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JensB

How to deal with progression and "consider" in a skill based system?

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Pitching this question / thought out here to see what inputs to get. We are talking a classical 'high-fantasy' RPG setting here. I want to work with a pure skill based system, not level and classes - The calculation of you succeeding to accomplish something should be based on relevant skills and basic stats. Now, in a level based RPG, you start life killing rats etc (level 1 monsters) and gradually get tougher and tougher opponents as you progress. In a skill based system, a rat would be a weak all over opponent, that you can beat with any combat skills - But, assuming I'm a priest that now needs a new target to fight against - say to get cash I want to kill these bandits. How would I know if this fight is doable for me/how could I balance it? - so I "con" the bandit (or click him) - what should the game consider to determine how hard the fight would be to me... - and how would I deal with balancing something like this in terms of progression? Ideally I don't want to force my players to be in groups, even if that feels like the obvious answer. I guess the main question is the "con" one + Looking for some input on skill based systems. Any input appreciated, and sorry for the rambling post ;)

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Personally, I like systems that don't cause enemies to vary wildly in power. I look at it this way. If the game (battle) is interactive enough to be fun, then the player will have the capacity to win just about any battle, with any foe, through careful strategy and/or timing.

There are boundaries, of course. If they're heavily outnumbered, or the enemy has significantly advanced equipment, the fight could be too much to win outside of a miracle. When this happens, give them an escape option. Let them acknowledge the challenge, then retreat.

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How would I know if this fight is doable for me/how could I balance it?

- so I "con" the bandit (or click him) - what should the game consider to determine how hard the fight would be to me...

You could make the names of the enemy be color-coded, where blue represents low risk, and red represents high risk for death, or etc. Many MMORPGs use such a color-coded system on monster's names so that players could gauge the risk of attacking that monster.

So instead of using levels to determine these colors, you would have to compare all skills that are relevant to battle that you decided in your game, whether this is Agility, Strength, Sensitivity/Stealth, Magic Affinity, etc, as well as currently held Weapons and their Weaponskills, against the enemy's own skills. Depending on the weapon held, the risk factor could change especially if you have better skills with certain weapons over others. So the moment you change your equipment to a sword and shield, the color-coding of the monster's names might change as well. The shield might also lessen the risk.

To determine risk to which would affect the color-code of the enemy's name, just make it so that the higher or better your battle-relevant skills are compared to the enemy's (all added up in one large sum), the lesser the risk (and as such, the cooler the color of the enemy's name, etc). If the sum of your battle-relevant skills are lower than an enemy's, then its name color-code will become warmer/redder representing higher risk for death.

-

Ultima Online is built around a skill-based system, you could also get ideas from that.

[Edited by - Tangireon on July 1, 2008 5:48:49 AM]

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Now, in a level based RPG, you start life killing rats etc (level 1 monsters) and gradually get tougher and tougher opponents as you progress.

In a skill based system, a rat would be a weak all over opponent, that you can beat with any combat skills - But, assuming I'm a priest that now needs a new target to fight against - say to get cash I want to kill these bandits.

How would I know if this fight is doable for me/how could I balance it?

- so I "con" the bandit (or click him) - what should the game consider to determine how hard the fight would be to me...

- and how would I deal with balancing something like this in terms of progression?


Why do you even need the 'consider' command anyway? It's a remnant of DIKU MUDs that happened to carry over into MMOs, but which isn't really at all necessary for fun. You could judge an opponent by size. By aggression. By reputation. By the markings on its back. By the equipment it is using.

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That would be pretty cool. You could have auras around an enemy to which glow or crackle with electricity or fire - the bigger/brighter/fancier the aura, the more powerful that monster is.

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Thanks for the input so far.

Now let's forget for a second about "consider" or allowing players to determine how hard a fight is - What about the balancing aspect - I.e. how would I create the illusion of progression (like in a level based system) within a skill based one - or is there even a need for that?

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Ultima Online is built around a skill-based system, you could also get ideas from that.


What would be the best free way to get some exposure to UO?

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Now let's forget for a second about "consider" or allowing players to determine how hard a fight is - What about the balancing aspect - I.e. how would I create the illusion of progression (like in a level based system) within a skill based one - or is there even a need for that?

The more you do something, the better you get at it, right? Well that is basically how you can go about doing skill progression, and it is something that Ultima Online and Oblivion uses.

If you want people to feel the progress of their skills, there could be many ways to do this. The more you do something, the faster you are able to do it. The more accurate you are able to do it (chance for a successful hit increases). The more powerful tools/weapons you are able to use for that weapon skill type. The higher quality or tougher materials/monsters you are able to extract/fight. The better you become at evading traps (if trap detection skill), the faster you walk (if travel/acrobatics skill), etc.

Every time you do a certain skill, you add experience points into that skill. The skills then individually "level up" as you use that skill. Or if you don't want levels at all, the skills just accumulate experience points each time they are used, and that is what will be compared when determining chances of success as well as its power/effectiveness when using that skill on something/someone.

Is that what you were looking for?

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Original post by JensB
What would be the best free way to get some exposure to UO?

Well there's the Ultima Online Gold 15-day free trial.
http://www.fileplanet.com/150525/150000/fileinfo/Ultima-Online-Gold-15-day-Trial

You could also try Runescape, a free skill-based MMORPG.

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What about the balancing aspect - I.e. how would I create the illusion of progression (like in a level based system) within a skill based one - or is there even a need for that?

Some progression is good. But in my opinion, most games take it way too far. There's no need to forcably outdate your older enemies by making them so weak that they're no longer good for challenge or training profit. Progression in most role playing games is done with arbitrary numbers. The only difference between inflicting an extra 1 point of damage and inflicting an extra 10 points of damage is that a lot more enemies become obsolete.

The game decides how much the character improves per gameplay, by being less dramatic with the power granted to advancing enemies. As a player, I base my progression rate off of that, not off of how many digits my stats climb. Or in other words, if wolves are only slightly tougher than giant rats, then advancing a little bit is the same as advancing a lot, except that giant rats are still a fun part of the game while I'm doing battle with wolves.

Also try to come up with skills that influence the gameplay, but only have a minor influence on the player's basic combat abilities. Skills that expand the player's combat options. Particularly, skills that expand their options in unique situations, when the player is being mindful.

Hiding and sneaking are examples. They don't give the player direct power, because they're not always useful in combat. But they give the player more power over specific scenarios when the player makes better decisions to deal with them. In other words, sneaking is only power when you use your brain to employ it the right way at the right time.

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I.e. how would I create the illusion of progression (like in a level based system) within a skill based one - or is there even a need for that?


There's no illusion of progression: there is progression. It's just on a continuous scale rather than a discrete one, so you don't notice individual acts of progression as much. So that's not really the problem. What is your problem? And where does 'balance' come into this? Can you express exactly what it is that you think your players might want or lack as a result of using a skill-based system?

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