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Point08

Enemy levels for people who like to grind?

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I know we usually talk on here about ways to eliminate the need for grinding. However, over the past couple weeks I've noticed that some people say they like to grind. I'll be honest, I generally hate being forced to grind, but if it's by choice, I sometimes enjoy it too.

 

That got me to thinking...

 

Balancing a game requires you to think about whether or not a player can grind, and if they can, can they do so for a finite mount of levels, or can they just keep going until they hit max level, in the starting area, if they really felt like it. Some people allow a player to grind as much as they want, but the enemies level up with the player's character, so it kind of defeats the purpose of grinding. Sure, having access to more skills can still make the fights easier, even if the enemies get stronger (assuming the enemies aren't also gaining skills), but you don't get that feeling of just destroying something that was kicking your butt earlier in the game. If the enemies don't level though, then all the fights, including bosses, become trivialized. Sure it might be fun to stomp a boss or two, but if every boss fight ends up being no challenge due to being over-leveled, the game will likely get boring. Of course, mechanics in the boss fight can help with this, but usually that can't completely solve the problem.

 

So what if the enemies level with you, but at a much slower rate? This could help keep the game somewhat challenging, even if someone grinds a lot, but it will also still give them taste of that power that comes with grinding. You could have the bosses level stay closer to what the player's level is (maybe they level 2 levels for every 3 the player does or something...just throwing out a number for example) while normal enemies level a bit slower (maybe 1 level for every 2 levels the player does).

 

To make sure a new area starts out as a challenge, you could check the player's average party level and set all the mobs to that, or close to it, in a new area, and then have them progress in level according to whatever formula you chose using the above paragraph as a method.

 

This wouldn't completely eliminate the negative sides (for both developer and player) to grinding, but might help minimize them.

 

Anyway, this is just an idea that popped into my head, not something I've given any real thought to implementing at this point. I just think it might be an interesting way to address a common issue. However, since I haven't thought about it much, it also might easily introduce more problems than it addresses and end up making things worse.

 

I'm curious what all of you people's thoughts are.

 

Edited by Point08

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Generally I hate when enemies level up along with the player. This is a crime for me and my liking of grinding.

The biggest mistake with that feature (from what I've experienced so far) was in 'Dead Island', where enemies were leveling up with you.

At the beginning it was pretty fine, but it was getting really terrible later ~ extremely unbalanced, that was bringing the frustration, because 'balance' is the most game breaking thing, when it's done badly. In 'Dead Island' you're getting more MAX HP and skills with levels, but enemies are stronger too, so basically nothing changes, besides the fact, that weapons are weaker, so you had to use better and more expensive ones, but wait, it gets even worse ~ around level 20, you're getting to MAX HP CAP, so besides skills, that don't change much, you were stuck! But enemies were still getting harder and harder, sometimes just impossible to handle. I remember when my sister has beaten that game with pretty low level (around 25 I believe), she was using some silly weapons, but it was more than enough. For me it was more difficult, I was grinding, so I had max level (50 if I'm not mistaking) even before the halfway, but instead of being more powerful, I only made enemies impossible to kill, because my max HP was the same, but enemies were hitting 2 or 3 times harder, not mentioning, that you had to hit them 20+ times more with expensive to fix weapons, so just 3 or 4 enemies could easily kill you. I was asking myself "What was the point then?" - I've never experienced such a 'balance joke'.

HATE COMMENTS!! =3

 

Sorry for spreading the hate, but it is the perfect example to which I'm sticking to, because that was really something memorable.

That said, as a grind-lover I hate that feature, I'm not grinding to get nothing or even make stuff worse, but to get better and have it easier.

I'm not saying, that this feature is bad, but I personally just don't like it.

 

You're right, that I could get max level just at the beginning if I'd really want it, but it would take ages to achieve this. For example in Digital Devil Saga 1&2 I've spent tons of hours grinding right before the final boss to get max level (and unlock Mantras [skills]), so if that took me ~15+ of gameplay (purely grinding) to achieve this, then imagine how long it would take when I'd be grinding on the first enemies, that give 1000 (more or less, I don't remember) times less experience. It's impossible. (It is, but nobody is going to do this)

 

Bosses however, you're right - they should be challenging no matter on the character's level, so either they could be an exception... or just not make OP skills, so that with each level your stats would slightly increase, so it would not break the experience and such.

