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KickStarter [Poll] Best XP model

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by DJOGamer PT, Nov 20, 2020.

?

Which of these XP models you find more appealing?

  1. XP from quests

    16.1%
  2. XP from actions

    10.2%
  3. XP from both quests and actions

    61.3%
  4. XP as currency

    12.4%
  1. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    DraQ
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    DJOGamer PT
    XP are a universal measure of progression, so XP should never be circumstantial.

    XP for actions violate that, automatically marking you as an uncritical dim-wit who doesn't know better and only does stuff because others, who also didn't know better, did it before him.
    :obviously:
    More specifically: doling out XP based on specific ways of achieving goals (actions) rather than achieving goals leads to abuseable and shitty game design:
    • Players don't get any reward if they solve encounters by doing something clever rather than employing canned modes of interaction (like combat or dialogue).
    • Player get extra rewards if they play the game in degenerate manner (sneak by the guy for sneak XP, then return to dialogue at guy to defuse situation peacefully using diplomancy for diplomancy XP, than finally stab the guy in the face and take his stuff + kill XP). Also farming.
    The only way out if you still want to advance player based on actions is no longer making such progression universal, but then you replace XP with full fledged use-based skill system which is not in the poll. Note that use-based is notoriously hard to properly waterproof (for example Bethesda can't do it despite some attempts) and tends to be very heavyweight system to implement even if it could very much be the bee's knees if properly implemented.
    Anyway, use-based is no longer XP, and XP for actions is pretty much shitty by design.
    If you are making a game that is large enough to justify extra effort AND can actually understand how to make such system work and accomplish that - go for use-based, it's probably your best option.


    XP for goals fare better, BUT that depends on what you consider a goal.
    For it to work properly goals should be universal and never circumstantial - if a reasonable character might object to a specific goal there should be no XP for it (unless you can provide complete coverage of mutually exclusive goals so that every character can and will accomplish exactly one).
    Quest-based XP is a typical example goal based free of the issues of action based but may fail by incentivizing quests that would be out of character for certain PCs. For example if some fop demands wyvern eggs for an omelette and you can have a druid PC who would reasonably not want to do it.
    In general quest based XP is not nearly as labour intensive as use-based skill system, and unlike action based XP has a chance of working as intended, but setting up the individual rewards is delicate and adds extra work to the content.
    Note that chores should always count as potentially out of character.
    An alternative or supplement to quest based can be XP for other universal goals IF you can establish them. For example if you can't have characters that have no use for wealth (or have taken vows of poverty - although you could solve the latter by providing appropriate outlets), money could be such a measure of advancement. Basically for every GP that enters character's possession, character gets one XP. Simple and also actually rooted in RPG tradition, it also allows effectively trading stuff for XP. Not that there are some exploits possible (for example dropping then picking up the gold) but they should be fairly possible to ward against.
    Note that it isn't as much XP as currency, but rather currency as XP.
    Finding legendary items (provided you can find use for them even if they don't fit your build), locations or lore could also yield XP.

    Actions and quests XP is just quest XP tainted with action XP and not any less shitty than the latter.
    :whatisfun:
    Eat that, Mr balance man.

    XP as currency is just... weird and very contextual. If you can make it work in your game or setting - go for it, but it will likely need some specific explanation to make sense and work in the context. For that reason I don't consider it universally workable.

    And last option that isn't in the poll is of course:
    No character advancement - no XP in any form needed for that. You just build character and that's it. They may grow in power by gaining equipment, specific knowledge, allies and so on but not by becoming more powerful themselves. It has advantage of being easy to balance, develop, exploit proof and of making sense most of the time (other than the stories where you want zero-to-hero specifically), especially if the character is already an established professional of some sort.

