[MUD-Dev] Sustainable Ecosystem

Matthew D. Fuller fullermd at over-yonder.net
Thu Jul 20 21:28:02 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

On Thu, Jul 20, 2000 at 12:31:11PM -0600 I heard the voice of
jolson at micron.net, and lo! it spake thus:
> From: "Mordengaard" <mordengaard at redhotant.com>
> > ...
> > As a couple of people have already said when replying to your 
> > post, the
> > problem comes when you introduce the human element.  Even a small 
> > populationof players can clear a whole area out of wolves (leaving 
> > the pigs to grow
> > unchecked until more wolves move in) and/or pigs (leaving the 
> > wolves to
> > starve to death, or depopulating the area totally). 
> More likely, they'll kill all the pigs AND all the wolves, and then 
> start hunting the dragon.  It's not that players unbalance a virtual 
> ecosystem; they decimate it.

Exactly a problem I'm facing in some preliminary design for a similar
system I'm working on now (unfortunately, only thinking about, as the
press of Real Work (tm) has been keeping me from doing any actual WORK on
it for several months, and may for several more).  I think a few
considerations are in order to make it work, and that some of these take
issue with some of the base ideas underlying the stereotypical 'MUD'.

1) Man (or 'players', but 'man' is easier to type) is NOT the top of the
food chain.

	In fact, there IS no such thing as a food chain.  It's not a straight
	chain, or a pyramid, it's a circle.  Everything both benefits and
	detriments everything else.  Killing the fish doesn't just starve the
	sharks and increase the plankton, it increases the rate of shark
	waste buildup and decreases the rate of water flow that helps the
	plankton grow and spread.  Left alone, this system will flow toward a
	balance.  With players fscking with it, it'll flow toward utter
	chaos.  The only way to counteract that is to make 'bad' causes show
	'bad' effects quickly, and have the system be able to recover quickly
	when left alone.  Also, it'll need to have some inherent checks
	against being put too far out of whack.  If you kill enough wolves,
	they get smart, run, and hide.  This also leads into:

2) Man is not the only agressive, purposeful creature in the world

	In a traditional system, man goes out seeking beasts to kill.  But if
	you kill too many cows, the dragons are going to be kinda pissed at
	you.  They won't wait for you to come attack them, they won't attack
	you when they see you, they'll *SEEK YOU OUT* and annahilate you.
	Or, if you don't annoy them that much, they'll just set you on fire
	when you get too close to the remaining cows.  If you kill all the
	cows, the dragons won't have any other food source, so they'll have
	to eat all the sheep you're cultivating to sell the wool.

A number of other points could be brought up, but these two cover the
essence.  With those adjusted perspectives under our belt, we can go on
to develop a rather interesting world.  Of course, it's a world rather
alien to the Joe Q. Mudder, so we have to consider how revolutionary we
want to be.  But think of the possibilities!  Quests have always had a
rather contrived feeling, very much busy-work.  Now, since the beasts
already have a sense of purpose, and individual and group impetus, we'll
have a REAL quest, wherein a number of warriors have to help defend a
village from 25 strafing firedragons, not 'because I told you so', but
'because you killed all the !@*& sheep you moron, now you have to protect
the rest of us from your folly'.  It provides a whole new level of
indirect attack against 'rival' villages, not only by depleting their
resources, but by turning the local wildlife against them.


Matthew Fuller     (MF4839)     |    fullermd at over-yonder.net
Unix Systems Administrator      |    fullermd at futuresouth.com
Specializing in FreeBSD         |    http://www.over-yonder.net/
       "Klein bottle for sale ... inquire within."

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