Dev Discussion #14 - Content Level Equalization

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  • I hate it! Everytime this gets implemented in MMOs the balance get out of hand... There is no possible way to balance landscape content if its not tailored for a specific lever range.. Unfortunately. So i rather have less stat cap between different level ranges, so when a high level player enters a lower level region he can't just faceroll everything.
  • Freezman wrote: »
    I think equalizing for PvE is a good feature.

    It definitely creates a more friendly environment for new players. If you have a friend that is just starting out then equalization can help that player experience content as it was intended instead of getting carried.

    Having the higher level player be brought down could also mean that you can equalize the rewards to match their original level since they completed content that should be challenging if implemented well. Which means that lower level content will have a longer lifespan. If higher level players frequent lower level dungeons then the world feels more alive. In many MMOs the lower level dungeons are pretty much abandoned and new players can have difficulty finding players to play through that content.

    The potential issue of course is that by equalizing stats or levels the players might feel less of a sense of progression. So the specifics of the system would ideally take that into account and attempt to maintain that feeling while still making the content challenging enough.

    I would also love a GW2-esque equalization system for arenas or at least some of the arena modes.

    If you can quest anywhere at any level, get ready for FACEROLL questing zones.. Just go play ESO and you know what I'm talking about.
  • If it's done it should be down only, and for PvE only. If it is done, once the higher level player leaves the group, will they instantly get their levels back? For example, if a level 50 is de-ranked to level 15 to help a new guild mate, when the group breaks up, will the 50 go immediately back? From what I understand, there will be no level-specific zones. There will be things for all levels of players to do everywhere, so if this is done, it might be difficult to implement.
  • MarzzoMarzzo Member, Leader of Men, Early Alpha One Tester
    No, I don't like it. If I want to scale down in level ill make a new character.
  • I feel like levels have run their course, and a skill+attribute+gear progression doesn't need levels as an artificial gate anymore. I'd rather achieve progress through deeds, not filling a bar til it dings. Or if I'm filling bars, at least have the progress reflect what I'm doing. This also means the difficulty progression of the world can be flatter, so nothing has to be lowered or raised for players to participate.
  • JoselineJoseline Member
    edited January 13
    I like running through old dungeons I completed years ago to level up myself but I usually dont want to give up what I have achieved since last time I was running through those dungeons, especially if I do it to farm some outdated stuff like materialz or cosmetiques
    If you want me to run outdated content as a high level character then Id prefer to run those old dungeons with my current gear and have those old dungeons aviable in a special difficulty setting that balances itself out on my level (not the other way around)

    Altough then again, I have to say, the concept of being able to run through old dungeons again without having to create a new character sounds amazing, especially if you have like a friend or so that just started playing or you get into a conversation with some noob and he asks you if you wanna run through that old dungeon. Being able to do so without just carrying him through - or simply to put up a challenge to yourself because you really liked that dungeon back then but never could finish it solo. That sounds really cool
    But it should be an option, not enforced. it should still be possible for a high level player to carry a low level player through a dungeon. Or simply farming a low lv dungeon as a high lv character for reasons above

    its also great for event dungeons, to allow matching between high end and low end players without having to worry about low end players missing out on the event due to high end players oneshotting an event mob or so

    As for open fields and simliar: There should be a clear level cap and progression. Fields designed for level 1 characters should only ever be worth spending time on as a level 1 character. There should never be a bunch of max Lv characters grinding through low lv content to grind XP and complete quests
  • Wandering MistWandering Mist Moderator, Member, Founder
    When you talk about level equalization are you talking about the mobs scaling up to meet the character level (like in WoW or ESO), or high level characters being scaled down when entering low level zones (like in FFXIV and GW2)?

    If it's the former, I really dislike it because although it gives you more options of places to level up in, it ruins a lot of the character progression since all the mobs take the exact same time to kill. You don't feel that your character has gotten stronger because everything else around you has also gotten stronger.

    If you are talking about the latter, I believe it can work but balance is always going to be an issue here.
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  • HartwellHartwell Member, Braver of Worlds
    edited January 13
    Scaling content can be valuable for keeping the world modular. It would allow for things like world bosses to be placed near starting zones. Of course, players with high levels should still retain all of their abilities. Scaling should just be to set the pace so that things do not instantly die, not limit their skill sets.

