Re: MUD essential features (fwd)

From: Fredfish (E. Harper) (
Date: 08/30/00

>        Before you start, the worst part about computer-based combat
>systems is because they're the opposite of those found in any paper RPG.
>If you want to do something in a computer system, it has to be
>specifically coded.  If you want to be able to aim for the eyes with your
>bow, or roll a boulder down a mountain to crush your enemies, it all has
>to be coded.  A well run RPG though, anything is possible.

Agreed. This is the reason - really the ONLY reason - why a MUD or CRPG will never really be as good as pen-and-paper, at least in terms of realism and dynamics.

>        I wouldn't worry about memory requirements, so much as how you
>intend to display this.  Wouldn't you need an update every time something
>in your combat theatre moved?

Yeah, this is another big problem with the map system.

Really what I want is a way of representing the effect of ranged weapons on combat. Try to imagine Crécy if the English longbowmen had no stand-off range from the French... kinda puts it in perspective.

>        How do you code/balance it?  Well, there's no one formula for
>balancing everything for every mud.  You have to find your own balance.
>If you want a combat to take 5 rounds, and it takes 10, you're unbalanced.
>Other people may want that 10 rounds.

I don't mean 'balance' in terms of 'combat should take x rounds'. What I mean is this:

Let's say we view combat as a 3-d map with peaks and valleys. (I'll leave N-Space out of this, both for clarity and because I really don't know what the hell I'm talking about :)) The 'best' combinations are the peaks, and the 'worst' are the valleys., and the x and y co ordinates are two style/stance factors.

The key here is making sure the terrain isn't too horibbly skewed in one direction - having Olympus Mons at one point, and the Scotish Highlands everywhere else. Once the highest 'peak' becomes common knowledge, you lose the benefits of the system because everyone's sitting up there on top, and woe betide the poor fool standing atop a 100-metre hill. This ties into the 'scissors, paper, rock' deal pretty well...

>In anycase, the coding itself is
>pretty simple.  The hard part is explaining what you are going to do.
>I'd sit down for a long time and write out the exact definition of each of
>the styles (some call them stances; defensive, offensive, etc).  Play with
>it on paper and get a good idea from that first.

Definitely. Wouldn't do it any other way. Why do you think I currently have about 20K on my hard drive and in my notebook? :)

>        Frankly, this is an oversimplification, especially considering
>that you have a computer at your command.  Unless you have about 10-20
>'hands', each being able to make one of several hundred
>rock-paper-scisor-apple-car-dog-abraham lincoln-etc shapes, with less of a
>one to one correlation (ie, car beats dog, only if previously car was
>paper, and lost to abraham lincoln, etc), well... then it's going to be
>even more simplistic than the stock combat system.

I don't mean scissors, paper, rock in a totally literal sense - fighter beats mage, mage beats thief, etc. What I mean, if we take away the analogy, is that certain quantities have advantages against other quantities. In this case 'quantities' can mean weapons, armour, skills, stats... list goes on. Yes, there WOULD be 10-20 hands, capable of making many shapes.

>        Then, what happens when 4 people attack one?  Where does
>experience or skills come into play?  How does this make people cooperate,
>or balance the game?  I understand what you're saying, but I don't see
>immediate applications for any combat design which is immediately usable.

When 4 people attack one, he's probably screwed <g>

Well... again, i'm not sure what type of foundation I'm on here in terms of code, but, each of the 4 should have his own round of 'scissors, paper.....Abraham Lincon' with the unfortunate 1.

Isn't how this makes co-operation and balance obvious? Let me give you an example...

We have two players - let's call them Parn and Deedlit, and if you get the reference, you're that much cooler. Parn is pretty much a plain-vanilla swordsman type. Parn is strong against some types of enemies - let's say his combination of stats, skills, and style/stance works well against your typical 'hack-away' enemy such as an Orc, Goblin, or whatever...

Deedlit, on the other hand, is your typical hyper-elf, 'blink'ing around at lightspeed, casting a few spells, and darting around skirmishing with the enemy. Alone, this works with varying degrees of success.

Now we put the two together. In millitary terms, this is called 'mutual support' - each element contributes their strengths to the group, while making up for the deficiencies of the other.

(To quote our friend Gary Gygax in the D&D books, 'In any group of player characters, everyone has strengths to contribute and weaknesses to overcome. This is the basis for the adventuring party--even a small group with sufficiently diverse talents can accomplish deeds far greater than its size would indicate.' Gygax goes on to say, in essence, 'but if one character is a walking army by himself, this co-operation dies.')

Thus, Parn /and/ Deedlit' are more effective then Parn /+/ Deedlit. This is pretty fundamental to the concept of RPGing, I only want to enhance this effect so the players really CAN'T survive without co-operation. And co-operation breeds RP, which is really the goal of the whole thing, at least in my personal philosophy...

