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Old 04-10-2006, 05:18 PM   #61
Hadoryu
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A client-script will always react and act in the same way, whereas a human will not. I react and PK indistinguishably as fast as a script, so it is possible to improve your reaction time to the point where you should not need scripts. However, the predictability of a script allows for me to decipher how an opponent's script works, walk them into traps, plan against them, and do some pretty funny things to them in general.
You haven't seen a complex script then. No, it most certainly isn't as predictable as you think it is and it most certainly won't react in the very same way every time, even when it's not practical for it to do so.

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After now 14 years of PvP (I started at age of eight, mercilessly killing other people instead of the monster in Hunt the Wumpus until nobody would enter "The Cave", then moved to the then-free Gemstone games), I cannot even begin to count the number of times and ways that I have seen scripts get people killed. There's a reason for that.
And I've seen scripts do incredible things to keep people alive. My own script occasionally makes me go "Wow, I don't even remember putting that in!"

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Beyond just the feasability of a heavy-scripter PKer against a flexible, strategic, creative, fast-acting PvPer; this goes back to the center of the current discussion which is that it is possible, at the designing table, to focus your PvP system on the things that give the players the most rush, and to discourage elements that take away from that (including reliance on scripting).
Despite what you might think, even with scripting, IRE fights are a rush. Scripting doesn't numb the senses. It just saves you some of the work so you can concentrate on aspects of fighting you deem more important. A fight can still end within 5 seconds of you thinking you were doing quite well.
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Old 04-10-2006, 05:20 PM   #62
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A client-script will always react and act in the same way, whereas a human will not. A client-script will always react and act in the same way, whereas a human will not. I react and PK indistinguishably as fast as a script, so it is possible to improve your reaction time to the point where you should not need scripts. However, the predictability of a script allows for me to decipher how an opponent's script works, walk them into traps, plan against them, and do some pretty funny things to them in general.
Your idea of what a script is is pretty limited I think. If you believe a script's rationality of behavior is a liability, you may want to look at why Kasparov lost.

This is a pointless argument with a foregone conclusion that nobody has been able to intelligently disagree with for at least a decade (though I know I tried, futile though it was). If you wish to conceive of scripts as these repetitive, easily-fooled things, that is your right, but I'm not going to argue about it.

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Old 04-10-2006, 05:25 PM   #63
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Well! That sure puts me in my place doesn't it! Some people on some random PvP forum somewhere aren't talking about our PvP system. Consider me suitably chastised. Next time I'm speaking at a games conference, I'll be sure to look for you in the audience.

--matt

It wasn't my point to put you in your place. My point was that the monetary success of your game does not mean that it is looked up to as a desirable system for PvP - because it isn't, typically, for whatever reason. I do not think your system is bad - it is certainly better than most MUDs that are PvP clueless in their design - however, that is not the point of this conversation. The point is MUD Combat systems, and in particular at the moment, how a MUD should approach reliance on scripting.

As far as my reference to conferences, I was referring to MUD-specific ones that are usually held online via a server. There are several of them annually, and they've been around for years. If you hunt around, you can probably find the logs involving PK-Design and development yourself if you are so skeptical.

For someone who is so successful financially from your capitalistic MUD ventures, you are so overly sensitive, Matt. :-p

-----

Har;


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So a system which makes the players happy.. isn't a good one?
A PvP system that is designed for the average MUDer is not going to be as good/innovative/etc, typically, as a PvP system that is designed specifically for people who enjoy PvP. I think that is a simple enough concept.

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It most certainly has no effect on your responsibility when it comes to PvP. The actions of your script are the actions of your self.
The script acts the same way every time. Using a script, therefor, means that in the individual moment, you do not have to take any decision-making responsibility as your script is already pre-written, which therefor reduces "rush". Again, that idea is a pretty simple enough concept.
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Old 04-10-2006, 05:25 PM   #64
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On that note, can we get back on topic?

What are the different and innovative combat systems out there?

EDIT: Apparently not. Here we go again.

