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

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Moop
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Maybe if you find a way to make it so that interacting with your environment can boost stats. Maybe helping a villager move wood increases strength, running around increases speed, praying in church increases magic, so on....
 

Ethos5

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Honestly, I'd combine the old skill-level system of the original Dungeon Siege (use a ranged weapon, go up in ranged skill, attributes change based on your higher skill. A pure ranged character, for instance, would have different stats from a ranged/arcane magic build), the alchemy system of Secret of Evermore (want to cast fireball? Gather two parts Ash and one part Oil per casting), and the junction system of Final Fantasy 8 (add different secondary stats to your main ones to become stronger).

So, for example, a fire mage. He's leveled up his skills in the Inferno (a massive fire damage boost) and Controlled Burn (fire skills take a 10% damage penalty, but use 1/2 the resources) trees. He has junctioned his skill level in Inferno to his health, granting him fire resistance and a small health boost, and Controlled Burn to his melee attacks, giving a small fire-based melee damage boost and a chance for fire-based alchemy materials to drop after the battle (you burned his clothes with your punch, creating some ash, for example). Once he's used Controlled Burn tagged skills 10 more times, he unlocks better quality material drops from his melee attacks.
 

Ariaka

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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?
As others have said, generally using equipment (Or a specific equip slot) to increase stats. As for spells, it would be easy to put in a, "Use to unlock/improve spells," system. For example lets say we only have access to Heal I.

Heal I used x 30 = Improved Heal I, Heal II, Shield, Faerie Fire.

Faerie Fire used x 17 = Improved Faerie Fire, Immolation, Wind I

And so forth.
 

Chrispy

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If I ever did a 'no-level' system, I would keep it simple do something very similar to Chrono Cross. You beat a boss, you fight battles. After each battle you gain a few stats. Your stat gain will cap out after 5~10~20 battles and you have to fight a boss to keep gaining stats (No Grind! YES!!!). Characters wouldn't be able to get overpowered, and balance would generally be easy because, aside from optional bosses and powerful side-quest items, you would always know the general stat range of the player's party at any point in the story, and would be able to plan accordingly.
 

Valkyriet

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Personally, I feel that increasing the stats of your characters through side-quests is a really good way to gain the interest of some players. Additionally, if the party completed all 10/10 quests, they could gain special boosts. Other ideas would be an arena, or boss battles where if you defeat the enemy, you gain their unique strengths. Cannot think of anything else at the moment, but yeah, implementing stat boosts through certain gameplay methods would be nice.

At first, no level ups sounds weird (and I feel a bit uncomfortable with it) but if you can manage to get it done in a fun way, then great!
 

Nirwanda

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It's similar to what others have suggested, but an idea would be rewarding quest progression with character growth. For example: You defeated the dragon? +5 strength! Solved the mistery in the shrine? Learn a healing spell! You could also add extra rewards for completing sidequests. And if you want to give the players freedom, you could always award stat points and skill points and let the player choose what to learn and how to develop their character.
 
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whitesphere

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If I did a no-levels system, I would have a few things:

* JPs would allow characters to increase stats, learn some new skills and mainly to upgrade certain skills' effectiveness (i.e. upgrade Fire I to Fire II)

* Defeating bosses would unlock special abilities such as "Stonewall" (extremely high damage resistance, but lasts for a short time)

* Mini-bosses could Trade player attributes.  For example "I can make your magic attacks stronger in exchange for some Agility."   or "I can make you resistant to Fire in exchange for greater sensitivity to Holy attacks." or "I can teach you Dark Storms in exchange for your Lightning spell."  The Trades are obviously permanent.

* Performing significant Quest objectives would grant the players other new abilities or attributes such as "Befriend the Dragon to become immune to surprise attacks."
 

cybrim

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Phantasy Star 2 has levels, however they don't matter, money for equipment and keeping your healers healthy is what matters, level grinding is almost entirely pointless and when you buy new equipment the difference in power is amazing, leveling up has no real effect on your damage output, only skills, max HP & TP (what other games call MP). All characters can dual-wield, they attack twice when holding 2 weapons, there are 2-handed weapons that seem to be more accurate, but only hit once & there are shields which also reduces you to one attack. This game just feels like you're grinding for cash to buy those Ceramic Knives! You just happen to gain more HP/TP & Skills along the way. It really is an incredible RPG from sega's late 80's. The dungeons are well crafted and you can get lost in them. If you want a game that does levels "RIGHT" this one is a good start, because of it's emphasis on the overall world and where your character fits into it, you are just a person that learns abilities you aren't a God, you aren't a super powered being so you need the equipment to survive the harder challenges. The difference in this game is the exp required for every character for every level is different, you won't level up at the same time as your other characters & dual-wielding is the best offense.

"The Way" (look it up online) is another really cool RPG, it comes in 5 episodes and uses no levels, you actually have to challenge yourself to gain little benefits that only help a tiny amount, great fun. It's free! It was made with RPG Maker 2000 but used a unique duel system & the story was AMAZING!
 

Tai_MT

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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?