 

I'm creating tons of walls of text today and I'm not even sure what I'm writing anymore. XD

TL;DR - I don't like that feature, but the bosses could have something~ like skills that hit % of HP etc., I don't know. ^^

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Yea, enemy leveling with you makes grinding redundant since - the stronger you get, the stronger your enemies get = grinding was pointless.

 

I like to have a balance where, throughout the main game you have normal enemies that give a fair amount of exp. This means people who dont like grinding can get levels easily as they go and wont be unpowered. However, if someone who likes to grind, stays, they will eventually become stronger than the enemies (not to MAX though).

 

Once you reach the next area, repeat. Enemies give a fair/generous amount of EXP and non-grinders can play normally whereas grinders can just grind.

If you prefer, then I have 2 suggestions so you aren't basing this around both players.

1. Give the player an item/make an item avilable to the player early on. This item can increase encounters so if someone playing normally can play normally, but a grinder can equipped this item and it lets them just fight until they are happy.

2. Make the normal encounter rate you want, and have maybe a small (secret) room that has a higher and more rewarding monster batch that is ideal for grinders  to side track to and fight, leaving anyone who hates grinding to continue on without being interrupted.

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I like when enemies level up. I like when games are challenging. I thought of doing something like that in my game. The next game I do, I probably will. I want to have difficulty levels. On Easy, all the enemies would be 3-5 levels below. Normal, they'd be within one or two levels above and below. Hard, They'd all be 3-5 levels above. Something along those lines. Bosses would have levels that are set by difficulty as well.

 

It makes every level, every encounter a challenge. That's one of the many things I loved about Dragon Age 2. It was impossible to level grind in that game. The only extra leveling you could achieve could do was do the side quests. I would have liked if there were at least some enemies that respawned so I could go back and fight if I wanted, but that game was so well balanced it's hard to complain.

 

Having grinding be optional is a good thing. Anything that allows the player to make a decision or have some control over how the game progresses is a good thing. It's forcing players to level grind that should be avoided. Even if the battles are really fun, you;re going to turn people off. I like grinding, but I hate being forced to in order to progress. It makes the game feel stagnated, and personally, I feel like it's a cheap, lazy way to squeeze out extra hours of gameplay.

Edited by lonequeso

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But rewarding grinders with better enemies will make it even worse since it will be even easier to grind and get overpowered. =3

 

To avoid grinding players getting OP, you could just give similar skills - that's what I'm going to do, for example

I'm generally not using points of damage, but %. The weakest spell does ~100% of magic damage, where the most powerful ones ~200% or slightly more (at least the 'normal' ones) - that way, each skill is 'good', and there are no major differences.

Also, for each level, make your stats slightly increase (for example by ~1 damage/etc. at the beginning, by ~ 3/etc. damage at the end), and give players better weapons, so the main source of power will be accessible for both, non-grinders and grinders. ~ Grinders will be only slightly more powerful.

 

Enemy leveling up isn't that bad, and I don't mind that much as long as it's not extremely unbalanced, but I didn't loved that in any game I've played so far. (only hated in some, because I felt like being cheated by game, that wasted my time)

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As Riki said , if equipment is more important than levels, your power level is tied to the better shop (or other ways to aquire stuff) instead of being tied to your level. People can still levep-up to be stronger but they won't be that stronger.

I usually grind until i can  buy the best equipment available and or to get skills if skills are tied to another mechanic than lvl (like in FF5 or 9) bc I want to have options

 

Another to way to limit grinding is simply to make it harder, you can make the normal ennemies don't give much xp but some rare enemies give tons of xp and then you tie the encounter rate of the rare enemy to your level. So players will met more of them if you consider them under-leveled and very few (or none at all) if they are over-leveled.

