Character Progression Mechanics

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Warpmind, May 8, 2015.

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What sort of progression system would you like to see?

  1. Default system; predetermined skills gained at predetermined levels.

    4 vote(s)
    6.9%
  2. Early Final Fantasy style; skills/spells purchased from vendors/trainers.

    5 vote(s)
    8.6%
  3. D&D/Pathfinder style; some skills/spells predetermined, others chosen by player.

    34 vote(s)
    58.6%
  4. Other (Please specify)

    15 vote(s)
    25.9%
  1. LaFlibuste

    LaFlibuste Veteran Veteran

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    I haven't really seen it often in video games, but personally I prefer fully customizable, class-less & level-less systems, like you'd see in some pen and paper table top RPGs such as the White Wolf system (Vampires: The Masquerade, Werewolf, Mages, Exalted, etc.) or Shadowrun. Like, you receive exp at the end of adventures and you use it to increase / buy attributes, skills, abilities, etc. I also like the "minimalist" approach to stats: you generally have a handful of life points and you are not going to see any stat going in the hundreds. In fact, they rarely go above ~5 - 10. Likewise for damage. Of course, most of these systems really make more sense when you have the possibility / need to specialize in something non-combat-related, like diplomacy, crafting or whatever. Else, characters might all look a little similar, I guess...  :unsure:
     
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  2. TheRiotInside

    TheRiotInside Extra Ordinaire Veteran

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    When playing a game, I'm drawn to skill trees and skill equip (FFIX) systems that allow you to build your characters in specific ways depending on your style of play and/or current needs. You get to experiment and discover inventive combinations of skills and change up your party completely if you want.

    When making a game though, these systems can be tough to properly balance. Say you have a standard skill tree system with three trees for a character. Not only do you have to plan out the logical order of skills in a given tree for balance and progression purposes, but also how they interact with the other trees. Say if two skills work great in tandem. One is available with 5 levels spent in one tree, and the other with 15 spent in another. This means that by level 20, the player has this combination available to them. Where should they be at level 20? Is this skill combo too strong for this section of the game?

    Maybe you want that skill combo to be available roughly 5 levels later, but cannot find a good way to change the position of the two skills. Maybe make the skill after one of them really appealing for level 20, forcing the player to make a tough decision between having a sweet skill combo or having this other sweet skill.

    You want to find all of the potential skill combos and analyze the crap out of them. When it then comes to battle testing, the fun does not stop, haha. Depending on how hard you want to make your game, you then need to see how your party fares with terrible combinations of skills (or none at all) and the best combinations. Can you barely scrape by without the right skills? Is there even a remote challenge with the best combos? These are all important questions!

    Kudos to those who have successfully made RPG's with balanced skill tree systems. It's by no means an easy feat, but totally worth the payoff in my opinion. :)
     
    #22
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  3. Sixth

    Sixth Veteran Veteran

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    I made a system where the player gets growth points (GP) upon level ups, and that's that, no automatic skill learning, stat raise or anything else.


    These points can be spent on stat points however the player wants to, no restrictions.


    The stats are assigned an attribute, these can be: physical, magical and speed. Assigning growth points to stats will raise these attributes as well depending on a formula.


    And depending on the level of these attributes, new skills can be unlocked. The skills are unlocked immediately upon confirming the growth point allocation.


    This way, the player can develop their characters how they want, and depending on their builds, a matching skill set will be learned along the way.


    Also not so restrictive, since there are multiple ways of unlocking the same skills too.


    For example, learning Heal requires 20 magic and 5 speed attribute. Magic attribute can be gained by raising either MAT, MDF or MMP, and speed attribute can be gained by raising AGI or LUK (well, I renamed LUK to DEX and changed it's function, but you get the idea, right? :p ). So there is a multitude of ways to gain the same skills with a different build.


    It is a pain to balance a system like this for sure. Requires countless hours of brainstorming and testing, editing the requirements, and so on, but in the end, most of the players will enjoy a system like this way more than the old and boring default system without any way to customize the growth of your characters.


