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Old 08-13-2003, 05:44 PM   #1
malaclypse
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Something that tends to bother me about the fiction of the majority (every one that I've seen) of MUDs is that killing everything in sight is the norm. Especially when it comes to player vs. npc combat, I can't see the point or usefulness of this. The combat either boils down to typing "kill such and such" or repeatedly typing "slash such and such". The AI tends to be atrocious, not to even mention the huge advantage games like Everquest or DAoC have over text muds in that they are at least viscerally pleasing.

So why does everyone stick with it? Why keep the bashing treadmill other than for cheap skinneresque operant conditioning? And even so, why must killing be the behavior to be reinforced?

And on a related note, anyone care to postulate how players would react to having this removed from a game?

-Ryan
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Old 08-13-2003, 06:31 PM   #2
KaVir
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Non-combat muds have been around for well over a decade (most of the TinyMUD family, such as MUSH and MUCK, fall into this category).  Therefore obviously some players are happy to play without combat.

However combat plays an important part of many games, and can be often be quite tactical.  The fact that many people (and most muds) implement it poorly does not mean that, as a feature, it is a bad thing to have.  Like most features, its value depends on the audience you're aiming at and the amount of effort you put into designing it.

The real questions then becomes what style of game you're trying to create, what people you want playing it, and whether you have the creativity to produce a good combat system.
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Old 08-13-2003, 07:17 PM   #3
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I agree I don't much like the muds where it is considered acceptable to just go around considering every npc and then kill whatever is your level. But many places have animals, or people of other alignments/races/whatever, which you can kill for nice RP reasons.
I wouldn't want to play a non-combat mud. Even when the combat is repetive and boring, it is an integral part of the game.
I (and many others) want to see our characters grow. I like to feel that the work I put into my characters pays off in levels, skill improvement, stat gain, etc. If it is boring and timeconsuming, then that makes the improvement that much more desireable and noteworthy (cognitive dissonance, way more expensive than operant conditioning). Even in RP muds, I get annoyed seeing somebody acting big, if they haven't put the work into it.
In addition, the more different things there are to do on a mud (combat, crafting, socializing, exploring, quests) the better. I like to have different things to do, depending on my character's goals.
If the mud I play took away combat, I would leave. And I'm not even a hack n' slasher.
Ideally, I  like to see a wide selection of general training npcs, plus a scattering of difficult smart mobs, which would require more strategy and thought to kill, for when you want excitement with killing.
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Old 08-13-2003, 11:18 PM   #4
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Personally, I find bashing (at times) to be somewhat meditative in that it is indeed as mindless as you described, yet somehow I find it relaxing to search for the orc, kill orc, move on.

That being said, the question is what are players going to be doing in your MUD. If you expect only chatting, socializing and RP, then you have a MUSH/MOO and don't really need anything more. But if you do want something more, you'll have to invest in quests. Probably a lot of quests.

You'll have to figure out how to make quests somewhat dependent on a player's level or progression. In other words, if you have no bashing (which is a fairly basic litmus test for players to guage their level), you'll want to find some other way of rewarding players who invest in completing quests (perhaps you can only do quest B after completing quest A) so there is some competition. To this end, you may want to think of skills you acquire that are basically needed to complete certain quests. After all, a player who is a fighter wants to use his fighting skills, etc., so skills useable in quests would impel players to do the quests. (For instance, you need the skill of librarian in order to find certain books, etc.)

Finally, you'll have to constantly be adding quests--after all, when someone completes all the quests, what's the point in staying unless new quests come along.

In any event, I agree that a little bit of everything makes for a succesful MUD (bashing, questing, rp'ing, etc.). I will note that exploring in and of itself won't draw many people unless it is coupled with quests or bashing, so even the most intricate and largest maps are rendered meaningless without at least one.
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Old 08-14-2003, 10:21 AM   #5
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I rarely actually kill anything on the mud I play, but I'd hate to not be able to do so if I wanted to. I like having killing as a choice, because sometimes it's the only realistic thing to do in a situation (we're talking RP mud here btw). A few more comments...

DM is annoying in that it's perfectly kosher to kill any wandering npc, although people get ****ed if you kill shopkeepers and such. I don't think this fits too well with what's supposed to be an RP mud, however I don't know how it'd work if there weren't specific npc's that you have to spar to learn combat skills. Sure it's more fun to fight other players anyway, but what about those people who live in Outer Indogia and can only log on when no one else is even awake? This is something I need to consider with my own mud...

Armageddon I think gets rid of the "kill everything that moves" mentality pretty effectively. Not only is it not kosher to kill an npc just because it's there, it's not kosher to repeatedly attempt to rob some npc, because they have what's known as "vnpc's" (or virtual npc's) which don't actually exist but are assumed to be wandering around going about their business and noticing stupid things that players do.

As for the boringness of combat itself, I'm trying to figure out a way of doing it that'd make me actually WANT to play a fighter, but it might take a while and my ideas may be totally off base...bleah.
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