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The XP Cap: A Flaw in the Game's Design

Okay. So I'm playing the EE, having a grand old time with Dorn, Montaron, Shar-Teel, Viconia and Baeloth. I started by moving in a straight line from the FAI to Beregost to Nashkel, completing any quests that popped up along that route; after the Nashkel Mines and the Bandit Camp, I cleared every "miscellaneous" map (ie: Dryad Falls, Gnoll Stronghold, Gullykin, Ulcaster, etc.) and then I proceeded through Cloakwood. At the start of chapter 5, rather than head to Baldur's Gate, I diverted to Ulgoth's Beard and completed all the TotSC content. (I don't consider this sequence breaking simply because Ulgoth's Beard is accessible at that point.)

My party now stands at the edge of Wyrm's Crossing, ready to enter the city. And here's the problem: the entire gruop has hit the XP cap of 161,000. I have absolutely no reason to complete the many, many side quests in the city because there's nothing to gain - only four pieces of loot could benefit my party at this point (Ramazith's Metaspell amulet, Degrodel's Helm of Balduran, Black Lily's Dexterity tome and the Wisdom tome from the Lady's House).

As I see it, the issue is one of effort vs. reward: if my NPCs can't gain any more levels and they already have the best equipment the game can offer them, I can't see any reason to bother with the massive number of tasks in the city - my party is at its peak and literally can't improve any more, might as well just charge Sarevok and wrap things up.

Has anyone else encountered this problem? Would it be resolved by raising the XP cap?
KholdstareCommunardAnduinOurQuestIsVaintrinitRedWizardWillyML4HeroicSpur
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Comments

  • MadhaxMadhax Posts: 1,416Member
    It's a flaw in open-world games in general that don't adjust to the player's level, like Skyrim. I'm surprised that you've already capped out, I've heard that there's only enough XP in the entire game to get you to about 200k xp per each of six party members, and I assumed that more than a fifth of that would be within BG city... but I could be wrong.

    Still, with the way leveling works in BG, removing the XP cap probably won't get you more than 1 level per party member, if that much. You could remove the cap, but the final boss fight is already a bit easy at 161k.
  • ryuken87ryuken87 Posts: 563Member
    So remove the cap...
    AnduinDJKajuruSCARY_WIZARDelminster
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Posts: 3,352Member
    So, it is by no means a "Flaw" in the game design. The Game developers intended for there to be a hard cap on XP at a certain point that would balance out the game for the last few battles. In this, the game is (a) doing what was intended and (b) a reasonable thing to do given that the battles don't scale. And quite frankly, the amount of content in the original game supports reasonable exploration for a 6 party group and ending up somewhere around the 161-200K XP range. In other words, 98% of the players aren't really going to realize that much extra by removing the cap.

    However, many people have decided that they would like to experience more and advance beyond what was originally 'THE DESIGN'. If you wish to be one of those, by all means find the mod that removes the XP cap and use it.

    Just because you want to play the game differently does not mean it is a flaw in the design!

    Nuff said.
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Posts: 3,352Member
    So, it is by no means a "Flaw" in the game design. The Game developers intended for there to be a hard cap on XP at a certain point that would balance out the game for the last few battles. In this, the game is (a) doing what was intended and (b) a reasonable thing to do given that the battles don't scale. And quite frankly, the amount of content in the original game supports reasonable exploration for a 6 party group and ending up somewhere around the 161-200K XP range. In other words, 98% of the players aren't really going to realize that much extra by removing the cap.

    However, many people have decided that they would like to experience more and advance beyond what was originally 'THE DESIGN'. If you wish to be one of those, by all means find the mod that removes the XP cap and use it.

    Just because you want to play the game differently does not mean it is a flaw in the design!

    Nuff said.
  • StrayedMonkeyStrayedMonkey Posts: 146Member
    its no flaw. technically the expansion is played after completing BG1. you load your final save and get transported to the new area. and then do the new stuff and then final battle a second time.

    and you have to factor in the new content added with EE.

