I want to make an online game with a leaderboard. A player should be able to gather tools/resources to continue exploring/harvesting. The problem I want to solve is that someone can find a way to harvest things like money, food, ammo, crafting resources, etc. infinitely but I don't want it to happen, because: 1) it can potentially ruin the leaderboard 2) it potentially disconnects old players from new players because they become interested in different things having nothing to talk about to share the gaming experience. The player should sometimes to be forced to go back to start but it should be still fun.

For example, games about zombies. AFAIK, the game Project Zomboid had zombies amount growing and resouces were limited in such way that you was losing in any way. Why would it be still fun? Because there is a challenge in how many days you can survive.

Another example -- Realm of the Mad God. There you get into the leaderboard only when you die. So once you reach the goal you start from the level 1 again. You can't be in the leaderboard and keep progressing. Why doesn't it ruin the fun? Maybe because you don't lose the loot that you've saved in a "vault" and while you are now level 1 and can't use most of your loot immediatelly it's still there, not lost.

Rogue games like Nethack, Stone Soup, Cogmind -- basically the world has limited size and once you clean the level you have nothing else to do other than go to the next level. It's still fun because once you master your skills in the game the competition changes from maximizing your progress to minimizing steps you've used to reach the end goal. Like spent steps, time, abilities used, etc.

Rust -- in this one players are playing against each other and you lose almost everything when your base is raided. The base is an object in 3d world and to raid it the opponent have to make nearly a straight hole to the center. So the amount of resources you have to spend on armoring your base is X^3 where X is amount of resources needed to raid you. This makes it impossible to infinitely armor yourself and so finally you get raided anyway. Why is it still fun? Maybe because everything gets wiped once in few weeks and there are game updates that make it not boring to start again because the game will be a bit different.

There is a game mechanic in The Elder Scrolls Online that prevents trading guilds becoming infinitely rich as I understand. I'm not the guild owner and so I can be wrong but every week there is a bidding that forces guilds to pay as much as they can to win a bid to, simply saying, have a benefit during the week. AFAIK all the bids are gone and this is how the amount of money the guilds have in the MMO game with no wipes is limited.

I want my game to have some sort of "death" that would reset the progress to effectively keep players away from having infinitely large base, amount of money, etc. while still being fun to start again. What are some other game mechanics for this that I missed?


Basically what you are asking for are rougelike / rougelite game elements. While rougelike games tend to have a permadeath with none to only a bit next game benefits, rougelite games tend to give more options for the next play session, based an your last one. Rougelike games often also lets you keep some of your progress, like the dungeon you already explored, some loot etc.

Depending on your type of game, there are several mechanics you can apply.

For example Rouge Legacy is a rougelite platformer, where you dwelve through a randomly generated dungeon to find 4 bosses and then defeat the end boss. You gather gold, find spells and level up along the way. When you die, you keep your gold and level, but you play a decendant of you, that starts with a class and an biological trait. Some of these traits are quite hard (like vertigo - playing upside down - monocromatic - playing in grayscale - to gay - still dont know what it does). Only then you can spend the gold you gathered before on your castle to buy permanent upgrades or to unlock certain classes or other bonuses.

This means to unlock some of the content, you have to die and basically start from new.

Other games give you this option to reset the game, but with a few bonuses. Idle games often give that option to add a multiplier to some incomes or generate unique currency to spend on new things.

Idle Territory for example lets you start with one tile, where you can build a building like a wheat field. Then you can hire people, producing x goods per second. Then you can abdication to reset all tiles and get gold equal to 10% of your combined per-second-production. Your tiles get resetted and you can buy tiles with gold, 1 gold for the first and 10x more for every following tile. Then you can build more buildings like forests, quarries, temples etc. There are several kinds of resets in this game, that can give you different kinds of benefits.

So what you should be looking for are options to open up the gameplay by sacrificing something. More income after releasing a certain amount of stuff a player has, new bonuses or buildings after giving away some of it. The top spot in the leaderboard is interesting only for so long until someone comes steamrolling over to take first place and just flies away.

  • \$\begingroup\$ 1. "to unlock some of the content, you have to die and basically start from new" -- nice reason to die. That's what RotMG does but I forgot about it. Still it does not prevent from staying alive for farming points unless you are hidden in the leaderboard while you are still alive. 2. The idle games ascention is something similar but it's what player is doing rather not to get new experience but to earn even more points in the next life. And those ascentions are probably always unlimited. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nakilon
    Jan 8 '20 at 21:23

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