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Experience Points and Skills

posted by Nai

Nai
Posts: 10
Experience Points and Skills 1 of 23
Jan. 24, 2024, 7:10 p.m.

So this is something I'm a little worried about and perhaps critical on. I only just noticed that it says on the wiki that you only get experience points from roleplay. And so far, despite roleplaying a fair amount, I haven't gotten much experience at all. I'm very much worried about a system that perhaps benefits one type of play style far more than another. For example, those who are playing socialites that will record a lot of impressions and talk to many people may end up just getting far more experience than say an adventurer or physician. I also personally find that what can just be deemed as 'mechanics' are apart of roleplay, and I find it strange to seperate them. If I spar with someone, emote through it all, really make sure it's a proper experience rather than a mindless thing, I'm not actually gaining any experience or an increase in skills from it, which does 'feel' kinda bad in my opinion. Not to mention what would happen if someone is having some sort of solo experience involving adventuring on their own, collecting herbs and stuff or anything along those lines.
I know this might seem a little critical or jumping the gun, but I couldn't help but get a bit of a sinking feeling when I found the line in the wiki. I love Avaria so far and all the roleplay it's given me, but long, drawn-out skilling systems usually lead me to a burn-out and perhaps that just means the game isn't quite for me.

Jan. 24, 2024, 7:10 p.m.
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Illi
Posts: 23
Re: Experience Points and Skills 2 of 23
Jan. 24, 2024, 7:30 p.m.

I was under the impression(ha) impressions were the lesser part of the experience system, and updates to your story the greater part of it. I haven't messed with story arcs, yet, though.

Jan. 24, 2024, 7:30 p.m.
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Mistsparrow
Posts: 92
Re: Experience Points and Skills 3 of 23
Jan. 24, 2024, 9:22 p.m.

Song of Avaria does tend to favor long, drawn-out story arcs over the sort of quick-moving action you might find in other games, and we completely respect people who have their preferences and stick to them. No pressure!

If the idea of a realistic-feeling 1:1 time ratio seems tedious, and gaining skills slowly over that time feels painful, then we understand. It's definitely not a game for everybody's preferences, and we don't hold that against you.

That said, it looks like you haven't made a story arc at all! When we classify roleplay in Song of Avaria, it might better be phrased as "telling stories" than "typing emotes at other players". Interacting with other characters that way can be a big part of storytelling, but it doesn't have to be. Exploring places all by yourself, or going hunting, or crafting and developing a new recipe -- all of that is roleplay, and all of it is something that a story can potentially be told around. Someone can even tell a story about being a loner, and all the troubles and joys they have with that, and that's a story too! The point is to be immersed in a character's life, and tell that character's story, whatever it happens to be. That's why the story system is so integral to roleplay here.

If you write a story arc about your training as a warrior -- what your motivations are, and your goals are for succeeding, with episodes about your failures and successes, the spars you had with other people or with dangerous creatures, what you learned from them, and any other related roleplay, and then attach those logs, plot notes, relationship impressions, etc. to the story to illustrate them -- that is what will earn you experience that you could then put in to raise combat skills. The same thing goes for any other mechanical skill you might learn -- you can tell a story about it, large or small, and earn xp that way. Of course, any xp you earn from the story system can be applied to any skill whatsoever! You can tell a story about wanting to reconnect with your Razmani roots, and spend all your your time talking to other Razmani characters and learning their stories and traditions, and then still apply that experience to learning combat skills, or herbalism skills, or whatever you like. It's a really open system! All we ask is that your skills reflect your roleplay to some degree.

We do understand it's a big a paradigm shift, and that it's hard to break out of the mindset formed by most MUDs or even MUSHes -- that's what most of us, myself included, have been playing for years after all. But this big shift in emphasis is why, when we were showcasing Song of Avaria, we didn't call it a RPI or a RPE or a MUSH or anything else. We said we were doing something different than the existing molds, because we want to focus on story. Story can't go too fast, or you miss things that are important: not just small character development details, but the kinds of experiences that build slowly on one another, one by one, and drive roleplay in new and unexpected directions, and change your character in ways you never foresaw when you started. And again, story can be everything you do in the game as your character. Practically speaking, the bulk of experience you'd get is from developing your story arc 1-2 times a week, and this is paced to allow you to learn skills at a relatively realistic speed of character development.

That said, I'd like to add that story doesn't take place only in the story system either -- besides relationship impressions, you can also gain experience by writing IC posts on the forums such as character vignettes or letters, and as the game moves along and staff have more time to interact with characters there's always the chance to be rewarded for particularly engaging roleplay.

