[MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev digest, Vol 1 #142 - 4 msgs

Matthew Mihaly diablo at best.com
Mon Aug 16 20:17:28 New Zealand Standard Time 1999


On Mon, 16 Aug 1999, Par Winzell wrote:

> Dr. Cat writes:
> 
>  > Let me pick 4 random 
>  > days...  Got it.  Every other day I'll vary the price of this item up and 
>  > down with statistical white noise, and on those days I'll make some big 
>  > dramatic changes."
> 
> I don't see how this adds any fun to a game. How can anybody be a trader if
> white noise governs his profession?

The financial markets are complicated enough that from the
investor/trader's point of view, they operate little differently from Dr.
Cat's system. While I agree that a nice, lovely system operating on the
edge of chaos (thus achieving complexity, and avoiding death by either
order or chaos) is interesting, I think your whole post vastly
underestimates the difficulty in creating a self-sustaining, complex
system. 

Example: The game of Life, where dots on a computer screen represent
"life". Every breeding cycle (say, 10 times a second), a simple
calculation is performed. I forget how it works exactly, but it's
something along the lines of if you have exactly two neighbors, you
reproduce. If you have less than 2, you die. If you have more than two,
you die. I may not be getting the rules exactly right, but they are
similar in complexity.

The game of life produces some interesting, persisent structures, but
every single time I've ever run it, it has ended up "dying" to order. The
structures either become predictable (crosses that blink, or "cannons"
that "shoot" off new structures, or things that just travel across teh
screen over and over), or everything just dies off entirely. 

People have done many variations on the game of life, generally involving
adding more rules. I've yet to see a version that doesn't end up in either
chaos or order (both of which are boring and non-viable in ecological
terms). 

Complexity theory (which is what you are talking about here), is really
only 15 or 20 years old, and not very developed. I would be surprised (not
to mention very impressed) if any mud developers managed to be on the
bleeding edge, especially given that mud developers have to deal with real
people, who are very unpredictable, as opposed to dealing only with
elegant, simulated systems. Your example of Gandalf having died to that
wolf is not the bleeding edge. That's not even really an ecology. You
might argue that the bleeding edge isn't necessary, but as far as I know,
no one has ever created a complex, sustaining and _interesting_ ecology.
Sure, you can create one, but it's unlikely to be interesting. It's much
more likely to end up dying to an excess of order -- Things will get into
circular ruts. You'll find that the only way out is to toss in a random
factor now and then, and at that point, you've done just what Dr. Cat
does, but you've spent a lot more effort doing it. (I have no idea if my
knowledge as far as creating proper, interesting virtual ecologies is up
to date or not, but if it's happened in the last 5 years, it's likely to
be theory too advanced to put into a mud).

--matt

PS: To Martin Sweitzer(sp?), who wanted to take me up on my challenge with
automation: This isn't really the appropriate place to discuss it. I don't
have your e-mail, so why don't you e-mail me privately? Thank you.




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