[MUD-Dev] Balancing Melee vs Ranged Combat in Games Which Model Space

Brian Hook bwh at wksoftware.com
Tue Apr 3 20:51:51 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

At 04:11 PM 4/3/01 -0400, AR Schleicher (Jerrith) wrote:
>At 11:55 AM 4/3/2001 -0700, Brian Hook wrote:

>> Allow monsters to retaliate with ranged attacks of their own?

> That doesn't fully address the issue, and isn't a solution for all
> cases.  You rule out the possibility of monsters that, for whatever
> reason, don't have ranged attacks.  (Say a forest animal, such as a
> deer.)

Deer vs. bow.  Deer loses.

Okay, that's an overly flippant response, but that's going to be the
premise of my following comments, so you're forewarned =)

My point is that, traditionally, ranged weapons have a huge advantage
over melee weapons.  The further away your enemy is when you harm him,
the better off your chances of survival.  If you can hurt him while he
can't hurt you, you have a serious advantage.

So there are really two options here: model things in a way that is
tactically realistic, or model things such that "all fights are fair"
or, put another way, "things are balanced".  I'm not very fond of the
latter, I would prefer to have it balanced some other way.

> You also don't address players who don't have ranged weapons facing
> those who do.

Does the phrase "Don't bring a knife to a gun fight" ring a bell? =)
Seriously, if I were doing a game I would hesitate to try to give an
even playing field when it is obvious that it is not an even playing
field in such situations.

> If the creature only has melee attacks, and can't close to melee
> range, it either needs to be able to escape, or insignificant enough
> that killing it doesn't give a reward the player would find
> worthwhile.

Okay, then we're talking about balancing the encounter instead of
actually letting things play out in a "realistic" way.  The common
techniques I've seen are:

  - allow monster to warp to player
  - allow monster to summon player
  - give monster insanely high magical resistance
  - give monster insanely high dodge vs. missiles
  - give monster lots of friends
  - give monster ranged counter attacks
  - give monster very good ability to run away

I'm not particularly fond of most of the above.  To model things
realistically you could make use of the ranged weapon have a negative

  - honor points (it's dishonorable to kill from a distance)
  - longer reload times
  - disallow "fire and run" by requiring a fairly lengthy aiming
  - lower chance of hitting
  - limited ammunition
  - limited choice of armor
  - long weapon switch time (bow ->  sword takes a long time)
  - wounded NPCs have a strong tendency to run away and hide while
  they die
  - higher rate of weapon failure (bow string snaps, mechanism
  malfunctions), although this tends to annoy players more than
  anything else

> In EverQuest for example, a number of combat techniques involve
> slowing or stopping the movement of a monster, and then killing it
> with ranged weapons or spells while out of melee range.

Geez, I would imagine this list, of all places, would know what kiting
is =)

Bow kiting in Everquest could have been greatly reduced if a character
could not fire his bow until stationary for N seconds (much like
casters).  Of course, there are other exploits (ping-ponging, etc.).

Brian "Dangerously overusing the evil word 'realistic'" Hook

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