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

Brian Hook bwh at wksoftware.com
Thu Apr 5 23:27:42 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


At 12:42 PM 4/5/01 -0700, JB wrote:

> I'm not a believer in innate balance between combatants with
> dissimilar skills and weapons.

Neither am I.  Forced equality feels...forced.

> There should be conditions available in the game that always clearly
> favor one over the other.

The problem with this is that, depending on the type of situations
available, there's going to be an imbalance in fairness if
advantageous/disadvantageous ratios don't stay close 1:1.

Some examples:

  - druids are very powerful when outdoors because they can call down
  nature.  Too many outdoor adventure areas -- druids are the
  "uberclass".  Too many indoor adventure areas -- druids are
  "useless".

  - archers are powerful in wide open terrains.  Too many wide open
  terrains -- archers are the "uberclass".  Too many small, twisty
  areas -- archers are "useless".

  - rogues are the master of backstab, but must be invisible in order
  to succeed at backstab.  Too many monsters that can "see invis" and
  the rogue is at a serious disadvantage.  Too few monsters and the
  rogue is overly powerful.

Etc. etc.

> It then becomes the player's responsibility to ensure that his
> character doesn't get caught at a disadvantage.

If the advantage/disadvantage system is based on adventure areas,
players are going to create a fuss when they have to adventure places
where they're "weak".  I'm not saying this is justified, but that's
the reality.  You're Zokar the 37th level druid and you want to visit
the Dungeons of Infinite Darkness with your friends.  At this point
you're at their mercy because, "Hey man, we'd love to have you, but
Uklau the Dwarven Miner is way more kick ass in a dungeon than you.
Sorry d00d, maybe next time."

/petition Druids are l4m3!!!

Then, of course, Uklau wants to visit the Forests of Infinite
Greenness, but no one wants him because he's "useless" compared to a
good druid.

/petition Dwarves are l4me!!!

What are you gonna do?

> Personally, I'd like to see a resurrection of the melee warrior in
> the medieval genre.  That he really has the advantage in field and
> confined space combat (i.e. most scenarios).  When an archer has a
> defensible position, he should have the advantage.  But when an
> archer exposes himself to direct contact with a melee warrior, he
> should know that he's in trouble.  "Run early and run often" should
> be the archer's motto.  In all of this, I assume that an archer is
> not the melee skill equal of a melee warrior, nor that the melee
> warrior can equal the skill of the archer with a bow.

Unfortunately, this isn't how typical fantasy fare likes to view
things.  The awesome archer is also going to be some dual wielding
madman.  On top of that, historical combat rarely pitted a single
archer vs. a single man-at-arms.  The existence of mixed arms mass
combat -- cavalry, artillery, archers, men at arms, etc. was extremely
common, and each man played a part of a greater unit.  You didn't have
a bunch of folks just mixing it up, and rarely did you see very small
bands engaging in serious combat.  Warfare was a bit grander scale
than what is typically represented in fantasy fiction.

In fantasy fiction/games, you typically have your band of adventures
vs. bands of other enemies.  Or you have your lone hero fighting small
bands of (weak) enemies or the single cunning enemy.

So when you have the source material (historical men at arms)
mismatched with the archetype in a fan's minds eye (Heracles, Xena,
Drizzt, Wulfgar, Conan, Legolas, Aragorn, Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser),
it causes weird balance problems for people trying to make games with
the authenticity of historical combat but with the flavor of mythical
combat.

Brian Hook

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