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The biggest failure of Dragon Age: Origins was level-scaling...

#1NingishzidaPosted 7/24/2014 6:17:09 PM
After the backlash on Oblivion's notorious direct-to-player level scaling of enemies and loot, Bioware tried to disguise their insidious employment of it by assigning the term "Challenge Scaling" and giving some creatures "level floors and ceilings" (ie, creature x WILL scale with you, but won't be below lvl y or above lvl z, we promise!), but this disguise and half-assed attempt failed: while clearly not as bad as Oblivion, it's still glaringly apparent and destructive to the game, almost entirely defeating the purpose of leveling your character.

Example1:
A farmer is stronger than a demon if you encounter the demon at player lvl1 and the farmer at player lvl10.
So instead of a demon being a demon, a farmer being a farmer, and everything else being what IT IS, these creatures instead abstractly change their nature to what the PLAYER IS.
Therefore, I beat a demon at player lvl1, then at player lvl10 I beat a farmer, but both confrontations were basically the same difficulty in relation to my character.
and instead of looking at a wolf, a spider, a demon, a thief as what they ARE, with their unique standing in the world, I look upon them in relation to what I AM, and I'm saying to myself, I'm lvl20 and here's a pack of genlocks who are lvl20, this fight isn't gonna be easy, it isn't gonna be hard, it's gonna be clinically tailored to be another average encounter with no surprises, just like all rest. That breaks immersion, it's meta-gaming.

Example2:
A genlock requires 2 swings of my rusty sword to kill.
I level up a few times and get an iron sword.
A genlock... still... requires 2 swings of my iron sword to kill.
I level up a few times and get a silver sword.
A genlock... still... requires 2 swings of my silver sword to kill.
etc
etc
etc

Now while not as cut n dry as this, this IS the principle these games run on.

Why play the game?

Now you see how level scaling makes no sense, and is a scourge in gaming. Origins is the 2nd worst offender, after Oblivion.
#2blax34dmPosted 7/24/2014 6:19:12 PM
I thought you were on team pro level scaling? It's hard to keep track.

But I totally agree, anyone who enjoys level scaling in their RPG I just don't understand.
#3DV8ingSourcesPosted 7/24/2014 6:26:21 PM
I'm okay with enemy variance but not scaling. Its fine to have some goblins that are fodder and a few that are more challenging. Ideally make it more plausible via their appearance. Scaling is catering and catering is peasantry. Life doesn't tiptoe around your every move and neither should a fantasy game unless its marketed as such. Contrary to popular opinion, dying in a game can be a good thing. Having ANY consequence to a wrong action is tantamount to the pleasure that comes with success. Games are grey masses of bleh these days. The hand holding really needs to stop.
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#4Ningishzida(Topic Creator)Posted 7/24/2014 6:47:27 PM(edited)
blax34dm posted...
I thought you were on team pro level scaling? It's hard to keep track.


No, I only said I preferred Oblivion's direct level scaling to Skyrim's casual-ass system, because at least Oblivion had the potential to pose a challenge at higher levels (an unwitting side-effect of direct lvl scaling to Bethesda), Skyrim does not.

Skyrim throws in one or two static enemies, like the giants. They're basically saying, "here look at this, we threw you a bone, we gave you a deleveled enemy to kill or be killed by, but everything else is just like Oblivion", the only difference being that the scaling stops in Skyrim for the most part at player lvl20, with only some generics going to 60 (vamps), and all this under a player lvlcap of 81, and "infinitely" more with Legendary, whereas in Oblivion enemies just scale, and scale and scale to max lvl cap - formidable as all **** they are.
#5dementedlullabyPosted 7/24/2014 8:28:13 PM
blax34dm posted...
But I totally agree, anyone who enjoys level scaling in their RPG I just don't understand.


I don't get it either. If I walk into an area with huge enemies that look intimidating and I'm in crappy leather armor or what not I want to get owned. Not play go pet the dragon until it dies.
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#6jedinatPosted 7/24/2014 8:34:58 PM
The biggest failure was the pathetic story.
#7TheC0ndemnedOnePosted 7/24/2014 8:38:36 PM
Ningishzida posted...
blax34dm posted...
I thought you were on team pro level scaling? It's hard to keep track.


No, I only said I preferred Oblivion's direct level scaling to Skyrim's casual-ass system, because at least Oblivion had the potential to pose a challenge at higher levels (an unwitting side-effect of direct lvl scaling to Bethesda), Skyrim does not.

Skyrim throws in one or two static enemies, like the giants. They're basically saying, "here look at this, we threw you a bone, we gave you a deleveled enemy to kill or be killed by, but everything else is just like Oblivion", the only difference being that the scaling stops in Skyrim for the most part at player lvl20, with only some generics going to 60 (vamps), and all this under a player lvlcap of 81, and "infinitely" more with Legendary, whereas in Oblivion enemies just scale, and scale and scale to max lvl cap - formidable as all **** they are.


Fair point. What's your opinion on mods like Requiem for Skyrim and OOO for Oblivion?
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#8VoxwikPosted 7/24/2014 8:44:06 PM
DV8ingSources posted...
I'm okay with enemy variance but not scaling. Its fine to have some goblins that are fodder and a few that are more challenging. Ideally make it more plausible via their appearance. Scaling is catering and catering is peasantry. Life doesn't tiptoe around your every move and neither should a fantasy game unless its marketed as such. Contrary to popular opinion, dying in a game can be a good thing. Having ANY consequence to a wrong action is tantamount to the pleasure that comes with success. Games are grey masses of bleh these days. The hand holding really needs to stop.

