[MUD-Dev] Striving for originality

John A. Bertoglio jb at co-laboratory.com
Tue Jun 11 21:11:21 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

From: "Kwon Ekstrom"
> From: "John Bertoglio" <jb at co-laboratory.com>

>> As I said before, I like the idea that a world should have
>> physical rules. They do not have to be the same as our world, but
>> they should

> The physical world is not and never will be balanced.  There will
> always be someone who is bigger, tougher, meaner...

We may have a different definition of balance working here. Devices
built in the physical world to accomplish the same goal tend to be
balanced because of design tradeoffs. Rate of fire is balanced by
recoil. Power is traded off for speed. A halberd can cleave a man in
half but in one on one combat you better get your opponent armed
with a light weapon on the first whack! A longbow in the hands of an
expert is a more deadly and effective weapon than a musket by the
musketeer is easier to train (and so on...).

>> most balance problems derive from not using some kind of physical
>> model as a basis. Most advancement/damage models are built on the
>> desire to reward user participation and loyalty. Because they
>> have

> Most balance problems are derived from a lack of understanding
> and/or preferences of the administration.  I've balanced several
> systems on existing muds and it's simple tweaking and a hell of a
> lot of testing for the most part (Generally I was right on the
> first try but I always test my stuff, sometimes things don't
> always measure up)

Agree in principle. However, my point was that having an underlying
understanding of the physics of the world provides an effective
baseline to use for the balancing process.

>> or less. Because these designers use real world physics as their
>> baseline, they get close to balance on the first pass. The
>> weapons they model were all designed for the same purpose and
>> reflect standard engineering trades-offs. Tweaking the balance is
>> required because the simulation cannot fully reflect reality.

> I'm sure there's alot more than simply using real world physics.
> In the real world, any firearm has the potential to kill in a
> single hit.  In a game sence it's not fun to be killed in a single
> hit unless it's extremely difficult to score the shot.  Snipers
> simply have a much longer range.

To a certain degree the designers have no choice. Rate of fire,
magazine capacity, accuracy and stopping power are well known. Any
serious deviation from these parameters would cause the user base to
howl. Head shots kill in a single shot. Sniper rifles kill in a
single shot. Users of these weapons in the real world have their
preferences. So do the players. My son is an active CounterStrike
player and we have followed the steady evolution of the model. Each
weapon has its own characteristics and closely models real world
behavior. Since the rounds are limited to about 5 minutes, stopping
power is more of an issue than how ultimately deadly the hits
are. The shotgun is very powerful but does not penetrate armor well
and drops off quickly as range increases. The low rate of fire and
low ammo capacity are another limiting factor.

Sniper weapons are perfect example of the need for hand tuning you
reference above. Because a sniper is using the same (non-real world)
video game-style aiming model, it can be a very unbalancing weapon
in some scenarios. Recent mods have allowed players to ban the
sniper rifle (kind of like Pope Innocent and the crossbow). On some
maps, the accuracy and power of the sniper rifle are balanced by the
low rate of fire and a narrow field of vision that make the shooter
very susceptible to being ambushed.

>> were trying to avoid the situation where a low level mage has
>> spell power that is the equivalent of throwing rocks and a high
>> level mage has spells with the power of a 16inch naval gun (along
>> with a rate of fire admirals only dream of). An important
>> component of the

> Admirals no longer dream of 16" naval guns, if you've looked at
> recent destroyer design, a modern US Missile Destroyer packs a
> much bigger punch than a WWII Battleship.  It's capable of
> launching hundreds of missiles in a matter of minutes, each one
> individually targetting.  That's a wide assortment of firepower.
> Which is definitely unbalancing in the world today (A single US
> Aircraft Carrier contains more aircraft than the majority of
> airforces today)

The point I made above is despite the power of each weapon system,
many variants in weapon systems exist. The destroyer mentioned above
does not have a single optimal weapon system. It has a number of
them. Each is optimized for a particular situation. Again, this is
based on the physics of the real world. A Phalanx point defense
system fires small, short range projectiles at an amazing rate of
speed. An awesome weapon against incoming missiles but worthless to
engage an enemy over the horizon. Again, real world physics balance
the design and choice.

> I'm a big fan of making magic "unbalancing" but "extremely
> difficult" to use.  Magic should be more powerful than anything
> else in the game, but it should have definite limitations forcing
> the mage to use his/her brain.

I agree with the above, completely. This is exactly the argument I
made (clumsy artillery analogy aside).
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