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A lot of role playing games have a system where npcs scale with the player level and become stronger, on the surface it might seem genial but in most games either it doesn't change anything or it makes low levels enemies ridiculously hard to beat or sometimes impossible, like in oblivion.

I came up with the idea of making nps not scale with the level of the player but scale with stats.

For example a level 1 wolf has a base attack that deals 5% of the players maximum HP as damage with each hit, but is mitigated by defense. Therefore the attack will remain consistent in strength even when the player is max level but can be blocked by sacrificing damage to build a lot of denfese or by becoming better at parrying attacks.

Is there any other mechanism I can implement to make the npcs stronger through all the levels without making them ridiculously invincible or giving them one hit mechanics that instantly kill the player?

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    \$\begingroup\$ It sounds like you have a working solution to your problem. Is there anything you're unsatisfied with in your current proposal, that our answers should focus on improving? \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Apr 24 '20 at 19:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I still don't know if it removes or improves the sense of progression, I want it to be stable but not stall.... \$\endgroup\$ – Display name Apr 24 '20 at 19:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you be a bit more explicit about what sense of progression means for your situation, and how we can measure/evaluate answers on how they impact it? Check out the game-design tag guidance for a breakdown of the things we look for in a well-focused design question \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Apr 24 '20 at 19:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I never played Oblivion, but I heard it worked by your stats stop increasing at lv50, but mobs' stats continue increasing past lv50, hence they become too hard. Would Oblivion's scaling strategy be fixed if they had just given mobs the same leveling restrictions as the player? \$\endgroup\$ – milk Apr 24 '20 at 20:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ It doesn’t sound like health is a useful stat for the player to improve then. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam B Apr 25 '20 at 9:04
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When enemies scale with the player in a way that the game experience of fighting them stays exactly the same throughout the game, then the question is why you have player progression at all in your game. You are really fighting yourself here.

If you want to retain player progression as a meaningful reward mechanic but without sacrificing the open world, then there are other ways to achieve that.

  • Keep the power-by-level curve flat. Emphasize horizontal progression over vertical progression. Avoid giving nummerical advantages. Unlock new abilities and game mechanics instead. These should make the game more interesting and offer new ways to play the game, but shouldn't make the player any stronger than they were before.
  • Instead of scaling the world with the player level, scale the world with player achievements. The further the player advances the major story arcs of your game, the more dangerous the game world becomes. This still gives you the "rise to continuously increasing challenges" mechanic which RPGs used successfully for decades, but without sacrificing the ability to explore the world in any order.
  • Use dynamic difficulty. Analyze how successful the player is in combat. When they beat enemies while taking barely a scratch, spawn stronger enemies. When the player struggles, spawn weaker enemies. That way the game does not just adapt to the players nominal power level, but also to their personal skill.
  • This is a very bold one, but I have seen it employed successfully in the later games of the Disgaea franchise. Let the player choose the power level of the enemies. This only works under some conditions:

    1. It must be presented in a way which works within the fiction of your game. If it's an immersion breaker (like a easy-medium-hard selector in your options menu), then players will ignore it. That's why it works in Disgaea. The world of that game is so over-the-top wacky and self-aware that really anything goes.
    2. All rewards must match the risks. If you want the player to go to the limit of their abilities, then you must reward them appropriately for doing that.
    3. The player must not reach the ceiling. Better rewards means that the player's power will also grow faster and eventually out-scale the current power level. This is a feedback cycle you can't easily break. So make sure that either there is no highest power level, or that the player won't realistically be able to reach it before they completed all your story content and explored your whole game world and are now only playing your game to grind for grinding sake (a playstyle which only appeals to a small minority of players).
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