Combat in IF?

14 views
Skip to first unread message

Mr Bungle

unread,
Jun 13, 2001, 11:14:14 PM6/13/01
to
Hello all,

Like other people here, I have recently rediscovered IF ( i used to be
a big fan in the C64 days ), and i've played a few games recently.

Now I've decided that I want to try my hand at writing a game or two
myself. ( I'll be using c++ rather than TADS or INFORM. )

I don't have huge amounts of spare time, so I'm really more interested
in making a simple, fun game rather than creating a 1000 room opus
with all the modern AI technologies implemente.

What I have in mind ( and i know this is'nt particulary original ) is
something in the vein of the 'fighting fantasy' game books that I
remember as a kid.

However there is one problem - in the game books there is a certain
amount of combat where you roll dice to determine the outcome. (
although in my game it would be kept to a minimum ).
This is fine for a game book but in an IF setting it is pretty much
reduced to:

"You hit for 2 points of damage"

"The orc hits you for 2 points of damage"

etc

Not particularly inspiring and alot less fun without the dice. Now,
the descriptions can be dressed up a bit, such as:

"The orc leaps forward, swingling wildly but you evade the blows and
skip to one side."

but it is basically still just a roll of the dice.

What i'm interested in is if anyone has any ideas how to make combat
interesting and if there are some good examples of how to do it in
existing IF.

The only thing I can think of is to determine the outcome on how
prepared the player is - for example, wearing a cross and garlic
around the neck and equiped with holy water and a stake when combating
a vampire ( for example ). But this would get alittle silly if every
combat required this kind of preparation - especially for a 'monster'
such as an orc that has no obvious 'weak points'.

Hmmm. |'m beginning to think combat might be a bad idea...

Any suggestions?

Dave Malaguti

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 12:39:36 AM6/14/01
to

"Mr Bungle" <an...@anon.com.au> wrote in message
news:3b28272...@news.lavalink.com.au...

> Now I've decided that I want to try my hand at writing a game or two
> myself. ( I'll be using c++ rather than TADS or INFORM. )

Just curious, unless you are doing it as an excercise to learn C++, why
reinvent the wheel? From what I can see, TADS and Inform are both flexible
enough to accomodate virtually anything, provided you have the programming
chops. Especially where you say your time is limited, using one of the
IF-specific languages makes a lot of sense.

> Any suggestions?

You could mix up the two types of combat - have some random encounters and
some, more puzzle-like encounters where the player needs a particular item.
If you do include random combat, definitely hide the actual statistics with
good descriptions. The best D&D sessions I've ever played were ones where
the DM handled all the dice rolling, and just reported the outcomes to us.

I do like your idea, though. Most of the IF I've seen is pure adventure
gaming. It'd be interesting to see something with some significant RPG
elements.

-D.


John Baker

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 2:44:47 AM6/14/01
to
Mr Bungle wrote:
> Hmmm. |'m beginning to think combat might be a bad idea...
>
> Any suggestions?

I like this sort of thing also. Combat, I mean. I have such fond
memories of attacking the troll, the thief, etc. However, I am
also very aware that I am in the minority in this opinion.

How I am handling it is this: implement as sophisticated combat
as you want, but include "combat on" and "combat off" commands,
similar to 'verbose' and 'terse', that allows the player to
skip the verbose combat if they want. If they're in the minority
that enjoy this type of thing (like I), it's available. Otherwise,
the game skips it, optionally using up combat-related resources.

BTW, Jaz... if you're reading this... did you know that I
used to be the DD of Columbus, OH? I only dabble at such things
as a hobby now, but I have certainly lived up to the legacy
tonight. :)
--
John Baker
"He died in the clutches of the Internet." - My Travesty Generator

Jamezz

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 5:09:29 AM6/14/01
to
I'm making an rpg game in C++ just like that right now. I've already got a
simple parser working. I also am planning to add combat later. It's not
implemented in the parser yet, but I've got some cool ideas on how it could
work. Combat is obviously text based, and only based on dice rolls the key
to making it interesting is not limiting it to just random numbers ( dice
rolls ). Make a system where counter attacks are possible, have a few
different stats come into play. Below is a small transcript of a very rough
concept of how fighting might look in my game. The stats can really be
anything, but there should be multiple stats affecting the battles. There
should be some strategy involved, not just rolling dice. I think if fighting
is done properly it can be a very nice addition to the game. However if it's
done wrong it can become boring, frustrating, and tedious. I'm still working
on my parser right now, so I haven't really thought too much about fighting,
but I know I want it in my game for sure. I'm thinking about splitting up
the console into seperate windows and keeping some stats up like your
current health/stamina, and some other things, and having a little command
line, or maybe a menu driven system instead of the normal way text games
usually look:

room description here
> do something here

etc.. I think the fighting should be more exciting than that. That, to me,
would seem boring and tedious. Anyway I'm going to go to bed now :-)

You are in a large, dimly lit rocky cavern. A narrow passage continues to
the north. There is a Giant Spider here. It's looks like it's getting ready
to attack....