You know, just because people don't agree with you doesn't mean they are "having their hands held." Level scaling is often about a game trying to be dynamic no matter which way you choose to go. I have no idea how it works in DA (honestly until this topic I assumed it was a fairly linear game) but reducing a difference of opinion to "I'm better than those who like this mechanic" is just silly and really hurts your argument. I have seen a great many complaints about level scaling that don't rely on the mythical "casual war against 'true' gamers" nonsense.

Heck, sometimes level scaling pops up in forms I never even knew about personally. Take Final Fantasy VII for instance, in which the final boss scales and I never knew it until this year. That is the form you speak of actually, but really if I had to form three groups of party members and my nephew had to form one... it really does not bother me. He doesn't do side questing and I do. ...so what?

Actually, the "range of levels for each area" type of level scaling is the ultimate compromise on this front, because in that type of scaling you can in fact end up going somewhere that will still get you killed.

Personally I'm neutral on it, but I strongly disagree in this mythical "casuals vs. 'real' gamers" false dichotomy that comes up (most often as a way to insult a design decision disagreement).

What's funny is this reminds me of the game Xenoblade because that game has no level scaling, is said to play a little bit similarly to this game, yet even though it's extremely easy to die wandering off to fight the wrong stuff the game literally has no punishment for death other than teleporting to the nearest waypoint.
#9DV8ingSourcesPosted 7/24/2014 9:07:46 PM
Voxwik posted...
DV8ingSources posted...
I'm okay with enemy variance but not scaling. Its fine to have some goblins that are fodder and a few that are more challenging. Ideally make it more plausible via their appearance. Scaling is catering and catering is peasantry. Life doesn't tiptoe around your every move and neither should a fantasy game unless its marketed as such. Contrary to popular opinion, dying in a game can be a good thing. Having ANY consequence to a wrong action is tantamount to the pleasure that comes with success. Games are grey masses of bleh these days. The hand holding really needs to stop.

You know, just because people don't agree with you doesn't mean they are "having their hands held." Level scaling is often about a game trying to be dynamic no matter which way you choose to go. I have no idea how it works in DA (honestly until this topic I assumed it was a fairly linear game) but reducing a difference of opinion to "I'm better than those who like this mechanic" is just silly and really hurts your argument. I have seen a great many complaints about level scaling that don't rely on the mythical "casual war against 'true' gamers" nonsense.

Heck, sometimes level scaling pops up in forms I never even knew about personally. Take Final Fantasy VII for instance, in which the final boss scales and I never knew it until this year. That is the form you speak of actually, but really if I had to form three groups of party members and my nephew had to form one... it really does not bother me. He doesn't do side questing and I do. ...so what?

Actually, the "range of levels for each area" type of level scaling is the ultimate compromise on this front, because in that type of scaling you can in fact end up going somewhere that will still get you killed.

Personally I'm neutral on it, but I strongly disagree in this mythical "casuals vs. 'real' gamers" false dichotomy that comes up (most often as a way to insult a design decision disagreement).

What's funny is this reminds me of the game Xenoblade because that game has no level scaling, is said to play a little bit similarly to this game, yet even though it's extremely easy to die wandering off to fight the wrong stuff the game literally has no punishment for death other than teleporting to the nearest waypoint.


Having no consequences in a game makes it less of a game due to the lack of win/loss conditions. Level scaling as its been utilized in the most recent popular games is a joke. I'm not saying that some randomness and all scaling is detrimental to an experience. Just that when there are no ups and downs in a game, it becomes boring and muted. Scaling is fine when used in addition to static encounters but never should it be the only way of determining all encounters. Even then, it should be area limited and lesser mobs shouldn't just disappear from the entire game just because you went from level 9 to level 10.

There is no reason for a game to cater entirely to the player. Sure give the player freedom to go where they want first but punish them for heading to that big dark gloomy castle first versus that nice meadow with giant rats over there. Again, I'm sure that a happy medium could exist but as of right now scaling has never been done right (of course imo).

The peasantry talk was just tongue in cheek and egging people like you on.
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#10Ningishzida(Topic Creator)Posted 7/24/2014 9:21:10 PM
TheC0ndemnedOne posted...
Fair point. What's your opinion on mods like Requiem for Skyrim and OOO for Oblivion?


OOO is highly refined in using level thresholds, basically if you visualise the map there are invisible concentric circles emanating out from the center of the empire, and the more the player moves outward from the center, the more difficult encounters become, but the better the rewards are. There are also difficult areas in easy zones, and vice versa. You just don't know what you're gonna get, until you scope things out, as it should be. And strong enemies look strong, if you're peeking in a dungeon and you see an enemy, you're gonna get a fair idea if you can take him or get owned. If it's the latter, you come back later when you're more powerful. Again, as it should be.

OOO gives a slow build-up of power over time, with breakpoints here and there to keep things interesting, ending with the player getting mastery over the world, similar to Morrowind. Because it takes alot of time,understanding and dedication, it feels like an accomplishment.

Requiem isn't as polished, and can be unreasonably difficult on default settings. But it tries to individuate each encounter and mostly omits level scaling, Bleak Falls barrow is filled with an army of undead. You won't be doing that "starter dungeon" until lvl20 or so... But even without level scaling, I don't think Skyrim's worth playing, the story, characters and world are just too bland and uninspired and no mod can fix that short of a total conversion remake (ie, Nehrim of Oblivion).