If you’ve read my posts, then you know that I’m a huge fan of progression systems in game design. Some examples would be meta-game, player-based, abstraction and so on. Upgrading characters has been a popular means of adding abstracted progression. However, understanding how to handle progression systems correctly can mean the difference of how your game will turn out.
The Fire Emblem series is one of the most beloved 2nd party titles from Nintendo. Combining the rogue-like element of everyone having one life with the tactical strategy of managing troops has helped the series gain a huge following both in Japan and the US. Yet, the series annoys me due to one design choice that has become a part of its design.
My recent post on short and long-term progression got a mention on the Game Developers Radio podcast and they discussed the topic of progression further. During the cast, they made a good point about using mechanics or gameplay as a form of progression and that gives us another discussion on game design to talk about.
One of the oddest things I keep hearing people say during my streams and recording of the Darkest Dungeon is how much the game stresses them out; to the point that it has caused people to stop playing. Yet, no matter what happens, I never felt stressed out while playing the game, even if something goes wrong or I get an unlucky break.
And yet, playing XCOM and now XCOM 2 stresses me out to no end; to the point where I once almost broke my hand from punching my desk in anger during an Enemy Within play. Thinking about the two games and how they handled progression, both titles are about long-term progression, but their executions are what set them apart.