[MUD-Dev] RTS aspects in MUDs (LONG)

lhulbert at hotmail.com lhulbert at hotmail.com
Fri Nov 30 21:30:17 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


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Original message: http://www.kanga.nu/archives/MUD-Dev-L/2001Q4/msg00694.php

On Fri, 30 Nov 2001 15:53:13 -0800 (PST)
Paul Schwanz <paul.schwanz at east.sun.com> wrote:

> John Robert Arras  wrote:
>> On Nov 28, 2001, Marian Griffith wrote:
 
<<SNIP>>

>> So, I guess I am saying make MUDs more like giant RTS'es and you
>> will have the ability to generate enough different quests to keep
>> your players from getting bored.
 
<SNIP>

> I've often said that MMOPRGs suffer particularly in the area of
> goal management.  Since this is an area where an RTS seems to
> shine, it seems natural to me to try to bring the two concepts
> together into one virtual world.

So how do we cross-breed RTS and MUD (and MMORPG ;))?  MURTOSG??

But, seriously, folks...

I think that RTS aspects in a MUD are the next step.  I'm not
claiming it's a leap, but I think that it is a far easier step to
take than narative interactive stories. (Inceidentally, if the
definition of "professional" writer involves quantity of work, we
several on this list already. ;P)

Let's look at some pro's and cons.

  Pros:

     Story.  A real, ongoing history in the world, that players can
     contribute to.  The Battle of the Bulge was won by ConansSon,
     but Waterloo was lost by ShortGuy3687.

     Emersion.  It's a lot easier to see a town as a community, when
     you have people running around in it, and not just stopping in
     to heal before returning to bash & loot.

     Elder Game: When the player gets tired of bash & loot, he/she
     can try their hand at leadership, and try to gather an army.

     Audience: RTS sell really well.  A well done RTS/MUD could lure
     the RTS crowd in to a subscription game. $$$

  Cons:

     Pathfinding.  MUDs are not built for A*.  As noticed in a
     current thread, pathfinding in a room-based MUD is non-trivial.
     Graphical MORPGs may have this easier.

     AI.  AI in RTS is also non-trivial.  Especially when some of
     the unique problems of MUDs pop up.  Probably the biggest
     hurdle.  (See below)

     Updates.  Making changes to a world without breaking a running
     AI and it's current strategy will require a careful balancing
     act.

     Unit Building.  This RTS staple just doens't fit well with
     standard MUD functionality.  The ability to build a new house,
     fort, training ground, etc. is almost unknown.  The ability to
     make them, including functionality, on demand, is unknown in
     MUDs.  Also, RTS games generally use "spawned" units.  A
     high-power mage costs more to build, but if you have the
     resources, he's there...  MUDs generally require you to start
     low and gain experience through actions.

Now, to expand on AI.  

The biggest hurdle I foresee in RTS/MUD programming is dealing with
people. RTS AI programmers are used to their units always following
orders.  In a MUD, it simply wont happen.  If you give an order to
10 soldiers, and 5 of them are PCs, then only 5 will do what you
tell them to.  The other 5 might do what you tell them, might ignore
you completely, or might try to sabotage the whole plan, since they
really want the other team to win.  The only two solutions I can see
are either A: some sort of loyalty/effectiveness tracking so that
the AIs know which players are most likely to listen to them, or B)
giving out the same orders over and over until someone listens.  And
B) sounds way too much like the current system to me.

Well, I have more to say, but it's 12:30 AM here, and I've already
been long winded....

Lee (the other one...not the writer)

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