[MUD-Dev] Geometric content generation

Koster Koster
Wed Sep 19 07:52:03 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Matt Mihaly

> It's been a bit quiet lately, so I thought I'd just write down
> some thoughts I've been having tonight. They're probably not
> original thoughts, but perhaps they're worthy of some discussion.
> This list seems to accept the maxim that you can't generate
> content fast enough to keep up with player consumption of
> it. Surely, though, that can't be true. There doesn't seem to be
> any inherent relationship between player consumption rates and
> developer generation rates that would raise consumption rates as
> generation rates are increased, so there doesn't seem to be any
> barrier, in principle, to attaining this.

Gneerally speaking, consumption rate of ANY sort of content is
faster than the generation time, in all media. The only exceptions I
can think of are some instances of pictorial art, and improvisatory
live performances of all kinds--if unaided by any stage

> There are a couple ways to do it that I can think of, and I
> differentiate between the creation of breadth and the creation of
> depth, for reasons below.
> 1. Simply outspend the users. Put more and more developers on the
> project.
>    - This seems like a financially infeasible solution, so it's
>    not really worth considering. It can, of course, be used to
>    increase both depth and breadth.

Scratch that one. :)

> 2. Increase the power and capability of development tools.
>    - A long-time, on-going process, but tools seem to be a lot
>    more effective at breadth creation rather than depth
>    creation. Algorithmic content has so far been shallow.

Based on your examples below, I believe that it can very well become
deeper, given emergent behavior and techniques such as fractals,
artificial life, and simulationist approaches...

> 3. Increase the complexity of the game/world.
>    - The example that made me think of this is chess. Chess is a
>    simple game, but the rules interact in such a way as to create
>    a game of sufficient complexity that it's never been
>    solved. It's not possible to talk about an optimum strategy in
>    chess (at least yet. It'll be solved eventually, presumably.)

Chess has almost no content. What it has are many possible
permutations of the content; unpredictable behavior (well, less so
these days!) arising from unexpected interactions of the rules. In
other words, you're not taking about content, you're talking about
depth of gameplay.

> An even better example is the game Go 

Again, not content but depth of gameplay.
> So then the best and surest way to stay ahead of the players seems
> to be geometric content generation. If you think of the the
> elements of a game as a network, then the analogy to the
> geometrically increasing value of networks of people becomes
> clear.

Methinks you are resurrecting the old list debate on simulationist
versus constructed experiences. :)
> A game system like that (that I use because I'm familiar with it)
> is Achaea's PvP combat system, at least to some extent. It's got a
> huge number of possibilities in it, though they do not, by any
> means, all intersect with each other. As I regularly add more of
> them, it just increases to get more complex, though these days I
> rarely add elements that connect to a huge portion of the other
> elements. The downside (if anyone that's a gamer can call it that
> without feeling guilty) is that the disparity between the great
> fighters and the newbies increases, which can make things
> discouraging for newbies.

Complexity? Or is each addition simple, and the aggregate emergently
complex because of the interactions? For example, the movement of
each piece in chess is simple, but the game has emergent complexity
because of the amount of movement types.

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