[MUD-Dev] Sustainable Ecosystem

Patrick Dughi dughi at imaxx.net
Fri Jul 21 08:13:05 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

> ERI wrote:
> I'm currently designing what I'm calling a "virtual world". Basically I'm
> trying to create a simulation of a low-fantasy world, keeping it as close to
> reality as I can without sacraficing game-play. The ecosystem is my primary
> project right now.

	Don't forget one other important aspect of an ecosystem; the
players themselves.  That is, their population has to be controlled and
moderated as well.  It sounds silly, because the whole point _is_ to get
people to play the game, but very rarely do you see massive swarms of 18
year-old human, mentally developed beings pop into existance.  Especially
not ones who rise from the dead; effectively immortal. 

	The problem is that when/if the world is running full tilt, you're
going to get the standard, natural consequence of your actions; the areas
surrounding cities will be resource depleted.  That means that your
starting character will have problems when they arrive in the population
centers of the game.  

	Worse, the more players, the more 'land' must be set aside by some
unknown NPC population for farming, etc.  Hope your system deals with
NPC's preparing land, farming, building structures for themselves, and 
eventually, generating their own cities from scratch. 

	With the standard fantasy system, you reach a point in time where
simply transporting the goods to a central site is impossible.  Look at
what happened to the Aztech society - they advanced their population/etc
beyond their technology.  They had the land to produce enough food for
their civilization, and slaves to farm it, but not the ability to
distribute it to their population centers.  They died out. (They had some
help, but that was one of the main problems).

	To fix this problem I suppose you could simply assume that the
world allowed the players existance because it had enough of a support
population (food animals, crops, etc) to do so.  It would make sense to
simply figure out what the daily requirements of a single character are,
and each time one joins the game, add perhaps 120% of that value, spread
thinnly over the entire world.  You'd also want to start with a
substantial resource base dependant upon your size, and then just
dynamically add to it based on player population.    

	That means though, if you have a resource poor area, the NPC's
should start to move or die out.  A baker won't stick around when he has
nothing to sell, or any other merchant.

	Starts to eat into non-complicated gameplay, if you ask me. Also
rather complicated and involved NPC action.  At what point does the baker
decide to move himself and his 4 sons thirty miles away?  How many of his
friends does he convice to go with him?  What will they name their new
village?  Can they find someone to dig a well for them?  What about needed
skills, which they don't possess; do they attract these, and how?  What if
it turns out they're really resource poor there too... when do they start
preying off wandering travelers?  


	It seems to be a neat idea, but doesn't seem very fun to flesh out
unless you are writing a simulation, instead of a game, and you're not
letting people play, or even directly interact in any fashion.

	Else, i'd forget reality altogether, and just use the good
old-fashioned 'wandering monster' concept.  That is, on any given turn,
for a given environment, you have a chance of running into any one of a
set of creatures.  Say you have a 1-in-300 chance to spot a deer per
movement through a given forest.  Maybe your 'track' skill ups that to
1-in-200.  Just randomly pop it in there from a previous state of
non-existance. Change the 'chance to spot' based on if the animal dies,
and what the chances are to encounter other animals in the random list. 
If you kill it, your chances go down maybe 1-2 points.  Competitors
chances will go up, predator chances will go down.  Over time, the chances
should rise and fall based on random movement, +-(1-3) points every mud
day, etc.

	Not real simulation, but it gives the user the end result you're
looking for.  It's easy too.


ps.  Someone mentioned players littering the land with corpses. Wouldn't
that promote the spread of disease?  I'm sure after the second or third
black plague, your characters would get the hint and stop 'killing
everything that moves'.

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