    Only use up-scaling in PvP events if low levels pretty much need to participate. Events like defending your own caravan should not be max-level only. If it were a guaranteed loss for low levels to run a caravan, then they wouldn't run caravans at all. I can see certain PvP events where scaling would be undesirable, like sieges. A bunch of fresh characters probably shouldn't be defending a city.
  • Is this process systematic or manuel? If it is systematic then it will be just another drill in a military program. But if players take it upon themselves to do this, then it is a risk because the person(s) they are helping may or may not appreciate it.
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  • Well zones can be upscaled and downscaled any time. really do not know if we are going to have zones per level.

    Well humble puffin said t hat game really starts at max level well that is kind of a problem.

    For example if you in a guild you basically have to wait to max level to play. But if guildies could play together for most of the leveling proseess. Then that would make more closely knit guilds and by the time they get to max level as far as skill is concerned should be raid ready or near raid ready, insteaqd of waiting till max level to do that. But yes ig get it you will only be leveling for lets say one month. So really no reason to dedicate so much content and zones to leveling. I say this carefully cause the leveling process is very important in an MMO
  • ChadathanSwaftworthChadathanSwaftworth Member, Settler
    edited January 13
    TL;DR: Let people fight low-level things however they want. Make down-scaling simple and optional. But keep the Risk vs. Reward appropriate for whatever level people choose to play at/with. No power leveling or one-shot material farming.

    I'd almost prefer if Ashes didn't have leveling at all, but I know that's not a what the community or Intrepid wants out of the game.

    So, since leveling is necessary and a big contributor to people's immersion and long-term satisfaction, I think that any level equalization system needs to be as seamless and optional as possible. (And only allow down-leveling, of course.)

    For example, let people down-level to match whatever their target is, just by selecting it and hitting a button. That could be a party member, a monster or NPC, a rival player that they want to duel, or maybe even a dungeon entrance. And more importantly, only give exp/loot rewards to players (or parties) who are the appropriate level for that target.

    Allowing players to obliterate low-level mobs for get easy money/exp/crafting materials does not adhere to AoC's design principle of Appropriate Risk vs. Reward. But down-scaling can allow those mobs/dungeons to be fought on an appropriate level for an appropriate challenge, with an appropriate reward (which may drop only from those low level mobs). The same should apply to parties and people seeking to "power level" or mentor. That is, they can play normally with down-levelled mentors, but power leveling should be impossible. (Power leveling would ruin the "meaning and immersion" behind the leveling process right?)

    Also, I think players should retain all their abilities and stat profiles, so that their character plays the same even when downscaled. But lowering a character's stats to be level-appropriate isn't enough on its own, since having more active and passive abilities (and gear/set bonuses and skill levels) would still make a down-levelled character quite powerful. The system needs to be a bit more complicated behind-the-scenes. But those balancing details should be hidden and aren't really relevant in this discussion anyways. (As long as it's not too wonky, such that a downscaled character could be significantly weaker than a non-scaled low-level character. People would hate that.)

    Edit: I forgot about PvP. I think it would make the most sense if low-tier nodes and caravans had lower levels required for participation, and if you want to get anything from attacking/defending those objectives you have to down-level to match it. But if you wanna go destroy a level 1 caravan on a max level character, I guess you can, but you shouldn't get anything out it except maybe corruption. The same should obviously apply for ganking in the wild.

    Oh, and no changing levels in the middle of combat. If you down-level you gotta play the whole fight out at that level, even if it means death.
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  • In my opinion de-leveling should only ouccur whenn you decide to take one a Mentor like role and want to teach ore play with new players, otherwise you should feel your progress in every step you take.

    Howere the "problem" of boosting new players remains. I would suggest, that the ammount of ExP. you earn would refflect on your contribution to the task, so that a tank would get more if he actually tanked the mobs ore a warrior dealt dmg. so that a over powered player would take all ExP. form the low level players.
  • ireriireri Member
    If everyone is supposed to be contributing to the node's progression, then it stands to reason that you'll see a mix of levels working on similar quests that want to work together to complete it.