The conventional logic when making a game is to try to appeal to as many players as you can, but that's not what we're doing here. We are trying to make a good place to tell stories. It takes time to go on journeys, heal from wounds, and learn new skills. It could take time to make a friend out of an enemy, or an enemy out of a friend. Those are the kinds of things we treasure and the experiences we want to protect; while we're interested in making it a fun and smooth-flowing game as well, we prefer not to speed up the story pacing because it's that slower pace that allows intricate stories to develop.

Lastly, we would also like to remind and reassure everybody that gaining experience and having skill points are NOT what determine your roleplay opportunities in Avaria. As we've put it on the wiki's Experience page:

"You will never miss out on storyline involvement or be excluded from plots based on your character's skill levels, although they may of course affect the options that are available to the character in a given situation. It's also good to keep in mind that failure is not always a bad thing! Sometimes failing at a task or goal can be even more interesting than sailing through it with flying colors, and in turn become the spur for more complex character development. And as far as world storylines go, staff is just as interested in developing story twists based on characters' failures and losses as on their successes and wins. So please don't worry that if you have less xp and lower skill levels you won't be able to engage with the game world in exciting and impactful ways."

We like you, and we'd like if you stuck around -- but if it's not the game for you, that's okay and no one should feel bad about that.

Jan. 24, 2024, 9:22 p.m.
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Nai
Posts: 10
Re: Experience Points and Skills 4 of 23
Jan. 25, 2024, 10:10 a.m.

So, it's hard to write off my thoughts without it seeming a little petty or critical, so I just want to put that forward. I love what the game has so far and I've really enjoyed my time in it, and I do know that I should have known about this before even applying, I just didn't catch it under the wave of different helpfiles and wiki pages I was reading in preperation.

I understand the purpose to the system, I really do, but in all honesty the news is a little disappointing. I'm someone who roleplays a lot, I write out a lot of dialogue, emotes and generally put a lot of effort into what I already do. The pressure of writing up logs, updates and impressions on top of all the writing in the rp I already do is a very stressful concept. With the xp incentive, I could honestly see how it would be kinda easy to 'game' a system that's meant to encourage roleplay. An immediate thought is how you can sit in a room, listening to five people talk and write impressions for all five of those people. This will net you more experience than if you were in a room with one other person, actively roleplaying with them, and I have actually had a couple of characters who wrote impressions of my character without saying a word to them. This isn't me trying to shame said players, I personally don't have a problem with it aside from the potential issue of some people gaining vastly more experience than other people by being more anal about things like impressions and logs. 

Maybe it's because I come from a different roleplaying scene. I mostly play things like tabletop rpgs and a few other online roleplaying games that aren't MUD related, I've only been playing MUDs for about a year now, but this choice in game design just seems to have a lot of room for flaws. I'm not saying that my singular post should convince you to overhaul the entire thing, I really don't expect it to, or to a degree, want it to. As I know my own opinion has it's own biases and isn't right for everyone. I just personally find the idea of being forced to write logs and impressions in order to make progress off-putting and actually makes me want to roleplay or just play the game generally less.

As for the long-term parts, the immediate time I noticed it was when I saw leveling up one of my skills would cost 850 experience points, and I only seem to get a single experience point at a time. This struck me as worrying because it also means you can only really level up one skill at a time, when compared to most muds, you tend to evenly level up your skills in a more realistic, steady way. The other potential worry I have about 'long term' games is that usually they lack the means to actually have a substancial amount of content to spread out along such a long period of time and instead need to rely on stretching out a smaller amount of content across a long time period. There are muds I could mention in this regard, but I feel as if that may come across wrong.

As a final note, I understand that this might seem like a focus on mechanics, but at the end of the day, Avaria is a game with mechanics, what skills you have are a deciding factor in your options in both mechanical play, and roleplay. I would like to think my desire to train up my character in the 'zero to hero' formula isn't a particularly strange one, and I enjoy it as a part of my character's story. But again, this may just mean the game isn't for me, I'm not going to be angry if that's the case, I'll probably still try the game, I just thought my thoughts might have some value to share.

Jan. 25, 2024, 10:10 a.m.
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pilgrim
Posts: 250
Re: Experience Points and Skills 5 of 23
Jan. 25, 2024, 10:36 a.m.

We appreciate your thoughts, and we've put some individual attention into your character to make sure he's got a cool hook (it was Mistsparrow who did that, so it's really very cool, probably moreso than you realize at this time!). I hope you know you're a valued member of a community that is just starting out.

I don't know which skill you checked the xp cost for, but experience costs tend to scale with what level in the skill you'd be gaining. A level 1 is faaaar easier to gain than a level 10, for instance.