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It wasn't my point to put you in your place. My point was that the monetary success of your game does not mean that it is looked up to as a desirable system for PvP - because it isn't, typically, for whatever reason. I do not think your system is bad - it is certainly better than most MUDs that are PvP clueless in their design - however, that is not the point of this conversation. The point is MUD Combat systems, and in particular at the moment, how a MUD should approach reliance on scripting.

As far as my reference to conferences, I was referring to MUD-specific ones that are usually held online via a server. There are several of them annually, and they've been around for years. If you hunt around, you can probably find the logs involving PK-Design and development yourself if you are so skeptical.

For someone who is so successful financially from your capitalistic MUD ventures, you are so overly sensitive, Matt. :-p
You make a baseless claim that IRE's combat system is bad and you back it up with nothing but phantom claims of hidden RP design conventions. What you write is your personal opinion and quite honestly it doesn't hold quite as much weight as you're implying. It would be especially good if you could justify your statement in some way.

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A PvP system that is designed for the average MUDer is not going to be as good/innovative/etc, typically, as a PvP system that is designed specifically for people who enjoy PvP. I think that is a simple enough concept.
A huge selling point of IRE games is the combat system. Many many people play precisely because of it. If you happen to think that all those people are wrong, it would be kind of you to outline why.

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The script acts the same way every time. Using a script, therefor, means that in the individual moment, you do not have to take any decision-making responsibility as your script is already pre-written, which therefor reduces "rush". Again, that idea is a pretty simple enough concept.
You're not very experienced with scripts then. A script behaves the way you write it to.
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Old 04-10-2006, 05:30 PM   #65
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this goes back to the center of the current discussion which is that it is possible, at the designing table, to focus your PvP system on the things that give the players the most rush, and to discourage elements that take away from that (including reliance on scripting).
It's probably been said already in this thread, but the only effective way to reduce peoples reliance on scripting is to introduce random elements to to make their scripts less effective, such as critical failures, or spoofable combat text.

Despite all the needless obfuscation, IRE's combat system is rather mechanical and pedestrian and lends itself excellently to botting. I am guessing this is largely due to how they make their money. Nobody wants to spend thousands of dollars to max their skills and get all the leet gear just to get pwnd by bad dice rolls or emote spam.
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Old 04-10-2006, 05:30 PM   #66
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Well, most combat systems won't in fact have correlations between all those variables.
We're not talking about most combat systems though - we're talking about complex combat systems. And more specifically, in this case, we're talking about complex combat systems which don't have an element of chance, in which case such correlations are particularly likely to be taken into account in order to increase the number of permutations so as to avoid being overly predictable.

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There's no way to prevent scripting in a MUD. If a player can figure out what's real output then a player can get a script to do it.
Not necessarily. I show you an ASCII pictures of a flower - could you write a script to figure out that it's a flower? I show you a sequence of words (eg "lion, tiger, wolf and panther") - could you write a script to tell me that 'wolf' is the odd one out? There are numerous things that humans can instinctively do which computers have a great deal of trouble with. Technically they could be scripted, but I highly doubt any mud player would be able to (they'd need to create a custom client specially for it as well).

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You cannot reduce a player's ability to script.
You certainly can reduce it - indeed you even go on to say that you can "design the combat system to not benefit from it particularly", so I'm not sure why you're trying to suggest with the above.

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There are many possible ways to show your talent in a competitive game. Why you consider "reflexes" to be superior, I don't understand. And making scripting part of the fight in no way limits creativity.
Scripts can require a great deal of creativity and tactical thinking - just not necessarily that of the player using them. I enjoy competitive games (including chess, although I dislike playing the same person repeatedly because of the predictable outcome). But I wouldn't enjoy playing chess if my opponent was using a chess game on his computer to calculate each of the moves - and the same is true for a PK situation in a mud. I might as well just play against the computer.

The Magic the Gathering card game includes a number of elements which I consider a good model to follow, and which I took into account in my own design. Your setup (deck choice) is critical, but copying someone else's deck isn't going to do you much good if you lack the skill to use it properly. Then there's also the element of chance, which you can manipulate in your favour by hedging your bets (eg, don't rely too heavily on any one tactic, have the flexibility to adapt even if you can't get the right cards, etc).
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Old 04-10-2006, 05:32 PM   #67
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You haven't seen a complex script then.
I only speak from many years of experience of PvP on more MUDs than I could ever hope to count, including Aetolia (and to a lesser extent, Achaea), to the smallest Smaugs, to Midievia and many MUDs.

