I'm developing an online game with friends, and we're currently blocked by a overall game design issue: how do you reward players with experience points and loot/gold yet still encourage them to play together, especially with players who are not necessarily in their skill range?
Technical details of our game:
- Grid-based, top-down overworld map layout (think Legend of Zelda)
- Randomly generated, turn-based dungeons (think Pokemon Mystery Dungeon)
- Experience curves, non-combat skills, trading, social interaction (think Runescape)
The plan is for players to socialize, do parts of quests, and skill in the overworld, then enter dungeons with groups of ~4 friends into order to skill combat and get loot. Ideally, more skilled players can enter harder dungeons and do harder tasks, yet still be able to join newer players in easier dungeons without it being mundane and without forcing one player to take up most of the combat.
- Remove all sorts of experience curves and rewards, and have everything be balanced (downside: no reason to grind)
- Restrict "leveling" to gaining more money and better weapons (downside: having more loot virtually becomes being a higher level)
- Raise low-leveled players to the level of the highest-leveled team member when in dungeons (downside: may be a loophole to allow players to skill quickly)
- Add an extra component of the game that requires user skill, so players won't rely solely on levels to be good at the game (e.g. quick time events) (downside: hard to implement in a turn-based game, ambiguous)
These are just some ideas, and I have been pondering this issue for a little while now. What are some thoughts on this issue and what mechanic may be introduced to reconcile this?