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A level-less character progression system

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Posted by Cursed Wolf   (1 post)  [Biography] bio
Date Sun 30 Mar 2008 10:06 PM (UTC)
Message
My idea for a level-less character progression system (aka way to spend your exp points) is as follows:

1) Monsters, on killing them, give you experience points
2) You can use these experience points to train your skills, or learn new skills
3) The higher your skill levels, the less experience monsters drop, so you have to kill tougher monsters

PK combat would not give exp points, allow you to steal their stuff or money, or anything that couldn be done without killing them. Instead, if the player is an enemy of your city, race, house, clan, etc, it will give you Valour points, if they're not an enemy, it gives nothing except an extra kill, and possibly a penalty by Admin or some sort of court system. Valour could be useful for buying super-rare items, for example, an amazing set of armour. Needless to say, as well as requiring lots of Valour, the items will also require loads of cash.

AFAIK, no well-known MUD uses such a system.

Now then, you could choose to accommodate players who spend lots of their time trading, that is, shopkeepers. You could do this by "selling" experience - for example:

CONVERT 500 gold to experience


Also, those that spend loads of time fighting could do this:

CONVERT 5000 experience to gold


This would negate the need for mobs to drop money, and also prevent players from "maxing out" on their character's stats for a tad longer. Of course, mobs would still need to drop items from time to time, else shops would need to sell everything, but they shouldn't drop rare items too often, obviously...

Please post any feedback on this, as I might be making my own MUD sometime soon... Well, a text-based online multi-player single-server RPG, at any rate ;o)
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,324 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #1 on Mon 31 Mar 2008 08:23 PM (UTC)
Message
Sounds like an interesting idea. I don't see any major problems with it. You might argue that training up something (eg. swords) needs you to actually use a sword (rather than a mace, say). OTOH you might say that experience in general means you are becoming better at everything.

Your idea of Valour points sounds similar to Honor points that you get (for doing pvp) in World of Warcraft. Again, that sounds reasonable. You might have negative Valour if you kill a friend, which should discourage people from doing that.

Your idea of converting gold to/from experience is also interesting. A conceivable problem is that everyone will just become traders, and work their way up to high levels without actually fighting anything. Coupled with the idea of allowing them to learn (say, swordsmanship) without actually picking up a sword, might lead to ridiculous situations where someone has very high sword skills, but has never left a major city, and never used a sword.

Perhaps a variant would be to allow players to hire mercenaries, so they are putting their gold to good use, but still have to go out and find the mobs and kill them.

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by CursedWolf   (2 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #2 on Mon 31 Mar 2008 09:25 PM (UTC)

Amended on Mon 31 Mar 2008 09:27 PM (UTC) by CursedWolf

Message
Quote:
Sounds like an interesting idea. I don't see any major problems with it. You might argue that training up something (eg. swords) needs you to actually use a sword (rather than a mace, say). OTOH you might say that experience in general means you are becoming better at everything.


Well, I suppose one idea would be to implement roadblocks of some sort - every few skill levels, to increase the skill of that item further, you'd have to go through a training session - a tutorial of sorts on the best way to use that skill, then a test (maybe "go and kill 5 vampires using only a sword (no magic, fire-breathing, summoning, etc)").

Quote:
Your idea of Valour points sounds similar to Honor points that you get (for doing pvp) in World of Warcraft. Again, that sounds reasonable. You might have negative Valour if you kill a friend, which should discourage people from doing that.


Good idea. I didn't know it's used in WoW though, I don't play it. Also, players who repeatedly kill their friends/city/house members (maybe they don't care about Valour?) could be reported to their city's court system, who could then deal a fitting punishment?

Quote:
Your idea of converting gold to/from experience is also interesting. A conceivable problem is that everyone will just become traders, and work their way up to high levels without actually fighting anything. Coupled with the idea of allowing them to learn (say, swordsmanship) without actually picking up a sword, might lead to ridiculous situations where someone has very high sword skills, but has never left a major city, and never used a sword.


Yes, indeed. However, adding in the roadblocks as stated above would stop everyone being traders only. Of course, there would be all sorts of ways to get experience - mob-killing and money-changing are just two of them - questing for one, maybe organized battlefields too? 10 players vs 10 players, each team has to complete some goal before the other team, each team can attack the other? Valour and experience could both come as a reward for winning.