One can use another's scripts against them - it is not an arguable fact, it happens all the time. And if a script is advanced(I have, for fun, written plenty complexed combat bots and am quite good at scripting, from my days of designing leveling/questing/mini-game bots), you can still learn how it works. No matter how complicated, it will never have the immediate innovation of a real-life opponent. PvP is not chess - it is not as immediately mathematical/logical, and thinking of it as a chess game is a testament to why your thought-process is flawed to begin with.
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Old 04-10-2006, 05:39 PM   #68
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Despite all the needless obfuscation, IRE's combat system is rather mechanical and pedestrian and lends itself excellently to botting. I am guessing this is largely due to how they make their money. Nobody wants to spend thousands of dollars to max their skills and get all the leet gear just to get pwnd by bad dice rolls or emote spam.
I agree. Its system works well for it, because it is a commercial system meant to make money.

Hard; re-read my posts. I stated that IRE's system is better than most. However, and KaVir has said this, we are speaking specifically of complex combat systems. IRE's system, while complex, is not immediately considered a role-model for PvP MUDs because it is based around commercial marketability, giving it a different goal than the majority of most other combat focused MUDs.

---

I have to bow out of this conversation for a few hours and get some food, but KaVir's back now (and holds a similar philosophy and stance on these subjects as myself) so I am sure that it will continue. Beyond a few instances of us bickering, though, this is a very good thread, so I hope it keeps rolling.
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Old 04-10-2006, 05:42 PM   #69
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We're not talking about most combat systems though - we're talking about complex combat systems. And more specifically, in this case, we're talking about complex combat systems which don't have an element of chance, in which case such correlations are particularly likely to be taken into account in order to increase the number of permutations so as to avoid being overly predictable.
I agree. Even a combat system completely devoid of chance still is very unlikely to have correlations by all of those variables though - quite a few simply wouldn't make sense. To script it, the player still doesn't need to calculate every possible permutation, but rather to pick out the permutations that are significan enough to respond to. Even if for instance health is tied to walking speed, a player could perhaps safely ignore that if combat is typically conducted in a single location.

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Not necessarily. I show you an ASCII pictures of a flower - could you write a script to figure out that it's a flower? I show you a sequence of words (eg "lion, tiger, wolf and panther") - could you write a script to tell me that 'wolf' is the odd one out? There are numerous things that humans can instinctively do which computers have a great deal of trouble with. Technically they could be scripted, but I highly doubt any mud player would be able to (they'd need to create a custom client specially for it as well).
The same can said about the burden on the MUD coders though. Are you going to make a new ASCII picture every day for every different event? Are you going to have new word puzzles out every new week? Until you can make the burden on the scripter exponentially higher than that of the MUD coder there will be no reason not to script. You can make scripting harder, but you can't prevent it.

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You certainly can reduce it - indeed you even go on to say that you can "design the combat system to not benefit from it particularly", so I'm not sure why you're trying to suggest with the above.
I meant that you can't actually stop a player from scripting. You can try and make it more difficult, but they'll always have their client and the ability to try and script. That's why it was followed by the reducing of benefit suggestion.

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Scripts can require a great deal of creativity and tactical thinking - just not necessarily that of the player using them. I enjoy competitive games (including chess, although I dislike playing the same person repeatedly because of the predictable outcome). But I wouldn't enjoy playing chess if my opponent was using a chess game on his computer to calculate each of the moves - and the same is true for a PK situation in a mud. I might as well just play against the computer.

The Magic the Gathering card game includes a number of elements which I consider a good model to follow, and which I took into account in my own design. Your setup (deck choice) is critical, but copying someone else's deck isn't going to do you much good if you lack the skill to use it properly. Then there's also the element of chance, which you can manipulate in your favour by hedging your bets (eg, don't rely too heavily on any one tactic, have the flexibility to adapt even if you can't get the right cards, etc).
There are usually too many non-uniform variables to deal with to get predictable outcomes. And a great deal of what a player does is usually left unscripted due to it not being too practical. Often times scripting is left to just handle the defence while the offence is manual.
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Old 04-10-2006, 05:45 PM   #70
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I agree. Its system works well for it, because it is a commercial system meant to make money.

