[MUD-Dev] Geometric content generation

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Wed Sep 19 08:32:01 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

On Tue, 18 Sep 2001, Brian Hook wrote:
> At 08:11 AM 9/18/01 +0000, Matt Mihaly wrote:

>> This list seems to accept the maxim that you can't generate
>> content fast enough to keep up with player consumption of it.

> That's debatable, depending on your notion of "content".  There's
> a rather strict definition of "art and design assets" to the far
> more general definition of something like "forms of gameplay" or
> "depth of experience".

I was including forms of gameplay and depth of experience under

>> 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.

> I think the notion is that construction is significantly more
> difficult than traversal.  Building a bridge takes much longer
> than walking across it.

Yes, due to a lack of sufficiently good tools. Look at programs that
generate random mazes. The content is effectively limitless (if
eventually boring), and can be generated far faster than players can
use it up. That doesn't address the quality of content issue of

>> 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.

> I don't think this is physically feasible either.

Well, whether it is physically feasible depends on the number of
users you're talking about I'd think.

>> 3. Increase the complexity of the game/world.

>>     - The example that made me think of this is chess.

> I don't consider that content, I classify that as "depth of
> gameplay".  Now, if you had 64 levels of chess with new pieces you
> could earn later, then maybe you can make an argument for calling
> some of it content =)

Fair enough. Substitute content + depth of gameplay for every time I
use 'content' though.

> The expression I've generally used is "compete on the experience,
> not the size of the game".

I think both have some relevance, though I'm more partial to the

>> Games that are fundamentally about monster-bashing are going to
>> have a hard time, in my opinion, with real longevity and equally
>> long success.

> Hmmm...define longevity?  There are many AD&D grognards.  And, of
> course, EQ is going stronger than ever years after its launch.

I'm not willing to define longevity, but four years doesn't impress
me, even though I recognize their outstanding financial achievement.

AD&D is to EQ what chess is to tic-tac-toe too. The depth of EQ is
non-existent in comparison. AD&D is also extremely expensive in
terms of admin time. It's not feasible for a large game. (I really
should have qualified my statement to apply to large commercial
games, as clearly there are some free and small commercial
monster-bashing games that survive.)

>> So one of our game systems is deep though. A lot of players
>> aren't even interested in combat, so it does them no good at all.

> I have no idea what Achaea's PvP system is like, but I feel the
> need to say that "complexity does not equal depth".  Adding more
> and more stuff to a system so that it takes on its own kind of
> life sounds appealing, but in the end it will get dissected by
> min/maxers and the system will become refactored (by them) into a
> simpler one.  At which point all the extra stuff becomes
> irrelevant because everyone does a handful of things within the
> greater system because they're the most powerful.

Hmm, that doesn't make sense to me. I could easily make chess more
complex, by making it, say, 9x9 instead of 8x8. That would, I
believe, decrease the likelihood that someone could dissect it into
a simpler system. Likewise, I could increase it to 9x9 AND add
another type of piece. Perhaps one that can move like a bishop and a
knight. I'm actually considering doing this for Achaea so that we
can have tournaments in which people cannot cheat by using
pre-existing chess computers.

It just seems to me that there's no fundamental reason why MUDs
can't do the same thing. It's more difficult, certainly, and I don't
think you'd even want to try to achieve the kind of totality of
interaction that chess has, but I don't see why it can't be done.


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