    If you want to, you might go for a sort of hybrid approach:
    Predefined final build. It allows adding growth to the above, by letting player specify their final character and unlock that gradually during gameplay. Note that it still needs some advancement method, but even though action based will still work poorly with it, it's going to be quite degeneracy proof by default. It might also use fairly relaxed and eccentric methods of actually advancing character compared to actual growth system thanks to being built effectively outside in. Also note that it has severe drawback of not allowing player to readjust their preconceptions.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
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  2. thesecret1 Arcane

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    Probably this one, provided it's done right, though it's a hard choice. On one hand, getting XP from feats and accomplishments is just more fun than getting it from murdering 10 000 kobolds. On the other hand, if the game has no enemy respawn, then looking for enemies to slain to get some of that sweet, sweet XP has its own charm (see Gothics as an example). On the other hand, games WITH enemy respawn, where said respawn is only there to allow you to grind for XP, are pure decline. Since only giving XP from quests would eliminate the whole point of grinding, I am in favour of that.

    I don't like this system very much because it's more often than not just an attempt to fix in game economy being total garbage – no need to worry about the player accumulating a million gold, when he's supposed to blow it all on getting an HP upgrade or something. I've seen some games where it was done well (they had good in-game economy to begin with, in which case this is perfectly fine), but usually, it just leads to cancer like "I see you have 10 million gold. Give it to me all, and I'll give you +5% to HP" and similar bullshit.
     
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  3. Darkzone Arcane

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    "XP from Quests" Considered Harmful.
    Example as in: I have delivered Y amount of letters now i'm a better fighter and have better speech abilities. Therefore Quest (a declaration of a plan or contract between Player and NPCs) should only open up chains of actions that comulate to a goal and each of these actions can award XPs.
     
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  4. Tavernking Don't believe his lies Patron Shitposter Developer

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    Sounds like you're more annoyed by NPCs interrupting you to ask you to do their quest.
     
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  5. Bad Sector Cipher Patron

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    Unless i misunderstood it (though i doubt i did considering the examples given), "XP by for actions" means any sort of action, including -e.g.- killing stuff, not just achieving goals.

    This depends largely on the encounter. Also i wouldn't call combat as a "canned" mode of interaction - in many games building a character/party for combat is the main (and sometimes only) purpose. This sounds to me like saying that shooting demons in Doom is canned interaction :-P.

    This sounds like a bad setup, for a character to be able to sneak past the guy and get sneak XP their sneak skills must be checked against - similar for their dialogue skills and their combat skills. Characters should not be able to do all of the above at the same time.
     
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  6. Raghar Arcane

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    And negative XP from not your type?
     
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  7. Bloodeyes Magister

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    Depends on the game. XP from quests and actions is best I think, but it depends what kind of game what actions you choose. If you have a game that gives non combat options like stealth then it's best to not give XP for kills but rather for achieving objectives or exploration. XP for crafting is fine as long as crafting materials are limited. Basically I think XP from whatever behavior you want to incentivize, but the balance to this is it shouldn't feel intrusive or controlling. Levelling up should result from playing the game naturally, not doing anything unusual and grindy. In every situation the most optimal solution to a problem from a story/RP perspective should give the most XP. You shouldn't have to think about levelling when you're playing at all, only think about what the best solution to the problems you are presented would be given your character's skills. The antithesis of this is something like Morrowind, where you jump around the place casting spells instead of walking. It's not an original thing to say, but Bethesda's improve by use system really is the worse version of XP around from a gameplay perspective. I also dislike systems that tie the amount of XP you get to your stats (e.g. high INT gets more XP) because it makes high INT more or less mandatory and I like playing low INT, low CHA violent maniacs.

    So basically I think INT should be action and quest based so long as the actions don't favor a certain play style too heavily. Second best to this is just getting XP for completing quests however you choose to do it, but this doesn't reward difficult things like boss fights or finding creative solutions. XP is primarily a mechanism for character progression but it's also a reinforcer for desirable behavior. It needs to be used as both so long as the reinforcement doesn't end up feeling like railroading.
     
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  8. Mr. Magniloquent Liturgist

    Mr. Magniloquent
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    Theoretically, quest based is ideal. This way all approaches are rewarded. The problem with this is that >98% of the CRPG mechanics in games are combat oriented. All other things equal, a trail of corpses also gives you loot that other routes would ordinarily not. Quest based experience demands expert level design with robust mechanics and the time and budget to deliver. In other words, a perfect RPG. That hasn't happened on a computer yet.

