[MUD-Dev] RP thesis...

Adam Wiggins nightfall at user1.inficad.com
Sat May 17 19:08:34 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

> > > [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).
> > [Adam W:]
> > 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 peopl
> > 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.
>  [Matt C:]
> I wasn't entirely clear to the point I meant, above - I think that
> enforcing a 'native' language by default is a bad thing (you need to bend
> reality a little to make things a bit easier), but having them at all is
> certainly a good thing (An excited elf guard on the scene of a raid will
> drop to his native elvish rather than the common tongue, for instance).
> It's partly a personal thing.. and also, if it were a LARGE scale game
> (say Ultima-online type player connection figures, or rather as they would
> estimate), it would probably work having native languages as default. For
> a 30 player-at-peak mud, it probably wouldn't.

Oh...yeah, if there's four players online and none of them can talk to
each other, that does kind of suck.  I think it's pretty silly to
imagine, however, that there are X number of races all living within
a radius of (say) 200 miles and don't know a word of each other's language.
Think of modern day Europe...it's a larger scale, but modern transportation
methods probably make it about equivilent.  Thus two elves would much
rather be together because they can chat in high-elven without an
difficulty, go the same places, wear the same equipment.  If a hobbit is
tagging along, they have to revert to something the hobbit knows, which they
are likely not as good at.  Thus they have to use smaller words, ocassionally
repeat themselves, and so on.
Written language makes a lot of things more interesting, too.  A smart
mage will scribe his spellbook completely in a language that is relatively
unknown, since it means other mages will find it pretty useless unless
they take the time to learn that language.

> > 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.
> Yeah. Implementing eating (as a necessity, rather than the typical 'eat
> bread x10 for HPs back thing) is something I'm looking into. The trick of

Heh, I see you play mostly LPs. :)
Dikus always require you to eat and drink.  My problem with it is that
it's so simple, to the point of being hardly worth mentioning.  You either
stop at the bakery in town and buy 20 loaves of bread for consumption on
the road, or have some sort of skill to create food and water.  (Common
ones are a 'sustenance' spell for druids, a 'butcher' or 'carve' skill
for rangers that lets them make food out of corpses, 'create food' or
'create water' for clerics, and find food/find water for barbarians.)
If you don't eat and drink for long enough, your regen goes to shit.
In fact, I played one mud where there was a 'regenerate' spell that
clerics got at low level.  It made you regen mana and hitpoints about 3
times as fast, so everyone who ever grouped with a cleric (which was just
about everyone, since clerics were rather vital to killing about anything)
was regenerated.  The cavet was that it made you eat and drink every 60
seconds.  End result was that people carried around several barrels full
of water and hundreds of loaves of bread so that they didn't have to go
back to town very often.  An interesting idea, but pretty pointless to
my mind, mainly because you *can* carry that much stuff around.
On the other hand that mud had an interesting use for alcohol.  Bards (which
my character was) could sing songs of different sorts - healing songs, battle
songs, etc which had the effect of healing the party, making them hit harder,
etc.  The fun part was that a bard's mana was 'drunkeness'.  You had an
indicator as to how drunk you were in your prompt, and when you approached
sober, you got all sorts of messages about how your throat was parched and
started fumbling the songs.  Needless to say, my bard spent a *ton* of
cash buying alcohol.  Now this is a simple concept, but I actually enjoyed
it quite a bit.  (Particularly people's shock at the amount of alcohol
my character went through.)

> course is to do it subtly, and so that it isn't a bore to do (a routine
> thing that people set up triggers for, or deal with as simply as possible,
> and so forth). One step towards this is to adjust healing *rate* when
> characters eat, and give little or no HPs back. Perhaps physical and
> mental fatigue are relieved a little, and morale of a group (say a bunch
> of soldiers) would certainly go up. An interesting topic.

The morale thing is the way we decided to go.  Sure, you can survive
eating root and grubs and sleeping out in the forest.  But a night in the
town inn, a bath and a shave, a good hot meal, and a tankard of ale will
do wonders for your ability to do just about anything succesfully. :)
Oh, we also track hair growth (including facial hair) and cleanliness,
so someone who has been in the outback for a while really looks it.


A grubby, unshaven man goes up the stairs.
[time passes]
A clean-shaven man arrives from above.

I think I've already mentioned how "remembered state" affects memory.  Thus
you might end up with fun things like:

Bubbba the grubby, bearded, long-haired man goes up the stairs.
[time passes]
A clean-shaven man arrives from above.
The clean-shaven man says, 'How do I look?'
You says, 'Who are you?  Do I know you?'


> Ayup. Any semi-competent coder can eventually sling together all that he
> wants into a mud (I couldn't code at all in LPC about 6 months ago, but
> I've learnt an awful lot just from initially hacking about with Nightmare,
> and then writing huge hunks of code myself; currently a mail & news
> system.. it's amazing how fast you can learn given a small amount of
> dedication, if you really want to), but you really need to apply yourself
> to balance it, and make sure it is all well integrated together (it should
> feel like one fluid reality, not a bunch of systems hurled together to
> make one).

Yup.  This is why muds are so difficult - they have such a broad scope.
You can't make something so all-encompassing without making everything work
together.  That's the main reason most muds are based on some pen and paper
RPG - much easier to just implement a working system and then tweak it than
try to come up with something completely new.  We've revamped various systems
time and time again, because once we've updated one system, the other one
is now either outdated or just doesn't fit in anymore at all.  Now
things are approaching the point where everything works together very smoothly;
I'm incredibly happy with our game design.  It's just a matter of coding it,
now.  We've thrown away a ton of perfectly good code just because the
system itself doesn't work correctly anymore.

> Yeah, this works too. :) We're using the standard (well, fairly standard)
> heartbeat (or round if you prefer) based combat, in a way. Or rather, we
> aren't depicting all actions simply be reflex-time delay (some, such as
> application of archery and other missile attacks ARE reliant on a time
> delay), but each character will normally take a certain amount of attacks
> and parries in a round (modifiable through tactics and/or fighting style
> as well as 'special abilities'), so we will use the above penalties to
> simulate the effect you have nicely wrapped up. :) It really helps to
> bring out the 'confusion' involved in being surrounded.

Ugh....we tried round-based combat for a while, and it was such a pain.
Our new system is so clean and easy - EVERYTHING works exactly the same
way, from combat to cooking to climbing.  Which makes it both easier
to add new things you can do, and cuts down the size of the code.
(Our combat module got cut nearly in half (byte size) when we chopped
out round-based combat.)

> Yeah, it's very different - and was one of the first things I decided to
> do with our combat. If we intend to support whole armies (most likely
> actually created NPCs who will actually fight, but using a muted combat so
> as not to spam things to hell.. or a semi-muted combat which pages it's
> messages, ie: 30 red-lion soldiers swing and miss their opponents, rather
> than 30x A red-lion soldier swings and misses his opponent), we have to
> make sure that you don't have 100 soldiers dash in and jump another 50,
> the 100 instantly all mobbing the first of the 50..
> Imagine..
> 100 Red Lion soldiers march in.
> The soldiers see your uniform and attack you!
> 38 Red Lion soldiers miss you completely.
> 20 Red Lion soldiers hit you for no damage.
> 10 Red Lion soldiers hit you badly.. and so on.
> It wouldn't be fun. :)

Yeah, I thought about this.  Frankly I'm not really interested in doing
things on this scale.  For one thing we're still using rooms for our location
system, which is somewhat limiting.  I really like being able the hand-craft
areas, so we're leaving in the room idea, but if I wanted to allow for infinite
scale we'd have to ditch this altogether.

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