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134 votes
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Why do RPGs let you know how much XP you need to level up?

It's common for games to have multiple overlapping loops of gameplay and reward, hitting different frequencies and motivation types, so that we don't have all our eggs in one basket, motivationally ...
DMGregory's user avatar
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43 votes
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Avoid player getting stuck with underpowered character

I think you should embrace the choice to deliberately underpower themselves as another expression of player autonomy. This is a play pattern you'll often see in speedrunning communities, or players ...
DMGregory's user avatar
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37 votes
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Character ability power balance

In any game where you have character leveling, you need to decide on a power curve. This is a mathematical function which maps game progress to character strength. This curve can be linear, ...
Philipp's user avatar
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33 votes

How do you decide on the size of a tech tree?

In order to answer this question, we first need to consider why we have tech trees in the first place. They limit the complexity in the beginning of the game by hiding the more advanced game ...
Philipp's user avatar
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23 votes

Why do RPGs let you know how much XP you need to level up?

It's a matter of motivating the player. The player has an achievable goal to work towards The player sees how far away from the goal they are The player sees how playing the game visibly progresses ...
Philipp's user avatar
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23 votes

What is the point of a "rebirth" mechanic in a game?

Like any other scoring mechanic, there's an element of social prestige. It takes some amount of skill to reach the end of the game, and doing it multiple times shows that you have a lot of skill. See ...
crass_sandwich's user avatar
20 votes
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How do you decide on the size of a tech tree?

What you must worry about is the number of choices in the tech tree. In terms of a 4X game, lets say the depth of the tech tree is what affects how long a single play-through takes, while the width ...
Peter's user avatar
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17 votes

Avoid player getting stuck with underpowered character

One of my favourite games from childhood, Zeliard, solved this particularly well I think. The player could always go back to previous worlds, re-visit old shops, look for missed treasure, etc. The ...
Eugene Osovetsky's user avatar
15 votes

What is the point of a "rebirth" mechanic in a game?

Expanding on crass_sandwich's point about 'numbers go up', specifically for idle / clicker / merge games, prestige mechanics allow the game creator to provide an extra 'layer of power', above what's ...
AakashM's user avatar
  • 251
12 votes

Why do RPGs let you know how much XP you need to level up?

Think about what would happen if level up happened randomly. You have a party of three players. At the beginning, all are the same level (for simplicity, 1). After playing around one levels and two ...
Brythan's user avatar
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11 votes

Character ability power balance

@Philipp gave a great answer. Another concept to take into consideration is the idea of average threat level. It is perfectly acceptable for certain foes to have stats dramatically greater than what ...
Benjamin's user avatar
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11 votes

Why do RPGs let you know how much XP you need to level up?

The short answer: psychology. The long answer: We humans are driven by the expectation of a reward, just like a dog. Knowing how much experience you have reached and how much is still needed for ...
Guilherme Taffarel Bergamin's user avatar
9 votes

What is the point of a "rebirth" mechanic in a game?

One aspect that I think makes "rebirth" useful, which I think is missed, is in a game with branching quests, skill trees, etc. Your players could just start a new game, sure - but sending ...
lupe's user avatar
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7 votes

Why do RPGs let you know how much XP you need to level up?

There is actually a quite interesting GDC talk that has been given on this topic by someone who worked on the reward structures for large sections of World of Warcraft and Diablo 3: https://www....
Nzall's user avatar
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7 votes

Avoid player getting stuck with underpowered character

There are many solutions: Allow backtracking. Two approaches: Allow grinding. Many games allow you to replay old stages to grind for money or experience to get strong enough to clear the next stage. ...
Mars's user avatar
  • 401
7 votes

How to allow replaying levels in story mode

One game that handled savegames in a way I find really elegant is Papers Please: The way the savegame system operates should remind every software developer of how version control systems like git ...
Philipp's user avatar
  • 119k
6 votes

Why do so many games use non-linear leveling systems (each level taking more XP than the last)?

There's a few reasons why this happens: Make the experience less predictable If a user goes from level 1 to level 10, with a ...
Tom Tsagkatos's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

How can I make a more engaging research/progression system?

Not boring Not having to select research and wait for it to complete over a period of time Well, science actually does take time when it comes to Research & Development in real life. Therefore, ...
liggiorgio's user avatar
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5 votes

Should purchasing the game immediately unlock all levels?

There is a reason why the most common design choice for progression in games is a more or less linear series of unskippable challenges: Earlier stages often teach the player important skills which ...
Philipp's user avatar
  • 119k
5 votes

Avoid player getting stuck with underpowered character

Offer the shop also at the beginning of each level but with a caveat. You have to complete a short bonus level at (current difficulty - 1) to access it. It could be about rescuing the shop keeper or ...
datacube's user avatar
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4 votes
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Why do so many games use non-linear leveling systems (each level taking more XP than the last)?

TomTsagk's answer already covers several major reasons. I just want to add on a few other ways of thinking about this: Feedback loops: Counterbalancing power and skill growth Typically in an RPG, as ...
DMGregory's user avatar
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4 votes
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Correctly done level scaling?

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 ...
Philipp's user avatar
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4 votes
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Patterns on preserving players progress across all player's devices

On each platform, keep the save game stored in a cloud storage system keyed to an id specific to that user (even before they’ve explicitly asked to save it in the cloud). For example, their Google ...
Ed Marty's user avatar
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4 votes

What is the point of a "rebirth" mechanic in a game?

Rebirthing/prestige, often called a "soft reset", is a game mechanism that works like most other genres' unlockable content. However, unlike most other genres, the soft reset is usually ...
phyrfox's user avatar
  • 376
4 votes

What is the point of a "rebirth" mechanic in a game?

Sometimes, it helps to adjust a polynomial or exponential cost increase One of the clicker games I played in the past used what was probably initially a fairly reasonable curve of costs, but after ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
3 votes

How do you decide on the size of a tech tree?

I think you should start from definition of the context: which kind of games? genre? single or multiplayer? In my experience as player and hobbyist, less options with meaningful effect into gameplay ...
Vokail's user avatar
  • 436
3 votes

What is the point of a "rebirth" mechanic in a game?

You've gotten some answers already, but I wanted to point out something extra: prestige is a trope of the incremental genre. In the majority of these games its how new features are unlocked, and I ...
kinseyda's user avatar
2 votes

Why do RPGs let you know how much XP you need to level up?

TL;DR People are impatient. More randomness tends to make games more difficult. As you have pointed out, it's been scientifically proven that many species find variable ratio setups 'irresistible'. ...
Austin Hemmelgarn's user avatar
2 votes

Should purchasing the game immediately unlock all levels?

I've seen some games add an "Unlock all levels" option in the settings menu. So by default, levels are locked, and unlock in some staged order, using game mechanics like the ones Zibelas ...
DMGregory's user avatar
  • 134k
2 votes

How can I make a more engaging research/progression system?

I don't have novel ideas for you. I'll suggest some ideas lifted from other games, combined and adapted. You could have the player discover recipes/blueprints via experimentation. You would have ...
Theraot's user avatar
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