[MUD-Dev] Levels: An abstraction of character abilities.

Jon A. Lambert jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com
Thu May 15 11:24:45 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

> From: clawrenc at cup.hp.com
> >> On Fri 09 May, Miroslav Silovic wrote:
> >Now while this addresses the problem of making people *not* fight, it
> >doesn't give them other things to do. Another problem you didn't
> >mention is that on many MUDs, the fastest way to get experience (and
> >rise in power) is by killing mobs. (for that matter, I wonder how
> >would giving negative XP for killing affect the player base *evil
> >snicker*).
> I'm firmly of the view that levels, classes, XP, HP etc should have
> been adandoned long long ago as models for a game.  They promote
> short-circuited silly solutions to really quite enjoyable problems.
I thought I'd start new threads out of these concepts.  This one
relating specifically to the Level abstraction.

I both agree and disagree with you.  I think the problem lies in the
current use of these abstractions.  Many muds derived from DIKU
and some LP libs are basing these abstractions on the game D&D
which I think is quite a poor system for attempting to model reality.

Take levels for instance.  In DIKU and in D&D, a character's level
has great effects on combat, spell use, etc.  Its almost an absolute
indicator of a relative power.   Its no wonder that the primary goal
of such systems is "to level".  The abstraction has become the 
the goal of the game.  D&D is purported to be an RPG, though
it is crippled by system mechanics which make the game equipment
driven, since the only way to mitigate level differences is to have
better and badder equipment.  Thus the term "level" has a very bad

I use levels as an abstraction of the learning process which is really
an analog state.  Its much like the model of a public school system.
While it is reasonable to suspect that one at the 11th grade level is more
developed than one at an 6th grade level, there is no way of knowing 
which of these students is more proficient in dagger or which is more 
proficient in fireballs.  The primary difference between the 6th and 11th 
grader is time (age).  That is my use of character levels.  They are just
general markers in time that indicate opportunity for development.

I also use levels in skill development.  I call them ranks.  This is a more 
solid guideline on which to measure proficiency.  Its much like a karate 
school that teaches one specific skill.  A rank of 20 in sweeps and throws 
is certainly more proficient than rank 10.  How does this relate to the
general character level above?  Well if we assume the 6th and 11th grader 
are both karate fanatics, there is a good chance the 11th grader is further
along in their training.  This is still a simplification as I also take into 
account natural ability (stats & talents) and adolescent background 
(cultural, social & professional).  

I guess its also important to say, that there is no way of knowing 
anothers level in any general way, except through social interaction
or through observation of one exercising a given skill.  As a sidenote,
I also allow a number of skills like "mimicry" which allow a character to
fake skills they may have observed in others. 

> Bubba warns, "Back off Boffo! I'm a grand master of Foo!"
> Bubba waves his arms about and assumes the traditional Foo Monkey

So in large part the concept of "levels" is internal to the game system and
not "external".  As such I have my qualms about making it visible to 
the player.  I am also aware that human animals love to measure each other.
( particularly, males of this species *grin* )


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