[MUD-Dev] Character evolution

Nathan Yospe yospe at hawaii.edu
Tue Sep 2 00:38:49 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

On Sun, 31 Aug 1997, Brian Price wrote:

:I have at various times toyed with the idea of a hard Sci-Fi mud 
:(sans psi aka magic) borrowing heavily from the Traveller rpg for the 
:overall game system.  I would like to implement such an mud if I 
:could get around a few nagging problems such as:

:   If players have access to starships you _rapidly_ 
:run out of areas.  This leaves you with three basic choices:
:A. do not allow players access to starships
:B. use a plot mechanism which justifies a finite univerese
:C. use a random area generator

:Choice A could lead to a very viable game, perhaps along the lines of 
:an aftermath scenario.. ie. starships don't exist.  However this is 
:personally unsatisfying as part of the lure for me of sci-fi is the 
:device of travelling between the stars.

I dunno... I've done earthbound hard sci-fi in a couple of simple practice
muds... and in every single hard sci-fi book I've written. And most of the
short stories, for that matter - at least, all of the serious ones. There
isn't anything to prevent a good game without travel - but your point is well
taken. And so....

:Choice B could be done by assuming a wormhole or jumpgate style of 
:interstellar flight.  While this works, it undermines the ability of 
:pcs to move between differing political entities since system 
:entry/exit points are easily defended/controlled.

(rf - David Weber and Steve White, "Insurrection", "Crusade", "In Death
Ground", and another as yet unnamed fourth book Weber mentioned in a recent
interview - highly recommended, the most significant work in hard sci-fi
strategy _and_ tactics short of David Weber's Dahak and Honor Harrington
series... the man is a master. And his "Path of the Fury" was pretty good
too. In any case, the isolated "wormhole" travel system is very well
developed and evaluated strategically in that coauthored series (and to a
lesser extent - not being exclusive - in the harrington novels) and they
would make an excellent model for a sci-fi mud.)

I also do this myself in my Singularity game, except that my "wormholes" 
are a little easier to deal with - they are local 10space linearizations,
and can be generated between any two synchronized points. This does require 
a beacon at the unoccupied end, however. And beacons can only be found where
they have been placed. Generally by crawlers - near lightspeed robotic
probes. And a lot of the game centers on gaining access to the tachyon
resonances of disparate beacons, as well as fascilities with sufficiently
powerful computers and generators to place you at those beacons. Spaceships
are of the near-orbit one-to-ten man chemical propulsion class, and orbital
bases are common.

:Choice C seems at first to merely be a design problem, but assuming 
:you solve the design problem of generating 'realistic' worlds/systems 
:randomly, you now have a storage problem...  your universe file will 
:become _HUGE_.

Not if your generation algorithm can produce (and reproduce) most of it on
demand. I do this, though on a planet by planet basis. Meaning you have to
give me enough of a planet's makeup to work with, and my generator will take
off and go. Or that's the theory. I'm working on it.

:Even assuming you manage to solve the problems associated with one of 
:the above choices in a logically consistant yet interesting manner, 
:you are still left with huge game design problems (from a mud 
:standpoint).   The plot device of magic easily sidesteps many 
:problems that a hard sci-fi mud would need to deal with logically.

Not a GOOD magic system. (IMNSHO,OC)

:There are ways of minimizing some of the problems, such as assuming a 
:Star Trek level of technology, but the further you diverge from known 
:science, the 'softer' your sci-fi becomes.  Eventually, with soft
:sci-fi at least, you reach the 'sufficiently advanced technology is 
:indistinguishable from magic' point and the sci in sci-fi 

You can get a star trek-and-beyond level of technology without going
the least bit soft. Observe Weber, Sheffield, Niven, Forward, McCarthy,
and, at the far extreme, Brin and Wolverton (not wanting to spoil the
surprise - read "The Practice Effect", sorta soft, but still, and 
"Through the Gate" and the subsequent two novels - Brin is rather
dissapointingly soft for an astrophysicist, but writes a damn good book.
Wolverton is just plain stunningly clever, and totally had me fooled.)
Star Trek just wimped out, more for not having a reason to care than for
anything resembling a lack of hard science theory to work with.

:I think the task of creating an enjoyable and realistic semi-hard 
:sci-fi mud is doable but it would seem to be a _very_ difficult task 
:to do it well.   From the stand point of an ex Traveller rpger, I've 
:yet to see a sci-fi mud that even approaches satisfactory levels.

No clue w/ regards to Traveller, but I write hard sci-fi. I figure that 
makes me capable enough to write a sci-fi mud. Combined with my ability to
program, and creative ability in that area as well, of course.


"You? We can't take you," said the Dean, glaring at the Librarian.
"You don't know a thing about guerilla warfare." - Reaper Man,
Nathan F. Yospe  Registered Looney                   by Terry Pratchett
yospe at hawaii.edu   http://www2.hawaii.edu/~yospe           Meow

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