Giant Spider Gannon
---------------- ---------
Stamina: 80 Stamina: 30
Reaction: 1 Reaction: 0

The giant spider takes a swing at you!
Reaction > dodge
You manage to narrowly avoid the attack.
The giant spider lunges towards you, attempting a bite!
Reaction > failed.
You are poisoned. You lose 12 stamina.
Your turn > attack spider with sword
You take a swing at the giant spider with your long sword.
Spider Reaction > counter
The spider avoids your swing, and slashes you.
You lose 8 stamina.
The spider spits venom at you.
Reation > dodge
You attempt to dodge the attack, but you can't quite make it.
You are poisoned. You lose 4 stamina.
You feel your self getting faint...
The giant spider attacks!
Reaction > counter
You block, then counter attack the spider.
Giant Spider loses 9 stamina.
Your turn > cast massive internal bleeding
Spider Reaction > failed.
You cast massive internal bleeding on the giant spider. The spider screeches
in pain. Giant Spider loses 12 stamina.
Giant Spider > spits venom at you.
Critical hit, the venom hits you square in the face, an intense painful
burning sensation is the last thing you feel before you pass out, and die.


Thorsten Franz

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 7:52:40 AM6/14/01
to
"Mr Bungle" <an...@anon.com.au> schrieb im Newsbeitrag
news:3b28272...@news.lavalink.com.au...

> Hmmm. |'m beginning to think combat might be a bad idea...
>
> Any suggestions?

I liked the way combat was done in Zork I (the thief and troll), and I seem
to remember that there was also some combat in Beyond Zork. It ought to be
rare and dangerous.

--
Thorsten Franz, Bonn, Germany (shlomo.g...@gmx.de)


Andrew Merenbach

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 1:40:58 PM6/14/01
to
in article db%V6.230558$eK2.49...@news4.rdc1.on.home.com, Jamezz at
jlloy...@home.com wrote on 6/14/01 2:09 AM:

Please, no menu system! I have a bunch of Scott Adams games that are
menu-driven, and I really can't get the hang of playing them. There's just
less thought involved in playing. And it _is_ a "crime against mimesis,"
right?

--
Andrew M.

Sam Kabo Ashwell

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 1:53:06 PM6/14/01
to
in article 3b28272...@news.lavalink.com.au, Mr Bungle at
an...@anon.com.au wrote on 6/14/01 4:14 AM:

Okay. I'm currently working on a combat engine, and I've had the following
ideas. (My background for this is in RPGs, so the system's full of stat
systems. See almost any combat-oriented RPG for more specific ideas; I
mostly think of Shadowrun, AD&D Combat and Tactics and thr Warhammer RPG,
but people'll reccomend you half a dozen others at the drop of a hat.)

Critical hits. Let's see some innards fly, goddamn it! No, seriously, every
wound that a character takes should have some effect on their ability to
fight, especially if it breaks skin. And nice descriptions of exactly where
a blow lands and what it does there are always appreciated. Oh, and be sure
to add the wound's description to the PC's description.

Weapon types. Reach, speed, damage inflicted...

Called shots (I'm not using this just yet, but it's always a possible). >HIT
MCTHUMPY'S HEAD WITH PICKAXE, >KICK MR BUNGLE IN THE GENITALS, etc.
Obviously, some areas are going to have more effect if you hit 'em, and some
areas are going to be more difficult to hit.

Different attack verbs. Instead of just HIT X WITH Y or HIT X, you can have
different methods of attacking (for example, STAB might pierce armour better
than SWING but have less chance of giving your opponent concussion,
PILEDRIVER might do more damage than SLAP but have a chance of making the
attacker stumble if he misses). The disadvantage of this, of course, is that

Timing systems; there are a plethora of ways of ordering combat in the RPG
world that you can bastardise.

Don't use hit points, or, if you do, for gods' sakes don't tell the player
about them. More general descriptions ("You are bleeding heavily from wounds
all over your body, exhausted, and every muscle aches", "You are unscathed",
"Ooo, are those *your* intestines?") or a system based exclusively on
critical hits work a lot better in terms of gameplay, while still giving the
player an idea of how much danger they're in.

Balance the system. In my humble opinion, fights, especially with any sort
of weapon, should be kept short and violent unless all the fighters are
*very* highly skilled. Let's face it, and despite the best pretensions of
Hollywood and AD&D, unless you've got something going for you behind the
scenes, if you get hit hard once with a sword you won't have much fight left
in you, whether you're Taproot the Serf or Grak the Unfeasibly-Muscled. And
this way, your code is less likely to get repetitive and leave players in a
tedious Crimson Spring-style fight that goes on forever.

SKA

Adam J. Thornton

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 3:06:44 PM6/14/01
to
In article <B74E455F.9796%amere...@mac.com>,

Andrew Merenbach <amere...@mac.com> wrote:
>Please, no menu system! I have a bunch of Scott Adams games that are
>menu-driven, and I really can't get the hang of playing them. There's just
>less thought involved in playing. And it _is_ a "crime against mimesis,"
>right?

(I wonder if *THIS* one will propagate? I sure hope so.)

Sgt. Duffy appears beside you.

"Lie down on the ground and place your hands behind your back!" he
shouts, spittle spraying from his lips.

> DUFFY, WHAT?

"Move! Now! You menu-driving scumbag!" Duffy's hand drops to his
pistol.

>X DUFFY

He seems very upset. His hand is resting on the butt of his holstered
gun. His red-rimmed eyes glare manaically and sweat beads on his
forehead.

Duffy draw his gun and points it at you.

> LIE DOWN

Duffy kneels on your back. It sounds like he's pulling handcuffs off
his belt.

> ASK DUFFY ABOUT MENUS

_Whack!_ Blinding pain spreads across the back of your head as an
incandescent flash fills your eyes.

"Bad time to be a smartass, punk," snarls Duffy. He fastens the
handcuffs with more enthusiasm than would seem strictly professional.

