Character Growth

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Roots
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Character Growth

Postby Roots » Sat Feb 24, 2007 9:09 pm

I had this idea when I was taking a shower yesterday (for some reason most of my ideas come from the shower :shrug: ). The idea is: make characters grow all the time instead of just at experience level boundaries. Here's how it works:

(1): Compute how much the character's stats will grow by on the next exp. level (remember character growth has some randomization in it)

(2): Using the exp points remaining as a gauge, give out stat bonuses to the characters after battles periodically.

* Note: some things, such as new skills, we will only bestow upon the character after they gain the xp level.


For example, lets assume Claudius is on level 1, and needs 1000 exp points to get to level 2. We pre-compute that Claudius will gain 4 strength points when he gets to level 2. Therefore, we give Claudius +1 strength after he has achieved 750 exp points remaining, 500, 250, and finally when he does get to level 2, give him the last strength point. The same thing would be done with all other stats (HP, SP, fortitude, etc.).



The motivation for this is that the player can see their characters growing on a more "real-time basis". It gets tiring playing older RPGs where you need to level your characters and have to fight dozens of battles before you see any growth at all. But if we provided constant small rewards to the player for each battle they complete, I believe they'll be more motivated to fight battles.


Any thoughts on this? :approve: :disapprove: :|?
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Postby Roots » Sat Feb 24, 2007 9:15 pm

Also I have one more idea I thought of when working on the global code yesterday. For character growth, I thought that perhaps we can provide variation in their growth stats, instead of just having the character constantly earn an average of +10HP every level. For example, we can have the character's strength grown considerably from levels 1-20, and then slowly level it off afterward. Or we can have the character gain an irregularly high amount of HP points from levels 25-28. etc.


I don't know if this would add much to the game. If the player doesn't really notice it then it won't, but I think they will notice it. Technically we could do the same for enemies as well, but I don't think it would be worth the time or effort, since the player is very much less likely to notice then. It would be really easy for me to code this scheme up though. For now its just a thought I'm throwing out there. :)
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Postby ChopperDave » Sat Feb 24, 2007 9:54 pm

If we did take this growth approach then we really wouldn't need levels. The idea behind leveling up is that when you do you gain a significant stat boost. With gradual growth this no longer happens.

One other approach to growth we could consider is that your stats level up as you use them. We've seen this in the Elder Scrolls games, and for any of you who played FF2 as part of FF Origins, you know what I mean. Physical attacks will up your phys atk, taking physical hits will inc your phys def, etc.

Or we could combine the two. With this any char could level up his magic defense, but the wizards will always be the ones with the higher magic def.
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Postby Roots » Sat Feb 24, 2007 10:24 pm

No, I think levels will still be necessary. They are needed as milestone markers to the player, and as I mentioned new skills can only be given at level boundaries (you can't give a new skill gradually).


I think we've talked about stats leveling up as you use them before (or at least, I remember thinking about it). The problem with that though is it becomes very difficult to balance the game so the player doesn't turn their characters into invincible gods of destruction. :heh: I believe that the benefit of such a system would not be worth the effort, at least for Allacrost right now.
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Postby Ranger M » Sun Feb 25, 2007 1:39 am

I like the gradual increase idea, levels would still be useful and milestones and oppertunities to learn new special spells/moves, etc.

On a side note with the growing as you use them idea, I've had a game idea in my head for a long time now where a similar system was used, but you couldn't spam it to get it godlike because to make it higher you need to fight enemies who can make it higher (yeah doesn't make much sense, here's an example: say you have a strenght skill, and you fight loads of blobs, you will get increases to your strength up untill a certain amount of strength points, and then you wont get any more because it doesn't take much strength to chop blobs, if you want to increase your strength more you have to fight enemies that need you to use more strength to hurt them, eg some lizard with hard skin, untill you can't gain more from them so you have to go higher, untill eventually therea are no enemies in the game that you can use to incrase that attribute so it remains at that level, and degrades if you don't use it for a while (although there is a cap on how low it can go once you reach certain milestones), this way you can't just spam on small easy enemies, and fighting tough enemies to start with will give you bigger bonuses)

I imagine that this would translate to allacrost (if you were to use something like this) by you gaining points in attributes when you use it alot, and them degrading when you don't (think of them as attribute bonuses), but there is a cap on how high they can go, which could be dictated by what enemies you are fighting, or just by having a limit.
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Postby Jetryl » Sun Feb 25, 2007 4:20 am

Ranger M wrote:I like the gradual increase idea, levels would still be useful and milestones and oppertunities to learn new special spells/moves, etc.


As do I.

Ranger M wrote:On a side note with the growing as you use them idea, I've had a game idea in my head for a long time now where a similar system was used, but you couldn't spam it to get it godlike because ....


Or, increases taper off asymptotically. E.g, you can keep pumping up towards a maximum, but as you do, you increase more slowly until you finally stop. Gradually, as you develop into top form, you can't get any stronger.


If I make an RPG, I'm going to make all skills follow a sine curve; flat at the bottom, and flat at the top (like sin(-pi/2) to sin(pi/2), except shifted up by 1. So, it's takes a lot of practice not to suck at something (and certain thresholds are necessary to actually do anything with a skill), and a lot of practice to utterly master something. The result is that warriors would have to really put some shoulder into it to learn magic, and during their initial stages, they really wouldn't be able to do much with it themselves (but would be able to aid their magic-using friends in doing things, thus making it useful to have any of it).
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Postby EmreBFG » Sun Feb 25, 2007 4:37 am

I like this idea as well, Tyler. Sometimes there is too much time between leveling and it's a bore when you know you need to get that next level to be competitive with the next boss (ala DQ8).

