Re: Olympia Stacking 'Gotcha'

Carl Edman (
11 Jun 92 00:57:42 GMT

In email writes to me:
> In you write:
> >More opinions on stacking.
> [Edited to get to the point]
> >1. Stacking between people should have _no_ effect on
> >visibility. If BtA and the apprentices A, B, C and D work
> >together in the Tower in Chardia, BtA should be equally
> >visible in the following two situations.
> I agree.

So do I. That makes three of us, right ? Lets play this a few more
times and we have a majority of all the players on our side. :-)

> [2 structural examples deleted]
> >After all, what would be the rationale for
> >distinguishing these two situations ? They just show
> >different command structures, not any actual physical
> >differences.
> As a matter of fact, I think that without, say,
> observation, the command structure, to an outsider,
> would not be readily apparant other than, say, the
> overall leader, which is what is shown now.

I guess I agree with that too, though I think that command structure
ought to be something fairly easy to see and should be immediately
visible for any group which is at least cooperative.

> >Now if you want to take building/cities into account for
> >visibility that would make sense. Two cases would be
> >useful.
> [10% suggestion deleted]
> >- Some buildings like caves may allow the owner to hide in
> >them even if he has now units to hide behind.
> I think that, in general, structures within a city should
> be kept to a minimum. Large structures such as castles,
> towers, cathedrals/temples, or hospitals (there is an
> idea -- stack with a hospital and heal for money! What do
> you think? How about a "medical" skill that can be "use"d
> to heal people more quickly? Is it necessary? What does
> everyone think?) might be represented or built by
> players and I think the current "visible stacking"
> system suits this well. What I think people should
> remember is the SCALE at which Olympia operates. In an
> adventure game like Ultima or in a MUD, it makes sense to
> have complex structures with a lot of rooms to explore.
> That is because those games are played, more or less, in
> real time. The scale of Olympia is in DAYS and MONTHS, not
> seconds and minutes. If you issue a look command, it
> represents what you might see looking around in a city for
> an hour or two. In that time, you might know who is in the
> tower, in the inns, etc. I think further complexities
> (Inns within the city, Rooms within the Inns, Closets
> within the Rooms) while allowing one to hide, do not work
> well on the SCALE that Olympia works on (Days). While I
> think there is much to be gained by seperating cities from
> the general regions (see my previous proposals), I think
> breaking things down too much within a city would make it
> impossible to issue orders that could adequately
> respond to that much detail nor do I think the game should
> be modified to attempt such a feat...

Again I mostly agree. Buildings within cities should be there I think
and many skills ought to require stacking with the right building or
would at least be improved by it (i.e. entertainer stacking with an
inn), but any level of detail beyond that would be too much.
> >2. More importantly, how is combat handled between
> >substacks ? Should two stacks in the same city be
> >completely unable to attack each other just because
> >they are part of the city stack ? Or should one be
> >automatically unstacked and have to attack the other
> >through the city walls ? I think not.
> I think cities should be dealt with like regions. They are
> a place that you are IN. Towers and other buildings should
> be dealt with like other players, as something you stack

But don't you see the beauty (aehm... ;-) ) of my proposal ? It would
automatically give you sieges, ship-to-ship battle, battles on ships,
assassinations aso. aso. aso. and always do what I think is the right
and realistic thing. And the beauty of it all ? It comes from a single
fairly simple rule without dozens and dozens of special cases.

> You can see all of the other things in the place you
> are in, with things grouped according to what they are
> stacked WITH. This is VERY similar to what exists now with
> only one additional level of complexity. The city would
> be given a new location number and you would MOVE to it from
> the outside region or province. Now, if you want, ALSO
> within a region, if you EXPLORE enough, you could find
> additional "locations" you can MOVE to from the region.

