Consumables in Combat

 
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Kernal



Joined: 01 Jul 2007
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 9:17 pm    Post subject: Consumables in Combat Reply with quote

In the MUDs I played when I played MUDs, I don't remember consumables being a useful or significant aspect of combats, with the possible exception of a few healing-type items.

It seems to me that given the option of using a single-use offensive item (ie, grenade) or a multiple-use offensive item (for example, a sword), the single-use item should be more effective. Assuming both actions have the same time-cost, one has a much higher economic cost, and the results should affect this.

So: Single-use items should be powerful, but this is difficult to balance for a few reasons.

First, scaling is important. In the example above, a rookie is going to be much less effective with a sword than an expert will be, but the grenade will probably do just about the same thing. This means that either: A grenade in a rookie's hand is wholly overpowered or; the grenade in the expert's hand is useless. Neither solution is a good solution, although they can be mitigated by cost balance - if the grenade costs enough, then no rookie will have one and so it doesn't matter that it's overpowered.

Second, cost balance is important. The premise above relies on the fact that a consumable has a significant economic cost. If the game has a broken economy (ie, gold is worthless), then this is not a significant cost. If the item is too easily acquired (ie, grows on trees), then again using one represents no real cost. The supply of these must be limited (player crafting?) to reflect the demand incurred by their use.

Third, it seems reasonable to me that if there are offensive consumables (grenades), then there should also be defensive consumables (charged shield belt?). I haven't seen these ever, with the exception of retroactively defensive consumables like healing potions which hardly count.

Fourth, they can't overwhelm the rest of combat. If consumables are more powerful than non-consumables, then the wealthiest players may combat using only or mostly consumables, which is (IMO) a degenerate combat. Again, this can be partially mitigated by cost/rarity, but any system should encourage use of both consumables and re-usables regularly.


Has anyone implemented useful combat-oriented consumables? What have you found?

Cheers,
Kernal
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Tonitrus



Joined: 11 Feb 2010
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not a big fan of the whole "consumables in combat" approach, as a rule.

That said, the best approach I've seen was on a ROM MUD I played for a while called Abandoned Realms. You'd need sanctuary if you wanted to survive, and various cures to protect you from the myriad of horrible things that your opponent could do to you. However, potions decayed reasonably quickly. So while there was a decent chance that whoever you were up against might have all the potions he'd need to defend himself against you, there was also a decent chance that he was in short supply of one or more of them, or had run out of some important ones since he last stocked up. Now I won't say that this wasn't annoying, but it was annoying in a strategically interesting way. If you had detect object, you could look for a person's potions and figure out what to hit, and if you were able to make your opponent waste a lot of potions, he'd have to restock, or risk unpleasantness. So you could predict your opponent's actions based on what had transpired in combat. If he used up a lot of cure blinds and ran away, there was a decent likelihood that you could catch him in one of the 4 main towns trying to buy more.

Even more interestingly, sanctuary potions were required if you wanted to survive (sanctuary is half damage, if you're unfamiliar), but could not be bought or brewed (although I think cabal members could buy them). Instead, they were a pop item, and they only popped in one place, and even then, only two would pop a repop. So, if a person was low on potions (see: potion decay) and felt threatened, there was a decent likelihood that they would run to the mines to grab more sanctuary potions. Spellcasters had an advantage because they could summon the hobgoblins that carried them, but even spam-summoning, I don't think I ever managed to have more than 22 sanctuary potions at any one time, and getting them in bursts just caused them to decay in bursts, so I generally just did them a few at a time.

I think that consumables will ultimately dominate any combat system that has them without a strong decay system, and will dominate combat even then, unless significantly rare.
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Kernal



Joined: 01 Jul 2007
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I share your wary view toward consumables for the following reason:

In any game in which mobs drop the consumables in question, the cost of these consumables is nearly zero. With zero cost, there's no motivation for them to be any stronger than non-consumable actions; either they're overpowered for their cost, or they're irrelevant.

There are some ways around this: The consumables could be extremely rare drops, though this creeps back toward "irrelevant". The game you bring up has an interesting solution of decay, effectively increasing the cost of their use.

My plan would be to have them be player-crafted items, and limit them that way. Adding a decay as well would probably be a valuable feature.

Cheers,
Kernal
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Tyche



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 176
Location: Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the consumable is dropped by mobiles, make it so the mobiles also have a variable chance of using the consumable themselves during a battle. That would make obtaining the consumable riskier.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kernal wrote:
It seems to me that given the option of using a single-use offensive item (ie, grenade) or a multiple-use offensive item (for example, a sword), the single-use item should be more effective. Assuming both actions have the same time-cost, one has a much higher economic cost, and the results should affect this.

I think the main problem is this:

Kernal wrote:
Fourth, they can't overwhelm the rest of combat.

If consumables are better than unlimited-use items, then they become a "must have" for competitive play. And if they're not better, nobody will use them.

Kernal wrote:
Has anyone implemented useful combat-oriented consumables? What have you found?

Only food, and I made it extremely easy to obtain. However I gave it drawbacks to offset the benefits - it heals damage, but also slows you down for a short period of time. Thus it's a tactical option, rather than a "must have".

One option might be to make everything consumable. Potions get sipped and eventually emptied, swords get notched and eventually broken, clothing gets torn and eventually shredded, etc. Ammo could be depleted in the same way - quivers of arrows, belts of grenades, etc.
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