Ideas for future MUD/whatever development
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GrooveTiger



Joined: 29 Sep 2007
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Location: Peru

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 8:47 am    Post subject: Ideas for future MUD/whatever development Reply with quote

First of all, I want to apologize in advance. I was going to post this hours ago, before I got abducted by the beer monkeys, and now I just have to post it anyway or I'll just forget all about it in my semi-drunken stupor. I suppose the original version was going to be less "ranty".

I'm fairly new at this MUD business, but I've been toying with lots of ideas for RPG game designs for years, and I want to share these ideas to get some feedback. I know I'm probably trying to invent the wheel again, and that some of these ideas have been proposed dozens of times, and I'm under the delusion that I'm somehow doing something original here. The point being, I just want to know if this is something anyone would be interested in playing, and why not. (translation: just try your best in criticism about the game "system" I've devised, before I even go thru the effort of actually making a game out of it)

*rubs eyes*

Anyway, I've been toying with a few ideas. The latest incarnation of this game is a MUD, not because I think it's the best medium (I've thought about making a MMORPG, a single player super-duper 3D adventure game, a computer simulation, a matrix-like alternate reality, probably even lucid-dreaming drug-induced hallucination... you get the drift) but I digress... a lot. The point is, with a MUD, I can just go and make it happen, instead of sulking uselessly at why doesn't EA or Sony or Sunsoft pick my idea and make me a multi-billionaire.

These are some elements I've thought would make an interesting MUD. The setting I have in consideration is a steampunk "Wild West" one (with some weird dimension-traveling aspects) but I think it could just as easily apply to other modern settings between 1860-ish to 1950-ish.

1) Age-based character advancement:
While the mechanic isn't defined (I'm considering using very simple stats, such as the FUDGE scale and dice rolls), the idea is that somehow, the character has to make a conscious decision to improve his stats, instead of "leveling up" (this is not a level-based system but a skill-based one) he chooses to "age". For example, by doing certain actions, the player can gain XP or whatchamacallit points, maybe even in different tiers or categories, but can only spend them once a "year" of character life. So you go around the world, crafting thing, killing mobs, whatever you like, gaining points and once you think you have enough you decide to spend them and "age" one year. You can hoard as many as you want, but maybe the "curve" to get said points gets steeper and steeper until you "do" it (level up, or "age" up).

2) No mob "respawns" and other stuff good too:
The idea is that a player doesn't go around killing orphans or dogs just because they give lotssss of XPssss. Maybe the game spawns special quest-based "mobs" for each player, or whatever. Even if someone goes into a store and kills the shopkeeper, he doesn't just respawn: probably there are worse consequences: the player gets outlawed, the store closes, another one opens elsewhere, I don't know. Haven't given it much thought.

3) "Interesting" combat:
None of that: Player A hits Mob B for X hit points. Mob B hits Player A for Y hit points, that seems to run automatically until one or the other dies. Specially if you use guns (quite deadly) in an old-west or modern setting. I'm considering some sort of turn-based combat, where things like taking cover are important, and that maybe restricts the length of the combat to about 10 turns until it just gets forfeited by both parties. Whoever gets the first "hit" with a gun on the other will most likely win the combat - none of that "hit point" nonsense.

4) Meaningful NPCs:
By meaningful, I'm not sure what I mean. Relevant maybe. The idea is that you (the PLAYER character) can meet npcs, who are maybe randomly generated and MEAN something to you. They may become friends, allies, maybe party members (if the game allows "parties" of NPCS led by a PC), even spouses, I don't know. Perhaps these NPCs are only visible to you or your "guild" (which again might just as well consist of only one PC and all the NPCs he's met), unless you team up with other players.

I'm not sure if all this makes sense to you. I'm trying to capture the "feeling" of watching a wild-west movie (or maybe gangster movie, whatever is a kind of cinematic sense) where good guys fight bad guys by dodging behind carts and shooting at each other and missing, or scoring a critical hit, all the while meeting the harlot with a heart of gold and all that cliched stuff that we all know.

