Dev Discussion #14 - Content Level Equalization

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  • JayllanJayllan Member
    edited January 16
    Level Syncing/Stat Syncing is a multi-tiered problem and a lot of things have to be taken into consideration
    Reason behind Syncing is probably so
    1. Max level/max geared players don't face-roll through content, both PVE and PVP.
    2. People can play with their lower leveled friends without carrying them through content

    Reasons why people don't like it
    1. They want their progress to mean something and not have trouble killing a low level mob when they're max level and gear.
    2. They want to mentor people and possibly get a reward for it

    Looking at other MMOs with PVX, PVE, PVP
    1. When looking at Archeage, Gear score is king. Regardless of how good you are at your class, if you don't have the time to gear up like a lot of people, there's nothing you can do. You get face rolled by most who have high Gear score unless they're extremely bad. On top of that, they have no stun buffer, so you can potentially get stunned forever. SWTOR has a good mechanic in that regard. If you get stunned for a certain amount of time you build up "Resolve". With enough "Resolve" you can't be stunned again for a certain amount of time.
    2. looking at SWTOR and GW2, they have a level sync depending on what zone you have, and recently with update 6.0 in SWTOR, they stopped tuning the endgame PVE Raids so that became level synced as well, making things incredibly easy because it wasn't done properly.

    Reading the comments, most people wanted the option to turn on level syncing for multiple reasons.
    Flexibility is good with gear/stats/classes, but it can also makes for unbalanced gameplay. So some sort of syncing has to be there.

    Ways to work around issues
    1. Make multiple instances of the game. 1 that allows open world PvP, 1 that doesn't. This way low levels don't get griefed and killed with no chance of fighting back.
    1.1 Archeage has a system where some of your stats are scaled down when in a zone that's not at war. doesn't make you insanely weak, but doesn't let you one shot low level/geared people. gives people a chance. But during war a lot of high levels farm low level zones for people doing their story missions.
    2. Make gear have a definitive end and achievable in a reasonable time so people aren't outgeared by others and farmed thus preventing even more of a gap.
    3. Make killing low levels give you a penalty depending on how much lower level they are, or give no rewards.
    4. Make dungeons instanced so that you can scale them to the max level, have tiered difficulties (ie. story/hard/nightmare). lets you not have to scale other things, and also gives people a better sense of accomplishment.
    5. Give a % decrease to stats depending on what zones you enter but also having a point where it doesn't get reduced if you're not high level enough or reach a certain threshold for stats.

    Probably a lot more ways to go about having to deal with level syncing. These are just some of the ones I've thought up of off the top of my head.
  • DygzDygz Member, Braver of Worlds
    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.
    I think you touched on some of what I wanted to say. Max level tends to be waaayyy too high in MMORPGs - which is why i was hoping max would be more like 25-30 in Ashes. Leaving room to advance to 50 or 60 over decades. It's funny that WoW will be scrunching level cap from 120 to 50-60 with Shadowlands.

    I am currently enjoying level scaling in WoW 8.2, where the mobs all scale to fit my level, so it feels like there's always quests everywhere. Though that means most fights aren't particularly challenging. All feel better than one-shotting, though.

    I think, in Ashes, having the vertical power levels scale down would be fine, but... I would need to be able to rely on the horizontal levels. If I am a Necromancer, I still want to play like a Necromancer. My augments still need to work - that should not change just because I'm fighting mobs that are lower levels than when secondary class becomes available.

