[MUD-Dev] The quandry of mob combat in MUDs

Sean Kelly sean at ffwd.cx
Sat Apr 27 10:58:30 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: "Peter Tyson" <ptyson at datamonitor.com>

> The most dangerous fights are the most enjoyable, but they are the
> least likely to help you advance, due to the penalty for
> dying. Therefore, through design, the majority of MUDs encourage
> you to tackle the easiest monsters (that still provide a reward)
> and thus have you doing boring, repetitive tasks over and over.

Not strictly true.  Depending on level, there is generally a mob
that provides an optimal reward vs. investment, depending on player
class.  This may not neccessarily be the easiest monster.

> So while I very much enjoy tackling the risky creatures, (where
> perhaps a variety of combat techniques have to be employed) I
> really can't afford to do this unless I want to be dying far more
> frequently than is acceptble.  Instead I bash the same weaker
> creatures over and over for smaller reward and quite a lot less
> fun.

...

> Some might argue that the fun comes from the risk of death, but
> I'd disagree. The fun comes from applying new and various
> techniques to the combat, stretching those tactical muscles which
> lesser creatures never challenge.

IMO, the need to apply creative solutions to difficult problems is
directly proportional to the strength of the opponent.  Thus the
greater the fun, the greater the risk of death, or vice-versa (so
long as the chance of survival isn't miniscule).  This tends to work
better in P&P RPGs because a DM can reward ingenuity by bending the
rules, while a CRPG will not.  So P&P games can optimize the fun by
being a bit more forgiving, provided the players are sufficiently
engaged.  And this may not mean the monster missing that killing bow
it actually landed (you don't want the player to percieve that the
battle is easier than it is) so much as finding creative ways to
punish mistakes or just plain bad luck without just killing everyone
and ending the battle (and the fun) outright.

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