This way ,you have a good idea of what the levels of the players should be while still letting grinders power-up but with a lot of effort.
Same idea implemented differently , you get a fraction of xp if you are over-leveld and bonus xp if you are underleveled , this do the same thing but it tends to feel worse for the player grinders think you are actively going against their way of life,and normal players don't get the surprise factor ). On this other hand this method really encourages what i call creative grinding. I call it grinding bc your goal is still to get overpowered and stomp over bosses but instead of farming trash mob , you are trying to fight some monsters that are far stronger than you forcing you to be creative and find an efficient strategy to kill them or to be lucky in the fight.

 

PS: if you give me a level cap per zone , unless it is very hard to reach I will grind to it every time thinking it's the "intended" level

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The exp multiplier sounds nice, though it will kill grinding at some point.

This technique is used in most hack'n'slashes and MMO's and it's just weird to have, because it leaves you with a thought like "Aw balls, can't grind on these mobs anymore" - but it's not that bad. Worse thing is drop rate multiplier used with that exp multiplier in some games, where you're getting worse items when you're over-leveled which is (as for me) one of the most stupid things implemented in any game. "Path of Exile" has it, but why? It's just an annoying feature. ~ but that's the other story.

 

The exp multiplier was really badly implemented in Diablo 1 (PS1). It was nice on low levels (not noticeable at all), but once you got to the "Hell" difficulty, then it started to be ridiculous.

The fact, that when you had ~40 lvl, the monsters from 1 to 4th level were barely giving you any exp was not enough, so they've decided to also prevent you from grinding* on higher level monsters. Literally, In Diablo you had 16 levels (stages-floors), *where you couldn't even grind, since once the monster was killed/floor cleared, then you had to move forward, no grinding in one place (mobs not respawning) and at level ~40 you could only gain experience on levels (floors) 4 - 11, because there was no point in going further, since you were getting literally 0 EXP, for some stupid reason. You had to die on purpose and start over, because there was no point. That poorly balanced thing multiplies the fact, that at floors 4-8 you were still receiving a small amount of exp, so basically you had to skip (rush through) to 7 - 8 floor and from there start playing normally and kill mobs, but the fun ended when getting to floor 11 or 12. If anybody played Diablo 1 on PS1, then he'll know what I'm talking about. I had (and still have the save on my memory card) a Sorcerer at level 43 I believe, so I've spent thousands of hours on that game. Starting over (because that's what the game was mostly based on ~ kinda rogue-like type) hundreds of times, if not even thousands, because I had many characters high-leveled. That's how I loved that game and to this day it is one of the greatest games I've played. (D2 and D3 were terribly unbalanced and I'm sad, that they broke such a great game) Why am I telling this? I have no idea, but it's time for me to go to sleep apparently.

What I wanted to say, that it's a good way to prevent player from endless grinding, but it also limits him. Generally it's not that bad, but it still needs to be balanced. Personally I prefer to not having these kind of limits, because it kinda broke the experience in Diablo. Whenever I got to the floor where I was getting no exp I was like "Aw balls, what level do I need to have then? Max? LOL" I have no idea what they were trying to achieve, but as for me, it just looked bugged.

 

Basically the grinding wasn't that big deal in games I've played, because after getting some levels it was getting really slow (not because of multiplier, but just higher exp-req numbers), so automatically it encouraged~convinced even me (grind lover) to move further. Also, everybody loves to play the game on their own way, so you should focus on making the game beatable and balanced, not worry about hardcore grinders, there's no need to punish them. Who cares if they will get OP? They were working hard to get to that state, so why to punish them? Allow them to feel da power. As long as few-level-difference will not turn player OP, you'll be okay. If they'll have some advantage, that's good - that's what they want to achieve and love.

 

Also, just a very personal thought not exactly related to this thread - I hate limits in anything. For example when I'm getting to MAX HP Cap etc. etc.. I love to raise and raise even more my thingies. =3 When I'm getting to MAX LVL then I'm like "It's over. . . ='( Time to 'shrek' the boss and end this game! ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)" ~ well limits aren't that bad in RPG games, but they are really bad in MMO's IMO, because you're basically getting stuck and losing the point of playing games like these, because in MMO's the main purpose is to get exp and more exp.