Also, who would they trade with if everyone was a trader? No-one would ever use anything, meaning that the game is rather pointless - what's the point of a game where you trade all day long? Anyway, they'd all end up playing at some point, after all, that's what they were trading for in the first place.

Quote:
Perhaps a variant would be to allow players to hire mercenaries, so they are putting their gold to good use, but still have to go out and find the mobs and kill them.


Erm...I don't quite get you here. The mercenaries would help them fight? Would the mercenaries be NPCs or other players?

Anyway, I rather dislike this idea, as players would end up hiring 100-200 mercenaries (paid for by RL money) and letting them do all the work. That would give a really significant disadvantage to the non-PayPal players (no good having a free game if you have to pay $500/month to get anywhere). I'd like it to be possible for a non-PayPal player to defeat a PayPal Player, albeit with some difficulty. Of course, this is the difficulty with all free-but-paid-for games, and probably deserves it's own thread.




Thanks for replying!




P.S.: Oh, and sorry for making a new account, but I lost my password into the depths of Mailinator for the last one.
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,324 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #3 on Mon 31 Mar 2008 09:37 PM (UTC)
Message
Quote:

... every few skill levels, to increase the skill of that item further, you'd have to go through a training session - a tutorial of sorts on the best way to use that weapon, then a test ...


Yes, that makes sense.

Quote:

Also, players who repeatedly kill their friends/city/house members (maybe they don't care about Valour?) could be reported to their city's court system ...


Well there are always players who try to be the biggest nuisance possible. This sort-of leads us onto the concept of Reputation, which is quite an interesting topic in its own right. In a sense, Reputation could be similar to Valour, however doing "good" things (like killing wolves outside a city, which is not pvp) should increase your reputation with the city.

Whatever you call it, someone with sufficiently low Valour (or reputation) could find themselves being attacked by guards in the city (and shopkeepers might refuse to sell to them, and so on). So you might make it self-regulating without having to go through a process of reports, trials, punishments and so on.

Another approach would be to make friendly players non-killable (same with shopkeepers etc.) so that pvp players can only attack other pvp players and not make a nuisance of themselves.

Quote:

Also, who would they trade with if everyone was a trader?


I thought you might spot the flaw in my argument. My initial response is "it wouldn't happen". Market forces would prevail. Say everyone wanted to be a trader, well there would be nothing to trade, so that would be pretty useless. And if only a few people actually went and collected goods from mobs, they could ask a very high price, which would make being a fighter and not a trader very attractive. Eventually market forces would balance it out.

Quote:

The mercenaries would help them fight? Would the mercenaries be NPCs or other players?


NPCs.

Diablo had something like that. However I think you could only get one mercenary at a time, so you wouldn't go out with a group of 500 of them.

The mercenary might automatically defend you if attacked, and you would have commands to make it attack something instead of you doing it.

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,324 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #4 on Mon 31 Mar 2008 09:39 PM (UTC)
Message
Quote:

The higher your skill levels, the less experience monsters drop ...


Which level though? Normally the lower the level of the mob compared to your level, the less xp the mob drops. But if you don't have a level as such, what are you comparing to? Sword skills? Cooking skills? Defense skills? What if you are a good cook but bad swordsman?

How exactly are you going to regulate monster drops / xp with your system?

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by CursedWolf   (2 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #5 on Mon 31 Mar 2008 10:25 PM (UTC)

Amended on Mon 31 Mar 2008 10:27 PM (UTC) by CursedWolf

Message
Quote:
Well there are always players who try to be the biggest nuisance possible. This sort-of leads us onto the concept of Reputation, which is quite an interesting topic in its own right. In a sense, Reputation could be similar to Valour, however doing "good" things (like killing wolves outside a city, which is not pvp) should increase your reputation with the city.

Whatever you call it, someone with sufficiently low Valour (or reputation) could find themselves being attacked by guards in the city (and shopkeepers might refuse to sell to them, and so on). So you might make it self-regulating without having to go through a process of reports, trials, punishments and so on.


OK, so let me see if I vaguely understand. Rather than having global "Valour", we'd need individual "City/House Reputation". So your City could treat you as a Hero, while another might not. This seems a rather good idea.

If a player kills a member of a organization, or does something else detrimental to that organization, he gains "bad" reputation for that organization.
If a player helps the organization in some way, he gets "good" reputation for that organization.
If the player gets enemied by the organization, by gaining enough "bad" rep, anyone of that organization can attack him.