That is exactly how my game currently works.  I didn't like the idea of "players will just grind until they can kill everything and walk through the game".  So, I turned level ups into things that unlock portions of the map (mostly shortcuts to get around) as a means to promote exploration of the map (in the playtests I've run, each time my players gained a level, they walked the whole map again, looking for what had changed.  Unintended side-effect, I hadn't planned on that, but I liked the player behavior, so I left the system intact).  I have items, instead, raise the stats of characters.  You are given these items via Quest completion (this was a way to get players invested in the narrative.  They will go looking for Quests and complete Quests, just for the stats).  The items can then be used on any character in your party.  You can use the stat gaining items to shore up defenses in characters, make them more powerful, or just whatever suits your fancy.  Later on, I also intended to have shops that sell these items at really steep prices so that players will drop their money into a hole for a modest stat gain.


My general thoughts on a "level up system" is just that it's good for what it is.  I like to level up in a game because it makes my characters stronger, it means I don't have to fight so hard or use as many resources.  I power-level in any game that lets me do so (and generally get bored with games that don't let me).  I do also enjoy systems like Final Fantasy 2, where your stats gain points based on how you use the characters in combat.  I enjoy standard level up progression as much as I enjoy alternative stat progression methods (at least... in most cases).
 

Dream3r

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

I had to put my rpg on hold for a bit but that's pretty much how I'm going to do it.  You spend money on training and such to get the skills most valuable to you.  Basically the most basic version of each skill is available at the start and you can train towards what your play style is.  If you want to be the guy who creates distractions and sneaks past enemies to get to your goal or if you want to be the guy who takes the enemy straight on, that's your choice.  Because of that gameplay choice it's important that you don't "level up" based on fighting because perhaps you're not going to be fighting that much, in the end it's getting the job done that should matter, not how many people you struck down to do it.
 

Tuomo L

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You could do what I did for my game and reward players with items and things that increase their stats, such as stat increasing potions. 
 

Zarsla

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?Shamless plug for my CES Demo(Complex Evented Systems with XP).


Right now my current project is a base demo that will allow the user to have:


A parameters system (you by parameters)


A diffuculty system (that is both in battle and out of battle)


A grind system


A skill system were you can buy skills


A way to buy classes


A forging/crafting system


A node like sytem - minimg/plant picking system


Everything is bought using XP(well things that will deal with advancement eg skills, parameters, classes)  and while in my game you use battles to gain XP, if you don't wish to battle then you can go on a quests to give you XP.


Oh and you can get it through random loot chest (in my game their the green chests)


Personally I dislike how leveling and exp are being use in the default way,  I like having control over how my characters level and using XP makes it easy.
 

Some Guy In A Waistcoat

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Right now, I'm working out the details for a no-level design for my game. I'm figuring that tying new skills and stat boosts to equipment is a neat way to tie together a feeling of progression and player choice if I do it right. At each new area/stage, there's a range of equipment offering different stats and abilities. Say, the fighter has a choice of weapons that grant him a larger boost to damage versus a nifty new ability, or the mage has a decision between grimoires for different spell and stat upgrades. 

From there, 'level' is renamed to 'guild rank', and still serves the purpose of giving the player an idea of how challenging enemies and quests in an area are and doubles as a quest mechanic that ties into the narrative of the game, and gives that sense of progression when they rank up and new sidequests unlock. 

What I've learned from a few rounds with some two-hour long builds and handy playtesters from the university down the road is that it can feel as rewarding as standard levelling for the player, you really need to put in a lot of extra work and forethought into balancing that equipment. It took me a few tries and some damned good feedback to start getting a handle on it, but I think it's a workable alternative as long as I can keep putting in the effort. 
 

Misaki

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My current system involves more unlocking of characters. All the characters come with every skill - no boosts. It's pretty much a "Follow this story and win to proceed" kind of thing.
 


Mainly because it's aimed to be a small little fun project so.. I guess it's fine.
 

Makio-Kuta

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Our most recent game had no leveling and all character customization and stat growth was handled through equipment. All characters had 3 accessory slots and there were plenty of accessories in game to mix and match with the characters. Some taught skills, while others provided different bonuses and the like. It was a short game. I think it's important that if you are going to have battles in a system with no EXP that battles still reward the player in some way. Otherwise, what is the point of fighting them? (In I Object!? the battles were mostly optional and rewarded the players with new accessories and the like. Non-optional ones were rewarded with plot progression and also accessories at times.)


Now, the game wasn't very balanced, but we didn't spend much time on balancing. haha


I also really enjoyed the leveling system in Grumpy Knight (a RPGmaker game by Fomar and Indrah) your characters gained a level at set points in the story rather than through battle experience. So while it did have levels, it didn't have EXP or a typical growth system. It might be worth checking out. (All of Indrah and Fomar's games have very unique ways to grow your characters, levels or not, so they might be worth checking out. Sunken Spire (which I had the honour of helping with art and story on)  had a lot of unique ways to grow your characters along side levels. Levels were NOT the main source of their growth though.)


There's a lot of ways to go about it, but yeah - the important thing is that you are still rewarding your player for their efforts. Random battles with no EXP are tedious and don't have much point and the player will see them as nothing more than a hindrance. 
 

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