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LONG BLOG

Good Idea/Bad Idea: Level Scaling

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It slices! It dices! It makes Julienne fries!

The Good:(Sort of..)
Finally, we come to a game that I feel actually handles level scaling in a decent manner, Silverfall. Now, I wouldn't call Silverfall a great game, or really even a good game. Mediocre is probably the best way to describe it, what with a clunky interface, a camera system that could have been designed by Sonic Team, and a generally lackluster plot. Somehow they managed to put something amazing into the hulking 10 Gb behemoth though, and that is the level scaling system. For those of you who have neither played nor heard of Silverfall, it's your basic hack and slash Diablo clone, which is great for mindless fun. Part of what gets boring in these types of games though, is that if you stay in any one area too long, enemies don't put up a fight anymore, loot gets worse, and you're barely gaining any experience even though you need to keep fighting here to finish quests and move the storyline along. Diablo II avoided this for the most part by having excellent pacing and level design, but if you can't be Blizzard, Silverfall comes up with a workable solution.

Enemies in Silverfall seem to level along with the player at first. Leaving town in the beginning will have you meeting a collection of Level 1 monsters, but as your level raises, those monsters also seem to get stronger, even in places you've already been. What makes this system better than others that I've seen is the fact that areas seem to have an enemy level cap placed on them. Those same level 1 enemies never ended up higher than level 9 or 10, even when I had already reached level 16 myself. In this way, the general challenge of fighting was kept up while I had to complete quests in that area, but at the same time I was able to eventually come back and feel like the flame-sword-wielding badass that my character was. It struck a nice balance between two systems, and was probably my favorite part about the game. Well, that, and the physics engine. Why does a Diablo-like need a physics engine? Flying zombies, that's why.

In the end, with all the things wrong with it, Silverfall at least proves that Level scaling can be used to some effect in an RPG without making the player feel like they are never getting any stronger. Since most RPGs tend to get by on the strength of their story and not always on their gameplay mechanics, it doesn't immediately make sense why as a developer you would put in a system that may very well make it too difficult for some people to actually see the end of your story.
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About Shawn Kelfonneone of us since 8:13 PM on 01.05.2007

Well, let's see, I've got a ridiculously sized game collection, spanning from Coleco to Wii, with much of what's in between. The Super Nintendo was the height of awesome for me, and I still break it out once in a while to relive those memories.

I'm also a fairly big RPG nut, recently been playing WoW, may god have mercy on my soul.

I've got all three "current-gen" systems, and love them all for various reasons.


Currently playing:
WoW
Rock Band 2(360)


Ohshi- Avatar:



RPG Spotlight:
SuperHero League of Hoboken
Anvil of Dawn
Vampire:The Masquerade:Bloodlines
Nethack
Albion
Avernum
Arcanum:Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura
Dragon Wars

Xbox LIVE:FoxKelfonne
PSN ID:FoxKelfonne
Steam ID:skelfonne
Mii code:4829 7327 4812 3930


 

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