Character Leveling in Relation to Lone Wolf Game Design and Development

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During the development of Lone Wolf, there has been many suggestions of implementing a leveling system. Sounds like a good idea, but how feasible is it? I’ll list out five points for this post.

Of course, this post does not mean there would or wouldn’t be any form of leveling in the final released game. This is just a personal point-of-view with a bit of sharing.

Core Game Play Experience

An Action Game’s experience should be about an experience (not experience points!).

The Players should be thinking about the next encounter, the next game interaction, how they are going to handle the next situation, what kind of new and interesting environment are they going to “play” in.

Not worry about points and chasing the next level.

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Customization of Game Play Experience

Player is not able to customize character for game play experience easily, because in a leveling system, the Player is not able to go down levels, to set soft goals to challenge themselves, or in some branching systems, the Player is not able to maximize the skills for all branches, or experience all of them unless they replay the game again.

Is that forcing a replay by withholding? How many Players do actually play a game more than once?

Unless if a game really is that good. I would think the Player should be allowed to experience everything in the first go, and it’ll be up to the Player to decide if the game is fun or memorable enough for the Player to play again. Or to try to tackle the game with the same or other approach.

Time, Manpower and Resources Requirements

Taking a simple question as an example: How does the player gain points?

For killing? What if the Player wishes to play the stealthy, silent warrior? Do they forgo the experience points? Or do the Game Developers have to define new conditions of gaining experience points based on Players actions?

If the Player is able to gain experience points from sneaking away from battle, how do we determine a successful stealth combat avoidance? Since the enemies would still be in the area, we have to ensure that they are either, not there, are unreachable, ignore them as experience points givers, any other means to prevent the player from gaining more experience points by repeating the same actions. What if the Player executes a stealth avoidance and goes back to kill the enemies again?

Just a simple question like this will require more dev time and resources to first consider the different outcomes and consequences, requiring a big chunk of time from Game Designers first, and later from Game Programmers. The Game Programmers time would not only be spent on implementation, there WOULD be bugs arising, and not only that, there would be cases that would be discovered during testing that would take up more time. Is that the end? Nope, Level Designers would have to ensure cases are handled in the level design, as per the points above, also to help find bugs and extra cases. Is that the finale? Nope. Play Test would be the next. Play Testing this is not a small task, and would take time and resources again. A lot of it.

Time and manpower that could be better spent on more important and relevant game play issues.

Level Grinding

With Leveling, there would be grinding, no matter whats the degree of grinding. Its a waste of time repeating same tasks. If its to a small degree, then what is the point of spending time developing something insignificant in the first place?

Miscellaneous Issues

I lied… more points? :p

  • How much differences does each new level attained make?
  • Should enemies level up?
  • Should we have more enemies types?
  • What is the highest possible level?
  • Play testing & balancing?
  • Big Leveling Gap due to unforeseen circumstances – what happens if a low level player character manages to somehow meets a high level enemy by avoiding battles or fights?

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