> Z

Duffy grinds his knee into your spine. "You have the right to remain
silent. Anything you say can and..." _Grind_ "...will be used against
you in a court of law."

> Z

Duffy gets off your back and jerks you to your feet by the handcuffs,
nearly dislocating your shoulder. He spins you around to face him. A
vein pulsates alarmingly in his purple forehead as he shouts, "You have
the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will
be appointed for you!"

> TALK TO DUFFY
1) "Dude, what's the problem?"
2) "Officer, what seems to be the problem here?"
3) "I want a lawyer."
4) "Let me go, _pig_."
>> 2

The color drains from Duffy's face as you pick a choice from the menu.
His eyes narrow to hard, hateful slits. He draws his gun, and,
regardless of the fact that you are handcuffed and unarmed, shoots you
five times in the stomach.

As you writhe in agony, he steps up to you, blood spattering his
trousers. "Your kind makes me sick," he sneers, and spits in your eye.
Then he puts the sixth round in your brain.

*** You have died ***

Your score was 122 out of 350, giving you the rank of Abashed
Conversationalist.

Would you like to RESTART, RESTORE a saved game, UNDO your last move, or
QUIT?

> Q

Thanks for playing _Mimesis and Punishment!_
--
ad...@princeton.edu
"My eyes say their prayers to her / Sailors ring her bell / Like a moth
mistakes a light bulb / For the moon and goes to hell." -- Tom Waits

Nathan SEGERLIND

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 4:30:09 PM6/14/01
to
Mr Bungle wrote:

Combat per se is not a bad idea, although it can easily be done badly.

Fortunately, people have been there in the past. In the eighies, there
was a hybrid text adventure / FRPG system for the Apple II called "Eamon"
in which combat played a varied role. Many adventures were primitive
hack and slash juvenilia, but several of the later ones refined the
combat system to make it quite varied and interesting.

Some of the adventures are available for download at the gmd archive,
although I am not sure if they have all of them. There are guides at
the following websites:

http://www.lysator.liu.se/eamon/
http://www.vigorfamily.com/eamon/

A complete set of the 240+ adventures, with the design utilities,
emulators and Everything Eamon are available for $3 from Tom Zuchowski,
tzu...@attglobal.net


To play the Eamon games, you need an Apple II emulator. But, as an
upside for do-it-yourselfers, because they ran in interpreted Applesoft
BASIC, all of the source code can be inspected easily.

I would recommend the later titles by Tom Zuchowski and Sam Ruby for
more refined takes on combat: Assault on Dolni Keep, Operation
Endgame, Stormbreaker, the Boy and the Bard, Sanctuary. In fact, your
stated goal was exactly what Sam Ruby was working on in his later games
from about 1990 on, so you can't go wrong poking around at his later
games (after Operation Endgame).

Best wishes,
Nate Segerlind


Alex Watson

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 4:32:14 PM6/14/01
to
"It's Adam J. Thornton, Alex." "Who?" "You know, that weirdo from
rec.arts.int-fiction." "Oh, right." [blip] Incoming message:

> In article <B74E455F.9796%amere...@mac.com>,
> Andrew Merenbach <amere...@mac.com> wrote:
> >Please, no menu system! I have a bunch of Scott Adams games that are
> >menu-driven, and I really can't get the hang of playing them. There's just
> >less thought involved in playing. And it _is_ a "crime against mimesis,"
> >right?
>
> (I wonder if *THIS* one will propagate? I sure hope so.)
<pnip>

> Thanks for playing _Mimesis and Punishment!_

Arrrgh! Another _Mimesis_ game! Will this one tie up some loose ends in
_Curses_ rather than _Jigsaw_, and have a parody of _Detective_ rather than
_Stiffy Makane_?

Or not.

--
Alex Watson
http://www.watson1999-69.freeserve.co.uk/froup/
Replies to me[AT]watson1999-69.freeserve.co.uk
"Doesn't matter who you vote for, the government always get in." - YADJ

Mr Bungle

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 5:40:18 PM6/14/01
to
On Thu, 14 Jun 2001 00:39:36 -0400, "Dave Malaguti"
<dmal...@telocity.com> wrote:

>
>"Mr Bungle" <an...@anon.com.au> wrote in message
>news:3b28272...@news.lavalink.com.au...
>> Now I've decided that I want to try my hand at writing a game or two
>> myself. ( I'll be using c++ rather than TADS or INFORM. )
>
>Just curious, unless you are doing it as an excercise to learn C++, why
>reinvent the wheel? From what I can see, TADS and Inform are both flexible
>enough to accomodate virtually anything, provided you have the programming
>chops. Especially where you say your time is limited, using one of the
>IF-specific languages makes a lot of sense.

Actually, I figured it might be quicker to code in c++ since i'm very
familiar with it, rather than learn TADS or whatever. Maybe I should
bite the bullet and learn one - are there some good, complete,
instructions out there? Would eithe allow me to implement a simple
combat system?

Mr Bungle

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 5:48:58 PM6/14/01
to
On Thu, 14 Jun 2001 09:09:29 GMT, "Jamezz" <jlloy...@home.com>
wrote:

Yeah, something like that would work - I'll just need to ensure that
the combat system is detailed enough to allow for some kind of
strategy .

The trick will be to integrate the IF and RPG elements - i maybe in
danger of scaring off the RPG gamers because there is not enough
complexity in the stat department and at the same time scaring of the
IF people as a result of the combat!

