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Old 06-22-2003, 08:41 PM   #1
Khadgar
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I am in the beginning stages of creating my own mud, trying to come up with a general layout of what I want exactly.  Since I plan for it to be a multiplayer mud with a large player base, I want to code the most popular concepts, which brings me to my question.

What is the most popular system when it comes to classes?  A player would have to decide which class they want at creation with a class based system and be limited to certain spells/skills whereas in a classless system the player could pretty much get whatever skills/spells they want by traveling guild to guild.  I would think a classless system would be more balanced than a class based system since you really do not have to attempt to balance the classes, but I think players might stick around longer with a class based system because they would have to have multiple characters to try out all the skills/spells.  Traveling around the mud world, I have seen systems where you get to choose 2 different classes, but personally I am not in favor of this system.   Maybe with a little information I will change my mind, which is why I listed it as an option.  Perhaps there is a concept that I am not aware of when it comes to classes.  Please tell me which system you prefer and why.  Any information will be greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance.

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Old 06-22-2003, 09:01 PM   #2
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I've always preferred a class-based system personally. The games I like to play are ones that have both RK and PK and a class-based system is, to me, a lot easier to balance when it comes to PvP than a system where people can pick any skill they like. Though I haven't stuck around on many classless MUD's much, I've yet to find one that did a really good job of balancing the PvP issues. No doubt they're out there, I just haven't seen them.

If you want a mixture of the two worlds, you can provide a class-based system that has some small amount of customisation within the class. Warriors could specialise in a certain type of weapon, mages in a specific school of magic etc. Of course, these options can be split into separate classes themselves, which is the way I'm doing things on my own MUD. I have one general "warrior" class and five weapon specialists, and mages, clerics, bards, and thieves are all split too (although there is no general mage class). You're right, it does encourage people to try out new classes to play around with all the different skills and spells available, and to my mind it also leads to different combat strategies rather than "Pick this, this, and this skill if you want to be powerful" which is the bane of a classless system, because although there are some rare people out there who will pick skills out of a pure sense of RP, most want to be a powerful character and will always go for the power combinations. This happens even in MMORPG's, and multiplayer Neverwinter Nights is especially bad for it.
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Old 06-23-2003, 01:40 AM   #3
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I prefer a classless system, but they have to be done well to work and it's probably more effort. Instead of just balancing a few classes you gotta make sure every bleeping skill is balanced, and if you decide partway through that one of them is too powerful and nerf it, a lot of players who were abusing it will be displeased.

DM has a classless system, but with some of the advantages of a class system. You can TRY to be a fighter/mage, but you'll most likely never be a very GOOD one, because the skillsets conflict with each other and make your learning rate much slower. If you wanted to, you could break it down further and have sword use conflicting with axe use for instance, or certain types of spells conflicting with each other. This would make it #### unlikely that every warrior would be the same or that every mage would be the same, but may or may not be desirable.
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Old 06-23-2003, 06:13 AM   #4
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I think it depends to a large extend on what sort of mud you're trying to create, and what you define as a "class". If by "classes" you mean "professions", then personally I'm against the idea of defining a character's abilities by his profession. I prefer having it the other way around - defining their profession by their abilities. You shouldn't achieve numerous fighting skills by becoming a warrior - instead, you should be considered a warrior because of your numerous fighting skills.

However it's also true to say that many players prefer fixed classes, particularly as they're much faster than customising everything - forcing new players to spend 15 minutes designing their character is going to put a lot of them off. For this reason you might want to compromise by creating a large set of predefined character concepts such as "mercenary", "warrior", "apprentice mage", etc, each of which begin with a number of abilities. New players could then either pick one of these predefined "classes", or create their own. IMO the important thing, though, is not to restrict players by those starting abilities. Once in the game, everyone should have the potential to develop in any direction they wish.

The hard part is preventing people from selecting the "best" skills. To get around that, you may want to introduce things like "talents" (one-off bonuses to specific areas of development that can only be selected during character creation), skill trees/webs (so you have to learn the weaker abilities in a field before moving on to the better ones), skill decay (so unused abilities gradually fade away), etc. In other words, allow people to develop whatever skills they like, but make it impractical to try and master everything - such characters should end up as jack of all trades, but masters of none.
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Old 06-23-2003, 06:50 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by (Xerihae @ June 22 2003,21:01)
...and a class-based system is, to me, a lot easier to balance when it comes to PvP than [a classless one]. Though I haven't stuck around on many classless MUD's much, I've yet to find one that did a really good job of balancing the PvP issues.
Either you must be confused or I must be. If by "balance PvP" you mean "make it so no pfile has an inherint advantage in pkill over the others" then a classless system would automatically be balanced no matter how you set it up. You could make it so they never pass level 1 and get no skills or spells at all, but in pkill they'd still be "balanced" in the above sense; or make it so everyone is a ridiculously powerful godlike figure, and as long as the ridiculous godlike powers were *consistent*, you would still achieve "balance", in the above sense. Perhaps you have some other definition for "balance PvP"?

