[MUD-Dev] The Virtual Ecology
Felix A. Croes
felix at dworkin.nl
Sun Aug 22 14:02:06 New Zealand Standard Time 1999
On Sun, 15 Aug 1999, Par Winzell wrote:
> 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.
Essentially you'd have two muds, a "real" one in which players
move around, and a, much larger, "virtual" one in which everything,
including the people who are controlled by users in the "real" mud,
is just a statistic controlled by a simulated ecology (taking the
latter in the broadest possible sense; for the sake of argument,
"there are always exactly 5000 wolves in the virtual world" is
considered to be a valid ecology).
Actually, I think that this could be a good way to simulate an economy,
though obviously one without emergent behaviours. You can even solve
the spontaneous player creation problem: they are simply assumed to
have entered from the virtual world, and the number of new players
created equals the number of people that moved out of the virtual world.
The question is, where are your crossover points from real to virtual,
and virtual to real? If the virtual world is inaccessible to players,
it might as well not exist. If it is accessible, the part that a
player is in must -- at least temporarily -- be made real. When the
player leaves, it could in theory be made virtual again, though the
player might be disappointed on revisiting the area that the dragon
killed has been turned into a statistic, and the dragon's head that
was mounted on a pole is no longer anywhere to be found.
Maybe a combination of real and virtual is best: no computer-generated
geopgraphy, physical changes to the virtual world are permanent, but
populations of living creatures are simulated until a player arrives,
and again simulated after the player's departure?
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