[MUD-Dev] Re: [DGN] The psychology of random numbers

Michael Michael
Sat Jan 10 21:47:33 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004

--- Chanur Silvarian <chanur at guildsite.com> wrote:
> From: Ammon Lauritzen <ammon at simud.org>
>> On Mon, 5 Jan 2004, Ted L. Chen wrote:

>>> Working on the loose assumption that displaying some sort of
>>> measure is inevitable, is there some way we can better manage
>>> player expectations?

>> Well, the problem with using some sort of vague measurements is
>> that people's understandings of words differ, and it becomes
>> difficult to come up with a good range of descriptions for the
>> values.

>> Currently, there are 10 different phrases we use to describe a
>> player's effective skill level (actual skill level modified by
>> stats - which are some of the very few numbers that the player
>> does actually see numerically).

>> Another problem we've encountered with the vague descriptions
>> actually reared its ugly head a few hours ago when I was dealing
>> with one of our players. He complained that one of his skill had
>> dropped from 'excellent' back down to 'very good'. What had in
>> fact happened was that his actual skill level was very near the
>> border between the two descriptions and he donned a suit of
>> platemail, severely dropping his dexterity, which modifies the
>> skill.

>> Even after explaining the situation, it seemed a very arbitrary
>> sort of thing to him, to have received a downgrade by an entire
>> category of skill ability. Especially since only the one skill
>> showed the change (while in reality numerous abilities were
>> affected as a result).

> My take on this is somewhat radical (I guess that describes my
> take on most gaming theories).  I don't believe there is any
> reason to quantify, even in the abstracted sense, any of the
> numbers.  What I am planning on is allowing my crafters to compare
> items, they can tell you which is the better item in a wide number
> of categories.  That's it, that's all.  You know that in these
> categories (or all categories) this sword or armor is better than
> that one.

> I don't like the descriptions, such as "excellent" and "very good"
> for just the reason that you described.  They are subjective, and
> if the point of view from which that subjective measurement was
> made is changed then the label is likely to change as well.  Hence
> your problem, the player is using it as an absolute measurement
> while your designers meant it as a subjective measurement.  If the
> measurement were simply not given then the expectation of the
> player for the measurement to remain absolute is not there.

A system I just thought up now to work on a non-relative skill
description is Confidence.

The idea is fairly simple: checking your skill level determines
whether or not you're confident you can use that skill, or perhaps
whether or not you're confident you can use a skill (like sword
fighting) in a certain situation (against big scary monster).

Confidence would be a boolean value, I think, and would begin
lacking. Success in using a skill would flip the confidence level,
and it would stay that way until you fail at that skill.

I understand that this system is mostly valueless (in essence, it
tells the player absolutely nothing he doesn't already know.. which
you could say is an appropriate simulation of reality), but I
figured I'd throw it out here and see if anyone could turn it into
something useful.

Still catching up on everything,

--Michael Chui
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