It looked good on paper!
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:22 pm    Post subject: It looked good on paper! Reply with quote

I enjoy seeing what features other muds have implemented, but I find 'bad' features just as interesting as 'good' ones. We frequently see people advertising what they consider to be their best features, but their unsuccessful features tend to get swept under the carpet, or have their failings glossed over.

Sometimes a feature sounds pretty good when you're designing it, but after seeing it in action you really wish you hadn't added it. Sometimes you look at other people's muds, and you can understand why they decided to add a particular feature, but after seeing it in action you're really glad you didn't add it to your own mud!

Disclaimer: Obviously much of this is down to personal opinion. But these are my opinions of specific implementations of features that I have seen that I dislike, along with my opinion of why someone might add such a feature, and the solution I would use if I wanted to achieve that same goal.


Feature 1: Remorting

Description: Various 'remort' classes are available. To join a remort class you must first reach the top level in a regular class, at which point you can restart at level 1 in a stronger remort class.

The theory: Existing game content gets reused, giving the players more things to do after reaching maximum level, and the new remort classes provide additional variety.

In practice: Players are forced to more or less restart from scratch if they wish to progress beyond a certain point. If they don't do this, they'll be at a disadvantage in the long-term.

Proposed solution: Provide variety through subclass specialisation (i.e., you branch out at a certain level instead of returning to level 1). If you want players to reuse the content, then make the classes sufficiently unique and interesting that players will want to create a different character of each class.


Feature 2: Advancement based on class/race strength

Description: Certain classes and/or races are more powerful than others. This is balanced against a higher exp cost per level, resulting in slower progress for the more powerful characters.

The theory: Players can choose to create characters based on their playing style and how much time they're willing to invest. A hardcore player might choose to create a powerful character, while a casual player might create a weaker one.

In practice: Stronger characters require massive amounts of grinding to progress, but are actually easier to play (because they're stronger than mobs of their own level), and once everyone reaches maximum level the strong characters will dominate the game. In effect, if you wish to play competitively you're required to grind a strong character through an excessive number of unchallenging fights.

Proposed solution: It's okay for some classes/races to be more difficult or time-consuming than others (as long as players are warned in advance), but they shouldn't be 'stronger' or 'weaker' than other choices. Some players will take the more difficult option for the prestige value, and if you want further incentives you should look into ways of making the difficult classes/races stand out from a "coolness" perspective.


Feature 3: Full multiclassing

Description: Characters can earn levels in every class.

The theory: Players aren't forced into a single role chosen at the start, but can instead mix and match levels from all of the classes as they advance, based on whatever they feel like at the time.

In practice: If you don't level all your classes, you'll be at a clear disadvantage against those who do. This effectively results in the top level characters all being the same. Furthermore, because you have access to the abilities of every class, there is no incentive to create new characters to try out different classes - meaning each player will typically only experience the game content once. As everyone can tank/heal/etc, there'll be little need for group-play, unless you're simply recruiting raw numbers to hurl at a large mob.

Proposed solution: Design a proper classless system, using a skill tree/web to encourage specialisation while also allowing a fair degree of diversity (i.e., so that each character can do something particularly well, but they can also have a diverse range of lesser abilities).


Feature 4: Unlimited advancement

Description: There is no theoretical maximum level - you keep improving your character forever.

The theory: Players get bored when they reach maximum level. This ensures they've always got something to do.

In practice: With no 'maximum level' goal to aim for, gameplay turns into an endless grind.

Proposed solution: Find something else to entertain your top level players.


Feature 5: Random magic items

Description: Mobs drop random magic items, or perhaps preassigned item types but with random bonuses.

The theory: The randomised bonuses ensure that (almost) every item is unique, giving players an incentive to keep hunting for better equipment.

In practice: Competitive players feel obliged to spend countless hours farming mobs, in the hope of getting something better. Endless gameplay soon becomes endless grind.

Proposed solution:

Still working on this one, but options include reducing the random element, improving crafting options, and providing players with a means of trading instead of grinding for the bonuses they want.


