No level ups. Other ways to increase the strength of your characters.

TheGamedawg

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How would you guys approach playing creating a game that has no level up system whatsoever.  Instead you would get stat boosts and skills via other means.  What are your thoughts on games that do this sort of thing?
 

Amysaurus

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I've seen some games do stat increases purely using equipment, though I'm not sure how that would work for spells. Perhaps amulets/accessory-type items could do that?

I swear I have other ideas for this, but I'm blanking at the moment xD 

I think it's a good idea, but it really depends on how you make it work :)
 
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TheGamedawg

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Shhh! That's what I'm doing. Don't tell anyone else!  :D
I think that's what a lot of people are planning to do.  Heck, in the project I'm working on right now I planned to use that system from the beginning.  I just needed the proper plugins to do it!
 

Rinobi

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Equipment, stat trainers, and skill trainers would be a pretty straightforward way of going about it.
 

Zortik

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I would need a large / skilled team to accomplish the game I'd love to create.

Blood Limit.

Gameplay would be more akin to The Reckoning / Skyrim.

The character would adventure out and gather up 'blood' through a collection skill. Then use a device to infuse the blood into their system. Their appearance, abilities, and stats would change as blood is collected. The device can only initially hold so many 'samples' of the blood. So you'll spend some time exploring ways to increase the capacity (and subsequently get more powerful). Later you'll need different types of blood to survive in different regions.

The game would emphasize exploration and lore with a main quest line to direct the player as/if needed.
 
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One has to be careful when doing that as it's easy to make the game easy to break for too easy or too difficult due to lower status limit, although status buffs may help balancing issues.
 

jonthefox

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I actually prefer games without levels, or where levels have a minimal effect on power level.  I don't like grinding. :)   I like increasing my power through learning new skills, improving the power of my skills through use or training, finding better equipment.  and last but not least...learning the strategic ins and outs of the game.  this is the hardest thing to get right, especially if one is trying to come up with an original idea/system.  it can't be too complicated or confusing because that's a turn-off, but it should require some strategic thinking to get the hang of.   
 

arcthemonkey

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I actually prefer games without levels, or where levels have a minimal effect on power level.  I don't like grinding.
This comment leveled up my motivation for my current project! ... *cough*

But yeah, I also hate grinding. I don't think it should be necessary, but I also don't like the idea of letting the player circumvent the challenge by doing something that is not challenging (well, I guess enduring the time it takes to grind is a challenge...).

Right now I am about 80% committed to no levels, and like you said - if there are levels in the end, they will have minimal impact.

I don't want to derail this thread, but yeah, I like tying stats and crap to equipment.
 

Matseb2611

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You could use the Yanfly Job Points System plugin to award JP from each enemy encountered, then spend that JP on stat boosts and skills using the Yanfly's Skill Learn System plugin.
I'm using that method too. I think what can change from game to game is how you reward the player with JP, whether it's from enemy encounters or something else. In my current project I am giving these upon completion of main and side quests only, and not from battles or anything else. That way there's no grinding needed, only progressing through the game and doing side quests. :)
 

Schlangan

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There is another system, who use your actions in battle to increase your stats. If you're hit, your def will increase, if you use magical attacks, your magic stat will increase, and so on. But, it isn't easy to balance things out.


In my game, there is a level system to gain stats, but the progression depends a lot on the character. At equal levels, some characters may be 10 times stronger. Also, while level increase the stats, it is mainly the story that will give power boosts; ancient spirits, fusions, seals removed, and so on... My level system is made to make things easier if the player takes time to explore a whole map (as the enemies are visible on the map and do not reappear after being killed)
 

gstv87

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check out Mount&Blade and Zomboid.

http://mountandblade.wikia.com/wiki/Skills

http://pzwiki.net/wiki/Skills

M&B has a level system, but they both share a similar concept: your character is shaped around the branch of skills you're most proficient with.

if you use a baseball bat a lot in Zomboid, or an axe in M&B, you get points for it, and you strike harder and swing faster as you level up.

if you trade a lot in M&B, you get cheaper prices... if you build things in Zomboid, they have more hit points and look more polished.

the Diablo games could fit that mechanic too, if you took out the leveling and kept the skill tree mechanic.

in many games, the level number is often used within some calculations, as a factor of something.

so, if you had a level disadvantage against an enemy, their skills would hit you (level * damage) times harder, for example.

if your damage calculations or quest systems don't consider the level, then there's really no point on keeping tally of it.
 
