP instead of just increasing its level), so that it will be unable to be beaten but not instantly slay everyone.

 

I can keep thinking up examples, but the point remains that you should only do what you need to to meet your specific goals for a given encounter, and not something that arbitrarily groups it in with other encounters or adjusts it for no reason.

 

None of the stuff that level-scaling allows you to do makes the game better, it makes the game worse.

You didn't provide a basis for this statement yet. You're impatiently jumping to this conclusion. "Well, if I drink a swimming pool worth of water in a day, I'll die... therefore water is bad and is not good at all." You can't tell me that you can't think of a single situation in an RPG in which you, as a developer designing an encounter, would want to scale that encounter based on when the party was going to face it. Even if it's as simple as "if you complete Chapter 2 before doing this side adventure, this encounter's lvl 5. If you don't, it's lvl 3." That's still an adjustment, to an encounter that wasn't concrete to begin with, because you're deciding what it will be based on other factors, and not just "Here, in the world, for thousands of years, stand these 3 lvl-3 bandits! For they are unmovable, immortal, and all-encompassing!"

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Lepys, level scaling makes the game flat an uninteresting, at one point you can fight bandits with 30 hp, and next time those same bandits have 300 hp, also no one wants to have a wimpy dragon that you can beat at level 3.

It brakes immersion and puts a game in a state where your actions dont matter, because everything you do, will be level scaled for you. 

Its a carebear dumb down mode that people who like to think about their decisions in games really hate.

 

I if i am level 20, dont want some  2 copper holding bandits to be hp sponges with the damage that would slay a dragon, nor do i want whimpy dragons that i can beat just starting out. 

Edited by divjak
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If you can't imagine that example scenario effectively, then imagine it's the big-bad-boss of the game, whom you're following (or maybe he's chasing you? *shrug*), and you encounter him at various places throughout the game. The whole time you're playing and progressing, so is he (relative to the time that's passing whilst you're questing and whatnot, not literally every second you play the game, he gets more powerful). Well, if you have optional quests such that you could either encounter him when you're level 3, or when you're level 5, then how do you make sure he's appropriately difficult once encountered? Should he just be a static level no matter what in that encounter, and if so, why?

 

By calculating the available experience up to that point and balancing the encounter accordingly, like I've suggested a few times already. Balancing isn't some form of arcane magic that can only be learned from the devil of programmer's hell, it's pretty straightforward logic and math. Again, you gain nothing by scaling him up if you've already balanced the encounter so that it is sufficiently challenging to the level your character can be at that point, and significantly more difficult if you've been skipping side content a lot, obviously.

 

The whole point of scouring through the entire game to make your character just as powerful as he can possible be is to see just how easy you can make that one tough fight, that's the standard by which you then measure that build of yours. Even better if there are several incredibly tough encounters scattered throughout the game so you'll anticipate them, form strategies on how you're going to approach that particular fight with this particular character and wondering how is this build going to fare. If the encounter is just scaled to your level, it takes away your effort and input into the situation, it's no longer the player playing the game, it's the game playing the player.

 

The thing is, why stop at level scaling? Why not scale them according to your equipment as well? What if a player has done tons of side content but didn't equip all the best gear in the game, now he's paying a price for it. What if a player didn't go through all those side missions but did end up with a nutcase-gear? What's the point of advancing and building your character if the game is just going to adapt to it so that you'll never experience any different results even by accident?

 

EDIT: No, I really can't think of a single situation where level-scaling would be beneficial to a game, a well designed game doesn't run into those issues. There are always people who will find the game difficult and people who will find the game easy, but a uniform difficulty will provide you something to measure your success as a player against.

Edited by Ninjamestari

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It's kind of hard to follow the thread (I agree that Gromnir's in-character writing can be tedious to parse at times, though frankly I'm impressed s/he's kept it up for literally years), but I just want to reiterate some points, underlining something I wrote, and possibly distill some confused discussion:

 

1. Overleveling is actually important. There's no point in levels/experience/advancement/whatever in a RPG if every encounter feels just as taxing as the one before you leveled up. Anyone who's ever played Oblivion would get a firsthand experience of this, which actually had a game system that for min-maxers actually encouraged staying at level 1-5, because at those levels enemies were handicapped and past that enemies scaled virtually as strongly as you did (and for suboptimal characters, moreso). (There are many other games that have similarly broken systems--like Final Fantasy 8--but I suspect a game like Oblivion is more on the radar of people in discussion here.) Notably for Fallout 3/New Vegas (which was based on the same engine as Oblivion), Bethesda/Obsidian learned the lessons from Oblivion and stopped level scaling for enemies at a certain point (and focused more on enemy mixes), and made it more of a step function instead of a continuous function.

 

2. I don't think hitting the level cap should only be possible for completionists. Some of the assertions being made here sound like Obsidian screwed up by letting you hit the level cap without getting 100% of side quests and critical path in PoE. I disagree. PoE was a little too generous with XP before bounties got scaled back, but I think it's perfectly reasonable to let people play with high-level toys without having to do 100% of the game. Completely made up but illustrative numbers here: if the critical path is 60% of level cap, then doing all the side quests should get me to 120%, with 20% wasted exp. I should have the freedom to not do quests if I want, because forcing me to do every quest just so I can see the high-level toys seems to me like a grind.

