[MUD-Dev] Re: Simulation (Was Re: Room descriptions)

Koster Koster
Sat Oct 3 10:30:49 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ola Fosheim Gr=F8stad [mailto:olag at ifi.uio.no]
> Sent: Friday, October 02, 1998 4:29 PM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: [MUD-Dev] Re: Simulation (Was Re: Room descriptions)
> Koster, Raph wrote:
> > Boulderdash, Lemmings, and Worms simulate very specific and narrow
> > things, some of which are not found in reality.
> Which pretty much describes most MUDs, probably UO as well.

There is exactly one sim aspect in Worms: a ballistics sim. There's one
sim aspect in Boulderdash: gravity. Lemmings has both gravity and some
concept of ballistics, but I admit that it has been long enough sionce =
played it that I can't really think of major sim aspects in the game.

Now, Worms does ballistics that accounts for wind without actually
having wind. It does ballistics with things that explode without
simulating explosions at all --it relies on arcade-like explosions that
take out fixed quantities of terrain. Boulderdash simulates =
doesn't even simulate three dimensions of space.

In fact, enough of the critical variables for each of their "sims" are
missing that you have to conclude that they are not simulating anything
from the real world. Now, defining "simulation" as "attempting to
replicate in your software the behaviors found in reality" means that
you're not gonna be able to call these sims of any sort. What's more,
sim implies doing it to the state of the art, it seems, as to qualify =
a simulation software seems to have to meet more rigorous standards =

There's an interesting article in this month's Computer Games Strategy
Plus which even breaks up two helicopter games that on first glace are
identical--Longbow and Comanche--and classifies the former as a sim and
the latter as a game with some sim-like aspects.

> > Elite and Populous are
> > broader, but still focus on narrower areas which would be merely =
> > aspect of the whole sim in a world sim mud.
> Hmm... From what I've seen most MUD activities isn't all that tightly
> coupled.
> (i.e.. pretty independent, with a rather weak link to each other)

Depends on the game. We have very few true simulationist muds to look
at, so the state of the art is not very far advanced.

> > > Btw, realism wasn't an issue in those games. If destruction
> > > is more fun than building =3D> let the system (re)build.
> > Which breaks the sim in the case of a persistent game, generally
> > speaking.
> Heavens NO!!! (Take a look at mother Nature)

I took rebuild to mean "just fix it with no regards to reality." Which
is indeed what is typically done in simulationist muds anyway--because
the above problem hasn't been licked. They've all got to have a "Reset"
layer, or else they die because the whole world is blasted.

Mother Nature has not (yet) been totally blasted; even our worst
incursions seem to heal up given time. But they heal up because they =
fairly local in nature. One can easily see that if certain local
problems were spread worldwide, that Mother Nature would NOT be able to
recover. In a game, we have to give the game un-sim-like powers of

A good example of this problem is in SimEarth, btw. If you didn't =
a single setting, you were golden. But if you happened to tilt the =
too much, or increase albedo too much, then you game was simply ruined.
Life *never* recovered. This rendered SimEarth not a game, and not even
a toy, so much as a $60 object lesson in the fragility of the ecology.

> > Rather, I'd say it's relative to simulating a world, and=20
> not merely a
> > subsystem within said world. All your examples listed are=20
> not full world
> > sims (which is the assumption I made when discussing=20
> simulationist muds,
> > since that's what gets discussed here most often).
> I think we either will have to agree on disagreeing or you'll=20
> have to define
> the term "full world sims". Are you talking about a=20
> simulation that tries to
> recreate a situation with a given precision or are you=20
> talking about an
> evolutionary simulation?

I am talking about a system wherein you attempt to have all aspects of
the world simulated, rather than just simulating one particular law of
physics or economics or whatever and letting the rest be not only
unsimulated, but often plain old inconsistent. EG Worms and the other
examples you gave are clearly not full world sims. A typical Diku mud
with smurf areas and Tolkien areas side by side is not going to be a
full world sim because it will fail to have a consistent fiction and
ecology... even if it does have a fully consistent economic sim, it's
still at best a partial sim because it is not attempting to simulate =
aspects of a functioning world.

 These two types of simulation are=20
> quite different.
> In the first, you have a "prototypical" goal of what you want to see
> simulated (realism).  In the second you provide the initial=20
> condition, a set
> of rules (laws of nature) and appreciate the result in it's own =

> A medieval simulation is clearly about realism.  The trouble=20
> here is that
> "medieval" is about culture (how people reason). You cannot=20
> hardcode culture
> into a simulation in which humans play a major role.  Thus=20
> you can only hope
> to inspire (invoke whatever memories they have from reading=20
> history etc) the
> players to form a medieval culture. Thus a dramatic problem.

Sure; I don't know of ANY simulationist muds that are actually trying =
simulate particular cultures. Certainly UO doesn't pretend to mimic
medieval life--it has magic as an integral part of the design, for
example, which is a major cultural distortion.

> You don't need the fluff of M59 or UO if you simply want to create a
> selfsustained fully simulated world. (a "laws of nature"=20
> approach (as in
> boulderdash) is what I would call fully simulated) A=20
> minimalist boulderdash
> approach would probably be far more effective.

If you only want to model one law, or two, sure. I'd say that the
objective of fully simulationist worlds is to have a fully consistent
environment that operates on defined, simulated reasonable laws of
physics, with a simulated ecology and economy and so on, that players
can interact in and with.


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