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Should the player char be able to become more powerful than the most powerful NPCs?

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by JarlFrank, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. Norfleet Moderator

    Norfleet
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    I don't think what matters is so much that whether or not the player character is powerful or not, compared to any given NPC, even the villain, so much that the player character does not become so ridiculously overpowered that he is essentially a god. It is not a question of whether or not the player character is more powerful than his antagonist. It is a question of whether the player character is more powerful than the antagonist, the city guard, and the entire orcish nation all at once. The ability to singlehandedly overpower the villain is insignificant compared to the ability to lay waste to entire nations. It doesn't even matter if the villain is even MORE powerful: The point at which you singlehandedly capable of laying waste to entire armies and destroying nations at whim is the point at which the game has sort of lost any real sense of connection.

    There's also the paradigm of the "boss fight" that is overdone. Every single villain is defeated ultimately by some form of punching him in the face. This means that every single villain must personally be some sort of badass, even if it's a "you, me, and MY GUARDS" scenario. Why must the player character resolve every single issue through stabbing someone in the face? This is typically accompanied by an antagonist that appears to be in it purely For The Evulz, with no sense of what constitutes a meaningful or purposeful goal other than destruction for its own sake. This is somehow the case even when your villain is the head of state of some opposing nation, and you can simply resolve everything by assassinating him, and this doesn't result in simply making the problem worse or anything by either enabling a vengeful successor to arise or throwing the country into anarchy as it collapses into factional infighting and warlordism, resulting in the deaths of more people than the player saved by doing so. The villain is never defeated by something such as, say, losing the next election when his scandalous deeds are exposed.
     
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  2. LizardKing Scholar

    LizardKing
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    One of my main problems with rpgs (and games generally) is that you are overpowered at LvL1.
    Usually you have a town full of problems. There are guards in town, fellas that are LvL20+ with much
    better equipment and they can't do shit. They warn about dangers and tell that even their fiercest warriors
    have died trying to "complete" these quests. Then this random LvL1 loser comes in town and solves their problems.
    How can a LvL1 character face anything that has killed much more experienced and better equipped characters?
    I love mods that make games harder. In my opinion higher difficulty brings immersion to the game and makes
    the world more believable. Dangers become dangerous.

    If the character is human, there should be a level cap.
    If he is a god or somekind of a godly creature, it's ok to become overpowered.
     
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  3. Norfleet Moderator

    Norfleet
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    Oh, RARELY is it true that you are actually overpowered at level 1.

    Oh, that's just the RPG perversity principle in action. If you are told to do something, you must do that thing. If you are told NOT to do something, you must do that thing.

    Yeah, but that's not due to your character being overpowered. And it's not really clear if it HAS killed more experienced and better equipped characters. Sure, they SAY it has, but characters don't normally know their own levels...and there is no guarantee that what they are saying is TRUE. Maybe they just know it because someone else said so, and the entire thing is an exaggeration. Maybe they're lying to you for the lulz, snickering behind your back as they send you looking for a muzzle blast.

    That depends on the manner in which the game is made harder: Is it real difficulty, in that the game is actually more difficult and requires smarter play to win, or is it simply annoying fake difficulty, in which the difficulty is created largely through simply making enemies nigh-indestructible, instakilling you randomly, or giving them ridiculous advantages that are not analogous to anything you could possibly have.

    There usually is a level cap, but it's usually so ridiculously high that your character may as well BE a god as far as anyone else that isn't on the same power level is concerned. Even then, it's not so much about the level cap itself as it is the EFFECTS of levelling. A level 1 character dies in a single hit. A level 20 character is nigh-indestructible, capable of performing HANO insertion from orbit, getting up, and fighting.
     
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  4. Phelot Arcane

    Phelot
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    To me, it depends on the game. In a sandbox world, it can be fun becoming the Almighty Destroyer, like in Fallout 1-2. In most other cRGP's not so much, of course.

    I also think it makes a game more entertaining and satisfying when XP isn't thrown at you for every little dumb thing. I'd also imagine it becomes increasingly difficult for a designer to control level progression when they include so many instances of getting XP, especially large amounts of it.
     
