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reaperpi

A Fun, Realistic, and Balanced Approach to Strength leveling

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reaperpi

So I got Tarkov a few weeks ago and have been grinding away at the normal Tarkov journey when I hit a pretty hard roadblock in upgrading my stash: Vents 3, and by extension, Strength 3.

I did some research and math, and it seems like the most efficient way to level my strength (it’s level 1 right now) would be to throw 553 grenades across 90 raids, which would cost at least 500k rubles. As it stands, the only other options would be tons of melee attacks or 60+ kilometers of walking overweight.

I’ve studied exercise physiology since I was 15, and strength training since I was around 20, so I thought I might be uniquely qualified to share some thoughts on how Tarkov could implement a solution that is simultaneously fun, realistic, and balanced.

 

(I’ll add a TLDR at the bottom as well)

 

Measuring Strength

 

The first problem we need to solve to link Tarkov to the real world is to quantify how we measure strength, and how that measurement ties into physical performance. Fortunately, that’s relatively simple.

 

In the real world, tons of studies show that exercises like squat, deadlift, and clean and jerk are heavily correlated with both jump height, load carrying, and sprint speed.

 

A couple links to scientific studies if interested:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8551766_Strong_Correlation_of_Maximal_Squat_Strength_With_Sprint_Performance_and_Vertical_Jump_Height_in_Elite_Soccer_Players

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.457.9987&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

This is pretty much what Tarkov does: more strength = faster sprinting, higher jumping, farther throws, bigger loads carried.

 

Strength is Tarkov would probably correspond to deadlift, squat, bench, and possibly overhead press (also likely relative to bodyweight) in a real world PMC. Pretty straightforward.

 

Increasing Strength

 

So Tarkov has a fairly realistic set of outputs for strength: great! How do we model growing it?

 

I’d suggest we start by looking at the Westside Barbell method, a training method which has resulted in numerous record breaking lifts, helped me personally hit a 400lb deadlift, and fittingly enough, is HEAVILY inspired by Soviet weightlifting methodology (clearly a fit for Tarkov ;).

 

Link to a summary of the ideas: https://www.westside-barbell.com/blogs/2007-articles/strength-training-methods

 

Basically, strength can be trained in 3 ways (2 of which most lifters don’t know or think about). Maximal force, maximum velocity, and repitition (usually to failure). Repitition is the classic 8-12 reps to failure, maximal force is 90-105% of 1 rep max in 1-3 rep sets, maximum velocity is 40% of 1 rep max in 1-3 rep sets (cleans, jumps, and other explosive movements can do this too).

 

What does this look like in tarkov?

 

Strength should increase when you

-Sprint or jump (anything that decreases lower body stamina) with more experience gained when going to failure. If you’re overweight or critically overweight, the experience should go up even more to a point.

-Hit or aim a weapon, more experience again gained when going to failure. Grenades should drain upper body stamina if they don’t already

-Walk while overweight, with a significant increase in experience gained while critical overweight (see further balancing below)

A quick note that extremely explosive movement (jumps/throws/sprints) from full stamina should be significantly more powerful than movement at low stamina since force output is at maximum, AND should also generate more strength experience than movement in the mid-range because the velocity is higher. A cue might be required to help players be consistent with grenade throws.

 

Balancing this in Tarkov

 

So how do you balance this in Tarkov? From what I’ve heard (before my time), streamers found ways to quickly level strength to max using sprinting/jumping and other means.

 

It sounds like the response was removing some ways of gaining strength experience (not good) and the addition of diminishing returns on skill experience in raid (very good).

 

I’d propose the answer to this problem is really simple: why can’t someone become super strong super fast in real life? The answer is pretty simple: they get tired and burnt out.

 

Westside’s training methods (and Russian training methods) tend to pretty sharply limit the amount of intense workouts that happen in a week (or at least regiment them heavily with large volum). In fact, if you workout enough, you can actually stunt the progress you’ve made.

