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

Brian Price blprice at bedford.net
Mon Sep 1 20:33:29 New Zealand Standard Time 1997


> Date:          Mon, 1 Sep 1997 14:05:19 PST8PDT
> From:          "Travis Casey" <efindel at io.com>
> Brian Price <blprice at bedford.net> wrote:
> > "Travis Casey" <efindel at io.com> wrote:
> > > Brian Price <blprice at bedford.net> wrote:
<snip>
> Quick note:  rapid *interplanetary* travel is a very different beast
> from rapid *interstellar* travel.  The latter pretty much requires FTL,
> since even at .99c, it's going to take years to travel between stars...
> and for extra fun, trying to simulate time dilation in a mud would be
> *really* fun.

Not to mention the effects of running into a single atom of hydrogen 
above .98c... Charles Pellegrino's work suggests that for non FTL 
flight the speed limit is much closer to .92c, even then a grain of 
sand has the force of 100kg of TNT.. not nice.

> Interplanetary travel, though, involves far smaller distances.  Even
> a speed of .25c will get you from Earth to Pluto in about a day at
> near-opposition.  If you confine things to, say, the area from Venus 
> to Saturn, no trip will take more than about 8 hours at .25c.  Further,
> the time dilation factor during such a trip is only 15:16... not enough
> to really worry about.

Leaving acceleration out of the picture for now, .25c inside the 
plane of eclipse may well be suicidal.  While dust particles would 
look much less energetic than at .25c than at .90c+, the density of 
them inside a solar system would be much higher than in interstellar 
space.  One icecube sized chunk of rock and your ship may as well have 
crashed into a moon.  As soon as we bring acceleration into the picture, 
flight times increase dramatically, especially since sustained acceleration 
above 6g would likely not be survivable without introducing a plot 
device such as inertial dampening, at which point we can quit 
pretending to be hard sci-fi entirely.
 
> Muds typically ignore travel times... how many fantasy muds are set up
> so that it takes hours to travel between villages?  A 10 mile walk
> (16km for those more comfortable with metric) takes about three hours
> to walk on foot... and even in medieval times, villages were rarely
> much closer together than that.  Considering that the 8 hour figure 
> quoted above is for a trip from Jupiter to Saturn at near-opposition,
> most interplanetary trips would take an average of about 2 hours 
> (remember, the inner planets are more closely spaced than the outer).
> Thus, you're not really doing any worse than a typical fantasy mud
> in this case.

This brings us to the 'willing suspension of disbelief' point again.  
I'd think that interplanetary travel would have to be reduced by a 
certain factor to maintain playability, just how much is still 
questionable.  Hehe, perhaps we'll use debris cleared 'space 
highways' maintained by robotic ships and marked by nav bouys to 
bypass the in-system speed limits :)
 
> One method that might help make it seem longer without boring players
> to death would be to set up the "standard routes" so that there are
> layovers if you take an indirect route... that is, if you've just
> arrived on a planet, you won't be able to get a ship to somewhere else
> unless you either spend a lot of money for a charter, or wait a half-hour
> or so for the next regularly-scheduled trip.  This would prevent any
> but super-rich characters from hopping over to another planet for just
> a few minutes... people will only travel to other planets when they have
> something significant to do there.  While players still have to wait
> this way, at least they have a whole world to wander around on while 
> they wait.  :-)

That would work well in your postulated approach.  Not sure how it 
fits in the one I'm evolving.. it does to a degree but it doesn't 
entirely solve the problems I envision in the model unfolding for me 
throughout these discussions.  Perhaps my craft will have VR eq 
on-board for training purposes, comm systems to allow buying and 
selling during a voyage, medical facilities for healing, repair 
facilities, etc.  A parallel approach would be to make the vessels 
areas one could wander around in and mingle socially as well.  The 
vessel then becomes a minature world.

> Between Venus, Earth, the Moon, Mars, the asteroid belt, and the moons
> of Jupiter and Saturn, there's plenty of room for action and exotic
> situations.  If you throw in advanced genetic engineering, nanotech, 
> and plenty of time for societies to evolve, you can have "aliens" that
> were developed from humans, but are as alien as anything you'll find in
> 99% of SF.

Definately, in fact, for even more single-system action you could use 
an alternate reality, one perhaps where alien life actually evolved 
on other planets of the system.   You could also postulate a future 
where one or more alien sleeper ships or multi-generational mobile 
habitats entered the system and set up shop.  There are also immense 
areas of the solar system we know nothing about, we can't yet rule 
out absolutely the presence of other life within the system or even 
traces of ancient alien encounters.  

Likewise, you could have a real blast with the Alpha Centauri system 
say 1000 or more years in the future after human colonization via 
relativistic starships.  Such a setting would give one a much free-er 
hand and a more varied game universe (3 star systems in one).

> Of course, this isn't to say that you *shouldn't* have FTL travel...
> just to offer another idea.

>From my point of view, if FTL travel is a plot device, then a virtual 
star system generator becomes a necessity if for nothing more than to 
provide a starting point for builders to modify.  If we represent 
entire solar systems, past a handful of systems the work required for 
manual building gets completely out of hand.
 
<snip earlier Dartmud area discussion>
> Dartmud uses ASCII graphics to show the type of area you're in... for
> star systems, you could do something like this:
 
Yep, for space reasons I'm snipping the format you propose, but it 
would work admirably.   I much prefer that format to any type of map 
for a text-based mud.  Once again, much to think about :)

Brian Price aka Delver <blprice at bedford.net>
                   Brian Price
               <blprice at bedford.net>



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