[MUD-Dev] [MLP] Why care about levels? (was: The use of ecology models)

Sean Kelly sean at ffwd.cx
Sat Apr 27 09:39:28 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: "Sasha Hart" <Sasha.Hart at directory.reed.edu>

> What always seems strange to me is that people care about any of
> it. Why should one form of abstract flag twiddling ("statistical
> bonus") matter more than another?

> I don't know, and I think this is in its entirety is a huge and
> interesting question - but if I had to guess about why a
> "statistical bonus" works and these don't, it would have to do
> with what they let you do.  Being nominally the owner of a patch
> of land, as in "a sign reads: this acre belongs to Jon" is pretty
> cheap.

I'd tend to agree.  But I think prestige weighs pretty heavily on it
as well (which comes back to socialization).  It's not like players
need to reach some level of power before they can go on quests.  And
the difficulty remains constant throughout a player's career.  In
fixed developer resource games like Asheron's Call, I might argue
that players level so that they can experience the new content
(since most of it is/was targeted at high-level characters), but
players act the same in other games as well.

I'm primarily an explorer.  So in my case power means that I can
explore more areas.  If a player is (combat) achievement-oriented,
then power allows him to fight harder monsters and likely gain cool
new equipment.  I suppose it's ultimately a matter of being good at
what interests you.

> I'm still confused why levels work at all. All I can say is that
> they do.  What is the distinction between stats that matter and
> stats that don't?

I've never liked the level system much, though I do like D&D which
basically invented the concept.  Levels make a lot of complex
problems much simpler, but the original reason for this was because
someone had to sit there with a handful of dice and a piece of paper
and work it out quickly enough to keep the game flowing.  There are
no such restrictions in CRPGs.

At the same time, levels (especially in CPRGs where there is no
human arbiter) can give rise to absurd situations, like a naked 20th
level mage wh o has 20d4 hit points needing to be stabbed by a
dagger 20 times before he dies, even if he stands still and does
nothing at all.  A DM can adapt to the situation and make it more
fun/plausible than current AI can.

Stats that matter are stats that directly apply to a player's skill
in his chosen area of pursuit.  This goes back to "being good at
what interests you."  Thus the tendency to min-max.

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