[MUD-Dev] Wilderness

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Mon Jul 30 17:56:32 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

On Mon, 30 Jul 2001 08:09:18 -0700, "Freeman, Jeff"
<jfreeman at verant.com> wrote:

> 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".

Me too. Explorers have a problem: whatever they do, sooner or later
they outpace the builders.

> 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).

Why is driving the explorers crazy a bad thing? ;)

My system has a particular advantage in this respect, since it's
space oriented. Here's the general gist of it.

The universe is composed of a series of units of physical space
called sectors. A sector is nominally a rough spherical area
approximately 2.6 light years in diameter (9 cubic light years in
volume), centered around a star system or potential star
system. Travel between sectors is accomplished by warp conduits,
ordinal redirection, or "overspace"; the latter is the only static
movement potential, effectively a combination of gravitational
currents which provide a convenient but fuel-intensive method to
move to either the next or previous sector. Ordinal redirection is
essentially a "shuffling" of sectors, such that each sector is
linked to by at least one other sector, but ordinal redirection is
one-way and can result in cyclic patterns.

The most common method of movement is the warp conduit, since these
are cheap in terms of fuel -- both to navigate and to *alter*. Warp
conduits are by nature one-way, but tend to be reciprocal between
sectors. The alteration is what makes things interesting, because an
individual equipped with the proper technology can remove, replace,
and redirect warp links at will. This technology is neither
expensive nor rare. Warp links are also naturally unstable, and will
spawn and decay dynamically as the universe ages.

So effectively, there is no guarantee. While you may know what is in
sector 843, you don't always know how to get there. The world itself
will change the path, other players will change the path, and there
is no way to be sure that a path exists from your current location.
Overspace travel always allows access to neighboring sectors, but
these sectors cannot be as easily scanned, and the fuel expense is
non-trivial. Obviously, one of the most important pieces of
equipment is the autopilot.

In my experience, this sort of arrangement doesn't discourage
explorers much. On the contrary, it provides them with a challenge:
while the world itself is reasonably small, it mutates in just a few
days. The explorers therefore never really run out of things to do.

The major problem, of course, is that the concepts behind it don't
apply very well to the "real world" as you would want in a
medieval-style game. There's just no logical rationale that
immediately presents itself for the inn to be on one side of town
today and the other side tomorrow.  I'd like to hear any plausible
rationale people can come up with; I'm sure it would be interesting.

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