[MUD-Dev] Hard Sci-fi Muds was Character Evolution

Travis Casey efindel at io.com
Sat Aug 30 00:43:39 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

Brian Price <blprice at bedford.net> wrote:

> > I'm planning on using both for my mud... Earth won't have the tech
> > to build starships, and PCs wouldn't be able to afford them if they
> > did.  That still leaves room for us to build other worlds and have
> > PCs be able to get to them, but we can easily limit where they can
> > go.
> This certainly allows you to cut down on the number of systems which 
> much be modeled, however it sounds as if you may be restricting 
> access to non-starship vessels as well.  Is this correct?

Yes, it is.  The background I'm using has little space travel by 
humans... since WW3 and its aftermath provided a large population
cut, there hasn't been as much pressure to expand into space.  There
will probably be a Lunar colony and a couple of commercial space
stations (possibly run by aliens), and maybe a Mars colony.  Given
this low level of space activity, a spaceship won't be something that
players will really want, as it might be in a campaign which featured
more off-world colonies, asteroid mining, and other such things.

> Suspension of disbelief requires a universe model that supports it in 
> a fairly logical manner.  We can get away with modeling a city with 
> what amounts to a small village.  Fantasy muds are easily restrictable 
> as to travel since transport technology is practically nil.  Fantasy 
> muds can also easily justify the 'a magical barrier prevents your 
> entry' sort of roadblock.  The problem as I see it in a hard sci-fi 
> setting is that, while you can easily downsize many features, it's 
> harder to justify artificial limits.  

Well... some people are better at suspending disbelief than others.  :-)
Mud players are usually fairly good at it, since they usually play in
fantasy worlds.  It's definitely better to have an in-game explanation
for why there are few worlds that PCs can travel to, but my experience
with players indicates that "there will be more worlds, but we need time
to develop them" will be acceptable to most.

> Perhaps 25 is too large a number for a workable hard sci-fi approach. 
> This line of inquiry begets a number of questions:
> 1.  How many zones/rooms would be required to model a habitable 
> world?
> 2.  How many rooms to model an orbital habitat or station?
> 3.  How many zones/rooms to model an uninhabitable world  with and 
> with out colonies (such as a future Mars)?
> 4.  How many zones/rooms to model a gas giant with its moons?
> 5.  How to represent an asteroid belt?
> 6.  How many of the above features can minimally represent a star 
> system (assuming pc inter-planetary travel)?
> 7.  How many zones/rooms can an average builder generate in a years 
> time?

Perhaps you need to look at the problem in a different way... why do
all the planets need to be built on a zone/room basis?  Uninhabited
planets could be done on a more abstract system for the most part,
with only those that actually have interesting features having real
zones/rooms.  (If you *really* want to have rooms on other worlds, they
could be done on a virtual room system, with random features).

Something along these lines on a fantasy mud is the way Dartmud handles
outdoor areas -- with a hex map that shows different terrain types that
the character moves around on.  This gives a more realistic world, in
that the "outdoors" isn't just a series of paths between towns and
dungeons, but at the cost of making outdoor movement more abstract.

It depends to some extent on how powerful sensor technology is in your
universe... if the PCs can scan a planet from orbit and find that it has
no artificial features and no valuable resources, they probably won't
bother to visit the surface.  If that kind of data requires an extensive
survey effort, it's probably something that players won't want to get
into.  It's in the in-between zone where you really have to worry about
providing zones/rooms on uninhabited planets.
       |\      _,,,---,,_        Travis S. Casey  <efindel at io.com>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'        rec.games.design FAQ:  
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)      http://www.io.com/~efindel/design.html
It also depends on what kinds of things you want the players to be
doing... if you want the game to focus on interstellar trade, for example,
the PCs will most likely spend most of their time in explored regions of
space, travelling between inhabited worlds.  OTOH, if your mud focuses
on exploration of new territory, you'll definitely need a way to create
new worlds rapidly, or even "on the fly."

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