Author Topic: [Mechanic] Mass-Combat in MUDs  (Read 580 times)

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Reiloth Offline

[Mechanic] Mass-Combat in MUDs
« on: April 22, 2017, 12:53:43 PM »
Greetings,

Mass-Combat (Over 3 combatants, especially 'team vs team') is an age-old problem that has plagued older codebases (DIKU, Circle) since their inception. Some MU*s have attempted to ameliorate the problem, but I wanted to discuss the nuts and bolts of the issue, and some possible solutions, and then a discussion/brainstorm on more possible solutions. When considering Orin's proposition for a Realm vs Realm MUD, I think combat and especially mass combat should be tinkered out and at least thought through.

The Problem:
*When more than three combatants are involved, it becomes difficult to tell who is fighting who, without macros for screen/text coloration.
*Spam produced by combatants becomes exponential, so the more combatants there are involved, it multiplies how difficult it is to keep track of what is happening.
*Figuring out who is on which side becomes nearly impossible as you add more people to combat -- While some MUDs lazily consider this a 'feature', it borders on unrealistic, especially if you have sides that are wearing clear regalia to denote which side they are on.
*It can swiftly lead to death when a leader's keyword is easily recognizable, or common. Tall, muscular, thin, short, or a keyword from their leadership role is in their sdesc, 'general, templar, knight, archer', and so on.
*Unit NPCs have always been tricky -- They're instant death squads to an individual PC, but they go head to head with other Unit NPCs, and can help flesh out a battle to make it seem like there are many when there only a few.

Potential Solutions:

*Make it so 3+ PCs can group together to make a Unit. This Unit can then engage with other Units in a battle.

*Make it so only 2-3 people can engage with 1 person in combat. The others find it 'too difficult to engage'.

*Create a skill (hidden or otherwise) called 'engage'. This is how you attempt to enter combat with someone. In a battle, you might find every round you are still engaged with that one person, or you have to fight someone else briefly. You can 'focus' on one person in combat to gain offensive bonuses against them, but you lose defensive bonuses against others that engage with you. Combat veterans have an easier time of focusing on what they are doing and who they are fighting. Novices will have a more difficult time keeping track of who they are fighting.

*Create a 'reach' in combat, where it is simply 'immediate (1) , short (2), and long (3)'. Mounted targets will be considered at a 'long' reach unless they are fighting someone else who is mounted, where they would be 1 or 2.

*Different styles of combat could lead towards different sorts of battle solutions, as can different weapons. Some will have a greater reach (Polearms) but be less effective in close quarters. Some will simply be immediate, while others may track from immediate to short (Flails, for instance). Others will have bonuses against light armored foes, others heavy, and with +/- inbetween. Reduce the binary nature of weapons, skills, and combat. Make it fluid and less predictable.

*Units of NPCs will simply engage each other as Units -- Each having health, offense, and so on. When a PC unit gets involved though, it goes from macro to micro, zooming in if you will. An instance is made where the NPCs square off with the PCs (Or PCs with some NPCs square off, etc.)

*Within these sorts of instances, teams are formed. You can't engage people on your own team, and you won't fight them accidentally, getting a carriage return of 'Are you sure you want to fight your own?' There could perhaps be a 'nosave' toggle so that you can commit to friendly fire by accident (for the hardcore).

*Anyone can form a team as long as there are more than three people, but one person is the leader of the group. They become denoted by a * next to their name or some sort of modifier. PCs can pursue a sort of leadership path of skills, applying bonuses to people in their team and + modifiers, or - modifiers to other 'teams' they face.

What ideas do you have for mass combat in MUDs?

« Last Edit: April 22, 2017, 12:56:36 PM by Reiloth »
"You will have useful work: the destruction of evil men. What work could be more useful? This is Beyond; you will find that your work is never done—so therefore you may never know life of peace." ~ Jack Vance

Orin Offline

Re: [Mechanic] Mass-Combat in MUDs
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2017, 04:00:39 PM »
I do think you are correct that old MUDs often ran into the problem of multiple people ganging up on one person.  Realistically there's only so much space you can surround someone with.  Consider it like a D&D hex or square:



If your character were in the middle square, you could be attacked by anyone in the adjacent squares.  While that's more than what you're proposing, it proves the point that there is a limit to how many people can engage in combat at any given time.  This of course relies on the idea that rooms are finite, and it's not just a "Wide open plains" room which could have hundreds of players in it.  Limiting how many people are in a room is one option to fix melee combat, but it wouldn't stop ranged.

