Combat

Adam Wiggins nightfall at user1.inficad.com
Sat Jul 12 22:57:42 New Zealand Standard Time 1997


[Marian:]
> :: The only problems I see with who lists, are that they are un-
> :: realistic, and allow for generlizations like, oh so-and-so isn't on
> :: the who list, he must have logged out, which people shouldn't
> :: be able to tell anyways, shrug.
> 
> Maybe not, strictly speaking, but realistically it's important to the
> players to know if somebody else is playing too. If only for the rea-

Yeah, this has hurt muds with the naming stuff (you must have been introduced
to someone to see them on the who list).  People log on and see '0 Players
You Know Online' and think that no one else is playing.  Of course, I see
this as a failure to explain how the game works up front...

> son you outlined above. You could easily make it a little less simple
> to acquire that information.  Perhaps having a board in the local pub
> that shows who signed in and out; as a public service to the townfolk
> so they know which strangers are in their realm. This means that each
> player can find out by strolling to this pub but can't tell once they
> are out and adventuring. They also may truthfully tell the gate guard
> where they are heading if they leave town and allow others to follow.
> Or they may not if they need to keep that information secure.

Actually, this could be pretty cool because you can see if someone you're
looking for logged on earlier in the day.

> It you do this you wull probably find a lot of players ranting at you
> but your who is marginally in theme while still functional.  The same

Uh oh...if there's one thing I can't stand, it's ranting players. *smirk*
Seriously, players bitch and moan and complain about anything that's not
exactly the way that they expect it to be.  All you can do is make it
the best you can and leave players to deal with it as they like.

As for my project, we currently have a who list availible from account
mode, allowing you to see what accounts are connected and what they are
doing (ie, if they are in the chat room, posting a message, or playing the
game) but nothing else.

> can be said about 'tell' or 'page'. They're important conveniences to

Yup.  I can't wait to get our mud online just so that I can see the great
posts in rec.games.mud.* saying, 'Can you believe this mud?  They don't
even have 'tell'!!1!1!'

> the players and should be available, though there might be a cost for
> them that keeps them marginally in theme. Probably you need an inborn
> telepathy skill that ca not be acquired.  Or a sufficiently powerfull
> mage to send a message by magical means or a priestly prayer that her
> diety passes on to a priest in another town. NOT something like: "Hey
> we're toasting the red dragon. care to help?"

Sure.  Or if it's a high-tech mud you've got a ton of options.  I think I've
mentioned before that the first mud I played only allowed tells within a
couple of rooms, and accessing the global channel cost a bunch of moves and
mana.  If you wanted to talk to someone long distance, you either cast
telepath or got the helm of telepathy (rare item).  I got used to this and
was both shocked and appaled when I went to a different mud and encountered
global tell.  It's all a matter of what you're used to...

> :: I forgot to bring up about making stuff less game termish,
> :: So that you don't have someone saying "Oh man, that 50th
> :: level dragon took off 200 hit points per round, he's tough."
> :: Instead you get, "Wow, we fought an elder dragon ealier today
> :: and his claws sliced right through my plate armor, knocking me
> :: to the ground, it was all I could to to get up and run away while
> :: he was distracted by the rest of my group..." 
> 
> Definitely a much better read, but I'm afraid you'll find many play-
> ers will not like it at all.

The second part of this statement applies to absolutely anything you can
think of to implement, or not implement, in a mud.  I was concerned about
a lack of audience for our mud as we started to drift away from the
realm of established stuff, but the number of e-mails and even folks I've
met in RL talking about how they want something new and different has
convinced me that even if we leave behind the greater part of the mud
community, there will be more than enough folks to keep our game running.
And of course, once people get used to our slightly different approach,
I think more will start to see its merit.

>They prefer the clarity of numbers over
> the deliberate obscurity of phrases.

There is something to be said for this.  I have a real problem with
wound messages like 'it is bleeding terribly from awful wounds', which
rarely map very well to their actual state.  Or how about when you
evalute two weapons and find that one is 'excellent' and another is
'superb'?  Which is better?  Usually the only way to know is to know
the system itself, in which case you might as well just use numbers.

A side note to this, about players prefering numbers.  I think I've
mentioned this before, but I think it's such a great example that I'll
use it again.  On most diku muds, which we all know are the numbery-ist
(whee, I just invented a new word) of numbers-muds, skills are almost always
displayed as 'tanning: well trained' or 'long blades: poor'.  Usually these
descriptions aren't even on a fixed scale - a mage with long blades at
excellent is roughly equivilent to a warrior with long blades at fair.
If you suggest to the players that the skills be changed to numbers, people
will almost always go balistic with responses like 'That's lame!' and
'You get much more satisfaction from training a skill from very good to
excellent than you do from 75 to 76!'  Proving, of course, that people aren't
hung up on any one specific way of doing things - just they are hung up
on doing things the way that they are used to.  If those skills had been
numbers all along, people would go balistic if you suggested they be turned
into descriptions.

Since what we're creating is pretty much totally different from anything
players have ever seen before, there's no point in our getting hung up over
what players won't like.  There will always be a big kickback from those
that are set in their ways.  We anticipate our mud being far eaiser to
player and probably more enjoyable to someone who has never played a mud
or a role-playing game before than someone who is a die-hard <insert name
of codebase here>er.

>In a game where combat and hit-
> points mean everything I don't think I can blame them, and a sliding
> bar to indicate your health is really much the same as numbers.

