[MUD-Dev] The Best Guy on the Mud Thing

J C Lawrence claw at varesearch.com
Thu Sep 16 19:33:26 New Zealand Standard Time 1999

On Thu, 16 Sep 1999 14:15:51 GMT 
Dundee  <SkeptAck at antisocial.com> wrote:

> On Wed, 15 Sep 1999 23:10:23 -0700 Thu, 16 Sep 1999 01:12:37 CST,
> J C Lawrence <claw at varesearch.com> wrote:

>> A few days later others have been beating up on their Fireball
>> skill, unbeknownst to me, and the ratios, and my position within
>> the ratios, have changed.  Now my fireball spell succeeds one
>> tenth of the time.  GooGoo eats my arse.
>> Predictability dies.

> Sounds like you want to see GooGoo's stats.

No, I want to have reasonable certainty that if I can throw a spear
today and split a chicken at 50 yards that I can do the same thing
tomorrow in otherwise similar conditions.  The use of the venerable
Great God GooGoo and his possession of stats in the example is
purely incidental.

> The mobs would have ratios, too (essentially, the mobs get the
> average ratio plus or minus some "weak mob" or "tough mob"
> modifier), and those would change - at least relative to any given
> player - just as your own ratios change.

Yes, yes, of course.  That doesn't change the loss of

> So it's not *just* that your skills decayed (unbeknownst to you),
> because in fact they didn't decay, but the mobs' skills can also
> change, from time to time.  Hopefully nothing too drastic.

Surely.  This is not a problem.  It would take very little time
playing this game to realise that one's ability to "beat" a
particular mobile is not fixed, and in fact seems variant on factors 
outside ones control.  *THAT* in itself is not a bad thing.  It is
just a different kind of predictability, and one that has some
comparison to RL (people do improve, have bad days etc).  

Conversely, while there is some value in having support for Good
Days and Bad Days (cf my long earlier discussions on probability
fields), this is a modifier of a base ability to predict:

  I should be able to split a chicken at 50 yards with a spear.  My
exact ratio of success may vary a little bit over time if only due
to environmental and historical conditions, but not to the extent of
splitting 50 in a row one day and missing the damn thing by yards
the next (outside of magical influences etc).

>> Supporting predictability, in general, especially if it is player
>> extrapolation of observed phenomena is a Good Thing as it
>> directly leads to logical consistency (it does it here, it does
>> it there, therefor it does it everywhere) and a sense of location
>> and world.

> Doesn't the model of static mobs and dynamic PCs sort of run
> contrary to that idea though?  

Actually it supports it, and yes, it sucks.  The problem with
predictability is that while it is a Good Thing, too much is also a
Bad Thing.

You have to have risk and the unknown.

> I mean, the player get better or worse at skills, but the mobs are
> always the same.... when they are really all supposed to be
> creatures of the world, after all.


> I guess it might just be a degree of how drastically the average
> stats might change in a given period of time?

No, the concetration is not on variance in the behaviour of things
outside of the character, but variance in the characters behaviour
and abilities.

The following is Bad:

  > l
  There is a locked door here.
  > examine lock
  It looks very simple and crude.
  > l inside lock
  It is a very simple lock with a single pawl sitting in a recess.
  > pick lock
  The lock falls open.
  > open door
  >close door
  > lock door
  You close the lock.
  > pick lock
  The lock falls open.
  > lock door.
  ...time passes...
  > pick lock
  You can't pick this lock for the life of you!

>> Losing that predictability is actually a betrayal, by the game
>> designer, of the player, his observations and understanding of
>> the game world.  This is not necessarily a Bad Thing, but it is
>> not a thing to do gratuitously and with great selection.

> Yah... but as I said, hopefully there wouldn't be any drastic
> over-night changes.


> But those were all raising the same concern I think: How to keep
> the mud-average from changing drastically and suddenly so that
> players would be able to reasonably predict how skilled they
> really were.  GooGoo could gradually get more or less powerful,
> but no fair if you can whip him one day and he hands you your head
> the next.


Perhaps some sort of rolling average?

J C Lawrence      Life: http://www.kanga.nu/   Home: claw at kanga.nu
---------(*)                Work (Linux/IA64): claw at varesearch.com
 ... Beware of cromagnons wearing chewing gum and palm pilots ...

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