History - The Great Skills Change

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The Great Skills Change

Early News Announcement

Note #8 posted at Wed May 29 Title: "uberdowngrape"


On August the 3rd we will be implementing some major changes on Discworld.  This is just a pre-warning.
Some of the main things that will be changed are:

   * New combat system
     * Using skill against skill tests
     * Rewritten (and new) specials
     * Configurable HP monitor speed
     * New tactics:
        * Extra offense/defense settings, focus on body location
     * Defend (like protect but you only parry for them)
     * Two-handed weapons can be held in a single hand
     * Standardised weapons & armour
     * New magical shielding system
     * Defensive spells & rituals rewritten
   * New am map and layout
     * A complete (not finished, just complete) AM at last!
   * New sur map and layout
   * Allowing people to start in new cities
   * Resetting peoples pk status
   * Allowing another rearrange
   * Adding in some craft related skills
     * Some means about a hundred!
   * Changing the skill/stat relationship

This will be a major upgrade of a lot of elements of the code.  Things will likely be very chatotic
for a little bit around this time.  So if you want to go on holiday you know when to choose ;)

Good luck!

News Announcement

Note #10 by Ceres at Wed Jul 31 13:55:39 2002 on board announcements

As August 3rd approaches we are solidifying the details of what will change so here is some more

It is _extremely_ important to understand that on August 3rd any number of things may be broken or 
simply unbalanced. We know that many things will need rebalancing (mostly NPCs downgrading and commands,
spells & rituals being made easier).

What's changing?

- Skill tree
  We're moving certain skills around and adding a _lot_ of crafts skills.  There won't immediately be 
any use for these new craft skills, however they are important for the development of the crafts system.
Without the skill tree it becomes really hard to abstract the stages of crafting.

- Skill/stat relationships
  The relationship between skills & stats is changing substantially. Currently many skills depend on a 
single stat. If you've ever played any RPGs you'll have noticed that RPGs don't tend to do this at all. 
The reason is that it causes individual stats to become far too important for a given character type (or 
class). We have seen the same thing here on DW.

  The advantage of a 23 Int to a wizard (for example) is so overwhelming that there is practically no 
other choice. The point of these changes is to narrow the gap between an extreme and a more generalist 
rearrange so that players have a real choice that they don't currently have.

  Clearly this change is going to seriously change the balance of abilities and we know that we're going 
to need to make many spells, rituals, commands and npcs much easier!

  I can't stress this enough. The point of these changes is not to decrease peoples abilities. We will 
change things to suit the new bonuses that are achievable.

- Stat/bonus relationship
  The stat to bonus relationship is becoming non-linear. This works with the skill/stat relationships to 
make less extreme rearranges more appealing. Because of the non-linear relationship rearrange will allow 
players to rearrange up to 28 if they so desire. Even though I expect most won't want to go that far the 
choice is there.

  The balance point for the change is 15. Stats above 15 will give less bonus than before while stats 
below 15 (ie. the majority) will give a greater bonus than before.

- Magical defense system
  There's a new system that allows magical shields to register with the armour system rather than 
shadowing query_ac(). This has two advantages. Firstly it does without shadows (which helps performance) 
and secondly it allows shields to register as being outside of armour (that's what shadowing did) but 
alternatively to register as being _inside_ armour (just above the skin) which is far more logical for 
the troll skin armour for example.

- Combat system
  The current combat system code is horrendous (just ask anyone who's tried working on it). It was 
written in 1995 by a physicist. Since then it has been hacked about, modified and upgraded and is now a 
nightmare. The new one started as a code tidyup and turned into a total rewrite.

  The new system is based on a different approach to the old one. Each attack is done as a skill against
skill test rather than as an attack skill check then a defense skill check.

  This means that the new system is rather more sensitive to relative skills. A player with a 200 
offensive bonus is unlikely to get past the defenses of an NPC with a 1000 defensive bonus regardless of 
how many negative modifiers the NPC has.

  We will, therefore, need to downgrade some of the NPCs who've been given extreme levels to compensate 
for issues with the current system. In addition we will increase the death XP (probably doubling it) 
given by NPCs to compensate for their being more difficult level for level.