There is a similar dichotomy in realtime strategy games. Whether to make the different races basically the same, possibly with some subtle minor differences (Age of Empires II) or radically completely different (Starcraft, C&C). You could always go the route of the original Warcraft I: Have drastically different classes to choose from, but the differences would be purely aesthetic. Everyone would get for example an identical generic attack at level 5, but for warriors it would be called "kick" and for mages "magic missile", but would be identical in all aspects but name. Thus you'd have a system that was balanced and classless, but could retain the RPish elements like class guilds and playing the role of your character etc. In any event I assure you that I remain,
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Old 06-23-2003, 07:59 AM   #6
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Either you must be confused or I must be. If by "balance PvP" you mean "make it so no pfile has an inherint advantage in pkill over the others" then a classless system would automatically be balanced no matter how you set it up.
I see your point, and mostly agree with it, but I think it also depends on how the system is set up. You seem to be saying that if everyone has the same abilities, they would HAVE to be balanced against each other - and I agree fully with that. However in most classless muds you cannot learn everything, and therefore it is perfectly possible to create one character with a better selection of abilities than another character. You could well argue "that's their fault for picking the wrong skills" - but then that same argument could be made for classes; it's the warrior's fault for picking the wrong class, when everyone knows that mages are more powerful.

Therefore in a situation whereby a character can only learn a limited number of different powers, but not later unlearn those powers to replace them with different ones, it is important that each of the powers be balanced against each other. In situations where powers are divided into spheres or disciplines, then you would only need to ensure that each such group of powers was balanced against the other such groups. When it comes to classes, you only need to ensure that the sum total of all powers for that class are balanced against the sum total of the powers of each other class.

Thus IMO the objective within a PK mud should be to ensure that, regardless of which powers a character chooses, they should always be roughly balanced against other characters of the same power level. Thus if Bubba decides to put all of his effort into summoning mobs to fight for him, while Boffo works exclusively on his attack spells and Biffo concentrates on his martial skills, each character should (on average) have around the same chance of winning a fight after the same amount of character development.
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Old 06-23-2003, 09:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (KaVir @ June 23 2003,06:59)
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...each character should (on average) have around the same chance of winning a fight after the same amount of character development.
That's not always how it works though. It's fairly common to have a system where mage skills are weak compared to combat skills in the beginning, but eventually are much more powerful. Of course this is true for pure class-based systems too.

One possible technique here is to do something similar to Runescape and give a starting char a boost in whatever skills are appropriate for his class, but then once he gets into the game have him able to learn anything. So it's likely he'll always be better at what he started out with, but he can learn other stuff. Or say at char creation you pick a class and your char starts with no actual knowledge within the skills: the skills outside that class are harder to improve than the class skills, but still learnable.

I agree that not every skill in the game should be learnable to a high level by one person, and I'm kinda sick of seeing 20 mages running around with exactly the same spells. I dunno if any of these ideas are useful but oh well.
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Old 06-23-2003, 10:35 AM   #8
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That's not always how it works though. It's fairly common to have a system where mage skills are weak compared to combat skills in the beginning, but eventually are much more powerful. Of course this is true for pure class-based systems too.
That's a very poor way to "balance" a PK mud though (which is the subject being debated). It means that at low levels the mages almost always lose, while at high levels they almost always win - regardless of the PK skills of the player. What you describe is more appropriate to non-PK muds, where differences in power between classes are not so important.
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Old 06-23-2003, 12:37 PM   #9
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I'm a big classless fan.

But then I'm not coming from a PvP background either, I'm coming from a IF/Sim background. So Instead of making sure that the skills are balanced against each other, I need to make sure that the different groups offer as much fun as the other one do.

I have five different classes of skills: Combat, Magic, Thieving, Social, and Crafting. The challenge here, Is I want someone who has had 15-20 hours of playing to have the opportunity to have the same money earning ability as any other player.

So if you've trained exclusively in combat skills, you should be able to make X amount of gp in an hour after playing for 15-20 hours. But then if you've trained exclusively in the crafting skills you should be able to make the same amount.
Basically, Money is Power.

But at the same time, I have to balance the skills by having them be unique and fun to do.

