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[ArsTechnica] Level capping truly, unapologetically sucks

post #1 of 73
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Level capping sucks. The reason is simple: level caps break a game's motivation equation.

Games that allow you to gain new levels for your character by defeating enemies or accomplishing tasks create a carefully balanced risk/reward environment that effectively trains you to seek out the situations with the most potential for beneficial character development. Those rewards could be special weapons, decorative (i.e. not functional) items, or most importantly, experience points. Experience points (and the increased character levels they eventually bring) are central to practically every role-playing game and, increasingly, other genres that throw them in as a "role-playing element." They're the most important reward to be gained in these games because they determine the strength of a character and what kind of weapons and capabilities that character can have...

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2012/11/level-capping-truly-unapologetically-sucks/

I agree completely
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post #2 of 73
Yeah level capping sucks, I love being a Level 689745124463 Fire Mage.
post #3 of 73
While I agree with the points presented, I cannot turn my eye away from the fact that if a game presents unlimited leveling would turn into very stale gameplay just to get the "achievement" of having those levels, because there is so much original gameplay that can be played through. Skyrim has tried to advert away from that by doing the repeatable quests, but really all those quests were the same and still presented stale gameplay when you essentially did "everything."

Also when it comes to the fact that when a game has a co-op mode or pvp and the likes, the situation comes in which the developers have to attempt to try and balance the perks and effectiveness in each class, especially in a game like Borderlands 2. If BL2 had unlimited leveling and able to unlock every skill tree, it would defeat the purpose of the playstyles each tree presents.

This goes along with Skyrim. You *can* essentially level every perk (haven't played any of the DLC's, mind you), but when it gets to that point where you can do everything, and run out of content doing it, the game really does get stale. There's little to no challenge presented, and each playstyle given by the trees meshes into one. It just becomes monotonous.

What I'm really getting from the article is that the writer is a bit bitter that he ran out of stuff to do in games he loves, when in reality, he should just let the game be put in the vault (heh) and play it at a later date. I can see why developers put those kind of caps in games. There's reasons why generations of games keep them.

That's my two cents.
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post #4 of 73
Tibia has an uncapped system like that. Levels and skill points are both uncapped. The current highest level is level 638 (which is meaningless until I tell you that it takes less time to go from 0 to 90 in WoW than it does to go from 0-90 in Tibia. The problem with not having a cap is that it removes any skill from the game, since lack of skill can be made up for with power gained through playing time.

Remember the South Park WoW episode where one player got to a really high level and started killing everyone, forcing Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny to spend weeks endlessly grinding boars? That's exactly what Tibia has been like for the past 6 or so years.
    
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post #5 of 73
I tried a free game called Dragon Oath like 4 years ago and there was no level cap. There was this account named iPain that had multiple people playing around the clock PKing the entire server. I believe he was level 120+ and the second highest was ~90 and he was a guildie.

I guess it could work on a non PvP server, but it would also be kind of pointless without infinitely scaling level req gear? Right?
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post #6 of 73
Balance issues. Players who start playing later/not as much will always be behind. Yes the players who put more time in should be rewarded more, but being x amount of levels ahead/stronger will seriously be unfair and mass amounts of people would complain and or stop playing the game completely.
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post #7 of 73
Having no level cap sucks. It encourages a huge amount of time invested and completely discourages new players in multiplayer games. It also encourages time over skill and furthers the idea that all role playing games need to have levels. There are more ways to play a role than just constantly increasing numbers on some digital treadmill. Having a level cap forces your to make decisions, because you just can't have every skill. It keeps hard enemies hard, instead of just beating any complicated situation by over-leveling. It lets you design for clear levels of gear and encounters. It makes you think, "wait, do I really enjoy playing this game... or am I just playing until I can max out the numbers?" Not having a level cap (IE, no end goal for some people) might actually lead more people to get bored earlier, because when you are stuck at 100 max, at least you have something to shoot for. When difficulty just keeps scaling with level infinitely, what role do levels even serve other than some mild tracker of how much time you have spent? What happens when numbers just get so huge it's ridiculous (200,000+ str, 2,000,000,000 HP!)

Just some devils advocate thoughts here. I'm not saying no level cap can ever work, but it's not something you can just add to an existing game. It's a feature that would have to be designed for from the ground up to stop the feature from becoming a mindless gimmick. It's also not exactly an easy thing to do, since any single design error could be multiplied over hundreds and hundreds of levels to game breaking status.
    
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post #8 of 73
I think we can agree the worst type of leveling system is one in which a player can reach max level with all available skills and stats. Having made no character build decisions.

Cough, GW2, cough.

I feel GW1 had a perfect system. You had to make preliminary stat and skill decisions, and then after reaching max level you still had to work hard for skills but could still re-stat for a multitude of builds. Note, A LOT OF BUILDS you could work for and unlock. Not weapon locked skillsets...
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post #9 of 73
I think the worst kind if Level Cap is one that is reachable very fast and requires purchasing DLC to increase it (I'm talking about you Borderlands/Borderlands 2).

Besides that, I like a system like Bad Company 2, where even if you hit Level 50, you can still spend time Platinuming every weapon.
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post #10 of 73
daoc has basically no level cap since they kept adding realm rank and it makes it really crappy when you make a new character and go up against someone way higher RR you know you are going to die... but at least it gives you something to grind for.
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