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How to improve abilities

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While reading a post about a MMORPG skill system, one thing catched my mind. Skill systems usually work with the practice-to-become-better approach, but they focus on skills most of the time. What about applying this to abilities as well? A character would get stronger if he carried much, wiser if he read much, faster if he run a lot... You could even include maximum hitpoints into this: The more often a player is wounded the higher his max hitpoint go. (=getting tougher by surviving injuries) What do you think of this? Have you already tried something like that? Would it be sensible? Would it be fun for the player? ------------------------------ There are only 10 kinds of people: those that understand binary and those that don''t.

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To be curt, definitely no. This is actually one of the major problems with current MMO''s. This would do nothing but encourage the mentality of mindless repetition for character improvement. I believe America''s Army hit an alternative head on, skill based improvement. In America''s Army for example, to get access to sniper classes you are forced to go through sniper training. The test is extremely non-trivial and a good ( if not majority ) of players never succede in passing it. It can often take days/weeks of practice to succede.

Skill based improvement is where its at. If a player was playing a figher type class then the test to improve strength would be drastically easier than for a caster type class, etc.. Developing logical skill-based tests is where the difficulty lies at, and is probably why this has not been implemented in any MMO''s I know of. A major difficulty would be in avoiding easy implementation of client side bots. This is largely OT so I will leave it at that.

I feel that reptition based statistical improvement is probably not a good idea.

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quote:

to get access to sniper classes you are forced to go through sniper training.



Huh? That sounds quite a bit like "experiance required to work here, but you can only get experance if you work here". Do you mean that you have to study on your own to meet basic qualying criteria?

I actually had a similar though yesterday. Then I reallized that Morrowind does something like this. At every level you get to increase 3 stats. The stats the you used the most get the highest point increase if you select it. Its a single-player game but I like it.

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The test based idea might not be such a bad way to go about it. For instance, say we have a skill that every player wants, the LockPicking skill. When they show up at whatever guild that administers the test, for the duration of the test, they have the lockpicking skill available and perform a number of tasks related to it, which really just test the player''s intuitions, and the amount of generic experience he''s gotten. (like, if he doesn''t have 11 Dexterity yet, ho has no chance in getting passed that locked chest in the second tier.) If he can pass the test, then he gets to keep the skill. If not, its taken away from him.

Major Benefits: Skills become a controlled resource. A guild can refuse to administer the test for attack magic Firebrand if the player in question has a bad reputation.

Pitfalls: How do you acculumate the experience required to even take the test. Some form of guild related apprenticeship / training would be neccessary. Perhaps a low level Mage can only perform unlearned magics if a Trademaster bestows the ability on to him.

COMING IN FALL, 2005, THE MMORPG THAT EVEN MISTER MIAGI PLAYS. OLDBIES TAKE NEWBIES UNDER THEIR WINGS AND TRAIN THEM IN THE BLACK ARTS, OR RACE AROUND TYPING POORLY AND IRRITATING OTHERS.

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Final Fantasy 2. Not the one we got here in America, but the Japanese one for the NES. If you used magic, your INT and WIS and MP went up. If you got hurt, your HP went up, and when you fought with weapons, your STR, AGI, DEX, and weapon-specific ability increased. There was a neat little trick by which you could declare an attack, then cancel it, then declare it again, and max out your weapon skills in one (very long and boring) battle. The problem was that doing one thing caused another to atrophy. Your magic users couldn''t keep their STR up without compromising some of their INT, so you basically wound up with either highly polarized characters or else generally weak ones, and only long play and training could fix it. If you mitigated that atrophy a little, the system would have been better.

But that was just in combat. If you wanted to make other activities affect your stats and skills, take a look at Wonder Project J for the Super Famicom. Little Pino has to read books, and practice with sticks, and spend time with fuzzy animals to adjust his attributes. Maybe that''s the sort of thing you''re looking for.

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I wouldn''t say that is a totally bad design. However, you need to add some more things such as the cap for each ability, and also things that prevent players from doing it over and over again. For example, running. Running requires stamina. You run a lot, your stamina decreases. If you do not include stamina, I can already see it players making bots running all day long and become uber fast in a day. Stamina must decrease and you must make it even harder to restore the stamina. Don''t include any skill or item such as Stamina Restoration or Potion of Stamina, because that just defeats its purpose.

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quote:
Original post by Kars
quote:

to get access to sniper classes you are forced to go through sniper training.