    Until that happens, any time failure is possible, XP should be rewarded. What is crucial, is that XP awarded is scaled relative to the character rating. Introducing CR was one of the best things D&D 3.0 introduced.
     
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  9. DJOGamer PT Arcane

    DJOGamer PT
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    I am actually somewhat surprised about the results
    Always thought people here preferred to gain XP only by completing quests/objectives
    And never thought that XP as a game entity ("XP as currency" in the options) would be more popular than gaining XP from actions


    It seems more than 50% of the Codex disagrees with you
     
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  10. Luckmann Arcane Zionist Agent

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    You forgot the best form of XP: Goal-oriented XP. It doesn't matter if it's a quest or not, or how something is resolved; you get awarded experience for achieving it. Deus Ex is a perfect example of this. You get awarded not for killing, but for achieving a goal, whether there was a quest for it or if the mooks ended up dead or not. This could be exploration-based or when reaching set points, or just for resolving situations, or what-have-you, but always circumstance-based and goal-oriented, awarding clever uses of assets or thoroughness.

    It is genuinely sad that virtually no games get it right, and instead favor just handing out XP based on killing, questing, or just farming actions.
    Has this ever actually been done, or is it just a fever-dream of yours? Because it sounds absolutely bonkers.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
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  11. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    DraQ
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    Fixed.
    Another example: I have bashed in X goblin craniums. Now I know how to read and also how to pick some locks.

    The bottom line is once you want to determine what kind of growth can you get from what kind of actions you are out of domain of XP based systems. XP, as an abstract character growth measure don't and can't give you that. You need to track experience doing specific kinds of things separately and make it only affect those kinds of things. That's use based and it comes with its own set of problems to solve as part of the territory.

    Mind you, I do think that well implemented use-based would be THE growth system to rule them all, but making one doesn't seem exactly trivial (although I might have most of the problems figured out).

    As for quest-based XP, doing just chores shouldn't ever give XP.

    Delivering a letter or picking up someone's laundry are just chores.
    Delivering a letter and getting ambushed by someone who doesn't want it delivered, or picking up laundry and learning a few important insights into spellcasting in the process aren't.

    Quest based XP should be awarded the moment it is clear player has cleared some obstacle on quest's critical path not the moment the they return to the giver.
    Macguffin is picked by you or an ally? That's XP for you. Whether or not you actually return it to the giver (who you might have learned to have been the BBEG all along), keep it for yourself, dump it into a volcano or find someone else to give it to is another matter.

    Basically find spots that have to happen (or that every character will want to reach), if they are behind an obstacle of some sort, give XP.
     
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  12. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    DraQ
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    Newsflash: most people are bloody morons.
    This applies to most codexers as well (seriously, just look around) and if you look at the history of the game design the instances where it is painfully clear no one in the team had the dimmest clue about WTF they were doing far outnumber the rest.

    Most people ITT just vote for what they are familiar with and that's quest XP + XP for farming kills. They have neither will, nor capacity to ponder if it's the best or even good approach, they just take it for granted (being well programmed, little [​IMG]s they are).

    What you are seeing here is basically people asking for faster horses.

    Why? If it works it works. It's basically the cybermodule model from SS2. The problem is that it's awfully hard to contrive something that makes sense and you have to do it on per-game basis. Personally I am not a fan.

    It's a good thing that being right or wrong is not determined by popularity contest, then. :obviously:
     
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  13. Correct_Carlo Wrong Carol

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    I prefer XP from actions. Specifically Kingdom Come: Deliverance's model where you are not rewarded XP from quests, you only get XP from leveling individual skills by successfully performing those skills. As you level skills in a specific group, your character's overall stats increase at specific levels and you get to choose perks.

