[MUD-Dev] The Virtual Ecology

Par Winzell zell at alyx.com
Sun Aug 15 17:13:10 New Zealand Standard Time 1999


Dear List,

Marian Griffith writes:

 > Unless you make the game so big  that it can accomodate such numbers  and
 > still allow the population appear sparse  there is simply no way the ani-
 > mals are going to outbreed their predators.

It seems to me that all of this becomes really interesting when the Mud
moves to a system where much world content is represented implicity, e.g.
as scalar population density fields, instantiated into real objects only
when necessary. I believe this has been discussed on and off on the list
several times in the past. I'm not sure if anybody has experimented with
large-scale implementations of it?

With such a system in place, the game being 'big' just means there's lots
of land where lots of little critters scurry around (in the form of time-
varying population fields, driven by some ecology simulation). Even tens
of thousands of online players would have a hard time rustling up all the
wolves in a country if the critter-to-player ratio were saner than it can
ever be in a Mud where mobs all move around as individual states/objects.

Obviously, this system implies a lot of other properties about the world.
It probably can't easily be grafted onto a Mud that isn't built for it.
A human in a country is a lot smaller than a needle is in a haystack.
Players don't want to be insignificant, and they do not want to be shown
infinite amounts of boringly described landscape.

We're going to try a stab at pretty much all of this at Skotos. We'll see
how it goes. I'm cautiously optimistic.

I'd love to see a resurrection of a thread dealing with these old dreams.
It seems to me the gaming world is well aware of the allure of background
simulation in presented virtual worlds -- the idea of a world larger than
the player, cookin' away oblivious to whatever the player's fiddling with
at any given moment... this is alluded to in advertisements constantly.
It's strange to me that more isn't happening in this direction. Could it
be that it's a somewhat adult theme? Perhaps the Average Teenager is less
interested in a real world -- unless they can shoot it up?

I don't personally buy that, but it's possible.

Thoughts?

Par



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