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Old 11-24-2012, 02:08 PM   #1
Orion
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Sickness

I have been working on some code to represent illnesses on my MUD. I have created a way for them to be spread and their effects, but I was wondering whether playing a game where there is a chance your character can get sick (possibly frequently) would get boring for people.

So I'd like to ask for opinions. I can either have illnesses that can happen whenever, or I can initiate an
illness as part of an event and leave everyday common illnesses assumed.

Which would be best?
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Old 11-24-2012, 06:36 PM   #2
Tristan1992
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Re: Sickness

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orion View Post
I have been working on some code to represent illnesses on my MUD. I have created a way for them to be spread and their effects, but I was wondering whether playing a game where there is a chance your character can get sick (possibly frequently) would get boring for people.

So I'd like to ask for opinions. I can either have illnesses that can happen whenever, or I can initiate an
illness as part of an event and leave everyday common illnesses assumed.

Which would be best?
I'd go for exceptional illnesses such as a plague. More dramatic!

MUME has flu but it tends to be irrelevant as the effects are small. You catch it from sleeping in the cold. I think there is plague (non deadly) too which is rarer and more bothersome caught from dirty water I think.
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Old 11-24-2012, 08:38 PM   #3
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Re: Sickness

Well, a couple thoughts on this.

First, if it isn't a high magic setting, illnesses are boring. If it is a high magic setting, you can have some really interesting magical effects that spread like an illness, but if it isn't, well...I'd save that code for staff-initiated events, as getting ill is annoying.

Second, if you are going to do this, it probably should also spread to/from npcs.

Third, it needs to not be abuseable. You need newbie protections, and it can't be controllable. Something like this has the potential to be easily controlled--i.e. I go stand with my character with <major illness> in a high population center because I feel like griefing. This is hard to police, and doesn't make much sense to put in policies, especially since, and I am going out on a limb here, it's possible for players to not know they have it (I am going out on a limb as, in some implementations of such a system, it would be quite possible). Making sure that players with an illness in a contageous state can't enter a certain place provides an easy way to find out if I have it. World of warcraft had a problem like this some time ago, with something on one of their bosses, but I can't remember the details atm.

Fourth, most newbies won't expect such a system, and will potentially be put off by it.

I believe you are writing an RPI mud. I believe, in such a mud, this would fall under the category of "too real", unless you had a subset of settings where it makes sense. I could see representing a spreading zombie apocalypse in code this way, for example. In a hack and slash mud with high magic, or something, you could have some really interesting applications, though, as such code isn't limited to illnesses; perhaps a spell that spreads from the first person to other people, that acts like an illness, or a healing spell capable of healing entire cities by jumping around like the common cold, lasting until it doesn't get passed on before fading (healing chain lightning that can last days, basically). But, representing, say, the plague, with an easy-to-get cure, executed *only* as a staff event or, if you are feeling adventurous, only allowed to happen extremely rarely by the engine, might be interesting. You could get some good rp from the deaths something like that is bound to cause, I suspect. I do think, for an rpi, it needs to also spread via NPCs too.

Now, given that you coded this, I'm going to assume that you know about the following issue, but in case you or someone else doesn't...if the illness is active, i.e. does something constantly, and if the illness does it on the tick, there is a potential for the mud to get overloaded. This is somewhat like a fork bomb:n the illness will split between me and you, and then to each of our friends, and to their friends, and so on and so on. Especially if it can be in a latent but contageous state, and even if it can't, it can easily get to the entire mud. If you only do something simple, i.e. x amount of damage with a message, you're ok, but if you've got mob triggers and such in your mud, triggering off messages, for example, that message is no longer trivial. If the illness either performs or causes to be performed some nontrivial action, and if said illness gets to the entire mud, then you can get lag. The fix to this is simple: you have to make sure that not all copies of the illness tick at once, and for most implementations it isn't an issue, but it can become one if someone tries something creative with your illness system. Instead of ticking every second, tick 5 times a second, executing 1 fifth of the illnesses, for example, if this becomes a problem. I'm not trying to talk down to you, I'm just including it here for completeness. These threads are one of the only still-active resources for things like this, so this is also for those who may come after, kind of thing.
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Old 11-26-2012, 12:17 PM   #4
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Re: Sickness

Interesting. Thanks for that Camlorn.

I agree about too much realism not being a good idea on RPI MUDs. I think it can distract from plots and stuff that keeps roleplay interesting. If you're in the middle of a scene and sneezing, or needing something to eat, drink half way through then it's disruptive to the roleplay.

However, by having an illness as 'event' that only happens in a limited period of time, it could be perhaps more fun. I think, after reading your response that that is what I may do.