Mr Bungle

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 5:52:00 PM6/14/01
to

I'm not sold on "KICK MR BUNGLE IN THE GENITALS" particularly ;) but
using a critical hit system could be alot of fun and also introduce
some puzzles to the combat - e.g. how exactly am I going to fix by
broken leg??

Mr Bungle

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 5:53:18 PM6/14/01
to

Ta, for the links - i'll definately check this out.

Jamezz

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 6:08:43 PM6/14/01
to
TADS is awesome. It's got everything you'll ever need to make a text game.
You can add fighting or anything you want more or less, and it would be WAY
easier to make a text game in TADS than in C++. I don't care how good you
are at C++, TADS will be much easier, and much faster. It's simple to learn,
specially if you already know C++. The syntax of TADS is very similar to
C++. The manual for TADS is absolutely excellent. It shows small examples
which are easy to understand it covers everything you could possibly want to
know about it. I don't use TADS myself, but I'm writing my own parser /
game, and have been looking at how TADS does things to give me ideas. I'm
not using TADS because I want to practice my C++ skills making a game.
You'll be able to write a game in TADS after about 20 minutes of looking
through the manual. In contrast it could take you a couple hours before you
get even the simplest game going in C++ starting from scratch.

James

"Mr Bungle" <an...@anon.com.au> wrote in message

news:3b292ddb...@news.lavalink.com.au...

Urbatain

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 8:54:22 PM6/14/01
to
I recommend that what ever you do, make the combat engine invisible
for the user. It's wrong idea that comes from rol that you must know
how many points goes for any inch of your body.

I made a game named Astral, that implements a combat sistem with body
parts with its individual vitality. So you can cut off a limb of a
zombie if you hit with a lot of force. Or simply cut off his head
away, which fly in a parabola in the air before hit the floor into a
pool of blood.
You can view this at my web:
http://usuarios.tripod.es/Urbatain/mis_creaciones.html

But It's in spanish... sorry ;)

Well, a example in english (in spanish is better ;)):

A zombie comes from the west.

>Hit zombie at head with crowbar
You hit the head of the zombie. The impact it's very strong, so the
head flyes in the air before fall a few meters away in the floor.
One fetid zombie comes from south.

>Hit zombie at arm
(you hit a arm at random)
(using the crowbar at default)
You hit his left arm with the crowbar. You produce a wide torn in his
shoulder.

>hit zombie at left arm
(using the crowbar)
The arm hung from the shoulder with a sinew and finally the arm fall
to the floor.

:) That's quite good eh?.
The objects in the game has same physical values about weight, power,
etc. So you can use any object as a weapon: a rock, a crowbar, a
knife, a feather if you want.
And look too, Hunter in darkness, when the player loose blood. It's
silly to say: WARNING you have only two points of vitality left.
I prefer the hunter in darkness kind.

So I recommend you that make a great system combat without visible
statistics for the user. The response always must be in literature
format.
Use a simulation about physics of objects and their shapes: cutter,
sharp, rough, etc. Use parts of the body. Make a complete library of
combat and objects as weapons.

It sounds huge?. Not at all. When you have done the system, all the
game comes itself and easily.
It's cost me about one months to have the system working (movement, IA
of the zombies, objects system, etc), and only one week to make the
game.

Bye.

Urbatain.

an...@anon.com.au (Mr Bongle) wrote in message news:<3b28272...@news.lavalink.com.au>...

Nathan SEGERLIND

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 9:01:48 PM6/14/01
to
Mr Bungle wrote:

I have seen it done well in a few places.

You might want to look at the Eamon system, which ran on the Apple II
platform in the eighties. It was a hybrid text-adventure /FRPG system
which made great use of combat. Many of the 240+ entries are
hack-n-slash juvenilia, but several of the latter day titles are strong
as text adventures, and much attention was given to "spicing up the
combat " as you asked about.

The adventures ran in interpreted Applesoft BASIC, so you need an Apple
II emulator (which should be free) to run them. The plus side to this is
that all of the source code is readily readable and public, as are the
associated data files.

Many of the adventures are available at the gmd archive.

ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/appleII/eamon/

For further information regarding the Eamon titles, see:

http://www.vigorfamily.com/eamon/
http://www.lysator.liu.se/eamon/

For your purposes, I recommend the latter day titles (written after
1989) by Tom Zuchowski and Sam Ruby, in particular, "Assault on Dolni
Keep", "The Boy and the Bard", "Stormbreaker", "Operation Endgame" and
"Sanctuary". Be choosy. Mr. Ruby was extremely prolific, he wrote
dozens of games, but his last few efforts incorporated a refined combat
system similar to the one you describe.

Cheers,
Nate Segerlind

Knight37

unread,
Jun 15, 2001, 2:23:56 PM6/15/01
to
an...@anon.com.au (Mr Bungle) babbled something about:

>Actually, I figured it might be quicker to code in c++ since i'm very
>familiar with it, rather than learn TADS or whatever.

I think you would quickly find that this is far from the truth. Writing a
parser and object handler in C++ is going to be far more work than learning
a new language will be.

>Maybe I should
>bite the bullet and learn one - are there some good, complete,
>instructions out there? Would eithe allow me to implement a simple
>combat system?

Yes to all of the above. Do some web searching for the major IF languages.
Inform, TADS, Hugo. Roger Firth's page (http://homepages.tesco.net/
~roger.firth/index.html) has code to a game that is written in several IF
languages and lets you compare them.

