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

Andy Cink ranthor at earthlink.net
Thu Jan 14 15:51:41 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

At 09:50 AM 1/14/99 -0600, Koster, Raph wrote:
>You made a lot of interesting points, but I've got to seriously quibble
>with this notion:
>> If they want to start over, let them make a new 
>> character)
>I have been playing the same "character" on muds and in standalone RPGs
>for fifteen YEARS now. Virtually everyone I know has done the same
>thing. Character persistence and identity is not something to mess with.
>If in order to obtain the full depth from the game, you are REQUIRED to
>abandon a previous sense of identity, many will not make the leap.

Well, I have to admit, I think I underestimated just how much a
person may want to hang on to their character. All the same, though,
don't many of these people have a certain type of character in mind?
For example, let's say I have a character I like to play named Ranthor.
Ranthor is always an elven ranger. Assuming I like Ranthor and I play
Ranthor on every mud I possibly can, doesn't it seem inconsistent that
I would want to jump ladders, and become Ranthor the cleric? Not that
I couldn't, but wouldn't it be inconsistent with the character I'm
currently playing?

Let's pretend I was a 45 year old nuclear physicist, and I decided I
was bored with my job, and wanted to go into genetics. I'm getting
rather old, but I've still got time enough to do it. What carryover
value will my career in nuclear physics have to biology? Virtually
none, I would really be better off (in a mudding world, anyways)
to just "start over" as a biologist instead. If you really wanted to
make your character into a biologist, would there be a significant
difference in loss between "jumping ladders" and starting over? I
guess it depends on the design of the game system.

 In a AD&D like system (which still is at the roots of a great many
muds out there today), there's not a significant difference between
starting a new character, and returning an old character to level 
1 in a new class. (There are some differences, and you do pick up
your old class abilities at a future point, but in terms of stats,
there is little change in values. (if any, at all) In a more detailed
system, perhaps a person could change ladders in a minor sort of way,
and carry over part of their old class skills to their new class.
(Maybe a ranger becomes a druid, and some of their nature oriented
skills remain intact, or whatnot)

I guess my prime concern is that people don't figure out ways to
take overpowered combos of skills, or to "pick and choose" their
way to a mega-character. I don't want to deprive a person of all of
the benefits they attained in their old class, but at the same time,
I don't want them to carry it all over into the new one either.

>Sure. It's also x times more work to implement, where x is the number of
>classes. That's a very very real consideration, because it leads you to
>thinking about what you can actually get done, and by when. Most muds
>never open; most muds that open don't open when finished; most muds that
>stay open never get to the lofty goals they had when conceived. Initial
>overdesign is really common in text muds, and a total lack of awareness
>of the amount of work involved is too.

I agree, it's a huge amount of work. I'm not saying I'd want to do so
many skills, classes, and all of that. (Or even if I could) I was just
saying, that ultimately, milestones are milestones. And ultimately,
how you achieve your goals, whatever they may be, are up to you. Some
people might rather have a mud with 5 classes that are fairly under-
developed, but you can simultaneously gain levels in all 5 classes.
(I've seen it, I've even played it and enjoyed it in one case) I've
also seen a great mud or two where you can only be one class, but the
classes were so well done that you wanted to play again and again,
trying different classes, and strategies for your character. But time
is an important consideration, all the lofty goals in the world don't
do you a lick of good if you never finish.

>The common mentality on many stock mud expansions seems to be to add
>classes or races (ladders), and what suffers is the depth in said
>ladders. So yes, in the case you mention, 5 ladders with 200 milestones
>each is better than 1 class with 200 milestones. But you're a lot more
>likely to end up with 5 ladders with only 40 milestones instead. And I
>firmly believe that you will NOT find most players willing to start over
>5 times.

I think we've all seen our share of out-of-the-box muds that really
don't have much to them. No new features, no new ideas, maybe a few
new classes, races or skills. But who cares? I can't speak for the
rest of ya'll, but I got tired of "midgaard muds" a hell of a long
time ago :) But I've also seen a good share of muds with original
concepts, well designed classes and races, and engrossing worlds
that made you want to play two or three different characters. (I
don't know hardly a soul who would try ALL 5+ classes, but I know
many who make 2 or 3 different classed characters)

>Here's an interesting question: I have NOT noted any real decrease in
>player grouping as a result of there existing optimum characters in a
>mud. Yet said decrease is always offered as a standard argument for
>having classes. What's the list's experience with this? Does increased
>character interdependence REALLY result in more interaction? Or will
>people interact anyway?

It's been my experience that forced interdependence can actually
backfire, sometimes severely. I've seen muds where the player base
isn't sufficient to support the interdependence between the players.
(That is to say, maybe there's a good number of warriors, who sit
idle, because there are no clerics to enable them to go kill worth-
while mobs. So instead, they sit around idle, or have to kill areas
well beneath their range for small rewards, because it's all they
can manage alone.)

It would appear to be, in terms of grouping, that rather than
forcing interdependence by class methods (player A has something
player B needs, so we hope they will group) It seems much more
effective to make the mobs difficult enough that people naturally
congregate to kill them. That is, that each class has unique ways
to contribute to the killing of a mob. So the mage fireballs, the
warrior hacks and tanks, the cleric keeps the tank alive, and etc.

Some muds try to force this interdependence instead by having the
cleric heal random afflictions of the warrior that may occur by
combat, and such. (Or maybe the mage can cast a nice haste spell
on the warrior, or the warrior can repair equipment for free, or
whatever) But what happens in these cases is that people decide to
"mule" the other classes for their unique but not often needed
abilities. Why take the useless cleric along in case your leg
gets busted up, when you can get all the exp yourself, and scream
for help if your leg does get busted?

It seems to me, from what I've seen, that both class-based and
classless based muds can both be equally effective, it's just
the ways the mud tries to get people to come together. It's
just a matter of designing it such that each person can
contribute to a group effort, and that moreover, there is a
distinct benefit from doing so. (In my mind, from a combat
perspective, this means making the mobs nice and tough, and
making sure that every "class" can contribute in a useful and
effective way to the killing of said mobs)


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

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