    I usually dont do any of the ToSC stuff until right before going into the maze to chase sarevok. but thats just me.
  • AnduinAnduin Posts: 2,980Member, BG:EE Beta, IWD:EE Beta
    The only cheat I use. The xp cap remover.

    The only thing that looks good with a cap is rappers and mushrooms...
    [Deleted User]neleotheszeEudaemoniumWiggles
  • shawneshawne Posts: 2,208Member
    @Fardragon: That explanation rings a bit false to me - it's not like the maps only reveal themselves in specific circumstances. If Ulcaster is accessible, there's absolutely no reason for me not to go there. The choice system built into the game is about different outcomes to quests, not undertaking the quests themselves; and in fact, I've been consistently taking XP/gold penalties because I'm RPing an Evil PC, and I still hit the cap. A Rep 20 pure Good run probably would've topped out even sooner.

    @the_spyder: This isn't about me "wanting to play the game differently", whatever that means; it's not like I used the cheat console or hacked my savegames. I visited areas that were available, I completed the quests therein, and I've reached Baldur's Gate with all my characters maxed out and with no real reason to spend any more time with the city's side quests. How exactly is that not a flaw?
  • atcDaveatcDave Posts: 1,581Member
    I would (I always do) just remove the cap.

    I think a normal full play through will yield about 200K, although I just finished one with about 180K. It's not a big deal, none of my characters even gained a single level over the cap, but it always means a lot to me to be able to keep on earning. I think the cap is a silly and artificial restriction that does little or nothing for play balance. We discussed that in more depth a couple weeks ago, and I think the math supports my opinion.
    I'm pretty sure it's origin had more to do with actually coding in the next level of capabilities (mainly 6th level spells!) than anything actually related to balance, but now playing with the full ToB engine that is no longer an issue.
    IecerintAasimar069
  • CorvinoCorvino Posts: 2,258Member
    edited February 2013
    I'd argue that there are a lot more beneficial items in the city than that. The Helm of Glory, Cloak of Balduran, a second Ring of Wizardry, the Ring of Protection +2, the Large Shield +1/+4 vs. missiles, a couple of new unique weapons from EE - there are more. Admittedly not all are quest related, and most can be acquired by pickpocketing or killing folks. At the endgame of most RPGs gear matters more than 1-2 levels.

    The cap stops you getting a few things, but most classes wouldn't actually hit their next level in BG1 due to the high amount needed unless you're playing a small party or soloing. There are exceptions but 75% of classes would be unlikely to make significant level gains in a normal 5-6 person party.

    Post edited by Corvino on
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Posts: 3,352Member
    @shawne,

    I have played BG probably more times than I can count. IF you are hitting the level cap with a 6 person party before you reach Baldur's Gate proper, you are doing something different from the average player. I am quite the completionist and almost always hit the cap before finishing the game, but I don't think I have ever hit it that early.

    So, let me ask. Did you do Durlag's tower and all of the stuff in Ugoth's Beard yet? Well, you couldn't have, because there are things there that link to Baldur's gate.

    But in any event, you started off this thread claiming that the XP cap was a "Flaw in the game's design". I see no evidence of that. Yes it is possible to reach the cap. It is apparently possible to reach it as early as you say. What of it? That isn't necessarily by itself a "Flaw in the game's design". Nor does it invalidate exploration of all of the stuff in Baldur's gate proper as you still have the fun and the adventure and the treasure. Just because you hit the level cap, doesn't stop the game prematurely. Nor does it impact any part of the game except level advancement, and going up 1 more level (which is pretty much all you will be able to do if you do remove the cap) isn't going to really add to your character's power much.

    I say again, download the mod to remove the cap and move on. Why moan about it?
    DebaseratcDave
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Posts: 2,102Member
    Well, it seems the doctor has solved the problem.
    DebaserAnduinWiggles
  • BerconBercon Posts: 477Member
    It'd be nice to have -10-20% reduction on all experience gained for completionists, so they'd hit the cap a bit later in the game. Somebody should make this work for BG:EE http://www.pocketplane.net/mambo/index.php?option=content&task=blogcategory&id=110&Itemid=83
  • shawneshawne Posts: 2,208Member

    This thread is a bit confusing.

