[MUD-Dev] (fwd) Re: Roleplaying

J C Lawrence claw at under.engr.sgi.com
Wed Apr 1 14:25:47 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

On Thu, 26 Mar 1998 11:11:46 PST8PDT 
J C Lawrence<claw> wrote:

> From: cimri <cimri1 at gte.net> Newsgroups: rec.games.mud.admin
> Subject: Re: Roleplaying Date: Wed, 25 Mar 1998 22:31:46 -0800

> KaVir, Richard Woolcock, and Aristotle, in their brave fight against
> spam wrote various words more or less summarizable as:

> - life has levels - no it doesn't, it's more like skill-based - no
> no, life is like both skill-based and level-based systems

> and the phrase 'a single level' (apparently meaning using a single
> value to express a complex set of attainments, experiences, powers,
> and the like) was used, presumably to distinguish it from having
> 'many levels.'

> </synopsis>

> Like that fella from Fiddler on the Roof says: you are all right.

> A working definition for the sake of discussion: I propose that
> 'level' mean 'level of experience' and refer more or less to what we
> mean when we say 'that person has a great deal of (or not much)
> experience.

I wrote the following on this list back in Oct 97:


Tho they don't tend to be among the more active members, there are
several on this list who really like the concept of levels as
standardly implemented in hack'n'slash MUDs, and consider it a fine
and workable system.  AFAIR Keegan has already stated he's in that
camp (buried in RL alas).  There are others.

I consider that the term "level" itself has a real use on the list. 
It can be used as a simple moniker to indicate a skill or expertise
disparity between two players without specifiying the details.  As
such it can be used to concetrate attention on the result of the
disparity as versus its causes.  eg:

  "If a low level character tries XXX a high level character..."

The actual specifics of what makes one low level and the other high
level are moot and implicitly uninteresting.  For the metrics which
affect the interaction under discussion, one is at an advantage over
the other as defined by that great term, "level".  At this level of
abstraction it really doesn't matter what the key points of the
difference really is, just that it exists.  The key interest is what
the imapct and result of that undefined advantage might be.

Level also has another use, in that it names advantages which are
defined within the game-system, as versus advantages due to the human
player's ability, knowledge, or skill.  eg:

  "A high level character played poorly will usually lose against a
low level character played expertly..."

Level in this context not only clearly indicates that the former
character is the one at an advantage within the game system (for
whatever reason), but allows it to be contrasted with the expertise of
the humans controlling those characters.

Nahh, even for games that have no real concept of levels, the term
itself still has real value.  How else would you, say, simply compare
two characters on a skill-web based game, each with vastly different
skill webs, but with almost comparable fighting ability?  Uhh, Bubba
has a bit better short sword skill, but Boffo's thumb wrestling skill
outclasses him...?  Does it really matter in a generalist discussion?



> Yes, level has been used as a single expression of power, where your
> level expressed how good you were at everything, or at least how
> good you were in the collection of powers and skills related to your
> chosen profession.  This is clearly silly, though I don't think any
> where near as silly as most would have us believe.  That is, though
> I think there are better ways to do it, still, using level as a
> single expression of power can be defended fairly well without
> stretching too much.

Quite.  This is the distinction between the human and the player that
I drew above in the quote, and between the specifics of the character
under question (his ability to lay dry stone walls as vs his ability
to deliver knock-out punches to drunken trolls).  

> And yes, the idea of HPs rising with level stretches things a bit
> too.  ALSO not as much as people would have us believe.  For
> instance, it is not that great a stretch to look at HP as some sort
> of expression of one's ability to absorb/avoid/maneuver away from
> damage, not JUST bodily physical damage.  So as one 'rose in level'
> one gained more HP which represented a certain experience reflected
> in combat survivability through (for example) wiser use of
> maneuvers, or whatever.  I do think it makes more _sense_ to leave
> HP pretty much constant and to vary your 'survivability' by adding
> in combat-related dodge or parry or whatever skills.  But rising HP
> with level is by no means totally indefensible.

Translation: interpretion is what makes a model believable.  'Tis
true.  How you paint the scenery and other frippry which surrounds the 
mechanics is what often decides "realism".

> Okay, all that said, one could easily still have a skill-based
> system, or at least a system which includes skills/abilities/etc
> which are somehow increased in effectivenes through use or practice,
> and each may be increased independently of the other, generally.
> And this skill-based system could still use the idea of 'levels of
> experience.'  And this could still represent, in some meaningful
> way, an analog to real life.


J C Lawrence                               Internet: claw at null.net
(Contractor)                               Internet: coder at ibm.net
---------(*)                     Internet: claw at under.engr.sgi.com
...Honourary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

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