    To me that is the most "realistic" and "larpiest" RPG experience, as it's much less abstract. You don't complete a quest and get experience with which you level abstract stats. Instead, just like life, you can only increase individual skills by performing them. As your character grows in those areas, the more abstract stats (like strength, intelligence, and etc) naturally increase, but only if you are using the skills involved in their areas.
     
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  14. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    DraQ
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    AFAIK KCD does not use XP based system at all, just glorious use-based.
    :obviously:
     
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  15. DJOGamer PT Arcane

    DJOGamer PT
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    And you forgot to read the OP
     
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  16. Tacgnol Shitlord Patron

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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Grab the Codex by the pussy RPG Wokedex Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Your character level increases via quests and other activities, but it doesn't have much impact on gameplay aside from unlocking some perks.

    All your skills and attributes are indeed use based.
     
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  17. Luckmann Arcane Zionist Agent

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    No, I read it, it wasn't substantial.
     
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  18. DJOGamer PT Arcane

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    Except you claim I didn't put a XP from achieving a goals option in the poll, when it's literally the 1st option in it and the OP explains that
     
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  19. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    DraQ
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    Yes.

    Doesn't really.
    If you basically elect to to put a number of "tripwires" between the player and the objective, each triggering XP, you effectively resign yourself to one of two possibilities:
    • Player somehow managing to bypass each and every one of thm, effectively getting punished by doing something "too" clever.
    • Player aiming to specifically trigger more of them to get more XPs.
    The correct way is to put the trigger on the objective itself instead if you just measure abstract advancement points (XP).
    The only legitimate reason to be interested in how player achieves their goals for the purpose of advancement is when you're using this information to regulate the advancement itself - that's use based.

    Except it's not even combat that counts, just the killing blow. And yeah, it's pretty much canned interaction. Making an NPC die (in such way that the game can determine you to be the instigator) is hardly an open ended problem.

    Doom is not an RPG. It doesn't really support gameplay beyond shooting shit while navigating levels and doesn't support character development either. You only have small and fixed amount of loot you can possibly accumulate to improve your capabilities.

    Counterpoint:
    Forcing characters to be one trick ponies yields deeply subar gameplay. Way worse than even letting them be a master of all trades by default.
    If a character has only one tool in their toolbox, that means that no matter what obstacle they encounter it must be a nail to their hammer*.
    So a combat oriented character needs to basically just hit whatever stands in their way, stealth oriented to sneak by everything, diplomancer to dialogue at everything.
    This way you have effectively reduced your game to a bundle of three - an action (or tactical) combat game, stealth game and a visual novel, each reusing the same story and assets and each one sub-par due to using 1/3 of the budget it would normally have access to.
    :bravo:
    Slow. Clap.

    Much better design is to let every character have a fairly substantial subset of all available tools as their toolbox, allowing meaningful decisions regarding which tools to use, how to combine them and how to compensate for the missing ones.
    So using the examples above, instead of simple hulk smash, sneaky sneak that sneaks and rat diplomancer you'd have a warrior poet, deadly guerilla guy and silver-tongued rogue. Each having to decide which facet of their character to use at any given moment and how to combine them on a moment to moment basis.

    *)
    The alternative being, of course, designing the game such that not all (or perhaps even none) characters can complete it so that you can gloat at player not using the wiki beforehand.
    There is, of course a place in the world for devs like this - this place is them straddling the business end of a massive, slowly rotating construction auger while begging for mercy.
     
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  20. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    DraQ
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    Yes, but Deus Ex is not exactly the perfect example. It could do without so much exploration XP, with exploration being only driven by loot, information and situational advantage/pathfinding.
    And DXHR has gone full retard in that regard also adding action XP.

    Just an amusing idea I've had when writing that post. Semi-serious at best.
    I wouldn't ever use it when making my own game but in a way that's how advancement effectively works for anyone planning their character, so it could help waterproof such advancement and prevent poor character building. In any case it's still way better than kill XP so it's not entirely worthless, and might have merits for some niches.
     
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  21. Bad Sector Cipher Patron

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    So if i understand you correctly, your solution is to have characters that can do everything and that even from early in the game?

