[MUD-Dev] The Relationship between pkers and monster AI?

Matthew Mihaly diablo at best.com
Wed Sep 8 23:15:46 New Zealand Standard Time 1999


On Thu, 9 Sep 1999, Jon A. Lambert wrote:

> From: Matthew Mihaly <diablo at best.com>
> 
> >
> >I am a bit perplexed by all this discussion as to why people p-kill. I'm
> >also annoyed by the characterization of p-killers as immature kids, etc.
> 
> 
> I agree.  Note by accepting this premise, further discussion of the topic  
> can only be conducted by the immature.   Your annoyance is justified.


Yeah, that's the implication that I really don't like, as I have, in the
past, been very into combat as a sport.

> 
> I don't think think the model is erroneous.  In most table-top games player 
> cooperation, alliance and dependencies are key features of the game.
> Group solutions to obstacles, problems and quests is critical to the 
> enjoyment of the game.  Well run table-top FRPGs allow every character 
> to become a feature player at several points during an adventure and at 
> different times during a campaign.  I think the implementation of the 
> model has been less than satisfactory.  Many quest oriented games 
> encourage (or mandate) individual solutions to obstacles.   Many heavy
> roleplay MU*s have a relatively fixed and small set of feature characters, 
> particularly those based on existing works (Pern, StarTrek, Babylon 5, 
> WOT, etc.)   These are generalizations of course, but I think it can and 
> will be done well.

Well, I guess my point is that in a tabletop game, the opportunity for
good player vs. player (or groups vs. groups...I use PvP to also mean
groups vs. groups), doesn't really exit due to human nature. While people
are willing to accept defeat by a relatively faceless enemy (the DM,
playing an NPC), they find it much harder to accept defeat from a real
person, particularly if they perceive _any_ "unfairness" in the procedures
that led to their defeat. I think a DM would have a very difficult time
running a campaign where the core premise involved PvP interaction rather
than PvMobile. On the plus side for a tabletop game is agility in design.
People are, of course, much much more flexible and able to innovate than a
computer, so the range of possibilities in a tabletop game is bound to be
larger. This sort of situation lends itself well to elaborately crafted
one-off plots. They're easy to whip us as a DM (well, relatively easy), as
you don't have to worry about coding in the details, and you don't have to
do it 24 hours a day. You don't have to worry about balancing player
skills against each other, and you have much more control over just what
happens, as only one side of the equation has free will.

Alternatively, you have a MUD. A MUD can have very complicated,
interlocking rules, that can be resolved nearly instantly. There is also
no way for human wishy-washiness to prevail over a computer, unless it is
coded in. The computer is completely impartial, and players perceive it
that way. It can also do more things, faster (by many orders of
magnitude), so things that a human DM could never possibly handle (like
our combat system) can be easily done by a computer. Further, there are
design benefits to having a more restricted system. It can be made more
elegant, and can be more easily refined. You can intentionally limit, in a
MUD, what players can do, which alleviates a lot of PvP problems. In a
tabletop game, since you are playing the NPC, you can easily adapt your
strategy to mesh with the players' strategies in order to produce an
outcome that will be fun. But with PvP, you have no direct control over
either side's actions, and since the assumption in a tabletop game is that
anything within imagination can possibly be done (given your character's
limits), it'd be nearly imposible to run a good campaign this way. Muds do
not have this defect.

You can't design nearly as elaborte scenarios with a MUD, simply because
it all has to fit into existing systems, or the existing systems need
expanding. Table top games have a very good system that is mainly pure
software of incredible complexity and capability (imagination). Muds lack
the creative freedom, but allow for tighter, more fluid systems, by
providing more controls on behavior.


For instance, recently, I implemented the first stage of what will become
an elaborte city-state military system. Citizens in cities have to try to
enlist young men, who then train and become soldiers in the military.
Those who work in the War Ministry have the responsibility of forming
divisions of troops and marching them (takes aobut 4 seconds per location)
to wherever and trying to capture land. Captured land produces city
revenue, and of course your troops can attack other people's troops.
There's no way a table top game could imitate this sort of scenario,
except in a very very limited form. DMs can't be around 24 hours a day to
resolve division combat, or take note of the various troop movements, etc.
It's no sweat for a computer.

> 
> Some of us wish to feature this group aspect of play within a mud 
> environment, so table-top models/styles remain a conceptual source 
> of ideas and inspiration.   I think enhanced group play is the advanced 
> model for muds.   I see most muds as reflecting a primitive gaming 
> model which is more analogous to wargaming and miniatures, which 
> were the precursors of table-top FRPGs.  

Oh sure, I agree. Lately, I've been all about group interaction in Achaea,
but I still focus on player group vs. player group as opposed to player
group vs. mobile (or mobile group). Muds have the unique benefit of being
able to provide stable, very consistent environments that are perfectly
suited to accomodating player vs. player activities. They will never be as
good at providing scenarios as fluid as a table top game is, however, by
simple economics. In the same way that doing a book with the same range
thta a movie has in terms of plot and character development is WAY cheaper
and easier than doing a movie of similar character (I don't think that any
movie ever made has had a prayer in coming close to the great works of
literature in terms of character development or plot development), using
your and your players' imagination in a tabletop game is MUCH easier and
more fluid than having to get a computer to do what your imagination has
already planned.
--matt




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