What if We Leveled Backwards?!

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 . . . 15 NEXT
 

What if We Leveled Backwards?!

Yahtzee's crazy idea for RPGs that might actually work.

Read Full Article

I like the idea to an extent, I think it could certainly work. I think it would suit an action-oriented game like Devil May Cry where defeating enemies is dependent on your skills and reactions, maybe more so than a turn-based and/or strategic game like most RPGs are these days.

(I am also willing to bet that there's at least one flash game out there that uses the concept.)

EDIT: Oh, and also FIRST. tehe.

Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne had Arthas level down and it was amusing since the last few levels required you to play as him alone with no armies. Also the concept of leveling backwards is good as long as there is no extreme, newbs aren't godlike and "pros" aren't frail little men that a squirrel could kill, but the starting level is the upper-middle styled level, and the first one still has you kicking ass but not through DPS and raw strength.

Interesting article. The Undead campaign in Warcaft 3 the Frozen Throne Expansion had you level backwards. Arthus, your hero unit, started at maximum level but at intervals he would suffer heart attacks and loose a level or forget some abilities.Being an RTS this meant you had to rely more on your little guys and less and less on you big hero unit Arthus, who was dieing or something, to win the day for you. He was great the first few levels killing everyone and defending my base better than and 12 guys then at the end he kind of got useless and I had to hide him.

Play Maplestory, starting aran class for a good exaple of this in action in a mmo

Now, at first glance, this idea seemed completely indefensible, even to me. "Make the player stronger as they proceed" is part 1 of lesson 1 of game design 101. What possible motivation would the player have to keep playing if they're just going to get weaker? Traditionally one keeps a game interesting by routinely adding new gameplay features, not taking them away. But we can only break free of a dreary cycle of churned-out me-toos by taking a step back and completely reassessing. And the more I think about it, the more levelling backwards makes sense.

Reminds me of Extra Credits "playing like a designer" videos.

I like the idea in concept but in practice I see it hard to make work. I think it would be better as a single player mechanic. The only thing I see able to motivate the player to give up power is to progress a storyline. The skinner box mechanics of an MMORPG doesn't work well with this because that getting stronger is a big reason to level. But if you can make a compelling story that needs the player to sacrifice something of themselves to progress the storyline.

I'd play a game that featured this mechanic. I could definitely see this working in a fantasy game like Oblivion or (possibly, since I haven't played it yet) Dragon Age. I think if the story and interaction with the game is well-enough designed that it wouldn't feel like your equipment/skills are simply being taken away from you "just because." I kind of really want to see this in action now, I think.

Either I've dreamt it or I've played it no idea tbh..>.<

A game were you start of as mighty and powerful, and as you progress you do get weaker and lose abilites and have to rely on your "ability" to hide and sneak past enemies.

I feel like I've played something like that, but alas I can't really remember.

Holy fuck, I would play the SHIT out of a game like that.

What a silly idea. I see where you're coming from, but people like to build characters up, not see them get worse and worse. Even from a lore point of view it'd be hard in most games to justify losing abilities over time.

You could lose armour, though. That would retain the skills you have, make the game harder and you could even gain more skills to compensate for loss of said armour. And it'd make sense, too, because armour does break down over time.

I enjoy the idea as well, but I'm wary of giving too much to a new player. Too many things will confuse them as they have to learn EVERYTHING and eventually learn they don't need to learn things because they can get rid of it. It removes slow progression of skill combos. :/

This would probably defy the hamster research because you get a happy brain chemical when you feel like you are getting better but if it is in reverse...
edit: http://www.cracked.com/article_18461_5-creepy-ways-video-games-are-trying-to-get-you-addicted.html

Hmm. Intriguing concept, this one, and as well presented as all the points made in extra punctuation. Maybe some Indie developer will pick up on it someday. After all, Minecraft strayed from the normal route by setting its graphics way back, and that worked out quite well for the developers.

I think we all do this. I'm pretty sure it's called aging.

tomtom94:
I like the idea to an extent, I think it could certainly work. I think it would suit an action-oriented game like Devil May Cry where defeating enemies is dependent on your skills and reactions, maybe more so than a turn-based and/or strategic game like most RPGs are these days.

This is what I was thinking. An action game or FPS could use this better for multiplayer than an MMORPG. Maybe if there was a way to take one option and still be as powerful as the newbies in that category. Example: You would start off as a beefed up jack-of-all-trades. As you level down you might lose your abilities as a mage, then as a thief, then as a healer until you're left with a pure warrior. You could still match the newbies as a warrior, but if they brought magic to the fight you might be screwed.