  The combat system has some nice new features too.
   + more interesting damage messages
   + more offense & defense tactics
   + variable rate hp monitor
   + verbosity control for third-party combat messages
   + ability to focus on (target) specific body parts
   + ability to hold two-handed weapons in a single hand
   + new specials: feint, shove & trip (more to come :)
   + specials can be queued
   + defend as well as protect (defend means you'll parry for someone but you won't take a hit for them)
   + many more factors affect combat: strength, dexterity, visibility, light levels, encumberance, 
injury, number of weapons wielded, weapon weight, relative weights of offensive & defensive weapon (or 
shield) and many more.

  The new combat system does not implement new ranged or unarmed combat. These will (I hope) follow once 
the new system is bedded down and working nicely. Apart from the goodies listed above the new system is 
far better in its structure, documentation and flexibility. Each stage of combat is clearly separated 
out and documented. The system for combat
  specials allows any and all stages of combat to be overridden or augmented, both offensively and 
defensively, providing far greater flexibility in specials e.g. feint, trip and shove. As a truly 
extreme example, The floating shield spell now works as a defensive special! In addition the new 
structure should make adding critical success & failure (injuries), combat on horses and other future 
enhancements much easier to implement.

- Specials
  The new combat system features new specials. Many of them have the same names as the existing ones but 
they are, like the combat system, completely new -- only the name has been unchanged to confuse the 
guilty (or something :).

  Which specials can be used is determined by the weapons attacks. Their difficulty and damage values 
are similarly dependent on the skill of the user and the weapons attacks thus none of the standard 
combat specials are any more, or less, powerful than any other, it all depends on the weapon.

- Weapons
  Weapons have been rebalanced and standardised so that they should have much more suitable weights, 
lengths, materials & damages.

  In addition the weapons have been given standard attack names that correspond to the new specials :-
  stab   - light piercing weapons
  pierce - heavy piercing weapons
  bash   - light blunt weapons
  smash  - heavy blunt weapons
  slash  - light sharp
  slice  - heavy sharp
  hack   - light axes (sharp still but axes rather than bladed weapons)
  chop   - heavy axes

  impale, behead, crush & cleave are warrior only. They are basically the same as pierce, smash, slice & 
chop but do a tad more damage and have some nifty side-effects if you kill your opponent. In due course 
we may implement more guild-specific attacks like this that feature messages and perhaps side-effects 
that fit more closely to a guilds theme.

- Armours
  All the armours have been reworked to be more balanced and more consistent (ie. heavier armour tends 
to stop more damage than lighter armour!).

- Carrying capacity
  Players are now limited to 10 'carried' items. Originally it was 5 + Dex but that was set back when 
the only carryable container was a small chest. Now that we have backpacks, sacks, clothing with pockets 
and containers of all sizes and descriptions it makes sense to reduce the limit a little to help avoid 
massive packratting leading to performance  problems.

- Stats
  All bonus statistics given out by quests will be removed. In addition players will receive a second 
rearrange so that they can apply their stats to the new skill/stat relationships and the (possibly) 
reduced stats.

- PK Flag removal
  The changes are so extreme that we felt it's the right time to remove all players PK flags (except 
Assassins and those in the PK wizard order) so that players can make a choice once they see how the game 

- Wizard scrolls
  Keeping large numbers of these in your inventory may lead to their exploding depending on your 
magic.spells.special bonus. Players should be aware that leaving large numbers of scrolls in other 
containers (such as vaults) may also lead to their exploding.

- Starting Position, Nationality and Region
  Players will get to choose a nationality and region. These will affect language with the 'common' 
language going away.

- New AM
  What can I say? AM has been completely reworked. The sometimes old, sometimes even pre-Discworld code 
has been taken away and replaced with shiny new code, exciting terrains and a complete AM. Not complete 
as in finished, there's much more to do and far more to add, but complete as in you can walk around the 
whole city, across all the bridges etc. etc.)

- Sur terrains
  We're filling in the blanks. Gradually all the gaps between the different cities are being filled with 
terrains that allow you to explore in great depth or journey across them quickly. This change will add 
the Sur terrains to the game.

The Plan(TM)
Around 10am Seattle time we'll shutdown the mud and bring it back up creator-only. Once we've got all 
the changes in place we'll enable player logins and start fixing all the bugs and other problems that 
you find for us :)