    I like the thought of optional level equalization. If you want to run with a lower level toon, when you group you have the option of level equalization if the level difference is greater than X levels. This makes the content more interesting for the higher level toon as they still have to play their role tank/dps/healer and not just slaughter everything by virtue of overpowering the low level mobs. By choosing to play at the level of the lowest person, the higher toon could also get quest rewards, but in the form of faction increases with the quest giver or node.

    To encourage higher-level folks to do the level equalization, make it so that if the average level of the group killing the mobs is more than X levels higher than the mobs, the mobs drop no loot outside of quest items nor give faction.

    Outside of the group setting, you could also limit material drops in general from mobs if the person killing the mobs is more than X levels higher than them. This prevents high level folks from slaughtering an entire newb area to get the mob material drops and flood the market with them. You could have a setting in character preferences that can be turned on and off which allows toons to choose whether to level match an area in order to get loot out of the area. This could apply to gathering too. In order to gather in a newb area, you would have to select to de-level to the current mob equivalents in order to gather there.

    I say optional level equalization because if I am running to a raid location as a level 40 healer, I don't want to die to the level 20 mobs that jump me because I've been de-leveled to the area level. Also, for power-leveling, by allowing characters to not choose to do level equalization, high-level characters can still help an alt/friend gain levels while getting no exp and no one would get loot.

    Level equalization to the area could also help folks practice mechanics in lower level dungeons before facing a higher level dungeon. But please, make it optional. There is nothing more satisfying than going back as a higher level toon and slaughtering that named mob in the newbie area that killed you countless times. Loot was never the goal; revenge was sweet.

    I don't think a level equalization that raises someone should ever be used. Getting to higher level areas and content is the reward for all your hard work. No one should get to skip ahead by joining a group or raid.
  • draconanodraconano Member, Founder
    I think that if you are specifically in a party with someone it can be a good feature. I do like feeling the progression of my character when I go to a lower level area for some random reason you should be able to easily take out anything there if you're by yourself. But on the specific situation of your playing with a lower level friend or something like that, I think that it can be good, It allows an experienced player to play with a lower level without taking all the xp which is nice.
  • RaytekuRayteku Member, Braver of Worlds
    It can work, but I feel their needs to be a limit to it.

    The last thing I want is for the Wolves that were a nuisance to my level 1 brand new character to still be a nuisance to my maxed out in some of the best gear character.

    In instanced content and PVP arena type setups it should be fine but other than that I am not sure it has a real place in the genre. Maybe if you have scaling only on special mobs like bosses and rares but normal mobs stay the same level forever. I don't mind fighting stronger wolves but I mind fighting the same wolves that are much stronger for whatever reason.
  • I personally would like there to be some sort of damage reduction against low level mobs.
    The reduction should nerf you close to the designed character level for the area.
    I think such system is great for bringing immersion by not one shotting based on level and deteriorating low level mob grind as viable money making method.
    You're seeking perfection, but your disillusions are leading to destruction.
  • Would like for challenge material to be upscaled and retuned to new expansion rather than be removed from the game.
  • Content level scaling absolutely should not be a wide reaching feature. It removes the sense of progression, and is entirely unnecessary.

    “What if I want to play with my low level friends?” Then play with them, you don’t need to be deleveled to go find them in an continuous open-world.

    “What if older content gets abandoned?” Design it better, raids and dungeons should be appealing for some reason besides the challenge otherwise why run them? Either material drops, cosmetic rewards, or to stop some negative world-effect.

    “What about max levels vs. low levels in open world PvP?” Power progression should come from synergy of your gained ability augments and gear stats, and it should never be such a huge difference from lvl1 to lvl50 that you could one shot a newbie unless they’re wearing no armor at all.

    I’ve played content scaling games and it just feels bad being forced to delevel just to engage in some content.
  • I never liked the mentoring and level equalizing in ESO or GW2. Maybe if it was instanced only to fit the difficulty tier of the dungeon but even then. If everything is open world then you are bound to run into some areas you can't take and will need to come back to with friends or at a higher level. If no one is available maybe there could be a mercenary system added later when scarcity in lower level areas increases. Allow you to higher mercenaries for dungeons only. Mercs take a small cut off the gold you earned while you get to keep the loot dropped. This system might help if you are one or more short on your desired party.
    Looking for a future PvP guild in AoC? Want to learn from vets and git-gud? Check us out at http://www.fml-guild.com/
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  • NoaaniNoaani Member
    edited January 14
    I've yet to see a system like this function in a way where people that have spent more time at the level cap obtaining better gear are not at a significant advantage when lowered in level compared to those at that level naturally.

