To Level or Not To Level?

Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about the intended difficulty curve for my game. When I first started this project, monsters had set statistics. A slime’s HP was always the same, an ogre’s Attack was always the same.

As the project advanced, and remade, I chose to go with having the monsters “level” with the party. With this system, a slime’s HP would have a base value, which was then modified by a percentage based on the party’s average level.

Unfortunately, I have reached a point where this newer system could be a detriment to my game as a whole, and am considering going back to the older, set-stat system. Both have pros and cons, as outlined below.

Set-Stats
Pros

  • More control over direct stats. (HP, Attack, etc.)
  • And by virtue of that…

    • More control over stats such as accuracy, damage reduction, etc.

Cons

  • More time spent playtesting battles.
  • More time fine-tuning stats.
  • Flat difficulty level, based on area.

Variable Stats
Pros

  • Constantly scaling difficulty curve, providing a constant challenge.
  • Near copy/paste-ability of monsters, helping similar areas alike in difficulty.

Cons

  • Less control over direct and indirect stats.
  • Less control over difficulty at later stages of the game.
  • Smaller tolerance ranges when balancing.

Both systems have their merits, and their place, and as I weigh both options, a third comes to mind: using the variable system for basic monsters, and having powerful bosses use the set-stat system.

The issue that arises with this is the inability to sense the potential difficulty of a boss by the common monsters in any given dungeon. A dungeon with a ‘level 15’ boss could be filled with level 5 monsters, or level 20 monsters, depending on when one enters.

Clearly, I’ve got a bit to think about as I work this weekend…

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