[MUD-Dev] Striving for originality

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Wed Jun 12 18:27:55 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


On Wed, 12 Jun 2002, Matt Chatterley wrote:

> I always figure the world would turn out pretty boring if everyone
> who played in it was equal. I am to provide different play-styles
> through different characters (and different play-styles for the
> same types of characters, if possible). However, I also strive for
> balance. That is to say; A Thief should not be inherently 'worse'
> than a Warrior. They should both be fun to play. At the same
> 'level of power' a Warrior would batter a thief in a fair
> hand-to-hand fight. If the thief had the drop on him?  Perhaps
> not. Certainly, the Warrior would have trouble catching the thief
> if he started to run away and hide. :)

Well, I think it depends on what you're going for. Achaea, for
instance, chose to go the route of trying (never fully succeeding of
course) to balance nearly all the classes for one on one PvP combat
(2 or more on 1 changes everything.) It's mainly a matter of
ensuring that playing the different classes feels distinctly
different, and I think it does. For example, if I'm an Occultist
wading into combat, I'd first summon my various chaos entities
(depending on which Chaos Lords I had made bargains with), then wade
into battle with the entities doing various things to my opponent
(making them hungry, throwing them off balance, doing a bit of
damage, shriveling their limbs, and so on), while I throw various
tarot cards at them, hitting them with some decays, maybe a
soulspear if I have one, and possibly vivisecting them if my crone
entity can manage to get all four of their limbs shriveled
simultaneously.

On the other hand, if I'm a Serpentlord, I go in with only my pet
viper to assist me. Perhaps I'd pop out of a dimensional wormhole
right next to them, immediately hypnotise them and implant a bunch
of nasty suggestions, then start biting them with my any one of my
twenty-five or so venoms, double-stabbing them with my dirk (also
laden with venoms), flaying their waxy venom-stopping sileris
coating from their body with my whip, maybe tie them up if I can get
them asleep for any length of time, etc.

In practice, they are supposed to be quite equal one on one, and
indeed come reasonably close (abilities are always changing, so
balance is always something to be pursued, but never achieved), but
the feel of combat is totally different. Some guilds don't even have
to do damage to kill. A Shaman, for instance, can kill you merely by
being around you long enough to fashion a Vodou doll of you, which
they can then use to kill you, at will, from anywhere on the
continent (once, then the doll is destroyed).
 
> No single spell or ability is inherently unbalanced, or
> unbalancing. Only broken implementations or poorly thought through
> designs cause imbalance.

I'd totally agree. I also think that when you talk about balance,
you have to define what you're balancing. Are you balancing
capability or actual performance. So, for instance, let's say I know
one of Achaea's classes is potentially extremely powerful in PvP
combat, but that the people in that class haven't mastered combat in
it yet, and so haven't unleashed the full potential of the various
abilities they get. Do I downgrade? Probably not, as it's more the
actual performance of players that matters (to me at least) than the
theoretical capability of a class.

--matt

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