Feature 6: Fully manual combat

Description: Players can fully control their actions in combat, entering both offensive and defensive commands to indicate the actions their character should take.

The theory: Many people find automated combat boring. Manual combat is much more interactive, and rewards player skill over character skill.

In practice: As combat becomes more and more complex, it becomes increasingly difficult for the player to react in time. If you reach the point where the players are required to write scripts in order to compete, then you've effectively gone back to an automated combat system with the added drawback of a higher entry barrier for new players.

Proposed solution: Don't require players to make complex lightning-fast decisions, because otherwise they'll always come second place to a trigger. You cannot stop people writing scripts, but you can reduce the value of scripts to the point where most people don't bother with them. One option is to remove the complex decisions (eg automate defences), another is to increase the thinking time (eg turn-based combat).


Feature 7: Automated quests which reward quest points

Description: Players complete various automated quests in return for quest points, which can be used to buy various enhancements.

The theory: Quests provide a break from the grind of killing mobs, giving players something else to do.

In practice: Players require quest points to buy the enhancements, which in turn are required to stay competitive, meaning that quests soon turn into a second layer of grind.

Proposed solution: Either have the quests reward regular exp, or provide another way to earn quest points. Alternatively, have the quest points used for non-enhancement bonuses such as fancy titles and renamed equipment.
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MECHFrost



Joined: 12 Dec 2009
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For Feature 5:

I see that you mentioned a shopkeeper with limited supplies, and your fear that players wouldn't trade as much. This is realistic, however I believe players don't mind that a shopkeeper has unlimited supplies, it seems to be a game standard. If the shopkeeper was selling a few different magic items every hour or so, and if he had unlimited supplies, it means the players could check the NPC every hour for new items, and "first come, first serve" (and camping) wouldn't apply with the unlimited supplies. It would also be more realistic if it changed every few days, so that he has time to build it or receive it from a caravan or whatever, but then everyone would have a chance to buy it directly from the NPC which would reduce trades between players unless they were short on cash at that time.

Now, I just throw a very random idea: an infinite market (or an infinite number of shops in a vast universe) could perhaps be interesting, but in its most simple form, buying equipment would turn into a new form of grind; you browse through shops for hours until you see something good (although female players might love that...) It would require some sort of intelligent organization so that a player needs to investigate or do something to be directed toward an interesting shop e.g. "on planet X of galaxy Y, they might sell items of type Z". The concept is really not different than "on planet X of galaxy Y, monsters might drop items of type Z" but it would offer an alternative to combat prowess with perhaps diplomacy skills.

For Feature 6:

If defense and complex choices are automated, then what is left to the player? Throwing attacks? How do his attack strategies matter at all if the defense is automated anyway?

What about offering some form of in-game scripting to players? Something simple so that everyone can use it, less code-like than a script. I see it as no different than real-life combat. A fighter learns tactics, memorizes them through repetition then executes them in combat.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MECHFrost wrote:
If defense and complex choices are automated, then what is left to the player? Throwing attacks? How do his attack strategies matter at all if the defense is automated anyway?

Well I was referring more to the actual defensive response commands - the part that requires complex lightning-fast decisions. So assuming a setup with dozens of offensive moves, each with their own appropriate counter, imagine a fully manual combat system that works like this:

Bubba types 'swing head'. You see the message 'Bubba takes a swing at your head'. You then have 3 seconds to type 'block high' to block his attack with your shield or 'duck' to duck below his attack, otherwise you get hit.

Instead I'm suggesting something more like this:

Bubba types 'swing head'. You don't see any message until 3 seconds later, when Bubba executes his attack. Your character then automatically tries to defend, with bonuses if your shield is in a high blocking position and/or you're in a low fighting stance.

Thus you can still perform defensive moves, such as repositioning your shield or changing your stance, but these aren't responses to attacks, so they're no longer timing critical. If your opponent keeps hitting you in the face you may well decide to raise your shield and lower your stance - in which case your opponent will probably change their tactics.

In effect, it shifts the emphasis from defence to offence.