Hard; re-read my posts. I stated that IRE's system is better than most. However, and KaVir has said this, we are speaking specifically of complex combat systems. IRE's system, while complex, is not immediately considered a role-model for PvP MUDs because it is based around commercial marketability, giving it a different goal than the majority of most other combat focused MUDs.
I disagree. The level of complexity makes it very open to innovation and creativity. The system isn't nearly as mechanical or easy to script as you might think - some 400k of python code and I still haven't covered nearly as much of it as I'd like to.

And what is the goal of the majority of other combat focused MUDs if not player enjoyment?
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Old 04-10-2006, 06:03 PM   #71
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The same can said about the burden on the MUD coders though. Are you going to make a new ASCII picture every day for every different event?
ASCII pictures can be generated - there are plenty of programs which do that already. You could even generate ASCII images of sequences of characters and/or letters, add a fuzzyness factor so they're never the same, and display them out to the screen - it can be automated without much difficulty.

Trying to write a script to read that image, however, is far from easy. Unfortunately, for the same reason, blind players would also have serious difficulties.

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Are you going to have new word puzzles out every new week?
They only take a few seconds to write - why not? You could put together a database of them, perhaps even find an external source where you can grab the data from.

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I meant that you can't actually stop a player from scripting. You can try and make it more difficult, but they'll always have their client and the ability to try and script.
True - except in a few rare cases, scripting will always be possible and provide at least some advantage. However you can certainly reduce the value of scripting so that it merely helps the human, rather than replaces them. I believe you can also reach the point where a skilled player can do just as well without scripts.
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Old 04-10-2006, 06:12 PM   #72
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ASCII pictures can be generated - there are plenty of programs which do that already. You could even generate ASCII images of sequences of characters and/or letters, add a fuzzyness factor so they're never the same, and display them out to the screen - it can be automated without much difficulty.

Trying to write a script to read that image, however, is far from easy. Unfortunately, for the same reason, blind players would also have serious difficulties.
In the end, if it's significantly important somebody will do it and spread it around - the algorythm to read the ASCII images, that is. You also have to wonder if having such constantly changing and odd syntax won't do more damage to your game than scripting ever will.

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They only take a few seconds to write - why not? You could put together a database of them, perhaps even find an external source where you can grab the data from.
Granted. But if you only change one line, that won't be significant enough unless that line is very, very crucial. And then you have to consider that just changing the trigger is actually faster than thinking up the riddle in the first place. Unless you can make the difference in burden be very, very much in favor of the MUD coders, it'll only be a race to change triggers versus changing trigger-lines.

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True - except in a few rare cases, scripting will always be possible and provide at least some advantage. However you can certainly reduce the value of scripting so that it merely helps the human, rather than replaces them. I believe you can also reach the point where a skilled player can do just as well without scripts.
Yes, I completely agree here. Balancing things so the maximum number of players can take part in the activity while keeping it exciting at the same time.
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Old 04-10-2006, 07:22 PM   #73
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IRE's system, while complex, is not immediately considered a role-model for PvP MUDs because it is based around commercial marketability, giving it a different goal than the majority of most other combat focused MUDs.
IRE's systems are designed with the same immediate goal in mind as others, I'd imagine: Entertain people. We're just more successful at it than most.

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Old 04-10-2006, 07:32 PM   #74
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True - except in a few rare cases, scripting will always be possible and provide at least some advantage.
For sure. There's just no getting around that.

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I believe you can also reach the point where a skilled player can do just as well without scripts.
I've been thinking about the assertion in that sentence and I'm not sure that's true unless the system is solvable, in which case the optimum decision at any point in the decision tree is already known, so human and computer can follow that branch with equal facility. I would tend to say solved games make for bad game experiences, but that's probably only true for the people who are aware of the solution and capable of applying it to the game. Lots of people still like checkers after all.

