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Exp, boredom, and the considerations

1998 Topic Index

Posted by Rufus on 07/23

The problem with the old system was that killing a mob even a few levels higher gained you a fair chunk of exp for very little risk. And then in the mid-levels, level 50 mobs (even a straight one) would get you so much more for your effort that it was virtually no use to have any mobs between the levels 15 and 50.

The combat system did a bit to improve this, mainly making the hitroll table more important, making those higher level mobs much harder to hit. But as long as one can gain the upper hand (stun, healers, etc) it was still possible to obtain huge amounts of exp.

Under the new system, it gives you a benefit to kill above your level, but not so huge that it makes any given level of mob not worth killing.

However, the numbers aren't as big. If we were starting this mud today, I don't think we would have some of the complaints, but we could labor on that for the better part of the rest of the millenium and it won't change anything.

Mathematically, the new system makes a ton of sense. For those of us arguing that there is a limit of level 50 for a reason, it brings the majority of the game played into a level 1 through 50 arena. It moves the vast amount of exp needed for reward from the post-50 play to the pre-50 level play. If players indeed saw 'level 50' as the ultimate goal, then trudging through levels and the tougher ones up at the higher levels might (notice I say 'might') be viewed in a somewhat different light.

Here's the common cries and I'll answer them with my opinion:

"It's easier to kill mobs a few levels lower and a whole bunch of them than it is to kill an even level":

There are two factors to this problem. The first is a code based issue that mobs of lower level should be worth significantly less, or be enough of a challenge for their reward. The second problem is mobs are currently unbalanced. There was a push at the end to make level 50's (since they gave so much exp) 'worth that much'. I'm not entirely convinced that the rationale still holds up under the current system. It alternatively figures into the thought that mobs are much tougher than they're worth.

"XP demand is much higher than XP supply":

Yep, I couldn't agree with this more. And this is another mob-balance issue. The playerbase size has outgrown the size of the mud, and we need to work on it as soon as possible.

"It's merciless for level 40-50":

Yep, it's tougher, maybe a little too tough codewise (our rationale on the hitroll table was to give newbies a bonus so fights didn't last forever, make it even at level 25 (50% chance to hit a normal level 25 ac-- 0), and since higher levels often compensated with more hit points, skills, etc, they had a harder time hitting - currently about 25%) this is something relatively easy to adjust. But it's where we want the pain factor, low level or high level? We tried making it 50% across the board, and sure enough, level 50 mobs died with a rapidness, the level 1's could sit around all day fighting a mob with only rarely hitting it or vice-versa. They were healing faster than they could do damage (let me just express a minor peeve of mine... I honestly don't think you should be able to 'heal' because of ticks in combat, the logic just doesn't follow there). The delicate balance problem comes into being when we make mobs that are worth large amounts of exp and what that does to the rest of the levels. Okay, for the sake of the argument, lets say we move level 50 mobs only back to 111K. That would mean 105 or so mobs to level between 40 and 50. It is still possible for levels 30 to 35 to kill it, in which case we're down to around 5-6 kills per level, rather than the target (25+level) 55 to 60 mobs per level.

"The goal to make it hard to easy":

This is just wrong. The intent was to make it as tough as it was to go from level 5 to 6 as it was to go from 47 to 48. In that respect it did misfire, but I don't think we're on the wrong track entirely. The largest problem is that if we make level 47 to 48 doable in the same amount of time that level 5 is to 6, the game becomes rediculously easy in the upper levels. If we make 5 to 6 as tough as level 47 to 48, the low levels where a character has few skills, low moves, low hit points, it will also be viewed as tedious. The problem with moving difficulty of the lower up and the upper down is that bringing the upper level mobs into an easy enough spectrum where they can be killed that fast means a trickle down of ease. As soon as you hit a point where you can attack and kill those mobs even 25% of the time, you'll never kill mobs your own level or near your own level again, which brings us back to the point of finding a reason to actually have level 15 through 49 mobs.

"Above 50 mobs worth only 30 to 60K":

For sake of argumentation, lets just deal with mobs that are worth 41K, nearly double that of a standard level 50. If you can kill them solo, you're still going to level from one level to the next twice as fast as if you'd stuck with mobs that are worth half that.

"The reward for level 40 to 50 for risk isn't worth it":

Yep, absolutely right. But the reasons behind that are not as straight forward. If we blanket increase the xp amount for mobs in those ranges, you make it less worthwhile for lower levels to kill mobs in their range, when they can level rediculously quickly on the upper level mobs. Another solution would be to decrease the difficulty of the upper level mobs (or rather maintain a maximum level of difficulty across all mobs, a more smooth curve). This problem creates again the nasty little problem of 'if higher level mobs are as easy to kill as midlevels, and worth much more, why bother killing anything else?' The other solution is to make mobs of lower levels significantly less exp to the higher levels. This is all well and good and would work if there wasn't the need to compensate those characters who play who at their best can only manage to kill mobs 3 or 4 levels lower than they are.