    Seems like lower level players will be playing alongside higher level characters during sieges and caravans, regardless.
  • HeartbeatHeartbeat Member, Founder
    edited January 16
    downscaling or equalizing a higher level player seems like the exact opposite of progress, the player is essentially being punished for going back and doing quests from earlier stages in the game or any other content that would downscale them, why should a level 100 player be treated like a level 10 just because its an "easy" quest or hes partied with a lower level or any other example or "equalized content". you're essentially telling the player yeah we know you progressed a lot and are a lot stronger but now you're only as strong as a level 10 for the sake of "equalization"
  • Thanks again all for joining us on another Dev Discussion - we're gathering up all your responses now to share the feedback with the team! Feel free to keep posting your thoughts here in the meantime though :blush:

    We'll see ya around for the next Dev Discussion! <3
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  • NeurathNeurath Member
    edited January 18
    I've seen two types of equalization across the years. One for PvP where lower levels are boosted to equal the top tier of a pvp band and one for PvE where content scales to the player.

    Neither has been bad in my experience and it has kept content fresh and alive for a longer duration. I've always preferred MMOs with Horizontal progression since Star Wars Galaxies anyway and equalization is in this same vein.

    It has been beneficial when a higher level player can still glean experience from lower mobs due to equalization and gives way for higher level players to assist lower level players without power leveling coming into effect. People will power level regardless unless this is mitigated with other factors but equalization isn't inherently bad or a punishment because time spent at lower levels will be little or nothing without equalization.

    It's a tricky balance because equalization means all zones see more action overall compared to earlier zones just being abandoned after a few weeks or months. Though when there is no equalization it makes more people role alts to experience the content at appropriate difficulty levels again.

    In my experience equalization doesn't change the amount of skills available, the buffs or the augments. Equalization just reduces the effects of the abilities to a lower level. There is good and bad equalization and so I'm ambivalent about it. I've seen it done well and I've seen it done poorly. I'm neither for nor against.

    All vertical progression MMOs die in the same way. New players come into abandoned zones and think the game is dead. Then there's the grind spots overcrowded at high tier (BDO) while 90% of other grind zones are abandoned. I'm not sure on the map, zones and mobs for Ashes of Creation because its been mostly BR so I can't comment beyond the fact that vertical progression causes more problems than its worth. Apoc just highlights this further because once everyone hit Level 50 they left Apoc. It's a taste of what will come if end game of Ashes of Creation doesn't match the hype.

    Edit: Archeage came to mind so I'll add that without Equalization of a challenge to player count means that world boss fights, public dungeon bosses and anything where multiple people can gang up on challenges are walks in the park and die without contest, kills or challenge. It is debatable how much of a challenge people want. Some want easy loot so they can focus on PvP. PvE Players love to conquer real challenges. Overall it is rather pathetic when a Dragon dies in ten seconds to 60 people but can wipe 10 people. The bosses should scale to match the number of players hitting it because zerg gameplay sucks (Unless you are fighting said zergs in pvp: Skill over numbers for the win). I'd also say Monsters from Monster Coins should also scale with the number of people in combat with it. The novelty will soon wear thin if Monsters are killed in a matter of seconds due to zergs.
  • consultantconsultant Member
    edited January 20
    Think if the floor was not that far from the ceiling and level 50 toons could do level 40 content.
    If there were an ample amount of exploring zones for max level toons enough so that they did not feel like they had to down scale and if toons had option to downscale if they wanted think that would be best way to do it. Plus upscaling challenge material.

    Fun fact in WoW Mist of Pandera if you had normal raid gear and had decent skill then you could only explore one level 90 zone and still feel over powered. If you went to 89-90 level zone even more over powered any thing less than that over kill. Do not understand why it took them so long to implement scaling technology in some fashion.
    So playing biggest MMO with only one zone to explore plus timeless island
  • NexlerNexler Member, Braver of Worlds
    Neurath wrote: »
    I've seen two types of equalization across the years. One for PvP where lower levels are boosted to equal the top tier of a pvp band and one for PvE where content scales to the player.

    Neither has been bad in my experience and it has kept content fresh and alive for a longer duration. I've always preferred MMOs with Horizontal progression since Star Wars Galaxies anyway and equalization is in this same vein.

    It has been beneficial when a higher level player can still glean experience from lower mobs due to equalization and gives way for higher level players to assist lower level players without power leveling coming into effect. People will power level regardless unless this is mitigated with other factors but equalization isn't inherently bad or a punishment because time spent at lower levels will be little or nothing without equalization.

