[MUD-Dev] The Virtual Ecology

Jp Calderone exarkun at flashmail.com
Fri Jul 23 16:22:21 New Zealand Standard Time 1999

Tony Wilkinson wrote:
> [snip idea description]
> What do we gain from all this?
> Well, the ability to persuade the player that he is in a living, breathing
> place and that the whole world doesn't just revolve around him. He also
> will have the ability to perhaps alter the equilibrium. Over fishing the
> salmon streams will cause those bears to go looking for other food and
> those pet dogs and cats look mighty tasty :)
> Fun stuff.
> Comments and criticisms more than welcome
> Tony.

This is something I've been interested with on and off, I wrote some
insect simulations like this, unfortunately never got very far.  Anyway,
here's one problem I see straight off with doing anything like this in
an xp (gained by combat) system.  All your animals are going to go
extinct very quickly - And this isn't a problem with the system per say,
but a problem with human behaviour.  Look at the real world, you can't
get a more accurate simulation of human behaviour than that, and look
what people do.  Sport and food hunting in africa is threatening (if not
having already caused) the extinction of thousands of species.  Most
muds solved the extinction problem with repops (and players in some 
places still complain that there isn't enough to kill).  That doesn't
fit in with a realistic simulation of an ecosystem.

You can limit the area where players can kill (Or not base the system
on killing, a solution I much prefer), give them 5% of the population
to work on, and simulate population levels behind the scenes, only
moving from there to the playing field when a species is in low numbers
on the playing field.  That's really the only solution in a kill-based
system I can think of.  I'm curious if anyone else has solved this
extinction problem in another way.

A sad spectacle.  If they be inhabited, what a scope for misery 
and folly.  If they be not inhabited, what a waste of space.
                -- Thomas Carlyle, looking at the stars

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