I don't think it would be neccesary for an illness to give a message to everyone infected on the same tick, or be constantly doing stuff like that. I was thinking of individual timers for each character that start when they get sick and when the timer reaches certain numbers, depending on the character's constitution, they would get messages letting them know that their condition has worsened (or improved.)
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Old 11-26-2012, 01:16 PM   #5
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Re: Sickness

We have the common cold in Threshold but the only effects are a temporary alteration of your speech. Basically, you talk like you have a stuffed up nose.

You can't just catch the cold randomly though. It is one of many random lingering effects that can happen from death and resurrection.

The cure for it is time (I think it is an hour or two) or chicken soup.

People seem to enjoy it.
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Old 11-26-2012, 04:56 PM   #6
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Re: Sickness

If your mud already has an event queueing system, you're set.

Sending a message was a specific example of a more general case: what happens if, for some reason, your illness ticks on 20 players at the same time, and each call to your illness function requires, let's say, 30 ms to execute? Unless you're doing interesting things with threads, that's a 600 ms delay. I can't remember where I heard this, but 100ms is when you start noticing that actions aren't instantaneous, so cut that in half to be safe: you're well into the point that people would cry lag. In 90% of all cases, however, the illness is only going to be a stat debuff of some sort or some sort of really short function.

It's like this: the length of the illness in a given tick is the amount of time spent in the illness function times the number of objects the function is being called on. Nowadays, you're not likely to get above a few microseconds in many cases, so...meh.

Illnesses as special cases are just debuffs, as far as I'm concerned. Not "fun", just part of mudding life. The impression I got from the OP was that this system would specifically be contagious illnesses, probably with standard sources (dead corpses, unclean water, things like that). I'm not against such a system being used sparingly, I just don't see what it adds.
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Old 11-27-2012, 12:30 PM   #7
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Re: Sickness

I have a couple examples for high magic illnesses.

A player in UL accidentally drank from a bottle of liquid extracted from what is basically a lich.
Instead of ignoring it, he reported it to the admins, and RP'd it out.

For a few months he was in a sort of 'half-undead' condition with several symptoms, most notable being that he didn't bleed and was generally distrusted or hated by almost everyone.

If I remember right, the cure was swallowing blessed molten gold. (Gold being the metal sacred to one of the local deities.)

Another time, we had a plague from another dimension. It was, code wise, cosmetic. It replaced parts of people with crystalline pieces, threatened their souls, and was incredibly contagious. Quarantines were enacted, and fear was in the air. We finally had to have a prayer session, with each sufferer experiencing a unique spiritual trial to earn a purging.

Both were very interesting roleplay, and I wouldn't mind seeing something like it again.
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Old 11-27-2012, 02:46 PM   #8
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Re: Sickness

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orion View Post
I have been working on some code to represent illnesses on my MUD. I have created a way for them to be spread and their effects, but I was wondering whether playing a game where there is a chance your character can get sick (possibly frequently) would get boring for people.

So I'd like to ask for opinions. I can either have illnesses that can happen whenever, or I can initiate an
illness as part of an event and leave everyday common illnesses assumed.

Which would be best?
One of the biggest things I hate about certain codebases is the stupidity that results from trying to code in too much realism. In some muds, you get meaningless spam about the weather. Every few ticks, you get a meaningless message about how the sun comes out or it's raining or snowing. In most muds, the weather doesn't do anything to your gameplay or your character, and just becomes a meaningless bit of spam everyone ignores. Every once in awhile, some uncreative person with nothing better to roleplay about will try to strike a pose or some conversational issue about the weather, which most people brush off. In muds where weather actually does something, it's more of an annoyance than an appreciated realistic system. Nobody wants to have penalties and take twice as long getting from one place to another because it's raining. That doesn't help with gameplay, it doesn't help with roleplaying, it's just tedious and actually gets in the way of both. You can't enjoy the gameplay or contribute to a roleplayed scene if you're stuck between cities because it's raining.

Some codebases make you get hungry and thirsty every few ticks, so people stock up on meaningless food items, slurp from every fountain they pass, or just ignore hunger in those muds where it doesn't harm you. It becomes yet another thing people just completely ignore if it doesn't have a coded penalty, and a thing people hate and find tedious if it does.

Some codebases tried to code drukenness. If you take a sip of beer, you have a random chance of hiccuping, burping, or puking your guts out. The more sips you take, the greater your odds. That sounds like fun, doesn't it?

I played a mud awhile ago that had random status modifiers. Every once in awhile, for no particular reason, your character might feel run down or energetic and get a tiny bonus or penalty to a stat. That's sort of my mental equivalent of code for being sick.