    It's a tricky balance because equalization means all zones see more action overall compared to earlier zones just being abandoned after a few weeks or months. Though when there is no equalization it makes more people role alts to experience the content at appropriate difficulty levels again.

    In my experience equalization doesn't change the amount of skills available, the buffs or the augments. Equalization just reduces the effects of the abilities to a lower level. There is good and bad equalization and so I'm ambivalent about it. I've seen it done well and I've seen it done poorly. I'm neither for nor against.

    All vertical progression MMOs die in the same way. New players come into abandoned zones and think the game is dead. Then there's the grind spots overcrowded at high tier (BDO) while 90% of other grind zones are abandoned. I'm not sure on the map, zones and mobs for Ashes of Creation because its been mostly BR so I can't comment beyond the fact that vertical progression causes more problems than its worth. Apoc just highlights this further because once everyone hit Level 50 they left Apoc. It's a taste of what will come if end game of Ashes of Creation doesn't match the hype.

    Edit: Archeage came to mind so I'll add that without Equalization of a challenge to player count means that world boss fights, public dungeon bosses and anything where multiple people can gang up on challenges are walks in the park and die without contest, kills or challenge. It is debatable how much of a challenge people want. Some want easy loot so they can focus on PvP. PvE Players love to conquer real challenges. Overall it is rather pathetic when a Dragon dies in ten seconds to 60 people but can wipe 10 people. The bosses should scale to match the number of players hitting it because zerg gameplay sucks (Unless you are fighting said zergs in pvp: Skill over numbers for the win). I'd also say Monsters from Monster Coins should also scale with the number of people in combat with it. The novelty will soon wear thin if Monsters are killed in a matter of seconds due to zergs.

    I agree with what you are saying about, for example the world boss situation, but that is more along the lines of starting the boss at a base level and scaling it up to match the number of players. Not scaling players to match all content, all of the time.
  • I personally have always liked content equalization because it allows you to play with your friends as they level on an equal basis and not just face rolling mobs for them. I find the experience more enjoyable with the equalization, when done correctly. You always want to feel more powerful, but that is ok at max levels where it matters.
  • Would like to see scaling in weapons and gear. For example you have a sword that has some special ability and new expansion comes out then there should be systm to upgrade gear to be on par with the new gear instead of item becoming useless cause to low level
  • A lot of people are praising GW2 but in AoC you will have the PVP and PVE at once. And how I understand it there won't be maps which are for certain levels like from 0 to 10 and from 10 to 20 ect, so when some players lvl 15-30 will try to make together some progress, it would be realy annoying when some 50 lvl players would 1 hit them and steal their caravan for example. On the other hand I want to have the benefit of being a higher lvl because I have spend more time on the game, have better gear, more spells ect.
    It is hard to give a good advice because I have no clue how the game will run but if you have planed to put all people togehter there should be some balance. One lvl 50 player should not be able to kill 100 of lvl 10 players but he*she should not have much struggles to kill one lvl 10 player.

    I wish you a nice time and a lot of fun by working on the game ;)

  • I like it like in Everquest 2. You could mentor smaller players and were put at their level. The equipment was also downgraded. Unfortunately, the equipment was still too strong. It would have been better to scale here. But otherwise I found the system very good. As a bonus, the little players got a little bonus XP.

    Sorry my english i have to work with google translate :)
    Unschuld gibt es nicht, es gibt nur unterschiedliche Facetten der Schuld.
  • DygzDygz Member, Braver of Worlds
    Ideally, mobs with different abilities would require different combos from players even at max level... so the mob table changing as nodes rise and fall would provide a variety of horizontal progression in addition to vertical progression.
    Unfortunately, in WoW 8.2, I barely pay attention to what the mobs are doing or what abilities they're using.
  • Hi, I would like to see titles and cosmetic gear to reflect Mentors.