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I got to say that grinding and enemy leveling are fun in my books. It keeps many from being tamrpled. As for Bosses, if they're non-story based bosses, then they should be leveled to you to keep their difficulty. Otherwise, main bosses would always be hard. In Psychonaughts, your psy-skills are balanced with the censors and other enemies, regardless of your rank, so yeah. In other games, like Pokemon, it's frustrating to grind once you get somewhere and get stuck, or when you're competitive breeding. You have to find good exp. giving places, and let your pokemon that you want to level up get the main share (Regardless of outcome, from XY up, all exp is gained through the EXP share, which grants 50% to the party pokemon that didn't participate in the battle. As for games made with RPG Maker, I have to say balance isn't much of a problem when you look at some games, like Warriors, the game. You have to grind to even beat some of the more threatening enemies and side-quests. And to make matters worse, some bosses will maul you if you aren't packing a ton of Catnip and matching levels.

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Enemies leveling up with you is good if you use it right. There is one game I play where, at some point, the game gets really easy. For example...

 

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

Kingdom of Alamur: Reckoning

 

Elder Scrolls: Oblivion did it very well. Of course, some enemies didn't level up with you, but a lot of them did. For example: Deadras, Minotaur Lords, Greater Undeads like Liches or Wraiths. But, once you reach pass level 30, your only competition would be Xivilia's which are only seen in oblivion Gates which are no longer after the main quest. I believed oblivion should've had some sort of daedra arena after the main quest but that's a topic for another time.

 

Dragon Age, in my opinion, did it the best. If you want to know about leveling, you should play Dragon Age.

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It's funny, because even though people are saying they are for or against grinding/enemy levels, really everyone seems to want the same thing. No one wants to be forced to grind but pretty much everyone likes having the option. You don't want the game to be trivialized and completely lacking in challenge, but if you do grind you want to be able to have that feeling of being powerful. This is pretty much what I expected, and where the idea in the OP came from. Again, with a goal of giving the option to grind and the power to totally destroy some mobs, but keeping the game challenging, especially at important points (e.g. bosses). In other words, giving both options (to grind or not to), and keeping them both viable.

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Balancing the game is one of the most difficult things in making games.

There'll be always something, that player will not like. It's hard to make a perfect game. ^^

 

I just like freedom - kill mobs I like to kill, go where I like to go, generally limits are not for me, but I'll not hate the game if it will limit me as long as it won't be extremely unbalanced.

 

For me game doesn't have to be really challenging, but on the flipside I don't like baby-mode games. Basically as long as it will be pretty balanced without bigger issues, then it will be okay.

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Grinding is mostly about feeling like a god in terms of stats and access to loot and works for specific types of games such as dungeon crawlers. Some RPG's even introduce the reincarnation mechanic where you reset your levels to gain a permanent increase in stats. Your character normally starts off rather weak but ends up being god tier near the end.

 

In such games the focus tends to be more on equipment or a mechanic which isn't just more levels equals better stats. Perhaps levels will grant +2 each time but equips are like +50, so its more tempting to grind so you can have chance to get that great gear. 

 

Such games should also feature super bosses and lots of optional, combat orientated combat which rewards players who take the time to grind. 

 

Grinding however is for a specific audience, if your gameplay is designed to be fast paced, action with lots of flash visuals, grinding is probably a poor mechanic to implement in comparison to one man with only a rusty knife to climb some gigantic tower full of badass mobs. 

Edited by AlliedG

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Grinding..... love it? hate it? niether?

 

I agree with most of you that I hate to be forced to grind but I like to have the option. There are many aspects to this like any feature of a game, I'll try to adress them individually. (ruling out those options that make grinding impossible)

 