--

Knight37

Interviewer: "Can you... destroy the earth?"
The Tick: "EGAD! I *HOPE* not! That's where I keep all my STUFF!"

Fred M. Sloniker

unread,
Jun 16, 2001, 12:56:57 AM6/16/01
to
(I missed the original poster's message. Drat. Ah well, I offer my
comments here...)

There are two different ways to handle combat in IF, I think. One is
where the combat is just a part of the story you're telling; the other
is where the combat is a fun activity. You'll want to handle it
differently in each case.

If the combat's part of a story, you probably won't want to have
random elements, complicated combat systems, or the like. Instead,
it's a puzzle with guns or swords. You've got a friendly, but not
very-well-armed, security guard, a ceiling-mounted turret that, when
turned on, will shoot at *anything* that moves, your own personal
armament, and a room full of hostile aliens; should you try to lure
the aliens under the turret, have the security guard follow you into
the next room and serve as a decoy, or get the drop on the aliens and
eliminate them with overwhelming firepower? Or will you flip the
switch the turns the turret on, leave the safety of the control room
to find out what that humming sound is, and have just enough time to
see the security guard gunned down before you join him? (Raises hand
sheepishly. He's been playing 'Half-Life' lately.)

On the other hand, you may be interested in writing a text-based fun
combat game. Nothing wrong with that; it's certainly been done in
other genres. (I just mentioned Half-Life, but there are plenty of
other styles of killing things dead games, from Final Fantasy to
tabletop role-playing games to Time Crisis to Magic: the Addiction.)
I worry, though, because the poster mentioned his inspiration was
Fighting Fantasy-type books, and as even he admits the thrill there
was the visceral feel of dice (or your randomizer of choice) in your
hands. When you're just typing 'Kill Orc' and watching the dice
bounce, the thrill goes away. Maybe you'll want to make a reflex test
out of it... have possible results blinking on the screen in some
attractive pattern, and the player tries to hit the space bar at the
right time to lock in the one he wants. Or a puzzle: maybe the player
must decode the text presented to him in the previous round of blows
to determine which of a set of strikes is the one that will give him
the advantage. It's not the height of literary art, but concern
yourself with hitting the target you're shooting at, namely 'fun'.

Tom Waddington

unread,
Jun 16, 2001, 12:38:18 PM6/16/01
to
Hello Sam,

> Balance the system. In my humble opinion, fights, especially with
> any sort of weapon, should be kept short and violent unless all the
> fighters are *very* highly skilled. Let's face it, and despite the
> best pretensions of Hollywood and AD&D, unless you've got something
> going for you behind the scenes, if you get hit hard once with a
> sword you won't have much fight left in you, whether you're Taproot
> the Serf or Grak the Unfeasibly-Muscled. And this way, your code is
> less likely to get repetitive and leave players in a tedious Crimson
> Spring-style fight that goes on forever.

I have to agree: if you want realism you're going to need to keep it
short, violent and messy.

I remember seeing a documentary about the discovery of a mass grave at
the site of a Wars of the Roses era battle. Amongst the remains was
the skeleton of a soldier dressed in full plate armour. This was a
seriously heavily built man; from the unusual build up of bone in
parts of his body it was clear he had been training to fight since
early childhood. His armour would have been a composite of boiled
leather and encasing steel plates with a double layer of chainmail
protecting any gaps. He was the medieval equivalent of a battle tank,
but he died when both his legs were cut off at mid thigh with a single
blow.

I would recommend that anyone interested in medieval combat should try
and get to an event staged by a re-enactment society. They tend to
tour Britain's castles during the Summer and the Royal Armoury in
Leeds has demonstrations all year round. The speed with which those
guys can move in full armour is impressive, even more so if you've
ever had a chance to hold a broadsword; I did a couple of years ago
and even though I'm in pretty good shape, I could feel the strain of
just holding it level after five minutes or so. It really helps you
appreciate the level of training required to wield one battle.

The point is, the fantasy cliche of a callow youth who grew up on a
farm being thrown into a quest and learning to fight with a couple of
weeks training is nonsense. Even the poorest medieval knight would
have been training with a sword from as young an age as five years
old. Put the callow youth up against experience like that and he would
be messily hacked to pieces in minutes. If you have a lot of combat in
your game then you need to have some rationale for the PC being able
to fight properly. One blow from a broadsword and even if you aren't
dead, you won't be fighting any more. Another of the bodies in the
mass grave I mentioned above had been hit in the face with a sword at
some time in the past and lived to fight again, but the quality of
what passed for surgical reconstruction back then that had been done
on his shattered jaw and cheek bone probably meant he couldn't talk
to anyone about it.

You can forget about honourable combat and fancy duels as well. The
usual way for infantry to deal with a mounted knight, for example, was
to swarm over him en masse, drag him off his horse and stab him in the
face with a dagger.

However, the real issue here is that if you're trying to tell a story
then including a lot of fights, based on a combat engine that uses a
random element, will make things difficult for you. You really don't
want your hero failing a `to hit' roll in the middle of the climactic
duel with the treacherous prince and ending up dead. One of the
solutions to the final scene of a game I'm working on at the moment
includes a sword fight, but it's entirely staged. As long as the
player keeps typing vaguely violent things, they'll win. If you want a
story, then you're going to have to consider what impact a lost fight
is going to have on the story you want to tell.

