Social combat
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 1:07 pm    Post subject: Social combat Reply with quote

Something I've (privately) discussed a few times recently with other mud developers is the idea of 'social combat'. I really got to thinking about this after playing Fable, in which you can go around intimidating or seducing NPCs, with your success adjusted based on appearance (including clothing). In particularly I thought it a cool concept that you could seduce and then marry the mayor's daughter, then lure the mayor into the woods and kill him (after disposing of any sons he might have), inheriting all his money. After that you could get rid of your wife in the same manner, and repeat the process in the next town.

For a mud implementation, the idea would be that instead of physically attacking an opponent, you could instead attempt to socially manipulate them. Obviously this wouldn't work on all types of mob, although it would provide a good way to handle animal taming. However the main intent was as a means to interact with the sort of mobs that players aren't usually supposed to fight - citizens, shop keepers, and so on.

In some cases the social combat could provide a prelude to physical combat - for example a facedown, with the first person to lose the social combat (or initiate physical combat) receiving a penalty. However I think it would be nice for such a system to also work as a standalone alternative to regular combat rather than just a boost to it. For example a bard might be able to earn experience points by wandering the land, visiting inns and playing music to different audiences (with some audiences more difficult than others, just like some mobs are harder to kill than others).

But what I'd really like to see is the Fable-style option of being able to smooth-talk your way into power. Seduction has more possibilities than any other forms of social combat I can think of - it could utilise stats, skills and equipment, it allows for many different challenge levels, it can provides rewards both financial and experience-based. In fact it's got so many options that I could even see it forming the basis for an entire mud - players go to bars to seduce NPCs, gaining experience (improved pulling skills) and money which they can spend on better equipment (more fashionable clothes). Earn enough experience and their reputation (level) goes up, allowing them to 'defeat' more 'challenging' opponents. Combine this with a GW-style sex system (perhaps tied in to a complex reputation system) for when you get your conquests home and it would add yet another dimension to the gameplay.

Such a mud would certainly be tasteless, but I do find the concept very amusing, and I think a less explicit version could provide some interesting options for a mud. The cleric who can earn exp by converting NPCs to his religion, the dodgy merchant who haggles for low prices in one city then tries to convince NPCs to buy his products in the next, the recruitment officer who earns exp for persuading peasants to sign up for the army, etc.
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Kjartan



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 110

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been mulling over a similar idea. My mud has a bard class. Being a H&S mud, it's always a stretch looking for stuff for a bard to do. They have the standard D&D ability to sing various songs that help out their friends or hamper their enemies in morale-related ways, but what I'd really like is a way for them to go around entertaining mobs as a form of social combat. They get audience reactions and then have to adjust their performances accordingly. This suggests the use of different sets of equipment for different situations (juggling pins, etc.).

So far I've haven't actually coded anything in this direction because I haven't worked out a system that seems like it would be fun. I would like analogues of hit points, attacks, and maybe even armor class.
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cron0s



Joined: 13 May 2005
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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's an interesting idea, and something I have been thinking about lately too as part of the wider issue of how players interact with NPCs. I see three parts to this system; the method of interaction , the outcome of interaction and the goal of interaction. To my mind, the methods of interaction are the easy part. Adding skills like bribe, persuade or intimidate is fairly trivial. Sure you can come up with lots of complex modifiers and formulae based on stats, equipment, skills etc, but that's all really just fluff. The outcome of interaction could be as simple as the NPC attacking, or giving some information or an item to the character. It may also be more subtle such as changing alignment or standing within a faction system. The goal of the interaction might be to avoid combat, gain access to an area, obtain exp/gold/items etc.

To take your example of seducing the mayor's daughter. The method could be a skill check, with modifiers such as physical looks, clothing or reputation, and a timer to limit the character to one attempt per day/week/whatever. Depending on success, the outcome could be an increase or decrease in faction standing with the mayor, with maybe an opposite effect on standings with other young noble ladies. The interesting part, IMHO, is how you relate these outcomes to player goals. What exactly does seducing the mayor's daughter get you? (other than the obvious!). Do you get better prices in the town shops? Access to special areas? Better xp/loot? Maybe the mayor holds a combat tournament once a year with a fantastic prize, and the character who has successfully wooed his daughter gets a secret skill/stat boost during the contest to represent favouritism?

