What if We Leveled Backwards?!

tomtom94

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May 11, 2009
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I like the idea to an extent, I think it could certainly work. I think it would suit an action-oriented game like Devil May Cry where defeating enemies is dependent on your skills and reactions, maybe more so than a turn-based and/or strategic game like most RPGs are these days.

(I am also willing to bet that there's at least one flash game out there that uses the concept.)

EDIT: Oh, and also FIRST. tehe.
 

Who Dares Wins

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Dec 26, 2009
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Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne had Arthas level down and it was amusing since the last few levels required you to play as him alone with no armies. Also the concept of leveling backwards is good as long as there is no extreme, newbs aren't godlike and "pros" aren't frail little men that a squirrel could kill, but the starting level is the upper-middle styled level, and the first one still has you kicking ass but not through DPS and raw strength.
 

mcnally86

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Apr 23, 2008
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Interesting article. The Undead campaign in Warcaft 3 the Frozen Throne Expansion had you level backwards. Arthus, your hero unit, started at maximum level but at intervals he would suffer heart attacks and loose a level or forget some abilities.Being an RTS this meant you had to rely more on your little guys and less and less on you big hero unit Arthus, who was dieing or something, to win the day for you. He was great the first few levels killing everyone and defending my base better than and 12 guys then at the end he kind of got useless and I had to hide him.
 

Evine

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Oct 25, 2010
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Play Maplestory, starting aran class for a good exaple of this in action in a mmo
 

Yahtzee Croshaw

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Aug 8, 2007
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Now, at first glance, this idea seemed completely indefensible, even to me. "Make the player stronger as they proceed" is part 1 of lesson 1 of game design 101. What possible motivation would the player have to keep playing if they're just going to get weaker? Traditionally one keeps a game interesting by routinely adding new gameplay features, not taking them away. But we can only break free of a dreary cycle of churned-out me-toos by taking a step back and completely reassessing. And the more I think about it, the more levelling backwards makes sense.
Reminds me of Extra Credits "playing like a designer" videos.
 

DarkSpectre

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Jan 25, 2010
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I like the idea in concept but in practice I see it hard to make work. I think it would be better as a single player mechanic. The only thing I see able to motivate the player to give up power is to progress a storyline. The skinner box mechanics of an MMORPG doesn't work well with this because that getting stronger is a big reason to level. But if you can make a compelling story that needs the player to sacrifice something of themselves to progress the storyline.
 

TheKruzdawg

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Apr 28, 2010
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I'd play a game that featured this mechanic. I could definitely see this working in a fantasy game like Oblivion or (possibly, since I haven't played it yet) Dragon Age. I think if the story and interaction with the game is well-enough designed that it wouldn't feel like your equipment/skills are simply being taken away from you "just because." I kind of really want to see this in action now, I think.
 

therandombear

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Sep 28, 2009
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Either I've dreamt it or I've played it no idea tbh..>.<

A game were you start of as mighty and powerful, and as you progress you do get weaker and lose abilites and have to rely on your "ability" to hide and sneak past enemies.

I feel like I've played something like that, but alas I can't really remember.
 

Yahtzee Croshaw

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What a silly idea. I see where you're coming from, but people like to build characters up, not see them get worse and worse. Even from a lore point of view it'd be hard in most games to justify losing abilities over time.

You could lose armour, though. That would retain the skills you have, make the game harder and you could even gain more skills to compensate for loss of said armour. And it'd make sense, too, because armour does break down over time.
 

TikiShades

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May 6, 2009
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I enjoy the idea as well, but I'm wary of giving too much to a new player. Too many things will confuse them as they have to learn EVERYTHING and eventually learn they don't need to learn things because they can get rid of it. It removes slow progression of skill combos. :/
 

Littlee300

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Oct 26, 2009
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This would probably defy the hamster research because you get a happy brain chemical when you feel like you are getting better but if it is in reverse...
edit: http://www.cracked.com/article_18461_5-creepy-ways-video-games-are-trying-to-get-you-addicted.html
 

Random berk

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Sep 1, 2010
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Hmm. Intriguing concept, this one, and as well presented as all the points made in extra punctuation. Maybe some Indie developer will pick up on it someday. After all, Minecraft strayed from the normal route by setting its graphics way back, and that worked out quite well for the developers.
 

hawk533

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tomtom94 said:
I like the idea to an extent, I think it could certainly work. I think it would suit an action-oriented game like Devil May Cry where defeating enemies is dependent on your skills and reactions, maybe more so than a turn-based and/or strategic game like most RPGs are these days.
This is what I was thinking. An action game or FPS could use this better for multiplayer than an MMORPG. Maybe if there was a way to take one option and still be as powerful as the newbies in that category. Example: You would start off as a beefed up jack-of-all-trades. As you level down you might lose your abilities as a mage, then as a thief, then as a healer until you're left with a pure warrior. You could still match the newbies as a warrior, but if they brought magic to the fight you might be screwed.
 

Sennz0r

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May 25, 2008
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I like the title you suggested. Somehow it actually sounds pretty cool :p
Don't know about the MMO aspect. I agree with a few people in here that say this could work as a single player game.

Anyway sounds interesting, I'd play it.
 

LucidSeraph

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Feb 16, 2011
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I think from a narrative standpoint this game could be absolutely fascinating. Imagine doing it in a Shadow of the Colossus style. One of the most poignant parts of that game was how with each victory you achieved, something in you was lost. Certainly you could and did become more powerful, but you still had to watch as Wander was corrupted slowly by the dark powers in which he dealt.

So perhaps the plot could be something similarly elegiac and tragic, at least in a single player environment - perhaps even hearkening back to Beowulf. You start the game as a great hero of the realm, a renowned fellow who has already been through many trials and tribulations, battle-scarred and proud. A new threat comes to the kingdom, some dark power or other, and you must fight it. However, the very nature of this threat is insidious, as it saps not only your actual physical strength, but your supernatural spirit as well. To fight this thing is to be tainted by it, and not in the fun "whee demon powers" way, but in the true loss of humanity and power, as you slowly become weaker.

Perhaps it could even be a time travel based thing, somewhat like Braid - you fight backwards through time, trying to find your way to the source of this contagation, but as you do of course you become younger and weaker. In defeating the threat as a mere child (perhaps fighting it as more an inner demon or having it hinge on a single choice), you undo the timeline to the extent that you will no longer become a great hero, but instead remain a simple peasant. The world is saved, but no one will ever sing your praises, no one will know your deeds, and you will never be the person you thought you were. Indeed, perhaps it was all merely a child's dream...?

I see so much potential in this game mechanic, and I truly hope some enterprising indie developer does something with it.

vxicepickxv said:
I think we all do this. I'm pretty sure it's called aging.
Which is why, from a narrative standpoint, this works beautifully as a concept. You can see the whole game as a metaphor for growing old and dying, for being past your prime, and yet still trying to make a difference in the world. You go from a true superman to an individual weak but wise. Again, this would be a very sad game, but I think in that sense incredibly moving, which is something we need in games.

To bring back in the parallels to Beowulf - Beowulf starts out as this macho superman, but in the end he's an old king who still has a lot of punch, but isn't what he used to be. This is why he's slain by the Dragon in the end, and in the end there's a lot of talk about the passing of the age and the death of heroes. THAT is what this game could be about.
 

robmastaflex

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Jun 15, 2009
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The idea makes some sense in terms of balancing multiplayer games with RPG elements and so forth, but in many single player games I think it would somewhat cause problems with story. After all, if you're at your most powerful at the start, then surely you would just go after the main villian to begin with rather than fuck about becoming weaker for several hours.