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

Andy Cink ranthor at earthlink.net
Wed Jan 13 19:04:35 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

At 09:58 AM 1/13/99 -0600, Koster, Raph:
>Presumably the quote was offered up to make you consider whether having
>sculptors or whatever is desirable, necessary, or even feasible. Quite
>aside from whether it is, I have become convinced that the secrets to a
>really long-lived, widely appealing online game *in the gaming sense*
>are multiple paths to advancement, ease of switching between paths of
>advancement, clear milestones in said advancement, and ideally, no sense
>of running out of significant milestones (eg the ladder does not feel
>finite). These four secrets together are a tall order.

I agree about milestones completely. I think one of the most important
things to a player, is to know where they stand compared to the other
players, and where the next notch up the ladder is. I don't necessarily
think that being able to switch ladders is such a big deal, however.
True, it would be NICE if people could switch "ladders", but ultimately,
I think ladders are a good thing. More below..

>An analysis of classic designs based on the above four principles would
>argue that:
>- Classic classes and races curtail the potential length of the game by
>requiring creation of a new character to switch "ladders".

I don't see why this is a bad thing, necessarily. Having the potential
to learn all skills, or jump "ladders" at will leads to a mudding
syndrome I will call "my-character-itis". This disease, (of my naming)
refers to a person who, has only one character on a mud, who is
effectively, a supercharacter. This is to say, some muds have no distinct
ladders or classes, and people can more or less learn everything they
want or need. (Healing, tanking, damage, etc.. perfect solo chars)

While I have no problem with this, in and of itself, it leads to
people playing one and only one character, and it would more or
less be absurd to make another character. (Why make another character,
when one character can effectively encompass anything a player would
want or need?) While some people may think this is cool, it ultimately
lessens the replay value of the system. It can be a great deal of fun
to try the game over, with a different skill set, different potentials,
different things to bring to a group. In my opinion, it makes the mud
a lot more fun if people can wind up being wildly different from one
another, to the point it might be fun to try it all over again through
different "eyes". When you can switch ladders too easily, people stick
with the same character, which ultimately becomes boring.

>- Classic level systems curtail the potential length of the game by
>running out of milestones. Adding levels merely means that you run out
>of *significant* milestones instead, which is just as bad. Hence the
>sense of many that "600 levels is pointless."

I agree here; of course, a 600 level mud might be interesting, if it
actually had a significant difference between the levels, and there
were new things to do for each level range, enough skills to make that
many levels interesting, enough new zones, etc, etc. Of course, it
would probably take 20 years to build a mud of that size :) (Assuming
you had a huge team of talented people, and a desire to inflict that
much pain upon yourself)

>- Remorting systems & the like are ways of permitting switching ladders,
>but they require reaching the top in one ladder before being able to
>change the emphasis.

While perhaps people should have free choice about these things,
it makes more sense to me to start a new character, if you really
want to try things a different way. (Why take a good fighter and
"ruin" him by turning him into a mage, when you could
keep said character, and make a new mage, and then play both characters
to your heart's content)

>- The most successful gaming muds that use the above systems succeed
>because of the range of activity they permit within a given class or

Wouldn't this seem to indicate "more is better"? Or simply put, that
deeper more involving muds are more fun to play and hold the player's
attention for a longer period of time? Doesn't it just boil down to
how much there is to do? 

(That is to say, that ultimately, a mud with 200 total skills that
let people jump ladders at will, and another mud where each class
had 200 skills, and you couldn't jump ladders, would have the same
potential for being fun and engrossing? Obviously this is an
exaggeration, but just for the sake of argument..)

>- "Static" skill trees and webs suffer from some of the same flaws,
>unless they allow you to "forget" skills in favor of others. The problem
>with starting over to switch ladders is that you are likely to lose a
>significant portion of your players who feel that it is not worth it.

Well, let's put it this way: starting a new career in midlife is always
going to be extremely challenging. This is just a choice people make.
Hopefully each skill ladder, class, or what-have-you will be fun and
entertaining, such that people won't need to start a new career halfway
through their career. Nobody can do everything, so, choices are going
to have to be made. Hopefully, it won't be possible for people to do
everything, so it would be logical if people just made multiple characters
to cover all of the things that interest them. (Or if they can only
play one character, that they play the kind that satisfies them the
most to play. If they want to start over, let them make a new character)


EARTH FIRST! We'll stripmine the other planets later.
Head Coder for Renegade Knights MUD
Ranthor at earthlink.net

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