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Rinobi

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Even if the level isn't considered in any combat calculations or quest restrictions, it can still act as feedback to give the player a general idea of enemy or ally's 'strength' relative to their own. I mean, if your player is level 20 and sees a level 60 Goblin Rager walking around, that monster now acts as a deterrent... or a challenge. Even arbitrary levels can aid in a game's overall design, as long as you're using them for something, they have a place.
 

jwideman

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For my project, the weapons level up while the characters do not. The characters get their skills from the weapons and switching weapons to get different skills will be an important strategy.
 

aesorian

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Theres a system I'd love to do like some of these, it does use levels but merely as a ranking system:

1) Levels don't affect anything, just a general guideline of the enemies you should be facing and the stuff you have access to.

2) Stat-Ups would be gained though Items (PIlls, Herbs etc.) and Equipment

3) Every x levels/ranks (maybe 5 or 10) you'd hit a soft level cap, where you're unable to gain more exp or levels,  and you'd have to go out and fight a Boss monster. Defeating the monster would allow you to gain levels again and give you a skill and some stats. Different monsters would give you different skills and some would benefit different class more (I.e a Magical character would benefit more from fighting a Ghost type monster than a Warrior would)

4) There would be a Zoo in town with a selection of special Monsters for leveling, but the better ones with the better skills would be out in the world somewhere. 
 

arcthemonkey

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Theres a system I'd love to do like some of these, it does use levels but merely as a ranking system:

1) Levels don't affect anything, just a general guideline of the enemies you should be facing and the stuff you have access to.

2) Stat-Ups would be gained though Items (PIlls, Herbs etc.) and Equipment

3) Every x levels/ranks (maybe 5 or 10) you'd hit a soft level cap, where you're unable to gain more exp or levels,  and you'd have to go out and fight a Boss monster. Defeating the monster would allow you to gain levels again and give you a skill and some stats. Different monsters would give you different skills and some would benefit different class more (I.e a Magical character would benefit more from fighting a Ghost type monster than a Warrior would)

4) There would be a Zoo in town with a selection of special Monsters for leveling, but the better ones with the better skills would be out in the world somewhere. 
I'm doing something like this, but with no levels at all. The ideal I'm going for is that there is a somewhat open world, but instead of scaling content so the player can do things in the order they want, I would establish a baseline difficulty for the entire game. Each area would present different "puzzles", so to speak, that increase the difficulty from the baseline (to pretty much impossible) unless you can solve that "puzzle". So one area may have the skull rats with with their impossibly high defense combined with an impenetrable skull armor that has to be sundered before you can damage them at all. The player can either use specific party members, equipment, or skills in order to 1) Sunder their armor so they can be hurt at all, 2) reduce their base defense, and/or 3) deal extra damage against their creature class. Accomplishing #1 brings the difficulty down to "possible but really freaking hard". #1 AND #2 OR #3 puts you at the baseline difficulty of the game, and all three will actually make the area easier than most.

But in order to get the party members, or craft the gear, or learn the spells that let you do this - you have to complete other areas/puzzles/quests. The player basically chips away at the greater puzzle until they get to the center.

Aesorian, what you described makes me wonder about something like the FF8 spell draw and junctioning system. Levels barely made any difference in that game once you mastered junctioning, so something like that could work without levels.
 

Eilios

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I've thought about this a ton as well. I have a system I can't share for my game, but I will say you have to be really, really careful with how you approach this. 

You rely on no levels, but skill based progression instead, and you still have leveling. You rely on stats to gear, which you progress to get, you still have leveling in a sense. This is a very hard line to follow for progression without leveling something, somehow, or using time (which in essence can be more annoying than just leveling) to gain progression, and removing progression is usually going to give a feeling that your character went nowhere. 

Kinda simple, but it's what helped me get to what I really hope works for us. We'll see I guess. Just some stuff to keep in mind that I thought I'd share.
 

Clangeddin

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I've yet to see a non-level system that is not a completely unbalanced trainwreck. The irony is that they tend to exacerbate grinding even worse than levelling systems (which I suspect would be the original intent of a non levelling system).
Wether it was FF2, or any SaGa game, or elder scrolls games, all of them were prone to either make you incredibly overpowered right from the beginning with grind or forsake the grind and be annhilated by the first bosses. (ok, maybe elder scrolls games are already easy right away from the beginning, lol).
 
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arcthemonkey

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The secret, in my eyes, is no stat progression, either. This way, you can balance the entire game around a base set of parameters. It's hard to describe, I guess.

If players feel like they aren't getting anywhere just because there aren't big numbers flying around, then it's time to change their perception. Level or stay or gear based progression is an illusion in most games - the enemies get stronger, too.

So I, for one, am throwing that entire concept out the window. Or trying to. A sword you get 10 hours into the game will barely do more damage than one you got at the beginning (if any). The new sword will do different things, though, which is what makes it valuable.

I am making sure that I am always rewarding effort and progression, but I am doing it by expanding the player's toolset, somewhat akin to a Metroidvania or Zelda game. If characters start to hit harder, there is a story based reason for it.
 

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