Be seeing you,
--
Tom Waddington

Mr Bungle

unread,
Jun 18, 2001, 4:13:18 AM6/18/01
to
Well, I think i've just been convinced. :)

Mr Bungle

unread,
Jun 18, 2001, 4:30:25 AM6/18/01
to
On 16 Jun 2001 16:38:18, Tom Waddington <t...@waddie.org.uk> wrote:

>Hello Sam,
>
>> Balance the system. In my humble opinion, fights, especially with
>> any sort of weapon, should be kept short and violent unless all the
>> fighters are *very* highly skilled. Let's face it, and despite the
>> best pretensions of Hollywood and AD&D, unless you've got something
>> going for you behind the scenes, if you get hit hard once with a
>> sword you won't have much fight left in you, whether you're Taproot
>> the Serf or Grak the Unfeasibly-Muscled. And this way, your code is
>> less likely to get repetitive and leave players in a tedious Crimson
>> Spring-style fight that goes on forever.
>
>I have to agree: if you want realism you're going to need to keep it
>short, violent and messy.
>
>I remember seeing a documentary about the discovery of a mass grave at
>the site of a Wars of the Roses era battle. Amongst the remains was
>the skeleton of a soldier dressed in full plate armour. This was a
>seriously heavily built man; from the unusual build up of bone in
>parts of his body it was clear he had been training to fight since
>early childhood. His armour would have been a composite of boiled
>leather and encasing steel plates with a double layer of chainmail
>protecting any gaps. He was the medieval equivalent of a battle tank,
>but he died when both his legs were cut off at mid thigh with a single
>blow.

I definately agree that any IF combat system should be short and
brutal in nature, although from a game point of view, i wouln't want
the player to send 3 hours preparing his character for a combat with
an orc only to have his legs hacked off with the very first blow. :)


>
>I would recommend that anyone interested in medieval combat should try
>and get to an event staged by a re-enactment society. They tend to
>tour Britain's castles during the Summer and the Royal Armoury in
>Leeds has demonstrations all year round. The speed with which those
>guys can move in full armour is impressive, even more so if you've
>ever had a chance to hold a broadsword; I did a couple of years ago
>and even though I'm in pretty good shape, I could feel the strain of
>just holding it level after five minutes or so. It really helps you
>appreciate the level of training required to wield one battle.
>
>The point is, the fantasy cliche of a callow youth who grew up on a
>farm being thrown into a quest and learning to fight with a couple of
>weeks training is nonsense. Even the poorest medieval knight would
>have been training with a sword from as young an age as five years
>old. Put the callow youth up against experience like that and he would
>be messily hacked to pieces in minutes. If you have a lot of combat in
>your game then you need to have some rationale for the PC being able
>to fight properly. One blow from a broadsword and even if you aren't
>dead, you won't be fighting any more. Another of the bodies in the
>mass grave I mentioned above had been hit in the face with a sword at
>some time in the past and lived to fight again, but the quality of
>what passed for surgical reconstruction back then that had been done
>on his shattered jaw and cheek bone probably meant he couldn't talk
>to anyone about it.

*cringe*. this is certainly why, from a fiction point of view, combat
is rarely realisticaly portrayed - I can just imagine this poor chap,
the hero in our story proposing to his sweetheart "I wuvv ooo my
daaarring an requess yooour hand in *splutter* mawage". No offence
intended to anyone with a speech impediment out there of course!

>
>You can forget about honourable combat and fancy duels as well. The
>usual way for infantry to deal with a mounted knight, for example, was
>to swarm over him en masse, drag him off his horse and stab him in the
>face with a dagger.
>
>However, the real issue here is that if you're trying to tell a story
>then including a lot of fights, based on a combat engine that uses a
>random element, will make things difficult for you. You really don't
>want your hero failing a `to hit' roll in the middle of the climactic
>duel with the treacherous prince and ending up dead. One of the
>solutions to the final scene of a game I'm working on at the moment
>includes a sword fight, but it's entirely staged. As long as the
>player keeps typing vaguely violent things, they'll win. If you want a
>story, then you're going to have to consider what impact a lost fight
>is going to have on the story you want to tell.
>

What I had in mind was a 'fighting fantasy' game book type atmosphere
to the game so I guess realistic combat is'nt a huge priority, so long
as its fun. Still, the idea of having to deal with the brutal reality
of combat in an IF game could be quite interesting - it would
certainly make the player pause for thought before jumping, gung-ho,
into every meele, (s)he encounters...

Mr Bungle

unread,
Jun 18, 2001, 4:37:30 AM6/18/01
to
On Fri, 15 Jun 2001 21:56:57 -0700, Fred M. Sloniker <sf...@qwest.net>
wrote:

Exactly! - and this is my problem - how to replace the dice! I want to
keep the 'dungeons and dragons' feel to the game, which intails combat
every now and then, but how to make sure its fun?

> Maybe you'll want to make a reflex test
>out of it... have possible results blinking on the screen in some
>attractive pattern, and the player tries to hit the space bar at the
>right time to lock in the one he wants.

Hmm, i think i'd be universally linched for introducing a 'reaction
test' element to an IF game! :)

> Or a puzzle: maybe the player
>must decode the text presented to him in the previous round of blows
>to determine which of a set of strikes is the one that will give him
>the advantage. It's not the height of literary art, but concern
>yourself with hitting the target you're shooting at, namely 'fun'.

Thats a good idea, I'll think about that one.

Mr Bungle

unread,
Jun 18, 2001, 4:38:45 AM6/18/01
to

Being a fan of dodgy B-grade zombie movies, this sounds like alot of
fun!