Yes, I think we've established that hitpoint and sliding bars are horrible
if you want any kind of role-playing or game mood.
People play the game the way it must be played.  If you make a game that
depends on numbers, people will play the numbers.  If you don't, they
won't.

> This gets even worse when you use local damage. I.e. when your chest
> gets hit it is -only- your chest armour that deals with the blow and
> only your chest that gets bruised or injured. Then you need an awful
> lot of numbers or words to keep track of all those damages.  And you

Naturally some decision has to be made on the part of the server about
what data the user needs right that moment.  One might also conjecture
that by having a mud with thousands of mobiles and hundreds of players,
you'd be overwhelmed with messages about people going from here to there
within 2 seconds of logging on.  Of course, the server decides to only
send you coming and going messages about *nearby* creatures, thus making
the game a bit more playable.  Combat is identical, it's just more
complex.

> get a very spammy combat because all those injuries must keep remin-
> ding you of their existence (much like in reality). I don't think it
> can be combined with fast paced action and still remain playable but
> I'm willing to be surprised.

In that case, brace yourself.  We've already done it, and I know others
on this list have or are working on it.
It does take a little extra work to decide what to show the user, and
what not to, but it's not as hard as it seems.  Generally it's the
choice between:

> wounds
You have a small bruise on your left thigh, a scrape on the back of your right
hand, a light burn on your left cheek, your left arm is missing and the stump
bleeding profusely on the ground, and a splinter in your right thumb.

or:

>wounds
YOUR LEFT ARM IS MISSING!  AGH!  MAKE IT STOPPP!!!

Okay maybe not exactly that wording, but you see what I mean.  It can be
as simple as choosing the top three most pressing wounds and presenting
them to the user in the order of severity, or something more complicated.
Mainly you just have to decide on some amount of output which the user can
accept per second, sort output based on severity or 'need-to-know', and then
send only the most important stuff.
Thus if three people are fighting in the room with you and you're just standing
there, you'll probably get some specifics about each fight.  If you are
in combat in the same room and your left leg has just been severed, you're
probably writhing on the ground in pain and unaware of anything else in the
room.  If you are unhurt but in combat, you'll probably only get messages
about your own fight during the thick of things, whereas if you either
bump into another pair of combatants or your own fight calms down for a
moment, you'll get messages about the others.

> Everything between { and } is what you eventually get on your screen?
> everything between [ and ] is a command somebody has to give,though I
> left the actual text of messages out, for clarity. Things between the
> < and > are difficult as here the game must reformat the messages ge-
> nerated by the commands  to string them together.  And in the case of

Yup.  A few years ago this was a problem just because of processing time;
now there's no reason you can't implement it.

> Krr*ganfth being hurt makes him scream as well.  Also it introduces a

Uh, well of course.  Maybe I've been out of the mudding community for
too long, but shouldn't someone getting hurt cause them to react as
they actually would? *boggle*

> couple of scenic descriptions, like the charred meat.

This is fairly easy, given a good message-propagation system.  Ie, you
just send out a message about a smell of charred meat to the neighborhood;
people with no smell won't get the message; a carniverous race might see
'You smell the sweet tang of charred meat'; a vegitarian might see 'The
disgusting smell of charred meat...'; a silicoid race unfamiliar with
the properties of flesh might see 'Olfactory sensors report an unknown
material in the process of combustion nearby' and so forth.

> I wonder if  it is possible to make a game understand so much of lan-
> guage that it can do this? I hope so because without it the scene be-
> comes something like this:
> Johnny Angel walks by.
> Johnny Angel grins at you.
> Johnny Angel gestures you to follow.

Not necessarily so difficult to chain these together.

> Krr*ganfth growls
> Krr*ganfth wears combat mech.

Ditto.

> A combat mech hits Krr*ganfth.

*shudder* This isn't exactly what I call exciting or interesting.

> And then I doubt anybody would ever use so many words if the entire
> effect is ruined by chunky descriptions.

Yup, it's tricky, but certainly far from impossible.

> [about ranged combat]
> > :I favor underpowered, then.  A good archer will get in a third
> > :shot on a longe-range target before the ground is closed.  The
> > :damage done is not more than melee damage, but is harder
> > :and less common to be protected against.  The best of bowmen
> > :better also carry a close-combat weapon.  Unless the target
> > :refuses their natural instincts to take cover or charge, they'll
> > :be in close-combat by the second volley in most cases.
> 
> Most archers did. And they were typically protected by a line of in-
> fantery so they did have time to switch weapons.  But their main use

Yup.  We anticipate sniping being the most effective tactic for using
ranged weaponry one-on-one; standing in the middle of a field and firing
on someone isn't quite a smart.  Hopefully the inacuracy of ranged weapons
and the ability to take cover will balance this a bit.

> In a game  longbows should be used for accurate firing at a distance
> but do relatively light damage and slow down rather than injure. But

They are puncturing weapons like all others.  Puncturing weapons have
very small entry/exit wounds and do minimal tissue damage.  However, they
are nice because they slip between cracks in armor and ribs and puncture
vital organs.  Thus, an arrow through the calf or the shoulder isn't a
real big deal - same as a dagger wound.  Puncture the lungs or the
heart and things get a little messier.

> In either case to use ranged weapons some changes have to be made to
> the rooms as well. Everybody in a big room and let them sort out who
> is facing who doesn't work well here.

Yeah, ranged stuff is pretty difficult to use with normal rooms, and I'd
say damn well impossible if you don't have any kind of co-ordinate system.
That is, the normal style rooms with arbitrary exits and completely nebulous
spacial representations would never work.




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