    So, my choice belongs to the "Other" category, I guess.
     
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  4. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    This is essentially automatic skill learning in the sense that skills would be learnt in a rough order unless you completely ignore an entire set of stats, but even in light of that, I think this sounds like a good and fun system!
     
    #24
  5. Hopelessdecoy

    Hopelessdecoy Villager Member

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    I like large branching skill trees that offer strategy and replayability. It also allws you to sort of create your own characters and makes no 2 playthrpughs the same.
     
    #25
  6. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    I'm fine with a basic system that has predetermined skills at level ups, but it's nice to also have some choices to make when it comes to what skills you want to learn for your characters. I'm thinking of somewhat re-doing the skill learn system in one of my games, to give the player a choice between 2 different skills at higher levels. The characters' early skills will be predetermined, but the later skills will be choice-based. As well as having equippable skills.
     
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  7. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    One other thought I just had: one very simple skill progression system that I enjoyed a lot was the one in the RPG Maker game Simple Man's Quest for the Playground: after completing every major mission, each member of the party is given a choice of two different skills they can learn.  You pick one or the other, and whichever one you don't pick can't be attained at any other point.  It makes the decisions feel very weighty, in a good way, and also offers some freedom in how you want to play your characters.

    I basically used this system for timeblazer, with the exceptions that you pick one of three skills after each boss, and a character that dies in a boss fight will not get to pick any at all (which is a mechanic I wouldn't recommend for most games but it works well in mine).  I also have one opportunity late in the game to pick any one skill that you haven't learned already for each character, which allows the player, in the final moments of the game, to utilize broken combos that mutual exclusivity had previously prevented.

    This "pick this or that" system could be used for missions, bosses, level-up skill gains, item-based skill gains, or pretty much any skill acquisition system.  But I think that the choice between multiple skills (whether the choice is permanent or reversible) can add a lot to a game.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2015
    #27
  8. Zoltor

    Zoltor Veteran Veteran

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    The 2nd option is not only sloppy/makes very little sense, but it causes some unwarranted issues as well(specifically with the way the old FF games handled such), doesn't mean there aren't ways to do such, but the old FF games does it in the most restrictive way possible.

    I have quite a few skill systems going on in my game, here's a list of the different skill systems in my game:

    Standard Magic/Unique magic type, specific to a Actor: this is based on just old fashioned leveling up(these use regular MP).

    Special:  These are skills tied to equipment, while "technically" some of these could be bought, they're inferior to the equipment you'll be getting by other means(these use TP)

    Techniques: There are technique scrolls that can be found, won or even crafted(These wont be found in shops though), that when obtained, you can use(they are expendable, so they are rather precious items to say the least) to make a character of your choice, learn the Technique that is inscribed on the scroll(these also use TP, but have the benefit of being permanently learned, instead of needing to have a specific piece of equipment on)
     
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  9. Amuseum

    Amuseum Veteran Veteran

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    There are an infinite number of methods for character progression. How can a poll of three choices be even close to enough to cover the vast variety out there?


    I prefer freedom of choices because that tends to generate more replayability. Such that players come back over and over to try different combinations and each replay would provide different experiences.


    Some of the SaGa games within themselves provide several different progression methods. Usually each race has their own development. Humans raise by training weapons. Mystic/Mutants can learn skills depending on which enemies they fight. Monsters turn into the same enemy monsters you fight. Robots get abilities and stats directly from the type of equipment they wear. And so on.


    For this reason, SaGa series remains the most inspirational series to me. Not only are the mechanics fun and interesting, each playthrough is a different experience as you experiment with different combinations of team structures and weapons and skills. Perhaps you want an all-agility team of robots. Or maybe mutants and monsters that blow everything up with big magic spells. Or humans that get better at a different types of weapon. Or a more balanced, conventional team. They're all viable and fun in their own ways.
     
    #29

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