What if We Leveled Backwards?!

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how about negative achievements? do something wrong and you lose gamerscore.

I wouldn't do any sidequests.

I like what some people have said about aging and things. I think a mechanic to incorporate that could look something like what Borderlands used for its weapon skill development, only in reverse.

So you start with all of your stats and skills at maximum power. Over time they will decrease, but the player has some control over how much and which skills will decrease. The more you use a skill, the less weak it will become each time that you level up. And each time you level up, skills will require more use in order to hold off the weakening effect. This leads to specialization and you will get to keep the skills that you want to use and will use most often. It rewards the player (in a sense) for the hard they put into certain skills by keeping them stronger than the rest and I guess the saying "if you don't use it, you lose it" applies.

I like this idea a lot.
Although it's not the same at all, one game did something similar.

Remember Heavenly Sword?
If I recall correctly, how it worked was that the heroine was using a powerful sword that was basically weakening her the more she used it.

And so, as you progress through the game, you are getting weaker.
So, you`re still fighting the same enemies, but they seem stronger, because you`re weaker.

Although it`s not an RPG, I really liked that idea.
I would like to see something like that used more in other video games.

It's been done in Warcraft 3 TFT as previosly mentioned where it worked well storywise and it made me change my gamestyle somewhat.It's also been done in Heroes of Might and Magic 3 if i'm not mistaken.One of your characters spent 1 campaign collecting really rare items into sets and then he had to give them away to seers but he stopped advancing in levels shrinking the little advantage he had in favor for a lot more shrewd tactics in gameplay.

It can work since it adds immerssion and it's a very new gameplay mechanic...something we haven't seen.

What if they lost skills as they leveled up but the skills they got were more powerful. As long as someone didn't fuck themselves over as they leveled up they would be strong enough to beat lower level 'stronger' players. So it'd be fatigue that would take skills away and wisdom that would make them stronger.

Here's my idea of how this could work:

a) You have every single power in the game at its base level. To raise the level of a power or skill, you have to sacrifice another power or skill. And, for added shits and giggles, raising the level of a particular power requires more powers to be sacrificed.

i.e. Your starting character can shoot any gun, wield any sword, work any gadget, throw fireballs, teleport, mind-read, etc. By the end of the game, however, you lose almost all of these abilities but you can throw fireballs the size of Rhode Island.

It's how "leveling up" works that I can't decide on. Perhaps if you use an ability enough, you will gain the opportunity to level that ability up; however, you "forget" how to do something else. Or, maybe you will be forced to sacrifice a power at the end of every chapter in the game (after defeating a boss, perhaps).

Although this might be just another variation of leveling-up.

Clockwork Scarecrow.:
Hmmm, I'd play that. It would definitely work as a single-player game. As an MMO I could see the n00bs griefing so much that they level down too early thus causing them to lose patience.

.The Undead campaign in Warcaft 3 the Frozen Throne Expansion had you level backwards.

...Are you sure? I don't remember that. I remember him being a dick and stranding everyone and killing the only other good hero around but I don't remember him leveling backwards.

Come to think of it, this could work well in a tabletop RPG.

Him stranding people is how warcaft 3 human campaign ended. He was human at that point but barely so. Arthus leveling backwards was how the undead in the expansion started.
In the game he made an unholy pilgrimage to the Lich King to gain powers from him. LK made A dawg a DK. In the expansion the Lich King was dieing and Arthus was loosing powers so had to make his way back and save him. Arthus ended up eating the Lich instead of saving him but oh well.

this concept?! is so radical?! it warrants a question mark?! followed by an exclamation point?! and yeah?! i guess if some games did this?! it would be a pretty original and fun game?!

I actually rather quite like the idea. I always found that the most annoying thing about RPG's was the level grinding. It would be interesting to play a game where you actually try and avoid unimportant fights. It would also force you to actually get good at the game, and not just rely on your high levels. I don't think it would do well as an MMO though, but you never know.

how about negative achievements? do something wrong and you lose gamerscore.

