[MUD-Dev] Wilderness

Freeman Freeman
Mon Jul 30 08:09:18 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


I've been thinking recently about one of the primary appeals of the
fantasy and sci-fi settings (as opposed to contemporary settings,
say) in gaming, and come to the conclusion that one of the main
appeals for me is the concept of "wilderness".

A quote I liked so much that I put it on my webpage, is:

	Even if they saw no dragons in their own neighborhoods,
	they were sure that some could be found in far, unknown
	fearful places.  So that, in old maps of unexplored 
	lands we can still see blank areas with the warning
	words, 'Here there be dragons.' 

	The maps are all filled in now; the empty spaces bear
	names like Caracas, and Vladivostok, and Chicago...

		~A Book Dragon, by Donn Kushner

I've been thinking about how to implement perpetual wilderness in a
MUD without driving the explorers crazy (since I think it would
annoy them to no end to map out some section of the MUD only to find
out later that their map didn't take, and the next time they visit
the wilderness it's still un-mapped territory).

First, obvious solution was to allow the players to convert
wilderness to explored terrain, and then just dynamically create
some more wilderness.  That also has a negative aspect to it, in
that exploring randomly generated terrain is boring and pointless
("the more things change, the more they stay the same" - once you've
explored one bit of randomly created terrain, you've explored them
all.

Then I thought about having some sort of anamorphic terrain - like
the old middle ages map that always depicted the local territory as
larger than it actually was, relative to the distant lands that were
less well known.  That is, by exploring the wilderness, you'd
actually increase that size of the world - adding to the wilderness
an area of explored/known terrain.

Travellers would need an itinerary to get from point A to point B,
and explorers could potentially find shorter routes between two
points by exploring the wilderness and discovering points within it
for future travellers to follow - without diminishing the size of
the wilderness (and could expand their own civilized lands without
ever cutting into the territories of their neighbors).

There's a short essay with some pictures here:

  http://home.swbell.net/cynack/ 

and some questions without answers.  I have seen some MUSH code to
dynamically create space and ocean and even persist points of
interest along the way, but that doesn't quite hit what I'm shooting
for, exactly.
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