I think a good place to start abstracting such a system is to work backwards and start with the player goals such as gain levels, gain loot, gain influence over other players, insert whatever your particular game is all about here. Then look at what place NPCs have in your world, and how they can help or hinder the players achieve their goals. Finally you can design all your methods of interaction and nail down how exactly the players can influence NPCs.
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Sandi



Joined: 13 May 2005
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Location: Boston

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir, what is a "GW-style sex system"?

What you're describing is the essence of many MUSHes, particularly the WoD ones, but of course it's all PvP. Introducing it to a game with mobs is an intriguing idea.

Hmmm...

Thinking of your facedown scenario, you could add an insult skill, with categories of insults. You could become adept at physical, social, genealogical, intellectual, or occupational insults. It could work much like the magic system you've described (based on Bartle's).

Of course, you wouldn't learn insults from your guildmaster, you'd have to go to a branch of the John Cleese Institute.

Whether the players liked it or not, it sure would be fun to code! Twisted Evil

(Oops! I just typo'd "payers" for "players". Hey, Vryce, how big is your payerbase?)
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Kjartan



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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sandi wrote:
Thinking of your facedown scenario, you could add an insult skill, with categories of insults. You could become adept at physical, social, genealogical, intellectual, or occupational insults. It could work much like the magic system you've described (based on Bartle's).


The Monkey Island games had a cute "insult swordfighting" system, where your success in a duel was determined by how aptly you insulted your opponent. One of you would issue an insult apropos of nothing, and the other would try to turn it around. It was menu-driven; the challenge lay in picking the best response from a menu to the computer's insults, iirc in a limited amount of time. It probably sounds easy; they made it challenging by coming up with subtle comebacks that were hard to immediately identify as the best.

That system only works once, it can't reuse content with the same player. Probably not so good for a mud.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Munich

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kjartan wrote:
I've been mulling over a similar idea. My mud has a bard class.


(snip)

Quote:
I haven't worked out a system that seems like it would be fun. I would like analogues of hit points, attacks, and maybe even armor class.


To be honest it might work a bit better using the tumbler approach, with the bard changing his/her melody to try and manipulate the audience. In fact that could work very well indeed...

For those not aware, the tumbler approach is what I use for lockpicking, and (in brief) works like this: A lock has up to 5 tumblers, and each tumbler starts in the range 1-9 (but never 5). You have a variety of lockpicking moves you can perform which adjust one or (usually) more tumblers by one or more points in a direction. Get all the tumblers to 5 to unlock the door, get one or more outside the range 1-9 and the lock jams (or a trap goes off).

Applying this to the bard system you could allow the bard various different tunes (perhaps with each instrument having its own selection). Play the various tunes to adjust the 'tumblers', which would represent the attitude of the audience. Balance the tumblers out to get them to give you money, with tumblers that go below 1 or above 9 resulting in affects ranging from the crowd booing you off stage, to causing a massive brawl.

The tumbler approach doesn't work so well on specific individuals, I've found, but for things like locks and crafting it's pretty effective, and it should work very well with an entire crowd.

Sandi wrote:
KaVir, what is a "GW-style sex system"?


Er, you really want to know? :P Well, I implemented a sex system in the original God Wars, around...9 years ago? I was young and sexually repressed back then, you see, and always eager to cause as much offense with my features as possible...Anyway, it was based on the idea of xsocials (x-rated socials) which is something I'd seen another mud do. I decided to make it more than just cosmetic socials though, and had each social make certain modifiers based on the situation. You'd start off with the foreplay socials until both characters were sufficiently in the mood, then move on to the real hardcore ones. Once you reached a certain point, the code would take over for the last few thrusts, and then you'd earn exp (if it was a good performance).