 

3. I don't think the problem is overleveling, but simply that: if you design a game with a level cap, design encounters that are intended to be done at that level cap. Overleveling past even whatever nominal high-level scaling for critical path is fine to me, both for the sake of mainly-critical-path-players and also the sense of power that completionists should feel for juicing up their characters (e.g. grinding to the star level in Chrono Trigger or level 99 in Earthbound). But if you're going to design high-end toys, I want there to be some a significant number of encounters that actually needs it, or at least lasts long enough where you can unleash them (i.e. the Lavos fight in Chrono Trigger, lengthy multi-form bosses in many Final Fantasies; whereas in PoE I can roflstomp high-level-scaled Thaos in what seems like a few seconds). It doesn't need to be a critical path thing (because that would be a hard gate for normalsauce players), but just give me/us somewhere to play with our big toys for a while. It doesn't even need to provide rewards, it could just be some special sigil that appears next to your character portrait. I think if such a thing existed, I think it would quell a significant share of "PotD is too easy" sort of complaints.

 

(Arguably for #3 Llengrath was the level 16 content in PoE, but I disagree. Concelhaut was a refreshing high-level playground for the White March I level cap [ignoring the fact that you could use the Destroy Vessels effect on that soulbound two-handed sword to one shot Concelhaut himself] but for whatever reason it feels like Llengrath's difficulty did not scale up to the power one could have with the White March II level cap.)

 

This post hits the nail on the head. Again, over-leveling should be something the players get rewarded for. Being overpowered for content half way thru or 3/4 thru isn't necessarily bad game design.

 

What doesn't make a ton of sense is having max level skills/talents and high end items if there isn't something putting those things to the test. In the original PoE there wasn't much content that did this. As you state, clearly the Llengrath and Concelhaut sections were attempts at this. And while they were decent attempts, they could have been better, especially on the highest difficulty setting. My personal experience with the Llengrath area involved me not dying in a single fight on my first playthrough -- on PotD. And I'm not a great player. That seems like there is room to move the difficulty upwards.

 

Moreover, if there's going to be an expansion and an increase on level caps, I do think the designers would do well to revisit and rebalance upwards any original final sequence from the core game. For example: I'm not saying Thaos has to be as hard as Llengrath, but it would have been nice if there was a little more to that final section other than just what is essentially a monster stat boosting option.

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I think that even though we don’t fully really believe in the following, we tend to argue in favour for three extremes:

 

1) there should be no scaling, legendary enemies should be tough as balls and demand from players to lvl up to them, lvl of enemies should be consistent with world building and reflect creatures power within that world.

 

2) getting a bit overpowered is fine as it shows your progress throughout the game. Scaling enemies contradicts your raise in power, making lvl up meaningless

 

3) game is still a game, challange should be constant and content should always match players lvl.

 

All of the above statements do represent what people like from their levelling system but I don’t think they necessarily have to exclude each other. On a contrary, all of the above should be a part of a good lvl & scaling system.

 

First of all, it would be a mistake to scale every enemy to your level, or scale every enemy the same way. Like a narrative needs a clear arch, direction, tension building and releasing of said tension, gameplay needs combat and other checks to be varied. You constantly provide tough challenge and player will get frustrated and narrative could get stuck. On the other hand, you provide no challange at all and player stops being engaged with systems. Ideally you want them to be on their toes, but not struggle all the time to allow quests to flow. If you go to the area and it is scale up to your level, difficulty of the enemies you face should be consistent with the quest design - unarmed peasants be peasants, while on the other spectrum big Dragon, sea monster or challenging rival pose a challange.

 

No one asks for every enemy and every area to scale up. Kobolots be kobolts, revisiting earlier areas filled with weaker enemies both by design and lore and wiping the map clean can absolutely be part of the experience.

 

Similarly, legendary enemies can still be part of the game, waiting for you to lvl up, or kick your butt by acting as a late game challange, reflection of your growth or gateway organically blocking access to areas devs want you to access later.

 

As far as scaling contradicting lvling up... that would mostly be a testament to a weakness of the design. It usually happens when lvl up only rises your stats (health, DPS, accuracy) but doesn’t expand gameplay in an interesting way. Skyrim had this problem. My lvl 20 character played the same way as my 1 lvl. character. He had more health, but enemies did more damage, he hit harder but enemies had more health. He didn’t get defined much beyond where the game started and gameplay didn’t get expanded.

 

If we get access to unique skills and expand what our characters can do, and how they can interact with each other (we are talking about a party based combat after all) we did grew beyond numbers and stats. Even giving enemies a little stat boost to force player to not sleepwalk through the engagement still should showcase his superiority thanks to skills and combos his party possesses, special advantages provided via equipment and tactics learned. Overolling dice rolls is the most dull way you can represent your party’s growth.

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Guest Blutwurstritter

I am always disappointed when enemies are not reacting to your power level. A sentient enemy should recognize that he can't beat a group of heroes that wield weapons of legendary status. Trash mobs could be scripted to flee if your level/items/whatever are over the top. This way you would get a "reward" for leveling and it would also add to the atmosphere and consistency of the world. This would also give the player feedback of his current standing in a region. The design of more meaningful conflicts would also become more important, where enemies have an actual reason to fight you, meaning that they won't flee even if you are powerful.   

Actually you could create a self regulating control system with an experience feedback loop if there was combat experience. 

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