    TBH that doesn't sound very fun to me, i find it more interesting to put restrictions (e.g. select a class, skills, etc) and specialize a character and if anything i'd rather see games focus more on such character specialization - which also allows for replayability with different builds - than having characters that can do everything.
     
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  22. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    :what:
    You've got it more ass backwards than I thought was physically possible.

    Quests based XP is literally the simplest, most foolproof solution imaginable. It's almost impossible to mess it up.
    You literally just identify shit that must happen due to being final or intermediate goal and slap XP on it.
    It doesn't require ANY expertise in ANY design unless you're literally too fucking braindead to breath unassisted.

    Expert level design with robust mechanics is exactly what is needed for use based. It can be powerful but you need to be able to pull it off, and probably need a vast open world for it to pay for itself (but when it does it's glorious).

    And activity based XP is just use-based with all the constraints and sanity checks pulled out. It's not possible to do it right unless your game is literally a brain dead foozle murdering simulator.
     
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  23. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    You don't.

    What I did say is that even just removing all the restrictions is better than having one trick pony characters DESPITE it being a horrible mockery of RPG mechanics.

    The real solution is to simply have some non-negligible fraction of all skills involved in a build. It should generally be something between 3 and half of all available skills.
    For example in Morrowind a character was generally proficient in just over 1/3 of all available skills. They had 5 skills that were their main skills and 5 supporting ones.
    In Daggerfall it was 3 primary, 3 secondary and 6 supporting skills.

    That gives a character reasonable number of options in any situation and allows to weigh relative merits of different approaches.

    Having multiple skills to a character also greatly increases the number of possible builds with the same number of skills.

    If your game forces or encourages focusing on just single skill then you have effectively created a fucking screensaver. Player decides that their PC should be good at hitting shit with swords, and then they proceed hitting shit with swords until credits roll. Why even involve player at that point?
     
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  24. Darkzone Arcane

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    Nothing was fixed. Only proven that looking with blinders on, gets you nowhere. Since it even contradicts what you have written below and which is by far better. ( See below for Pendragon and Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes example.) Mind that only this has granted you a NO from me, since you have entirely missed what XPs really are.
    The another example is correct, but now think why giving you the XPs on the spot may be better instead of granting it only after you went to the quest giver.
    I have not defined, what actions are in my case and this may be causing a problem: Actions can be (are not necessary) skill checks that lead and ends with an another closing skill check (different kind or an attack action) which is an other action.

    Have you ever heard of Wasteland 1 ? Does "Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes" (derivative of Tunnels and Trolls) say anything to you? Look into it and then read what you have wrote again.
    XPs doesn't have to be named XPs. In "Pendragon" XPs are called Glory and and it is a mix system like Spies and Private Eyes, with the difference that you get a marker on adventures passing a specific skill test (actions) with bravour for specific skills to raise the skill (by chance during winter pause) instead of individual skills XPs. XPs are a measuring and sizing tool (like and part of the Character- or Skill- Level) how a character or his skill develops during his adventure. Therefore XPs are not harmful in them self, but they can be harmful if they are wrongly granted.
    Pendragon has the marker system which grants only a higher skill if you throw a number equal or higher on a d20 to raise the skill. And by this it limits the growth of skills, but it this can lead to an uneven skill development. So in this manner XPs for individual skills are better, like in Spies and Private Eyes.
    You divide the Quest into sub-Goals, while i go further and divide it into individual actions making the XPs for Quests obsolete / nonsense. Quests become instead of a XPs reward to a rewards systems for items (including money) or character traits (here is the contract and fulfilling the declaration of the plan), which allows a quest design that is far more flexible for different outcomes (as Jarl Frank has "desired" in one other Thread), but your Sub-Goal system does this same just with different granulation.
     
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  25. Mr. Magniloquent Liturgist

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    DraQ you are mistaken. If all roads lead to the same goal with the same XP, then leaving a trail of corpses is the default choice because you get the same outcome, but with all the plundered loot.
     
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