[MUD-Dev] Re: combat

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Sat Jan 30 21:20:25 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


On Sat, 30 Jan 1999 18:29:20 -0800 (PST) 
diablo <diablo at best.com> wrote:

> On Sat, 30 Jan 1999, J C Lawrence wrote:
>> On Tue, 26 Jan 1999 14:50:32 -0800 (PST) diablo <diablo at best.com>
>> wrote:

>>> Death in a mud (at least in the ones I'm interested in) is not
>>> permanent like real life. Killing someone repeatedly is analogous
>>> to 'breaking' a wild horse. You heap death upon death on someone,
>>> repeatedly strip them of everything they own, and never let them
>>> walk the land without constant fear of You.

>> In a permadeath game this is equivalent to repeatedly attacking
>> them and either bringing them close to death, or making your threat
>> of death very real.  The mechanics are the same, its just that
>> death is no longer a waystation or counting statistic along the
>> process.  Instead the metric is, "How often did he get me in a
>> position where I was at direct risk of dieing?"

> Assuming I'm playing a sadistic player, why would I not just kill
> the person? 

Usually becasue actually killing another player's character is either
difficult or involves repurcussions to your character that are
unwelcome.  Quite a bit of fun can be had on the repurcussion side:

  -- make the character increasiningly unlucky or difficult to
advance/play.

  -- make the character increasingly unable to defend against attacks
from characters played by that player in the future.

  -- increment some sort of "sin" value which (dependent on threshhold
value typically) raises some sort of feared threat (eg Island's court
system).  

  -- In M59 style, launch revenants against the killer.

  -- Make the character more likely to be attacked or attractive to
certain forms of NPC's.

> I don't know how your method of combat works of course...

Currently it doesn't.

> ...and I believe I recall you mentioning that you don't want combat
> to be a huge part of your game...

In the general case with me you cannot determine that a given
character is controlled by a player or is an NPC at any _current_
instance.  You can often (not always), determine if a character was
controlled by a player at some past instant in time, you just can't
tell what player that was unless that player overtly helps/helped you.
The result of this is that inter-player combat becomes less
significant, both to the killers and (sometimes) to the victims.
Certainly there is no repetitively chasing and killing a particular
player or character -- you just can't tell who that player is playing,
let alone what characters.

Next, most combats don't result in death.  They result in loss,
injury, unconciousness and the like (when a magical trigger whisks the
body away from you to an unknown location as soon as it becomes
unconcious, how many people are really going to chase it down?).  Free
user programming and a programmatical strucutr3ed magical system that
actively supports and encourages very very clever magical behaviours
are hoped to become very key here.

I expect combat to actually play a very significant function in the
game, and to consume significant attention.  However I also expect the
actual combats, when they occur, to be infrequent and to occupy very
little time (eg I'd like most combats to resolve in three blows).
Combat is dangerous, especially to experts.  It is also rewarding.

  In a permadeath system that you had invested several hundred hours
in, if you knew that if you attacked and won against XXX character you
would gain return equivalent to another 20 hours of play, but that you
also had a 10% chance of dieing and thus losing everything -- would
you attack?  

My intention is to make the rewards that high or higher, but to make
the risks even higher, especially as the values scale (the more you
risk, the more you gain, the higher your risk of loss).  I
specifically don't intend for killer characters to be long-term
playable.  I intend for them to live short, brutal, highly attractive
and corruscating lives that have the ability to swoop up the
advancement levels dedicated to killers, and then flame out before
getting anywhere significant.  More sedate players, who employ combat
as a strategic versus tactical tool will do better (hope) and form the
backbone of the game (hope).

> ...but I am a large fan of player vs. player combat for the simple
> reason that it allows for adrenaline rushes in a text game and for
> real person to person conflicts. 

The same things occur on permadeath systems, and I'd argue are even
more intense there.  When you are attacked by another player (or
attack another) and find that you are losing, near death, and now have
to run like hades and defend your arse every step and command for
perhaps the next 20 minutes (I don't remove characters on logout, so
that's no escape) while you scramble to save your several-hundred-hour
investment in the character, brings up a whole new and different
adrenaline rush.  It is heady stuff.  I've been there many a time.  It
is equally heady stuff to chase down that fleeing soul, countering his
every move (especially in a system with a decent magic system taht
allows for a parallel magic fight during the flight).

> It is like the rush of competing and winning or the rush of
> competing followd by the depression of losing in an athletic
> event. There is a real sense of being bested or besting another.

Quite.  Its just that the stakes are different.

> I guess I don't see counting up how many times I was at direct risk
> of dying as arousing particularly strong emotions which, to me, is
> one of the major points of player vs. player combat in a mud.

See above.  When you are attacked, nearly lose, and spend significant
time and effort in saving your skin, there are strong emotions, even
if quite base.  Ditto for attacking, winning, and then chasing down
the poor sucker to his final termination.  It can be very heady stuff.

Its a very similar game, just slightly twisted from the one you know.
 
>>> Eventually, if they do not quit the game (acceptable losses), you
>>> can show them a little bit of kindness (give the horse a sugar
>>> cube) and then their soul is yours.

>> I have yet to see this work.  More typically I see, "See how cool I
>> am, I can really kick your arse!"  Followed by, "I helped you a
>> whole bunch, so I'm not really a Bad Guy!"  There's a fair
>> frequency of the initial victim then returning the favour by using
>> the skills learned (often from his initial attacker) to drive his
>> initial attacker from the game (revenge).

> Sounds like your average 15 year old's mentality. 

Unfortunately that fits many/most players on PvP MUDs.

>> Revenge relationships tend to be much more tenuous and vastly more
>> indirect in permadeath games.

> I'd imagine so, though I have not ever played one. I can certainly
> see the value, especially as far as the quality of roleplaying goes,
> in a permadeath game (at least if it isn't easy to kill someone
> permanently).  

I should note: I don't roleplay and have little interest in it beyond
what I've termed "functional roleplaying" (see FAQ) which really has
very little to do with the commonly used definition of "roleplaying".
I'm rather GoP.

> It's a different sort of experience than what I aim for in my game
> though, and I don't think the two are reconciliable differences. I
> find both attractive, but as someone who runs a game where players
> sometimes invest thousands in their characters, I don't have the
> option of killing off players.

MUD2 (as well as its British Knights and other incarnations) are
for-fee MUDs that practice permadeath to good effect, where the player
investments may be (more typically) several hundreds of dollars.  I
see this argument as a red herring.  Certainly I've seen no effective
counter to the permadeath systems that explicitly violate this
assumption and yet flourish.

--
J C Lawrence                              Internet: claw at kanga.nu
----------(*)                            Internet: coder at kanga.nu
...Honorary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...




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