[MUD-Dev] Re: skill system

John Bertoglio alexb at internetcds.com
Wed Jun 10 12:24:15 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

From: J C Lawrence <claw at under.engr.sgi.com>
Date: Tuesday, June 09, 1998 7:15 PM

>On Thu, 4 Jun 1998 01:18:32 -0700
>John Bertoglio<alexb at internetcds.com> wrote:
>> From: J C Lawrence <claw at under.engr.sgi.com>
>>> On Thu, 28 May 1998 08:11:12 -0400 Andrew C M
>>> McClintock<andrewm at tiger.hsc.edu> wrote:

<Much Cut>
>> Skills: Skills represent a more formal approach to problem
>> solving. I do not have a skill in the C programming language. I have
>> the attributes required (I think), I have the talent (I can program
>> in other languages and learn new things quickly), I even have
>> related skills...but I really couldn't (at this moment) compile a 20
>> line program with any chance it would run. No skill. Leave me alone
>> in a room with a book and a compiler, I will develop some ability
>> with C. I am still not a C programmer. If given the task: "Write a
>> program for this embedded controller in C.", I will probably fail at
>> this point. If the task was "Write a program which will print 'Hello
>> World' to the console", I could probably succeed. Of course, I might
>> have been able to guess my way to success as well without any study
>> given the ease of the task. Given enough study and practical
>> application, I could at some point raise my head up high and say I
>> am a C programmer. A some point (in game terms), my skill level
>> could reach a point where virtually any task was possible. However,
>> doing that would cause my growth in other areas to stop and would
>> require resources (cases of Diet Coke).  That is why many people
>> with a 456 level C programming skill have a .4 skill level in
>> general social behavior. Perhaps leveling off at about 87 would have
>> been a better idea.
>You appear to be assuming a flat (or at least linear) skill model, as
>vs a tree or a web.  Have you read Legend's skill tree document?
>Think drops of ink: skills bleed over into other skills whicha re in
>turn variations of and reflections of other skills.  Little exists in
The example above was indeed linear but my skill system is not. It is not
as complex as a true skill web but more so than a standard skill tree.
Think of it as a "Skill Bramble": vaguely tree-like but with apparently
random interconnects which provide other paths to accomplish the same goal.
The logical path is filled with exceptions which provide short-cuts or just
alternative paths.

(Have had the Legend document in a three hole binder for about a year.)

>>> Skill webs primarily provide problems for players, especially as
>>> contrssted to their prior simplistic model of levels where skills
>>> came automatically with level progress.
>>> The primary problem is in gaining the necessary skills, a possible
>>> secondary problem is in maintaining the required skill sets for a
>>> particular play style.  A presumably unintentional secondary
>>> problem is in determining what skills sets are required for a
>>> particular problem or play style.
>> The creation of player archtypes which can be controlled by new and
>> old players will give enough insight into the process. The skill set
>> possesed by the npc character is exposed to its controler. Note that
>> the specific numbers for success are not exposed. You take a skilled
>> fencer into battle.  You discover this guy kick butt with multiple,
>> lightly armored opponents.  You examine his STR and DEX, see he has
>> a talent in Combat Arts. You notice he has a minor talent in
>> Acrobatics and Athletics. You see basic combat skills, light armor
>> wearing and a mastery of the foil and eppe...etc. Now, you know from
>> running this guy that he is a good fighter. You don't know how well
>> he would do trying to brew a vat of beer, since you don't see any
>> grounding in specific skills or talents. If you try, you will
>> probably fail.
>Interesting idea, but one which requires exposing both the fact of,
>and the structure of the skill system.  I'm rather well convinced that
>that is a Bad Idea for the reasons I dicussed later.

I think it is reasonable to expose the the _basic_ stucture of the tree but
not the details of the web (bramble). Without it, designing a character
requires more guessing than I personally like.

<examples cut>

>I statistics reports relatively, but for yourself (ie your character),
>and for the other characters you query.  Loosely, any statistic is
>relative to a weighted average of all the other instances of that
>statistic you have met in the recent past, with a heavier weight given
>to exceptional values in the more distant past.  The cannonical joke
>of which is:
>  > stats
>  Strength: 150
>  > l
>  Bubba picks up a huge boulder with one hand and crushes it to
>  sand on his head.
>  > stats
>  Strength: 25
>  > l
>  A leaf flutters off the tree above and smashes Boffo to the ground.
>  Boffo is stuck under the leaf and can't move.
>  > stats
>  Strength: 65
>Nothing changed except for his perception of strength.
>The attempt is to model a form of self-image as weighted against
>perception.  Most delightfully stat reports react to illusions as if
>they were real.  The leaf above may well have been illusory, or Boffo
>may well have been play-acting to purposefully delude your
This is a lot of fun and could be used in many ways. How does this work
with skills? Since we don't adjust attributes much over the course of the
game, the perception of atribute level will be pretty much constant for a
player. Skills are a different matter. In the example below the "%" tells
the server to test what the outcome would be if the same command without
the "%" prefix was issued.

[From Bubba's point of view]
    > % kill boffo
    Boffo would be easy to kill

        [server looks a current stats and makes a call. Note:
        Since this is based on Bubba's skill and attribute level
        it may or may not be accurate]

    Boffo puts his fist into his armpit and produces an loud sound
        [In fact, Boffo has casted a Confuse spell on Bubba.
        However, since Bubba is confused he does not notice this]

    > advance boffo     [Bubba moves close to Boffo]
    You are now two sticks [meters] from Boffo

    > % kill boffo
    Boffo would squash you like a bug

    > % kill boffo
    Boffo would die from just taking a look at you

    > % flee
    You have a good chance to flee

    > flee

and so on

<more stuff cut>
>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...
>MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.
John Bertoglio

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