One of the most important roles as a games designer is the game balance. It’s not the most exciting part of the job by a long shot but a game with poor balance can frustrate and annoy a player, leading them to quit the game and never load it up again.
There are of course many elements to a game’s balance, with each new feature adding an order of magnitude to the things needed on your spreadsheet. Therefore it is important to have something constant from which to measure the rest of your game. A levelling system is ideal for this as it runs through the core of the game and is visible from the first second to the last.
We’ll all be familiar with level-up systems in games; in the beginning you’ll be climbing levels with ease but the more you play the longer it will take to reach new levels. Rather than pick numbers at random, I instead use a kind of Fibonacci sequence.
Put simply, the next number in a Fibonacci sequence is the sum of the previous two numbers e.g. 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144… etc.
Fibonacci creates a sequence of numbers that produce an exponential curve, which is exactly what we want from a level-up system. Using Fibonacci you can work out the level-up thresholds in a few clicks, you may need to do a bit more tweaking but the template is there to work from so you save a huge amount of time.
If you can determine the level-up unlocks early in the design process, balancing other parts of the game should become much easier.