First we have encounter rate. This seems to have been forgotten in this thread but encounter rate have a big role. If you have a high rate then grinding becomes easier since you don't have to run as much between every fight, but it comes with the price that it may interfere with the flow of the game and your players will likely grow tired of fighting the same mobs over and over and over again. To counter it one would have to design a larger variety of enemys to keep them fresh. In addition to that it also limits what you can do with the mobs, if you're fighting frequently the individual battles can not take to long because simply moving across a large room in a dungeon will take forever. How much can you possibly do with a mob that is intended to be defeated in 3-5 turns? Not much. You are basically limited to streangths and weaknesses to deliver any depth to the combat, using fire skills vs enemys weak to fire etc. This is worsend by the fact that some states has an effect over time like poison or bleed, either they have to have a very potent effect forcing the bosses to be imune those states or they will have little to no use on trash mobs. If you on the other hand implement a low encounter rate you mitigate most of the said problems in exchange two new ones. The "grinder" will tire quickly of having to run in circles for a long time between individual encounters, a possible solution to this is to have some specifically made "grind areas" with higher encounter rate. The other problem you will face is the pressure to make memorable enemys, since your encounter rate is lower you can't get away with bland enemys under the "there is a great variety of them" or "the battles shouldn't last for to long" excuses. The encounter rate and the complexity of the enemies doen't affect weather or not the PCs will be OP or not but it will greatly affect the fun of grinding.

 

Second we have PC balancing vs game difficulty. These are some commonly used methods to prevent the player from "rofl stomping" their way through the game as a result of grinding, without at the same time forcing non-grinders to grind.

  • Enemy lvl track player lvl - It gets the job done, however there is no shortage of games that had their progression system ruined by it. Common pitfalls to such a system includes, defeating the purpose of lvling up at all nothing ever changes in gameplay just numbers going up. Removes the sense of empowerment when you CRUSH that pesky enemy that cuased you to whipe way back (terror in repeat might ensue instead while revisiting a previous area).
     
  • Equipment emphasis - By having the equipment play a bigger role than lvl to make your characters stronger you limit the impact that grinders may have on the game difficulty. Although it works it also makes the grinding alot less rewarding. It also gives the player very little control over the difficulty of gameplay.
     
  • Exp managing - This can be done through exp-multipliers as (party lvl/enemy troop lvl). It comes with the downside that players might feel punished as opposed to rewarded for their hard work. This also helps to kill any aspiration for killing any optional super boss.
     
  • Exp scaling - This works by making the exp req increase exponentialy and the exp reward for battles to follow suit. Ex. avarage encounter in the first dungeon might reward 5 exp while the second dungeon might avarage 25 exp. Essentialy sticking around for to long won't be worth it. This method has pretty much the same effect as Exp managing but won't feel as punishing.
     
  • Strategy - This works by making strategy a key to win. Ex. Making a boss that deal insane amount of physical dmg. The strategy to prevent him from constantly killing your characters is to blind him, if you want to brute force such a boss you need to be seriously OP. Although grinding might make it alot easier to kick his ass the player is unlikely to be able to "whack a mole" their way through the game. This method is my personal favourite but it is also the hardest as a developer, since it requires you to think through every battle so that they are interesting even if you have OP stats, without resorting to the same strategy("whack a mole" block) for every boss.

As an ending note I want to point out that the players might not want the same thing as you do! Some players like to rofl stomp their way through a game, so implementing to heavy countermesures might only give you a heavier work load while only serving to limit player agency. The trick is to balance the effort vs reward, if it is to easy becoming OP then the game can be considered broken, to hard and all the grinders out there will end up frustrated or bored with the game. It doesn't matter wich method you use (or comination of methods), as long as you think it through.

 

Sorry for the wall! (bad habbit of mine xD)

Edited by Cookie Ninja

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Tis a glorious wall, Cookie Ninja! Like everything in game design, balance is the key. It's also the hardest part. I'm terrible with formulas and stuff so I have to tweak and change my battle system a lot. A lot...

 

At the same time, it's also a lot of fun. Strictly regarding having enemies level up or stay, static there's really no wrong answer. Much of which route to go depends on the style of game you're trying to create. If well done, I think just as many people would enjoy either one.

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I actually sorta do that in my test game. The way I do it is to have enemy levels depend on two things: Your location and the average party level.

 

I use a random dungeon script where most enemies are encountered and each dungeon has a base level and a floor rate. So the minimum level a enemy can be is the dungeon base level plus the floor number times the floor rate. Or base+floor*rate for short. Most dungeons have a floor rate of less then one, so having one of 0.25 would mean the level wold go up ever 4 floors. Next the enemy will gain bonus levels if the average party level is greater then that minimum, but only enough to bring it up to a fraction of the average party level.

