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Old 04-29-2006, 08:19 PM   #1
Trevalen
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Allow me explain an experience system concept that was considered and rejected during the design phase for my game, to see if anyone has come up with a creative solution to the problem I experienced.

The system was a sort of hybrid of flat exp and skill system that worked thusly: by killing monsters or completing quests, experience points were earned. Experience points could be spent by the player to purchase levels in skills such as heavy armor, slashing weapons, pyromancy, stealth, and the like. Each player is a member of a guild (such as mages guild), which has certain requirements to advance through the ranks and gain acccess to new abilities. For example, perhaps a mage needs five levels of pyromancy per guild rank, but only one of armor, whereas a knight would focus on armor and weapons, etc. Requirements for each level within the guilds are balanced so that to buy the necessary skills to earn a level requires the same amount of experience for members of each guild, and results in similar "power" within the game.

The dilemma came about when applying this system to our design goal of exponential growth. The idea is that player power should advance exponentially rather than linearly over time. Therefore players (for example) should not gain 5 hit points per level, but rather 5%. This is in order to create an environment where X units of time will produce the same feeling of advancement for all players. (In a linear system, you might start at level 1 with 5 HP, and gaining 5 would you level would double your HP -- a huge power increase. When moving from 50 HP to 55HP, however, it's only a 10% increase, which is less noticeable. Eventuially this results in power increases which are inobservable at the top end and results in high level players quitting due to ennui.)

So, we determined that skills should follow this principle of exponential power growth. However to create exponential growth in power with a skill system requires one of two things:

A) The power and cost of each skill rank increase exponentially.
B) The number of skill ranks required per guild level increase exponentially.

You must have either bigger skill ranks or more skill ranks in order to achieve exponential growth.

A) is undesirable because ranks lose meaning because they are of different sizes. This is clumsy and unintuitve. Additionally, the experience costs of each rank have to increase exponentially, meaning the number of experience points each rank costs will soon reach absurd levels and fill the game with huge and ugly numbers.

B) is undesirable for similar reasons. For example, the number of ranks needed per level scales up quickly, and soon players are having to allocate ranks many many times each level. Buying skill ranks goes from being an interesting intermediate reward to being an obnoxious hassle.

Has anyone seen any games with a skill system like this that include exponential growth? How are other administrators dealing with the scaling issues caused by exponential growth? Hiding numbers behind flat levels is an obvious solution, but I regret being limited to only that tired option.

-T

PS: Apologies for the giant post -- I was trying to be succinct!
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Old 04-30-2006, 06:18 PM   #2
Shane
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It appears you have two opposed design goals that will not be able to be both kept absolutely. On the one hand, you want exponential growth, which to me is remeniscent of LP mud levels, yet at the same time you do not want to fill the world with horrid monsters that would trounce newbies.

I think the general solution for that has been to have different areas coded for different level ranges. How you let the players know which areas are for which levels is another challenge. I have seen that done as stragightforwardly as listing the level ranges for areas in a help file. Less touchy feely muds like to let people learn these things by trial and error.

Also, most exponential growth systems tend to cap at some level. Matter of fact, most muds in general tend to cap at some level, don't they? So, if you cap at a level where a newbie can survive at least a hit or two from the biggest, baddest beasties, you have more or less minimized the negative effect.

Ancient Anguish has attempted to ballance in this way.

I hope I am not hopelessly off topic. I think I understood the question, but... could be.. not so much.
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