The level of reading comprehension amongst the gaming public is remarkable in its selectiveness.  I now wish to cut my eyes out with a broken bottle after reading various dev-boardie posts, even if they seem to sorta back my argument in some strange way.  After suffering through some forum posts made by chowderheads on many different forums (cringe), I would like to dispell some myths about the meaning of the rant below.

Mu says trained should be just as good as specialized!

Fuck no.  You blow skill credits for specialization, you should be better at that than someone who didn’t.  What shouldn’t be the case is that someone who is NOT specialized has ZERO chance of effect because of a difference of a few points.  This can be fixed through a flatter curve.  Oh this brings up another one…

Flatter skill curves mean trained will be as good as specialized!

Goddamnit, does nobody know what a bell curve is?  The further you get away from a 50% chance of winning a contest, the less difference a single point makes.  The curve is so sharp in AC’s contested rolls algorithm that 30 points is the difference between effectiveness and impotence, and because the content is geared to be challenging for extreme specialists, no one else has a chance of even touching it.  A non-specialized life mage can be about as good as a level 60 specialized life mage by… level 85, life skill at 34 million per point, assuming he does almost nothing else with experience.  A flatter curve means that points further away from the set difficulty of the action mean more, so that for example a character would have a chance to affect a monster at a skill lower than is required now… a small chance, but still there, with difficulty scaling towards the same 50% mark.  Skills above 50% chance of success improve your ability to win consistently slower, so that a specialist has more reason to improve skill beyond +20 over opposing skill.  It creates chances for the non-super characters, and super characters have more reason to improve their specialist skills further.  It does not harm either character type.  It most likely benefits both.

Mu is saying pure melee is overpowered and that’s just bullshit!

LEARN TO READ.  One motherfucker posted some insane reply to the rant all over the goddamn place and then emailed it to me in case I somehow missed it, based on the assumption that I was saying that no-magic melee fighters were too strong.  It was also a "strong rebuttal" on Lum’s gimped forums.  What the fuck?  Words fail me.

This is a mage vs. melee whine!

It is not, it’s an issue of gearing content specifically for one type of character design/playstyle at the expense of all others.  The fact that War Magic is so astoundingly worthless, outpaced by any free racial weapon skill + 3 schools, and made progressively more worthless at a steady rate, makes it a remarkable illustration of the super template content vs. everybody else issue.  I have nothing against melee.  I have nothing against hybrid melee except for the flaws which become glaringly evident in the game mechanics post-60.  And I love archery… it’s kinda like war, except it fires faster, rarely misses, is never resisted, does more damage, doesn’t consume mana or components, and allows a melee defense bonus, but at least it’s way cheaper to train.

Mu wants the game to cater only to non-uber characters!

Will you please wake up?  The flexibility of the character generation system is a blessing and a curse at the same time.  I want there to be a difference between specialized and trained.  I want some people to be better at some things than others, at the expense of breadth of ability.  What I don’t want is for that difference to be "You can do everything we implement" versus "You can do the same shit you always did forever."  The point of a generalized character, i.e. fill many roles, is negated by the fact that a specialist extreme can do everything better because of content gearing.  Sure some people don’t mind repetetive play, as evidenced by the number of people racing to 100+ by living their lives in the goddamn BSD killing buggy no-risk monkeys.  AC seems to be much more than that.  With the current trend in content design, it isn’t, and won’t be.

My level 50 nonspec mage patron kills tuskers just fine so Mu is full of crap!

Okaaaay… LEVEL 50 IS NOT WHAT NEW CONTENT IS GEARED FOR.  It’s not even considered high anymore due to the open encouragement of powerlevelling.  What’s the backstory to the BSD’s?  "Uh, well the Virindi noted that humans like to powerlevel on their servants, so they opened up the BSD’s to accomodate them."  And the Tusker as an example is a shitty one.  The Tusker Slave/Guard is a buggy monster.  It has tons of health and is high level so it’s worth 8-12k xp per kill… with 180 magic defense and 60AL armor.  This thing should be worth about 4-5k tops.  Sure it hits really hard, but since everyone in the world is hybridized and optimized with life and item layered protections, this means little to nothing.  Add an AL 10 buckler and you are god.  They may have been worth 13k when nobody knew how to fight them, but remember that the level of mountain rats was raised because stupid players didn’t understand why they kept dying in full plate.  Now tuskers are no longer a level 159 risk, and should be scaled accordingly.

Mu’s complaining is pointless… if you don’t like the game then just quit!

This is the same bullshit answer I saw spammed on rec.comp.games.ultima.online every time someone complained about a really serious bug destroying the game for months.  If I was a sensible person, maybe I would just quit, but I happen to like AC a lot.  It’s the best of the big 3 by leaps and bounds.  Sure lots of people are enjoying being a trained spear user with lockpick and assess creature.  More power to them.  Addressing the issues outlined below will not hurt your game now, and will enhance it by the time you make 70.  I’m sure Micro$oft would rather not have people "just quit!" once they got tired of the game as it was on release.

Mu would really really like it if I copied and pasted irrelevant and off-base dev board posts to his inbox!

Uh no.  (This happened 5 times.)

If the themes of the rant are still foggy to you, then I should just resort to the Nei system of clarification, as suggested via IRC when I was pondering how to make my case clear…

<DM|misanthrope> you need to take my stance on things:
<DM|misanthrope> i’m right, you’re dumb.
<DM|misanthrope> i have mad data, you have anecdotal drivel
<GimpyMu> can i quote you?  :P
<DM|misanthrope> you’ll do it regardless =p

Please refer to this helpful chart for further clarification.

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