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

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Wed Jan 13 21:04:35 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

On Wed 13 Jan, Koster, Raph wrote:

> 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 think this makes excellent sense. Maybe we should name it Dr. Cat's
Law of Perpetually Interesting Games.  (or something a bit less grand
if you like :)

> 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".

> - 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."

> - 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.

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

You could  of course  put the ladder on quicksand.  A special type of
quicksand that sinks faster the higher you climb the ladder.  In this
way you can easily stay out of the bog but climbing to fame means you
have to work hard at it,  and keep working hard.  As soon as you stop
working then you sink back into anonymity, fast at first but increas-
ingly slower after a while.

Even better is it  if you have many different ways to advance in the
game but you can excel in only a few of them,  while the others drag
you down slowly.  That means a player can work to reach fame in some
profession but never reach omnipotence.  And specialising means that
other skills suffer from it.  Remaining a generalist means the play-
er can do nothing well and will never become famous (unless you con-
sider it investing in social skills over game skills).

> - "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.

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

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