Sam Kabo Ashwell

unread,
Jun 18, 2001, 2:07:16 PM6/18/01
to
in article Yam2NN.AmigaOS.62064EF5.749C1504@CastleGormenghast, Tom
Waddington at t...@waddie.org.uk wrote on 6/16/01 4:38 PM:

Peasant==cannon fodder. I like T.H. White's take on it: medieval battles are
kind of like a cricket match, with knights as the batters and dead peasants
as runs.

> If you have a lot of combat in
> your game then you need to have some rationale for the PC being able
> to fight properly. One blow from a broadsword and even if you aren't
> dead, you won't be fighting any more.

This is making some assumptions about the weapon, of course, but even with
something less garlic-pounding than a broadsword, a single good blow's going
to end the fight. Those of us who've never even been stabbed with a knife
probably don't appreciate just how incapacitating the pain of a single
'small' wound can be. I have in front of me a scalpel with a blade a little
over an inch long.

> Another of the bodies in the
> mass grave I mentioned above had been hit in the face with a sword at
> some time in the past and lived to fight again, but the quality of
> what passed for surgical reconstruction back then that had been done
> on his shattered jaw and cheek bone probably meant he couldn't talk
> to anyone about it.

The same is going to be true of modern combat as well. I remember being very
confused the first time I played a Quake-style shoot-em-up, because you
could quickly strafe a room with a machinegun and there would still be
people standing up in it. If you get shot by one bullet of any calibre,
anywhere, you're down. And there's a limit, in an IF context, of how many
times you can say, "Wow, that bullet just took the skin off your nose."

> One of the
> solutions to the final scene of a game I'm working on at the moment
> includes a sword fight, but it's entirely staged. As long as the
> player keeps typing vaguely violent things, they'll win.

Assumedly because he's been training since age five :) And, 'vaguely
violent'? How d'ya have a vaguely violent command? >SHOVE ENEMY? >FLICK
ENEMY'S EARLOBES?

> If you want a
> story, then you're going to have to consider what impact a lost fight
> is going to have on the story you want to tell.

Hmm. Not sure about this. I think if you lose the fight, then you get a

*** Both your legs have been severed at mid-thigh. ***

and you just have to go back and try again. I don't see anything wrong with
this. Engineering a game *too* heavily in the players' favour turns it into
a slideshow- which can be great, but makes combat feel easy and
unthreatening- which is exactly what it shouldn't be.
SKA

David Thornley

unread,
Jun 18, 2001, 2:31:17 PM6/18/01
to
In article <3b292ddb...@news.lavalink.com.au>,

Mr Bungle <an...@anon.com.au> wrote:
>On Thu, 14 Jun 2001 00:39:36 -0400, "Dave Malaguti"
><dmal...@telocity.com> wrote:
>
>>
>>"Mr Bungle" <an...@anon.com.au> wrote in message
>>news:3b28272...@news.lavalink.com.au...
>>> Now I've decided that I want to try my hand at writing a game or two
>>> myself. ( I'll be using c++ rather than TADS or INFORM. )
>>
>>Just curious, unless you are doing it as an excercise to learn C++, why
>>reinvent the wheel? From what I can see, TADS and Inform are both flexible
>
>Actually, I figured it might be quicker to code in c++ since i'm very
>familiar with it, rather than learn TADS or whatever. Maybe I should
>bite the bullet and learn one - are there some good, complete,
>instructions out there? Would eithe allow me to implement a simple
>combat system?
>
IIRC, there at least used to be a TADS library for a D&D style combat
system in the repository, so you might want to look at that. (If you
know C++, you can probably read TADS with some difficulty but
reasonable comprehension.)

--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

Tom Waddington

unread,
Jun 18, 2001, 5:30:52 PM6/18/01
to
Hello Sam,

> Peasant==cannon fodder. I like T.H. White's take on it: medieval
> battles are kind of like a cricket match, with knights as the
> batters and dead peasants as runs.

Oh. I wouldn't go that far. It all depends on whose terms they're
fighting on. Agincourt is a good example of the havoc peasants could
wreak on mounted knights.

> This is making some assumptions about the weapon, of course, but
> even with something less garlic-pounding than a broadsword, a single
> good blow's going to end the fight. Those of us who've never even
> been stabbed with a knife probably don't appreciate just how
> incapacitating the pain of a single 'small' wound can be. I have in
> front of me a scalpel with a blade a little over an inch long.

True, but adrenaline and fear can be extremely motivating. People can
put up with an awful lot of pain when it's a choice between that and
bloody evisceration.

>> One of the solutions to the final scene of a game I'm working on at
>> the moment includes a sword fight, but it's entirely staged. As
>> long as the player keeps typing vaguely violent things, they'll
>> win.

> Assumedly because he's been training since age five :)

Well, in this case the character could reasonably be expected to know
how to handle a sword, yes. The reason I'm staging it is that in this
particular game a suitably climactic finale is more important to me
than realism.

> And, 'vaguely violent'? How d'ya have a vaguely violent command?
> SHOVE ENEMY? FLICK ENEMY'S EARLOBES?

:)

What I meant is that as long as the player keeps fighting, they'll
keep winning. However, it would be pushing suspension of disbelief a
little too far if they could win despite spending a dozen turns
examining the furniture, attacking the ceiling, waiting, and doing all
those other things adventurers love to do but that would prove fatal
if someone was swinging a sword at them.

> Engineering a game *too* heavily in the players' favour turns it into
> a slideshow- which can be great, but makes combat feel easy and
> unthreatening- which is exactly what it shouldn't be.

