[MUD-Dev] Continuous versus Discrete Functions

Jon Lambert tychomud at ix.netcom.com
Sat Dec 22 11:10:31 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

John Buehler wrote:
> Dave Rickey writes:

>>   1) Players seem to hate discontinuous feedback from the system.
>>   To them, something either works, or it does not.  This tends to
>>   reflect itself as extreme criticism of any portion of the game
>>   system that provides a spectrum of outputs.

> So you're stating that, in your experience, my expectations are in
> the distinct minority?  That players prefer on/off and
> success/fail behaviors?

I think in many cases this is an interface issue.  Continuous
functions generally require (or more accurately allow) more inputs
(or player choices).  Increased choices increases complexity of the
interface.  However I don't think there's anything mutually
exclusive about supporting both.

I'd reference Travis's post on how some P&P systems handle spell
casting as continuous rather than a discrete functions.  Rolemaster
is a notable example of this.  The spell casting (and skill system)
results in continuous results, like partial successes, range
variations based on amount of power points used (aka mana), multiple
casters channeling together, etc.

Generally though most people who use these types of P&P systems pick
and choose whether to use the detailed continuous function or a more
abstracted discrete function.  It depends on the interest and focus
of the players and the GM.  Most well designed P&P systems support
both, that is two levels of abstraction, simple and/or complex.  In
RMs particular case some pieces aren't well designed, ala
spell-casting, as it's left to the GM to provide a simpler
abstraction.  ;-)

Echoing my 1st paragraph.. And there's no reason why a Mud can't
support both at the same time.  I think that the default interface
should refelect the assumptions of abstract discrete functions
(success/failure), but also allow a more complex interface to be
exposed that allows more choice and variation (variability) to those
who are interested in exploring a particular sub-system like

Many moons ago there was discussion of combat scripting systems
here.  I think the issues in that thread were similar.  Allow
players to choose their own level of depth and interest.  Whether in
that case it be using the default "newbie" combat scripts provided,
or writing their own customized combat scripts.

--* Jon A. Lambert - TychoMUD        Email:jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com *--
--* Mud Server Developer's Page <http://tychomud.home.netcom.com> *--
--* If I had known it was harmless, I would have killed it myself.*--

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