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

Koster Koster
Mon Oct 5 10:23:39 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ola Fosheim Gr=F8stad [mailto:olag at ifi.uio.no]
> Sent: Sunday, October 04, 1998 8:45 AM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: [MUD-Dev] Re: Simulation (Was Re: Room descriptions)
> Koster, Raph wrote:
> > Ola wrote:
> > Let me start by saying that we seem to be talking at cross-purposes
> > here. You apparently have a MUCH broader definition of=20
> simulation than I
> > do--a definition that I find useless for any sort of real=20
> discussion.
> > Under your description, it seems that simulation is anything which
> > operates according to a set of rules...
> Well, I distinguish between running a simulation of a model=20
> which describes
> some (statistical/math) properties of another system and=20
> where high-level
> concepts are formalized (top-down) and running a simulation of a
> evolutionary model in which concepts aren't formalized, but=20
> constructed by
> smaller low-level entities (bottom-up).

Fair enough.=20

> The gaming industry is pragmatic, fashion-ridden, full of=20
> me-too thinking,
> most games are basically kitsch, and success is defined by how easy
> something is to sell.  The industry also sees itself as a=20
> content provider.=20

Yes. Does this make its terminology not useful? I mean, academia fits
the same description in most ways. :)

> In my view, a virtual world should provide infrastructure=20
> (come and build a
> world with us), not necessarily content (come and enjoy our world).

I started out with the same view. However, UO players disagree with me
about it. They want content.

[snip side debate about whether life would return after a total nuclear
annihilation :)]
> > > AHA! So UO doesn't try to simulate the physical world as we
> > > know it. Why do you complain about Boulderdash then?? :^)
> >=20
> > The degree of similarity to the physical world is a heck of=20
> > a lot higher than in Boulderdash...
> Depends on your focus. If you are concerned about digging and pushing
> boulders Boulderdash scores higher than UO.=20


> It really depends upon your perspective. I know I am being difficult=20
> here, but I think some of your
> views are politically influenced by where you want to place UO.


I don't particularly care where UO lands on the spectrum frankly. This
thread seems to have taken up two touchstones (UO and Legend) for
defining ends of the spectrum, and I worked on BOTH of them. I don't
have any particular axe to grind there... I don't regard UO as being at
the far end of simulation either--several projects on this list go WAY

When I say simulationist mud, I mean one where systems in the game are
based around modelling real-world behaviors with some degree of
accuracy. That's all. I sort of feel like we're heading down a garden
path of hairsplitting...

> > Yes, except that I don't see what a single-player=20
> experienced within a
> > standalone Ultima as a "culture"...
> It is easier to provide the experience of a "simulated culture" in a
> player game (or book or movie). According to some complaints of UO
> found in various players, they are concerned about UO not providing
> right "culture" (social mores etc).  Thus it is at least perceived as
> "culture".  I claim that Tolkien's writing provides a cultural
setting, his
> fans do share this cultural setting when they interact. I don't see
> Ultima differs from Tolkien here.

Players are unquestionably concerned about not finding the Ultima ethos
in UO; of course, if it's missing, it's because they did not bring it
with them, since we did not impose that sort of detailed ethical
construct on the game anywhere.=20

I don't know enough about how Tolkien fans talk to each other, but I'd
agree that they probably do attempt to immerse themselves in the
fictional culture and share it with one another. I still don't think
that it exists as a culture until there's multiple people interacting =
it. Before that, it's merely a depiction of a possible culture. But
whatever, hairsplitting again, I don't think this is all that fruitful.

> > >  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=20
> > > world in a fun way.
> >=20
> > No, actually, I don't necessarily; after all, i started this thread
> > kinda pointing out the flaws ina simulationist approach. :)
> Well, but if you wanted one, then that is what you want?=20


The thread started by my presenting some room descriptions that are
clearly NOT simulationist. They were from an area I wrote for Legend,
which as Adam noted, has a design principle of trying to immerse the
player in particular historical settings and narratives. And somehow UO
came up as the example of simulationist muds, and I worked on that too.
I think there's definite problems to both approaches, and also that
there's a lot of gray areas in-between. But I noticed on the list a lot
of folks who seemed to be assuming that simulationist was the only way
to go, and I wanted to challenge that assumption.

>  And if other simulations like Boulderdash/Worms/Lemmings succeed in =
> then they aren't full simulations because they don't aren't perceived =

> as an attempt at simulating the physical world??

That's why I called it "full world simulation" and not "full
simulation." A full world sim would, as the term indicates, have to
attempt to include a full world and all its dynamics.

Boulderdash and Worms and Lemmings strike me as not being sims =
because even the aspects they model are knowingly modelled incompletely
and inaccurately (eg, the granular soil you mentioned doesn't behave at
all like real soil even in the limited set of interactions the game
provides). Thus they don't seem to me to pretend to be simulations of
anything real.=20

> I can of course not agree, right now I am more concerned about the
> infrastructure than actual content.
> Your definition of a "full simulation" seems to be content driven.

Yes, to a degree.

The debate started over whether you present merely an environment with
no emotional content, and the player supplies all emotional content; or
whether you impose emotional content on the player. These got termed,
respectively, simulationist and dramatist. Simulationist presumably
because the best way to present said environment is to mke everything =
it as interactive as possible, reacting in predictable ways based on
"laws of physics" incorporated into the game engine. These are clearly
differences in content as well as in general approach.


More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list