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

Adam Wiggins adam at angel.com
Tue Jan 5 10:59:07 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

On Tue, 5 Jan 1999, Koster, Raph wrote:
> Rather than argue the semantics of what a "level" is, it seems like it
> would be more fruitful to discuss methods of giving visible levels
> without curbing the myriad ways of advancement possible. Thoughts?

Now *this* I can agree with.

I typically hate levels because they are so restricting.  But as I've
often argued, there's something very comforting to a new player starting
the game, typing "score" and seeing "You need 10 exp to reach your
next level."  Instantly they have a goal, something to *do* in the
game world, a reason for being there.

Someone recently compared levels to childhood school grades.  One can
also find other such comparssion in real life, including ranks in the
military or those animal-patches in the cub scounts.  In all cases there
is a clear path to advancement; the amount of time inbetween each "level"
is long enough to make the gain signifigant, but short enough to not
seem frustrating, and each level gain is accompanied by obvious
feedback and reward (the most basic of these being a new insignia that
the person gets to wear on their uniform or whatever).

I think I've suggested abstracting classes into "guilds" before.  That is,
by joinging the Harper's guild, for example, you become a Journeyman
Harper (aka level 1 harper).  This gives you certain privilages and
responsibilities within your guild.  Reaching Apprentice Harper (level 2)
requires a certain set of tasks be completed, and gives you a new set of
privilages and responsibilities.  It *doesn't* tell you what skills you
can learn, what your character's physical abilities should be like, or
what you can wear, which is of course where the level-based restrictions
usually come in.  Gaining guild levels wouldn't give you hitpoints or
practices or anything else.  It *would* give you the chance to learn more
advanced harper skills from the guild's teachers; give you access to more
of the guild's resources; and potentially also straddle you with more
duties (such as passing on your harper knowledge to the newer members
of the guild).

I'm sure there's many other ways you could achieve a level effect without
restricting the character.  I think the above would be a pretty easy
modification to a standard Diku or LP mud, however.  (Actually, some of
the better LPs I've played do have a system similar to this: Lost Souls
comes to mind.  But it still very much dictates what sorts of things your
character can and can't do, which I think is a Bad Thing.)

Adam W.

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