Character development [was Re: ]

s001gmu at s001gmu at
Sun Apr 12 22:02:59 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Sat, 11 Apr 1998, Marian Griffith wrote:

> On Thu 09 Apr, Travis Casey wrote:
> > On Thursday, 9 April 98, Vadim wrote:
> > > Travis S. Casey wrote:
> > >> Some paper RPers prefer to develop characters in play rather than
> > >> generating them at the start.  The idea is that the player may not
> > >> know enough about the gameworld when the game starts to be able to
> > >> generate exactly the kind of character he/she would want.  Thus,
> > >> some aspects of character generation are delayed.
> > >> A more concrete example of this is to give the players the ability
> > >> to "hold back" a few attribute/skill/whatever points and assign them
> > >> when they want to.
> I think the best solution to this  would be to make players decide on
> the aptitude of their characters before they start playing, but other
> than that nothing should be decided. So a player can decide on an ap-
> titude for the arcane. This does not garantuee that their character's
> going to be a mage, much less a strong mage, but when the numbers for
> a character are being determined by the game the ones that have to do
> with magic will be somewhat higher on average than the ones for other
> aptitudes. Of course the player can still end up with a character who
> has no real ability of magic at all, but that's only fair ;)  Numbers
> of course have to be fairly immutable and largely hidden from players
> for this to work of course.

All this does is lengthen the time between creation and the player
deciding whether to keep the character or not.  I've played on a couple
muds where they put a pretty hefty length of time before you found the
real strength of the character and all it did was irk people.  I have come
to the conclusion that if you put numbers in a game, people will play the
numbers, no matter how hard you try to hide them.  You may as well just
give them the numbers and let them be happy from the getgo.
For that reason, I am not planning on hiding any numbers, or including any
randomness in the creation process, whatsoever.  Note that this in no way
precludes a minimal amount of time spent in creation.  How we choose to
split the process up is in no way related to the numbers being visible. :)
The articles posted a few months back about general adventure game design
weighed pretty heavily in the above decisions.

> This should solve the problems associated with roling for the maximal
> stats that can be found on many muds,  and also reduce the problem of
> having to make some fairly far reaching decisions  about your charac-
> ter before you even start playing.

I don't see how it solves the "rolling endlessly" problem.  All it does is
lengthen the amount of time between when the player rolls and when they
find out how the rolls turned out.  Removing the rolling entirely is
really the only way to prevent the "endless rolling."

> You just inform the game what kind
> of jobs your character would preferably be good at (or at least some-
> what better than the average). There is no reason why you can not get
> to a different profession during the game.  You could choose a higher
> ability at life energies,  find out during the game that your charac-
> ter is not going to be a top rank healer  and join the warriors guild
> instead to create a fighter character with some extra abilities.

Again, I see no reason to tie rolling stats and minimal creation together.
True, the "aptitude" approach would minimize the chore of creation, but I
see no reason to assume a hidden roll needs to be made anywhere.  Just
have the "aptitude" weight the cost of attaining certain skill sets once
in the game.

> Personally I am not too certain that things like stats ought to able
> to be changed at all. Modified by magical or skills to a certain ex-
> tent is fine,  but not permanently.  Otherwise you build a mechanism
> into the game that encourages all characters to become identical and
> with similar playing styles

It only encourages all characters to become identical if all parts of the
game require the same skill/stat sets.  By making some parts of the game
require strength, and others dexterity (or whatever), you will get a
variety of skill/stat sets, based on what part of the game each player is
currently tackling.  Being able to change on the fly allows the player to
optimize their character for the task at hand.  If you make both (or all)
of the parts equally as interesting, and equally valid roads to power, I'd
bet that you'll get a wide variety of characters.
[guild stuff snipped...]


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