[MUD-Dev] Re: Levels (was: Administrative notes)

Nathan Yospe yospe at hawaii.edu
Sun May 25 13:21:15 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

On Sun, 25 May 1997, Adam Wiggins wrote:

:[Chris L:]
:> > But the key point is that you
:> > said, "..having to go.."  I dislike requiring a certain 'guildmaster'
:> > to teach you some skill past a certain number.  I like the idea of
:> > teachers, books, etc being able to greatly aid your learning, but I
:> > dislike *having* to hunt down some mob just to be able to continue my
:> > studies.

:> Agreed.  This is was much of the meat of my argument.  I dislike
:> having to hunt down a mobile...yada yada to get a known skill.  The
:> equation instatly becomes:

:>   Want XXX skill == Find YYY mobile/player == Get him to teach me ==
:> Maybe have to do something he asks first.

:> Boring.  Simplistic.  Inelegant.  Dumb.

:Maybe, although if you had an equation *this* complex you'd already be
:ahead of 75% of muds out there.

:Want XXX skill == kill more mobiles == gain a level, learn skill


Anything is preferable to that.

:> I want a choice of possible paths.  Thus I proposed the basic "think"
:> verb and the possibility of a lone player deriving a new skill without
:> external help.  I don't think its a *good* solution (actually I think
:> its a lousey idea), but it at least offers a seperate model and
:> compleatly different path to take for skill advancement.  Now at least
:> the equation is:

:You can learn skills from many different people (mobiles or players),
:books, or even by just seeing someone else doing it.  Many skills
:are considered 'implict' - you may not know the first thing about swiming,
:but if someone picks you up and tosses you into a lake, you will find
:yourself learning pretty quickly.
:In fact...I'm having trouble thinking of any skills that aren't implicit
:in this way.  You try to sneak around, your stealth-related skills go
:up.  You spend a lot of time in the forest, your botany-related skills go
:up.  Maybe this is because we have really simple skills (a benefit of
:being a fantasy world) - there's no "brain surgery" or "solving 6 variable
:integration functions" skills.  The only thing I can think of right off
:hand that you *can't* learn on your own is elementalism, because this requires
:that certain pathways be forged in your body by someone else who can focus
:elemental energy.  This isn't necessarily skill-related, though, in the
:same way that religion isn't.  You can know everything about a certain god,
:but if that god doesn't like you, you aren't gonna get any help from that
:quarter.  By the same token, if you're the apple of that god's eye, he may
:step in and catch a death blow or save you from starvation without you doing
:anything at all.

:>   Want XXX skill == (Find YYY mobile/player == Get him to teach me ==
:> Maybe have to do something he asks first) or (sit down and see if
:> light dawns).

:> Still boring.  Less simplistic.  Still inelegant.  Still dumb.  It is
:> at least some improvement.

:*shurg*...as I'm sure you know, it's far easier to just go to the library
:and read up on whatever topic you're interested in than to sit down
:and try to figure out how it works without any knoweldge of it whatsoever,
:so I can't imagine why anyone would ever bother doing the second.

:> I'd love to think of a reasonably elegant way to turn this into at
:> least three or four simultaneous equations.

:How about:

:(find a teacher) or (see someone else do it, and try to immitate them) or
:(read a book about it) or (stumble upon it by accident)

That, and practice, practice, practice until you get it right. I like this
a lot. I think most of it is almost implicit in my system now, thanks to
the skillnet and the memorynet. Still, more allowance for immitation is a
good idea.

:The last would be things like getting tossed into a lake and learning the
:rudiments of treading water, or even something along the lines of:

:> l plaque
:It is inscribed with the words, 'Kaltu Veratus Niktu'
:> ' hmmm, you know what "Klatu Veratus Niktu" means?
:You say, 'hmmm, you know what "Klatu Veratus Niktu" means?'
:The earth begins to tremble...

:For learning how to 'cast' spells.  In this case your spellcasting
:would be highly manual - to cast a spell, you say some magic words, wave
:your arms around, whatever...as opposed to an explict 'cast' command.

:alias {earthquake} {wave arms around;trace rune in the air;say Klatu;get
:dust pack;throw dust into the air;say Veratus;hold arms aloft;close eyes;
:shout Niktu}

Ooh, I like this! If I had magic, this is how I'd do it. A lot more fun
than "cast earthquake" "You utter the words 'ArgleBargleGlubbaDikuDumba'".

:> >Good point.  I'm also thinking of the early days of the mud - with
:> >only 30 people online most of the time, your chances of finding
:> >someone who knows exactly what you want to learn is next to nothing.