    Could borrow concepts from scholars' gowns such as hoods, caps, and colors. It would make it easier to identify players that are willing to show others the ropes in various systems. My beliefs in the systems were reflected well by the community. Keep up the great work and excited for the year ahead!
  • NexlerNexler Member, Braver of Worlds
    It may not be a bad idea to do the equalization but put in a modifier for pvp where your level difference causes a slight power decrease vs if you were actually that level. That way the closer you got to max level the less you would be affect by this condition and that would hopefully balance pvevp
  • Well in wow there was a huge gap between veteran players and new players mainly cause toons had so many key bindings to learn and also cause a lot of things that could of been explained in instructiona manual had to find out haphazardly. Reason for prune by the way which the botched up

    So allowing players veteran players to play with low level new players would be a natural mentoring program. So I strongly agree that at least aspect of the equalization (scaling) should be allowed.
  • I personally don't like the concept, mainly because of it reducing the feeling of progression. In addition, it also can ruin immersion. It gives the feeling that all mobs are more equal and in a fantasy world it shouldn't be the case.
  • EleyEley Member
    edited January 27
    Level scaling is good, nice examples are GW2 and Skyforge. But Ashes can go even further. If we level up to lvl 80 and get downscaled to lvl 15, why do we need levels at all? Let's remove them in usual sense! Levels can be just nominal, like "you need 10000 exp for lvl 10, then you can learn new skill and equip a bit better gear, but you HP, attack, defence don't change with level up". And if lvl 1 sword has attack 100, then max lvl sword can have attack 150, which is bigger, but not so much. So, lvl 1 character still can kill max lvl character.

    Also can use gear score for scaling instead of character level, like it was done in Skyforge. But better gear still should give some benefits (so, gold weapon is better than white, even downscaled), so players have motivation to earn better equipment.
  • ShadonSolShadonSol Member
    edited January 28
    I'm personally against this mechanic, especially in the open world. It just feels wrong to me to enter an area and automatically get a "downgrade".

    But what if I want to mentor / play with my low-level friend? Potions! (I've never seen this kind of mechanic in an MMORPG before, so it could be fun to try out) Let's say you are lv 30 and want to enjoy lv 5 content without being op. Just drink a potion which will lower your stats for a limited amount of time. It is way more realistic / immersive and gives the player full control over themselves.
  • content_level_equalization.gif?h=250

    Glorious Ashes community - it's time for another Dev Discussion! Dev Discussion topics are kind of like a "reverse Q&A" - rather than you asking us questions about Ashes of Creation, we want to ask YOU what your thoughts are.

    Our design team has compiled a list of burning questions we'd love to get your feedback on regarding gameplay, your past MMO experiences, and more. Join in on the Dev Discussion and share what makes gaming special to you!


    Dev Discussion #14 - Content Level Equalization
    What are your thoughts on content level equalization in MMOs, and why? (ex. when higher-level players are brought down to lower levels to complete or re-complete content with newer players)

    Keep an eye out for our next Dev Discussion topic regarding favorite & ideal classes!

    IMO the arbitrary level system has always been one of the biggest weaknesses in MMORPG design since EQ1.

    It segregates the community into limited level ranges and prevents players from grouping freely with other players, making it difficult to find a party sometimes when no one around your level is looking.

    City of Heroes tried adopting a mentor system, and eventually just threw the whole thing away and gave players the ability to group together freely with the entire party functioning at the level of the party leader. They also made it so that every player, regardless of level, could fight the world bosses and be more or less on par with every other player there.

    What this did was it allowed players to play with guild members and other more limited circles freely without worrying about level variations, rather than forcing them into PUGs with strangers because their guild didn't have enough members around their own level.