>        If you're going to develop a system from scratch, no matter what
>it is, you should spend alot of time flushing it out 'on paper', and then
>put it in.  Something many people do is start from a system they already
>know works, and modify it till it ends up at what they want.

Agreed, many times over.

>Just say something like "You can work on whatever you want, but nothing
>goes 'live' in the game till I've had a chance to evaluate it for correctness".

Sounds reasonable enough, thanks for the advice.

>        It may also be a good time to institute some policies for your
>immortals to follow. [etc]

This is another good piece of advice.

In fact, I'm personally against the idea of having IC gods played by anyone at all. This is both because of the reasons you've outlined above, and because I'd rather allow more flexibility in terms of mythology. In other words, whether there are any 'gods' at all in the world, and who they are, is a question for the characters to ponder... mind you having priests of god 'x' slinging fireballs around is really a stronger argument then anything Aristotle could come up with <g>.

> In part, that's what made a weapon so desirable, and
>things like curses or personality-imbued items so exciting.  If you have a
>longsword +1, flame tongue, it's boring.  If you have a regular sword
>which will burst into flame on command, it's _magic_.  The downgrading of
>a magical historal relic to a mere item is a huge loss.  Knowledge that
>'Excalibur' is actually a 25d4 +5hitroll/+5damroll sword isn't as
>impressive as saying "I wield the Excalibur!" and having to leave it at

Yes!! YES!! This is exactly what I've been saying since even before my MUD days! It's pretty good to know I'm not alone. I mean, equipment is one of those places where MUDs and CRPGs are at 90 degrees with most fantasy - type literature. I mean, can you imagine Roland chucking aside Durandal, triumphantly announcning that his NEW sword had a greater damroll bonus?

Magic, in my opinion, should always be somewhat - scratch that, HIGHLY obscure. To make a bad real world analogy, the exact bonuses and penalities of sword 'x' should be as obscure as the exact workings of your typical obfuscated C program. Your typical layman can't make any sense of it, the novice (me) can only begin to grasp its wonder, and only the true master can grasp its workings in all their elegance.

Great. Now I'm coding in C +1, +3 against trolls and other regenerating creatures.

>        The problem is that everyone out there is now innured to this sort
>of instant identification system.  If the mages don't have it, usually the
>scrolls are on sale cheap.  Everyone expects that they will know the stats
>on all their equipment, and on their own person.  They don't have to play
>for a while and suddenly realize - Hey, this sword seems to be really
>effective against magic-using, and regenerating creatures!  It also
>doesn't help that once one person knows what an item does, everyone then
>on can potentially just learn it from them.

Firstly, the fact that 'everyone is innured (I don't even know what that means, btw) to this system' doesn't mean I have to implement it <g> or more likely, de-implement it.

The last sentence, the bit about 'learning what an item does', can I think be adressed by simply adding a measure of uniqueness to both descriptions and bonuses from a weapon - jade dagger one might do nothing, jade dagger two might be the ultimate weapon.

>        Simply switching things to things like "beat-up" when you're at
>20% of your full life, and the sort is one of those one-step forwards,
>two-steps back sort of move (IMHO).  This setup works well for hitpoints,
>mana, mv, etc... but others like strength, dex, etc...

I was hoping for something with a little more depth to it, suggestions?

It would be a bit of work, but why not implement a system whereby individual hits cause individual wounds? Whether you leave hitpoints on in the background and use this as a 'front end', or completely eliminate the concept of HP, is up to you.

In other words, instead of '67/442 hp', or even 'you are severely wounded' you get, 'you are bleeding profusely from a nasty gash in the shoulder. Every breath causes a lance of pain in your ribs. You also have a  great many cuts and bruises.' Sound good?

>        How does a player know they're "Godlike" strong, or "Average"

Same way I know I have 'Good' intelligence, 'High' creativity, and 'Below Average' strength. A rationed, objective self-judgement. Now to work on that 'Godlike' charisma...

>If your world has some sort of standardized testing, that's

*pictures a long line of fighters, mages, thieves, clerics, elves, etc etc waiting to take their tests*

Hmm, I see why one might find that a bit... odd... :)

>One mud had a fair with games, each one was stat dependant
>mainly.  Your score/ability in the game showed up over time pretty well.
>If you got a cupie doll from the hit-the-mallet-to-hit-the-bell test, you
>were damn strong.  Normally though, a person would only know how good they
>are by comparing their actions to those of another person, and evaluating
>over the set of all people in the world :)

Agreed. It's a real task to ensure characters can't find out too much, and you just KNOW some enterprising fellow will come up with a perfect method and spread it around.

Wow, what a response! I really appreciate all the help here, good to know I'm not the only one driving myself crazy with all the possibilities... anyway, thanks.

ooooOO Fredfish OOoooo

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