[MUD-Dev] called shots

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Fri Apr 27 19:12:46 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

shren writes:

> I guess if I were writing an aimed shot system, I'd slow down the
> swings and build it into the combat system, so instead of the
> players picking aimed shots, the system offers them good shots.
> Like, halfway through the combat, you get the message:

>   "His guard drops some and his head is vunerable.  Do you want to
>   go for it? (y to take the aimed shot)."

> It might add some nice flavor to combat, maybe even a tang of
> realism.  After all, any combatant from martial arts or fencing will
> tell you that you don't pick the good shots.  Your opponent does, by
> making mistakes.

> It occurs to me that you could build an entire combat system around
> the "offered shot" system.  Instead of just normal swings on a
> ticked system, you'd face off with your opponent and get streams of
> flavour text, and respond to questions to fight.  It'd take a lot of
> work to keep it from being too reflex intensive or lag-prone,
> though.  Maybe I'll do a Perl proof of concept in my copious free
> time.

In a realtime combat system, the approach that I favor is one that
permits the player to specify combat styles and goals during the
actual engagement.  This may be what you're refering to with the
'streams of flavour text'.  Gain ground generally, give ground
generally, pure defense, pure offense, fight to move to specify
location, disarm opponent, wound opponent in a specific way, knock
down opponent, etc.  These are all goals for fighting.  The reason for
pursuing goals is to avoid mainstream twitch issues.  Goals might be
changed every few seconds, while trying to react to the individual
attacking and defensive moves is impractical.

The implementation of a goal system is to have the character AI make
the reflex choices as opportunities present themselves.  If I tell my
character to move to a specific spot, it will do it only as
opportunities present themselves.  If I insist that my character move
to a specific spot, it will be more inclined to exploit lower
probability opportunities.  Such a system requires management of a
number of factors in order to make things interesting.  Footing,
balance, fatigue, force of weapon blows, stunning effects, etc.

The 'style' thing is a statement by the player of how the combat
should go.  What priority to place on the character's skills when
attempting to achieve the goals.  Ducking, dodging, diving, blocking,
parrying, and retreating can all accomplish the same goal of not
getting cut in half, and they all have positives and negatives.  If
the character is instructed to use a style that precludes the
possibility of retreating, then it will use whatever other skills that
it has to continue the fight.  If retreat is permitted, but only at a
very low priority, the character will only use it when it is
significantly the obvious defensive move in a given situation.

The notion of a called shot works into such a system only very
loosely.  One of the goals could be to slash a leg, arm or take the
head clean off.  With those goals, the character would tend to push
for opportunities that result in the desired effect.  Push that goal
hard enough and the character will risk everything for the specific
type of attack - possibly sacrificing extreme tactical advantage to
his opponent.  All because the player insisted on going for the attack
immediately.  That might be required, given the circumstances that the
character is in - or simply because the drama of the moment calls for
a head-lopping in the next couple seconds...


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