Playing City of Heroes with the Giant Monster code gave me some inspiration about how to make a level-less system play like a leveled game. Ignoring the ground-breaking sidekick and exemplar mechanics, how can players of disparate levels cooperate against foes, and can this be expanded to the entire game?
Flattening levels is almost entirely dependent on scaling. A low level character is hit by the monster for 5% of his hit points just like a high level, before resists and mitigation. However, a high level character has 500 or 1000 hit points available, while a low level has 100 or 150. Likewise, damage done by the player against the monster must scale: to the high level, the monster has 2000 hit points, while to the low level, it’s more like 200.
A high level still kills it faster because he’s specialized or has (in general) more and higher damage attacks. A low level, used to fighting mobs with low pools of hit points, may only do 10 hit points per attack against mobs of 70 hits (roughly 14%) while a high level may do 200 hit points against a mob with 2000 hits (roughly 10%)–the damage output of players can’t scale the same way monster attacks do or else groups would be zergs of low level characters. Assume scaling based on specialization or customization of the character, plus an inherent bonus based on level, such that the low level does 3.5% or 5% damage while the high level keeps the relatively powerful 10% figure.
Formula and proof of concept later.