I dislike the idea of mercenaries at all, really. It'd seem a bit silly, everyone walking around with a mercenary to guard them. Maybe pets would be a better idea?

Quote:

The higher your skill levels, the less experience monsters drop ...

Which level though? Normally the lower the level of the mob compared to your level, the less xp the mob drops. But if you don't have a level as such, what are you comparing to? Sword skills? Cooking skills? Defense skills? What if you are a good cook but bad swordsman?

How exactly are you going to regulate monster drops / xp with your system?


Hmm...never really thought that one through. I suppose only the skills that you actually use to kill the monster would matter. For example, I could have a character who looks like this:

HP 2000/2000
Swordsmanship: lvl5
Spellcasting: lvl30
Summoning: lvl20
Cookery: lvl80

Now then, let's say I decide to go kill a wolf:

HP 200/200
Animal attacks: lvl2

I would get about 1-2 exp from this mob, even if I used none of my skills. If I decided to cook the wolf to death, I might get 0 exp.

But, if I went to kill a vampire:

HP 2500/2500
Bloodthirst: lvl20
Spellcasting: lvl5

If I summoned something to help me, and cast some spells, I'd maybe get 500-1000 exp, depending on the level of the summon and spells.

Generally speaking, the less skills it takes to kill a mob, the more exp you get.
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Posted by Orik   USA  (182 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #6 on Mon 31 Mar 2008 11:05 PM (UTC)

Amended on Tue 01 Apr 2008 02:30 AM (UTC) by Orik

Message
What about if fighting enemies would give fighting skill exp and trading and such would give trading exp. Separate types of exp that can then be used for their respective skills. Then maybe have a conversion of like:

500 fighting skill = 300 trading skill
500 trading skill = 200 fighting skill (simply because if you have big bulging muscles or have mind controlling techniques you have learned from fighting then you might be a better trader, whether it be by brute force or brains)

So maybe like 1000 (maybe it scales?) fighting skill exp is 1 (maybe this scales as well) point to gain in an attribute. Maybe players will get anywhere from 1-25 skill exp per kill depending on the hardness of the battle.

I don't know, just throwing out ideas, but I really like what's been said so far. I might have to work on this.

***EDIT***

another thought. What about having different types of skill exps:

Fighting (fighters)
Trading (merchants)
Diplomacy (leaders)
Professions (gatherers/crafting)

Any other thoughts on this?
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,324 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #7 on Tue 01 Apr 2008 12:24 AM (UTC)
Message
Quote:

Rather than having global "Valour", we'd need individual "City/House Reputation". So your City could treat you as a Hero, while another might not. This seems a rather good idea.


Yes, WoW has a similar system. Basically there are various levels of reputation, and number ranges (eg. 5,000 to 50,000) represent a "band" of reputation. It goes something like this:


  • Very low (hated / at war) - members of that group attack you on sight

  • Low (unfriendly) - the group won't attack you but won't help you in any way

  • Medium (neutral) - the group might offer you basic services (eg. food / drink), and perhaps some quests

  • Higher (friendly) - the group will offer you better items (eg. weapons for sale) and better quests. Members of that group will help you if attacked.

  • Very high (honoured) - can buy good items from them

  • Extreme (exalted) - can buy excellent items from them, perhaps get keys to special areas, etc.


Your reputation level with a group can be affected like this:


  • Kill their bosses - lowers your reputation a lot

  • Kill their members - lowers reputation

  • Kill their opponents - raises reputation

  • Complete their quests - raises reputation

  • Kill opposing bosses - raises reputation a lot


I think you could extend this idea a bit personally (I think Oblivion does this). For example, helping an individual NPC could raise your reputation with them alone. Maybe buying from a shopkeeper makes you more friendly with them. Helping a parent (eg. saving its child) could raise your reputation with the parent. That NPC then might offer you shelter in their house, or to hide you from angry guards.


- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,324 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #8 on Tue 01 Apr 2008 12:26 AM (UTC)
Message
Quote:

Generally speaking, the less skills it takes to kill a mob, the more exp you get.


I don't think this will totally work. Say a level 20 player (so-to-speak) kills a level 1 wolf, it won't use much skill to do it, because the mob is really low level. It shouldn't therefore award many xp.