Woah let's not be hasty here!

YES PLEASE, only not as an MMO. This concept is too awesome - and too potentially story-driven - to miss out on the chance to make it the richest, bestest single-player game evar.

The 'heart-rending' part reminded me of Valkyrie Profile, also. You know, get awesome party members, then be forced to give them up willingly to progress.


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.

Final fantasy 2 (the real final fantasy 2!) tried something like that for their leveling system, and for the most part players hated it.

I love the idea. It would make for some great storytelling.

I think having all your spells at the start WoW-style would be a death knell. I know people who spectate other people playing WoW are intimidated by all my buttons, but I'm not intimidated by my buttons because you start out with 2, and gain them over time. If I started out with my UI covered in buttons I would probably turn the game off and walk away, saying "like hell if they expect me to master 100+ skills right off the bat".

The premise sounds like it would be excellent for a soul-crushingly dark and tragic game though. It just gets a little bit more hopeless every level. I can see it working well for single player, not so much an MMO though. Considering if the game tried to tell me "I know this level 85 just wiped the floor with you because you're a level 1, but that means you win!" I wouldn't buy it for a second, and it certainly wouldn't give me the same feeling of winning.

Your idea is a great idea.

But not as an MMO. Beyond the fact that MMO's suck, they also have a massive culture associated with them that is the complete opposite of this. A lot of the worlds MMO gamers play to win. As such, making someone weaker would be the opposite of this.

However, your idea would work wonderfully in a normal RPG game. A story derived from such a mechanic would be amazing.

How about giving the hero cancer or aids? :P

I like how most people's solution to a gradual decline of powers is to have a gradual growth of a different power. Especially since that defeats the whole purpose and theme.

I can't be bothered to read every post here so I'll just reiterate what has probably been said many times. This sounds like a neat idea and I think it could make for a compelling gameplay experience in a more linear Elder Scrolls type rpg. While even though I don't play MMOs I can't see it working at all in that framework. Where competition and positive achievement is the core of the gameplay. But a story driven single player campaign, it's this kind of innovation that could make Roger Ebert rethink his position IMO.

@Yahtzee; Don't you have the clout in the games industry at this point to approach a AAA studio with ideas like this?

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

its the Leon Strategy - from the film of the same name. the truly skilled hitman, gives up his long range sniper rifle, bombs, poisons and gadgets to wield just a knife as he masters his craft.

I think it could work. I think the player should get to choose the stats/abilities they lose. To be honest, I don't like games in which you level up; you don't win battles with skill and if you level backwards, you'll find it easy enough to fight if you have enough friends.

You're onto something here, Yahtzee. As well as making the challenge of a game more interesting, this could contribute to an RPG having more of a feeling of being an epic. One thing I liked about the first Fable game was that it took place over the course of sixty-plus years and kept track. Whenever I reached the endgame, I always felt satisfied at seeing my hero be a hardened and scarred old man who'd seen many years of combat. Unfortunately, it was always a little weird to me that as a geriatric, he was much stronger and hardier than the scrawny twig he was as a fresh Guild graduate.

I think RPGs would benefit from a combination of the status quo and your proposal. This could be accomplished by automatically having certain stats atrophy with age while increasing others, though investing in certain perks would increase or decrease the rate. With the atrophy in strength, endurance, and perception, the character would lose access to abilities with heavy melee weapons or long-range combat. With increases in intelligence and wisdom, the character would have access to greater ability with magic and use of light, precise melee weapons (katanas, rapiers, etc). Of course, they wouldn't be allowed to switch halfway, that would just be silly.

Now, some would ask why any player would bother playing anything besides a mage in that case. The mage's endurance would still be decreasing, so the most powerful mage could be killed with one strike. Also, charisma could be a skill that could increase with age for warriors, given their renown in battle. This could allow them to recruit NPCs to assist them in combat. Obviously, mages could also recruit NPCs, but not nearly as many as warriors and not as strong either (they'd basically be recruiting magic apprentices who are there to carry the inventory).

