[MUD-Dev] Modelling combat

John Bertoglio jb at pulsepoll.com
Wed Jul 19 20:30:52 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

> J C Lawrence> Sent: Wednesday, July 19, 2000 10:15 AM

> On Mon, 17 Jul 2000 13:24:17 -0400 
> Travis Casey <efindel at earthlink.net> wrote:
> > Comment: movie combats are not a good place to look to see how
> > real combat works.  
> Movie combat also has a large problem which are also their strength:
> Movie combats are scripted and choreographed to be interesting in
> regard to the hero.  

I disagree. The combats are scripted to provide the maximum entertainment
value for the audience. While this often coincides with making the hero
look good, it is by no means required. 

> Its all about the movie's hero, his survival,
> and what he overcomes, which is excellent from a MUD perspective in
> that many/most PvP players are their own heroes and love
> opportunities to seem heroic, but also falls down for PK where
> they're both trying to be the hero against each other.

Again, a disagreement. There is heroism in defeat as well as victory.
The loser of a PvP duel (who would, of course, prefer to win) will 
take consolation from a dramatic description of a valiant defeat.

> How do you script a fight where all sides, including the losers,
> appear heroic?  

As above, losing in a fair fight can be a heroic act. There are 
dramatic examples in history of heroic defeats (Dunkirk in WWII, 
Mister T beating up Rocky in Rocky II and the last seconds of
Butch and Sundance when they burst into the courtyard, to 
cite some examples.)

I would suggest that the key word here is "dramatic", not heroic. 
What should be scripted is a dramatic and interesting combat 
interplay full of feints, bursting potions, dramatic spells, 
shield blocks, powerful strikes and near misses. Assuming
roughly equal skills, combat advantage would ebb and flow among the
hostiles. The text stream would report this in adjustable detail. 

I suggest that "dying cool" is better than "winning boring" for
a significant number of players.

Players would correct their attack and defense postures based on
feedback from the narrative. To the degree that the author of the 
combat result text and program is successful, the narrative will 
read like a well written book (or screenplay). If energy of the 
players depletes you could end up with a situation where neither
player has the ability to deliver a killing blow and the combat 
would end without a decisive outcome. I can imagine a situation
where two bitter enemies fight numerous inconclusive duels. After
each duel both combatants will "know exactly what they did wrong"
and will take that knowledge into the next encounter. This is the 
source of the addictive qualities of seeming simple games (like golf
or arcade video) where the loser sees how success could have been

> One crude approach could be to unbind the IO to the players so that
> messages on effects on self are always downgraded in severity and
> messages on effects on others are always upgrade to be more extreme.
> eg:
> Viewpoint of Bubba:
>   > who am i
>   You are Bubba.
>   > l
>   Boffo is here.
>   > hit boffo
>   You splatter his face.  His nose is now a ruined mess.
>   Boffo taps you lightly on the side of the head.
> Viewpoint of Boffo:
>   > who am i
>   You are Boffo.
>   > l
>   Bubba is here.
>   Bubba swings at your head and missses, ruffling your hair.
>   > hit bubba
>   You smack Bubba upside the head.  He looks nearly unconcious,
> <shudder>

An element of this would make sense. A player with low combat 
skills and/or talents might not get a truly accurate report of
what was going on. The false reports could lead the underskilled
to over or under react to the situation and make errors. Imaginge
the situation above if Boffo is getting a correct report and 
Bubba is under and over estimating damage. Bubba might get a clue
when despite the (apparent) flurry of killing blows, his life 
force continues to decline. Or ever worse, he falls unconsious
from a minor blow.

> Thing is, I've played MUDs which did this in the extreme.

It is one thing to "color" the combat reporting for an end which
enhances the experience of the game. It is quite another to simply
report great success to make the contestents "fell better" about 
their efforts.

> > Now, for a mud, you're probably more interested in making it "seem
> > right" than *be* right, so movie combats can be good examples...
> They're certainly familiar to the player base.  

Too right.

John A. Bertoglio 

 PulsePoll.com <http://www.pulsepoll.com/>  
| 503.781.3563
| jb at pulsepoll.com|

> -- 
> J C Lawrence                                 Home: claw at kanga.nu
> ---------(*)                               Other: coder at kanga.nu
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> --=| A man is as sane as he is dangerous to his environment |=--

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