In the manual defence example I gave earlier, you perform your attack and your opponent either raises their shield in time or gets hit - there's not really anything you can do to influence the outcome (it's up to the defender to react appropriately), so you just keep on throwing more attacks and focus your attention on your own defence.

But with the automated defence I proposed, you can see your opponent shifting their stance and repositioning their shield beforehand (rather than in response to your attacks), giving you the opportunity to work around it. You can't just keep blindly attacking, you need to watch what they're doing and modify your attacks accordingly.

Now it could be that some people would start automating their attacks. But I don't think this is anywhere near as serious - attacks are actions not reactions, so they're not usually timing-critical. Assuming you've some sort of stamina/fatigue/action-point system in place to avoid spammers getting more attacks than anyone else, you should be able to compete just fine without scripting.

MECHFrost wrote:
What about offering some form of in-game scripting to players?

You could do, but scripting is still scripting, and if it's required to compete then you're basically back to an automated combat system. Because scripts can (and will) be shared between players, they tend to undermine the value of player skill.
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Ashon



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 4:38 pm    Post subject: Re: It looked good on paper! Reply with quote

With the understanding that you disclaimed the fact that these are your opinions, I figured I'd offer just a few comments:

KaVir wrote:

Feature 1: Remorting

Proposed solution: Provide variety through subclass specialisation (i.e., you branch out at a certain level instead of returning to level 1). If you want players to reuse the content, then make the classes sufficiently unique and interesting that players will want to create a different character of each class.[/b]


I'd say that one reason that remort is being used is to reduce the amount of player to character bloat and lower the chances of someone wanting to multiplay. Another reason that I can imagine is that it is a solution to end-game play, where the remort class gives players who reach the end of the levelling grind get new skills to play through again instead of adding an end game scenario.

KaVir wrote:

Feature 5: Random magic items

Description: Mobs drop random magic items, or perhaps preassigned item types but with random bonuses.

The theory: The randomised bonuses ensure that (almost) every item is unique, giving players an incentive to keep hunting for better equipment.

In practice: Competitive players feel obliged to spend countless hours farming mobs, in the hope of getting something better. Endless gameplay soon becomes endless grind.


I'm under the opinion that randomized drops are based on a different Theory then the one that has been offered. I feel as if Random Drops add a bit of excitement to the level-grind, it gives the game the feeling of more Diablo/Table Top Random treasure Generation. Where not everything is going to be designed for the player, and there are times when it shouldn't be what the player wants. Of course most random drops are weapons/armor, but there's no reason that random drops couldn't be more story/world-centric. My game is developed around an urban setting, and NPC's with random drops are going to be dropping non-eq based treasure. Flavored treasure that adds a little depth to the world. Charms, letters (for mini-quests), Flashy Clothing, pieces of art, books.

KaVir wrote:

Feature 7: Automated quests which reward quest points

Proposed solution: Either have the quests reward regular exp, or provide another way to earn quest points. Alternatively, have the quest points used for non-enhancement bonuses such as fancy titles and renamed equipment.


I think that there is a 50/50 split between automated quests that are used for advancement and automated quests that are used for non-enhancement bonuses. My proposal for automated quests are to build character background and character history, where by when a quest is created for a character it has a dual pronged purpose:

1) Give the players interaction with an NPC that actually acts as a 'flashback' for the character. This will be to help build the characters background and history and how they've intereacted with a guild/faction/NPC in the past and influence any future interactions with player.

2) Increase/Decrease faction ranking. Most if not all NPC's are assigned to a faction, and according to a characters standing with the faction they will be met with resistance or help, they will be able to unlock certain faction quests, unlock roleplaying opportunities with staff generated roleplay situations.
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MECHFrost



Joined: 12 Dec 2009
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:20 pm    Post subject: Re: It looked good on paper! Reply with quote

Ashon wrote:
Another reason that I can imagine is that it is a solution to end-game play, where the remort class gives players who reach the end of the levelling grind get new skills to play through again instead of adding an end game scenario.


