[MUD-Dev] Law of Resource Congestion

ens017 at mizzou.edu ens017 at mizzou.edu
Thu Aug 10 12:05:51 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

Note: This message was written via the list web archives.  There is
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Original message: http://www.kanga.nu/archives/MUD-Dev-L/2000Q3/msg00650.php

On Wed, 09 Aug 2000 15:45:33 -0700
Patrick Dughi <dughi at imaxx.net> wrote:
> 	I have seen a previous post which develops a description in a
> Diablo/Might & Magic-type manner, deriving the name of the item from it's
> various material and enchantment types.  This is like hanging a steak
> around a kids neck so the dog will play with him.  You still have an ugly
> kid.

Heh heh.  :)

> 	I'd like to see something a bit more involved - and I'm actually
> curious if it's possible.  I can see gaining a sword in a mud and
> looking at it:
> "The sword is forged of a dark metal which does not seem to reflect light. 
> There are several engravings on the blade, along with 7 small rubies
> arranged to appear as red stars on a night sky.  The hilt is a simple
> affair, some hide fixed with silver wire ties."
> 	Or that bow from the elf I just slaughtered;
> "A simple bow of pale wood.  Its string appears freshly waxed and the
> brown cloth covering the grip has been cemented into place by time and
> use."

Where is Nathan Yospe when you need him?  *blink*

[snip detailed example]

> 	Of course, it hurts to loose the expansion of the Diablo/M&M
> keywords - if I changed the hilt material to 'cloth', or the silver ties
> to 'knotted leather straps', nothing else needs be changed.  Further,
> could we expect that any given random description for a part will show up
> infrequently enough that it will not be considered non-unique?  If 40
> people run around with glass-blade swords, it looses it's thrill, even if
> each one has a different hilt, edge, and pommel.  Granted, the number of
> part descriptions depends on the number of people in your realm, and the
> number of random items lying around, but how many descriptions per-part
> should we expect? 40? 50? 100?

Couldn't you just say that the chance of a glass blade (no matter what the hilt
is) is very low (just skew the table, if glass has one entry, steel should have
ten or twenty)?  Or am I misunderstanding the problem?

> 	It seems easy but after about 25 I start fatiguing.  Considering
> you're looking at just one part of just one type of item, you may get
> frustrated quickly. 

If you allow players to design their own items you could track item histories
(that sword was at the battle of Dragon Field, and it slew a Wyrm there) so that
when "famous" items disapear, their custom descriptions might get entered into
the global pool (after review, of course).  That way, certain description parts
(like the rubies in the night sky, above) have a chance at resurfacing later
(kinda like JCL's ur-objects).  It is shameless, yes, but if it helps take some
load off of the content creators, I like it.  :)

> 	Any other ideas out there? Something viable perhaps?  Anyone
> actually even attempt anything like this?

What I am considering is approaching item statistics from the opposite end: I
want to first come up with a decent looking description of an item (rather,
decent looking short/one line desc), then figure out what stats it should have
(when I say "I", I really mean the codebase).  I have not even thought about
anything approaching the descriptions you had above.  :)

Consider a typical long sword:

    > A dull steel long sword.

Not very interesting; it would take on close to the basic/default stats for long
swords.  Consider something slightly more exotic:

    > A blade of elven steel, etched with mystic runes along one edge.

This should, in turn, be much more powerful than the plain sword above.  How? 
Basically, I will have a table for each basic item class (clothing, jewelry,
weapons, armor, etc.  The exact table design is left as an exercise ;) that
describes the effects of words in the description on the stats of the item.  For
instance, the weapon table might be:

Table: Swords (Damage types: Slash, Pierce)
Word   Weight Edge Cost Magic (Ease of enchantment, etc.)
long   1.1    1.0  1.2  1.0
elven  0.8    1.2  3.0  1.6
steel  0.9    1.1  1.5  1.0
etch, etched, etching, etchings
       1.0    1.0  2.7  2.0
mystic, mystical
       1.0    1.0  2.1  2.2
rune, runes, runed
       1.0    1.0  1.5  1.5
edge, edged
       1.0    2.0  2.4  1.0
dull, dulled
       1.0    0.8  0.9  0.9

The word "sword" or "blade" (or any other synonym you can think of) would be
required for the item to be a sword, so they do not apear on the table.  If you
multiply all the modifiers together for the two swords above, they have stats of
(whips out calculator):

    Weight  Edge  Cost    Magic
1st 0.99    0.88   1.620   0.9
2nd 0.72    2.64  91.854  10.56

Then plug the results into the Sword formula:

Damage = Weight * 0.4 + Edge * 0.6
Encumbrance = (BaseWeight: 5 lbs) * Weight
Shelf Price = (BaseCost: 15gp) * Cost

Hmm.  In retrospect, I may have overdone the Cost and Magic columns, but I think
my point came through.  :)  Some time will have to be spent working out a good
scheme for the tables, because if done wrong they can turn into a mess.  I think
some form of tree hierarchy might work well, with a root table of defaults and
children tables definng exceptions to the defaults for various item types (for
example, the word "gold" will make most items much heavier, however, "gold"
clothing probably means gold thread or cloth, and should not effect the weight
as much).

What I really like about this system is that (provided you have the appropriate
craftsmen in the game) it allows players to create their own outfits with
"correct" stats (I used to play on a mud were item restringing was basically
free, and people would restring good armor into shirts and such.  The above
system would force people who wanted to wear protective clothing to wear
something that looked like armor).

If the idea of letting your players make whatever items they want bothers you,
you could require that exotic words (mithril, gold, etc.) require an ore of some
kind (be it actual ore, or another item with the word, etc.) before the
craftsman could make the item.  Also, you can limit the number of words an
individual might know, and have certain words only known to guild/race caftsmen
(only dwarven smiths can produce mithril items).

Then, what about player craftsmen...?  :)

I wonder if there is a way to integrate what I have below with your system.  It
would be interesting to try...  I think you would end up having to let the
players fill out at least some of your data structure by hand.  I am not sure
how foolproof that process could be, but I think that letting the players do
that would really tie them to your game.


Silence is golden
Eli - ens017 at mizzou.edu
wickedgrey.com is down ATM, due to the joys of installing Linux.  :)

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