[MUD-Dev] Re: Storytelling vs. Simulationist (Was Re: Room descriptions)

ApplePiMan at aol.com ApplePiMan at aol.com
Mon Oct 5 20:02:39 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

At 10/5/98 12:17 PM Adam Wiggins (adam at angel.com) altered the fabric of 
reality by uttering:

>On Fri, 2 Oct 1998 ApplePiMan at aol.com wrote:
>> At 10/2/98 11:24 AM Adam Wiggins (adam at angel.com) altered the fabric of 
>> >On Thu, 1 Oct 1998, Brandon J. Rickman wrote:
>> >> [snip good argument against simulation-style muds]
>> >> There is the potential that you might
>> >> log in one day and find that all the characters have been killed and 
>> >> by starving wolves.  This is not fun.
>> >
>> >Hey now: that's just *your* definition of fun.  You've just pinned
>> >down one of the best parts of sim: big sweeping changes can, and
>> >occasionally do, affect the game world, and there's not always anything
>> >the players can do about it.
>> I agree this could lead to some entertaining (if not exactly "fun" by my 
>> definition, either) situations. But note that big, sweeping changes are 
>> not the exclusive property of a sim. A self-sustaining dramatist approach 
>> could conceivably come to the conclusion that such a big, sweeping change 
>> was the best course to promote (literary) conflict in the game world.
>Indeed.  Arctic makes huge changes to the world on a regular basis; for
>this they have a staff of several dozen hard-working admins.  Dragons storm
>a city, laying waste to everything in sight; later, they've replaced the
>city area with a duplicate (as far as room layout) but with new "burned to
>slag" room descriptions.  Weeks later they start chaging room descs one by
>one, adding merchant tents and new townsfolk, rebuilding from the ruins.
>A year later and there is a new town in place, different from the old.
>This is extremely cool, but only possible through the very hard work of the
>staff.  A simulationist mud, done right, could experience this whole
>pheonomenon without the slightest intervention of the staff.  (Well, maybe
>they sent the dragons out in the first place...)

But *why* is this only possible through the very hard work of the staff 
or a sim? Challenge the assumptions! Even an instance of the Quest Engine 
Raph proposed could be adapated to attack the problem of rebuilding the 
town (after first having sent the dragons out in the first place =) ). 
Without some fairly hefty modifications its results wouldn't even 
*approach* what could be done by the hard work of the staff (but, of 
course, neither would the results of sim rebuilding the town be likely to 
be as entertaining as what your staff could come up with); but could 
Raph's Quest Engine be made 'smarter' (answer: yes!)? Are there other 
approaches to a narrative solution, as opposed to a simulationist 
solution (answer: at least one automated hybrid approach I can think of 
off the top of my head -- most likely there are many that eschew sim 
altogether, if that's what you're looking for)?

There are many areas of the narrative problem that computers may *never* 
be good at solving, because there's too much of what we call 'art' in it. 
But there's a 'soft' science to much of the narrative problem space that 
computers *can* readily handle. Don't assume something can't be done 
simply because it hasn't been done yet...


Rick Buck, President and CEO  <mailto:rlb at big-i.com>
Beyond Infinity Games, Inc.
See you in The Metaverse! <http://www.big-i.com>

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