I like the idea of limiting how many people can engage someone at one time, however it doesn't stop the problem of:

Group A attacks Group B
Group AA, also in the same room, attacks Group BB

You still end up with a lot of spam.  If I had two groups loyal to A and two to B, I may want to know that my secondary group is getting massacred.  Limiting how much text spam you see while engaged in combat may be a negative from a combat point of view, but it may also be realistic.  Would you really have time to stop and scan/spot/watch the other fight while you are fighting?
That which I am is not which I was; I am what I am

Reiloth Offline

Re: [Mechanic] Mass-Combat in MUDs
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2017, 04:51:39 PM »
I think the other thing to consider here is combat speed. Realtime? Turn based?

You may need to look at limiting how many 'teams' can be in one room, yes.
"You will have useful work: the destruction of evil men. What work could be more useful? This is Beyond; you will find that your work is never done—so therefore you may never know life of peace." ~ Jack Vance

Reiloth Offline

Re: [Mechanic] Mass-Combat in MUDs
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2017, 10:37:36 PM »
When I say 'instance', I do mean 'instance', too, for unit to unit combat. Create a room that these two units enter together, and the victor is decided, or the losers flee back to the main room (Call it a virtual (null) wagon object/enterable room). Make combat slow, but make each blow really matter. Make parrying and defense much more possible, but each blow that penetrates armor ghastly (So a strong soldier might only be able to sustain 3-4 major wounds, but can sustain several minor ones).

Leaders can order a retreat, which forces your character to run away/exit the instance unless you decide to 'stay'.

It limits ranged combat, unless archers can still interact with the 'instance', but possibly hit their own guys too.

"You will have useful work: the destruction of evil men. What work could be more useful? This is Beyond; you will find that your work is never done—so therefore you may never know life of peace." ~ Jack Vance

Dunski Offline

Re: [Mechanic] Mass-Combat in MUDs
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2017, 09:37:51 AM »
I'm not generally a huge fan of Haven's combat system, but the in-room location thing they have is a great feature. I'd combine that with a more traditional "scrolling" combat design and use colors to aid in visibility. Each line of combat could be colored according to how far away it is from you, allowing you to easily gauge what's most important to you. Maybe a limit to how many people can be in the same part of a room and thus engage the same person.

If combat becomes too complicated, it stops being fun. Also makes code knowledge an even greater advantage, which is at odds with roleplay. Stuff like banding together in coded units sounds unenjoyable to me, I prefer a good measure of individuality in combat because that's essentially the whole reason people play roleplaying games. I would take a system as simple as that of the RPI Engine, add a nine square location grid in each room, color code combat output according to distance, and require moving into the same square as somebody in order to attack them. That's all I really want out of a combat system.

A few simple brevity options would help with truly large-scale combat so you can ignore the output from two squares away, or even anything that doesn't involve you. Other than that, combat shouldn't function too differently whether it's 1v1 or 8v8. I wouldn't be interested in some elaborate team system or a bunch of engagement mechanics. It takes away from the integrity of gameplay if fighting is a completely different experience from one time to the next.

Like so:


So instead of this nightmare:
Quote
Bob slashes Joe in the nose.
Jill charges toward Bob.
Joe stabs Bob in the hand.
Kenny slashes you in the chest.
Your stab is blocked by Kenny.
Steve misses Mary with his bludgeon.
Mary spears Steve in the groin.
Mary charges toward you.
Bob's slash is blocked by Joe.
Joe stabs Bob in the shoulder.

You could have this:
Quote
Bob slashes Joe in the nose.
Jill charges toward Bob.
Joe stabs Bob in the hand.
Kenny slashes you in the chest.
Your stab is blocked by Kenny.
Steve misses Mary with his bludgeon.
Mary spears Steve in the groin.
Mary charges toward you.
Bob's slash is blocked by Joe.
Joe stabs Bob in the shoulder.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 10:25:38 AM by Dunski »

Reiloth Offline

Re: [Mechanic] Mass-Combat in MUDs
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2017, 07:18:19 PM »
I haven't seen Harshland's combat system yet, but i'm curious how it works. Seems to allow for greater awareness of who's fighting who and where.

I agree that combat becomes really not fun when it's autopilot and too complicated.
"You will have useful work: the destruction of evil men. What work could be more useful? This is Beyond; you will find that your work is never done—so therefore you may never know life of peace." ~ Jack Vance