:> With such a low population for your world, you expect them to have
:> derived a complex and detailed field of skills?

:That's my point.  30 people aren't the 'world', they are the players.
:If you have skills only teachable by players, it's gonna be rather difficult
:for those at the begining.  I suppose there's nothing wrong with that,
:exactly, but I want the game playable on Day 1.

One thing is, if you have enemies, they are another source of learning.
"Hey, he holds this funny sharp pointy stick by the round end and swings
down with it! Let me try that!" I do this with alien design weapons... you
either investigate the weapon and hope you are not pointing the barrel at
yourself or pull proper usage from your memorynet.

:> This is actually more in reference to another internal debate of mine. 
:> Many/most MUDs presume an internal hidden population which keep
:> everything running.  I think Jon referred to them as a the
:> "Sim-Peeps".  Few to no MUDs are going to stock their city with 700
:> mobiles just have a decent simulation.

:Nope, but I find that forty or fifty is plenty.  More like a village than
:a city, but it's fine with me.

If these things are being generated on the fly (or at least, not formally
existing when a player is around, and being updated to state when the
player gets near) you can afford hundreds of people per city, or more. I
have anonymous crowds all over the place. Its only when you focus on
specifics that members of the crowd become real, rather than virtual. This
allows you to generate bits like "A nerdy guy stumbles against you. A
small child jostles you aside. A big fat person shoves you aside. You
notice that your hip is strangely lighter." >look nerdy "The nerdy guy is
apologizing to a woman he has crashed into." >look fat "The big fat person
is taking a breather in a nearby store entrance." >look child "You catch
sight of the small child darting into an alley." >chase child "You take
off after the small child, and are three steps into the alley before you
remember what a rough city this is. Something explodes in the back of your

:>   Aside:  While I understand the reasons for this, both in
:> playability, system resources, and sheer work load to create that many
:> unique mobiles, I also think its a crying shame.  I would love to see
:> someone attempt it.

:If you wanted to this, you'd just automatically generate them.  Not
:terribly exciting.

Oh, I dunno. With a set of templates and variable features, you get the
above. I find it rather exciting.

:> My debate is over whether I should even postulate the existance of
:> Sim-Peeps, virtual or realised.  My tendancy is to arrange the world
:> so that players are the only actual intelligences in the game, and
:> that this is a known feature of the world (cf a multi-player Myst). 
:> Then mobiles become the shadows of deranged and descended
:> intelligences (cf Heinleinian Puppet Masters, David-brin-esque raised
:> chimps/dogs, demons nailed to this weary mortal coil).

That makes for a rather eirie and fun world... let me know when its open
to visitors.

:That works well.  I'm pretty fond of the old mud-standby where the
:players are the brave and adventurous heros and heroines, whereas the
:mobiles are the boring work-a-days wandering about tilling fields and
:mending shirts, and going "ooh" and "ah" at the players and their daring

I prefer the mobiles to be a mix, ranging from the poor pickpocket in some
unnamed city on some backwater planet to the high commander of the
federation of sapients marine corps.

:> >We don't consider intelligence as having anything to do with
:> >reasoning. Intelligence is, for our purposes, the speed at which your
:> >neural net (brain) adapts to new inputs.  This says nothing about
:> >your character's knowledge or ability to reason.

:> In which case a better definition for your IQ stat might be,
:> "Perceptive ability", no?

:We have a stat, "perception", which is used heavily (possibly more than
:any other stat, although the things it affects tend to be less earthshattering
:than the other stats).  Most of the people I know that are stunningly
:intelligent are also about as perceptive as a deaf horse wearing blinders.
:Perception == awareness of surroundings
:Intelligence == speed of learning new concepts

I have three "learning curve" stats... reasoning, repition, and rapidness.
Between the three, they fill what you have for intelligence. Perception is
broken into each sense, detail orientation, recall, suspicion (which
affects several other things, and would, for example, have told you right
away that the kid had stolen your wallet, and probably allowed you to grab
him, if you had the skills for it.), and a few others. You start to see
why skills pretty much take care of themselves? The skillnet is weighted
to stats, which are sympathetic to skills, which... well, its a properly
weighted two layer neural net with local truncation, if you know what
that means.

   __    _   __  _   _   ,  ,  , ,  
  /_  / / ) /_  /_) / ) /| /| / /\            First Light of a Nova Dawn
 /   / / \ /_  /_) / \ /-|/ |/ /_/            Final Night of a World Gone
Nathan F. Yospe - University of Hawaii Dept of Physics - yospe at hawaii.edu

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