[MUD-Dev] Tracking

Ryan P. rpfeiffe at niu.edu
Fri Apr 6 16:21:33 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


At 12:01 PM 4/5/2001 -0500, Hulbert, Leland wrote:

> Does anyone have ideas on a fairly simple way to allow tracking in a
> MUD?  I have an idea, but was looking for other options.

I had thought that if I were to implement tracking in my mud, which I
haven't gotten around to yet, was to store the information in the room
itself.

> My first idea was to make anyone leaving a room automatically drop a
> 'track' object.  This object would have some strength attribute, so
> that an elephant would leave a Str-1000 Track, a person maybe a
> Str-25 Track, while a mouse would leave a Str-10 Track.  All Tracks
> would have their Str erode at some rate, I'm not sure whether a
> linear or geometric rate would be appropriate.  Some conditions
> would change the Str of Tracks left behind.  A muddy floor would
> double the Str of a Track, where a flowing stream would possibly
> destroy a Track immediately.

This seems to me to be a huge waste of object space and memory.
Although it's possible that the system I use may cause for some large
arrays or mappings (if you're using MudOS), you may allow only a
certain number of tracks in each direction to remain. I don't think
it's realistic to say, "Bubba went left from here." rather something
like "There are very fresh shoe-prints that lead west from here, and
some slightly dry mouse tracks that lead east from here." Depending on
their skill would determine what they could see. It's probably best to
do this in an array though, and if there are many human tracks going
in the same direction, clump them into one array and say "Many
footprints lead east from here." As well, you're idea of an elephant
overriding a human's tracks is a good idea (as long as they headed in
the same direction).

> The Tracking skill would give a player the ability to see these
> objects.  The level of skill would determine the threshold of Str
> that a player can see.  A player with a skill level of 10, would
> have no problem spotting the elephant, would see people tracks for a
> short time, and would have some small chance of noticing the mouse
> tracks.

I think you should use a system where there are percentages. The skill
shouldn't always be activated (unless, perhaps, the tracks are very
obvious). So if they track once, they may not find anything, but
tracking again reveals some human tracks.

> I'm sure I'll need to tweak the numbers to make a reasonable skill,
> but that's my basic plan.  I'm wondering how long Tracks should
> last, on average, and whether it would be appropriate to eliminate
> Tracks when the person who dropped them is off line.

The tracks could last as long as you want, I suppose. In fairly dry
weather I would say several mud hours. If it was wet and muddy perhaps
6-8 mud hours. I can't say I'm an expert tracker, so I wouldn't really
know. As far as people who went offline, I'd say to leave the tracks
anyway. Although it may be confusing to a player who follows someone
to the ends of their tracks and finds no one, there could be many
possibilities. Perhaps the person was a mage and teleported out of
there, that would certainly leave no tracks.  Getting rid of the
tracks would mean you would have to recursively remove the tracks from
all the rooms as well, which could get CPU intensive.

As a side note, there are many other things to track by than merely
footprints. For example, I believe deer hunters look out for things
like broken twigs, perhaps upturned rocks by a river (so they are
muddy/wet on one side whereas the other rocks are dry on top). Any
water that's more than waste deep should be pretty much untrackable
through though.

Hope that helped,

--Ryan
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