Now that's a game I'd like to see!

don't know if it's been mentioned but it sounds a lot like reverse gungame on counterstrike, you start out with the really powerful guns, and then every time you get a kill, you get handed a worse one, til you end up with just a knife

don't know if that still happens though.

that feeling that the end boss was lack luster could work for the story's favor by making it act like revenge isn't as sweet as you first thought.

I thought about this for an FPS, Where you start out with all the weapons and buffs, but as you level up you loose them, apart from keeping maybe one or two that you select, like an ongoing specialisation.
Then, a truely 1337 player would be the one that was running around pwning with a pop gun :)

I also had an idea for a game where you shoot candy instead of bullets (and have hamburgers for grenades), lose/die when you get diabetes and the fatter you get, the slower you move. I think some form of adult mind-altering substance may have been involved in that idea.

Didn't read previous posts. 13 pages? No. Just no.

I could see it in a way, but you would have to view "levelling" in a different way. Constantly taking away people's guns and cool devices/spells/whatever would make them quit.

But if you took away their *crutches* perhaps. Imagine a generic cover-based FPS, dime-a-dozen these days. Somewhere around level 5 you lose your auto-health-regen when you're in cover. That doesn't just make the game harder it changes your whole playing strategy forcing you to become more aware of the risks of your path of action.

Another few levels later and your off-map artillery spotter is gone, instead of having regiment-level guns to rely on that automatically pound serious enemy concentrations into dust, you now have to grab a laser designator and find a safe vantage point.

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

Yahtzee's crazy idea for RPGs that might not actually work.

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Here's the thing,Yahtzee. We like to see us getting stronger for our hard work. I can see that in the beginning of a game(Dragon Age 2 demo), But otherwise, if we get worse as the game goes on, we feel insulted. Like all the time we invested in the game was pointless.

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

Yahtzee's crazy idea for RPGs that might not actually work.

Read Full Article

Here's the thing,Yahtzee. We like to see us getting stronger for our hard work. I can see that in the beginning of a game(Dragon Age 2 demo), But otherwise, if we get worse as the game goes on, we feel insulted. Like all the time we invested in the game was pointless.

That would kill motivation.

Although the concept is good, and would make the game more 'realistic'... or as realistic as RPGs can get, the lack of motivation from seeing yourself get worse rather than better would put many people off.
Including me.

Unique Idea...too bad it wouldnt work.

Thats not to say it COULDN'T work its just that very very few companies would even attempt it when normal leveling-up is much simpler to implement and requires less time to make. You see, when attempting something new and groundbreaking would require so much time wasted in 'trial-and-error' for every stage and level of the game that even after making it work fantastically they are not guaranteed that it will be successful.

Case-in-point, Portal. Valve developed something new that they did not know how gamers would react to an fps where theres only one gun and you dont kill anybody. That is why they released it as an extra game in the orange box.

Now your idea is similar to something like Portal...Offer your idea up to Valve...who knows they might try it but its very unlikely and im afraid that you would be hard-pressed to find a big game developer to attempt that game.

The other solution is to make it yourself. Still, this is a huge risk and only a few indy games make it big time.

This is an idea I have thought about before! I must say I like it! Sure it has its problems but so does the current RPG system. I wouldn't use in in an MMO but a game like fable it could be interesting, or even a game like Arkham asylum. Batman was always losing bits of his costume, why not some of his equipment as well!?

This is already implemented in the majority of games.

Its the common memoranda for them to get harder and harder as you progress(even if you have levels).

Theres a thing developers have discovered through aquiring there metric information, I think they call it. That the majority of gamers dont even complete their games. Or get very far.

Now I'm not saying they are connected but(they are).

Honestly a game which gets harder and harder as you progress. Firstly games are a whole different media to movies or books, you can emulate some things with them but, trying to emulate the experience of being in an actual action movie(or lord of the rings), no one would ever get through it.