    This will have a significant impact on the PvP aspects of Ashes, and so even if for no other reason, this should not be implemented.
  • LexLex Member, Phoenix Initiative, Avatar of the Phoenix
    To me a good MMO revolves around progression. The feeling of accomplishment when you can finally beat that mob or boss or other player is the reward for all of your hard work leveling up, acquiring better gear and mastering the mechanics. Equalization runs completely against that concept in my opinion. If that level 5 wolf can still wipe your group at level 50, where is the feeling of progress?

    To me equalization is a cheap way for developers to avoid creating more content. It is just another way to instill the idea that repetition is okay. I'd much rather feel like I'm in a massive race, getting closer to the next biggest challenge than feel like I'm running in place on a treadmill.
  • HartwellHartwell Member, Braver of Worlds
    Lex wrote: »
    To me a good MMO revolves around progression. The feeling of accomplishment when you can finally beat that mob or boss or other player is the reward for all of your hard work leveling up, acquiring better gear and mastering the mechanics. Equalization runs completely against that concept in my opinion. If that level 5 wolf can still wipe your group at level 50, where is the feeling of progress?

    To me equalization is a cheap way for developers to avoid creating more content. It is just another way to instill the idea that repetition is okay. I'd much rather feel like I'm in a massive race, getting closer to the next biggest challenge than feel like I'm running in place on a treadmill.

    I don't think I've ever seen a scaling system that completely removed a sense of progression, only the godliness of player characters. I suppose that it is kind of a cheap way to rein in intense character values, as another way to handle the situation is to just make sure that things never become that intense to begin with.

    Keeping player characters tame reflects roleplaying a mere mortal character. Allowing as many players in a battle as possible, without the battle getting cheesed, works in the best interest of an MMO. What kind of power should human, elf, or dwarf be able to experience in an MMORPG?
  • ReinhardReinhard Member, Phoenix Initiative, Royalty
    Personally i love that concept, as long as the high level players are of course rewarded for their efforts, for example FF14 has an amazing level sync feature that allows older content that might be of no interest to veteran players but new players need to clear in order to advance. of course the vets are rewarded with tomes that allow them to maximize their end game gear ext. everyone wins here. and if the new player is struggling the vets can help them out with that content.

    Indeed a mentoring system would be a big + in my opinion. that way older content stays relevant. tho do allow for a desync feature as well with no rewards.
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  • In theme park MMOs, delevelling/mentoring systems can be helpful to combat the absolute scourge that is 'rushing' new characters/players to max level (and thus skipping most of the actual content of the game). With Ashes' open world, themebox (sandpark?) hybrid design that may not be an issue, especially if 'end game' itemization is kept in check (hasn't happened yet, in any game, ever, but I remain hopeful). Instanced content may be the exception, where such systems may be helpful in Verra.
  • Strongly against it and would much prefer vertical scaling curved instead.

    I feel like level scaling is a patch to another problem that can be solved. I don't think people need to do 1000+ times more damage and health. I understand some scaling is a nice incentive but does it need to be so out of control to motivate people to advance.

    I feel like so many problems can be fixed by not making us scale at such a ridiculous rate. I don't find it compelling getting to a point where I can one shot mobs i used to fight and it's always sad when I can do it to a boss i used to struggle with. in pvp, it sucks that low levels get one shot because of the scaling in the level system. I hate that if any of my friends join late, they have to level for a certain amount of time before they can play with us. Yes, i can go back and play with them but is it so bad for me to be able to bring them to where i'm playing. I work, have limited play time, and going back to help them level usually isn't efficient. The benefits for them is minimal and i usually don't gain anything in game. If there is some meaningful story content that they care about, they can go back and play it later. I always have friends drop off MMOs because of this.

    There is also a lot that can be done with items besides increasing stats to encourage people to pursue them like adding unique passives and actives. So many games just make gear stat sticks but is that really the only way to do this.