Are you saying that you can remort over and over, without seeing the end of it? In which case it's the same as Feature 4. The game doesn't have to end once you have reached maximum level, I think that would make a very boring MUD if there's nothing to do but get levels. And as KaVir said, if the player wants to play with new skills, they might as well create a new character.

I have no idea how remort works in stock games but I'm under the impression that remorting gives you a significant advantage, from KaVir's post. A solution would be to make that advantage less significant e.g. a remort character only gets a few more skills points, or a very minor increase of attack or defense. I like it especially if a remort character takes much more time to level (5x?). It rewards a player just for the fact that he spent an unhealthy amount of time on your MUD, and they will surely choose to remort, however casual players won't be at a disadvantage.

Also, something in favor of remorting: I have seen on themudconnector.com a player looking for a new MUD, but he understandably is not very thrilled about logging into the game and seeing that everyone is level 10000000E+5. A slow remorting means that an older player can be stuck at a low level for a while, which simply makes the environment look less hostile to the noob but honestly, not many MUDs include features to make noobs useful to veteran players, so the level of other players is the only indication that they have about whether they will have someone to interact with or not. This sounds like a very cheap fix to the newbie problem to me though.

On a side note, here is a manner to handle new players that really sounds great (especially for MUD owners who value highly player skills as opposed to character skills):

"Once upon a time, I got heavily involved in a Star-Trek based MOO. Even now, I still think highly of how it handled new players. Upon entry, you would choose a race and some description. Then, you were stuck on some neutral-zone starbase. Not much to do except meet people and play in the simulators. The trick was that representatives from each of the races were watching the proceedings in the simulator. People who excelled in starship dueling were quickly recruited by the different factions and trained to fit into the organization. What a feeling when a veteran player approaches you to ask you to join!"

From: http://www.skotos.net/articles/storms17.shtml
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Ashon



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the couple of Diku's that I've played and from the posts that I have seen on all the boards, remorting is more like reaching the top of the rogue class and then remorting into an 'assassin' class that starts over again at first level. So Remorting opens up new classes for the players, and gives them an opportunity to continue the character that they have grown a connection too, and not just languish at the top of the game.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Munich

PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ashon wrote:
I'd say that one reason that remort is being used is to reduce the amount of player to character bloat and lower the chances of someone wanting to multiplay.

I don't see how it would discourage multiplaying, to be honest - although it might well encourage botting, for those who aren't interested in grinding through the same content a second time, but who don't want to be at a competitive disadvantage. It may result in slightly fewer pfiles, but I don't see why that should matter.

Ashon wrote:
Another reason that I can imagine is that it is a solution to end-game play, where the remort class gives players who reach the end of the levelling grind get new skills to play through again instead of adding an end game scenario.

The problem is it's not "end" game, it's "start again" game. They reach the end of the grind and realise that in order to continue, they have to start again from the beginning. They give up the powerful character they've spent all that time grinding, and start again at level 1.

At least if they start a new character, they've still got their old one. Make the different classes interesting enough and many players will try them all, replaying through the same content with each. But they won't get an innate advantage over those who prefer to level up just the once, and they're never forced to discard their work.

Ashon wrote:
I feel as if Random Drops add a bit of excitement to the level-grind, it gives the game the feeling of more Diablo/Table Top Random treasure Generation.

At first, sure. But if the equipment gives a competitive edge, it becomes a must-have, and once the novelty wears off it ends up as yet another grind. As one of my players once said "at least primal grind is finite...Eq grind is until the day you die."


MECHFrost wrote:
I have no idea how remort works in stock games but I'm under the impression that remorting gives you a significant advantage, from KaVir's post. A solution would be to make that advantage less significant e.g. a remort character only gets a few more skills points, or a very minor increase of attack or defense. I like it especially if a remort character takes much more time to level (5x?). It rewards a player just for the fact that he spent an unhealthy amount of time on your MUD, and they will surely choose to remort, however casual players won't be at a disadvantage.

Any advantage is an advantage, and in a competitive mud (particularly PvP) people who don't remort would be at a disadvantage. Increasing the time to level won't change that, it'll just make it more frustrating.

