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INTRODUCTION As part of the future RPG elements of the vanilla game a Player Character Development System (PCDS) may be expected. When pondering what such a system should entail if it were match with the vanilla game, I thought of the following concepts and starting points that I wish to bring forward for consideration. The vanilla game leans on the principle of ‘no grinding to max player capabilities’ and I am personally a huge fan of that. I think the way the players max hp is managed in dependency of a balanced diet (nutrient intake) in time while making use of moving average ‘intake’, should also be the template for other systems affecting player capabilities. Therefore I propose to use this same concept for a future PCDS. So, which appropriate starting points could further be considered for such a system? TRAIN, SUSTAIN ... OR DRAIN Player characters can improve their skills through practise ('training'), but if they do not sustain them, the effects of any training gradually decreases, or ‘drains’ off. Any 'muscles' of both body and brain weaken through lack of activity. This implies a ‘moving average’ record is to be kept of character ‘training’ (executed actions that contribute to some level of skill). This concept is very similar to the way health is implemented. PLAYER CHARACTER SPECIALISATION Players should be able to specialise, i.e. to maintain a high level of skill in specific pursuits through focussed efforts. This will offer interesting dynamics on servers where a cook can prepare the most nutritious meals, hunters and livestock keepers can produce the most animal products from any ‘harvest’, a forester can get the most usable timber and saplings from logging, and a miner can get the best and most of breaking ore containing rock. CLASSLESSNESS Despite the use of names of 'professions', I do not suggest to implement a system using 'class' or 'profession' identifiers in any way. I’d rather recommend to not use such ‘artificial, immersion breaking tags’ at all. Players should be free to develop whatever combination of specialisations for their character. It would be nice-to-have if somehow NPCs and/or players in the environment of a player character can recognise specialisations. ATTRIBUTES AND SKILLS An attractive PCDS would consist of a set of physical and mental attributes ('muscles') that can be trained to get better at a set of in-game specific skills who all relate to player actions like breaking and placing blocks and items (‘mining’ and ‘building’) and processing resources to ‘craft’ products (‘crafting’). Ideally, every activity contributes to training a specific skill and improve one or more attributes (as to reward the player for their in-game performance), even if the effects would just be hardly noticeable on short term. Also ideally, each attribute can be trained with multiple activities and also affect multiple skills, but improving an attribute through training in only one specific activity will not allow for the same specialisation for all attribute affected skills as all skills require a different mix of attributes to be put to use. Such a system could lead to the following example. Imagine a melee specialised warrior with formidable might (a physical attribute) able to chop down trees and break rock faster than any cook can, but their friend specialised forester or miner will get a better yield from logging or mining (specific skills) than said melee warrior. This would be due to the fact that in melee combat (sword wielding) the warrior player's training mainly affects their attributes might, endurance, reflexes and resolve, while through logging the forester player's training mainly affects their attributes might, dexterity, knowledge and caution. As only the improved might attribute will effectively contribute to the warriors ability to cut down trees, he will not be as effective and efficient as a forester, even if their might would be superior to that of the forester. This part will require a lot of thorough thinking in order to design a fair and balanced system of attributes and skills in agreement with all other starting points addressed here, but the basic mechanics can be implemented in a quite straightforward and well-known manner. 1) For clarification, the present set of nutrition values and the resulting maximum health value of a player can be considered as 4 specific 'constitution' attributes of the character that each add to their maximum health. This maxium health value of a player can therefore be considered a 'skill' that can be trained. The proposed attribute-skill system can be implemented in the game code in much the same manner, with values of attribute increasing and decreasing dependent on the (in-)activities of the player and these values being used to calculate the effects of player actions in the game. THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH ONE BLUE MAN CAN DO To suppress any ‘mindless’ grinding of players trying to continuously keep up their maxed levels, the effectiveness of training shall be restricted. To ensure this, training effectiveness should be reduced in dependency of the training intensity (‘training per measure of time’). The more a player trains per measure of time, the less effective their training becomes. Assuming skill training and ‘experience’ is calculated in the same way as health now is, the time dependency will be taken care of. Additionally, the ‘experience gain’ will have to be dependent on the training intensity. Simplest way would be to have a linear dependency where above a certain threshold training intensity, the experience gain per action linearly reduces to some minimum value (say 10%) when reaching the practical maximum training intensity. Smart setting of sample time periods (for moving average intensity calculation) for each type of activity will be essential. This mimics the realistic limited ability of characters to train their ass off while still resulting in improved level of skill. No, characters get tired after some intense training and will have to recover before being able to get better at something. And the nett effect of training reduces at some point when physical, and mental, limits are met. This also implies that players shall not be able to ‘max all skills’ and they will have to choose what to train dependent on what they wish to achieve in-game. Each trainable skill will also have capped maximum ‘experience’, see below for more on that. Nonetheless, ‘Grinder’s gonna grind’. Duh. IN REALISTIC MODERATION Another starting point should be that characters cannot develop super-hero like capabilities. To both ensure the game maintains a feeling of realism and to ensure the capability differences between players with maxed skill levels and other players (servers!), and their environment (also in single-player!), it would seem appropriate to ensure that maxed capabilities do not exceed a base capability with a performance factor of 50 to 100 %, i.e.: players can train to get 100% better reflexes and/or more agile resulting in double the chance they can avoid a blow to the nose, or they can get 50% faster at