Further details have emerged about how and to what degree a player's character will exist in the world of CSE's recently announced project Camelot Unchained.
The information was given in a recent official blog post titled Top Ten Questions: No realm ranks, abilities? What? here's a choice quote:
Okay, so what does this mean to you? First, it means that every time you do something to help your realm it the game will note it. If you are fighting other players, crafting items, building structures in the frontiers, etc., your ruler will note the actions that you are taking to help your realm.
Secondly, some of these actions may have an affect on your physical body and your stats. You may grow stronger, gain more attunement with certain magical forces, and become more proficient in one of your skills/abilities/runes/etc. or actually, the opposite at times.
Thirdly, while there is not going to be a traditional leveling curve (Ding Gratz! Level 8 calling; Please deposit coins to add more health, more strength and new abilities!) but rather there will be a system that rewards you based on the combination of the actions you participated in (and more that we will talk about later) that we will substitute for the traditional system. How we are going to take what I have talked above and put it into practice will, I am quite sure, get us some cards and letters but that is for another day.
What is also important to note is that we want players to get into RvR right from the beginning of their journey in CU. We want to create a system where a high level character is better than he was, better…faster…stronger… than a low level player but it should also not be a system (if we want to have a truly open world) where the high level player sneezes and the low level player is scattered to the four winds. You must be able to have actual RvR in an RvR-focused game and that means that the cavernous gulf of disparity between characters that can be found in other games must not be part of the system here. Again, being a more experienced player will come with tons of perks, benefits, abilities, etc. but it should not be instant death to see somebody a bit more powerful than you coming at you if we want this game to succeed.
Practice makes perfect but if you don't use it, you lose it
From what little know, CSE is leaning heavily toward a dynamic system of character progression and though few things are 100% decided upon theimplications are fairly clear barring a complete reversal of design choices.
If CSE chooses to make a character truly responsive and a reflection of factors in the game world then it should follow that both positive and negative would be accounted for in such a system, progression and regression.
Implementing a slow and reasonable skill decay system would be of great help in offsetting concerns that every player would eventually become "masters of the universe" as far as skills go.
If choices matter, then the choice of play styles should have bearing.
But this would mean not resting on your laurels for extended periods of time:
It's been a year of in game time since you last equipped and used this type of weapon?
Oh dear, your proficiency is nearly at the default level for your class!
So, you aren't RvR'ing anymore but focusing on blacksmithing and mining?
What strength you have! But, it seems your stealth abilities are almost at novice levels. Is city life is blunting your edge?
Now, it's important to state, we are talking of a relatively narrow window of positive and negative effectiveness.
The key is to make decayed skills noticeable but not *totally* debilitating and well used skills will have desirous benefits. Perhaps this would be 5% or 10%, plus or minus, in the level of effectiveness or proficiency.
This variance, spread and flux, would engage a player to be cognizant of their character and his place in time and space within the game's world.
Assuming their were stealth detection in the game, a stealther who hadn't used his stealth ability while evading enemy stealth detection checks might become somewhat "rusty" in his ability.
Minus 5% or so from base ability could spell disaster in a tactical setting if the enemy at hand was skilled in the detection of stealthed enemies.
The key is that these changes be a slow positive or negative swing in proficiency. And, there would be no "spent 10 minutes in stealth in an enemy proximity" and bam! you are back on par; no it the progression and regression would be slow and not necessarily turn on a dime.
Staying on top of your game would have real meaning.
If your stealther character crafts in the city square more than he sneaks into enemy controlled encampments, well no muss no fuss, you will become a great craftsman but there's a price to be paid if you ignore other skill use.
But don't panic, it's completely reversible in the fullness of time.
Where would be the sense of progression in such a game?
Well, a self actualized individual will feel that every successful outcome is a sign of success, but there is no reason that the world of CU can't grant titles and achievements for character accomplishments and combat engagements.
Just because "arpees" aren't tracked as a viewable metric doesn't mean there can't be more holistically valued ratings to track a character's progress. In fact the dynamic skill level system would help players to see if they are falling behind in an areas and react accordingly.
Broadening skill sets and staying proficient while achieving success as a crafter of rarities or victor in the ongoing realm conflicts seems to me a lot more tangible way to witness one's progress.
As someone who's taken lengthy breaks from MMOs it has always been nice to pick up where I left off, this system would be awful for me right?
The skill decay system would only be active when logged in and completely based on actual play time, not off-line time.
Here's what Mark Jacobs had to say in a recent reddit discussion:
UO had a skill decay system as did some other games I think. Problem was that it wasn't popular with some players. Nor that it matters as much for this game since I am willing to piss some people off but only when it's for the GotG and all that.
I could envision a system where you had skill decay but it needs to be constructed in such a manner that the decay scales very slowly, reaches a tipping point and then you go downhill fast but that also allows the character to be put in storage for vacations, breaks from the game. We don't want people to leave and never want to come back just because they needed a break. This is definitely one of those things I want to discuss with the backers.
Skill decay as a possible possibilty for Camelot Unchained
As noted in the quote from Mark Jacobs up above, skill decay could be part of the released game, but it remains to be seen if CSE wants to take a dynamic skill progression to that point.
Obviously, I see it as a natural outcome of embracing the dynamic model and I think it could be easily made into a valuable game mechanic that rewarded a player's efforts with a reasonable plus or minus to effectiveness in any given scenario.
Would this be like a character using a stave for a while, then switching to a spear and at that point the stave skill would begin to decrease?
Yes, but a very gradual decrease over time while in the game until you reach a "tipping point" in proficiency.
Use or non-use of a skill will lead to a variance of + 5% to -5% of the default level for your class. (Using that percentage as example, it could be higher or lower based on DEV testing)
An entirely make-believe example:
Stealth Ability (the higher stealth skill, the higher chance to avoid detection)
Highest Cap for Frequent Use: 105% Effectiveness
Default Skill Level: 100
Lowest Cap for Extended Non-Use: 95% Effectiveness
Now consider an enemy player class who has Stealth Detection, and let's say his effectiveness level is 105% because he uses that ability frequently and let's say that your Stealth Ability is a "dismal" 97%...you might be spotted rather easily if you are in close proximity to that enemy player.
In addition to Class Specific Skills, Primary Character Stats would have similar dynamic level ranges.
Large amounts of blacksmithing would result in a Strength stat increase, or the Tailoring and Leatherworking might improve the Dexterity stat, etc.
Keep in mind that these stats would have a cap and the range of improvement would be in a relative range, say 5% to 10%.
I see the negative to be just as important as the positive in a dynamic skill system because it recognizes actual skill use, thus completing the feedback loop between the player and the game world.