Experience System Alternative

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:

  1. It isn’t very intuitive;
  2. 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

I like the idea of tying learning to fatigue and/or mood. I don’t think I like the exact mechanic you’re proposing in most of this, because it seems about as artificial as the current system.

I do like the alternate version you suggest in point (3) at the bottom, which seems similar to an idea I’ve mentioned. Starting the day with full learning capacity, and having your learning rate slowly degrade with stressful activity, seems like a much more natural way to model things. I’d also suggest having a much more gradual change from full learning to slow learning.

I’m not sure we need to keep the XP pool as it currently stands, at least not if the justification is “makes coding easier” (as alluded to in the cons list). It’s a significant change anyway, and IMO it would be best to implement a properly-coded alternate learning system, rather than a hacky patch. A hacky patch might still be better than nothing, but I’d say leave that to the implementer’s discretion/laziness.

I also like the suggestion you give in point (4) of having professions and/or traits tinker with how this works. I imagine that a workable representation of professions’ skill affinity would be to reduce the rate at which your learning slows down, when working on a skill that you have affinity for.

I was going to make a thread about this, but I like your suggestion. In particular, the less brutal version, including speed reduction for low fatigue values. However, what I was going to suggest was that the book system should be reworked. Books shouldn’t level your actual skill up by themselves, but rather provide temporary large boosts to XP accumulation for that skill when actually applying the knowledge in the real world. Fatigue levels would be broad XP gain boons or debuffs that would either work with or against the boosts books would give.

I feel that having books work this way would encourage healthy rest and more active, enjoyable gameplay than sitting in a hole in a dark room stocked with food and water, reading books, and emerging a week later as a grandmaster carpenter-swordsman-chef-football-playing-king-in-space with a fierce beard.

Not fond of this setup to be honest.

Instead of leaving it at that here’s a bit of input.

  1. It seams more cut and dry. Dry is a good word actually, as I can see myself burning through my xp pool in a few minutes of combat (leaving a once beautiful pool of XP a cracking and baron pit of fatigue) and having to walk back home to chug cough medicine until I pass out or poison myself. Where as i’d normally get a little ex here and there and a boost in the morning now it’s just the big boost and nothing else.
  2. You say it makes the system more intuitive but it really doesn’t seam so. Maybe if I played with it for a while I might change my mind but as it stands your pitch didn’t make it sound like an improvement to the current system. People don’t wake up with their full daily allotment of get up and learn as just it should come gradually. No one wakes up ready to learn advanced physics (no matter what professors say), no you need your hot cup of coffee and a cold shower before your brain starts turning on.
  3. Indeed this does make skill gain longer and more drawn out but not harder. <See point 1> Use up your xp and drink your day away…
  4. Doesn’t the game already have fatigue? Having two sets of fatigue doesn’t seem right. Arguable it could be mental and physical fatigue I guess, but it’s the apocalypse… Mental fatigue should be at lowest be around 150% capacity because seeing the dead walk (and attacking you) is rather mind breaking.

I’ve rudely done nothing but point at problems so to be fair here is something for the chopping block.

[spoiler]Lets remove the XP count. “Blasphemous!” you may claim. And technically it’s true. (I am speaking against a known concept after all)
In it’s place I recommend a XP multiplier!
Never again will you be out of XP if you [S]vote Chuthulu president[/S] don’t have experience to spend. I don’t know what the standard multiplier would be.
We’d probably call it 1 but what would it be compared to how we spend XP currently? That would be up to who ever codes it (if anyone likes the idea).
In turn doing things could raise this multiplier like your moral being high raising it over all (or lowering it further. Yikes.) or skill books raising your multiplier just for that skill kind of like what Augur said for giving XP only to use on that skill.
Furthermore being tired, hungry, thirsty and in pain should distract you from learning just like they slow your movement.


  • Never need down time to [S]regen mana[/S] stockpile XP.
  • Help solve the “grandmaster carpenter-swordsman-chef-football-playing-king-in-space with a fierce beard” book problem.
  • Push the player to keep their moral up or books on hand if they want to improve their skills. You can raise them without but it’ll take much longer.
  • We could finally have skill comprehension work as written and make it a multiplier.


  • Only a rough idea…
  • Likely full of problems I haven’t thought of.
  • Thinking of a fair but not overpowered base line would be difficult. X.1 too low? X.5 too high? X.3? I don’t know.
    -May be hard to code do to the multipliers. Maybe round it to the closest quarter if that helps?

Bob the mechanic wants to raise his mechanics skill and finally make that hotrod to [S]plow through Wal-Mart[/S] cruse around like a boss.
Like everyone he starts at 1 for his skill multiplier. but his intelligence gives him 116% skill gain so now its 1.16%.
We’d like it to be higher so he’s going to drink on the job and have a chocolate bar. Moral up! +.6 XP multiplier.
1.76%? we can do better. So Bob flips though his Under the Hood and gets a whopping +2 XP.
3.76%? Time for work! But wait, that last shot of vodka made him thirsty. So it‘s only 3.68% unless he‘s got something to quench that dry throat.

Question? Comments? Hate mail?[/spoiler]