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  5. Norfleet Moderator

    Norfleet
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    I don't think you ever really became the Almighty Destroyer in FO 1/2 because of any intrinsic stat bonus granted to you by levelling, though. The perks certainly greatly enhanced your ability to kill dudes, but you could always be critically hit for over 9000 damage and die instantly at any level, so you were never really GODLIKE. Other than in your awesome ability to shoot dudes in the eyes. It's not like you really gained the ability to withstand being dropped from orbit at any point.
     
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  6. Phelot Arcane

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    Power armor + sufficient gun skills can make you practically unstoppable, at least in FO2. It was rather easy wiping out all life in the game. Granted, we aren't talking about over powered items here, but still critical hits just didn't seem that er... critical on the PC after awhile.
     
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  7. Commissar Draco Codexia Comrade Colonel Commissar Patron

    Commissar Draco
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    Insert Title Here Strap Yourselves In Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Divinity: Original Sin 2
    If my PC won't level from half of game I quit the game, quests and story are not interesting enough in modern CRPGs (except Obsydian and some indies) to play them as Adventure Games. There's no reason to play Skyrim so long the lack of balance is becoming the problem though. I won't play again Skyrim... but I might do FNV Legion run throough Vanilla + all DLCs some day.
     
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  8. madbringer Magister

    madbringer
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    It's purely contextual, honestly. If the scope of the game allows the notion of the PC attaining God-level power (well, relative to the game at hand, at least), why not? As long as it's done in a way that fits the gameplay paradigms and is not designed to suck the player's dick, in a way that, for example, Fallout 3 does. The most important thing is maintaining a sense of challenge, with the PC's power being in direct correlation with the player's determination in increasing it.
     
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  9. Phelot Arcane

    Phelot
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    I can't imagine playing Skyrim that long, though since leveling up quickly becomes boring with no point in continuing dishing out attribute or skill points. The exploration is fun and all, but without proper character building, it's just plain stupid. Also, you gain levels a bit too quick.

    Now, take something like Realms of Arkania, and you've got tons of quality time put into building your characters each level up. I've been playing through Star Trail again, and while I don't recall what it's like near end game, the character progression seems great so far (I didn't import, though)
     
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  10. kaizoku Arcane

    kaizoku
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    Why would you do such a thing? :'(

    What sort of trickery is this!?
    No progression, no RPG... Debatable I know.
    But you would simply be moving the problem into the loot area. And then we go: should the PC be allowed more powerful gear than the most powerful NPCs/critters in the game?


    What Zed said.
    The game must still present a challenge, otherwise what's the point?

    And what Flanged said
     
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  11. Damned Registrations Prestigious Gentleman Furry Weeaboo Nazi Nihilist

    Damned Registrations
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    Why? I think the game could be just as interesting if the PC is the one with raw power being beset by foes constantly screwing you over with underhanded trickery and and malicious artifacts the player/character is unwilling/unable to use.

    Set the undefeated knight against insurmountable odds, trying to save hostages and fight handicapped to avoid hurting innocents. Have him blunder into traps and be outrageously confident. Who doesn't want to be the guy that gets to say "I'll hold them off while the rest of you escape"?

    As long as it isn't one force against another force of significantly more/less power slugging it out mindlessly, it'll have potential to be interesting. It doesn't matter whether the player is at the top or bottom of the totem pole individually in a 1v1 slugfest.
     
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  12. bminorkey Guest

    bminorkey
    I'm gonna go ahead and state the obvious, that it depends on the aims and scope of the setting and story.

    Some situations where you'd want your character to become extremely powerful would be, say, a Planescape-ish game where your character recovers his "lost power" or what have you. I'm also a big fan of protagonists that are actually fairly impressive at the /start/ of the story (as opposed to farmerboys-turned-adventurers). Say, in my opinion, The Witcher games could have done away with the amnesia and made the protagonist immediately more powerful than the vast majority of NPCs, say with the exception of some nasty beasts and especially proficient fighters (challenge would mostly come from numbers, terrain and "extra" factors).

