[MUD-Dev] Re: MUD Design doc - Combat

cynbe at muq.org cynbe at muq.org
Mon Jan 4 02:27:31 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


On 04-Jan-99 J C Lawrence wrote:
> On Mon, 28 Dec 1998 02:54:46 -5 
> Jon A Lambert<jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>> Why should an automated combat system force Sir Gawain to strike a
>> blow on an unarmed combatant when he desires to wait for the
>> opponent to retrieve the weapon?
> Good point.
> Its the old battle between interactivity and "don't bother me with
> details".

I don't do combat myself, but I wonder if the issue is not more one
of information content.  There's a sweet spot in human decision rate
of a few bits per second:  Less leads to boredom, more to overload
and fatigue.
  If the response in a given situation is almost always the same,
then giving that response conveys very little information.  (bits
of information ~~ log2(1/p) where p is probability of that decision
in that context.)
  So the issue may be less low-level details vs high-level actions,
than making interesting decisions vs making rote responses?
  If the scoring system ensures that 99.9% of the time, one must keep
attacking until the opponent is dead, combat is going to be boring and
players will want to automate it and move on to more interesting
  If it frequently pays off to be more subtle about combat technique,
in the sorts of ways JAL indicates, and breaking off combat at any
given point is always a viable option, players are likely to remain
more interested in it?

In information theory, any symbol which was wholly predictable in
advance carries zero information.  To a player, any action which
is entirely forced in the situation is utterly uninteresting, and
should be automated.

It should probably be a red flag to the game designer any time a
given action becomes predictable enough from context to produce
a demand for automation?

Or else perhaps quite general automation support should be provided
which can recognize brainless decisions all through the context of
a given game, and take over them on request?  Perhaps in the form of
a trusty squire who takes care of routine rat-skewering and such. :)


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