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

Brian Price blprice at bedford.net
Mon Sep 1 02:07:10 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

Between TC and JK my excuses for not doing a hard sci-fi mud are 
rapidly dwindling :)

> Date:          Sun, 31 Aug 1997 21:42:56 PST8PDT
> From:          "Travis Casey" <efindel at io.com>
> Brian Price <blprice at bedford.net> wrote:
> > 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.
Sounds like you have a very well thought out overall plot.  I wanted 
to have the option of asteroid mining, off-world colonies, habitats, and 
exploration, however... I'm going to have to develop a tech model 
that supports rapid interplanetary travel in order to do it.  I doubt 
a player would want to spend hours or even days wandering around 
in a couple of  rooms which comprised the ship during the game-weeks 
long voyage between planets.  

> > Suspension of disbelief requires a universe model that supports it in 
> > a fairly logical manner.  We can get away with modeling a city with 
> 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.

Sounds good, and perhaps JK's virtual star system generator idea will 
help to further offset any impatience.
> > Perhaps 25 is too large a number for a workable hard sci-fi approach. 
> > This line of inquiry begets a number of questions:
<snip a bunch of zone/room questions>
> 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).

Yep, virtual planets would be a part of the virtual star system 
generator, just have to make multiple entry points into the generator 
at differing levels of complexity.  This would also help to merge the 
flavor of the hand generated and computer generated areas.

> 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.
That may be an interesting approach for modeling unihabited areas in 
a sci-fi mud, though it almost seems that you'd need a custom client. 
However, you could model those same areas using a few rooms 
that where cloned as necessary, a simplified offshoot of the virtual 
room idea.  I'd also like to use random encounters in wilderness 

> 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.

This brings up a continuation of an earlier idea, perhaps I shouldn't 
make special provisions for fast interplanetary travel.  That would 
bring in the 'extensive effort' factor and be inherently 
self-limiting I would think.   However I believe these questions would 
best be answered in the context of an actual theme instead of the broad 
context of a hard sci-fi mud.

> 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."

At this point I'm trying to define the necessary mechanisms for a 
generic hard sci-fi mud.  I'd like to create a flexible system that 
could handle most any theme inside of the hard sci-fi boundary.   I 
would, at the least, like to keep exploration open as a possibility.

The virtual star system idea seems ideally suited for many of these 
scenarios and could readily be combined with hand generated areas.  
The fun part will be in the implementation of the generator and in 
developing algorithms for deciding when to generate.  My preliminary 
thoughts lead me to believe it could develop into a very interesting 
mud ecology.  For example, space encounter charts could be computer 
generated based upon the facilities (or lack thereof) present within 
x parsecs.  

Brian Price aka Delver <blprice at bedford.net>

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