If you feel that idea #1 or 2 or 3 or whatever suck, please let me know why, or why it doesn't work in a mud, or whatever constructive criticism you think applies, I'll be grateful for it. I have actually some more detailed stuff about each of them, but I'm trying to be brief here, and I think failing at it anyway, and I'm sorry if this just seems like a bit rant, I was planning on making a clearer post but as I said in the beginning, things happened and my brain is a bit asleep right now. I can probably clarify a few more things in the morning if anyone is interested.

Good night!
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
Posts: 99
Location: Golden Valley, Arizona, USA

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it sounds pretty interesting and you should do it...

You should probably be prepared for a lot of people going, "Well, this won't attract players", or "Players won't like that, you should do it this way" (read: the way it's always been done.) But don't listen to all that crap. If this is the game you want to make, make it, if you get ten players or a hundred, it's successful if you're happy with what you've produced. MUDs aren't likely to make millionaires out of many, so we have to just do what we do because we achieve a sense of fulfillment from them, in whatever fashion that may be.

-V
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ide



Joined: 21 Feb 2006
Posts: 105
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vopisk is right on the money.

However, with that in mind, I am going to talk critically about one of the things you mentioned Very Happy -- taking cover in combat. This is something I'm really interested in too but I don't think it would work that well in a mud.

Sure, you could abstract a take cover skill, so if there is some object in the area and your character is smart enough, they get a defensive bonus in the combat. But I think 75% of the fun of taking cover is, well, taking cover. The tactical act of jumping over the stone wall, ducking behind the wagon, hitting the dirt. Once you do this you need to represent map information to the players in combat such that it's not terribly difficult for them to parse, and honestly I think the easiest way to do this is graphically. Don't get me wrong, I really like ASCII maps in muds, but primarily I like to read muds when I play.

Now, your proposed turn system could help you out here, because it slows combat down. I actually have a combat design somewhere where I used only three rounds. Nine or 10 is probably better just so the combat wouldn't be so short.

I like the idea of personal NPCs and I've been messing around with this idea too.

Finally, I think a Weird West setting would be awesome and probably fill an underfilled niche in the mudding world. You should totally do it.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1) Age-based character advancement:

Not sure I quite understand the age-based advancement...the more points you earn, the harder it is to earn them - then whenever you like you can age up, spend the points, and start again?

Is there any drawback to getting older (such as penalties and/or death)? If there isn't, surely people will age as frequently as possible? But if there's some sort of limit on aging, then once you reach it you'll never be able to compete fairly with those who spent longer earning points at the lower ages. Every time someone ages, they'd effectively be throwing away (forever) the potential points they could still have earned at the previous age.

The fact that people can explicitly train their age also means that characters will age differently to each other. You might meet a young girl while playing, and the next time you log on she could be an old crone - while your character was still the same age as before.


2) No mob "respawns" and other stuff good too:

These sort of ideas get thrown around quite often. The problem is that many players are inherently destructive - if the shopkeeper can be killed, he will be. If it takes an hour before a new shop opens, expect that shop to be closed most of the time.


3) "Interesting" combat:

You might find the Wild West facedowns thread of interest.


4) Meaningful NPCs:

See my answer to point 2; A player might spend months making NPC friends and allies, while another player could wipe them out in a matter of minutes. Your idea of having the appropriate NPCs visible only to the individual player could work, though - perhaps with some sort of instancing (you enter the town, enter a command to jump into an instance of your friend's house, then interact with him/her - other players just see you disappear off down an alley, and therefore can't follow you).
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GrooveTiger



Joined: 29 Sep 2007
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Location: Peru

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ide wrote:
Sure, you could abstract a take cover skill, so if there is some object in the area and your character is smart enough, they get a defensive bonus in the combat. But I think 75% of the fun of taking cover is, well, taking cover. The tactical act of jumping over the stone wall, ducking behind the wagon, hitting the dirt. Once you do this you need to represent map information to the players in combat such that it's not terribly difficult for them to parse, and honestly I think the easiest way to do this is graphically. Don't get me wrong, I really like ASCII maps in muds, but primarily I like to read muds when I play.

I had considered some kind of "map", otherwise it could just be abstracted to a list of possible "cover locations" (behind a cart, a water trow?), I think I'm going to do a fair bit of play testing, set up false scenarios and how I'd like (and with help from this forum, what *they'd like* it to play out like). Whether it's an actual game mechanic or just flavor and assume everyone runs for cover on the first/second round would be decided on these results.

