[MUD-Dev] Mass Creation OLC Functions (idea from Elder Games)

Brandon A Downey badowney at sprynet.com
Wed Mar 17 13:47:56 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


Nathan F Yospe wrote:

> On Tue, 16 Mar 1999, Matthew Mihaly wrote:
>
> :On Tue, 16 Mar 1999, Wes Connell wrote:
>
> :> This would create a desert-type area to the west.
>
> :> Why stop there? Why not have an input file of say a 20x20 grid and create
> :> an entire world.
>
> :> I'll use a 5x5 grid as example
>
> :> D D D D D     D = desert
> :> D D F F F     F = forest
> :> D F F F F     U = urban
> :> F U U F F
> :> F U U U F
>
> :> Anyone following me? You could even use an algorithm to generate the world
> :> grid for you so you can have a new world with each boot or whatever.
>
> :I agree that this is potentially interesting as a theoretical example, but
> :those sort of areas sound AWFULLY boring to play in. It'd be like making a
> :program to write a book for you! You'd end up with unimaginative trash
> :with no coherent plot, no individuality, etc. Not at all the sort of thing
> :I'd think that players would want to play in.
>
> Yeesh! Doesn't *anyone* read the archives first anymore? OK, I think the
> old champion of the world generator had better step in once again. There
> is nothing in those traditional Diku/LP descriptions a good program (I'm
> refering to my own) can't match or better. A book? Maybe not. Certainly,
> I would take offense if anyone claimed a piece of software was my better
> in science fiction, but I wouldn't put most muds' areas past a hacked up
> piece of software... aside from the bizzare typos. I'm to busy to do the
> full post right now, so I'm just going to point you toward the archives.
> There are a few test clips from a (partially) autogenerating engine from
> one of my earlier versions in there..

I would think that the whole point of improving the overall quality of
muds is to
look at an area like Midgaard, and say "Never again". The fact that an
area
generator can generate a reasonably readable wilderness matters not one
jot,
particulary if you're in the business of creating a unique world, with
it's own
story.

Perhaps I'm not the only person to think this, but I do believe mud
worlds should
"tell a story" if they're to be considered any sort of serious creative
endeavour. To help understand why generated areas are bad, let's
consider this
from a player standpoint.

Let's take the example given in the previous threat, where a wilderness
is
created to expand the "boundaries" of your world. (When a player reaches
the edge
of the world, he stumbles into the random zone). What benefits does this
have for
a player?

Well, from a superficial standpoint, it opens up new vistas for
exploration. It
also adds an element of "realism", where the world just doesn't end
because the
shrubbery is too thick for you to continue.

Of course, for any explorer worth his salt, the experience of slogging
through
randomly described rooms is rarely edifying. Even if you throw in random
encounters, these are seldom, if ever, any more challenging than mobiles
situated
in strategic places, and more often at best a nuisance, and at worst an
irritant.  Contrast exploring a dungeon that's _planned_ with a randomly
generated one. I would stipulate there is far less enjoyment in making
it to the
200th randomly generated "forest path" by hacking through your 35th
random
wandering kobold than in outwitting the fiendishly planted traps in the
diabolical dungeon, filled with the pent up rage of caged implementors,
maddened
by long exposure to hordes of newbies.  Imagine if they made AD&D
modules by
random description generators -- now imagine this is basically what
you're doing
with a randomly generated world.


Maybe I could pose this in rule form:

It's always more enjoyable to outwit an (equal) intelligenece, as
opposed to a
random number generator.

Random number generators might be fun, but they ain't people.

Now, you might set up these Very Large Random Boundary Areas (VLRBA for
short) as
a place to gain experience, train skills, or whichever arbitrary point
system you
happen to be using, but is it more fun to do this sort of thing in a
place with
novel and well-thought out rooms, or in randomly generated rooms? Even
though you
might think slaughtering hordes of kobolds is necessary, why can't we at
least do
it in an area that might pose unique challenges, which players can use
their
intellects to overcome. (Avoid the super-nasty elite patrolling kobolds,
to level
on the soft kobold women inside the village!)

If you want a good place to socialize in, random areas seem to fall
short as well
-- lots of space to lose friends in, and all the reason in the world to
meet in
more congenial environs.

The problem with these random areas is that they're very good at giving
your
world _breadth_, but very poor at giving it any sort of _depth_. The
missing
element from any such random scheme is the absence of meaning, and
intelligence.
(Note: This is not an attack on the strong AI thesis -- rather, I just
don't
think random number generated is the path to a paradise, where we don't
have to
think about what we're building).

Now, the diatribe aside, there are a few places where a big random
'wilderness'
can be good. It does work for giving a notion of 'distance' real meaning
in the
world. This sort of thing is a good way of requiring time out of players
in
return for traveling to exotic places, or having realistic/meaningful
"trade
routes". (It's half an hour from one side of the world to another -- but
you can
rack up a small fortune if you can keep a mule train of silk safe along
the way)
Note that it's very important to pepper such a wilderness with
interesting places
to visit -- and for the love of your favorite deity, don't advertise
your mud as
having "3 million rooms" when that really means "3 million #'s and *'s!"



Brandon


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