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

Nathan Yospe yospe at hawaii.edu
Tue Jul 1 09:20:44 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

On Sun, 29 Jun 1997, Jon A. Lambert wrote:

:> From: Caliban Tiresias Darklock <caliban at darklock.com>
:> Subject: [MUD-Dev] Level abstractions - Realism vs Game Issues
:> On Fri, 27 Jun 1997 22:07:31 PST8PDT, "Jon A. Lambert"
:> <jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com> wrote:
:> I like the idea of doing away with levels entirely, and instead using an
:> array of skills. I also like these skills to increase with practice, but
:> through experience points. In other words:
:I understand.  You subdivide the global XP total into XP counters for each
:skill and assign points when the skill is exercised.

Hmmm. Crude, still. A start, though.

:> 	You use a skill: you get an XP. 
:> 	You succeed: you get another XP.

:I assign XP for failure also.

I use a bell curve assignment. Failure teaches a highly skilled person,
where sucess teaches a skilless person (actually, it is a LOT more
complicated than that, as sucess factors into maintainance of a high
skill, and failure increases short term chances on a poor skill
[desparation points])

:> 	That XP is applied to that skill.
:Right. I prefer to keep the abstraction and put it all of it in a global 
:pool for some of the game reasons I mentioned earlier.  Your method
:comes closer to "realism".

And a bit closer to mine, but still a bit off...

:> 	When the XP applied to a skill is equal to the skill's level,
:> 		the skill goes up by one point.
:> 	When the skill is at its maximum level, the XP instead goes into
:> 		a surplus XP pool.
:> 	The surplus XP pool is used to buy new skills that one does not
:> 		have, as well as to increase base statistics. 

:Nathan has some interesting ideas about how increases in certain skills
:will pull along other skills.  For instance, activity improving a 
:"writing" skill will affect the "reading" skill.  Its sort of like
:related skill categories/groups.  
:Hint: Why don't you repost some of your skill-net goodies, Nathan?

Yeah, yeah (what is this, the fourth hint I've gotten?)

OK, this is on the fly, as I don't have access to my earlier notes right

Each player has an array of values coresponding to a set of existing
skills and attributes. A given skill has its own list of dependancies,
including physical and equiptmental dependancies...

An example linkage in the global net:


muscular strength
muscular endurance
reflexive speed
muscular control
manual dexterity
visual clarity (day)
visual clarity (night)
visual perception
visual range (fixed stat for humans)
olfactory sensitivity
olfactory granularity
olfactory perception

... and so on ad nauseum ...

then we have skills, with dependancies, weighted two ways... input
weighting must total 100, output weighting _should_ range around the same,
and except in special cases, should not differ at all from input.

I simplify the following skill for clarity

long jump 1
  muscular precision (i 50, o 50)
  muscular strength  (i 50, o 50)
  2 front coupled legs (humans and tre'laeci possess these.)

Modifications of both skills and attributes are ordered in terms of
chronology. A skill update immediately output updates its attributes.
Calling a skill moves it to the top, chronologically, after checking for
attribute improvements on its dependancies *more recent* than the last
skill call. This only causes any serious strain to the CPU when the skill
has not been used by this particular character in the recent past. Skills
do decay, over time... a skill takes penalty for its position on the list
below a certain depth. Attributes similarly take penalty. This may also be
the result of overload strain - too many skills employed too rapidly. As
you can see above, there are a tremendous number of attributes. Most
skills call on at least 10 attributes, often as many as 50. Some have
output weighting that totals over 3000. A good example of this is the
(automatic) skill associated with dodging multiple oncoming projectiles,
especially if there are complexities to the maneuvering of the
projectiles. A lot of my skills are automatic. The relexive drop, crouch,
roll type of thing, the series of skills called when picking a lock (there
are about six of them), the extras called when running goes beyond a
simple racetrack. The real longjump1 (the human version) is only the
launching skill. Landing is another matter altogether. A character could
become a great commando, using only about 60 skills. And a half dozen or
so commands. Of course, most great commandoes are so honored post mortem.

