[MUD-Dev] RP thesis...

Adam Wiggins nightfall at user1.inficad.com
Sat May 17 12:53:25 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

[Adam W:]
> > Agreed, but this is an age old RPG issue.  The more specific problem, to
> > my mind, is that players just aren't immersed in an RP-way into the world.
> > That is, the world looks the same regardless of whether you're playing a
> > 9-foot, orange-furred Kzin with razor-sharp claws or a 3-foot, cross-eyed,
> > club-footed midget with a horrible nervous twitch.
> This depends, really. In some cases, shaping the world based on what the
> player is, is a good thing, sometimes it's a hindrance, and awfully
> awkward to put in for what it can add.
[Matt C:]
> Personally I like to cover obvious points this way (Ie, a 12ft tall giant
> will have extreme trouble going through a humansize door), but find that
> something like, for instance, enforcing all players to speak a racial
> language automatically is bad. It's a big stumbling block (although trying
> to communicate is rather novel for a while, AND a good thing for some
> small situations, it;s not overly desirable for most games as an entirity,
> context dependant, of course).

Hmmm.  I love languages.  I think my bias towards them, though, reflects
the first mud I played.  One of the first things which struck me as being
totally kick-ass and unlike anything I had ever seen before was seeing people
talk in different languages.  It gave me the sense that I actually *was*
in a large, complex world filled with things that I didn't know about or
understand, as opposed to multi-player Zork.  In particular, I loved it
when a half-giant grouping with a bunch of elves would mutter a curse in
his native language...the elves wouldn't understand him (unless they knew
that language, of course) and sometimes a half-giant nearby would hear and
walk in to high-five half-giant #1 and engage in a hearty dialogue about why
elves are so damn wimpy.  It's a small thing...but this is exactly the sort
of things which makes muds so cool, in my oppinion.

> tinymush derivs that I've seen here, really, I suppose), where there are
> all sorts of doobreys and trinkets the player can putter about with alone,
> and it's very possible to RP as an individual who needs absolutely noone
> else to survive (although obviously it's not terribly realistic..
> everybody needs somebody somewhere, somehow).

Well, this is just a matter of putting in basic 'needs' associated with
characters.  Sometimes this is as simple as returning to town to buy
food and drink (which then allows for the ranger-type skills for aquiring
food and drink in the wilderness, allowing her to stay 'outback' indefinitely),
sometimes it can involve getting equipment repaired, selling treasure you
may have found, or whatever.  This should be built into the game, of course -
I don't have to role-play that I'm hungry in RL; my body just does so.
In a mud, your character *is* your body, so it should get hungry too.

> Do you enforce an economy so that players must buy things? How do you stop
> them just pretending to have them? Should you stop them? And the other
> thousand economy questions illustrate how one seemingly 'popular' system
> of creating interdependancy (ie, by finance) causes trouble. Another
> thread in it's own right.

Yes, it is difficult to balance.  IMO the primary hurdle in mud design
*is* balance; therefore I see it as just one more system to try to get
working and self-sustaining.

> To diverge from the RP thread a little, Caffeine, a game I'm working on
> developing (what I'd probably call a thinking man's hack'n'slash) is going
> to try and address this point. For about the first 1/3rd of the game,
> players work alone, or more often in small groups (or alone with NPCs to
> help them), in a sort of D&D campaign style setting (just think of the old
> group of adventurers running about stuff). After that, individuals can
> enter the nobility (or carry on as they were), and amass land, armies, and
> so forth, which swings the focus of the game somewhat. Their relation to
> other players? Players can live on their land.. join the armies.. and so
> forth. It should be an interesting experiment if nothing else.

Nice.  I've always liked games which change in scale as you play them.

> Yup. No matter how skilled and powerful you are, if you get mobbed, you
> start having problems. To tackle the above directly, I handle it in
> Caffeine's combat (or rather, plan to) so that the difficulty of fighting
> (read: internal penalties applied to character) doubles for each extra
> opponent, where a creature can be surrounded by upto 8 creatures of it's
> own size. Ie:
> A human is Size Index 10, and can be surrounded by upto 8 humans (or 4
> giants, who are size index 20).
> A human with 1 human opponent suffers no penalty.
> A human with 4 human opponents suffers a penalty of order magnitude 4.
> A human with 8 human opponents suffers a penalty of order magnitude 64,
> because he is completely surrounded, and being attacked from all sides at
> once.

*nod*...we actually found that, the way that we designed combat, we didn't
have to explicitly handle the penalties involved in fighting multiple
opponents.  That is, someone swings their weapon at you.  You parry, giving
yourself (say) 3 pulses of recovery time.  Someone swings at you sometime in
those next 3 pulses and you're pretty much stuck (you're still trying to parry
that other blow).  You *can* cut your parry off 'short', ie while still
waiting for the 3rd pulse to occur, but this has the effect of giving
you a point of penalty (since you're basically making a 'desperate' parry)
and making all subsequent combat maneuvers suffer, until you get rid of
that point.  (Penalty wears off whenever you just stand around doing nothing
whichi requires concentration or physical exertion.)  Thus a person being
attacked by two people is probably going to find the blows coming in much
more quickly than they can handle, and will soon being failing their parries
(due to high penalty) or just being too slow, and not parrying at all.
Obviously the problem gets worse as you add more opponents.
We did have to specifically track number and size of opponents for the purposes
of making them get in the way of each other (to keep 27 half-giants from
attacking one human), but this is a little different.

> Yup. Everyone wins if they have fun. A noble, and largely desirable
> situation to hop towards. You can have tremendous fun (while causing no
> harm to anyone) by stealing from someone elses character, possibly being
> caught, possibly getting away with it, or being hunted for some time
> afterwards. People taking things personally is of course, a problem, yes.

Yup.  Ironically, one good thing about powermuds is that people are well
aware that it's a giant competition, and it's only natural to kill, steal
from, rip off, or otherwise jack around your fellow players.  Some people
get extremelly creative...such as setting things up so that a town citizen
is murdered, and when the cops show up, another player is standing there
holding a bloody knife.  NPCs don't seem to react to the phrase, "But, I
was FRAMED!" :)

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