Yes it was rather crude, but it did result in some very funny situations. Characters getting accidently pregnent because they didn't know the risks, married characters giving birth to kids fathered by someone other than the husband (this almost caused an all-out war on one occasion, with the husband going absolutely berserk while the rest of the mud laughed at him). Many newbies would start off with a basic 'thrust, thrust, thrust, finish' and then got really taunted by the other players for their lack of prowess. Skilled players would boast about how they could give multiple orgasms, and one enterprising young lady even took it upon herself to sit at the starting location and offer sex lessons to newbies.
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Kjartan



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 110

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
To be honest it might work a bit better using the tumbler approach, with the bard changing his/her melody to try and manipulate the audience. In fact that could work very well indeed...


So do I understand that a given maneuver might do something like "tumbler 1 +1, tumbler 2 -3, tumbler 3 +1"? And by applying many such moves with different "shapes" you try to get the tumblers to all-5s? That's a nice little puzzle system.

What feedback do you get with locks, maybe when a tumbler gets around <=2 or >=8 you get a warning? (With the audience the feedback is perhaps easier, actually, because they can be bored, mad at you, laughing at you rather than with you, etc. - there's several ready-made dimensions)
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kjartan wrote:
So do I understand that a given maneuver might do something like "tumbler 1 +1, tumbler 2 -3, tumbler 3 +1"? And by applying many such moves with different "shapes" you try to get the tumblers to all-5s?


That's right - I originally got the idea from The Inquisition, which uses it for its magic system (you have to perform rituals to align yourself with the moon phases). However the system itself can extend to a lot of other things.

Quote:
What feedback do you get with locks, maybe when a tumbler gets around <=2 or >=8 you get a warning?


You get a message for each tumbler with *clunk* meaning the tumbler is under the desired amount, *clonk* mean it's over, and *click* meaning it's just right. Eg:

You carefully probe the lock with your lockpick.

The lock makes some noises: *clonk* *clunk* *clunk* *clunk* *clonk*


Quote:
(With the audience the feedback is perhaps easier, actually, because they can be bored, mad at you, laughing at you rather than with you, etc. - there's several ready-made dimensions)


Yup - you could certainly provide a lot more feedback in that situation (although it will make the puzzle easier to solve).
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Ashon



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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
You get a message for each tumbler with *clunk* meaning the tumbler is under the desired amount, *clonk* mean it's over, and *click* meaning it's just right. Eg:

You carefully probe the lock with your lockpick.

The lock makes some noises: *clonk* *clunk* *clunk* *clunk* *clonk*



Okay, here's a question about this system. Do you limit the amount of times a tumbler can be turned? Is it on a timed system? And if a player figures this out, how do you prevent the scripting of this system?
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Munich

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ashon wrote:
Do you limit the amount of times a tumbler can be turned? Is it on a timed system? And if a player figures this out, how do you prevent the scripting of this system?


I don't place limits, no, nor do I use a timer - although such options might well be appropriate in some situations (such as the bard's music for example). I'm not really sure how you could script the system though, could you please elaborate?
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Ashon



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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well perhaps I don't understand the system well enough.

each time you try to manipulate the lock, do you go after individual tumblers, or the system at large?

Assuming singular tumblers, once they've figured out the clunk clonk theme, it's a matter of writing a script that automates the tumble. flag the current tumbler working on, and either tumble up or tumble down until you hit click.

Assuming the system as a whole, each time you try to manipulate it, it seems to me that it would be almost random chance to get the right combination.
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eiz



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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are several different kinds of picks: a narrow pick, a broad pick, etc, and most actions will increase some tumbler values and decrease others, so you have to often find a way to set it up so that you can get everything into position with one move, otherwise you will disturb the other tumblers. It can be quite challenging with the complex five-tumbler locks, at least at first.

Also, once a tumbler reaches a minimum or maximum value, it 'jams', and you can't use any move that will move the tumbler further in that direction.
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ashon wrote:
each time you try to manipulate the lock, do you go after individual tumblers, or the system at large?