    That said, I'm 100% opposed to a scenario where your protagonist starts out weak and becomes very powerful over a short course of time (say, more powerful than an ancient wizard, or a paladin who honed his skills for his entire life). Extreme character progression is really an overrated element in RPGs. If a dragon can easily stomp you when you start out, a dragon should be able to stomp you throughout the game.

    Becoming "powerful" tends to feel really cool, but it also screws up your perception of the game because nothing seems impressive anymore. It's a very dangerous thing to allow in a game.
     
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  13. madbringer Magister

    madbringer
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    Thing is, most RPGs state that the PCs are not normal people - they are destined to be heroes, champions, chosen ones, empowered by the Gods, touched by fate, set with a grand future of changing the world and all that glorious shit. Makes sense they would become powerful at a rate unattainable by a peasant that'd randomly decide it's goblin stompin' time. Didn't get a memo from the All-Father? Tough shit, you'll have to grind for 24 thousand years, not 24 hours, to get invited into the big boys club.

    It's not ideal but what are the alternatives? Running the scenario through various shades of the gimp-level spectrum or turn the progression to uber-levels a chore (see: every fucking MMORPG, ever).
     
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  14. bminorkey Guest

    bminorkey
    Sure, but that's basically an excuse developers use - I've never seen it actually complement the plot or realism. It makes a lot more sense that the Chosen One would either immediately become more powerful after receiving some blessing (or become more powerful in "big spurts"), or simply start off already accomplished and powerful. I mean, maybe somewhere there's a game where it makes sense that the protagonist's being the Chosen One is expressed through him...becoming godlike after a few weeks of killing sewer rats, but I'm doubtful.

    In any case, the alternatives are simply developing gameplay dynamics in some other way than the character growing more powerful. Maybe he discovers new abilities that aren't necessarily more optimal than his former ones (but, for example, are suitable for specific scenarios, or a different playing style), or new interesting equipment. Two somewhat solid examples of alternate character progression for the Chosen One are Avatar VII and Dark Souls, where items are essentially what carries you through and your characters' raw statistics are less pivotal. I'd take this even further.
     
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  15. madbringer Magister

    madbringer
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    Well, i didn't say it makes any sense, but some justification is better than no justification at all. End of the day, it's all about embarking on an adventure, and let's be honest here, we play games specifically to get away from reality. Ain't a big deal to stretch your suspension of disbelief over unrealistically fast progression of the game's protagonist through tiers of might... but i do agree that seeking out more sensible alternatives to the generic "well, you see, you're speshul!" would be great. That's basically what Torment did, what with TNO slowly unlocking all the power inside of him that he amassed during the countless years of his schizo escapades. Worked fine in that context (though it doesn't account for his companions progressing equally fast, but what can you do, also their fates are intertwined blah blah blah).
     
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  16. mondblut Arcane

    mondblut
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    True. But did I ever say that playing Megatraveller was fun? :roll:
     
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  17. Mastermind Cognito Elite Material Patron Bethestard

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    Most RPGs are combat-centric. It would be anti-climatic to have you finish off a boss by suing him into the poor house if the overwhelming majority of the game up to that point revolved around combat. In a game like Fallout where non-violent paths are available it makes sense, but that's just not the case for most RPGs.
     
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  18. Mastermind Cognito Elite Material Patron Bethestard

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    If you know the game well enough you can get upgraded power armor and upgraded plasma rifle without firing a single shot in Fallout 1. Then just farm deathclaws to maximum level and plasma burn your way through the entire game. Fallout 1 = best MMORPG ever. :troll:

    Most times enemies don't even get a chance to fire back before they're liquid goo.
     
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  19. tuluse Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    tuluse
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    Serpent in the Staglands Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    What about some kind of magical puberty? It's implied pretty heavily that's what happens in Baldur's Gate.
     
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  20. bminorkey Guest

    bminorkey
    I kind of felt like it never left the realms of "just implied" in BG. They didn't do enough to really integrate it into the plot and justify it. But maybe that scenario, done much better, would be one situation where levelling up really quickly actually makes sense.
     
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  21. flabbyjack Arcane

    flabbyjack
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    What's with the obsession with being the strongest? It's cool and all but what about out-smarting or out-witting antagonists?

