[MUD-Dev] Re: Levelless MUDs

Holly Sommer hsommer at micro.ti.com
Mon Jun 15 09:03:51 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Fri, 12 Jun 1998, Matt Chatterley wrote:

> I suppose the key things to look at are *exactly* what is influenced by
> levels, and how else you might handle it. Swap in other things which make
> more 'sense' (for instance, apply a strength stat to damage instead of
> level, and so forth).

After going over it with some who have played in this environment, and 
others who have written code for it, the following things have been 

   o We'll have to move from a %based skill proficiency system, to one
     which has no artificial ceiling (100% is max... hey, is anyone 
     perfect at ANYTHING?) where you have skill bonuses and penalties
     (+8 on pick lock) and that each skill has a counterskill (working
     on a -5 difficulty lock, for a net effectiveness of +3) while
     throwing in some luck (so roll a 3d6 and get <= net effectiveness,
     where 18 is always a fail, and 3 is always a win)

   o Remove the level restrictions on eq. This is what the builders
     objected to the most (see below). I am of the mindset that levels
     could still be left in place for deciding relative "power" of the
     eq (and the goodies/bonuses/penalties/etc. which go along with
     the more desirable eq), but that if player characters no longer have
     player levels, then there is no level check for using eq: you 
     found it, you can use it.

   o Other means of identifying the experienced bravados from the
     well-equipped newbie. Obviously, this is in the skill bonuses/penalties
     realm. You can outfit Bubba the Well-Travelled Adventurer and 
     Boffo the Brand New Player the same, but Bubba knows the game better,
     and has spent time LEARNING things, which will be to his advantage,
     should he and Boffo ever be in the arena together against one another.

   o Give players who wish to not killkillkill something else to do, which
     represents well-spent time. Player houses, quests, let them run a
     city, RP, etc.

Essentially, levels are being used for two things:
   1. Determining when you can learn a skill
   2. Determining when you can use eq

We have considered using skilltrees - sets of prerequisites - for skills. 
This removes the artificialness of "sorry, you can't learn dodge, it's a 
level 20 skill in THIS game, and you're only level 3), and of using 
rune-based magic, so that you don't have situations where "fireball is 
just a level 30 version of magic missile).

It would also be easy and popular with players to promote our eq as 
"having no level restrictions! You find it, you use it!"

For some reason, however, if you use precise language and say "levels are 
being removed," those who are accustomed to them absolutely flip out. 
It's very very strange. I guess people assume that eq which would have 
been known as "level 50 eq" will just be lying around the newbie area, 
and will seriously unbalance the game. If that IS the case, it's not so 
much a problem of system design, as it is of poor AREA (builder) design.

> Converting from level based to levelless is certainly an interesting
> notion - what are your initial thoughts on how to approach it? 

Well, my initial thoughts were "toss it out on the table and let people 
(the staff) pick at it, and make suggestions on how to possibly make a 
transition. I never envisioned the mayhem that a mere suggestion would cause.

> How do you expect the playerbase to react?

If it's anything at all like the staff members I've merely MENTIONED this 
to, as a possible *consideration* - with great bouts of gnashing of 
teeth, and with feelings of betrayal. And that's without even speculating 
aloud, what a change like removing levels would entail. Bleah.

We decided it best to just go ahead and start work on an experimental 
server, and leave everyone else out of it while we work on it. Too much 
strife, and too many cooks with their fingers in the pot, if we involve 
player and builder feedback during the construction phase. It'll be a 
coder's endeavor, initially.


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