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Representing Offline Hours in MMORPGs, Knowledge/Training

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Previous WuXia Discussions: - Death Systems in MMORPGs - The Quest for the Perfect PvP+ System - Magic and the Elements - Skills and Attributes A design specification unique to the predecessor of MMORPGs (MUDs), is the concept of "action points". Action points are points that a player in a MUD gains over time, and they are needed to perform almost all actions in a game. Say in an exploration MUD, a player will accumulate 1000 action points per day, and each time he moves/does something he loses a certain amount of points. Using action points, MUDs are able to emulate the time it usually takes to perform actions (the emulation is required since in a MUD all you have to do is click to perform an action). This system is part of the reason why MUDs were (and in some case still are) extremely convenient for the casual gamer. Even if you only log on for about an hour a day, as long as you spend all of your time points you are not put at a disadvantage to other players. Now, obviously since MMORPGs are persistent worlds where actions all take real time, no games of the genre have used an action point system to date (except for character correction systems). But let's take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of an action point system in MMORPGs. There are two things that immediately happen to player power balance when an AP system is implemented: 1. The power range of players who have been playing the game for the same time(real world) will be smaller, even if they spend different amounts of time in-game. 2. The player who plays for a longer time will most likely have a more powerful character than the player who has just started. The first point is a big plus in terms of balancing out player power range and leveling the playing field between hardcore and casual gamers. However, the second point is big minus because new players are very important to an MMORPG and they are put at a distinct disadvantage here. The question is, is the balance in player power worth this sacrifice? And is there a way to solve the issue and still use APs? One possible solution would be to implement a sort of "game cycle" where after a certain period of time, a game world "resets" (to a certain extent) and players who were present before the end of the cycle gain certain bonuses. Shattered Galaxy and Realms of Krel are both good examples of these kinds of systems. I'm going to go ahead and throw out a possible system I designed that uses APs in a beneficiary way (it's based upon the skills and attributes system outlined in the first post of this thread series, so please read that thread if you are going to critique it):
Quote:
Time Points & Training The time points (TP) system grants every character points over real-world time regardless of whether a player is online or offline. Players may use these points to perform actions which would usually be repetitive and boring instantaneously. Time Point Accumulation and Basic Uses - A player gains 16 TPs per day (a point every hour, minus 8 hours to represent sleep) - TPs may be used to 'move around' secondary attributes (within the domain of the respective primary attribute). 2 TPs may move one secondary attribute. This represents 'specialized training', which continues the balance of attributes. - TPs are required to craft, repair and enhance items. - TPs may be used to harvest resources. - TPs cap at a number dependant on a character’s intelligence, this is to represent time management ability and also to prevent people from hoarding up TPs. When a character hits max TPs, any other TPs normally gained are lost forever. Training & Knowledge - Training is emulating the use of a skill in an artificial environment to practice that skill. - With the proper equipment and knowledge, a character may use TPs to train a skill. - Training a skill prevents skill decay. To prevent skill decay, a character must invest 1TP per 2 skill tiers in a particular skill every day. A character may choose to automatically commit TPs every day to skills. - Knowledge is your conscious awareness of what is happening when you use a skill. It is a very important statistic in training, and structure of knowledge mirrors the actual skill levels, following the same percentage based tier system. Knowledge can be obtained through reading certain books (based on intelligence and a character's current skill level), tutoring through other players or NPCs (based on the intelligence and current skill level of the student, and the knowledge and charisma attributes of the teacher), and also follows the progression of your actual skill levels at a rate of 80% (for every 10% in skill you gain your knowledge raises 8%). Knowledge has no actual affect on action rolls, but it affects training. - If a player has a knowledge level above that of his actual skill level, he may actually raise his skill through training.
Equation for training (assuming anti-skill decay TP has already been spent): Skill gained per TP = 1 + ( 1[Knowledge – Actual Skill Level ])%
Eg. If my knowledge is 110% and my skill is 100% the equation is: 1 + ( 1 [110%- 100%]) = 1 + (0.1) = 1.1% bonus
Note: The bonus for a bigger difference between knowledge and skill levels is capped at 50%, each % you gain calculates SPs dependant on the tier level of your skill. - If you look at the equation closely and compare it to the actual skill system, you will see that knowledge is the best way to gain skill at higher tier levels. Knowledge is NOT an unlimited resource that everyone can copy and share, in many instances they are unique items (only one of that item per server) that must be in your possession if you want the knowledge bonus. Knowledge is also not something that is easy to gain. - You cannot gain skill through training if your knowledge level is underneath your actual skill level. - When the knowledge level of a skill is significantly higher than the actual skill (if the knowledge level is 30% or more than the actual skill level), an information overload is triggered. A character can no longer raise his skill through training at this point and must use repetitive use of the skill to increase its proficiency until the conditions for an information overload are no longer met. Note: 10% is not say 500% + 30% it is 30% of 500%. So if a character had 650% knowledge or more and his actual skill was 500% then an information overload is triggered. Revelation - A revelation is when a character experiences a significant boost in skill based on their knowledge level. - Revelations happen randomly, and only during actual use (not training). - Revelations can also be triggered by achievements made by the character (primary attribute changing accomplishments) as well as the use of skills during extremely intense situations. - A revelation can occur during a time of information overload.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Ummm..., First I must confess I didn't read your other post. Just this one was enough to begin to trigger information overload. By the way, I also skipped the formulas as that would prolly be very implementation specific.