I like the title you suggested. Somehow it actually sounds pretty cool :p
Don't know about the MMO aspect. I agree with a few people in here that say this could work as a single player game.

Anyway sounds interesting, I'd play it.

Change the name and I'd give it a try.

I think from a narrative standpoint this game could be absolutely fascinating. Imagine doing it in a Shadow of the Colossus style. One of the most poignant parts of that game was how with each victory you achieved, something in you was lost. Certainly you could and did become more powerful, but you still had to watch as Wander was corrupted slowly by the dark powers in which he dealt.

So perhaps the plot could be something similarly elegiac and tragic, at least in a single player environment - perhaps even hearkening back to Beowulf. You start the game as a great hero of the realm, a renowned fellow who has already been through many trials and tribulations, battle-scarred and proud. A new threat comes to the kingdom, some dark power or other, and you must fight it. However, the very nature of this threat is insidious, as it saps not only your actual physical strength, but your supernatural spirit as well. To fight this thing is to be tainted by it, and not in the fun "whee demon powers" way, but in the true loss of humanity and power, as you slowly become weaker.

Perhaps it could even be a time travel based thing, somewhat like Braid - you fight backwards through time, trying to find your way to the source of this contagation, but as you do of course you become younger and weaker. In defeating the threat as a mere child (perhaps fighting it as more an inner demon or having it hinge on a single choice), you undo the timeline to the extent that you will no longer become a great hero, but instead remain a simple peasant. The world is saved, but no one will ever sing your praises, no one will know your deeds, and you will never be the person you thought you were. Indeed, perhaps it was all merely a child's dream...?

I see so much potential in this game mechanic, and I truly hope some enterprising indie developer does something with it.

vxicepickxv:
I think we all do this. I'm pretty sure it's called aging.

Which is why, from a narrative standpoint, this works beautifully as a concept. You can see the whole game as a metaphor for growing old and dying, for being past your prime, and yet still trying to make a difference in the world. You go from a true superman to an individual weak but wise. Again, this would be a very sad game, but I think in that sense incredibly moving, which is something we need in games.

To bring back in the parallels to Beowulf - Beowulf starts out as this macho superman, but in the end he's an old king who still has a lot of punch, but isn't what he used to be. This is why he's slain by the Dragon in the end, and in the end there's a lot of talk about the passing of the age and the death of heroes. THAT is what this game could be about.

The idea makes some sense in terms of balancing multiplayer games with RPG elements and so forth, but in many single player games I think it would somewhat cause problems with story. After all, if you're at your most powerful at the start, then surely you would just go after the main villian to begin with rather than fuck about becoming weaker for several hours.

If the leveling down fit in the story it would work.
Taking the huge blight example, you need to sacrifice some of your power so the citizens you just freed can defend themselves while you are gone to liberate the next town, that could work. Or maybe mortally wounded through each battle (like DA:O only without being able to cure them). But I just don't see it working as an MMO, action adventure (someone above mentioned Devil May Cry and that would work) would seem to be a better fit only because you wouldn't accidently loose extra levels and not punish exploration.

Evine:
Play Maplestory, starting aran class for a good exaple of this in action in a mmo

I don't think that's too good of an example since you start at two hundred then drop down to one and then you're expected to level upwards from one. It's more like a preview, if anything

That. Sounds. AWESOME!!!!

In fact, I have an idea. While every stat gets lowered, one should go up. Intelligence. That could help with the "Wise old man on a mountain top".

It's an alright starting concept to be honest, few things to think about around it to make it a bit more plausible..
and actually I liked it in Final Fantasy 8 where you had your abilities stripped and you could only get a few of them back, that was a good idea in my opinion, kind of the same thing as Yatz is on about.

robmastaflex:
The idea makes some sense in terms of balancing multiplayer games with RPG elements and so forth, but in many single player games I think it would somewhat cause problems with story. After all, if you're at your most powerful at the start, then surely you would just go after the main villian to begin with rather than fuck about becoming weaker for several hours.

that is what story gates in single player games are for. If the storyline progresses linearly, you will have difficulty in going off to curbstomp the final boss. How can you even FIND the guy if you haven't completed the other quests first?