    Personally, I always thought this line from BG2 was hilarious:
    [​IMG]
     
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  22. SinVraal Educated

    SinVraal
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    I typically prefer games that feature leveling up. This is usually done through combat. I dream of a game where the leveling is done through completing quests, exploration and combat. I would also love to see competing parties taking quests you leave linger, talk smack to you in the tavern and can back it up by maybe throttling you.

    Super-Guards that do nothing are annoying. Guards should be level 1s that are performing a job with maybe a level 3 leader. Something that gives a level 1 party pause but beatable with good tactics or luck. BG's use of the Flaming Fist was ok. Those guys were pretty bad ass at first. But towards the mid game you could kill them easily.

    But, leveling up should take time and mean something. Ultima 5.... you had to level up just to even have a prayer to beat some of those fights. Ultima 6 was great but I do recall a point where you're slaughtering dragons in the dungeons pretty easily. I prefer the former.
     
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  23. There was great fun in seeing enemies that murdered you in one hit die by your blade eventually when you grew powerful enough (Gothic games, anyone?) What would be the fun in not being able to beat something or someone that doesn't have a good reason to be immortal (like the Lady of Pain in PST), no matter how powerful you hero became and how good at the game you were?

    If the combat degenerates into being boring and repetitive, that's more of an issue of combat design. Make the player pay for the tiniest mistakes when battling the best of the best, but don't make these guys unbeatable.
     
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  24. wwsd Arcane

    wwsd
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    Another thing that could help is that you can get quite strong, but eventually, you get older and weaker again. In Morrowind, they had these level-up messages that said as much, but it didn't actually mean anything in-game as you just got stronger and stronger. In Sid Meier's Pirates! you eventually had to retire, but that was just a game with some RPG elements rather than an actual RPG. I can imagine that people would feel frustrated if they had to retire from killing everything in their beloved open world.

    What often causes the player to become to ubar is that, regardless of class, they can become good at everything, or at least they can have a wide range of major skills that they can work all the way to the maximum. It would work better if they had a limited growth potential, depending on class. That you can only become godlike at one or two things, and all other stats and skills are capped at much lower levels. So a warrior character who decides to practice his magic later in the game will never get more than a layman's understanding.
     
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  25. sgc_meltdown Arcane

    sgc_meltdown
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    There is a lesson to be learned from action and versus games here: That you should always have the potential to dominate any opponent, but this requires intimate knowledge of the game and the foes you have(and ideally no AI or mechanics abuse). Something like 30% what you character has, 70% how you play, shifting depending on the game itself, but player skill needs to be a game changer.

    Therefore the test is this: Take your minmaxed godly squad or protagonist that experienced players can own the game with and have a complete novice use it against a difficult enemy. If he steamrolls it, then your game is boring at high levels as it is and should be re-thought. If not, congratulations.

    My prime concerns with character power can be summed up as: Does it make the game boring, and does it fit the established plot, overall setting and game type. In that descending order of importance.

    Then you can worry about details like whether it is too easy to get to that point.

    this is more of a suspension of belief narrative issue that rises from needing to have a protagonist that the huddled player masses can into immersion without spraining their mental muscle

    hence the superpowered 16 year olds who defeat everything with their optimistic courage and conviction while being the fated ones who will save the planet

    fear not friend, you can always play mass effect without losing immersion because you start as a commander and war veteran

    lucky even bioware has learned to avoid this in BG1 with elminister
    you simply don't put them up in active gamespace at all

    player discontent is much lessened if the character wasn't open for attack in the first place, like the damn immortal overseer in his turret in fallout 1 or the numerous immortal npcs in the U8 town.

    Games that give you hidden rewards or endings when you kill bosses that you're supposed to lose to are cool, too. Do any western games even have this?

    btw, people actually statted lady of pain, but the forum I found it in is down now
    like statting cthulhu, it's pointless because player characters aren't even in the same class

    in the meantime here are my homebrew combat encounter guidelines:
    1) Everyone rolls initiative
    2) The party dies in descending order of initative
    3) When interviewed about the incident, Ao says he doesn't care
     
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