On the other hand, you have the example of Go, in which humans still kill computers. It's inevitable that computers are going to surpass human Go players, but the equipment isn't there yet. So, do you think that it's possible for a human to match a script of unlimited processing power (for the sake of argument) in an unsolved formatted-text PvP system? I would tend to think it isn't.

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Old 04-10-2006, 07:43 PM   #75
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If you force combat decisions to be highly circumstancial you may meet a point where the speed of the computer script doesn't give an advantage over a player's own flexible thought.

For instance, you're battling on the edge of a cliff - clearly if you manage to push your opponent to the edge you'll gain an advantage, but scripting this would be unnecessary unless speed of commands was a deciding factor and if you battled over vastly different landscapes with vastly different circumstances, it might be possible to reach a point where scripting is more of a waste of time than a good investment of it.

Scripting usually happens to automate things which are too fast and usually repetative while things like tactics don't usually get scripted - hence to reduce the impact of scripting the battle system would have to be geared more towards tactical rather than reflexive play. In such a combat system, often the player won't gain much of an advantage over other players via scripts, providing that the results of the tactical decisions aren't completely obvious before they're made.
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Old 04-10-2006, 07:47 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ April 11 2006,06:32)
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Originally Posted by KaVir,April 10 2006,19[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]3]
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True - except in a few rare cases, scripting will always be possible and provide at least some advantage.
For sure. There's just no getting around that.

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I believe you can also reach the point where a skilled player can do just as well without scripts.
I've been thinking about the assertion in that sentence and I'm not sure that's true unless the system is solvable, in which case the optimum decision at any point in the decision tree is already known, so human and computer can follow that branch with equal facility. I would tend to say solved games make for bad game experiences, but that's probably only true for the people who are aware of the solution and capable of applying it to the game. Lots of people still like checkers after all.

On the other hand, you have the example of Go, in which humans still kill computers. It's inevitable that computers are going to surpass human Go players, but the equipment isn't there yet. So, do you think that it's possible for a human to match a script of unlimited processing power (for the sake of argument) in an unsolved formatted-text PvP system? I would tend to think it isn't.

--matt
Sure, as long as combat involves guessing which type of flower is represented in the ascii picture that pops up on your client before your opponent does.

I for one can't wait for this forthcoming new revolution in combat.

-H
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Old 04-10-2006, 07:52 PM   #77
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IRE's systems are designed with the same immediate goal in mind as others, I'd imagine: Entertain people. We're just more successful at it than most.

--matt
My guess is Matt judges this by the amount of players the IRE model has. Which in turn can be tied directly to the amount of advertising they do. I personally don't think they are more successful than most because of their systems. I believe they are successful because they can advertise and the majority of other muds can not. Atleast, I think, its as much of a factor as thier system is
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Old 04-10-2006, 08:56 PM   #78
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IRE's systems are designed with the same immediate goal in mind as others, I'd imagine: Entertain people. We're just more successful at it than most.

--matt

Everwar, Utopia, and other MUDs I've worked on and alongside(and I assume MUDs such as Godwars II and many others that I have less immediate experience with) have their combat system's immediate goal be to challenge PKers in an innovative way, using a balanced and player-skill oriented system.

Whereas skill is certainly a factor in any online PvP game, including IRE games, there are many things about IRE's combat system that does, indeed, show its goal to be to entertain the masses and turn a profit, as opposed to creating the most balanced, player-skill oriented, innovative and challenging system that it can.

You cannot assume all games have the same goal.


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Sure, as long as combat involves guessing which type of flower is represented in the ascii picture that pops up on your client before your opponent does.

I for one can't wait for this forthcoming new revolution in combat.

-H

I believe KaVir was trying to using ascii picture generation as an example of an idea that could be worked with and implemented to reduce player combat scripting.
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Old 04-10-2006, 10:33 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ April 10 2006,17:37)
Simple case to demonstrate:
I get hit by poison.
The cure for poison is eating a 'whatnot'.
I eat a 'whatnot' or my client trigger does it for me.

The MUD receives 100% identical information from the client regardless of whether I pushed a button myself or whether my client trigger outputted the command for me. You can look at delay times, etc etc, but those are all easy for a script to fake.
This is going half a dozen pages back at this point, but I wanted to respond to it.

