The illusion of improvement

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Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 12:25 pm    Post subject: The illusion of improvement Reply with quote

My combat system is based primarily on player skill. It used to be completely based on player skill, but I've since added a gradual and unobvious form of advancement (skills which trickle upwards slowly enough to be almost undetectable).

Within the mud there is a location for players to practice their fighting skills by engaging martial-artists of increasing rank (9 different grades of sash). Most players can defeat the first two or three, but then find it increasingly difficult to progress.

Of course as they practice, each players' personal skill improves - but this playing skill is also boosted by the very gradual increase of character skill, which is subtle enough to give the player an increasing edge while leaving them feeling that they're winning their fights almost entirely due to their own budding playing skills. Since adding this form of advancement I've noticed that newbies seem to get far less discouraged, as they find themselves doing better and better almost every fight, rather than getting stuck at a certain grades of martial-artist as they used to.

This 'illusion of improvement' wasn't something I did intentionally, but it seems to work very well, and thought it might be of interest to other mud designers. I could see the same logic working well for other systems, such as crafting, providing encouragement to newbies by making them feel as if they're getting to grips with a new system a little faster than they really are. I think this is particularly valuable for systems which are very different to the norm, where new players are already faced with a steep learning curve.
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Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 34
Location: UK

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's an interesting idea, and one I may have to borrow. Very Happy

Just this morning I was wondering about how to deal with both improvable and non improvable skills in a consistent way. In my system most of the skills are non improvable, that is to say there are no skill checks, and the result produced is the same each time regardless of skill level. However there are certain skills where I would like to vary the result based on character skill level. That is fine, but I didn't want to confuse players by mixing the two systems. For example by having certain skills learned at 100% effectiveness, others at 50% or 1%, some skills you need to practice, others you don't etc.

Of course it is obvious now I think about it, but using some system of hidden improvement such as you suggest would be ideal. It would still appear that each skill is learned fully and performing at the same level, but infact certain skills could improve through use, unknown to the player.
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Joined: 17 May 2005
Posts: 49
Location: Tampa

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know this works really well in an RPI enviroment, where all you can see are the skills. On Armageddon they have a "branch" system where let's say you are playing a Ranger here are the starting skills.

110/110hp 94m 17mv 110st walkingsk
Psionic powers
contact barrier

Combat skills
archery rescue
dual wield shield use
flee two handed

Weapon skills
piercing weapons slashing weapons
chopping weapons bludgeoning weapons

Manipulation skills
bandage ride
skinning sleight of hand

Perception skills
listen hunt
scan forage

Barter skills

Language skills
sirihish mirukkim

Craft skills
cooking analyze

Now from here as you slowly use your skills, listen will give you sneak, scan will give you hide, so on and so forth, obviously the most simple explanation for a branch is what happens, so for the assassin guild
which doesn't start with scan or listen, but DOES start with sneak and hide, would branch the aforementioned skills from it. Anyway it's interesting because you never know how truly strong you are until you see these other skills start popping up and you know you've nearly mastered a skill related to it.

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