[MUD-Dev] The Virtual Ecology

Schubert Schubert
Mon Jul 26 15:14:05 New Zealand Standard Time 1999

Raph can comment on this in more detail, but since
he is temporarily M.I.A....

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Albert [mailto:thecheezeman at earthlink.net]
> >On Fri, 23 Jul 1999 16:22:21 -0400, Jp Calderone wrote:
> >))Tony Wilkinson wrote:
> >Allow players to move things to extinction, but let the 
> effects be perhaps
> >a little less subtle, and a little more immediate, than they 
> might be in the
> >real world.  Most things in these games are less subtle and 
> more immediate
> >anyway, so the idea fits right in I'd say.
> How about creating a group of mobs that feed on said species. 
> As the species
> grow low in count, the bigger mobs will start feeding on 
> other things, like
> players. Ideally, there would be perm-death and the mobs 
> would have insanely
> large statistics. I really have no clue how you'd go about 
> modeling this,
> however.

Ultima Online attempted to have a dynamic ecology at it's
launch.  There were some lessons that were learned, although
it's worth noting that some of these problems could have been
alleviated by improved implementation.  Lessons that were 
learned from UO:

* A dynamic ecology/economy (and other emergent behavior
systems) in a persistent world fundamentally means that 
you are putting control of your gameplay experience into 
the hands of a handful of people who figure out how that 
system works the best.  These people are not always 
benevolent.  They will kill all the newbie monsters just for
spite, in between poaching animals to extinction.  If you 
are a newbie tailor that requires hides to make leather
armor, the game is *broken* if it allows some other players
to hunt deer so low that hides are impossible to gather.  If
you are commercial game, they will then demand their 
money back.
* The neat emergent behaviors from such a system happen
extremely rarely.  Especially if you want to mirror the slow 
pace that ecological change happens in real life.  For 
example, the dragon eats sheep, you get in a snit and 
kill all the sheep, the dragon attacks the village.  How often
does this end up happening?  And when it happens, does it
seem like anything other than a newbie-slaughtering 
abberation to the player base.

I really like dynamic economies/ecologies, on a conceptual 
level.  Really wish the problems inherent in them had easy,
pat answers. Unfortunately, any such safeguards I arrive at
end up making the system so unrealistic that the attempt
at realism is lost, and more artificial but immediately
interesting dynamics such as the 'Roo Hunter' scenario 
become interesting.


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