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

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Sat Oct 3 23:04:51 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

Koster, Raph wrote:
> Ola wrote:
> > 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.

And (granular) soil to dig in, and building.

> There's one sim aspect in Boulderdash: gravity.

There are more, but the important point is that "everything" acts LOCALLY
triggered by their nearest neighbours (except for the exit if I remember

> Lemmings has both gravity and some
> concept of ballistics, but I admit that it has been long enough sionce I
> played it that I can't really think of major sim aspects in the game.

And "granular soil" and building.

> 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 gravity--but
> doesn't even simulate three dimensions of space.

If you are talking about physical simulation, then no (real time) game is
anything more than crude approximations. That is: crude models trying to
describe some higher level aspects of physics. However, I don't see what
physical realism has to do with "full simulation".  In a "full simulation" I
would expect to see evolution. If you have evolution then physical realism,
as we know it, will inevitably break. In fact, I would say that this is the
great potential of simulation, to actually generate something new, not to
simply mimic the physical world by a statistical distribution model or

> 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.

Yes, and I think that is the idea?

Producing unpredicted complexity by simplicity is what "simulations" do

> 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 as
> a simulation software seems to have to meet more rigorous standards over
> time.

Well, I don't quite see what physical reality has to do with "simulation",
although simulations are often used for predictions where a more rigorous
approach wouldn't be practical. If we turn to more abstract science or GAMES
then we don't have to deal with our simulation's applicability to the
physical world anymore.  It is however still a simulation (AFAIK), although
more difficult to sell.  Games aren't concerned with "state of the art",
they are tweaked towards speed and perceived "surface".

> Mother Nature has not (yet) been totally blasted; even our worst
> incursions seem to heal up given time. But they heal up because they are
> 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.

Nature will rebuild.  Nature is life.  Life is nearly everywhere on this
planet. Of course, you won't get humans, but who cares?

> A good example of this problem is in SimEarth, btw.

Haven't tried it.  Although I doubt it was a "full 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.

You have just defined our physical world as not being a "full simulation".
:-) You can produce complexity using a few simple rules you know. (Fractals,
l-systems, alife,  etc)

> 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 all
> aspects of a functioning world.

That really depends on what you consider to be a functioning world.

> Sure; I don't know of ANY simulationist muds that are actually trying to
> 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.

AHA! So UO doesn't try to simulate the physical world as we know it. Why do
you complain about Boulderdash then?? :^)  

But you have to admit this, you were expected to recreate what Garriot and
his "followers" expect from an Ultima?  So, you were tied to a prototypical
image of "what constitutes an Ultima". Which is partially involving
culture?  Thus, you were trying to simulate culture, and those expecting the
"culture" of Ultima got annoyed by "human culture bugs" (players).

> 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.

So basically you define "full simulation" as the original design docs for
UO? :^) That's pretty convenient.  I see your point though.  You want
something which you and your average player will immediately perceive as a
fair attempt at simulating the physical world in a fun way.

Then you are pretty much doomed to a top-down approach ("analysis"),
although the bottom-up approach ("construction") is more "simulation

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