[MUD-Dev] Character development [was Re: ]

J C Lawrence claw at under.engr.sgi.com
Tue Apr 14 17:13:53 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Thu, 9 Apr 1998 10:15:30 PST8PDT 
Koster, Raph<rkoster at origin.ea.com> wrote:

> On Wed 4/8/98 JCL said:

>> True.  An idea I've been playing with for a while now for more
>> "typical: MUDS is the idea that the character as a net whole never
>> changes, but that the balance of allocation of stats changes.
>> Possibly the simplest example: The initially create character has
>> almost no strength, but enourmous endurance.  Given hard woork and
>> sufficient "development" the character now has enourmous strength,
>> but is exhausted within seconds...
>> Other models are easy to come up with, and pose some intersting
>> challenges.  (Note: This is a variation on the sum-zero particle
>> economy I use).

> This is the heart of the UO skill system. It leads to very
> interesting stuff.

> 1) You have to intelligently pick what goes down when a given thing
> goes up. There's lots of methods to do this.

The phrase "black art" comes to mind.  Additionally if the alteration
of one stat results in changes in multiple other stats, care needs to
be taken that there are no positive or negative feedback loops --
otherwise players will stat wiggle themselves to godhood or poverty.

> 2) Boy did we have problems by combining a usage-based system with
> this. :) Everyone screams when something they don't use goes down!

I can only imagine.  The term "feature" also comes to mind.  Tho I
doubt that pleasant retort would go over well.  <kof>

> 3) It solved the problem of the fixed-size scale for advancement,
> but raised the issue of limited advancement. Just today I was
> discussing with someone how power (meaning, greater ability at
> things you already do, such as more hit points) and advancement are
> traditionally tied in games, when really what works better is
> possibility (meaning, access to a wider array of capability) and
> "ownership" in the game as a means of measuring status. 

Translation: Its not a question of how much better you can do the
things you used to do but how many new things you can now do that you
couldn't do before.

I like this concept.  For one its largely open ended, and for two it
invites the intrigue of discovery, especially when combined with
semi-hidden "Oooo!  Neato!" effects.  Ownership is the most prized and
hidden value -- most especially when you have a world which allows
large permanent effects, "Yeah, I burned down Castle Krak and build
Fortress Fract in its place." -- but it requires a (carefully
cultivated) sense of history and cultural effect to do well.

> So UO went
> the route of having a LOT of different things to do,a nd the ability
> to gather hirelings, pets, houses, guilds, etc, to provide the sense
> of status, in place of "level" as an abstraction. 

How successfully?  Most (all?) of the magazine articles I've read on
OU equate it to a graphical DIKU with roadways lined waist-deep with
corpses.  You've mentioned here your efforts in pushing a more, err,
less DOMM-esque approach by your players.  Success?

> Now, level is
> awfully convenient, and players quickly found supplements for it,
> but I find that severing the advancement scale from character
> ability works quite well.


Do you have any tales of the form of Habitat's egg or other prized
tokens or recognition values that you could relate for UO?

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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