    1) Is gaining XP the only reason you want to do those quests? Well then, congratulations, now you don't have to. Hooray!

    2) Alternatively, do you do quests because you enjoy playing the game? Well then, go ahead and play the game and enjoy it. Hooray!

    I can't see any course of action that doesn't get you to hooray.

    * oh yeah, and if you truly think the XP cap is really a problem, you can go ahead and - wait for it - remove it. Quite easily. The OP must have put a lot more points into the "complain" skill than me, because I can't make it work here...

    There's a very serious problem on this forum wherein any criticism of the game is shouted down and classified as "moaning"/"complaining". I've seen this kneejerk reaction before, and I'm not impressed. If you don't have anything constructive or intelligent to add to the discussion, find some other thread to troll.

    Attempts at derailing the subject aside, I'll reiterate: this is a RPG - a genre that literally defines itself by the developmental process of its player characters - in which you can move just past the midpoint and have your entire party's progress plateau. In a game where the impetus for doing anything is a reward of some kind (whether XP, gold or equipment) I find it problematic that you can basically hit a dead end long before the endgame.

    And yes, of course there are mods to remove the XP cap... but why would I need to resort to that in a straight playthrough?
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Posts: 3,352Member
    shawne said:

    There's a very serious problem on this forum wherein any criticism of the game is shouted down and classified as "moaning"/"complaining". I've seen this kneejerk reaction before, and I'm not impressed. If you don't have anything constructive or intelligent to add to the discussion, find some other thread to troll.

    Please feel free to take your own advice.

    Look, the title of the thread is by it's very nature inflammatory. Your opening post is little more than complaining. Your premise is unsupported (that the ONLY reason to continue playing is to gain more XP) and there is an extremely simple solution to your problem (downloading the Mod). Add to that the fact that it is pretty clear your method of play is Atypical so any issues you encounter do not impact a significant majority of other players. Basically You are the one giving a Knee-jerk reaction. We are merely 'Contributing' but just not in the manner that suits you.
  • BerconBercon Posts: 477Member
    You just stop gaining experience. You can still get better items, more gold, new spells etc. It'd be pretty stupid if you gained the final levels just before the end of the game, because then you'd never get to use those nice new spells you just learned. Experience is just not the only goal in Baldur's Gate. Given how the AD&D rules and leveling are, there is no a real solution to this problem (if it even is a problem) without changing the rules.
  • bigdogchrisbigdogchris Posts: 1,334Member
    edited February 2013
    Few issues here:

    1. Not everyone thinks that gaining levels = #1 reward. Some people like progressing the story as a reward, and some enjoy gaining new equipment as a reward; neither of which are affected by the XP cap.

    2. The philosophical debate over an XP cap is another discussion. I look at a game like Skyrim which has no official cap (though a soft cap). Due to no cap, your character becomes insanely powerful, making every battle in the game trivial (even the end boss). I'd rather have a experience cap than to be unstoppable because no challenge = no reason to play for me.

    3. Balance of XP given out is another point of discussion. You could say that the XP cap be balanced around all awarded XP, just around the main story content, or somewhere in between -I think BG is somewhere in between. Typically, my characters are maxed out before getting to Baldur's Gate because I explore every single corner of the map. If there was no cap, then the battles at the end of the game would be too easy. If you made the end battles harder to compensate, then you've punished people who only played the main story and are much lower level.

    4. I don't believe in "curving" or "dynamic" content based on around character levels, either. Especially in D&D where characters are well-known for being a specific level, the idea of inflating or deflating that based on the player level is insulting.
    Post edited by bigdogchris on
  • shawneshawne Posts: 2,208Member

    Look, the title of the thread is by it's very nature inflammatory. Your opening post is little more than complaining.

    My opening post is a detailed explanation of what I did during my playthrough - which puts the lie to your claim that my "method of play is atypical" (seriously, how is "go to this map that just opened up and do the side quests" atypical in any way?). And you keep advocating the use of a mod to resolve the issue - if I have to resort to that, then there is an issue in the game that needs resolving.

