[MUD-Dev] RP thesis...

Matt Chatterley root at mpc.dyn.ml.org
Sat May 17 21:36:41 New Zealand Standard Time 1997


On Sat, 17 May 1997, Adam Wiggins wrote:

> > >[Adam W:]
> > [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.

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.
 
> > 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.

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
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.
 
> > 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.

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).
 
> > 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.

Yeah.. I've always been a 'war games' fan too, so creating something where
the player can (having earnt the right to do so, of course) take a more
back-seat view and watch his hordes rampage (or maybe not) is something I
really want a shot at. Of course, it won't be easy to balance. ;)

> > 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.

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.

> 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.

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. :)
 
> > 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!" :)

<g>

Regards,
	-Matt Chatterley
	http://user.itl.net/~neddy/index.html
"Fishing is complete and utter madness."  -Spike Milligan




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