[MUD-Dev] Re: darkness/visibility

Travis S. Casey efindel at io.com
Tue Jun 23 17:03:28 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Mon, 22 Jun 1998, J C Lawrence wrote:
> On Thu, 11 Jun 1998 08:21:01 -0600 
> Chris Gray<cg at ami-cg.GraySage.Edmonton.AB.CA> wrote:
> > Is there a real problem with the default situation? If the player
> > types the command, then either the player knows the object is there,
> > or is intending to try to find one. If there is one, and nothing
> > prevents the action, then let it go ahead. Why get more complex,
> > unless you really have something specific in mind to gain?
> It actively encourages "guess the noun" games (as a variation on
> "guess the verb".  Players are now going to be wandering about the
> place trying out all sorts of unlikely noun/verb combinations just in
> case they find something.

That's one problem.  However, there is another, more subtle reason to "get
more complex" -- it helps to separate player knowledge from character

The *player* may know that there's an object in that dark room, from
previous play with another character.  However, the *character* may not
know that, never having been in that room before.  In that case, you may
not wish to allow the player to simply go ahead and have the character do
something with that object.

Of course, now we can get even more complicated in terms of situations --
what if the character should know, based on information that's been given
to him/her in-game, but not from personal experience?  For example, two
adventurers talking in a tavern:

Joe:  I've been trying to get into the Temple of Set, but they've got a 
      room with a darkness spell on it, and I haven't been able to get 
      through there.

Jane: They still have that one?  Feel on the wall just to your right 
      when you go in -- there's a light switch there.

Of course, the little exchange there also gives a solution -- implement
other ways of finding out information, as JC mentioned in his previous
post.  Joe's player now knows to try "feel wall" or something similar, and
will soon find the light switch.  This also has the benefit that the
maintainers can decide to change the setup (e.g., move the switch to the
left wall instead of the right wall), and reset things so no one now knows
where the switch is.

One problem that starts to come in is one of information storage -- should 
the character remember the details of what's where in *every* room he/she
has ever been in?  How do you store that much info if there are hundreds
or thousands of rooms and many players?  A possible solution might be to
limit the number of rooms the character "knows", possibly based on a trait
of the character.  Another method might be to change how the info is
stored -- e.g., for each room, record a "knowledge value" (the chance that
the character remembers where things are in that room) and a "knowledge
date" (the last time the character visited that room).  If you now
timestamp objects when they are moved, you can easily check to see if
something has been moved since the character was last there (although
there's still a problem if it was moved and then moved back to the prior 

The knowledge value could be dependent on how much the character uses the
room -- e.g., it might increase by 1 for each action taken in the room,
decrease by 1 for every 1000 time units since the last time the character
was in the room, and be reset if the room's "last change" date is newer
than the character's "knowledge date".  This help represent the fact that, 
while you may be able to find almost everything in your own house in the
dark, you won't do as well in someplace you don't visit as often.

       |\      _,,,---,,_        Travis S. Casey  <efindel at io.com>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_) 

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