[MUD-Dev] The reality of constant combat??

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Tue Jun 3 18:42:22 New Zealand Standard Time 1997


On Tue, 3 Jun 1997 08:31:36 PST8PDT, Adam Wiggins
<nightfall at inficad.com> wrote:

>Absolutely.  In particular, you mentioned a key word - 'mortal'.  This
>is a failing of hitpoint-based systems; it's difficult to rough someone
>up a bit without actually killing them, or at least severly incapasitating
>them.  

Exactly. It's common on many of the games I play to take damage right to
the *edge* of death, and then be left alone. I recall steppping into the
middle of what I perceived to be an unfair conflict and taking a single
punch from the antagonist which stated quite emphatically that I was so
far out of my league it wasn't funny. Within a powergame context, I
would have been more or less forced to respond in kind; in the RP
context, I went down like a poleaxed steer, struggled to regain my feet,
and weakly tossed a few half-hearted epithets at him. My attacker
expressed his contempt in no uncertain terms, and then wandered off. His
original target, someone significantly weaker than I, ended up becoming
a rather close friend. While either or both of us could have been killed
easily by this man, it furthered the story much more for him to let us
survive the encounter.

It's also worth noting that the rest of the observers treated my
attacker with a little more care from that point. He gained the respect
and fear he had been looking for, and no one died. I admired him a lot
more for that than I would have for just offhandedly slaughtering my
character, hie original target, and anyone else who got in his way.

>It has nothing to do with 'morals', much as anyone might like to believe.
>It is simple survival.  Psycotic killers who run around hacking people up
>with axes are put in jail - not because we're necessarily passing any
>sort of a moral judgement on what they are doing, or their right to live
>as they choose, but because it's bad for the 'common good' for them
>to be running around doing what they do.

Exactly. It's bad for the game to constantly kill off characters.
Therefore, it is frowned upon, and involves certain consequences. Or at
least, it does in most of the games I tend to enjoy.

>If someone comes at you with an axe, you don't just think "No problem -
>I've got 100 hitpoints and that axe only does 2d8.  I can take a few hits,
>at least, before deciding to flee."  You know full well that, even if
>you are a better fighter than the person you face, there's a pretty could
>chance that you could slip up somehow - and a single good blow with that
>thing is going to put you in rough shape, no matter how tough you are.

This isn't very well reflected in most MUDs, but I agree entirely.

>Secondly, there is (of course) no reward for combat.  You don't get
>experience either from fighting someone or from killing them.  Thus
>you have to have a pretty specific reason to fight someone, and even then,
>you're probably going to exercise caution.

I would speculate that players ought to gain experience *strictly* from
fighting, and not from killing. When you hit someone, both of you learn
something; therefore when I swing an axe at someone, I should get
experience swinging my axe, and he should get experience trying not to
get hit by it. When I swing my axe and kill the player, I should get
experience from the axe swing, but the death is merely a side effect;
the benefit from the death is the ability to take whatever he happens to
be carrying. There shouldn't be any significant experience point gain
from watching someone die.

People already abuse this, by fighting a monster to the point of
near-death and then having another character deal the death blow so he
can get some ludicrous amount of experience.

>Now, this is certainly not the only way to implement a world like this,
>but the point is that you don't just hardcode certain things that people
>can and cannot do to each other.  This has the result of making the world
>both restrictive and not very believable.  What you should do, however, is
>create a world the way it would actually evolve.  This is no small feat, which
>is why most worlds are modeled after something from our own, 'real' world;
>be it medieval times, the old west, shogun-era Japan, or whatever.

Given a large enough player base (which most MUDs have) you can have
actual player characters holding positions like town healers, town
guards, etc. in your main city. This would give them something to do,
and bypass a lot of the difficulty in designing a decent mob prog to do
what you want. A player character can, like a real person, accept or
decline a bribe; respond with appropriate changes in attitude to an
insult; look the other way when he feels something illegal is actually
justified; and even open hostilities when he finds them necessary. A mob
prog could not do all this effectively.

-+[caliban at darklock.com]+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-
 I am here to grind your eyes harder into the miasmic bile of life; to 
 show you the truth and the beauty in the whisper of steel on silk and 
 the crimson scent of blood as it rises to meet the caress of a blade. 
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