It seems to me like some people at least are not very satisfied with the current experience system in which you have to wait for your experience bar to fill up before learning anything. The way I see it now, the experience system’s shortcomings are as follows:
- It isn’t very intuitive;
- It gives players an incentive to to wait things out for no reason to fill up their experience bars, which is unpleasant.
Why is it not intuitive? Because no one is subject to an arbitrary amount of time they have to wait before being able to learn more. Why is waiting not fun? Because sometimes you genuinely have nothing else to do (i.e. no books) than wait for your experience bar to go up before doing anything else.
Instead, what I propose would be an experience system inextricably tied to your level of fatigue. The idea behind this is that when you’re tired, you learn less, whereas when you’re fully rested, you’re more able to translate new experiences into long-term capabilities. This would also mean that sleeping, not just waiting, would be the only way to make you “fresh” for a new day of learning. I’ll summarize the model I have in mind:
[size=18pt]Fatigue-Based Experience Pool[/size]
Under this system, a character that has gotten his full 8 hours of rest will receive the maximum of 800 experience points (i.e. 100 experience points per hour of sleep). Once he wakes up, he will be able to spend his experience as normally occurs in the game, the main difference being that it won’t replenish itself automatically; the character will have to sleep again in order to recover points in his experience bar. Once a character’s experience bar hits 0, that character will accumulate a non-negligible amount of fatigue, which will represent that character being exhausted beyond the point where he can meaningfully learn anything new.
The experience bar can, however, go below 0 points, if the character chooses to exert himself beyond the point where he’s able to learn. At this point, his exertions will continue to make him more and more exhausted without giving him any increase in skill levels. Thus the experience pool will drain at the same rate into negative numbers, and once it reaches -800, a new fatigue milestone is reached and the character will accumulate even more fatigue. This proceeds with exponential levels of fatigue at -1600 and so on and so forth until maybe the 3rd or 4th milestone, at which point a character will pass out from sheer exhaustion, regardless of his fatigue level and how many stimulants he may have injected into his body.
Regaining negative experience points in your pool would occur in the same way as characters usually regain experience points while sleeping, but would occur at three times the normal rate (i.e. 300 experience points gained per hour of sleep instead of 100), meaning that even in an extreme case of being at -2400 experience, a character would only need 16 hours of sleep in order to get back to a full experience bar (8 hours at +300/hour = 2400, 8 hours at +100/hour = 800).
With regards to stimulants like caffeine and cocaine, they would give you temporary one-time boosts to your experience bar, but would cost you that amount of experience from your bar after the effect wears off. For example, let’s say a caffeine pill gives you +50 experience. If you consume it, it’ll increase your experience bar by 50 for the length of the caffeine’s duration, but once it exhausts itself, you’ll get -50 to your experience, which you’ll have to get back by sleeping.
[size=14pt]Pros and cons[/size]
-The system is more intuitive than the one already in place;
-Down-times are justified as sleep, which is normal given the fact that a regular individual, when put in stressful situations where he has to combat zombies all day, will get very exhausted quite fast and won’t be able to butcher a whole town of zombies without succumbing to his exhaustion;
-It makes the game harder, as fatigue penalties will get stacked more quickly on characters, making them slower and more prone to death. Also, having to rest more increases food and water consumption, which is bound to kill more players. Finally, I suspect experience won’t be as easy to acquire anymore when it’s linked to sleep time instead of just idle time.
-This might be a bitch to program - although I made as much effort as possible to keep this suggestion in the bounds of what exists already in Cata, what with still using the core experience pool mechanic;
-It makes the game harder.
Finally, a few miscellaneous ideas/considerations that arise from this alternative rule:
Under this set of rules, books become even more of a powerful way of acquiring skills. Perhaps the amount of technical knowledge books one can read in a day should be capped or otherwise controlled. I already think books trivialize a lot of the levelling up aspect of this game.
Players should definitely start with a full experience bar under this set of rules, and this goes a long way towards making it less awkward/unintuitive for players.
A less brutal implementation of this alternative ruleset would have progression into your negative experience pool still increase your skills, although at a much slower rate. For example:
From 800 to 0 experience, you would level up at 100% effectiveness.
From 0 to -800, you would level up at 30% effectiveness.
From -800 to -1600, you would level up at 20% effectiveness.
From -1600 to -2400, you would level up at 10% effectiveness.
Professions or traits could potentially affect the rate of regain of experience points and/or the effectiveness of negative experience points.
Well, that’s what I have for now. Hopefully you’ve gone through my tl;dr suggestion and have some feedback for me.