[MUD-Dev] Level abstractions - Realism vs Game Issues

Jon A. Lambert jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com
Sat Jun 28 01:06:52 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

> From: Caliban Tiresias Darklock <caliban at darklock.com>
> On Wed, 25 Jun 1997 21:46:32 PST8PDT, "Jon A. Lambert"
> It sounds to me like you're actually using levels in combination with
> some other elements, rather than JUST levels as I was discussing.
> Perhaps I should have called it:
> 	Pure levels in the absence of any and all other information 
> 	pertaining to the skills and abilities of the character 
   There are some here who do away with levels entirely.  Nathan
for instance, provides dynamic skill adjustment as actions are 
performed or through time or lack of performance.  (Hope I am 
close on this Nathan.)  Very realistic IMO.  I rather like it
as it's been explained; as well as the other skill-based
advancement systems.  

--I have some game considerations which I've decided preclude the 
  use of this and will attempt to elaborate on them.

   I prefer to store the result of all actions in the form of a point 
tally (XPs).  At a point-in-time the character will receive enough
of these points to advance (a level).  At this point a character
may "develop" the character (resource management, as someone pointed
out)  Sounds pretty much standard so far.
   However, it will take an extremely long time to advance a level in my 
game should one pursue the game only in this way.  There is a severe
declining-balance award for repetition of actions.  

   I have an also have an array of standardized but subjective rewards 
for role-play.  Guidelines for the Game Masters.  These are often highly 
subjective that I find it quite difficult to automate the task of 
awarding all of these points via the server.  Perhaps 40-50% of a 
characters advancement points will be assigned in this way, maybe more.  
I can automate some of these awards, questing and puzzle solving, but 
these things still play a small part in my game.  

   For this to occur, my game requires the services of GMs (game masters),
much like any RPG.  I don't consider this to be a problem area, 
although I am well aware of the arguments against this (trust, 
favoritism, abuse, etc.) 

   When one advances a level, a character does not automatically receive 
any gains from the game.  They receive a number of development points
which may be spent in a number of ways.  This is not restricted to 
skills. The argument against this is that characters may choose to 
develop skills that they have not actually exercised within the game.
This is a very valid point.  

I have three arguments against this based on game issues.

1)  In game terms, the player's character is always present in world.  
The player is usually not.  I make the assumption that character is doing 
something during this time to advance these skills that they wish to 
develop.  Typically this time is greater compared with the time the 
player is in control. (Although, I have heard cases of mud addiction 
where this wouldn't hold)  

2)  My interest is in creating an RPG environment.  It is often the
case that much time is spent in interaction and not action.  I don't
wish to discourage this "idle" time in any way.  If anything it is
rewarded with the RP awards I mentioned above.    

3)  Providing for total player controlled development.  In an RPG system,
a player usually wants the ability to manage resources and guide the
physical and mental development of their character.  While having the
server automate this based on live action is realistic, I think it
might well run counter to player goals in an RPG.    


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