 

Regarding the documentation of your character's story as the main way to get experience, this is essentially our core mechanic. It's the main way that staff possess to see what's going on with your character. We're adults with jobs and families and we don't always have time to watch people roleplay -- but stories show up in neatly-presented tasks once a month in the admin panel. Since Song is a story-focused game, the focus is on this story -- the unique story of your unique character, and our goal is to be able to address these stories with unique attention.

If we find someone gaming the system and just being boring in their story arc, the loss is theirs, because while they may get some xp for it, they will not be able to get very interesting advancements on their character's story, because they aren't giving staff much to work with. Further, xp gains are capped -- one relationship per other PC per day, and two story arc developments per week. They're capped for two reasons -- it'd be unrealistic to zoom from zero to hero in a very short while, and it'd be unfair for people who have less playing time to get zoomed past by people who have a lot of playing time. You can still make impressions and make more developments and enjoy the story and have fun with the game past these xp caps, but it's not incentivized by further gains. We want people to feel as though they are able to play Song while still maintaining healthy balances in their lives and gaming habits. 

I love to develop my characters and record their personal story, and in the end, we built Song of Avaria with the target audience of 'people-like-us' in mind. That doesn't mean every player has to be exactly like we are. There might be some things you love and some things you don't love so much. Me and Mistsparrow aren't identical humans; we've had to compromise with each other on features as well. But in general, it's a story focused game, and if you can adjust to that, you may love it -- or you might not, and that's okay too. I do sympathize over the disappointment you feel.

Jan. 25, 2024, 10:36 a.m.
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Zahra
Posts: 152
Re: Experience Points and Skills 6 of 23
Jan. 25, 2024, 11:10 a.m.

So, I just wanted to weigh in on this and I'm going to try to do so in a coherent manner while I'm still caffeinating myself for the day. I've been in the MUD scene for a while and I've seen a lot of systems, yadda yadda. Song of Avaria's way of doing things in terms of gaining experience and the like is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from anything else I've ever seen before. And at first, I'll admit that I was a bit... skeptical isn't the right word. But I was side-eyeing it a bit, wondering how it was going to feel in action. Granted, I've been earning a lot of XP from bug and typo reports (and I do wonder if after we move into beta, it wouldn't be beneficial to bump up XP gains from impressions and story developments because right now you get exactly 1 XP, which means it could take RL years to develop your character's skills (and I have some feelings about games like that but those are thoughts for another time).

But I just wanted to sort of direct my experiences with other systems at Nai, since you said you haven't been playing MUDs for very long. In my experience, most MUDs allow you to earn XP in one of two ways: either by going out in the world and doing things, leaving RP as something you just indulge in for your own personal shiggles as you mechanically get nothing out of it OR by literally emoting and RPing with other people. It sounds like you'd probably enjoy both of those systems, maybe even a combination of the two. I think they both have their merits, but they also have their problems. Like with the latter system, I can't tell you how ANNOYING it is to be someone (like you it sounds like) who prides themselves on putting effort into their RP and then you have people who wander up into a scene, do a 'nod', and then proceed to idle for hours, just soaking up XP while they contribute nothing beyond taking up space and being a(n honestly sort of creepy) bump on a log. And then in the former system, you have the playerbase spread out into the wilderness with everyone slapping around all the NPC mobs, trying to race each other to level up, and finding RP can sometimes feel like some sort of quest you're doomed to fail unless you have OOC friends you can prod like, "OI log on and write with me."

Either way, both of those other systems I'm familiar with might feel better to some people because you get the thrill of seeing numbers going up on a daily basis, etc., but both of those systems also encourage the "no-life" thing and mostly benefit people who can spend more time online than others. And it's never fun to feel left behind or to have a friend of yours that you were leveling with suddenly dramatically out-level you because they had a week off from work and you've been drowning in Adultland and can only play for a few hours in the evenings. And I'll be honest, there's a part of me that likes grinding and seeing the numbers going up. Like who doesn't? Instant dopamine hit. But I'll also be honest and say that I've really appreciated the effort that's gone into Avaria to make it so there is no benefit to staying logged in all the time other than you're going to catch more RP and see more people. And I really appreciate, as someone who doesn't have much time to actively play these days, that I don't feel left behind while I'm plunking away at my own story.

But I do also 100% get what you're saying about after a day of RPing, you're like UGHHH MORE WORDS at the thought of updating your story. I've been there some nights. Like logging off for the night and then having that thought of, "Oh dang it I was going to do a story update." But most of my story updates have been like... a paragraph. And impressions are just a sentence. So it doesn't feel too taxing for me, even when my brain has turned to mush. And I feel like the entire point is for us to slow down and take our time with said story developments so there's really no rush in documenting your character's latest shenanigans, if you're ever feeling some internal pressure to do so.

