Here's the Experience chart used by City of Heroes showing how much Experience is needed to advance to each Level.
It LOOKS overly complicated, and it basically IS overly complicated. Everything is on a sliding scale and "pegged" to various levels and ... it's just a mess. You'd need a computer to keep track of all of that (which thankfully City of Heroes had available, but still...).
This system wound up producing some really weird edge case scenarios. My favorite one was that I could take my Level 50, Exemplar down to Level 1 to help a newbie street sweep in Atlas Park ... and get 2866 XP and Influence for defeating a Minion ... which then turned into 5732 Influence because I was Level Capped at 50 myself, so XP was converted into Influence ... and then if there was a Civilian Rescue involved (purse snatching and the like), the Civilian would run back and hand me ANOTHER 2866 Influence on top of everything else. So the defeat of 1 Level 1 Minion trying to steal a purse from a Civilian would earn me 2866*3=8598 Influence as a Level 50 Exemplared down to Level 1 (assuming I wasn't donating some of that as Prestige to my Supergroup).
Compare that to what my Level 1 Teammate would get from the same action. They'd get 10 XP and 10 Influence, and an additional 10 Influence from the Civilian we'd rescued from having their purse snatched.
Yeah ... I'd get up to 8.6k Influence as a Level 50, while my "partner" would get 10 XP and 20 Influence ... per Minion defeat. Can you say Built In INFLATION?
Now I know that there is an overwhelming desire to see BIG NUMBERS™ happening (in your favor) in games. But if you build an exponential advancement like I'm describing here into the fundamental core of your game system, you've pretty much locked in an exponentially inflating future for your game right from the very start ... by design. As you can probably guess from how this post is going so far, I think that's a bit of a mistake.
Okay, so what's the alternative?
Rather than having a system that scales EVERYTHING in it (XP, IGC, etc. etc. etc.) ... what about a system that keeps some things FIXED and only varies a few parameters?
Why would that be useful? Because it means that if you change Levels you aren't having to scale all kinds of stuff all over the place in order to "normalize" things by Levels for everything that's happening.
Alright, so what would this mean in actual practice?
First things first ... keep the "rewards" fixed but then make the expenditures cost increasingly more. Now, before people grab their torches and pitchforks, allow me to explain.
Let's say, for the sake of illustration, that EVERY Foe NPC in the game offers a fixed reward in terms of XP and IGC that they'll "drop" for you upon being defeated ... and that this reward does not change with the NPC's Level. That means that a Minion NPC will award the same amount of XP as a Level 1 to a Level 1 character as they would at Level 50 to a Level 50 character. The rewards for defeating an NPC do not scale in absolute terms (like my above Level 50 Exemplared down to Level 1 in Atlas Park defeating Minions example). This is not to say that there can't be what amount to "challenge" multipliers based on the +/- Level DIFFERENCE between a PC and an NPC, such that you'll be rewarded more for defeating Tough Stuff™ (for your current Level) and rewarded less for Godzilla Stomping™ a pile of weaklings (relative to your current Level).
So ... what would this look like?
Since I like mathematical systems that seem to pretend to have some sort of relation to how I want them to behave, I'm going to propose using a simple (x)2 relationship like so:
- Underlings: 1 XP each
- Minions: 4 XP each
- Lieutenants: 9 XP each
- Bosses: 16 XP each
- Mission Completion Reward: 25 XP
- Elite Bosses: 36 XP each
- Arc Completion Reward: 49 XP
- Arch-Enemies: 64 XP each
- Giant Monster: 81 XP each
So using this system, defeating a Minion of any Level offers a reward of a (base) 4 XP before any modifiers for the +/- difference between PC vs NPC Level adjustment.
A Level 1 PC defeating a Level 1 Minion rewards ... 4 XP.
A Level 50 PC defeating a Level 50 Minion rewards ... 4 XP.
Now ... taking that as a baseline assumption ... the next question, for Leveling then becomes ... so how much XP do I need per Level then?
Well ... I was thinking in terms of using a Triangular Number and then multiplying that by 100 ... producing the following to "complete" each Level:
This is what I'm talking about with having some parts of the system "ignore" Levels and just remain fixed. It builds in predictability to what quantities of rewards are offered for defeating different rankings of opponents. The quantity of XP you need to earn to advance to the next Level is your current Level x100.
Level 1 to Level 2 = 100 XP
Level 2 to Level 3 = +200 XP (300 total)
Level 3 to Level 4 = +300 XP (600 total)
Level 4 to Level 5 = +400 XP (1000 total)
So obviously if the rewards per defeat remain "fixed" then it's going to take an increasing number of defeats in order to achieve the next Level Up, meaning that the "value" of defeating any one specific NPC in effect "drops" over time as your character gains more experience and Levels. You can defeat 25 Minions to go from Level 1 to Level 2 ... but you'll need to defeat 725 Minions to go from level 29 to Level 30 ... and you'll need to defeat 1225 Minions to go from Level 49 to Level 50. This then inherently builds a Crunch All You Want, We'll Make More dynamic and expectation as a PC gains experience and Levels.
But the real payoff for this is ... you don't have Exemplar/Sidekick scaling of rewards when the PC's Level gets adjusted. That also creates an interesting side benefit in that it then makes it possible to Auto-Exemplar high Level PCs to entire lower Level Zones.
Imagine, if you will, that every single PC, regardless of actual Level, was actually Auto-Exemplared upon entering Atlas Park to never be any higher than Level 5 ... simply by virtue of entering the Atlas Park Zone. Yes, this is basically the same system that Guild Wars 2 uses. It basically means that you'll never be moving through a zone where everything is "All Grey To Me™" and therefore the Foe NPCs in it are not worthy of any respect, consideration or afterthought. Additionally, such a system would mean that Street Sweeping can be done ANYWHERE IN THE GAME ... instead of limiting it to just merely the "Level Appropriate" Zone(s) for your PC.
For me, the advantages of Auto-Exemplaring to Zones also extends to how Players think about the Story elements of the game. Any time their characters return to the "starter zones" of the game, their characters "revert" to their "starter" states too in a game mechanical fashion, in effect "returning you to the time of..." when your character was beating the streets in the particular neighborhood. Whether you want to call it a flashback or time travel is up to each Player, but the design element makes it possible to play the game's CONTENT in an "out of sequence" fashion, in which you can "relive the glory days" of cleaning up Galaxy City or fighting in the back alleys of King's Row in a Level Appropriate way, even if your character is actually already at the Level Cap.
Such a system would then help combat one of the original sins of the Games Have Levels design process ... the Up And Out dictum of needing to "move on" from earlier zones into later ones that "obsolete" content once the Players have outleveled it. By keeping ALL of the zones in the game as functionally playable environments, you avoid the unfortunate consequence of having a game with 50 zones, of which only 4-5 are relevant to characters at the Level Cap because everything prior is no longer relevant or challenging to play in. And when there is "risk" to be found anywhere and everywhere, there can also be "rewards" found anywhere and everywhere, allowing Level Cap PCs to "relive the glory days" of patrolling old haunts without needing to jump through hoops in order to do so.
Verbogeny is one of many pleasurettes afforded a creatific thinkerizer.