Huh? That sounds quite a bit like "experiance required to work here, but you can only get experance if you work here". Do you mean that you have to study on your own to meet basic qualying criteria?

I actually had a similar though yesterday. Then I reallized that Morrowind does something like this. At every level you get to increase 3 stats. The stats the you used the most get the highest point increase if you select it. Its a single-player game but I like it.



No, its not at all like Morrowind. Try it, its a free game. It is a SKILL based test, as in HUMAN SKILL based test. You are given a gun and go to a shooting range, you have to score 34/40 targets to pass the school. So technically anybody could pass it their first time through. In reality it takes lots of practice and somebody new to FPS style games will not stand a chance of passing it for weeks.

Morrowind has the exact same dull repetition based skill system. Let me clarify, when I say skill: I mean human ability to perform a certain activity with a requisite degree of aptitude. I don''t mean a number on a virtual character''s stat table.

As another example, the upcoming PS3 will have built in motion detectors. Let me offer what could be a potential situation. You have a character that is trying to pick the lock on a chest. This could be represented in game as a screen where a number of tumblers of various length go around in a wheel ( kind of like wheel of fortune only with varying length ''rewards'' notches ). This wheel has a number of ridges. The player''s job is to stop the tumblers when they all fit into the ridges in this wheel.

Now this is where skill comes into play. The wheel will have a base velocity. Let''s say its 20. Now that velocity will be modified by your characters'' abilities. Let''s say there are two character classes. Fighter and thief. A fighter has a base dexterity roll of 1.5, a thief has a base dexterity roll of 0.5. Now this is further modified by your in-character dexterity by a constant amount. Let''s say the fighter has a characteristically low dexterity and recieves a base dexterity penalty of 1.0. The thief has a characteristically high dexterity and recieves a bonus of -1.0.

We end up with a total figher modifier of 2.5 and a thief modifier of -1.5. Now we can finally calculate the final velocity of the wheel for each player.

Fighter = (5/2) * 20 = 50 velocity for wheel
Thief = (3/2)^(-1) * 20 = 13.333

It will be significantly easier for the player playing as the thief to stop the wheel at the correct moment. It will be significantly more difficult for the fighter player to stop the wheel. Both players have a chance, the final result is left up to the ability of the human behind each character.

Now do you understand? Games need to become more interactive and skill based, as opposed to mindlessly repetitive. This is a first idea towards that goal.

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Thats is what is commonly refered to as a minigame. The problem with what your suggesting is that it has nothing to do with skill it a reflex test. The player has to click the button at just the right momment and effectively alients players not good at that test, since if the player has to perform this mini game whenever they unlock a lock then players not good at the game will never be able to open locks. Most players don''t want to be forced to play a complicated mini game over and over agin to perform an in game action.


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Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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Doesn''t Morrowind improve in that way? The more you run, the faster you get - the more you jump, the better it becomes - the more you fight, the better yo get... etc.

It''s slow but works quite well.

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I believe what Haro is trying to say is that it''s a case of skill vs repetition.

Anyone can repeatedly press a key to jump and increase in agility, but add an element of skill and the repetition can be toned down or removed entirely.

Take the sniping example. If a player had to shoot a stationary target, that may be easy. Now to get the next increase, a player may have to shoot a moving target, or a number of moving targets. To get the next advance, the player may have to shoot a moving target while he himself is moving. This could go onand on, but the difference is that progression is related to the skill of the player rather than simple repetition of exactly the same task. The negative point to this is that utilising player skill may encourage twitch gameplay, which not everyone is partial to, a la most FPS games, but this in itself is a separate issue which I''m not going to go into.

To summarise I think the main point is that perhaps it would be more entertaining to base ability increases on how well something is done, not how often it is done, so that characters abilities reflect how well the player is getting to grips with the game rather than simply how long the player has been playing. This way the player is rewarded for getting better at the game, perhaps penalised if he lets his skills deteriorate, and generally the character is a better representation of the player. I''m not personally fully decided on my own views here, but I do know that in most MMORPG''s I get tired of seeing people who don''t know how to play the game being super uberly hard simply because they have pressed a button 50 gazillion times more due to having been playing a lot longer (even if they suck at playing), but then I suppose that suits some people, and I wouldn''t want to put anyone off of my game because it didn''t fit in with their way of playing.

Cheers,

Steve AKA Mephs

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