 

What this would look like in Tarkov: make the skill progression speed reduction MUCH more aggressive… and in some cases even going negative.

 

I’d advocate a higher starting progression speed… possibly as much as 200% because limited workouts/training consistently can have a huge effect. Then drop down to 100%, but then drop progressively to 25%, 0%, or even -25%. Potentially make the time penalties larger if you want too. Realistically (thought maybe not practically) those penalties would extend across raids if you did a lot back to back. That might be implemented however. You might tie the penalties to energy and hydration at some level as well.

 

This would incentivize players to consistently train their skills during normal play because the initial skill leveling is so high, BUT heavily punish grinding. This makes sense in real life: consistency wins in strength development, and overtraining has serious consequences and diminishing returns vs simple consistent work over time.

 

Further balancing while making the game more interesting

 

Let’s be honest though, there are MUCH more interesting and immediate consequences to the activities leading to strength growth though. Anyone who’s every done a squat workout that leaves them barely able to walk can attest to this.

 

I’d suggest part of the approach balancing grinding is actually around the gameplay mechanics here. Sprinting/jumping/running has serious consequences and has the opportunity to make Tarkov more interesting… and even more hardcore.

 

The guiding principle is to turn the physiology stats (health, energy, hydration, arm stamina, leg stamina) into a dynamic system that works together.

 

Change list

-Stamina regen is proportional to current health (which represents the cardiovascular system). This allows for gameplay like wounding an enemy player in the woods so they’re slower and easier to track down and catch, and adds more tension to taking damage in combat.

-Blacked limbs significantly reduce total stamina in the appropriate area. You might even be able to replace the normal limb penalty here since you’re effectively getting locked in the red part of the stamina bar if this happens, or at very least have basically a few milimeters of green before you go to red. (See below)

-Add the fatigue effect for low leg stamina, and the tremor effect for low arm stamina, which can go through painkillers (though stims might be able to take this away). Make the tremor effect reduce melee damage.

-If you zero arm or leg stamina, add a pain effect that persists until the stamina isn’t red anymore.

-Increase energy and hydration drain when moving, any time stamina is below max, and significantly when in the red.

-Optional: increase jump height/move and sprint speed/aim steadiness and other forms of physical output near the top of the stamina bar

-Optional: make the stamina bar regen faster at the bottom, slower at the top to balance the above. It takes longer to recover peak strength than to recover basic strength.

-Optional: any time stamina is drained, and ESPECIALLY when drained in the red, temporarily reduce the total size of the stamina bar. Somewhat covered by energy, but there should be some long term cost in a raid. Might be better to just make stamina regen proportional to energy and hydration in addition to health in some way though.

(Easiest way to model this IMO is to create a differential equation where stamina regen amount is proportional to energy and hydration loss, and make it so stamina regens faster in the red, slower at the top. This would create a smoother system with fewer thresholds, but would be harder to understand).

 

TLDR Summary

-Strength goes up when sprinting, aiming, jumping, throwing, melee attacks, walking while overweight (more experience while critical overweight).

-Health damage reduces stamina regen, blacked limbs reduce total arm and leg stamina

-Actions with a full stamina bar are more powerful/faster/stronger and generate more XP (while the bar is close to full) since the speed is higher.

-Actions with a low stamina bar generate more XP, but also trigger a tremor/fatigue affect in the red (tremor for arms, fatigue for legs) and pain if they zero out, and increase energy and hydration loss.

-Skill progression speed starts at 200%, but goes down to 25%, 0%, or potentially even -25% over the course of a raid (to simulate overtraining vs consistent training)

 

I hope this was interesting, and hopefully Nikita sees this :)

 

Please share any comments, questions, or suggestions below.

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reaperpi

Edit: removed the idea of leveling strength while aiming. MAYBE you level a bit of strength when aiming takes arm stamina to 0, but there's no hip movement which is usually the driver of explosive power in almost every movement, and it's been pointed out that's a very easy system to game (hide in a bush and ADS).

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