Maybe there should be a marginally greater increase in stats when the next level is actually reached, eg if the player will get 4 strength points at the next level, you could administer one at 33% and another at 66% and the final two at the next level. Therefore, the player gets some gradual advancement but still gets meaning out of leveling up (in addition to skills, which I assume won't be given at each level up).
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Postby eleazar » Mon Feb 26, 2007 10:13 pm

Another method to fill in the dry spots between leveling would be to allow the player to spend free XP points whenever he wants. I like to have a certain amount of control over how the character develops. Then automatic advances would be applied after gaining a level. The cost might vary for different PCs to keep them roughly in character (I.E. claudius is not supposed to be a scrawny magic-user).

This would put the player more in control as to how frequently their characters would improve.
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Postby Roots » Tue Feb 27, 2007 12:54 am

eleazar wrote:Another method to fill in the dry spots between leveling would be to allow the player to spend free XP points whenever he wants. I like to have a certain amount of control over how the character develops. Then automatic advances would be applied after gaining a level. The cost might vary for different PCs to keep them roughly in character (I.E. claudius is not supposed to be a scrawny magic-user).

This would put the player more in control as to how frequently their characters would improve.


I knew someone was going to bring this up. :) We've discussed the idea of player having control over the development of their character before. I'm somewhat against it and here's why, starting with a general statement.


There is a wide spectrum of customize ability for RPGs. Some RPGs are not very customizable at all, while others are extremely so. The spectrum also applies to players as well. Some like to be able to change absolutely whatever they want in their game, while others prefer not to be inundated with too many choices on what to do and where to go. I am in the latter camp, so keep my bias in mind.

Now back to the subject at hand. Allowing control over player stats is very tricky to balance, since you don't want to allow the player to have an unfair advantage. To this end, you effectively need to test the outlier points in the character growth space (e.g. when the player always chooses to increase their characters' strength, for instance) and make sure that the game still "plays right". At the same time, if you limit the selectable growth potential too much, the player won't be able to notice the effect and the feature becomes nothing more than a burden. Diablo and Diablo II pulled this off well, but they had particular aspects of their system that made this effect note worth (best example: requiring certain stats to be at a certain level in order to equip armaments). Allacrost does not have anything like Diablo did, which right off the bat makes selectable growth that less attractive. Furthermore, games that implemented this system were not played until they were finished and release. We're going to have people playing Allacrost all the time during our development, and so we can't test if this selectable growth system is going to be fair or not. If we later find out its not, and then release a patch to the game in order to correct it, we're going to be modifying player's saved game files with the patch (which store the character stats), and they probably aren't going to be too happy about that.


Eherm, I kinda of rattled on there. :angel: Anyway, I do agree that Allacrost needs some level of customization, but I don't think it is wise (or necessary) to put in any kind of customization that is permanent. For example, our equipment has the ability to equip relics that change the properties of the actors attack or defense, but they can be unequipped as well, allowing the player to continually control and customize their characters to find the best configuration for the dungeon that they are in. I much prefer to allow for this customization alone instead of (or in addition to) selectable growth.


Anyway, hope I got my point across. :)
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Postby Rain » Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:00 am

Hey, check this out.

This document might prove to be very insightful in this situation.

http://db.gamefaqs.com/console/snes/fil ... _stats.txt

A portion of this FFVI text (a large one at that) explains different statuses of growth, dependant upon level. Some other good stuff in here too. Hope its helpful.

I think Allacrost would benefit from an 'Esper-like' system of growth, on top of the initial growth that the player experiences. (btw I like the idea of where things are headed) However, perhaps instead of espers being the conduit through which levels can rise, Allacrost weapons and armor can do the same. We can get really creative here. Such as, 'Lunar Armor' adds 1+ to magic every level. Or 'sword of fury' adds 2+ to strength every level. The combination of armors and or weapons might be able to provide additional bonuses if the set is completed. Diablo 2 had this really cool system where if an set of armor were completed, bonuses would be had.

For example - Lets call this the armor set 'X armor' (great title I know)

X hat - 20 points on magic resistance
X armor- 40 points defense
X shield- 15 points
X boots- 5 points

However when all of these are combined together to create the set, it should go something like this.

X hat - 20 points on magic resistance (+20 bonus points for set)
X armor- 40 points defense (+20 bonus points per set)
X shield- 15 points (+10 bonus points per set)
X boots- 5 points (+5 bonus points per set)

see what I mean? The stats are likely too high, but for the purposes of exaggeration, oh well. At any rate, having an armor grouping can create some very good incentives for getting the complete set and add an element of strategy in the mix.

I also think individual items could offer stat increases at level up. Such as the 'Constantine' sword offering 2 points of strength for every level up.
I think these should be 'ultimate weapons' as they are sometimes called and the player should have to take great steps in order to get them. In other words, they should be very difficult to get because they are so badass. Perhaps each ultimate weapons can have a guardian? ;) ;)

Okay this is starting to get fun!
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