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Old 01-14-2008, 03:49 AM   #1
obit
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New player success and combat systems

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaVir
Quote:
Originally Posted by DurNominator
I failed to defeat the green-belted fellow. I found the system to be somewhat unwieldy because of having to remember so much and having to react so quick after typing in one command in combat.
Well true, but that's the same for all muds. The real problem for GW2 is getting people to learn and remember a whole new set of things; those who haven't played muds before actually seem to pick it up faster than those from a mudding background.
The other thread seemed to be drifting away from the OP's topic a bit, but this exchange interested me very much because I have noticed exactly the same trend in another manual-combat system MUD. I'm starting a new thread and steering this in a slightly different direction though.

Manual Combat Systems vs. Automated,

How favorably each is received by new players, and what kind of player tends to lean towards which system.



Automated Combat- the Diku-style spammy scrolling variety(maybe not necessarily spammy):

It seems that the games with this style of combat are by far the most popular.

Is it because of the simplicity of it? Basically, typing "Attack Mouse", and watching what happens, more or less "rooting for" your character while it does the dirty work.

The ease new players will find in winning battles almost right away?(By that, I mean, "You have Brutally SMASHED a tiny grey mouse into oblivion!!", followed by "You gained a level!")

Or is it the familiarity that (most)new players already have with this combat system? I suppose that new players don't want to feel like they're "just another n00b" when they start playing a new game. While they still need to figure out the zones, the spells, classes, politics ect of the community, they are confident that they already know "how" to learn and play the game.



Manual Combat- your char does nothing(in combat) unless told to do so, for every instance of an action, ie "punch <target>" or "fire weapon":

Thing about these systems, is that it seems only a handfull of games employ them. They(the combat systems) are generally unique to a one-off MUD, and therefore completely alien to any new player. I think that this is the major drawback to Manual Combat systems. Most of the new players that check out these games, probably came from MU*s with the above-mentioned, automatic combat systems, so give up fairly quickly when they compare their immediate level of success in combat, to that of the diku-variety.

The need for decent, player-created or player-designated aliases/macros and triggers might also be a turn-off, as it only makes the learning curve sharper. I can definitely see how someone completely new to Mudding, might accept the learning process as the natural course of the game, where someone accustomed to a more standard(dikuish- sigh, I promise I'm not bashing diku. I'm actually a semi-reg at a diku based mud) setup, would become frustrated and quickly abandon the effort to learn.


After I get some rest, I'll try to flesh these thoughts out a bit further, and maybe look at "hybrid" systems as well.

-obit
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Old 01-14-2008, 05:46 AM   #2
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Re: New player success and combat systems

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Originally Posted by obit View Post
Manual Combat Systems vs. Automated,
You might find this thread of interest: http://www.topmudsites.com/forums/ad...t-systems.html

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Originally Posted by obit View Post
Thing about these systems, is that it seems only a handfull of games employ them. They(the combat systems) are generally unique to a one-off MUD, and therefore completely alien to any new player. I think that this is the major drawback to Manual Combat systems.
Actually there are quite a few muds using the balance/affliction style of manual combat. First introduced by Avalon, the system is at least as old as DikuMUD, and has its fair share of fans (although I must admit it's not to my taste).

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The need for decent, player-created or player-designated aliases/macros and triggers might also be a turn-off, as it only makes the learning curve sharper.
Worse still, when taken to the extreme (scripting is required to compete) you're effectively back to an automated combat system.

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Originally Posted by obit View Post
I can definitely see how someone completely new to Mudding, might accept the learning process as the natural course of the game, where someone accustomed to a more standard(dikuish- sigh, I promise I'm not bashing diku. I'm actually a semi-reg at a diku based mud) setup, would become frustrated and quickly abandon the effort to learn.
It's not just about accepting a more difficult system because you don't know any better, either - even if both systems require equal effort to learn, many veteran mudders will make assumptions based on their prior experience - these are the players who tend to switch off the hints (and then have no idea what to do), ignore help files (and then get confused about how things work) and choose advanced creation options (and then not know how to play them). This can end up making the game slower (and more frustrating) to learn.
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Old 01-14-2008, 06:24 AM   #3
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Re: New player success and combat systems

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Originally Posted by obit View Post
The need for decent, player-created or player-designated aliases/macros and triggers might also be a turn-off, as it only makes the learning curve sharper. I can definitely see how someone completely new to Mudding, might accept the learning process as the natural course of the game, where someone accustomed to a more standard(dikuish- sigh, I promise I'm not bashing diku. I'm actually a semi-reg at a diku based mud) setup, would become frustrated and quickly abandon the effort to learn.
If you look at modern games and compare them to older games you might notice that the new ones are far easier to learn. Many modern games have intuitive interfaces and are designed so that you can almost start play it directly. There is also some standard between genres, e.g Unreal Tournament and Quake both have similar interface. In many of the older games you need to read a large manual to properly begin play.

MUDs in general have a large list of commands you need to learn how to use. The interface is often not intuitive. Many modern graphical rpgs have more intuitive interfaces where you at a glance can quickly see what options are available. So to a graphical gamer the text MUDs will be very frustrating to get into.

