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

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Mon Apr 29 21:55:00 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

Peter Tyson writes:
> From: Sean Kelly [mailto:sean at ffwd.cx]
>> 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.

> The end result is that through game design players are encouraged
> to fight the less-fun monsters or they face punishment via
> death. I find this frustrating because surely gaming is as much
> about maximising your fun as anything.

> In a single player game you can always save before trying
> something very tricky, reducing the consequences of trying
> something hard (and fun!). In a MUD you don't get that option so
> must constantly shy away from the really interesting fights.

> If you're playing in a group this can be avoided because group
> dynamics are inherently fairly interesting. Only problem is
> groups, no matter how you cut it, require time. For many, that's
> not a problem, for a notable number like myself we're happy if we
> can get an hour solid on a game, let alone 3 or 4 hours needed to
> truly take advantage of a good group..

> So are there any ways of making mob combat more fun, without
> directly equating fun with risk?

Make the combat itself fun.

1. Reduce the general pattern of players being in control of combat.
Control permits players to proact instead of reacting.  Reacting is
also entertaining - which is why a really tough fight is so much

2. Reduce the need to kill with efficiency.  Efficiency breeds
assembly line boredom.  Inefficiency is entertaining because it
introduces unnecessary steps that can bring delight to the players
while those steps are unnecessary for the eventual outcome that the
group is seeking.

3. Make factors and outcomes relating to combat fit a spectrum
instead of a discrete function.  Discrete factors tend to produce a
very small set of permutations.  Greater permutations means more
patterns, which is entertaining because at least three of the four
Bartle types like new patterns.  Socializers have more things to
socialize about, explorers have new stuff to experience, and
achievers have more ways to compete.


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