Quote:
Now, your proposed turn system could help you out here, because it slows combat down. I actually have a combat design somewhere where I used only three rounds. Nine or 10 is probably better just so the combat wouldn't be so short.

I've thought about making a 10 or so round limit, with maybe 10-15 seconds time limit, which might only apply to PvP or multi-player parties, as NPCs don't complain about really long turns.

Quote:
I like the idea of personal NPCs and I've been messing around with this idea too.

There are several mechanisms I want to try out, such as having NPCs hidden to PCs that would consider them unimportant - like walking into a bar and not instantly seeing and knowing every single NPC that is sitting on each table - or such as generating the NPC on-the-fly - a town might have 500 inhabitants, but only as a statistic, until you actually find somebody you want to befriend or whatever.

Maybe even your *charisma stat* - call it what you will - affects the maximum number of NPCs you can befriend?

Quote:
Finally, I think a Weird West setting would be awesome and probably fill an underfilled niche in the mudding world. You should totally do it.

I've only a draft of this setting, it's not even so much WW exclusive as it is a late 19th century setting... plots of land have been somehow transported "elsewhere", people have no recollection of their home countries, and there's the possibility that plots from far away countries are "stitched" together (so you could even have a neighboring China, for example). And the "weird" elements are not immediately evident to everyone unless they venture far.

This is subject to change, specially if it ends up being too stupid.
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GrooveTiger



Joined: 29 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Long live Firefox crash recovery! It actually saved this post when my PC crashed Wink

KaVir wrote:
1) Age-based character advancement:

Not sure I quite understand the age-based advancement...the more points you earn, the harder it is to earn them - then whenever you like you can age up, spend the points, and start again?

That'd be exactly what it works like.

Quote:
Is there any drawback to getting older (such as penalties and/or death)? If there isn't, surely people will age as frequently as possible? But if there's some sort of limit on aging, then once you reach it you'll never be able to compete fairly with those who spent longer earning points at the lower ages. Every time someone ages, they'd effectively be throwing away (forever) the potential points they could still have earned at the previous age.

There would be *some* drawbacks to aging, nothing extreme but enough to want people at least try to get some skills before doing so. Say, if everyone starts at age 18, and we can say that 60 years is still a decent enough age to keep playing, that's over 40 "levels" right there, more than a normal D&D game. Sure you may get one or two penalty stats at say, each 10 years starting at 40.

There are a few tricks that could be attempted to prevent ridiculous max-min age playing... If there are only so many skills that you can improve, and given enough potential points per level, and perhaps a hard-ish limit on the total amount of skills you can have, you could end up with the "best you can be" somewhere around age 30 to age 50 depending on how you played. Add 9 years to buy back all the stat loss that you experienced, and you have a 59 year old char that's just as good as the age 30 one that has nothing more to improve...

I know there's a problem there too. In a MUD everyone expects to have "infinite" character improvement. I still have to think how to make that a non-issue.

Quote:
The fact that people can explicitly train their age also means that characters will age differently to each other. You might meet a young girl while playing, and the next time you log on she could be an old crone - while your character was still the same age as before.

I had considered this. While having different aging doesn't seem like a problem to me, extra-fast aging/leveling could be limited simply by setting a minimum amount of time (real time or logged time, or a combination of both) between levels.

Quote:
2) No mob "respawns" and other stuff good too:

These sort of ideas get thrown around quite often. The problem is that many players are inherently destructive - if the shopkeeper can be killed, he will be. If it takes an hour before a new shop opens, expect that shop to be closed most of the time.

I'm aware of this. I'll just have to tweak things so that the success rate of this is drastically decreased, and the punishment for trying drastically increased. Or give the shopkeeper character shields and cinematic bullet dodging abilities? The point is not so much that every NPC can be killed arbitrarily, but find another justification other than "the NPC respawns".

The most important part of this point was really for enemy mobs: bandits, monsters etc would be more random encounters or quest related spawns and no "NPC respawns at point X every 5 minutes so people can kill it for XP". Also discourage killing of civilians for "XPs".

