Fighting and Travel Archives

August 30, 2006

Standard-Based Descriptive Leveling System

Standard-Based Descriptive Leveling System, or SBDLS for short, is what we call the leveling system for BOL. Now, I don't feel like writing everything about this today, so here is a rough overview of it:

First of all, how leveling typically works in almost all games is that you gain experience in various aspects and then an overall 'level' goes up when your experience hits a certain number. I don't like this because this isn't anywhere close to being realistic. Secondly, this is the same thing I hate about turn-based fighting, you take a portion of time and then all of a sudden something happens and you get results of your action. Also, in trying to be realistic, just think of how people in the real world classify the strength or level of something; they say something like strong, weak, awesome, lame, a discriptive word. Now, of course, those kind of words are way too general and can't practically be put into code in an effective way, but, on the other hand, you can calculate strength of various aspects continuously, because that's how things happen; continuously, not in leaps. You can also rate things in a comparison of your abilities compared to some kind of general standard for your race, class, weapon, etc. Now, a question I've been asking myself which is a culmination of these thoughts is this:

How can you classify the strength or level of something without numbers but also without being too general?

That question is something that can't be answered easily but will be very important to how the gameplay of BOL will evolve. Now a question you might have about that question is why would I want to shy away from using numbers. The answer to that is that even though it's a great tool it limits you. If you take a pie for example and want to figure out the percentage people can have then your bound to 100. Technically you can use decimal places on forever but just face it, that isn't reasonable. Just like you might get a character with a strength of 100 who typically does about 50 damage but of course sometimes he'd do less or get a critical hit and do more. That limits you though because in staying realistic you can only do somewhere between 0 (missing) to 100 (hitting a vital point) but if you were to try and think of how many possible places of varying pain in various ways you could hit a person that becomes greatly realistic. Now I know that a computer, itself run entirely by numbers, is limited and can't make a truly realistic environment but that doesn't mean that you can't somehow come up with an alternative to all numbers and use something besides variables of numbers to calculate how things happen in the game. What I mean by my last statement is that even though we have variables in equations to actually solve the equation you have to replace it with a number but how could you replace it with something else that gave you more options and wasn't as bound as numbers?

Ok, so you seem to have some of the same frustration at trying to come up with a better system then numbers but I think that we're close. The best descriptive language, for lack of a better term, is emotions. Since we can't exactly transfer emotions to people in the real world, or in games, we use words. Now to use words that are descriptive enough and that have a relationship with numbers and that people can easily understand/comprehend, I think that we just need to start with words like more and less. Now, every classification will, as we've both stated before, need to be a comparison of a general standard. The standard will be slightly different for races, genders, classes, and age, but they won't be so unique that they are hard to distinguish from or easily confusable.

Question: The use of descriptors is something that needs to be done, but I'm wondering how this will play out against the need for the continuous update of ability, as opposed to the large jumps made by "leveling up." Will the descriptors change at certain points, serving as a marker to let players know when they have advanced past a certain point, or will there still be large jumps, but just in smaller increments than the norm?

Answer: The "jumps", if at all, happen in a second because the stats are recalculated every second. Now you might think that that would mean that the server would crash just from calculating everyones stats but that's not true because I'm going to have every possible combination precalculated before hand and if some how something was missed, then it will tell me in the report log and it will calculate it and put in into the table. I will be interested to see how LOTR did their descriptive stuff too because that would be neat. And about how the descriptions themselves would change, for the biggest things it would happen after they sleep, because physical changes and growth happen the most during sleep.

Now if we could just find some global comparisons...
Solution: The standard is something that the npcs all know and that you learn through the tutorial quests. A 'real-life' example of the perfect person kind of thing would be like one of the founders of the place.

Question: So, with things being calculated every second, does that mean we have automatic leveling in BOL?
Answer: Yes, we definitly have automatic leveling though I don't exactly like that word. Lets call it growth. Players now have growth that is effected by time, gameplay, and skill. When I say skill I mean skill of the person behind the character more than just the character. You know how in real life some people catch on and are able to do things faster than others? Well, we should make some things in the game like that. Like fighting for example. I'll have to figure out a way that you can have such control over how you attack that your knowledge of how it works and your skill with that particular weapon has more effect on gameplay then simply your character's strengths. The actual real-time fighting will help with this a lot, because just think of how super smash bros is; you can both be playing with mario, so your 'stats' are the same and you have the same moves and everything, but whoever is the better player has the advantage. This is complex but if you think of how the game play of ssb works you can imagine how simple, therefore, the gameplay of BOL is.

Question: So, do people who have played for a long time become outrageously better then new players?
Answer: Well, if they really are long-term players, then yes, they should be better then new players. But, that isn't purely based off their stats. Your skills depreciate some after prolonged unuse. This isn't unfair to those players because the player has a lot more to do with the game actions then in other games. An example is say crafting; in a normal game you click craft item and your guy does it (or fails) depending on your skill level. In BOL, you'd be controling your guys general motions in the crafting of the item, which would also make your item unique because it'd be a little bit different from everyone else's. This mean really that the actual player has to have skill in a particular area to do well in that area. After fighting for a few hours it would probably take me some time to get used to crafting again. This makes the game a lot more realistic and immersive. It also means that I don't have to make all the rare items myself. When a player gets good enough they might craft an item that could be considered legendary, with magic crafted into it, and they'd be able to give their creation a name. And about depreciating skills, a skill will never go all the way back to where it started, and relearning those skills, or gaining experience for them again, goes faster the second time until the point where you last were.

I hope this helps people have a good understanding about SBDLS. If you have questions about anything that is unclear just ask in the comment section below. I will go over and rewrite parts of this later when I have more time to devote to it.


Work in progress, but still full of content.

Update: There is now a great description below about the leveling system of BOL, which is very unique to other MMORPGs. Be prepared for a lot of reading, and enjoy.

Here is a basic description of the fighting system: Realtime as in Super Smash Bros., not "real-time" as in WOW.

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