    In short, level mechanics should be oriented around a wide progression rather than a tall one. Instead of levels gradually increasing your hit points and damage in an ultimately meaningless way (the content you face is going to increase in hp and damage as well, after all), have it just broaden the character's available abilities and allow them to expand on versatility or focus into their core roles. This is especially vital in PvP oriented games. You never want that situation where one level 50 can terrorize a level 20 zone relentlessly for funzies. No one enjoys getting curb stopped in a match up that they had no chance in hell of winning.
  • wolfwood82 wrote: »
    IMO the arbitrary level system has always been one of the biggest weaknesses in MMORPG design since EQ1.
    If you look over all the longest running MMO's out there (EQ, EQ2, WoW, Runescape, LotRO), the one thing they all have in common is a vertical progression system - it's possibly the only thing they all have in common.

    I can't name a single successful MMO (live for more than 10 years) that didn't have vertical progression is the primary form of progression.

    Because of that, I'd say it's a bit out of place calling that a weakness in MMO design, and if that is what your opinion is, that says more about your opinion than it does about vertical vs horizontal progression systems.

    To your last point, the answer to stopping level 50's running through a level 20 zone killing everyone is not to remove levels from the game.

    That isn't like cracking a nut with a sledgehammer, that is like cracking a nut with some C4.
  • CaelronCaelron Member, Braver of Worlds
    edited January 30
    I think this really depends on the context and how it's implemented.

    I agree with @Dayuhan 's views on it, especially a mentoring-style system which can potentially reward both the experienced player and the non-experienced player.

    I do think that de-leveling a player, or limiting their power really breaks immersion pretty significantly. And it can't be forced.
    Imagine a real world scenario:

    If you were an experienced free diving spear-fisherman and had to learn to hold your breath for 5-10 minutes at a time. A new spear-fisherman or free diver might only be able to hold their breath for 30 seconds to 2minutes. It doesn't make much sense for the experienced diver to surface with them to breathe every time they go up, or even forcing them to. The mentor might even give the better equipment (like a top-notch fancy spear-gun) to the novice, so it's a smoother learning experience. But he/she probably couldn't be expected to swap wetsuits, based on size differences and tailoring.

    I know it's a strange example, but the same concepts applies in the mmorpg world. Especially if the "rpg" element is actually followed.
  • I'd like to see a get stupid tax. Let low level players into the dungeon and make it a little ways, then if they go to far, they pay the get stupid tax and probably die. Conversely if a high level player goes into the same dungeon let them get swarmed by low level monsters. Sure they are going to take them all out, but it's going to take time, maybe more time then they are willing to invest. Especially if they get swarmed 5 or 6 times a level.

    If you miss out on salvage, a badge, or a new mission tree, because you outleveled a zone, maybe something else will open up for you in the future.
  • RabbitRabbit Member, Braver of Worlds
    The concept of High-Level Players being brought down to Low-Level power status will destroy the game.

    1. Firstly, what is the point of being powerful if you have to continuously give up that power to play with your friends, Guildmates, or just to help newbies along? This robs the powerful hero of their feeling of power--the very point of playing hard--and will 'cause them to question the point of gaining more Levels and growing stronger... and thus question why they're playing the game in the first place.

    2. Secondly, this robs the low-level hero of the opportunity to learn how to play their character. Having a more experienced (and sometimes, a vastly more experienced) player running them through content means they don't have to learn it the way the higher-level hero did. In the end, this hurts everyone... since that hero will be expected to perform with high-level skill once they reach those higher-levels, but they won't have earned the experience or wisdom as other high-level heroes.

    3. Game mechanics should always scale up, never down. Instead of making the hero less powerful--which does not teach the hero anything new since they've already done their time as a low-level player--the game should focus on keeping the hero on their toes regardless of how many more abilities they now have, or how powerful those abilities are. If this means that low-level characters do not get to experience specific content yet, then so be it. And all the better since it ensures that low-level heroes have a clear goal to work towards achieving, and high-level characters never feel like they're moving backwards.
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  • botbot Member
    Not a fan to be honest. I think some of the joy of progression is the feeling of going back to earlier content and destroying them when they were a struggle before. Adds to the feeling of being powerful.
  • BeNiceBeNice Member
    edited February 5
    I like level equalization since it allows for people to play together without either person having to start over just to be on equal footing.