> For example:
> Assuming Varian [856] is in Pesbrand Province [359]:
> 8: 856: > move 380
> 8: 856: Will spend 2 days traveling to Port Pesbrand [380].
> 9: 856: Arrival at Port Pesbrand [380].
> 10: 856: > explore
> 10: 856: Varian [856] will explore Port Pesbrand [380].
> 16: 856: Explorations by Varian [856] find Caverns [385]
> below the city.
> 17: 856: > move 385
> 17: 856: Varian [856] enters Caverns [885].
> 18: 856: > look
> -----------------------------------------------
> Caverns [385], underground, population: 0, weather: none
> Routes leaving Caverns:
> Up, tunnel, to Port Pesbrand [380], 1 day
> Region features:
> Spelunker's Guild, tower, guild [3130], strength: 2, teaches
> mining, exploration, stacked over:
> 1) Billy Bob the Explorer [999], player character
> Seen here:
> Troll [5402], troll, number: 1, armor 4, hostile
> Troll [5403], troll, number: 1, armor 4, hostile
> Troll [5404], troll, number: 1, armor 4, hostile
> 18: 856: > explore
> 18: 856: Varian [856] will explore Caverns [385].
> 24: 856: Explorations by Varian [856] find Lower Caverns [386]
> etc.
> I would suggest that to MOVE to a location that must be
> discovered, the character issuing the MOVE order MUST
> have found the region using an EXPLORE, otherwise, they
> can't move there. This could be accomplished with flags
> or something. Otherwise, once it pops up on Oleg's map, it
> would become a varitable Disney World. But if you have to
> find it YOURSELF first, it would reduce the tourism
> factor.

I disagree. Much of the above just adds more complexity instead of
actually simplifying things (at least conceptually) as I think my
proposal would. If something appears on Olegs map, then everybody knows
where it is and how to get to it. How do you think people find the real
world Disney World ? No, the solution to keeping something secret is to
prevent it ever from getting into Olegs maps. (Not that I don't admire
Olegs skill at getting all that information. I just think that all the
people who supply him with information might try to be a little bit
more parsimonious. Remember - information is power and should be hard
to come by).

> Note the above also suggests yet another idea,
> making "explore" a skill based thing (I don't feel real
> strongly about this one but I think many of the "special"
> commands could be dealt with as skills, for example,
> replace the attack options with various combat skill
> "USE"s. Again, I am not that attatched to this idea but it
> is a possibility...).

I agree completely. As a matter of fact I would go even further. I'd
kill all but the most basic commands and make them all skill uses. That
would both make the instruction manual smaller and easier to understand
and give the players more to learn in the world. And learning about new
things is one of the facets which makes such games enjoyable, isn't it

> >In other words, if an outside army attacks a city, all
> >citizens fight it off together. If there is murder
> >inside the city, that doesn't automatically involve
> >anybody else.
> Would you say that if someone attacks an army that the
> army, as a whole, would fight them off but if two
> characters within the army want to pick off other
> soldiers, everyone would sit by and not notice? This
> doesn't seem right to me. The idea of the stack, as I see it,
> is a cooperative association acting in unison under a
> single command. Any hostilities between units in the
> stack would certainly come to the attention of the
> command who would generally try to "break it up". I like
> the "unstack and then attack the whole stack" as it stands
> now because attacking a member of your own stack
> represents a betrayal which, to me, severs the bond
> between the units and puts them in opposition. This is one
> of the reasons I don't like the hierarchy suggestions as
> they have been presented so far, in particular, the idea
> of "stacking with cities" (I feel boats and towers are
> different, read on). Being in a region or city represents
> being in a location with no particular command
> association with any other group. What a stack
> represents, to me anyway, is a voluntary association
> under a single command in order to act together as a group.
> I don't think simply being in a region with someone or
> being in a city with someone is the same thing. You could
> stand next to Billy Bob and not care what happens to him if
> you are in the same location. If you have stacked, on the
> other hand, you have made a deal to cooperate and defend
> one another. That is different to me and important
> considering the turn scale of Olympia. The reason I feel
> towers and ships are workable as stacks is that I cannot
> see two uncooperative units occupying the same small
> structure. Sure, you could get more realism saying they
> COULD but I don't think the game scale makes this a wise
> thing.

Ah well, I disagree. I think of stacks as units formed for the
protection against _outside_ forces. If two forces within the same
stack attack each other who is to tell which side the rest of the stack
will take, where its loyalities will lie ? If I kill a prisoner in my
stack, will my bodyguards turn on me ? (BTW, lets do away with EXECUTE
too. Just make ATTACK from a stack leader against a prisoner
automatically one hundred percent successful - lets keep the name space
clean). Under my proposal if you and somebody else in one stack feel
particularily close and will fight on the same side automatically even
if someone within the stack attacks you, just form a sub-stack together
and my rule will automatically have you helping each other, even if
another stack member attacks you.

> >I've tried this rule on a few more cases in my head. It
> >always seems to Do The Right Thing. Try it yourself.
> See the above. In addition, to me, attacking a city
> constitutes walking in and attacking the occupants. I
> have worked this one out. If you want specifics, let me
> know...

Not a walled city with a owner who was wise enough to go 'unfriendly'
to you beforehand, it don't. The guards wont let you in, just as little
as tower guards will let you into my tower without my permission.

Carl Edman, BtA