You have a selection of actions you can perform, and each action adjusts one or more tumblers. There are only two moves that affect just a single tumbler though - one that increases the first tumbler by 1, and another that decreases it by 1. All the others provide modifiers to more than one tumbler - for example +2/-1/0/0/0, +2/0/-1/0/0, -2/0/-2/0/-2, etc.

Quote:
Assuming singular tumblers, once they've figured out the clunk clonk theme, it's a matter of writing a script that automates the tumble. flag the current tumbler working on, and either tumble up or tumble down until you hit click.


Hmmm I suppose they could place a trigger for every possible state - that's 242 possibilities they'd have to cater for though.

Quote:
Assuming the system as a whole, each time you try to manipulate it, it seems to me that it would be almost random chance to get the right combination.


Not at all - you can see which tumblers need to go up and which need to go down, and then select the appropriate commands to do so.
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Ashon



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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I must have missed the post where you broke it down somewhere. I know you've talked about the system on all the major boards, but It didn't click (har-har) that it was working that way.

It sounds like for a lot of social skills then, that this might work. For example while trying to seduce someone, they have the 'tumblers' Attitude towards PC, Happiness, Interest in PC. And their body stances, position of their arms, their closeness to the PC can all be the textual clues to getting there. And by a set of socials, says, whatever, you try to influence the NPC towards the desired goal.
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Errico



Joined: 13 May 2005
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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2005 1:03 am    Post subject: Lusternia and Influence Reply with quote

While I haven't actually fooled around with it yet, and I know many people are typically quite negative towards IRE muds, Lusternia has a system similar to your original suggestion. Unfortunately, it isn't quite as deep as what you were suggesting, or as Fable, but it looks to have some fairly neat implementations.

Lusternia has a system where the various mob villages of the game can come under the control of the player-run cities. Utilizing the skill of influence, players with a certain city rank can attempt to negotiate with the inhabitants of the npc-town and gain more sway for their particular hometown.

In general, though, the skill amounts to nothing more than typical bashing, just with a more pacifistic appearance and the chance to gain something more than just experience.


Here's the help-file:
Quote:

9.1.9 The Influence Skill (common)

The skill of Influence is a non-lethal form of interaction with the
sentient denizens of Lusternia (non-player characters). Rather than
slaughtering such denizens for such base reasons as gaining experience,
you may instead enter into ego battles that are not considered a hostile
(i.e., won't get you enemied). Influencing a denizen is an engagement in
forces of personality to try to temporarily change that denizen's
behavior. Losing an ego battle will result in a loss of experience similar
to that of losing a battle in combat, whereas winning an ego battle will
result in gaining experience similar to winning a battle in combat.

There are five general types of ego battles: (1) Seduction, which will
charm the denizen and cause him or her to attack your enemies; (2)
Empower, which will raise the denizen's level; (3) Weaken, which will
lower the denizen's level; (4) Charity, which will cause the denizen to
give you gold or an item (if available); (5) Paranoia, which will cause
the denizen to succumb to paranoid behavior and not act in a normal
manner. There is a sixth form of ego battle that is not dependent on your
skill in influence, but rather your rank in a city or commune, and can
only be used on denizens of villages during the window of time when
that village is 'in play' and not under any sphere of influence.

Once the type of ego battle has been started, the denizen will become
fixated upon it and only ego attacks of the same type will be recognized.
Further, the denizen will become resistant to an ego attack used over and
over. For example, a denizen will become resistant to begging (a charity
attack), so it is more beneficial to alternate with other charity attacks.
Once a denizen has won or lost an ego battle, he or she will be exhausted
and not enter into another one for some period of time. The power of your
influence skills increases the higher the prestige of the clothing and
jewelry you wear. The exception to this are the charity influence skills,
which is more effective with tattered rags than fancy clothes (i.e., the
lower the prestige of your clothing, the better you are at charity
influence attacks).
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