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

Adam Wiggins nightfall at user1.inficad.com
Mon May 26 21:48:50 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

[Chris L:]
> >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.
> Having learnt swimming precisely this way, and also taught others the
> same, some interesting stats:
>   Take an infant of less than 3 years, toss them in a pool and they
> will very competantly swim and keep their head above water.
>   After 3 years do the same thing and watch them *glub* their way to
> the bottom.

Well, now we're entering into the realm of learning windows, all that
stuff the cog sci people have been arguing over of late.  For purposes
of both playability and codability, I'm ignoring this.  I don't mind that
a player could actively try to learn how to swim by wading into the river,
even without any instruction at 30 years of age.  Nor do I mind that your
character can learn a language to what is basically being able to speak
like a native, even though I'm aware that it doesn't actually work quite
like this...you need to learn certain language contructs and sounds before
a certain age to be able to ever do them 'perfectly'...but I don't plan
on having five year olds running all over the mud trying to learn everything
they possibly can before they exit the learning window.

> I'll also note that this technique does teach the ability to stay
> afloat and breathing air.  It does very little for ones locomotion
> skills in water.  Spending time in a pool with a kickboard and/or an
> instructor who knows what a proper stroke is conversely does a lot.

True.  Again, I don't find that interesting enough to warrant breaking it
into multiple skills, although our skill tree is set up to be extensible
enough that we could add sub-skills to swimming without ruining the existing

> there -- I make a six figure income as a programmer, yet have no
> formal education in computing, nor any college degree or college
> education at all for that matter.  I'm compleatly self taught.  As
> such I have a lot of practical skills and a very strong awareness of
> what is actually useful and what is not for RL programming.  However,
> my theory is weak, and this is starting to painfully show as I get
> into some of the more complex areas such as parallel processing et al.

Probably many of us here fall into that category.  I know I do.
However, I don't necessarily equate 'lack of formal education' to
'lack of learned knowledge.'  I checked out or bought every book on anything
even mildly related to programming that came out (which wasn't much, back
then)...read posts on Fidonet, Relaynet, and later USENET...read every
dusty UNIX reference guide and compiler manual I could get my hands on,
etc etc.  So while it is true that the vast amount of my 'knowledge',
like yours, is from actually doing, it would be insane to think that I
just got my hands on an old computer and figured out everything, from
the ground up.

> Yup, Bubba sneaking about the woods is going to get better at
> sneaking, and his awareness of the difference between poison oak and
> ivy is likely to increase.  However, Bubba's ability to become a
> Master Sneaker is likely to be stunted due to his lack of theory and
> inherited knowledge in the area (received education/skills). 

I like to think of it less as 'stunting' and more of that some good
instruction will do wonders for him.  (Maybe this is just a half full/half
empty argument...)  You can learn normally on your own, although most
skills require some sort of interaction anyhow.  (If you practise sneaking
all the time when there's no one around anyhow, you're not going to learn
all that much.  Sneaking up on deer or other wild animals...now you're
getting somewhere.)

> Similarly his wonderful and ultimately personal diligence and ability
> in knowing what is and is not poison oak (and whi its not smart to
> hide in it), is not likely to get him to start getting him to think
> about herbal remedies, monocotyledons vs dicotyledons, suitability of
> various woods for firewood and specific cooking tasks, biotype
> formation, ecology management etc.

True, but again I've left things a lot cruder than this.  You don't *have*
to think about those things, even though the mud models them.  You just
know that the juice of a greeblewaffer berry does wonders for staving off
infection, or that the leaf of a black lotus makes a deadly poison.
Now, I actually model chemical effects (antiseptics and paralytic agents,
in this case) to make it easier for me to create a huge number of plants
that all work with the same basic components - but they players may or
may not realize this.  I don't care, frankly...as long as it all works
the way it should.

> >(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)
> Because only the first of those is a causitive approach by the player,
> all the rest are passive.  I want something where Bubba will have
> multiple options when he determinedly goes out to gain a new XXX
> skill.

Nod...although I don't think you quite see my point.  Ie, when you start
the game, you have no idea what skills even exist in the world.  You
can only go out, explore, and see what you stumble upon.  Granted, they
may actively try to hunt down a certain set of skills - ie, you hear
that there are a group of monks who live somewhere up in the dragonspire
mountains that are masters at unarmed combat.  You may seek them out
and find that they refuse to even talk to anyone, much less teach them -
but you may try to observe them from afar to see what techniques you can
pick up.  You may decide, "Huh - caring for my weapon is such a pain.
I wonder if I could learn to fight effectively with my bare hands?" and
just stop wielding a weapon.  This will be a very *slow* way to learn, but
you will learn.  Reading a book about it is, in all fairness, in the same
category as finding a teacher.  The difference is that you usually don't
have to convince the book to teach you or pay it a teacher's fee, and
the book teaches only theoretical knowledge and not applied knowledge.
But seeking out a book is just the same as seeking out a teacher.  (Books
are mostly used for more cerebral skills, specifically theology,
thaumaturgy, alchemy and the like.)
I consider all these things non-passive.

> >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.
> Hehn.  Just don't remove logged out players from the game then.

My point was - the mud comes online.  The first player, *ever*, logs on.
Where does he learn his skills?  Even after its been up for a while, likely
there are still a small number of players in the database and most of those
are probably completely unskilled.

At any rate, I'm pretty happy with all the methods for learning new skills
that I've outlined above and in other posts.  Obviously, you're looking
for something different - I'm wondering what that is?  Something less
exploration-oriented, perhaps?

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