Quote:
3) "Interesting" combat:

You might find the Wild West facedowns thread of interest.

Facedowns as in duels right? I've read it and I think it's a great idea. I would need to find a reason to have facedowns at all, gameplay-wise though. I'm aware they did that a lot in spaghetti westerns, don't know how was it in real life or why people did it. I need more research.

Quote:
4) Meaningful NPCs:

See my answer to point 2; A player might spend months making NPC friends and allies, while another player could wipe them out in a matter of minutes. Your idea of having the appropriate NPCs visible only to the individual player could work, though - perhaps with some sort of instancing (you enter the town, enter a command to jump into an instance of your friend's house, then interact with him/her - other players just see you disappear off down an alley, and therefore can't follow you).

A lot of the reasoning behind "hidden" NPCs was exactly that. It would also be annoying if someone else could befriend the same NPC as you and recruit him at any moment and then have him killed... the house instancing is also a neat idea, I figure some instancing like that would be useful for PC housing too (instead of having N plots available for PC use, just have them "wander" in a town and find the house, without using cardinal directions).
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GrooveTiger



Joined: 29 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another consideration I was having was regarding "player-death". Being a non-magical setting, death is supposed to be permanent (biologically), so if people are just going to respawn, I'm going to have to let them be only seriously wounded and wake up at the physician's office or something like that. I hope it doesn't end up too cheesy to have players go down like this over and over and never properly dying.

If they're in a party, I might even have any damage be non lethal until everyone in the party is dead. I know a few CRPGs that deal with it this way. As I said in the first paragraph, I hope it doesn't end up too cheesy for the users.
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shasarak



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GrooveTiger wrote:
Another consideration I was having was regarding "player-death". Being a non-magical setting, death is supposed to be permanent (biologically), so if people are just going to respawn, I'm going to have to let them be only seriously wounded and wake up at the physician's office or something like that. I hope it doesn't end up too cheesy to have players go down like this over and over and never properly dying.

There are always thematic ways around any problem. If everyone has been magically or technologically transported from their home to somewhere "elsewhere", there's no reason why the source of the magic or technology involved can't have introduced subtle physiological changes in the bodies of the people who have been transported. The people wouldn't necessarily be aware of any changes to begin with, but gradually would begin to notice that what should have been a fatal injury somehow now seems to be survivable.

Anyone powerful enough to abduct people and transport them who-knows-how-far probably has no problem with healing magic and/or reconstructive nanotechnology or genetic manipulation.
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GrooveTiger



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a possibility, but I think people would catch up pretty fast, specially if people are getting shot all the time by bandits and never dying. I'm trying to avoid the whole "alien intelligence/wizard did it" explanation for the events. I'm leaning more towards a freak dimensional rift happening - the whole mind-wiping process is part of the reality healing itself or whatever you want to call it, like when you change history, except... well, it's all pretty rough right now anyway.

The point is that I want normality to exist still even in the fantastic, somewhat outrageous setting.
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shasarak



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You should probably start from what you want in gameplay terms, then find a way of achieving those objectives that is thematically consistent. If you want the game to be permadeath, fine; but that should be a decision based on the type of game you want, not one that is dictated by the thematic background.
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hrm, you don't want the utter lack of player death to become cheesey and yet, you'll soon find yourself with a game full of near-geriatric players all wandering around, pretending to be cowboys at age 60?

What happens when players have reached the ripe old age of 60? Does a countdown begin to the end of their days, they progressively lose more and more stats, have trouble seeing, can't ride their horse as long without needing long periods of rest? Eventually die of dysentery? Small Pox?

I often find it rather strange that people are so afraid to try out the idea of "perma-death". Specifically, what replay value is there to a game where you can just max your character and then sit around and play forever? When I play a game through, sure I like save points so I can pick up things where I left off, however, when I dig that same old game out of my CD case a few months or years later, I don't boot up a save-point that I made those months or years ago when I was at the very end of the game and had nothing left to do, I start over from scratch, perhaps this time with a better knowledge of the paths I need to take to achieve my objectives. Or perhaps I try a completely different playing style (since I already "beat" the game the other way).