    And note that I ended my OP with open questions (Has anyone else encountered this problem? Would it be resolved by raising the XP cap?) so... I'm going to go with either trolling or reading comprehension issues. Because intentionally or not, you're not hearing what I'm saying.
  • DebaserDebaser Posts: 630Member
    edited February 2013
    @shawne

    Even if you solo the Black Pitts first...and then played the main game after importing with the XP cap off, with a lot of grinding to get some of the best Black Pitts gear in advance you'll be maybe level 11...possibly 12 if you really don't care about spending a long time grinding it out.

    So where does this get you in the main game? Maybe level 13 with the XP Cap removed if you solo?

    It's not a huge leap forward prior to BG2EE. But you'll be stronger in terms of the number of spells you could cast...Thief skill points you can use...traps you can set...special abilities...attacks per round if you're a fighter...and overall lower THAC0.

    This will make the game easier, even on harder settings, but the gear you get as well as the richness of the world you explore are the real reasons to try to be a completion-ist. Honestly it's not a game that hinges on doing everything.
    Post edited by Debaser on
  • shawneshawne Posts: 2,208Member

    Few issues here:

    1. Not everyone thinks that gaining levels = #1 reward. Some people like progressing the story as a reward, and some enjoy gaining new equipment as a reward; neither of which are affected by the XP cap.

    True, but by the same token, most of the side quests in the BG area have nothing to do with story progression. You could easily skip, say, the Ragefist/Ramazith task without missing any subplots. Also, the ability to visit Durlag's Tower before Baldur's Gate means that for all intents and purposes, my party isn't going to find much of anything that actually has value in terms of equipment.

    If the side quests were intricate enough or related to the main storyline in any way, that might be an impetus to proceed... but why should I go and rob the Hall of Wonders when there's nothing in there I can actually use? Why bother with Brielbara's quest? There's no story-based reason to engage these quests, and with a maxed-out party there's no gameplay-related reason to do so either.

    2. The philosophical debate over an XP cap is another discussion. I look at a game like Skyrim which has no official cap (though a soft cap). Due to this, your character becomes insanely powerful, making every battle in the game trivial (even the end boss). I'd rather have a experience cap than to be unstoppable because no challenge = no reason to play for me.

    I agree - I don't actually think removing the XP cap would solve the problem. Yes, it would give me a reason to continue developing my characters through subquests and exploration, but the game isn't designed to accommodate higher-level parties and that's not likely to change.

    3. Balance of XP given out is another point of discussion. You could say that the XP cap be balanced around all awarded XP, just around the main story content, or somewhere in between -I think BG is somewhere in between. Typically, my characters are maxed out before getting to Baldur's Gate because I explore every single corner of the map. If there was no cap, then the battles at the end of the game would be too easy. If you made the end battles harder to compensate, then you've punished people who only played the main story and are much lower level.

    4. I don't believe in "curving" or "dynamic" content based on around character levels, either. Especially in D&D where characters are well-known for being a specific level, the idea of inflating or deflating that based on the player level is insulting.

    I don't know if I'd go so far as considering it "insulting" - the game already has certain mechanisms in place that check your PC's level (ie: specific types of monster spawns) - but... as I said, I don't necessarily have any "solutions" to suggest here. I just think it's deeply problematic for the game to allow a situation where there's no further benefit to exploring additional content.
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Posts: 3,352Member
    shawne said:

    Look, the title of the thread is by it's very nature inflammatory. Your opening post is little more than complaining.

    My opening post is a detailed explanation of what I did during my playthrough - which puts the lie to your claim that my "method of play is atypical" (seriously, how is "go to this map that just opened up and do the side quests" atypical in any way?). And you keep advocating the use of a mod to resolve the issue - if I have to resort to that, then there is an issue in the game that needs resolving.

    And note that I ended my OP with open questions (Has anyone else encountered this problem? Would it be resolved by raising the XP cap?) so... I'm going to go with either trolling or reading comprehension issues. Because intentionally or not, you're not hearing what I'm saying.
    Um....