If you really want special remort classes then my suggestion would be to give them "cool" things instead of "powerful" things - don't give them bigger bonuses, give them different bonuses. Make them a status symbol.
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MECHFrost



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
If you really want special remort classes then my suggestion would be to give them "cool" things instead of "powerful" things - don't give them bigger bonuses, give them different bonuses. Make them a status symbol.


By skills, I meant swim, dance, pickpocket and the like. They don't affect the PvP yet they are useful in the game and better than a mere status.
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Ashon



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
I don't see how it would discourage multiplaying, to be honest - although it might well encourage botting, for those who aren't interested in grinding through the same content a second time, but who don't want to be at a competitive disadvantage. It may result in slightly fewer pfiles, but I don't see why that should matter.


Really, I don't see much difference between having a player who reaches the highest levels of the leveling system to be restart at first level to replay through the game. It would be like replaying through Oblivion or Dragon Age Origins, except, that since muds are a social game, there is a certain amount of player prestige, and player reputation, interpersonal relationships and other 'social' factors that keep players from wanting restart a new character.

In theory remort allows a player to play through the game in different ways with different skills and abilities, but be able to keep the social ties that bing a game together.

In practice remort is just level, skill, and power bloat.



KaVir wrote:

The problem is it's not "end" game, it's "start again" game.


Agreed.


Kavir wrote:

At first, sure. But if the equipment gives a competitive edge, it becomes a must-have, and once the novelty wears off it ends up as yet another grind. As one of my players once said "at least primal grind is finite...Eq grind is until the day you die."


Well, and in that response lies the answer to that question. Limit the power of dropped eq. But as I said before the best use of random drops are going to be thematic loot. A sword is a sword, but a randomly genrated sword that has a hilt crafted to look like a jaguar adds no competitve advantage.
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Deadsoul



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

im soooo guilty of most of these.
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are a few more:

Feature 8: Realistic equipment manipulation

Description: There's no concept of inventory - instead, an item that's picked up is moved to one of your hands, and can then be placed into a container you're wearing. Equipment is also layered, so that you have to wear your underpants before you can wear your trousers, and then wear a codpiece after that.

The theory: Magic "floating bubble" inventories are unrealistic, and layered equipment adds both cosmetic and strategic elements to the game.

In practice: Moving equipment around becomes a painfully frustrating chore.

Proposed solution: Either stick with inventories as an abstraction, perhaps with some thematic or cosmetic justification, or use containers and make the distinction invisible to the player (by automatically moving equipment into and out of your worn containers). Layered equipment is a nice feature, but forcing players to remove layers before they can wear/remove something underneath is annoying - either automate it, fake it (with cosmetic messages) or ignore it.


Feature 9: Tag-based character recognition

Description: You don't see the names of other players, only a short description. However you have access to a command that allows you to 'tag' someone with a name of your choice - so that if someone introduces themselves as 'Bubba', you can literally tag them as 'Bubba' and that's the name you'll see from that point on.

The theory: From a roleplaying perspective, it doesn't make sense that you'd automatically know people you'd never met - but equally, a character would remember many of the people they'd met, regardless of the player's memory. The tagging system allows you to identify people you've met previously, whether by name (after roleplaying an introduction) or action (eg tagging someone "the mugger" after they've mugged you, so that you'll remember them next time).

In practice: It gets really confusing trying to keep track of different people, particularly when players lie about their names - "Have you seen Bubba?", "Who's Bubba?", "That guy you were chatting with this morning!", "That wasn't Bubba, that was Boffo", "No, Boffo is the guard", "No, the guard is Biffo", etc.

Proposed solution: Only allow characters to introduce themselves by their real name (if secret identities are an important part of the mud, allow players to create a limited number of alternate identities with different names). Perhaps allow tagging for flags ("killer", "thief", "mugger", etc), but don't use it as the primary means of identification.


Feature 10: Paired race/class combinations

Description: Elves make the best mages, halflings make the best thieves, orcs make the best warriors, etc.

