[MUD-Dev] Re: Levels versus Skills, who uses them and when.

Travis S. Casey efindel at io.com
Mon Jan 4 14:37:01 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

On Mon, 4 Jan 1999, Jon A. Lambert wrote:
> On 29 Dec 98, Till Eulenspiegel wrote:

> Skill systems keyed off of experience point pools have levels determined by 
> the player expenditure.  For instance in Rolemaster, I can spend 3 development 
> points (generated from an experience point pool) to increase my climbing skill 
> by 5%. The level system here is implicit in the use of measuring skills on the 
> percent scale of 0-100.  Someone with a 55% climbing skill is really a level 
> 55 climber.  They may also have a 25% or level 25 longsword skill.  Hit points 
> in this system are based on racial/species body types and advanced via a body 
> development skill.  

I'd hardly call this a "level-based system" however -- if your definition
is this broad, then *any* system which uses numbers to represent
characters can be called a level-based system.  IMHO, that makes the term
so broad as to be meaningless.

> The games Gurps and Warhammer have what I would call skill trees.  Experience
> is still pooled but character development must follow a branch-like path.  In 
> the Gurps spell system one must learn prerequisite spells before learning more 
> advanced spells.  In Warhammer, skills, special abilities and spells are 
> picked up while moving through a tree-like structure of professions.

GURPS has a spell tree, if you're using the most commonly used of its
magic systems (GURPS actually has several magic systems).  However, its
skill system more closely fits your description of a skill web.

> The question is does such a system place a much higher emphasis on the 
> player's ability rather than their game character?  Is the character's 
> in-game ability a more direct reflection of the players ability to _solve_  
> and/or otherwise optimize the skill web?  Can such a game become more an 
> arcade game of the mental sort (chess) rather than the physical sort (Donkey 
> Kong)?

That depends on how the skill web in question works -- remember, a web is
simply a pattern in which skills are related; there's room for a great
deal of variation in what those webs affect.

Also, in some cases, it may be desirable for a skill web to make some
combinations of skills more optimal than others -- the key is to try to
design a skill web which reflects the way you want your game world to

> Oh oh, yet another silly law...
> "All skill use based systems are experience point based.  It just takes a 
> pedant and a magnifying glass to find them."  - J Lambert.
> Hehe.  Experience points are merely abstractions of skill usage.

I'll definitely agree that this law is silly.  :-)

> One has to take measure of a game's FUN factor from time to time.
> And different audiences (and implementors) use different yardsticks to 
> measure fun. 

Definitely.  I've long said, "Build the game that *you* would like to
play."  Chances are that someone else will like it too, and it's much
easier than trying to figure out what other people would like.

       |\      _,,,---,,_        Travis S. Casey  <efindel at io.com>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
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