[MUD-Dev] Re: Leaving characters in play

Adam Wiggins adam at angel.com
Thu May 14 11:21:17 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Tue, 12 May 1998, John Bertoglio wrote:
> I totally forgot about an entire genre of games which manage to do much of
> what Ben wants to do, at least on a macro level.  VGA Planets and STARS!
> are order based games orginally designed for BBS. Orders are processed

I played one of the orignal versions of VGA planets my freshman year of
college.  There was a sneakernet game going on in my dorm, so I joined in.
However, I quickly got bored of it when one of the other players gave me a
telnet address and a port number and told me I should check out this thing
called a "mud" if I enjoyed multiplayer games...*snicker*

Seriously - the VGA planets method of play, which is very similar to some
of the good old BBS games (Tradewars, Baron Realms Elite) in how it
executed.  It also had the same failing, which was that the game got
boring when people got distracted and stoped playing.

> every X hours or Y days. The world is updated and each player can then
> download an updated world to see what is going on. If you miss a turn, the
> game engine just continues your orders. Since much of the game involves
> jumps to far-off places, this allows quite a lot of control especially if
> you know (or at least expect) that your moves will not be opposed. If you
> are gone for too many turns, the GM can opt to turn your group over to the
> AI and have the game play for you. You can then rejoin and take control
> later. That way you do not inconvience the other players by your absense.

Definintely.  If a good game was going, you wanted to be sure to use all
of your availible turns (on a BBS game), or update your orders every game
turn (VGA planets), just to make sure you were getting the closest control
you could.  But if the game was boring, or if you went out of town for a
few days, or if you just didn't get around to it, your empire didn't just
crumble (usually), or at least no more than it would if you were playing
every day.  Since the *only* way you could attack people was while they
were offline, no one felt offended when it happened.  That was implict in
the rules of the game.

> Would this scale down to a turn every XX seconds?. It might. Especially, if

I think it was Jon (??) that was talking about doing a turn-based combat
system with orders, quite a while ago.  I think his example went something

  You are fighting a drunken sailor.
  You have 6 combat points.
  < punch sailor
  You will try to punch the sailor in the nose.
  You have 2 combat points.
  < block
  Then you will block.
  You have 1 combat point.
  < growl
  Then you will growl menacingly.
  You have no combat points.
  Turn will begin in 8 seconds.
  -- Fight!
  You lash out, catching the sailor on the nose.
  He stumbles back, nose bloody.
  The sailor launchs a fist towards your ribs.
  You bring up your arms and block his attack.
  You growl menacingly.
  -- End Turn
  You are fighting a drunken sailor with a bloody nose.
  You have 6 combat points.

I for one think this would be great.  I've always love order-based combat
ala the computer RPG Wizardry.  Esentially, it boils down to allowing
people to decide what they want to do at their leisure (which involves
second-guessing what your opponent(s) will do), and then watching the
mayhem ensue in "real time", thus recapturing some of the excitement of
realtime combat without making it so that the person with the best link
and typing speed always has a huge advantage.

A couple of things.  First, I think that the stuff above is pretty
different from VGA Planets.  It doesn't fix any problems (at least, from
where I'm sitting) incured by leaving people in game all the time.  They
can certainly set some standing orders for things their character will do
while they are away, but you don't need an order-based combat system for
this to work.  Secondly, getting the above to actually work seamlessly in
the mud environment might be tricky.  Ie: while in combat, are *all*
commands that you give orders?  If not, doesn't that mean that players
will quickly figure out commands to hurt their opponents outside of the
combat scheme?  Ie:

  < steal coins merchant
  The merchant growls as you fail to steal from her.
  The merchant engages you in combat!
  It will begin in 15 seconds.
  You have 6 combat points.
  < pull lever
  You pull the lever on the wall.
  A trapdoor opens up on the floor.
  The merchant cries out as she falls into the trapdoor!
  You are no longer in combat.
  < s

If all commands *are* orders, does that include everyone in the room, even
those not in combat?  If not:

  -- Fight!
  You slash at the swordman's neck.
  He skillfully ripostes your blow, sending your rapier spinning away!
  -- End Turn
  You are fighting a swordsman.
  You have 9 combat points.
  < get rapier
  You will try to pick up your weapon.
  You have 5 combat points.
  Buffy has arrived from the south.
  Buffy snickers.
  Buffy gets a rapier.
  Buffy waves.
  Buffy leaves south.
  -- Fight!
  You look around for a rapier, but don't see anything by that name.

If it does include everyone in the room, then you get:

  < 4s2nen
  You go south.
  There is nothing special here.
  You go south.
  There is nothing special here.
  You go south.
  Bubba and Biffo are fighting here.
  You have 6 combat points.
  You will try to go south.
  You will try to go north, instead.
  You will try to go north, instead.
  You will try to go east, instead.
  You will try to go north, instead.
  Combat will begin in 10 seconds.
  < grumble
  You don't have enough combat points remaining to do that.

I tend to think the mud would have to have a totally different method of
interaction from what we are used to - something oriented around orders,
for everything, all the time.  What that would actually look like I'm not
too sure, but I'd certainly like to see it attempted.


MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.

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