Since Tale 3, A Tale in the Desert also sports a leveling system. Apparently the structure and guided objectives lent a sense of progress and retained players for far longer than they stuck around for a level-less system, so that was that, one more deathblow to a no-levels paradise some people may dream of.
One of the disadvantages of levels is also present in ATITD. You have to earn enough levels to “unlock” certain things (skills, machinery or activities) that you may want to use.
While there’s the social alternative as a s solution for some of it (there have been a few itinerant blacksmiths wandering around as level 0 peasants, they simply borrow/use someone else’s already constructed anvil and tools – which they would not be able to build), ultimately, it’s not terribly practical.
The good news is that though there are 70 maximum levels, past level 42, there is no more in-game significance (skills or technology or tests unlocked) to them. It’s sort of like Guild Wars’ Hall of Monuments – you can reach 50 points, but only 30 give you only any tangible benefit besides a cool title.
Furthermore, when you check the levels and skills pages of the wiki, levels which give any real practical benefit are the lower levels and top off around 29-32. At level 29, is the last level of Cooking (assuming you had any interest in that activity) and at level 32, Detonation, a technology which uses explosives to make gravel quickly in a detonation pit – but one can always make gravel without the risk of blowing oneself up by hitting stones with a sledgehammer.
Further extra stuff is nice to have, but not mission critical. (In Tale 4, I targeted level 28 for Silkworm Farming, but I note in Tale 5 and Tale 6, they have cut the requirement down to level 19, even easier to achieve.)
In a way, this is also good, because higher levels are also exponentially harder to achieve in ATITD. I believe only one person has ever reached the maximum level before a Telling ended.
Levels are gained as follows:
- 1 for Citizenship
- 1 for each of the seven Principles of the disciplines. (7)
- 1 for each Test principle (49)
- 1 for each Title prefix change (7) (Student of… through Oracle of…). Note that this does not mean one level per test passed.
- 1 for each extra Oracleship you receive (6)
That’s essentially from easiest to hardest. Citizenship is the ATITD tutorial, basically. The first seven initiations (or principles of the disciplines – Architecture, Art & Music, Body, Harmony, Leadership, Thought and Worship) start out easy and get a little bit trickier.
Test Principles range in difficulty, but are the primary way to get levels. Doing Principles simply mean fulfilling a list of tasks that introduce you to the Test, and are usually a partial demonstration of what the Test is about. This qualifies you for a level.
For more challenged-inclined folks, they can aim to pass the Test itself. This usually involves significantly more effort, competition with others, and possibly long-term time investment. If they do pass the Test, and if the Test gives them a change of prefix title, then they get a level. If not, they just get the prestige and satisfaction of having passed it.
Title prefixes are changed by passing 1-7 Tests in a particular discipline. Passing all seven in one discipline means you become an Oracle of that discipline. Naturally, not easy.
And if you have an extra Oracleship, comes the final bonus levels. (I don’t even want to consider how much effort that would be.)
Fortunately, I have much lower aspirations. I will quite happily settle for around the lvl 29-32 mark eventually. Since I took a couple months off, my characters were lvl 16 and 18 respectively, and that’s still slightly too low to unlock several skills and techs and tests and I want.
Amidst the horde of panels indicating “yet-to-do” Principles, each of which is worth one level if I can conceivably complete them (and some are distinctly not easy to), I noted a few that were.
The Thought Principles of the Venery, the Pathmaker, and the Bijou (whose principles I had yet to get from the University in the screenshot below), along with the Harmony Principle of Reason.
The Discipline of Thought is all about minigame puzzles. Minigame puzzles that involve Thought (naturally) and that are player-created, player-solved and rated.
Like all good sandboxes, ATITD offers a number of different ways to get the same principle done. After all, what is the point of shoddy puzzles built by people who just want the level, and aren’t interested in making a good puzzle to pass the Test with?
So you can:
1) Build the puzzle, following the suggested principles list
and then a) Have 7 people do the puzzle and judge it, ie. give it a rating
or b) If you cannot wait or attract 7 people to have any interest in it, you could also tear it down
Naturally, tearing it down wastes the materials, and means you cannot pass the Test since you don’t have a puzzle any more, but if you’re looking for just the level off the Principles, it is an option – essentially “spending” or “paying” the materials cost without the aggravation of waiting for people’s judgments.
Or you can 2) Play and solve 3 recent winning puzzles.
These are Test passing puzzles that win weekly based on the best aggregated player rating. These are guaranteed to be at least somewhat good or hard puzzles, representative of what Egypt thinks is a “good” puzzle for that particular Test.
That second option is what I’m aiming for.
Because spending the time and materials to build these things is not particularly what I want to do, nor do I have present plans to pass any Thought Tests (I would have to build them later if I did). Take the Venery as an example:
- 7 Eyelet cut Amethyst
- 7 Eyelet cut Lapis
- 7 Eyelet cut Turquoise
- 7 Eyelet cut Garnet
- 7 Fine Glass Rods
- 7 Gold Wire
- 7 Copper
- 14 Small Gears
- 1 Canvas
- 4 Rope
- 100 Boards
- 250 Papyrus Paper.
for the minimum size Venery with 7 lockboxes. Not as bad as a Raeli Oven, but still, quite a lot of gems to cut, and costly when you consider I’ll have to do it twice for my two characters. I’ll do it for a Test pass, but not for a level. And a level is what we’re aiming for here.
So a quick check of the ATITD System log for the last 28 days or so of Test Passes, a quick ctrl+F “Find” of the keywords Venery, Pathmaker and Bijou, and I had my target locations to trek to for the most recent winning puzzles.