"A level 50 mob only worth 20K?":

This is the 'legacy' argument in its purest form. We did not change just the exp on mobs, we changed, literally, what exp means. The numbers are so evident, however, that it looks like you're only getting 1/5th of what you did before. When you scale that down over the 50 levels, it's much more elegant, however, in post-50 play, it takes the biggest blow. The problem resides nearly as much in the fact that people remember how easy it was to level and gain exp before, and how hard it is now. In the old system no one killed mobs their level. They didn't realize how many mobs it would take to level to 50 (3124). Now it's only 2500, but in the old system you could circumvent 75% of the mob killing by attacking high level mobs. This was the situation we sought to alleviate, and unfortunately, the sheer size of the numbers had to suffer.

"The fun of killing mobs has diminshed":

Honestly, the only people I see this argument from are the ones who have been here for years. Considering there are very few people who are reading this that have been here longer than I (I know there's some!) I can guarantee that just over time this becomes true, regardless of how much a mob is worth. People claim that it's still fun to kill mobs in low levels... well, wait anouther 6 months or a year and that will fade too, I can testify to that. The problem there being that we're working within finite constraints, and regardless of whether or not we extend the upper levels of play, there will always be a limit. Making things easier on the high levels generally tends to make things really easy on the mid-levels, the low-level game is by far the easiest to balance and I think if we only had 10 levels, we'd have a completely balanced game.

I think we'd find some semblance of consensus that regardless of how much mobs are worth, play at level 50 eventually becomes boring. If we try to increase the play level after 50 by 10% we make it about 50% easier to get to that level, expend the 10% of extra interest and become bored more quickly. But yes, I'll admit, there are some points (level 40 - 50) which it becomes a bit tedious. I'm willing to accept any solution that doesn't corrupt the balance of mobs, players and levels before that, and I have yet to hear a single suggestion that wouldn't disrupt that situation. If we make it easy for levels 40 to 50, we make it very very easy for midlevels. If we tweak the midlevels so that it's as easy as it is for the really low levels, then the risk factor for killing upper level mobs is far too high in comparison to the ability for higher levels to slaughter even a few levels lower (this almost reminds me of the dilligent Keiko who wanted to level from 49 to 50 off of killing rats alone, for which she got 1 xp a piece).

The arguments I hear are passionate ones, and ranging from an emotional reaction to some with a great deal of thought and logic put into them (not saying one is more fit than the other, when presented non-confrontationally). But as I hope I've made clear, game balance and exp stands on a very slippery slope. It's not as easy as merely changing exp on mobs, the affects are far far from limited to such a small scope as making the numbers bigger. It radically alters game play.

In theory, the original design of the mud was to have 50 playable levels that for a consistent player (2 hours a night average, 6 days a week) would level from 1 to 50 in 6 months. This cut down by experienced play (experienced players tend to die a lot less often -- with the exception of Lirra or Zandy )) and cut down by the fact that many play more often.

The low-level/high-level difficulty problem creates another situation, which is that if it becomes tedious at low levels, it discourages newer players to ever experience what is offered at a higher level of game play. Sure if we don't have anything to offer at higher level gameplay, it's a good indicator, but I'm not willing to give up on the fact that there is or can be playability at all levels.

I'm not sure that I presented any solutions, but perhaps you might have a bigger picture to draw on now that I've given you just about everything we must consider when altering the exp system, or the mob system that supports it.

Sorry this was so long,


From: Rufus Saturday, July 18, 06:06PM

And much to the opposition of Morphine's outrage on chat, the prior message I wrote was to encourage, not silence or discourage discussion on the topic.


From: Juggernaut Sunday, July 19, 01:02AM

not much complaints.

my stand remains:

More mobs 30k-40k-ish. =P

and maybe a 100k or more to the more popular (suicidal, huge, dangerous) mobs?



From: Juggernaut Sunday, July 19, 01:04AM


I meant 100k additional xp for the mobs more inclined to tear the throats out of the 3 to 5 chars that actually decide to attack it.

-simple-minded and a dumb board writer-


From: Celeste Sunday, July 19, 01:29AM

I totally agree with my HellBaby.

Although I appreciate your writing this post and trying to make all the variables clear. =)

From: Ganymede Sunday, July 19, 01:32AM

One of the situations ye did not very well address in your message, which was otherwise quite reasonable, is the decreased frequency of grouping for experience against a series of level 50 mobs. Aye, there are still such groups about, but not as many.

I would offer a solution, however: what is the likelihood of adding some ultra-hard mobs, a la Cuchullain, demon kings or the like, in scattered places across the game? These mobs could be given an xp reward that, when the formula for splitting xp in groups is factored in, give slightly more xp than would a standard level 50 mob (which would encourage more parties and give healers a bit more do to), but not so much more that would unbalance the game tremendously.

Sir Ganymede Alderon

From: Pleb Sunday, July 19, 01:49AM

From: Rufus Sunday, July 19, 04:14AM

Areas take a long time to design and build, therefore don't expect a whole slew of new mobs that are ultra high level to happen immediately. But just trust me to say that... I'm in the process of topping ShadowLands for difficulty =P


From: Celia Sunday, July 19, 08:06AM

Is the updating of mobs finished? I was assuming it wasn't, as lots of my favourite soloable level 50 mobs are still at 20k, even though they seem to be as hard as ones which have been updated, and some of them were worth more than 110k before the new system.

