The basic tug-of-war gameplay cycle is fine, but I'm slightly worried that the scoring system may be too complex. It depends on the focus of the gameplay. Creativity in insult/response creation is certainly a major part of it; but perhaps rule disputes should be another? I'm not sure that's the game I want to make though.
Firstly, I'm thinking that it'd be good to remove the seperation between insult and response. The best MI couplets tend to involve the respondent insulting the challenger back with a greater or equal insult. If the same set of scoring criteria can be used for both insults and responses, then great.
I'm also thinking it'd be good to lose the seperate categories of insult. Surely there must be some pattern across the lot of them, some common elements that can be scored?
I'm thinking about things that are either attacked in the opponent or lauded in the self; the first one that comes to mind is 'Honour.' The following lines, taken from the MIIAm2 thread I ran in the Lounge a while back, all deal with honour:
Too bad your threats are all fiction!
A pity the 80 year old ran out of breath!
Tales of my deeds have been widely propogated!
It's a pity the holes in them are as wide as the propogation!
You're a weak willed lilly livered landlubber!
On further thought, though... the last of those lines is an insult that ApochPiQ responded to with "Yarr, but at least I can hold me rum." What we're really dealing with here is an assualt on one's pirate-ness. Being unable to hold your rum is a pretty clear case of that. So perhaps we should enumerate the properties of a pirate?
- Ability to hold your drink
That's a pretty good list to be going on with. Now, do we assign point values to those, or not? I think probably not, because it'd be fairly meaningless, and people would only ever use the highest valued properties. (One mistake I made originally, I think, was that I assumed people would come up with insults and then work out the scores. That's wrong. People will deliberately design their insults to maximize scores).
Instead, let's consider the idea of a 'successful' move. The categories above could be vital in determining the actual damage done by the insult/response, but that damage would be scaled by some factor depending on how well the insult is delivered.
There's also an idea I've had inspired by actual fencing (see? my doing it for a term *does* have benefits), and that's the idea that when attacking, you invariably leave one or more lines of attack 'open' to your opponent - that's why most professional fencing will see the players finish things off very quickly, because if your initial attack fails and your opponent is competent, you're screwed. We want to encourage responses to insults to be 'on topic' (so we don't get "you're a coward!" "Yeah, but you're ugly") as well as discouraging people from throwing every property into their insults ("you're ugly, poor, crap with a sword, landlubbin, witless, cowardly, gay, and you can't hold your grog. And you suck."). So, when the attacker throws properties X, Y, and Z into their insult, those properties are left 'open' and it becomes advantageous for the defender to throw them into his response (double points or something).