    Please don't do crazy vertical scaling... or at least consider it. I'm not the designer so i don't know why you think you need it.

    A hundred thumbs up!
  • RovinRovin Member, Leader of Men, Early Alpha One Tester
    edited January 15
    I'm 50/50 on the Idea

    I dont think you should ever be forceabbly de-leveled. It is something you should opt in or out of. For example through mentorship systems. I will Quote two previous posts here that i both agree with
    Freezman wrote: »
    I think equalizing for PvE is a good feature.

    It definitely creates a more friendly environment for new players. If you have a friend that is just starting out then equalization can help that player experience content as it was intended instead of getting carried.

    Having the higher level player be brought down could also mean that you can equalize the rewards to match their original level since they completed content that should be challenging if implemented well. Which means that lower level content will have a longer lifespan. If higher level players frequent lower level dungeons then the world feels more alive. In many MMOs the lower level dungeons are pretty much abandoned and new players can have difficulty finding players to play through that content.

    The potential issue of course is that by equalizing stats or levels the players might feel less of a sense of progression. So the specifics of the system would ideally take that into account and attempt to maintain that feeling while still making the content challenging enough.
    Dayuhan wrote: »
    A mentoring system would be fine, but de-leveling, or equalization, seems to be counter-productive. If you force a character de-level then you are in effect punishing the player for being helpful. If you equalize the difficulty then it feels like the character has made no progress - e.g. "Oh, those are level three goblins". (five seconds later) "Hells Bells, hit hard"they

    With a mentoring system the character would get little to no experience from the dungeon (encounter, boss, etc) but would get experience for actively keeping their student alive (either through skill use experience or a mentoring reward) during the course of the mentoring session.

    So all in all my opionion on the subject is that yes an Opt in Opt out downward level eqaulization for mentorship systems, and playing with new layers or toons would be ok. But id take it further and say that old content should also be scaled upward as well. an example of this would be.

    Like i may have oringianlly completed the (O Dungeon) at level 10 and said dungeon had X, Y, Z mechanic,

    i can go back and re do that dungeon at lvl 50, the enemies are harder than they were at lower levels so they have scaled up, and X Y & Z mechanics are present plus additional A,B & C Mechanics.

    It would also be cool if this was done that drops found within a dungeon scale up as well. eg i get a great ring at level 10 by the time im level 25 that ring is worthless but i run the dungeon again later at level 50 a get that ring again by chance and its great again.

    While Im not completelt against the Idea- Id like to hear what Intrepids thoughts are on such a system how they would implement it and what its uses would be, before i gave a difinitive Yay or Nay to the idea

  • hawiiftbllhawiiftbll Member, Braver of Worlds
    One game that seemed to make a decent use of equalization in my opinion recently was ghost recon breakpoint. Playing as the higher lvl character I was facing enemies that were somehow scaled closer to my level while my lower level friend was facing ones that were closer to his. In a PVP setting or open world i didnt really like the equalization like they had implemented in elder scrolls online. Instanced events would be best place for it I believe.
  • What about a general equalization system and a rune mechanism on equipments that generate corruption around you rising the lvl of mobs at proximity base on the number of runs and the lvl you have?

    Sometimes that go crazy if you place those run on Legendary equipments at lvl 50 , mob become god like around you.

    And it rise rewards haswell ofc.
  • consultantconsultant Member
    edited January 16
    Well think doing 100k damage to mob that has 3 k hp is overkill. think scalling should be used to avoid over kill.

    But Ashes of Creation from what i understand will be huge so toons could have leveling zones or content and till have plenty of max level content or zones. Not sure if we are going to have leveling zones per say. But the less leveling content you have the more you will have at max level. Ounce againd I say this carefully becasue leveling process is very important.
  • NexlerNexler Member, Braver of Worlds
    I have got to say that I am not a big fan of it as a whole. However it can be done properly. For example: the node levels up and the content, including monsters, level up around it. Then lower players should be given the option to pseudo-scale up to be able to still progress in their desired node. This will make them slightly weaker than properly leveled characters due to gear rarity not being up to par. They will also be able to level up in other nodes, spreading exp throughout the world, and pvp will not be effected in a negative way for caravans and the like. I would prefer to just leave scaling alone though imo.
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