Created By: Recon5 on July 29, 2013 Last Edited By: Recon5 on July 30, 2013

Straight Upgrade Alternative

Multiple versions of a game element are all available but the strongest is also the most useful.

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This is a very early WIP. It's an extremely common phenomenon and there are definitely many nuances that my reference pools are too small to cover.

This trope is encountered when the Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness is applied without removing or locking out elements that are lower on the ladder. The option to use both the old skill or weapon and its upgrade simultaneously exists but in most practical situations there is no reason to devote a separate control input or points/Mana etc. to the former.

Using this structure allows the developers to inflate the amount of variety they advertise in their game. For instance, they can truthfully claim that their game has sixty skills to choose from when most players will only be using the current most powerful stage in each of six ten-step progression lines. In an FPS, a double barreled shotgun and a single barreled shotgun are still two separate weapons even if they are identical in every respect other than the former having more stopping power per shot.

This 'variety' is illusory, however, as there's no point in allowing a player to hotkey Fireball I through X if using one puts all on Cooldown and carrying both types of shotguns is a waste of space or time scrolling through the arsenal if they draw from the same ammo supply at the same rate. On the Metagame level, skills A, B and C may have completely different mechanics but if their tactical purpose is the same and C is by far the most efficient then there's arguably only one option instead of the three presented.

A common method of streamlining this system is to have any upgrades permanently replace all previous versions of a weapon or skill. Alternatively, each version may only be available in limited quantity or have limited durability and players are forced to stock up on downgrades in case the upgrades are depleted. Finally, there's always the option of letting all versions be used in quick succession or integrating them into a Combo, allowing a savvy player to Spam Attack.

Community Feedback Replies: 3
  • July 29, 2013
    Laconic plz?

    BTW this sounds like Sorting Algorithm Of Weapon Effectiveness.
  • July 29, 2013
    A different perspective on the same trope. In a game where Adam Smith doesn't hate your guts, the upgrades will replace the outmodes. That's pretty much the only time this trope won't apply.

    In Batman Arkham Asylum, the grappler gets an upgrade, but you can only use the upgraded version. So this trope doesn't apply, while SAOWE does.
  • July 30, 2013
    Added reference to the Algorithm. I thought we had something similar elsewhere.