WOO II An Exploration in Design - July 2012 - By Stoneghost: Dalaran


Woo II - Character Model

In terms of the game, a Character is a set of numbers, each of which represents some attribute of the entity displayed on the player's screen.

For example, one number might be a pointer to a graphic image that displays as the character's cloak. Another number represent the character's movement speed while running. Another might represent the character's ability to resist frost magic attacks. The collection of numbers is fairly large, and management of the set is a key problem in MMOG design.

This page attempts to outline the basic number set of the character. The goal is to make sure that everything contained in the rest of the design is consistent ... i.e., does not conflict with itself ... and feasible.

Basic Character Map

This chart shows what would need to be saved as the "state" data each time a character changes levels. Graphic data implies images that appear on the players screen. Numeric data implies computations. In all cases the actual data stored might be a pointer to a location on the game server.


Attribute Data Type Comments
Skin and "Look"
Each character has a "look". The basic skin is chosen at the time of creation and is constrained by the character's race and gender. Geared items overlay the basic skin. Various passive enhancements may alter the look of specific items and/or the overall image of the character. Shape shifting can add one or more secondary "looks" to the character.
Health, Energy and Regeneration
Health is an attribute that represents the life of the character. Energy is an attribute that powers the character's spell casting abilities. A character regenerates energy and health over time, though possibly at different rates. Regeneration is an attribute of the character, though it may be modified by items of gear. Regeneration may be increased through certain talents and skills.
A character moves on foot with a certain walking and running speed. Speed may be modified by mounts, talents, skills or items of gear.
A character does a base damage in each damage type selected as a talent. Damage is an attribute of the character, though it may be modified by gear or enhancements. An ungeared character does damage with fists and mentally projected spells. Additional damage abilities may be gained through Life Path skills.
Damage Mitigation
A character mitigates a certain percentage of incoming damage as specified by his or her talents. Damage mitigation is an attribute of the character, though it may be modified by gear. Additional mitigation abilities may be gained through Life Path skills.
Various abilities are available to all characters if the proper talent is chosen. See the Talents page for more details. These attributes may be modified through the use of gear and other enhancements.
Life Path and Skills
After the completion of training, a character chooses a Life Path ... essentially a specialization in one of Dungeon Raiding, PvP Fighting, or Item Crafting and Sales. Various abilities are available to characters in particular Life Paths. See the Life Path descriptions or the list of Skills. These attributes may be modified through the use of gear and other enhancements.
Each character has the ability to equip various items of gear. Some items enhance the character's abilities. Other items provide cosmetic effects.
Each character has the ability to add enhancements to his or her gear. Some of these improve the character's abilities. Others provide cosmetic effects.


Basic Units

A "basic unit" is a fixed amount of some attribute given to the character at creation. (Actual values for basic units are not given here because they have to be set during the detailed game design.)

Basic Units (BUs) are increased whenever the character rises to a new level. They establish the essential attributes of the character prior to modification by gear and enhancements.


At any given level, a character has a particular value for each attribute (health, energy, damage, etc.) modified by whatever gear and enhancements the character is wearing. This is the "state" of the character at that level. When a character moves up to a new level, the state of the old level is saved. Thus, every character has a history of states.

When a character relevels, the state of the existing level is saved and the state of the target level is loaded. Any gear or enhancements which have changed are identified and their effects are recomputed. This new state is then saved for this level.

Gear and Enhancements

All modifications to character attributes made by gear or enhancements are expressed as percentages of the Basic Unit. This allows gear to relevel without need for adjustment to individual items. The item provides the same percentage gain or loss at any level, the BU for each level is different.

For example, suppose a level 40 character can do 80 BU of frost damage and owns a weapon that increases frost damage by 1% - this would make the character's total frost damage be 80.8 BU. Now suppose that the character goes into a level 20 dungeon. The game will relevel the character to level 20 where, suppose, he or she had a basic frost damage of 40 BU. The weapon would be applied next, bringing the total frost damage to 40.4.

Level dependent enhancements do not provide any effect at levels below their effective level. For example, suppose jewels can be inserted in weapons at level 20, but not before that. So, when a jeweled weapon is taken to a level 10 dungeon, its jewels would have no effect. The general goal is that a character should have one of each gear item, reforging and improving it as he or she levels up and gains access to new capabilities.

Life Path

Life paths are exclusive. Having chosen one, the character is locked out of the skills tree as well as many activities that are open to the others.

Choice of Life Path has no direct effect on the character framework. But it does provide access to Skills, many of which will add new or augment existing abilities.