The theory: Each race is good at different things, and each has its own unique niche.

In practice: If you don't pick the right race for your class, your character will be inferior to those who do; you can either play an "elf mage" or a "rubbish mage". At this point, races are no longer really a choice, they're effectively part of the class - or a permanent mistake that'll cripple your character.

Proposed solution: Ideally, each race/class combo should be equally viable. Perhaps the orc warrior is stronger than the elven warrior, but the elf should be able to compensate in some other way (such as agility). If you really don't want certain races to be good at certain classes then either ban it outright (eg dwarves can't be wizards), compensate in some other way (eg dwarven wizards are weaker spellcasters than most wizards, but also better fighters) or replace it with a new race-specific option (eg a geomancer class that's only available to dwarves).
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Deadsoul



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

#10 is mainly a way to augment the paper rock dynamite effect between classes and races.

the problem lies in how to you distinguish between them.

ogre mages and orc mages having the same spells is a no go.

but not giving them the same spells causes the same problem you attempt to remedy.

catch 22.
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I'm talking more about the common approach to races, where each race consists of just a few stat modifiers (and perhaps a minor ability such as infravision if you're lucky).

Giving orc mages and ogre mages different spells can indeed make things more difficult to balance (although probably no more difficult than balancing classes), but at least then the player has two alternatives to choose between, with each choice giving different options.

On the other hand if elves get +1 intelligence, and intelligence is the most important stat for mages, then it becomes a no-brainer - the elf is simply a better mage than the human, and there's no tactical reason to choose the latter.

An easier solution would be to simply drop the stat modifiers from races, and instead differentiate them through minor abilities that add flavour and flexibility rather than raw power. For example giving elves infravision is fine, it's still an advantage but it won't make them a better mage. This would make race more of a cosmetic thing than a tactical decision, but at least people wouldn't lose out for choosing the wrong combination of race and class.
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Tonitrus



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
On the other hand if elves get +1 intelligence, and intelligence is the most important stat for mages, then it becomes a no-brainer - the elf is simply a better mage than the human, and there's no tactical reason to choose the latter.

An easier solution would be to simply drop the stat modifiers from races, and instead differentiate them through minor abilities that add flavour and flexibility rather than raw power. For example giving elves infravision is fine, it's still an advantage but it won't make them a better mage. This would make race more of a cosmetic thing than a tactical decision, but at least people wouldn't lose out for choosing the wrong combination of race and class.


Another option would be one I've seen on a mud I used to play. It was a ROM mud, and race determined stat caps (not sure if this is default behavior for ROMs or not). As such, a drow warrior had a much higher dex than a fire giant warrior, who had a much higher strength. They got around the balance issue by giving warriors skills that used each stat. A drow warrior was better at tripping and kicking dirt in your face, a fire giant warrior was better at bashing and ... whatever else, it's been awhile.

Since their attack system used dexterity for hit accuracy and strength for hit damage, it helped to balance out a lot as well. A drow warrior was much more likely to hit, even if he didn't do that much damage. A fire giant might do massive amounts of damage, but it's harder for him to land a hit at all.

Singling out an ability by having one useful stat is rather wrong-headed, in my opinion. There's no reason spells shouldn't use all 3 mental stats. Charisma (in the sense of will and drive) for power/damage, wisdom for control, intelligence for accuracy, etc. Then, of course, if self-cast spells can break caps, even if an orc or ogre mage had terrible mental stats altogether (a generally unwise choice for a spellcaster), he could really wreak some havoc when he managed to cast his physical-stat-boosters.

But I personally think that even limiting spell-casting to mental stats is a bad idea. I'd probably tie max mana partially to strength, and mana-regen to constitution. Then even if an ogre/orc mage isn't as effective with spells, there's still the certain knowledge that he can go all day long. No reason constitution couldn't tie in to defensive spells, either. Then orc/ogre mages would be tank mages.

I think "most important stat" is the flaw here, race/class combinations are just a victim of it.
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Deadsoul



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

I think "most important stat" is the flaw here, race/class combinations are just a victim of it.
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