The interesting thing to do here as a game designer is to put an opportunity cost on eating a whatnot. To take the simplest example that comes immediately to my mind, put in something like 3E+ D&D's attack of opportunity concept in. You eat a whatnot, I get a free chance to crack you for it as your guard drops.

If it's balanced well, eating the whatnot to cure your poison is sometimes the right answer and sometimes the wrong one. These kinds of situations are harder to script.

Free-flowing chaotic PK is generally harder to script than arena-style duel PK or PvE. A dynamic environment is harder to script than a static one, and so on.

There are lots of things a game designer can do to promote human thought and ingenunity over scripts. There's clearly some advantage to be gained by scripting in almost any game, but by the same token, I think most good games minimalize it, either intentionally or as a simple side-effect of their style of gameplay.
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Old 04-11-2006, 01:58 AM   #80
Hadoryu
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My guess is Matt judges this by the amount of players the IRE model has. Which in turn can be tied directly to the amount of advertising they do. I personally don't think they are more successful than most because of their systems. I believe they are  successful because they can advertise and the majority of other muds can not. Atleast, I think, its as much of a factor as thier system is
A lot of MUDs advertise, actually. That will help the playerbase some, but if a game isn't good it still won't be popular. And I doubt Matt was only making his judgment based merely on the number of players IRE games have. Combat is simply a very big topic in IRE MUDs, people go to all sort of lengths to get better at it. It's incredibly complex in many regards and while that has downsides, it also has many many advantages - there are so many people still playing because of the combat even though they started when Achaea opened.

You don't even have to trust me on this, just visit the forums and you'll notice how much talk and research goes into the combat aspect of the MUDs.

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Originally Posted by
Everwar, Utopia, and other MUDs I've worked on and alongside(and I assume MUDs such as Godwars II and many others that I have less immediate experience with) have their combat system's immediate goal be to challenge PKers in an innovative way, using a balanced and player-skill oriented system.

Whereas skill is certainly a factor in any online PvP game, including IRE games, there are many things about IRE's combat system that does, indeed, show its goal to be to entertain the masses and turn a profit, as opposed to creating the most balanced, player-skill oriented, innovative and challenging system that it can.

You cannot assume all games have the same goal.
I'm afraid that's your opinion and your opinion alone. IRE is incredibly skill-based, I can't stress this enough. Little old me, who has never bought a credit nor had the time (I'm a busy man) to gather gold for the skills can consistently and fairly straight-forwardly kill a character who has every statistical advantage there is if they haven't bothered to learn about combat. A skill-centered combat system, rather than a statistics centered combat system is what I and many other members of the mud community find to be most conductive to balanced, enjoyable PvP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
This is going half a dozen pages back at this point, but I wanted to respond to it.

The interesting thing to do here as a game designer is to put an opportunity cost on eating a whatnot.  To take the simplest example that comes immediately to my mind, put in something like 3E+ D&D's attack of opportunity concept in.  You eat a whatnot, I get a free chance to crack you for it as your guard drops.

If it's balanced well, eating the whatnot to cure your poison is sometimes the right answer and sometimes the wrong one.  These kinds of situations are harder to script.

Free-flowing chaotic PK is generally harder to script than arena-style duel PK or PvE.  A dynamic environment is harder to script than a static one, and so on.

There are lots of things a game designer can do to promote human thought and ingenunity over scripts.  There's clearly some advantage to be gained by scripting in almost any game, but by the same token, I think most good games minimalize it, either intentionally or as a simple side-effect of their style of gameplay.
When you have many paralel tasks to keep track of (multiple ways of curing and multiple ways of attack) and they interwind, that will often make many of the calls very circumstancial. You might not think that's easy to script and generally you're right, but it's not particularly difficult to script either. The number of significant variables in a decision is often not quite so large as to be impossible to consider.

The things that make scripting important are fast pace, repetativeness and complexity. These are instances in which scripting will be valuable enough to a player. If those things aren't present there's no real need to script and no great benefit to it - however it's difficult to balance that with keeping combat exciting.

And scripting for combat isn't actually always bad, a lof of IRE players get half of their enjoyment from doing that. It's a new and genuine feeling - it's like building your own Mech.
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