Jan. 25, 2024, 11:10 a.m.
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Nai
Posts: 10
Re: Experience Points and Skills 7 of 23
Jan. 25, 2024, 11:13 a.m.

The clarity on limits does alleviate my worries, if I only have to do a couple of logs a day that's a lot nicer than worrying about missing out, so thank you for that. I think perhaps I jumped the gun with assumptions but that's because I've seen similar systems done badly, and it's good to know you've put a lot of thought into this. 

In this case, I do think I have a couple of suggestions for this system. Firstly, I think it's easy to miss doing your own story, perhaps a simple reminder that you don't have a story currently running when you first log into a character? Alike the reminders about stat swapping and such? Also, perhaps for people who go on adventures more than they socialize, some sort of 'discovery' command that's similar to 'impression' but for new items? Perhaps limiting it to a single discovery pre flora/fauna/material or something where you can write down your discovery and what your character thinks about it? Although perhaps this leaves room for abuse, I just think it would be nice if explorers, gatherers and that sort of thing had an equivelant to impressions.

And I do want to say, I appreciate both of you taking time to respond to my post! It did really help and I think I'm going to continue to try out the game and give it a shot, some of my worries have been explained away and I have a lot of faith in both of you as staff.

Just making a quick edit because Zhara's replied showed up while I was typing! I do agree with most of what you've said, but I'll mirror that 'you get exactly 1 XP, which means it could take RL years to develop your character's skills', is an idea that's extremely off-putting to me. I know there's this weird sort of time-dialation with Muds where what time frames MUD/Mush players consider 'normal' is completely out of wack for me. I've played other muds where people have had singular characters for years and that's completely wild to me. The concept of taking years to progress a character is a bit of a daunting one to me, and I suppose I'll have to see how it plays out but there's another game that I had played for about six months that had the 'long term progression' system that would take around 3 years to fully develop a character and I have some very strong opinions on it. 

Jan. 25, 2024, 11:13 a.m.
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Rostam
Posts: 77
Re: Experience Points and Skills 8 of 23
Jan. 25, 2024, 11:36 a.m.

I totally get your points, and (like Zahra, it sounds like) I was pretty skeptical about logs and stories being the primary mover for gains. However, one thing I've noticed is that the game activity records your logs for you, so the hard work is already done! When I click in to update my story, I just select the relevant time-stamp, rename the log, and give a summary on my story.

Sometimes -- and maybe I'm doing it wrong -- I don't even attach a log. I just summarize what happened and why it's significant, attach fellow characters, and move on. This is usually because I've forgotten to split my logs when I started doing something relevant and thus would just be submitting a whole six hours' of action.

In any case, it takes me about two or three minutes a day to keep my stories updated. I do so almost daily, even though I'm only going to get XP for it once or twice a week, because it feels like a good way to remind myself what I've accomplished. Hope this helps!

Jan. 25, 2024, 11:36 a.m.
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pilgrim
Posts: 250
Re: Experience Points and Skills 9 of 23
Jan. 25, 2024, 11:55 a.m.

Experience reward amounts are something that we'll be watching (just like combat balance) and seeing how it pans out in practice (along with xp cost adjustments). While I'm not going to say it will take years for us to adjust this, it's definitely going to take more than 5 days and probably longer than 5 weeks even. We'll have to keep an eye on it over a span of time and see how it works out practically.

But the idea of being able to develop a relationship with more than just another character (or NPC) is one that's very intriguing. If you could please put in an idea about that, it'll ensure we don't forget about this in the current mountain-range of admin tasks ahead. (And it'll get you another xp point! laugh

 

 

Jan. 25, 2024, 11:55 a.m.
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Zahra
Posts: 152
Experience Points and Skills 1 of 23
Jan. 25, 2024, 12:03 p.m.

Experience reward amounts are something that we'll be watching (just like combat balance) and seeing how it pans out in practice (along with xp cost adjustments). While I'm not going to say it will take years for us to adjust this, it's definitely going to take more than 5 days and probably longer than 5 weeks even. We'll have to keep an eye on it over a span of time and see how it works out practically.

But the idea of being able to develop a relationship with more than just another character (or NPC) is one that's very intriguing. If you could please put in an idea about that, it'll ensure we don't forget about this in the current mountain-range of admin tasks ahead. (And it'll get you another xp point! laugh

 

 


originally written by pilgrim at 25-Jan-2024 (16:55)


Oh, absolutely! That's why I mentioned maybe something to think about for beta. We've been only open for a few days. Plenty of time for tweaking and I know you both are drowning in other, more pressing things laugh

Jan. 25, 2024, 12:03 p.m.
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