Someone getting the flu and having small penalties to stats, being forced to cough and sneeze, and getting personal messages about feeling bad and having a fever is only unique to roleplay the very first time. Then it's just a stupid thing that gets in the way by interfering with the gameplay people want to experience and the roleplaying people want to do. The idea of a sickness code is right up there with having to take a leak or a dump, and if you don't run out of a roleplaying scene every 10 ticks to do so, you pee your pants. Eventually, everybody's just going to ignore the people running in and out to cope with the pee pee code, and it becomes something people play around rather than playing with. Because it's tedious and gets in the way of the real game. That's what random sickness would do.
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Old 11-28-2012, 12:48 PM   #9
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Re: Sickness

Snowtroll, what you mention is almost entirely the reason we haven't added races to Alter Aeon yet. I really have no desire to add two dozen races that do nothing and that nobody cares about beyond having it show up on score. If we add races, they should -do- something, not just be another check mark on the feature list like they are on so many other muds.

We also have drunkenness that is similar to what you describe. It's disliked and pretty much only used to annoy people.

I think like weather, sickness would be hard to do right, and without an awesome plan I can't imagine the pain would be worth the gain.

-dentin

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Old 11-28-2012, 03:59 PM   #10
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Re: Sickness

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Snowtroll, what you mention is almost entirely the reason we haven't added races to Alter Aeon yet. I really have no desire to add two dozen races that do nothing and that nobody cares about beyond having it show up on score. If we add races, they should -do- something, not just be another check mark on the feature list like they are on so many other muds.
Agreed. If I'm an "Elf," that should dramaticly change everything versus being a "Human." +1 intelligence, +1 dexterity, and -1 constitution is not a dramatic change. Receiving a bonus to stealth in the wilderness, using bows, and magic spells is not a dramatic change. My gameplay is exactly the same, except my mages have a little more magical umph and a little less hit points. And not even enough magical umph to really matter. A +1 bonus to maging and a -1 penalty to olympic style wrestling really isn't going to make me alter my gameplay to take advantage of my strengths or compensate for my weaknesses.

But along that same line of thinking, if I'm a "Mage," and you're a "Warrior," that should also change everything. Our gameplay should be different. Not just a little different, but night and day different. If we're both standing in front of mobs typing commands over and over to do damage as efficiently as possible, we're practically the same character class. You type kick and I type cast magic missile, but they do pretty much the same thing.

Moreover, if I'm a "Mage" and I have six spells that do the same thing, that ticks me off. I'd rather have one magical blasting spell that improves as my character does (and maybe even the ability to restring my spell message or modify the spell in various ways) than six progresively "stronger" versions of the same thing. I'd rather have only 10 powers per character class, but every one of them unique from all other classes and extremely useful, than 50 powers, all of which are restrung versions of things other classes get and things I got a few levels ago. Nobody cares if they just got hit with an "acid blast" or a "fireball." They just see how much damage they took and react accordingly.

But back on topic, nobody's going to care if they catch the flu and get a -1 penalty to their strength and randomly are forced to emote a cough. The very first time that's coded, people will roleplay around with it, act sick, run from sick people because they're contagious, etc., but within a week, people will just be ignoring the sickness messages and playing the real game. If sickness were coded to be debilitating enough to really interfere with gameplay, it wouldn't be cooler, it would be less cool. Nobody wants a coded system that prevents them from playing the game they are making time to play.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:46 AM   #11
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Re: Sickness

Anything in a text game can be monotonous or superfluous: eating, drinking, sleeping, illness, weather, races, classes, skills, spells, reality in general or whatever. But implemented well and in proper doses, any of that stuff can also enhance the gaming experience. I think the problem these days is that too much emphasis is being placed on quantity instead of quality--"how many features can we offer" instead of "how excellent can we make the features that we offer." Heck, much of the stock game information stored on sites like this one is all about numbers of everything, from rooms to races. I'm old-school, myself, and would love to see the industry pay more attention to gameplay.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:59 AM   #12
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Re: Sickness

Quote:
So I'd like to ask for opinions. I can either have illnesses that can happen whenever, or I can initiate an
illness as part of an event and leave everyday common illnesses assumed.
I would keep it rare, but special. Even if it is just a tiny effect, like combat performance decution by minus 3 percent.

It also helps people roleplay.

What I dont like is repeated diseases without any way to avoid them.

Some MUDs have this because it is simpler to opt for an "all or nothing" approach. I dont like this at all.
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Old 11-29-2012, 04:40 PM   #13
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Re: Sickness

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Originally Posted by shevegen View Post
I would keep it rare, but special. Even if it is just a tiny effect, like combat performance decution by minus 3 percent.

It also helps people roleplay.

What I dont like is repeated diseases without any way to avoid them.

Some MUDs have this because it is simpler to opt for an "all or nothing" approach. I dont like this at all.
I agree with this 100%. Repetetive disease or illness is boring and annoying. On Ateraan disease, virus, and plague can happen but it is by virtue of special events, unique powers, and odd quests, not random or often.

I remember one plague took out an entire town once, I think something like 50+ players (characters) croaked. Now that was quite interesting and the roleplay before and after was amazing, but this should happen very very infrequently.
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