However a really difficult "boss" fight might take all the skills at your disposal, in a long fight. Therefore you should get a lot of xp from killing the boss.

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,324 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #9 on Tue 01 Apr 2008 12:29 AM (UTC)
Message
Quote:

What about if fighting enemies would give fighting skill exp and trading and such would give trading exp. Separate types of exp that can then be used for their respective skills.


Yes I think in principle this will work.

To compare to Real Life (tm) for a minute, you might have a 60-year old man who is very good at a skill (say, leatherworking), but is a very bad fighter. You might have another man who is a very good fighter but very bad at leatherworking.

So it makes sense to separate out various types of skills.

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Nick Cash   USA  (626 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #10 on Tue 01 Apr 2008 04:18 AM (UTC)

Amended on Tue 01 Apr 2008 04:20 AM (UTC) by Nick Cash

Message
I think the idea of different experience pools is good. Fable was well designed in such a regard. You could collect experience in various categories, but you also gained a larger amount of general exp. General xp could be spent on any skills and represents total progress or growing of the character, while specific xp pools represent growth in a certain area.

This is useful because it forces players to decide how to spend their general xp more wisely. IIRC later in the game you rarely have enough xp in specific pools to up your skills, forcing you to spend your general xp to advance your character in a certain direction. Thus, in order to get a few really powerful skills you trade the ability to balance your character with many lesser ones.

To further the initial thoughts here, you could make even more things require general xp, such as the idea to convert certain amounts into money.

Your Valour points would also need to be heavily regulated. It would be hard to set down the initial rules since you won't know how many initial players you will have, or how often pvp comes into play. That said, if it is not regulated (1 point per kill or similar), you will find players who create lowbie characters aligned with the faction opposite of their main character just to rack up Valour when no one is around. Thus, you will have to very carefully decide how Valour is awarded since you will not be able to confine pvp to a level range, and basing it on skills would be very challenging due to the varieties (for instance, you could not award based on difference in sword skill because one player may be a mage and the other sword wielder).

~Nick Cash
http://www.nick-cash.com
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Posted by Beale   (35 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #11 on Tue 01 Apr 2008 02:47 PM (UTC)
Message
If I may interrupt for a second...

Under the Discworld MUD system, your guild level is a mostly meaningless figure, calculated as the average of all the skills your guild will teach you a high level ('primary skills'). All guilds teach all skills to a low level, and to go higher than those low levels for skills your guild doesn't teach to a high level ('non-primaries'), you have to either learn from yourself or another player, where learning from a player who is better at the skill is cheaper in experience points.

As the MUD has moved away from being hacky and slashy, the general desire to remove general xp as the main source of skill levels has increased, as people object to having to kill things to learn, eg, sewing. Therefore, we also get 'command xp' based on the amount of guildpoints (mostly equivalent to the usual mana mechanic) you've spent on doing something, and how recently you last did it.

The idea of limited xp, like craft xp, fighting xp, magic xp and so on has been tossed around a few times, but the inertia of the old system is still a little strong, I think. Also, the players that tend to be most vocal in these matters are the hard-core numberchasers.

Oh, and players also get 'idle xp' at a very slow rate just for being online. It's really not a significant amount unless you're a very low-level character doing very little.

Skill levels cost an exponentially increasing amount, and give exponentially decreasing gains in ability, theoretically allowing unlimited advancement. Guilds teach primary skills up to level 300, and one or two of the very best players will have one or two skills up around the 1000 mark. (Most players will have very few skills over level 300.) The nature of skill costs means that you have to keep killing bigger things to get enough xp to keep being able to actually advance your skills - while theoretically you could kill hundreds and thousands of rats to advance to your 390th level of dagger skill, it would take years. Absolutely harder NPCs give absolutely more xp. The harder NPCs also tend to come in groups, and the Discworld mechanics are set up such that one person fighting more than one (up to a limit) opponent is at a greater disadvantage than they would be if each opponent was simply dealing exactly the same damage they would in a one on one battle.

On the subject of xp <-> game money, it was decided that this would be a really terrible idea in a game that essentially had an economy with infinite inflation - money flows into the game as fast as NPCs respawn. (Under the Discworld system, NPCs have all their equipment at creation, and don't 'drop' extra things.)

So, um, this is how we/they do things. We've discussed many possible options at various points, but like I say, systemic inertia is strong. And the effort of rebalancing everything into the new system would not be insignificant.
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