It is funny when you look at MUDs, because many of them still haven't started use simple user interface design rules such as grouping similar things together and categorizing. For example in Aardwolf, I believe, if you type "commands" it will just throw this huge list of commands at you. There's no grouping and no categorization. In e.g the ack!mud codebase commands are instead listed after categories. It improves readability and gives almost a binary-search approach to find the command you were looking for.

With protocols such as MXP the interface for MUDs can be improved further. For example you might want to group chat messages and help texts in separate frames, and provide buttons to help control combat.
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:22 AM   #4
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Re: New player success and combat systems

I think Kavir hit on something right at the beginning, when he said that when faced with a new game, those players who are new to mudding completely often turn out better than those who have previously played different games. I've noticed this too, and I think there are a few things at work: firstly it's easier in many cases to learn from a clean slate (assuming that the game has good helpfiles and so on) than it is to override what's been learned and reinforced in a different system, but one that's similar enough for you to compare.

The other part I think is that once someone has played MUDs for 5 years or so, not only are they entrenched in their game, but they see this as their advantage - "I've spent 5 years learning how to be the best, so why would I go somewhere I'd be at the bottom again?". People feel it's a waste of their past time if their skills aren't at least somewhat transferable. Even if you've left a game on bad terms, you want to think that you at least keep something from it, something you can apply elsewhere and get a head start.

There's one thing that's inevitable, though - age. Many mudders are traditionally college students or young adults. After playing for a few years, you naturally move on in life, you leave this stage behind that allowed you a lot more freedom. You start on a career, you start having to make sacrifices to make it - working overtime, taking work home, or simply putting so much effort in at the office that you really don't want to go home to a game that requires a lot of learning.

I fall into that category really - I'm a public accountant, I spend my days trying to get information from people who fear/hate/don't understand me and really, really don't want to tell me exactly what I want to know - and then trying to make something useful of what I find out. After 10 hours of that, the last thing I want to do is think or do anything that could possibly be frustrating. I want to play a game that isn't an easy game, but is easy because I know it. Where I'm king. Where I know the areas and combat and people like the back of my hand. If it came to it, I doubt that I'd bother to learn another game, I'd just move on to other things.
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Old 01-14-2008, 08:05 PM   #5
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Re: New player success and combat systems

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Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
Worse still, when taken to the extreme (scripting is required to compete) you're effectively back to an automated combat system.
I think that really depends on the dynamics of each game.

I'll go ahead and invent an example, involving a game where wizards or whatever, battle it out, using only magical energy attacks. In this example, if suchandsuch game employs measureable distances- feet, meters, whatever, and the various attacks at the player's disposal are range based, ie there's a short range attack that is more powerful, the closer you are(coldblast), and a longer range attack that becomes more powerful, the farther you are from a target(Fireball or something), you might make a macro like:

1 = FFFf> where F = charge your fireball, f = cast your fireball, and > moves you forward (presumably towards your opponent).

As you watch your range close in, you'll hit your next(close range) macro:

2 = CCCc< where C = charge your coldblast, c = cast your coldblast, and < moves you away.

To take it a step farther, each wizard has limits on how much magical energy he/she can use "charging" each attack, and how much total magical reserve he/she has. Assuming there's different kinds of wizards, there will be different limits, different ranges, and different types of attacks.

Strategy in this example, would involve constant movement and correction for each player; trying to stay out of the opponent's effective attack ranges, while maneuvering into yours. You would have to make rapid adjustments, hoping the other guy misses or wastes energy on an attack while not at optimal range, and you then use their "recharge" delay to move in and cast your own uber-coldblast.

This system would put players who prefer not to assign aliases at a distinct disadvantage.. Though the game would still have a very much manual combat system

More advanced scripting, where triggers, detected by a client, cause the PCs to react automatically to each situation, ie player-run bots, will still lack the intuition and the ability to react to an unexpected change of circumstances, that a human (manual)player poseses. A Skilled player of suchandsuch, will quickly find ways to use the other guy's own scripting against him.

Just some thoughts. I'm not sure how much any of this rambling actually applies to your resonse that I quoted, but that's where my trackless train of thought took me :)
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Old 01-14-2008, 11:41 PM   #6
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Re: New player success and combat systems

Seriously, I would tend to suspect that the number of people **not** using scripts to play affliction based games is damn close to zero, just to get that of my chest. lol

Otherwise, at least where I play, its sort of both. You can stand there and just let the automatic system do it, but unless your like level 50 and killing a level 1 mouse, you **need** to use somewhat less automatic commands. This is fundamentally the same as on something like EQ2 (or WoW I imagine), where you have a whole set of attacks/defenses and even affliction counters, which you can use, and more to the point *need to*, if you want to do serious damage to anything. The only real problem with such a system is that it works well when you are clicking buttons, but it gets more complicated in text, and even simple systems end up requiring triggers, at minimum, to warn of critical situations. And, its almost inevitable that someone will script it instead, then get caught doing so (which usually happens when someone suggests they might be, the admin pops in to ask them a question, and they fail to answer, even after the combat ends It might take a while, but if scripts are illegal, you **will** get caught at them, eventually, and the longer you where doing so, the more likely you will get nuked and banned, at least where I play.)
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