As to preventing you from completing the 'easier' quests, perhaps it's more that you get no reward from doing so even if they ARE available. As you defeat the larger threats, the forces you face become weaker IN RESPONSE to you doing so. Killing the plague rats won't help you when you're level one billion, because you will 1. become weaker through contact anyway, rendering you incapable of defeating the more pertinent threats, and 2. they will just keep coming if you haven't defeated the Plague Rat King first, who is a much more powerful enemy that you NEED to be at your Strong Young Guy levels to touch.

I think that's a good concept. I've dreamed about that kind gameplay before... in my eyes though, instead of a simple leveling down and losing of abilities, you start off at a high level and as you level down, you lose all your magic and powers and such, however, aligning with the narrative, you gain different abilities. Like you lose powers like "Ice Storm ALL ENEMIES DIE!!!" and when approapriate to the narrative/gameplay you gain a power like Adrenaline rush, which has it so that when you kill X amount of creatures, you get a temporary stat boost or "Tiger in the Corner" where you get a stat boost when you're at low health.

See it could work in an end game perspective because if you are facing a final boss and start killing his minions he throws at you, you boost with Adrenaline Rush and then when you're low on health, you boost again to Tiger in the Corner and that helps the narrative of reaching your lowest point but still pulling out the win. Or there's a sword in the room you can't use unless you have 10 strength and Tiger + Adrenaline give you a +10 strength bonus so you can pick up the sword for a short period of time and use it against the final boss. Tons to play around with.

An interesting idea for sure, I definitely think the idea of "the brash young thug" versus the "old, but wise discipline" is an interesting one indeed. At most, any game that utilizes the system would be experimental, but I'd like to see it (and many of your other hypotheticals) tried out at least once (for the insight it might bring).

On another note. This idea reminds me of the end boss from Okami. After going through all the effort to collect new spells and powers, being stripped of your abilities, and forced to fight the boss when you thought it was hopeless -only to ultimately grow more powerful than when you began- was a powerful moment that turned the ending from merely decent to incredibly memorable in my eyes.

HankMan:
Change the name and I'd give it a try.

What you don't think [IPA] tfɔɹkɹɑ foʊ dləɹoʊ [/IPA] sounds awesome?

you know how the dwarven origin in DAO has you start in epic royal armor, abusing peons, and ordering assassinations like fast food, then takes it all away, reducing you to nothing? you know how thats the best origin in the game?

i certainly had fun with with it, and spreading that out over an entire game could be alot of fun with an engrossing enough story. i can only see it working for single player games though, MMOs are meant to never truly 'end' and i cant really see how the high(low?) level content would persist with that system; could be a great game, but has to be a game with an ending.

the story potential here is great as well... great opportunity for a tragic hero protagonist, sowing the seeds of his own slow downfall.

LucidSeraph:

robmastaflex:
The idea makes some sense in terms of balancing multiplayer games with RPG elements and so forth, but in many single player games I think it would somewhat cause problems with story. After all, if you're at your most powerful at the start, then surely you would just go after the main villian to begin with rather than fuck about becoming weaker for several hours.

that is what story gates in single player games are for. If the storyline progresses linearly, you will have difficulty in going off to curbstomp the final boss. How can you even FIND the guy if you haven't completed the other quests first?

As to preventing you from completing the 'easier' quests, perhaps it's more that you get no reward from doing so even if they ARE available. As you defeat the larger threats, the forces you face become weaker IN RESPONSE to you doing so. Killing the plague rats won't help you when you're level one billion, because you will 1. become weaker through contact anyway, rendering you incapable of defeating the more pertinent threats, and 2. they will just keep coming if you haven't defeated the Plague Rat King first, who is a much more powerful enemy that you NEED to be at your Strong Young Guy levels to touch.

I meant more in story terms rather than gameplay. Whilst the storyline may force you down a single path to weaken you before the final encounter, it would feel weird getting weaker to confront this final enemy. It would require some convoluted story piece to give a reason as to why you have to spend your time losing power in order to confront your ultimate enemy rather than taking down your greatest threat first.

tomtom94:
I like the idea to an extent, I think it could certainly work. I think it would suit an action-oriented game like Devil May Cry where defeating enemies is dependent on your skills and reactions, maybe more so than a turn-based and/or strategic game like most RPGs are these days.

(I am also willing to bet that there's at least one flash game out there that uses the concept.)

EDIT: Oh, and also FIRST. tehe.

I think for some games the leveling down idea could really work.