If I understand the system you've described correctly, Time Points basically give the player the chance to perform actions off-line, retroactively. However, the total amount of Time Points he can accumulate while offline are capped, so he actually has to DO something with them.

This sounds like a good idea. If I'm to make any suggestions it would be these

1. Why not let him use the TP pro-actively (in advance). ie instead of waiting until he logs back in before asking him what his character would have been doing while he was offline, why not have him create a queue or list of things he would want his character to do before he logs of. Sort of like an RTS construction queue. Then when he comes back, depending on how much time his character has had, some of then would have been completed and some wouldn't.
Or he could just indicate what percentage of his time the character should spend training his different skills, and when he returns the character would have gained experience depending on how long he has had to train.
To be fair someone doing offline training would have to gain experience more slowly than someone adventuring online. Which can easily be explaining by the fact that you learn better in real life adventuring than you do training in a safe environment.

2. Addressing the fairness issue some more. It would seem unfair for someone who has been playing the game regularly to only be able to achieve more or less the same things as one who logged on at roughly the same time and only manages to log in just before his time points reach thier cap.
You've already mentioned Knowledge and Equipment which are two items neccesary to train offline. If these are items which can only be acquired while online then it automatically balances the effort issue. That is, the result you get out of your time spent offline is dependent of the effort you put in while you were online (ie the effort necessary to acquire said knowledge and equipment).
This could be even extended to other issues: e.g. the amount of gold you get while offline is equal to the number of trade routes you had established while online - OR - *shucks just forgot the second example*.

I hope I was able to be of some help. Sorry for skipping chunks of your post, but truth is I only speak mathematics as a second language and tend to grasp things more quickly when they are described in english. :->

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Hey thelurch, I'm very happy you replied because it seems you are the only person who at least gets part of what I'm trying to say. Guess I need to convert it to more clear english!

Anyways, there is nothing I can really argue with you about, what you said is completely true :) Thanks again for replying!

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Guest Anonymous Poster
"if the knowledge level is 30% or more than the actual skill level), an information overload is triggered"


You need some endcase conditional logic to cover the cases
where initial skill is 0 or the knowlege acqisition quantum exceed 30%

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Actually skills already start off at 50%, could you explain what this condition means: "the knowlege acqisition quantum exceed 30%"?

Thanks for reading nev!

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