Hrm. See, the problem I have with that kind of idea is that it would give your character cause to do totally unrealistic things. If we had no idea of our skills and abilities, well that's exactly what got you killed fucking with that rat I guess, although the lack of any sense of how murderously powerful rats can be doesn't help.
If we had no stats and my character was a painter or something, he'd have no reason not to go around the city picking fights, trying to break into stuff, hacking into the grid etc (the tools for which would cost like 50k at least, altogether) before he could finally discern that, after all, it turns out that during his life's progression he had become decent at painting instead of piloting large aircraft. This isn't something you should have to go find out, this is something you know in the same way as you know your history.
Thanks to Jotun for his flame-dousing consideration. His first point made me think, I reckon I've been doing what he describes. I base my UE investments on what I've been doing IC though, and I do a bunch of different things, with no specific skill/stat being the best for me. I think if there was a better sense of where I was in the skill progression I would also have a sense of how much a UE is worth, and then I'd avoid "wasting" it by mistake.
This is all complicated, so many IC and OOC reasonings to consider.
A cunning thought just occured to me, so I'll spout it: if someone asks me how good I am at something I can just tell them, I don't say, "Well, there's only one way to find out!" I think you're all correct that the current system basically works and stuff, but I don't understand why you'd want to hold back information that should be in your character's brain anyway.
...new thought... the UE system doesn't really make sense in the first place. My arguments are only really valid if we assume the character in question is putting UE into the stuff he's actually been doing IC, in which case he'd have good reason to know how good he is at it. Otherwise, yes, someone would have no idea how good they are at a skill, even after 100UE spent in it.
My MOO, if I'm allowed to mention it, uses a skill system that just raises your skills automatically based on what you've been doing. My arguments would work with that, but with UE the OOC and IC aspects of the system are seperate, which causes complications because the OOC player has to decide his character's worth arbitrarily and so ends up without a real sense of their IC character's skills.
If the player didn't have to actually choose where their UE goes, there would be no issue about how much they've progressed. I still approve of a @stats screen that reminds you how good you are, but I think the root issue here is, "I've just raised knitting from terrible to useless... what difference have I made?"
Edit: and another thing! When one assigns UE, there's a sudden, visible change to the character's stats. An automated system is more flowing and as a result you obviously don't sense any immediate change. When people see their strength going from "okay" to "average" or whatever, they wonder if that means they can lift trucks now. In a more subtle system that question wouldn't even arise in the mind; they'd just find themselves able to lift trucks one day, not too long after they'd gained the ability to lift menhirs.
(Edited by darKPete at 12:09 pm on June 23, 2009)