:I do have 2 classes of skills when it comes time for a character to
:do development.  Skill categories and individual skills.  Spending
:points to improve "one-handed edged weapons", a category, will provide
:a small improvement in all of these weapons.  Spending points on a single
:skill "short sword" will provide greater improvement, but only in the 
:specific case.

As I don't have points to spend, that particular point is moot. As for the
distribution... why not both? Practice a shortsword, and you improve the
kinds of dexterity and strength attributes (I have them much further
subdivided than in my above example... fast chopping is a special
attribute in itself) that you need for any one handed edged weapon... but
you won't be instantly AS practiced with a one handed axe.

:> Someone may point out, what about hit points or mana? These concepts, I
:> feel, are not specifically relevant (I have other ideas on them), but
:> they can also be increased like any other statistic when a player uses
:> surplus XP.
:They may be relevant if the assumption is they automatically increase 
:in a levels implementation.  Hit pts. and mana pts. figure into the power 
:equation because they are often tied to it.

I don't have character mana, and wouldn't even if I had mana. What I do
have is the ability to carry bateries, power generators... this would
carry well into magic.

Hit points are another story. I have always hated them. I allow direct
damage of various kinds to be applied to physical objects. This does not
mean that I keep a damage counter. I make fundamental changes. An arm,
made of meat with a bone core, gets COOKED by heat damage, and is often
unrepairable. It has mechanisms, on the other hand, to actually start
repairing shear and compression damage immediately. However, a torn arm is
not capable of outputting the same strength as a whole arm, which has
serious consequences for use in that manner. (I have considered removing
those physical attributes from the primary skill net altogether, leaving
them in the age counter, and putting a set of them to each body part.)

:> However, let me point out the following ideas about mana and
:> hit points:
:> 	Hit points are static. You have X hit points plus your usual
:> 	constitution bonus, period. Your additional ability to survive 
:> 	comes purely from skills like dodge, parry, and increased damage
:   We are pretty close on this, I suspect. I have a species maximum for 
:base hit points.  For most of the humanoid-size species its around 100.  
:The wild boar that was mentioned in another thread has a species max of 180 
:hps. Hit points are actually an abstraction of concussion damage and are 
:tied to creature size/fortitude.  Thus while the boar is half a humanoid's
:size, it's fortitude is incredible.  How they relate to combat is probably 
:unrelated to this discussion.  Let me just say that "wounding" figures more 
:into it than concussion points.

Interesting. I do have a "three steps forward, two steps back" pain
threshhold concept that may serve comparably... players, however, can
fight through force of will to remain alive, to a point. After a certain
point, if no one is coming to save you, you might end up better off

:   Players may start with as many hit points as they wish.  That is I 
:implement hit points as a skill, body development.  For every skill 
:rank purchased in this skill you get about 5-10 hit points.  Again the
:gain is species dependent and maximums cannot be exceeded (through natural

:   So upon creating a character I can develop 5 ranks of body development 
:skill to give me some starting hit points.  Upon attaining level 2 I need
:not develop this skill at all, so hit points would remain unchanged.

:   Power points or mana have their own skill categories and are quite
:similarly done.  These also have species maximums but these are tied
:to other things, not size/fortitude.

Hmmm. Interesting. A bit better than the old method, at least.

:> 	from weapon skills and multiple attacks.
:> 	Mana is irrelevant. You cast a spell, and that spell's skill
:> 	drops to 0. Depending on the difficulty of the spell, it can
:> 	regain power quickly or slowly, sort of a spell level. As a
:> 	rough guideline, every X seconds (X being the level the spell
:> 	is currently gained at) you regain your intelligence or wisdom
:> 	rating in the skill for that spell. 
:   Interesting.  I use the method of spending of mana (power points) when
:a spell is cast.  Healing and Power recovery in my system is very slow
:and might be "unfun". :(  I have yet to test this out.  We are talking
:mud-weeks here for certain wounds (broken bones, etc.)  Mana isn't as
:bad around 3 points per hour of sleep.  This is species dependent also.
:There are magical/herbal means to speed this up.

As I don't have magic, this really isn't relevant... but I _really_ like
the idea of specific spells having recharge times, and concurent known
spells being limited by some capacity value.

   __    _   __  _   _   ,  ,  , ,  
  /_  / / ) /_  /_) / ) /| /| / /\            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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