*shrug*
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Old 06-25-2003, 03:31 PM   #10
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I'm considering a new system for my mud which combines both worlds in
what I think is a good solution. At creation time a player can choose to
dedicate or to stay non-dedicated. As dedicated they go through a
class-based system whereas if they do not dedicate then it's skill-based
from the get-go. To contrast the flexibility of the purely skill-based
approach I intend to make some skills available to the dedicated streams
only, with the argument that if you are dedicated in a discipline you can
master it better than you could by splitting your attention across multiple
disciplines. However since we are also moving twards a levelless system
(though experience will still be a factor) at some point even a dedicated
player will move into the skill-based stream. Comments?
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Old 06-25-2003, 05:24 PM   #11
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It sounds like you will have the prototypical classless game. If a player chooses to dedicate themselves to a particular field of study then they will learn more advanced techniques associated with that field. If they choose to spread their studies out (not dedicated) then they will have a broader range of skills but with less advanced techniques.
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Old 06-26-2003, 03:02 AM   #12
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Even though there are only 21 votes so far, I am really surprised with the results of this poll.  I thought more people would vote for a class-based system.  Nevertheless, I am leaning towards a classless system where the character’s profession is decided by which skills they pickup along the way.  I like the concepts of skill/spell degeneration from lack of use and skill/spell branches.  

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about customization at character creation.  My objective is to come up with a way for players to remain interested in the game by creating new characters when they get tired of their old ones.  Players usually create new characters to try out the other classes, thus I have to make up for that somehow since I want a classless system.  What could be offered at character creation that could not be offered at any other time in the game besides talents (bonuses towards certain kinds of magic, weapons, etc as Kavir suggested) and customization with races?  I suppose there could be different starter cities as well.  

With a classless system you would only get a certain selection of skills/spells at creation, thus what determines base TNL?  Would it be a good idea for a player to customize this as long as it is within a certain range?
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Old 06-26-2003, 07:19 AM   #13
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I kinda like the hybrid that I play now. It's technically a class system, but functions more like a class-less system with focii.

When I create a new character, I pick primary class and subclass. This gives my character a few standard things that all characters can do - such as cooking, basic psionic communication, and at least some form of combat skill - though in some cases that form will simply be the ability to hold and use a shield in attempt to defend himself against the bad guy

These skills will all come with a specific "level" of innate ability, with some skills starting out better or worse than the others. Players have the option of sticking with the primary "function" of the classes they picked - for example the warrior/guard can choose to try and work for a noble house and BE a guard for that house.

Or, that warrior/guard might simply like the idea of having a couple of skills those classes come with and focus entirely on those few skills, branching out to other related skills that don't show up when they first gen, but do show up after spending a good amount of time learning to master the primary skills.

Maybe that warrior/guard will end up a spy instead of a guard, taking advantage of his attack skills as a method of -defense- rather than -offense.-

Or maybe that ranger will get hired as a house servant who has a love of nature and affinity with plantlife, but never actually becomes a "ranger" who spends all day in the desert tracking animals and leading expeditions blah blah blah.

In the end, I don't think it's all that important which route one takes, as much as it is how you apply those skills that you are capable of learning.
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Old 06-26-2003, 08:09 AM   #14
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Hmm, Zebedee is a class based system - but by providing and limitting the choices available to players we make one character very different from another.

For example a warrior can choose to become a Crusher and deal huge crushing blows with a two handed weapon, or a Blademaster and use a smaller bladed weapon for two attacks a round while still being able to use a shield, or Ambidextrous to wield two weapons at once. When you then choose either racial training (which gives different races different bonusses on various weapons) or berserking (which gives you a big bonus with any weapon but you can't leave the fight) and even our simplest class has quite a lot of choice and flexibility.

Each of our classes has to provide something very different from all of the others, which means that we only have a few classes since a lot of peoples suggestions have not qualified, but this does mean that playing them is a different experience. If you play a necromancer up then it will be a very different experience to playing a warrior up.

Some players like certain classes and only play characters from that class, while others have a legend for every class. It all depends on the preference of that player.

A classless system would remove that distinction. Necromancers are the ones wandering around with a huge undead army - if anyone could do it then what would be special about necromancers. When a necromancer dies rather than being resurrected by a cleric their guildmaster summons them back as a zombie or wraith, or their own dark powers bring them back to life as a lich.

All of this stuff is possible in a classless system - but a lot harder to design, to balance, and to get right.
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Old 06-26-2003, 10:24 AM   #15
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It sounds like you will have the prototypical classless game.

Not prototypical in comparison to what we currently have. Currently we are
purely skill-based. There is no opportunity to dedicate. And to that end we
do find that in particular, certain combinations are preferred over most others.
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Old 06-26-2003, 02:10 PM   #16
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Almost every classless game I have seen replaces the class system with a skill tree*.  In order to reach the highest branches of a certain art requires a great deal of concentrated resources( wether it be time, exp points, etc).   If one wanted to reach those pinacles they would need to dedicate themselves to that form at the cost of learning from other areas.  In it's own way it creates the typical mud classes but, IMO, in a much more creative and flexible way.

