Thursday, 30 January 2014

On Leveling, Part 2

Missed Wednesday huh? Dang. I was too busy teaching kindergarteners about polymers.

Alright, so Monday I went into leveling, where it worked and where I thought it began to not.

Borderlands 2 was my example where it's so easy to not really be able to play your friends meaningfully due to levels. Now don't get me wrong, I understand the entire point to that kind of game is the acquisition of power. But how do you balance that with playing with friends who have more or less time then you do?

If we want to keep the point of the game the same, the acquisition of power, then scaling could be one possible solution. If player A is level 34, and player B is level 17, scale Player A and his guns down to player B. Now A is still more powerful, he still has all of his skill points, his guns are equal to his level where as B might have guns a few levels old.

With this one change, I would probably play that game again.

I could say the same for Diablo III and Torchlight II. I don't mind trying different classes, but maintaining 5 or more characters based on who is online is bothersome.

That actually turned out as much shorter an explanation then I thought it would have been.

Payday 2: A game that got it right. Payday and Borderlands home some similarities. 4 player co-operative game play, combat focused mainly around guns, with levelling up and skill points. Where they differ is the point of the game. Borderlands focuses on the acquisition of power, Payday is the acquisition of utility. Borderlands has a linear story, Payday is a series of repeatable heists, bank or otherwise. In Borderlands you level and gain stats and skill points. Become able to equip better guns and shields with more stats. In Payday, you gain levels and earn skill points. These skill points provide options, but not necessarily always power. At certain levels you unlock more guns. These guns are not more powerful then what is already available, but provides more options. The only part of leveling I would say is straight power, is the different levels of armour. Even though each unlock of armour has better protection, it's less concealable. If you want to take the stealth approach, wearing the thickest armour isn't going to work. Each unlock of armour is also slower. A dedicated bagman may want to wear lighter armour just to not be slowed down. The final armour unlock happens rather early on, at level 31. The best armour can be obtained at level 38 through the proper spending of skill points. The majority of armour is unlocked by level 12.

A level 100 playing with a level 1 in Payday 2 happens easily. The level 1's equipment isn't statistically better or worse then the level 100's. But the level 100 has OPTIONS and UTILITY.

Despite a level spread in our group, we all manage to play together. No one is over or underpowered compared to the content, and everyone feels useful.

I'm going to need to cut this post short. Next time, MMOs.

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