    Look, no offense was intended, but you are way off base. You can dress it up all you want, but your title is inflammatory. And I am beginning to wonder if that was intentional.

    As for the rest, in what way does your opening 'Put a lie to my claim'?

    You believe that the XP cap is a flaw in the game design =====/===== Average game play doesn't hit the XP cap till late in the game if ever.

    In what way does one pu the lie on the other?

    Also, modding a game in no way means that you are 'Fixing' something that is broken. It does not in any follow that use of a MOD is and can only be done against broken mechanics. If you think it does, then you should probably do some research.

    There are a LOT of mods out there including one to convert the BG items to 3rd Edition. does this mean that all 2nd edition items are broken? No. There are another mods that add various NPC companions. Does that mean the game is broken and unplayable because they aren't in the game? No.

    Finally, sure you asked an open ended question at the end of your post. That in no way invalidates your opening line being inflammatory. Nor does it mean that the rest of your opening post wasn't derogatory and ill informed (not to say that it is, but just as an example).

    So, you have asked the question "Has anyone encountered the problem of hitting the XP cap and having it mean that you can't complete any more quests?" No. I haven't. I have hit the XP cap several times. Once I removed it and advanced exactly 1 level. The other times I merely played on and got more gold, more treasure, more adventuring and more fun and enjoyment out of the game, but it didn't stop me playing.

    How is that?
    DebaserWiggles
  • hummer010hummer010 Posts: 95Member
    The game is broken. By the time I got to BG, I had 30,000 in gold, and nothing to spend it on :)

    All joking aside, for a party of six, the XP cap is pretty meaning less.

    If you look at the level progression tables, most classes hit the next level well north of 200,000, which you probably won't hit even without the cap. So, either you can be gaining experience with no hope of actually gaining a level, or you can just stop gaining experience. At the end of the day, they mean the same thing: no more levels.
    DebaserEudaemonium
  • atcDaveatcDave Posts: 1,581Member
    edited February 2013
    Well this got a little ugly.

    Seriously, this is no big deal either way. The main point of an RPG is playing the character; experiencing the story and exploring the world are close adjuncts of that. I happen to think a professional adventurer however WOULD take seriously the idea of improving their skills and capabilities. It's literally a matter of life and death for the character. THAT is good role playing.

    As a game, balancing is very important. It's more important to the GAME than it is to the CHARACTER. But it is truly silly to panic over game balance every time someone questions the cap. With a cap at 161K experience, characters will need between 60K and 140K to gain an additional level. In a full party, even one additional level will require some significant work. I have no problem with the idea of a player who wants to put in that kind of extra effort getting an extra level for their trouble. Smaller parties may gain an extra level or two more easily, but the trade off is the smaller party! These extra levels categorically will not break the game.
    More high end magic items would be a far bigger problem than an extra level (or two). But guess what. Those powerful, high end, game breaking magic items don't exist in BG unless you cheat them in.
    It will be very difficult to damage game balance in any significant way without a far more egregious cheat than a cap remover. Like maybe finishing Black Pits or BG2 first, then transferring your character over WITH all their stuff. That WILL break game balance pretty badly. But that is not what was being discussed here.

    There is nothing magical or sacred about a 161K experience cap. It is high enough to ensure a character capable of winning the game, so strictly speaking nothing more is needed. If that works for you, don't mess with it.
    But some of us don't like such artificial constraints. If I earn 20K over the cap, I want to see my 20K over the cap. Those higher levels are hard enough to earn, I don't want an artificial and unneeded game balancing mechanism interfering with my professional adventurer's learning and growth.
    Post edited by atcDave on
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • AnduinAnduin Posts: 2,980Member, BG:EE Beta, IWD:EE Beta
    @Bhaaldog Posted a poll asking if you would play the original games again. Most people said that Enhanced Edition would be the way forward, and that few would play the original.

    For me I like the ability to play BG without mods.

    Now don't get me wrong. For the past 12 years I have loved the widescreen mod and all the other mods I have used, such as SCS, Rogue Rebalancing, Unfinished Business, DSofSC (even Hasias and Improved fairydragon and many more!) etc... But a brand new release with full support that CONTINUALLY removes BUGS (a huge issue when using multiple mods) and adds further touches and surprises means that I know longer need to mod. The best content is right here...