It was said somewhere that level 50 mobs are not really the equivalent of a 'perfect match' at other levels, since they were made harder to justify their previous high xp. If a 'perfect match' at level 50 does twic twice the damage to same level player as a perfect match at other levels, should it not be worth the xp of two mobs if the only source of increased difficulty each level is supposed to be a larger number of mobs to kill? ie. the formula 26 + to determine how many mobs you need assumes that a perfect match is the same at each level?

I don't really know of any 'typical' level 50 mobs which are equivalent to a 'typical' perfect match at other levels- at lower levels, a perfect match is often no trouble, and its possible to solo mobs many levels higher.

And having tried a couple of different newbie characters under the new system, it does seem to me that around level 8-15 it is possible to level on a very few kills, as it used to be at higher levels under the old system. I didn't note down the details, but I remember that with the amount of xp I was getting, it would have been possible to level on about 10-12 mobs, when the base number is supposed to be 26. Also, my level 15 character got around 13k (from memory) for a high level mob that gives 15k to my level 50 character. That seems a little odd. I think it still needs tweaking for the gradual increase in difficulty that was intended.

From: Celia Sunday, July 19, 08:28AM

As for boredom, I personally don't have a problem with it, as there is plenty to do besides get xp, and I usually take a long time (around a year) to build a character. However, I do think that levelling will always be seen as a means to an end to some extent, as long as there are rewards given each level which increase proficiency (ie extra practice, better spell levels, rent space for better gear etc). This means you do reach the 'peak' at level 50. While there is nothing wrong with 'retiring' a character from fighting, it is not realistic to expect everyone to do that as soon as they hit 50. It is good for unclanned level 50s to have some reason to want xp if they are interested in fighting and built their characters with fighting proficiency in mind.

More challenging mobs with good xp is one thing that would help, and more mobs in the 40-50 range for those who like to go solo, as well as making sure the xp for all existing high level mobs reflects some consistency in the concept of a 'perfect match' across all levels.

But I also think you should consider giving a whois and info on reaching 50 million xp, or on each additional 25 million after level 50, as it provides that small incentive to get xp at all, if 100 million is out of reach.


From: Fairfax Monday, July 20, 11:30AM

As a non-pkiller, my perspective is bound to be limited in a way, but I'll give it anyway :)

I started playing Legend in October 1996, and now have three level 50s (one of who made a last desperate rush to 50 the day before the new scale went in). It took me over a year to get my first level 50, and since I ran the three characters along the same time they hit level 50 within a couple of months from each other. I was never particularly idle, nor did I die a lot, and I always wondered how some of my friends could just perma and abandon a character at level 40-ish because they thought he/she was lousy, and started over and overtook my level (at about 30ish) within a week! In that respect, I found levelling in Legend quite easy if you had the correct strategy (which I sadly never figured out in time to abuse), and the new exp system makes sense to me. When I hit level 50, I was elated because it took me so long, and it felt like I had come to the zenith of my career with this character, and that I had reached the end of a long journey...... - except that it didn't end.

The new exp scale makes a whole lot of sense if level 50 is seen as an end. To hit level 50 after all those 2500 mobs, well done, you fought the good fight, and now you can retire. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Lot's of level 50s still sit about the MUD, wondering where they go from here. As far as I can see, the ONLY thing left for a level 50 to attain (apart from hanging out in Inns chatting like we do), is to achieve the 100 million mark (or 200/300 million for some). This new exp scale makes even the though of that scarey, and although I still run about scavenging exp, I seem to have lost much of a character goal, and consequently I have resorted to hoarding cash so I can afford a nice house when player housing goes in. There's no other milestone to achieve, because the only ones left have become so far. If my character automatically died and went into a list in HoL or something when I hit level 50 then it would all make sense, in the last few hurdles are the hardest and give you all the satisfaction, but we don't end there. Level 50 is just, for the lack of a better word, a saturation point.

I know this has been discussed before, but rather than whine about the new scale, which I do believe has it benefits (I can talk 'cos I'm not a fighter anyway and my other two level 50s don't come on much), why not give more immediate benefits to level 50s? Celia mentioned whois tags for 25 mil etc - although I personally find that rather spammy, it's at least something to aim for. I remember CLeo posting a while back on things like new practices, more rent etc. at certain intervals, or special eq usable after certain exp levels, or new skills available etc. - far-fetched, and a nightmare to code, I'm sure, but it has that 'Life after level 50' element to it, and makes exp gain more attractive. Players would also have more immediate goals to achieve rather than the 100 mil tag, and this will inject new life into playing level 50s.

Sorry if it's been discussed before, but perhaps in light of the new changes this can be considered? In the meantime, I'll keep making cash in anticipation of player housing -drool- :)


M.B.B.S. (Madras)

Multi-millionaire :):):)


1998 Topic Index