    It's actually harmless towards progression since it's a better way of keeping the immersion for players new and old without permanently taking "earned" power away from people.

    It's not likely high level players will bother going back to play with lower level friends without scaling.
  • BeNice wrote: »
    I like level equalization since it allows for people to play together without either person having to start over just to be on equal footing.

    It's actually harmless towards progression since it's a better way of keeping the immersion for players new and old without permanently taking "earned" power away from people.

    It's not likely high level players will bother going back to play with lower level friends without scaling.

    In a PvE game, I totally agree.

    It's when you factor in the fairly heavy PvP in Ashes that it becomes a problem.

    I mean, if you are level 30 leveling on some level 30 content, do you want to be attacked and killed by a level 50 in top end gear that has been "equalized" down to level 30 with their friend?
  • RavudhaRavudha Member
    edited February 5
    BeNice wrote: »
    It's not likely high level players will bother going back to play with lower level friends without scaling.

    Normally I'd agree with you, but Ashes has a trump card in this regard. Due to node dynamics, there is the chance low-level players will come across new content that their high-level friends never saw. To the high-level player, it might be a chance to experience new content rather than rehashing something they've done before.
  • I think the content should equal itself from a development standpoint. Example, if I'm a studio and I create content for each tier of capacity then ultimately I have succeeded in content equalization. To fill the pre-emptive void of uncertainty I would make sure each content creator has a task involved of giving a story, series of challenges and a boss. Almost exactly like Elder Scrolls Online did it. They have really fun content scenarios, questlines, and boss battle right out the gate. Then once done with the area, there are new places and challenges that await you, pretty much the starting zones of the other races. It's not a bad mix-up and keeps your standards "at bay", but I can see the other side of miss-adventure for the player. Seemingly wasted content that the player feels he/she can do just on another character. With AAA titles, I think this is the catch and Elder Scrolls I would say pulled it off.
    Planning for end game content can be a headache to a developer because they are most likely working mechanics of the game and beginning content. To plan for something BIG at the end wouldn't make a lot of sense either, because in reality the player is already enjoying the game by the time he/she is thinking of reaching the big prize.
    My suggestion would not to think of end game content but rather the mechanics that make up the game. Obviously Ashes seems like a big title to take on. Where you need to "hit the mark" is the in-between stages of a avenue. Tanking, healing, flying, bard, group content, castle seiging, boats, trading, fortifications, boomsticks, seamless pillaging, traps, trapping, creature taming, warding, poisoning, rams, environment destruction, arrows, potion launching, npc belittling, wagon explosions, soot, mud, terrain, and boats.
  • The advantage of it is that you can play with friends, guildmates etc in the same area, even though you are not near the same levels. Plus you can keep leveling in an area and not feel like you should leave it early on, to keep leveling.
    The advantage of not having it is, if you have a hard time leveling or just want to go easy mode, you can pick an area where the mobs levels, are lower than your level. Plus if the game has achivements or something, it is nice to be able to return to an area later on, to kill a specific mob on your own
  • vasdrakkenvasdrakken Member, Founder
    content_level_equalization.gif?h=250
    ...
    Dev Discussion #14 - Content Level Equalization
    What are your thoughts on content level equalization in MMOs, and why? (ex. when higher-level players are brought down to lower levels to complete or re-complete content with newer players)

    Some times you want something to do once you have out leveled the content in your level range and some days you want easy mode to just feel like you have earned something of a treat for all the levels you have earned and want to kill things with no challenge. Since it is usually based on if work is boring a challenge is needed and if life is stressful something to blow off steam is needed. So having an optional thing where you can select to go through at over leveled area with down graded stats so that it is more changeling like if you were doing it when it was relevant to your character is fun, as long as you can over level and go back on easy mode. Otherwise the levels feel pointless.
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