Picture this: You start off as an arrogant demigod, and the ruler of the gods decided to teach your sorry ass some humility. So he dicided to send you to defeat this opposing force, which as you are now wouldnt be a problem, but he also decided to take away you demigod status, and over time your powers and abilities leave you as well. Progress through the story, throwing in a love intrest for plot purposes, and have the final battle come about, but your character is so weak, he is actually scared to fight, and runs away, leavinf the small group of warrior and such (oh yeah, you get one of those too) as well as you love interest to fight the opposing force, and they lose, obviously. Unable to bare it all, you decide to end your own life, begging forgiveness from the gods you were once part of, as well as your friends (yeah, the group you travel with becomes your friends during this time). At this point, the ruler of the gods decided you have learned humility, and spares you of your attempt at death. He than tells you to go and fight the final boss, which you do, and over this time, you regain your demigod status, and procede to beat the ever living fuck out of the opposing force and the final boss.

Than there some kind of fitting ending and what-have-you...

But yeah, not that bad of idea... unless you go the MMO way, than I still dont think it will work...

Prof. Monkeypox:
On another note. This idea reminds me of the end boss from Okami. After going through all the effort to collect new spells and powers, being stripped of your abilities, and forced to fight the boss when you thought it was hopeless -only to ultimately grow more powerful than when you began- was a powerful moment that turned the ending from merely decent to incredibly memorable in my eyes.

I'd say that this is considerably different in tone, though - I think it cheapens the concept here if you suddenly become much stronger at the last moment. It'd mean more if you're a wizened old dude or a small child with a wooden sword facing down some inner demon.

Might even be funny/poignant if you have an archnemesis throughout the game who gets weaker with you, so by the end you are two cranky guys with sticks wailing on each other.

You know what I'm more reminded of, and think would be a better parallel, is the ending of Planescape: Torment. In that game, the BEST ending is gained by defeating the final boss not through weapons or power, but through words. You have the option to engage in philosophical debate with the end boss - who is, in fact, quite powerful and difficult to defeat even if you have gained great power. Doing so will net you an ending that is both the best AND terribly sad - you die. Permanently. By merging with this being of true entropy that you yourself created - that in some sense actually IS you - you can finally lay down and rest.

Which I think is the kind of thing you'd want in an ending of a game like this. In the end, you fight your greatest battles through cleverness and words, and your reward is one last sleep, a lasting peace.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Extra Punctuation: What if We Leveled Backwards?!

Yahtzee's crazy idea for RPGs that might actually work.

Read Full Article

As an exercise, I think it would depend mostly on novelty. But I think that exercise could turn up some interesting data on how to incorporate this type of gameplay into the more "normal" stuff. For instance, a game in which both types of leveling happen--as some of your stats are going up, others are on the way down, so the further you specialize the more powerful (but far narrower) you become.

Of course, the downside of something like that for an MMO is that it puts a firm shelf-life on your character. You can always pump a stat and make a "stronger enemy" for the expansion... but there comes a point where you just can't make things much weaker, so the character becomes obsolete.

The main problem with the concept is that as you lose abilities, the game will become more and more 'same-y' and boring.

To take your TfD example - if all a level '1' mage has is Fireball and Mana Shield, he's going to be very boring to play and have very little possible combat tactics. Or in Darksiders... fully unlocked War is a lot more fun to play than pansy 'I only have 2 attacks!' War.

I think the main issue you're trying to fix anyway is that difficulties need to be scaled better. In Darksiders for example, Tiamat (the first boss you encounter) is actually the hardest boss in the game (I believe you even mentionned that in your video)... the problem doesn't lay in the fact that when you face the next bosses, you have more health/gadgets... it lays in the fact that the other bosses aren't scaled up properly - They don't hit harder than Tiamat did... but you now have 3 times the health.

It seems like an easy problem to fix... scale the game better. While an entertaining idea, the reverse leveling thing seems like an overly complicated way to solve the problem.

redisforever:
That. Sounds. AWESOME!!!!

In fact, I have an idea. While every stat gets lowered, one should go up. Intelligence. That could help with the "Wise old man on a mountain top".

This is what I was thinking - as you lose weaponry and armour, you gain in other skills like stealth. It would be great in the context of a soldiering game. A very simple mechanic would just be to have a game with no ammo or health packs - start off fully equipped, then as you use up your weapons or your armour becomes useless, you have to leave it behind and rely more on skill. That would also give you the option to save up some of the weapons for later.

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 . . . 15 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here