GSW asks a lot about what "progression" in a game really means:|
There are at least two distinct types of progression in computer games, which I?ll label player progression, and character progression (narrative progression is arguably a third). Player progression is the increasing aptitude of the player in mastering the game: whether through learning and understanding the technical rules of the game (surface play) or the implications of those rules (deep play). He makes some excellent points... many of which I wish game designers were forced to study. We'd certainly have less shovelware titles if designers had clearer goals and understanding of how progression in their games (player, character, and plot) should happen.
Character progression is the unlocking of additional rules of play, or altering the existing rules, by choices or actions within the game. The most common unlock is the ability: an additional in-game interaction that the player?s avatar can choose to do. But scaling upwards existing abilities is just as common in the RPG space. And sometimes, particular once the whole set of game abilities has been unlocked, or at the conclusion of the game prologue, abilities can be removed ? usually through the convention of capturing the character, or having them narrowly avoiding death.