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Currently we are purely skill-based. There is no opportunity to dedicate.
Would you mind elaborating on what type of system you use then?  Is it an "every skill available whenever you are the right level" design?  If so then adding prequsite skills and setting up even a basic skill  tree should handle allowing players to dedicate.


* Skill tree and skill web are both systems I've seen implemented but the differences as far as my point goes is irrelevant so I use tree as a catch all term.
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Old 06-27-2003, 05:24 PM   #17
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I personally prefer classless for the freedom to choose what I will.

IMHO, the key to a good classless system isn't balance, it's imbalance.  Skills shouldn't be gauged based on how well they work against all skills, but based on how well they work vs a particular type of skill.

PVP shouldn't be perfectly balanced, it takes the fun out imho.  The skill comes in using imbalance to your own benefit.  With a classless system you should encourage imbalance, while making sure that the "best" skills have an equivalent.

It requires some effort, but introduce new skills over time to combat un-reasonable imbalance.  You'll eventually acheive a working balance.  You shouldn't expect each player to be balanced against each other player, instead you'll end up with power circles.  Where player a can kill player b,  player b can kill player c, and player c can kill player a.

This is a good thing imho, because it encourages players to work in groups to "fill" in the holes where they're weak.

Spells and skills should affect a wide variety of things... perhaps not enough to individually change the tide, but a good player with alot of spell downs should be able to wear someone down to a manageable level over time.

It's a harder, more fragile balance than a class system would have, and it really does depend on the ingenuity of your players.  A few really explorer oriented players and you'll see undreamed of combinations.

-- Kwon J. Ekstrom
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Old 06-28-2003, 07:22 AM   #18
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IMHO, the key to a good classless system isn't balance, it's imbalance. Skills shouldn't be gauged based on how well they work against all skills, but based on how well they work vs a particular type of skill.
That is still balance. I don't think anyone has claimed that all characters should be equal in all things, only that they should be balanced overall, in much the same way as a classed system might work - a warrior would be better at fighting and worse at magic than a mage, but overall the two classes would be on-par with each other.
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Old 06-28-2003, 09:26 PM   #19
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I definately prefer classless, but really like to tie skills into stats as well (some people are born warrior types, some are studious, some are.... - so if you are born a huge MOFO, with a lot of STR, CON and DEX then you will make a good warrior and skill advances and checks should reflect this), if at character creation you specify that you want a heayset, tall, brute of a char, with a tendency towards muscle rather than finesse or brains, then if later you decide you want to learn how to pick locks, and pickpocket, you are going about it all wrong and should be penalised (I know there are exceptions, but I try to generalise for simplicity in the game), there is no reason you cannot become a sneak thief, but physically you are better suited to clubbing them unconcious first if you want to see the contants of their pockets.

That said, I really limit skill levels, and amount of points. I have skills being able to be increased with use, but only up to a point.
It costs 1 point to learn a skill for the first time (you get 1 per level, and 10 at creation), you can pay extra points to increase it immediately if you really want to, or can go out and use it, but it will max out at 50%,
Then it will cost you 5 points to go up to 51%, and you can go out and practice more, but only up to 70%,
Next step, a further 10 points to go to 71%, and once again out to use and practice, but only up to 85%,
And so on, I am trying to limit characters to only being an expert in a very few skills, and a master of 1, maybe 2 at most (if you neglect and scrimp and save points)

Of course, there are quests that can be done to improve a certain skill up to a certain stage without the whole cost (sometimes no cost), and not just any trainer can teach any skill, at any level.

To further muddy the waters, there are many versions of some skills, this is done for RP reasons, watching the way someone casts fireball, gives an indication on who taught them (or where they were taught, schools tend to have multiple trainers, with a bit of overlapping, but all the same "family" of skills.

This was an attmpt to try and force players to work together more, your "warrior" might be able to slay all the guards but be unable to get the door unlocked. A master thief who is good with locks is easily able to get the door open, but he needs a legend fighter to get past the guards, And neither of them have a clue how to survive in the desert on the way there so they'd need a guide as well... At least thats the theory.
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Old 12-23-2003, 03:05 AM   #20
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Before asking whether you want to use classes. Ask whether you are going to use levels. Obviously if you are going to use levels it is going to be pure-pk, or a godwars type mud without levels, which I think is much better. I never liked levels, they just set the game apart from a feeling of you being the character, and I prefer rp-enforced muds so levels definitely need to be tossed. Classless or Classes it doesn't really matter for a roleplay mud because you can make it work either way. I don't know what kind of mud you plan on creating so I can't give you accurate advice, if it's going to have a lot of work done on it and you're an able coder, go for level-less with classes, I find that it works much better if the mud implements classes then if they let people pick from a list of skills.
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