whacking a pick axe into a wall of igneous rock, but no player can get better than that. As a rule of thumb, I recommend to aim for the relative ‘strength’ of highly specialised characters to be maximally twice as high as that of untrained characters in any (set of) skill(s). LEVELLESSNESS In line with the spirit of the game and the above, I propose to not distinguish '(experience) levels'. Instead, players will be able to view a scale from 0 to some maximum value (or percentage), indicating the degree of mastery they achieved in any distinguishable skill. HIGHER UP, THE SLOPE GETS STEEPER In line with both realism and most RPG games, improvement gets harder with higher 'level' of skill. This simply implies that the mathematical relationship between skill 'level' and effect will have to be non-linear, possibly some exponential function with an asymptote approaching 'max effect' for high skill 'level' (or 'experience points'). PERKS Finally, perquisites aka ‘perks’. Based on the above starting points, player skill can degrade due to inactivity and that can be quite discouraging for players. To counter this effect perks can be used as lasting rewards from intense specialisation. These can for instance be special abilities for sword wielding warriors to develop a chance to cripple their adversaries (chance to impose a 'slow effect') or for smiths to acquire the ability to create a special tool. When those warriors and smiths turn to farming for a while, they may respectively lose part of their attack strength and ability to recover nuggets for re-smelting after forging. But they will not lose the perks they acquired when they were active as warriors and smiths. So the once-warriors still have a chance to cripple their foes with a sword and the once-smiths can still use that special 'recipe' they learned. 2) Perks can be unlocked upon reaching a threshold value for an attribute or a skill. TRAITS On top of that eventually also traits can be added to the PCDS sauce. Traits would be related to a player character's intrinsic mix of pre-set attribute values, or 'defaults' they would have. This can be considered to reflect the genetic map of a player character which can be a result of their ancestry, inherited when they enter the game. This may add another interesting feature for future VS (whether or not part of the vanilla game, some specific expansion or only in mods), as this can support introduction of player character races, each with their specific subset of pre-set base attribute values. A possible additional way to express 'traits', next to using pre-set attribute values, can be by using trait-dependency in attribute learning rates ('experience gain'). TAKE IT STEP BY STEP A complex PCDS requires careful functional design specification and a stepwise approach to realise the code and roll out the implemented features. Not all has to be released in one update and not all will have to be optimally tuned between two. There’s a logical hierarchy in the system’s features determining what should have to go first and what last. So, that's about it. I think the above starting points could provide an appropriate foundation for a 'Player Character Development System' for VS. I hope the VS team will find some of the above useful for their plans. Any constructive feedback is highly appreciated. If useful, I will adjust the above based on feedback provided and further discussion in this thread. The next post is reserved to add my own sauce regarding concrete attributes and skills in VS. Edits: 1) Added explanation regarding relation between nutrition - hp and the proposed system of attributes - skills. 2) Added remark on the possibility to connect perks to both attribute and skill levels.
I've seen many proposals for skill systems, character systems, learning systems, etc. So there is a want by some of the community to have some sort of system to play around with. I also have experienced several different systems from many different games ranging throughout gaming history. This gives me a wide and deep pool of knowledge to pull from, however, I'm not as big of a gamer as I use to be. My knowledge of current skills systems and what is popular is limited. Knowing that let's move forward with the suggestion. First, a brief overview. Players gain perks by performing game actions or reading manuals. Players are allowed to equip a limited amount of perks. The perks offer benefits to the player if the perk activation requirements are met. Now for the longer more detailed explanation. A perk consists of 4 parts: unlock requirements, equip cost, activation conditions, effects. Unlock requirements is the requirements needed to get acquire the perk. On the easiest side of the spectrum, this might be nothing which might be the case for perks found in ruins. On the most difficult you may need to have certain perks equipped which then gives you a 2% chance to unlock the perk when killing locusts with a copper sword. Once unlocked, the perk goes into a list from which the player can select perks to equip. An unlocked perk cannot be unlocked again. When attempting to equip a perk it checks if that player has enough perk slots open to meet the perks slot cost(may cost more than one), has any required perks already equipped, and doesn't have any incompatible perks equipped. These costs could be zero slots and no required equipped perks. If the player meets the requirements then the perk starts to equip. This is represented as a timer that only runs down while the player is logged into the server. When the timer runs out the perk will then be equipped. If the player doesn't have enough perk slots open then may select one or more perks to swap out for the perk they want. This then unequips the selected perks when the timer runs out, however, the player will not benefit from any equipped perks being swapped out and the timer will be equal to longest equip time of the skills chosen. Timers may be canceled at any time. A perk that is a requirement for the perk being equipped, or for a perk already equipped, cannot be swapped out. Some perks auto-equip and some perks won't be revealed to the player until they equipped. Once equipped a perk will not function unless it's activation conditions are met. The perk may have no conditions, meaning it's always active or may have very specific requirements such as having fewer than 5 health and is in water. Finally once equipped and the activation requirements are met the player will gain an effect. This could be anything. The ability to swim, ability to craft a specific item, break stone faster with pickaxes, grant a temporary bonus before becoming locked again, etc. Only coding knowledge and imagination limit what the effects can be. Each player starts the game with a limited number of perk slots. The number of slots can be increased by equipped perks. Some perks may have unequip requirements. This provides a very flexible system that can work well with a JSON layout so that once the requirements and effects are programmed, even those not good with coding can craft can use those to mod their own perks. The perks can also be added to the handbook just like items and blocks.