[MUD-Dev] Wilderness

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Wed Aug 1 16:12:36 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

Brian Hook writes:
> At 11:05 AM 7/31/01 -0700, John Buehler wrote:

>> Algorithmic generation of terrain produces perfectly wonderful
>> results.  You just have to work on the algorithm.

> This is true, however the general problem is that you lose artist
> and designer input.  So while you can make vast, impressive worlds
> ripe for exploration, you end up having little fine grain control
> over specific areas, e.g. wanting a river to turn left instead of
> right.  You can control coarse variables, like input seeds,
> roughness factors, tile sets, etc. but that still doesn't offer
> the level of control that many creative types want to see.

Well, the loss of control isn't complete.  If you really need a
certain feature at a specific location, you should have the ability
to make such things.  Exceptions in the computed terrain are going
to have to be handled for the general case anyway.  For example, if
players get to dink around with the landscape, they will create
exceptions (trees chopped down, streams dammed, etc).  If you want
to put man-made structures at specific locations, you're going to
have to have an exception mechanism.  I only got into the rudiments
of such exceptions in my implementation.  Just enough to be able to
plop down a piece of geometry anywhere in the world that I cared to.

But by and large, control is an illusion when designing a large
scale world.  It's simply not practical to hand-tune the entire
world.  So present your 'creative types' with the challenge of
making the existing terrain interesting to be in.  Not unlike an
interior decorator tasked with decorating the existing house instead
of creating a house from scratch so that it can be decorated the way
they want.  Not as creatively rewarding, but that's life.  At least
generated landscapes have the potential for being consistent and
'realistic' for the players.

In the end, I think the creative types will end up providing fodder
for the algorithmic generation system.  This is chair type 47.  This
is doorway type 8.  This is pillar type 9.  And so on.  Who knows,
perhaps new principles of structure design will come to the fore.
Something like Fung Shue.  Doorway types 19, 36 and 103 are
compatible, but when used together, grey and green should comprise
50% of the coloration in the room.  And so on.


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