Very few people are ever going to complete the game if it gets harder and harder. Its a hill, you have to keep climbing, all the way through, the entire long game,(40hours or so). Along the way many people will be got rid of just because their abilities do not match up with what the game requires. At the beginning they didnt know that the game requires you to be that good.

Even when I do have the abilities to complete the game, I get fed up with it. The effort required to continue, with what I'm getting back from it(its not equal or greater). I know I'm wasting my time.

I'm of the opinion that games should be getting easier. That they should lie to us. Make you feel like a real action hero, where the enemies bullets keep missing you somehow, instead of hit with pinpoint accuracy when your flying through the air on a parachute.

The middle part should be the most difficult part of the game, then the end should taper down and become easier and easier. Thats if you want anyone to play your games and enjoy them.

[Wall of text]
In some ways, I agree with what he says, although I'm not entirely sold on his idea.

I would agree that far too many MMOs allow noob griefing; there should be some sensible system to deter it; of the top of my head, I can think of a couple of plausible, perhaps not practical systems...
1) Really powerful/numerous guards on the edges of lower-level areas which are nigh-on-impossible to defeat - from what I've heard, EVE has something like this where law enforcement ships arrive in ever increasing numbers until the griefer is dead or left. In contrast, I can't remember the number of times I went to Westfall and all the NPCs in town were dead because 5-20 level 70 Horde characters were camping there for 'shits and giggles'.
2) Have some form of physical separation between lower and higher level areas; say for example your MMO's story takes place over a period of time; every time you reach a point in the story, in order to keep levelling and progressing, you travel through an instance which teleports you into the next time period of the story. You cannot go back. It would also allow them to make a much more varied game world because they could level up the creatures, change the scenery/landscape to reflect the change of time or allow new technology to access new areas. Obviously this would make communication between lower and higher level players difficult, if not impossible (there would have to be some form of time-defying postal service). But imagine this; you are the highest levelled, most powerful character in the land; you've beaten every challenge there is, but once you travel forward, everything is as if you've started the game again, although obviously you've still got all your old stuff. You would be able to rediscover the whole game world again.

I agree that characters should not develop more powerfully than the challenges they face; I remember how Yahtzee mentioned in his Red Steel 2 review that the game became too easy because as you became more powerful, the enemies weren't (or as quickly anyway). The only way that could, in my eyes anyway, work is if those enemies are now meatshields for more powerful foes. Using the Lord of the Rings universe simply because if came to mind first; imagine you always fought the same orcs the whole way through the game, but after a while those same orcs are now protecting a chieftain or sorts or are now simply there to distract you from a massive troll trying to pulverise you with a tree.

The Two Worlds 2 system he mentioned is a good one; let people play around with everything, decide what they want to use and then encourage them to throw the others aside. There is something about giving everything to someone at the start of the game and then forcing them to sacrifice skills that does sound pretty workable. As they progress, they have to become more and more specialised. You'd need to make sure though that they can't screw up their build and then have to replay tons of hours of the game though. Fallout 3's skills would have worked so much better if they're acquisition wasn't tied to Intelligence and at the same time, a good number of the skills weren't relatively inferior to others.

As I read through the first few comments, I noticed a few people talking about the possibility of a character in a game becoming some form of wizened old man/ woman as the game progresses; perhaps better at some things, but not as good at others. This made a rather strange, random idea jump into my head, so thanks to those people, you know who you are.

[/Wall of text]

This actually reminds me of the old cop in Sin City. Everyone tells him he's too old for the job and won't last much longer, but he continues, getting weaker and weaker, bit finally "wins" and dies...
Mechanically, it could also work by letting you lose stats whenever you take a hit (especially in MMOs; noob griefers would probably still get a bloody nose from experienced players with weaker stats). You could also lose "honor" when fighting weaker enemies (or getting hit by them), so attacking old guys makes you lose stats even faster.

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