[MUD-Dev] The Virtual Ecology

Chris Turner christ at rd.bbc.co.uk
Tue Aug 24 10:00:46 New Zealand Standard Time 1999

On Sun, 22 Aug 1999, Felix A. Croes wrote:

> 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?

Thats pretty much how I've planned on doing it, with one minor difference. 
Basically the real stuff decays back into virtual after a while.  Say for
example your player leaves the dragon's head on a pole out in the woods -
someone else (player or virtual stat.) could easily come wandering along and
walk off with it.  If a virtual being has it, then itself becomes another
number in the system.

There was a really good thread some time ago (at least a year ago) about
what to do if a vitally important object (the example was a key) was thrown
into the sea.  This pretty much explains the whole idea, that since the
location of the key isn't known precisely, then it could theoritically
reappear some time later somewhere else.

Another good example that springs to mind, is if a player walks into a
village and torches the place.  The player could come back a few days later
to find it's just a smouldering ruin and all the people have gone.  Come
back a few years later and parts of the village have been rebuilt again.

Unfortunately I'm still wrestling with the parser, so I've not actually got
anywhere near implementing any of my ideas for this. *8( 

christ at rd.bbc.co.uk   #include <stddisclaimer.h>   http://www.fysh.org/~maddy

   "So this is really me? A no-style gimbo with teeth druids could use as a
       place of worship" - Duaine Dibley (Red Dwarf - "Back to Reality")

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