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Many mud programmers strive for a realistic experience for their creation. Areas should be believable (at least in context), and NPCs should be smart and interactive. These programmers strive to create a realistic environment for their players.
Some realistic swords (not deteriorate)
One such aspect of realism on a mud is how equipment is handled. If a player uses a sword for battle, that sword should eventually wear out after use. As a programmer of a code base that does not have this functionality built in, I have spent some time pondering what would be the best (or at least most decent) way of implementing this. Even if your code base has a system built in, you may think about expanding or modifying it.
For instance, each piece of equipment has an integer value (such as 0-100, 0 being unusable, 100 being perfect) for it's condition. This value, in my opinion, should never be directly shown to the player. It is not too difficult to translate this value to a reasonable set of adjectives. There should be a decent range of them so that players have a feeling when their equipment is going bad, not just "Good" to "Poor".
Then it must be decided when to decrease the value of this condition value. Weapons should probably be "worn down" primarily during combat. Other equipment (especially armor) could be decreased during times when it is being worn. It would be convenient to builders if they could specify the rate at which an object is worn down. Then a cheap cloth tunic would wear down faster than metal chainmail.
To make such a system a bit more complicated, equipment could lose effectiveness as it worsens in condition. Swords would do less damage if they were dull, leather would not protect as much if it was thin or had holes. Magical items would lose their power. Then when an object reaches 0 (in the case of the 0-100 scale), the object could be destroyed (breaks apart into irreparable fragments) or just made useless. There is a large degree of subjectivity in how you want to design this.
The next step in creating this sort of system is to determine how a player can repair their equipment, if at all. Perhaps it is a skill of a certain class, or there are blacksmiths and other NPCs who would do it for a fee. Maybe create a spell that would restore equipment, or perhaps just restore equipment with magical properties. Having NPCs handle some repairs adds another degree of complexity - you would only want blacksmiths repairing metal, for instance. Perhaps you would want to offer builders the option of making objects not repairable at all. There is a great degree of flexibility ranging from a very simple system to one with many new properties to define to each object.
Having a well-designed equipment system should add an enjoyable layer of complexity to everyday play. It should not be overly restrictive as to simply make players annoyed. It is simply another small step towards designing a mud that is as realistic as it is practical.
August 2000 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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