Why is this a concept that seems so starkly terrifying to MUD people? I see the ability to log in and out and play for X number of hours as kinda like save points in your standard game. But once you reach the pen-ultimate maximum that is able to be achieved... Why is there no MUD with an end-game scenario? Why can't your character "retire" to a life that no longer exists in game time, but instead, in the game's history. Then the player can start anew, perhaps with a "child" character, or offspring of their initial character, or with a whole new persona and play again.

The complaint is always that there's nothing to do once you get to the top, the game becomes boring, redundant or even unplayable due to lack of content, but let's face it, it's impossible to generate enough content to keep people playing at maximum level forever.

Just some thoughts I had...

-V
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ide



Joined: 21 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I often find it rather strange that people are so afraid to try out the idea of "perma-death". Specifically, what replay value is there to a game where you can just max your character and then sit around and play forever?


It's largely about status. If you were to reroll your character, how do all the newbies know you're so l33t?

If you were to set up a system where your status and your character were separate, I'd think that shake things up a bit.

GT, you might want to check out a RPG called Dust Devils. It has some interesting systems you might be able to roll with.
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GrooveTiger



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My only problem with permadeath is dying of anything except natural causes. Like a hammer blow to the head two hours into the game.

In your example, you cite saved games in a single player game. Perhaps unintentionally, you yourself just made an argument against perma-death: if you couldn't save, and were killed midway thru the story, wouldn't that suck? Roguelike players love it that way, but then again the content and "story" is largely random in those games.

I don't mind retiring players voluntarily. In fact, I would have the "score" of your character added to your total player score (for a Hall of Fame or whatever). Then of course you can always give bonuses to the player *account* as a result of killing or retiring their players.

But yes, what ide said is true. MUDs are more than just games, your character in a way is your user account, your avatar as a user. A lot of people use it as they would their Yahoo Messenger or IRC account, and what would happen if your Yahoo account "died" every week and you had to start it over with a new name and a blank buddy list, and nobody knew who you were?

You generalize that people are "terrified" of perma-death. A lot of people simply find it annoying to have hours upon hours of "work" lost, this is particularly true for paid accounts in MMORPGs. I could argue that people are "terrified" of non-combat social MUDS, or "terrified" of RPI muds, or "terrified" of playing pure Old West MUDS. You have to respect player choice, if they want to play in a perma-death MUD they'll do so, you can't force people into coding perma-death into their MUDs so that only 1/10 as many people would play in it instead of the amount that would play otherwise.

The end result is that people play, until they've perma-died a couple of times, and then just move on to the next MUD - that is not something a MUD admin wants.
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quixadhal



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An interesting way to handle perma-death would be to make it the default option if no other alternative is available or desireable. By that, I mean simply that if a naked character with no charms cast upon them wanders out and dies, and nobody else is online to help them, their death is permenant. OTOH, any healer type character can ressurect or even reincarnate them by speaking to them in spirit form (see BatMUD), charms could be cast upon them to return their spirit to a chapel where it could be raised (with some loss), totems could be carried to ward off death (at some loss).

The idea being, there are lots of ways to avoid perma-death, but the player might choose to die and perhaps carry some fraction of their physical power to a new character (think karma, spirit, genetics -- a few extra points to spend rolling your new character).

Most players don't like perma-death because they see it as a total loss of their playing time. If the game puts more emphasis on skills, rather than gear... and if some of that skill carries over in some way to a reroll, I think it would be more acceptable.

Someone once said in World of Warcraft, I don't play an orc warrior, I play a pair of purple epic pants. For games where gear defines your ability, perma-death will probably be unpopular.
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

quixadhal wrote:
An interesting way to handle perma-death would be to make it the default option if no other alternative is available or desireable. By that, I mean simply that if a naked character with no charms cast upon them wanders out and dies, and nobody else is online to help them, their death is permenant.


The problem with that is that it'll generally be the weaker players who suffer permadeath, while the powerful elite maintain their dominance forever. This negates many of the advantages of permadeath (such as recycling the positions of power as former leaders die and get replaced).

quixadhal wrote:
Someone once said in World of Warcraft, I don't play an orc warrior, I play a pair of purple epic pants. For games where gear defines your ability, perma-death will probably be unpopular.


Unless you get to play your own heir as your next character...
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