    BUT even with the best will in the world... This cap makes me use a mod to remove it.

    A button to turn the xp cap off or on would be the best solution.

    However flaw is an inflammatory word @shawne . I got your back, I agree with you on this one, we have swapped insightfuls before. But please don't put the word flaw and our precious BG together.

    It makes me want to go all bhaalspawn on your hiney.

    Euphemisms aside. How about using the edit button and changing the thread title to... In my opinion, the xp cap has caused grief to many players... And watch the discussion grow and swell.

    *mutters to self* "need to leave teacher mode at school, need to leave teacher mode at school... But we can let the kids fight on here till they spit blood! BAD TEACHER! NO! Got to be a role model. Pufty what have they done to you! I wanted infravision like the elves... but tis more than just taking there eyes..."
    Eleutheros
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
    Anduin
  • DebaserDebaser Posts: 630Member
    edited February 2013
    atcDave said:

    Well this got a little ugly.

    Seriously, this is no big deal either way. The main point of an RPG is playing the character; experiencing the story and exploring the world are close adjuncts of that. I happen to think a professional adventurer however WOULD take seriously the idea of improving their skills and capabilities. It's literally a matter of life and death for the character. THAT is good role playing.

    As a game, balancing is very important. It's more important to the GAME than it is to the CHARACTER. But it is truly silly to panic over game balance every time someone questions the cap. With a cap at 161K experience, characters will need between 60K and 140K to gain an additional level. In a full party, even one additional level will require some significant work. I have no problem with the idea of player who wants to put in that kind of extra effort getting an extra level for their trouble. Smaller parties may gain an extra level or two more easily, but the trade off is the smaller party! These extra levels categorically will not break the game.
    More high end magic items would be a far bigger problem than an extra level (or two). But guess what. Those powerful, high end, game breaking magic items don't exist in BG unless you cheat them in!
    It will be very difficult to damage game balance in any significant way without a far more egregious cheat than a cap remover. Like maybe finishing Black Pits or BG2 first, then transferring your character over WITH all their stuff. That WILL break game balance pretty badly. But that is not what was being discussed here.

    There is nothing magical or sacred about a 161K experience cap. It is high enough to ensure a character capable of winning the game, so strictly speaking nothing more is needed. If that works for you, don't mess with it.
    But some of us don't like such artificial constraints. If I earn 20K over the cap, I want to see my 20K over the cap. Those higher levels are hard enough to earn, I don't want an artificial and unneeded game balancing mechanism interfering with my professional adventurer's learning and growth.

    @atcDave @hummer010 @the_spyder @shawne @bigdogchris @Bercon @FinneousPJ @subtledoctor @Anduin @Fardragon @Madhax @ryuken87 ~


    IMPORTANT FACTS:

    As I recall when you import from Vanilla BG1 to Vanilla BG2 the experience you earned that doesn't register in your character sheet IS ADDED at the start of the next game.

    So lets say I capped at a level 10 thief and the game ended...but when my new game in BG2 starts I'm halfway to level 11 already since XP you could see in Gatekeeper / Shadowkeeper is now applied.

    *After writing this out I checked on an old computer with the original games and this is TRUE

    **Also I just CONFIRMED THIS TO ALSO WORK IN BGEE THE SAME WAY ESSENTIALLY...as long as the XP cap removed using a character in the Black Pitts I just loaded up who went from where he was left at 10 to 11 from previous ginding efforts before installing the mod to test, so going to BG2EE where the level limit is raised would work the same way.


    What you can take from this is that the cap keeps things at a certain difficulty for BG1 but the reward of being a completionist IS eventually applied in the next game.

    Post edited by Debaser on
    neleotheszeRedWizard
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 3,675
    edited February 2013
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
    Post edited by [Deleted User] on
    Debaserneleothesze
  • Awong124Awong124 Posts: 2,560Member
    I raised the cap to 250k, and just reached it at the final battle.
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