 

This is all to avoid one of the biggest pitfalls of level matching, which is making progression not matter. If you simply matched the level top the party levels, you could just eternally stay around early game areas and gain exp without penalty, and late game areas wouldn't be any more challenging. Another way to do it is to have enemies get stronger based on how much time has passed or how much story progress is made.

 

Other things to note too:

  • In my test game how much experience you get is also effected by the difference between player level and enemy level. You get much less for fighting hard monsters that outlevel you and much less for fighting weaker ones.
  • In my test game I use a modified version (mostly modified to make it depend less on attacking enemies and to allow traditional exp rewards for kills to all party members as well) of this script so a good chunk of experience is rewarded based on activity (each time you hit an enemy or use a skill) rather then simply killing things.
  • Also no matter how much you level up, in my test game I use a script I make that makes actual stat growth depend a lot more on what you do rather then what you kill. Level really only functions as a maximum cap on your stat growth.

This is all just in my test game though, and it has less to do with grinding and more to do with making level growth more interesting and dynamic. In my test game you could theoretically reach max level for everyone without killing a thing (though everyone would probably have horrible attack stats if you didn't practice them), and levels themselves don't actually mean that much.

Edited by KilloZapit

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 Another way to do it is to have enemies get stronger based on how much time has passed

 

 

I like this idea ,it reminds me of Half-minute hero , I would like to try that for a half-hour game(maybe one hour max , the idea is you should play the whole game in one session) where you must level-up efficienty.

Edited by Shiggy

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Stat gain has always been a bane for balance. You could also eliminate stats completely and just make enemies strategically more difficult as the game progress with levels only giving access to new perks such as skills.

 

Example:

Low level battle: 5 Warrior Goblins

 

High level battle: 2 Warrior Goblins, 1 Mage Goblin, 1 Healer Goblin, 1 Support Goblin that gives buffs

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I've been letting enemies level up with the games progression for my game. Like the starting enemies are 1 to 7 (max) and in the next part of the game they'll be 7 to 15 and so on with the bosses being slightly higher level than the strongest enemy in the area. I put a lot of emphasis on strategy in my encounters so even when the party is level...say 27 in a level 18 - 25 area then the enemies will still be a threat due to gaining new skills at their respective level caps.

 

It adds some grind to it, but it hasn't bored myself of any testers yet.

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Seem to have some interesting ideas goin here! I usually go with more static systems applying statistical analysis to balance my games. Yup, I go full nerd and draw graphs to make sure that every skill, pice of equipment, enemy difficulty and stretegic frequency follows a similar proportional curve. >.< In essence I let math dictate my balancing and let creativity form the combat puzzles, then some maths, to make sure that there is no one button win even if player OP. 
 
Hint: Yanflys enemy AI is incredible, with some mathemagic and minor scripting them enemys goes from sucidal canon fodder in the beginning of the game to fully fledged "doom bringers" by the end. All without their power level increasing in relation to the player.

 

MATHS!!!! I love it^^

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*takes deep breath* 

 

NNNNNNNEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRDDDDDDDD!!! :P

 

I was looking at Yanfly's Enemy AI script. Every script for his I've used has been nothing short of excellent so I expect nothing less of that one. Scripting is the bane of my existence so hopefully, I'd be able to figure out how to make it do what I want it to do. 

That's assuming I make a game with enemy levels to begin with.

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My simple thought: Make it possible without grinding, but balance it to be a bit more harder for those who want the challenge, maybe a bit less difficult for somebody who does a minimal amount of grinding (so they don't get overpowered from doing side quests), but don't punish the player who likes to overgrind and get powerful.

 

That way everybody plays in the style they want, and everybody is happy, and you hopefully get good reviews from everybody regarding the feel of combat. That said, unless your target is harcore audience who prefers to be punished for every misstep, it's better to error on the side of easiness than it is to make a difficult game few people would enjoy. Not saying difficult games don't have their place, just that most RM users are probably more casual, and with 1000s of RM games to play, it's way too easy for one person to chuck your game aside and go play another.

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I'm with amerk on this one! ^^
 

As an ending note I want to point out that the players might not want the same thing as you do! Some players like to rofl stomp their way through a game, so implementing to heavy countermesures might only give you a heavier work load while only serving to limit player agency.

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