Indeedy.

Jeremy Silver

unread,
Jun 19, 2001, 9:14:21 AM6/19/01
to
an...@anon.com.au (Mr Bungle) wrote in message news:<3b292ddb...@news.lavalink.com.au>...

> On Thu, 14 Jun 2001 00:39:36 -0400, "Dave Malaguti"
> <dmal...@telocity.com> wrote:
>
> >
> >"Mr Bungle" <an...@anon.com.au> wrote in message
> >news:3b28272...@news.lavalink.com.au...
> >> Now I've decided that I want to try my hand at writing a game or two
> >> myself. ( I'll be using c++ rather than TADS or INFORM. )
> >
> >Just curious, unless you are doing it as an excercise to learn C++, why
> >reinvent the wheel? From what I can see, TADS and Inform are both flexible
> >enough to accomodate virtually anything, provided you have the programming
> >chops. Especially where you say your time is limited, using one of the
> >IF-specific languages makes a lot of sense.
>
> Actually, I figured it might be quicker to code in c++ since i'm very
> familiar with it, rather than learn TADS or whatever. Maybe I should
> bite the bullet and learn one - are there some good, complete,
> instructions out there? Would eithe allow me to implement a simple
> combat system?
>

Inform is definately capable of creating a FF gamebook style fighting
system. I have done just that with one of my current WIPs.
It fairly closely matches the gamebook system, but:
* The attack-round system is identical, and hit points lost are shown
to the player.
* Each attack round where a hit was scored (either way) it prompts the
player if they want to test their luck.
* All the in-fight text is currently generic - Basically, you hit
it, it hit you, it killed you, you killed it. I hope to change that in
due course.
* a few of the more complicated monster specific interactions have been
omitted, (at least until I work out how to implement them).
* I want to keep it so each battle takes one turn (so you can undo the
whole thing if you lose ;)
* It uses the default random number generator, and there are concerns as
to precisely how random it is (largly dependent on the interpreter).
* It would also be time to note that this system, being base on said RNG,
is indeed in contravention of the Players Bill of Rights, so I plan to
hide the workings even more from the player.

My primary reason for using Inform, is because there are interpreters
available for its zcode files on just about any platform with a keyboard,
and several that don't. The other reason is that the compiler is available
for multiple platforms, so I can develop a game both at home and at work
(ahem, during breaks... ;) without having to change the source.

A homegrown C++ game would generally only be playable on your machine,
unless the code was sufficiently portable to enable recompilation on
everyones system - assuming those acually have a C++ compiler.

Regards,
--
Jeremy Silver |\ jeremy at mupwi.demon.co.uk
__________________| \
|__________________| |
| | A1200T, Blizzard 1260, 34Mb
mupwI' yI'uchtaH! |__| 10Gb HD. Amiga Forever.

Gunther Schmidl

unread,
Jun 19, 2001, 9:20:03 AM6/19/01
to
My game, And the Waves Choke the Wind (again! will those self-references
never stop?) contains menu-driven combat. I don't know if anybody's ever
found it - it's completely optional, sort of an easter egg for those who
play it a second time and think of planning ahead...

-- Gunther

Gary Thompson 2

unread,
Jun 19, 2001, 3:28:12 PM6/19/01
to
Jeremy Silver <jer...@mupwi.demon.co.uk> wrote:

: My primary reason for using Inform, is because there are interpreters

: available for its zcode files on just about any platform with a keyboard,
: and several that don't. The other reason is that the compiler is available
: for multiple platforms, so I can develop a game both at home and at work
: (ahem, during breaks... ;) without having to change the source.

Any chance of releasing this as an open-source library? I hate reinventing the wheel, and it sounds like exactly what I need.
--
echo '[q]sa[ln0=aln256%Pln256/snlbx]sb3135071790101768542287578439snlbxq'|dc

Jeremy Silver

unread,
Jun 20, 2001, 5:29:54 AM6/20/01
to
Gary Thompson 2 <gtho...@nyx.net> wrote in message news:<99297860...@irys.nyx.net>...

>
> Any chance of releasing this as an open-source library? I hate reinventing
> the wheel, and it sounds like exactly what I need.

I dare say it could work that way, it is fairly self contained. Of course
I would want to clean up the code an awful lot before I made it publicly
available.

If you want me to send you the code thus far anyway, please let me know by
email.

James Wyatt

unread,
Jun 20, 2001, 12:02:51 PM6/20/01
to
> Well, in this case the character could reasonably be expected to know
> how to handle a sword, yes. The reason I'm staging it is that in this
> particular game a suitably climactic finale is more important to me
> than realism.

(Having not seen your game, I don't know how correct this is. This is just
on the idea of having a fight in the endgame, and it's been something I've
been
thinking about for a while.)

A fight scene is a good way to end a game, if you're that way inclined, but
imho just typing 'attack enemy' wouldn't be a good way to go about it. Zork
got around this by forcing you to find the right weapon, and by giving the
thief another purpose in a puzzle (very ingeniously, I thought.)
Another way of doing this, I think, would be to take it for granted that the
player fights, maybe with a message each turn saying how the fight is going
and
making it obvious that they can't win through fighting alone. As the player
fights,
he can then examine the scenery or whatever- albeit in brief glances- and
solve some sort of puzzle to win. Perhaps by cutting a rope with his sword
so
that a sandbag falls on his enemy, or by giving a NPC orders to hit the
enemy
on the back of the head with a vase.

Just some thoughts.


Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages