[MUD-Dev] Request for ideas

holding99 at mindspring.com holding99 at mindspring.com
Sat Oct 6 15:58:15 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

At 04:50 PM 10/5/01 -0700, Jeff Freeman wrote:
>> From: Ian Collyer [mailto:i.collyer at ntlworld.com]

>> There are two problems which prevent a closed ecosystem from
>> working in a MUD environment.

> The funny thing is, we don't have a closed ecosystem in the real
> world.  As I understand it, there is a constant influx of energy
> from the Sun.

>>   Scenario 1. Players cannot interact in a meaningful way with
>>   the ecosystem

>>     This basically a closed simulation with the players as mere
>>     passive observers, great if that is what your players like
>>     but it reduces the significance of the ecosystem to little
>>     more than eye candy.

> The appeal of a closed system to me is in its use as a tool by
> which the players could manage their environment.  Or potentially
> mismanage it.

> Well, and it's also appealing because it sounds like a real
> challenge to implement.  A person could learn a lot from
> attempting to implement it, even if they never succeeded in doing
> it.

>>   Scenario 2. The players' characters are part of the ecosystem

>>     Much more interesting but inherently unstable.  The root
>>     problem here is that your ecosystem is no longer closed,
>>     players login and logout and new players join the MUD.  The
>>     fluctuating number of concurrent characters in the game make
>>     it impossible for any sort of equilibrium to be reached.  >>
>>     An interesting question is how one could model evolution and
>>     natural > selection in such an environment.

> Oh yes, that would be pretty cool, too!

Well, actually I had an idea a while back (which was partially based
upon the article Patrick Dughi quoted in a recent post:


that would implement several of these ideas.

Basically, instead of keeping track of each individual animal, keep
track of a generalized variable that would indicate how well (or
poorly) a given set of animals are doing. The most basic
implementation would have two variables: one to keep track of
predators, and one to keep track of prey animals. Each variable
would range from +100 to -100, and at equilibrium would be 0
(zero). The variables would be updated every so often, and each
would affect the other and itself. For example, if predators are
doing well the predator variable will be positive, and should
therefore have a negative influence on the prey variable (who are
being eaten by all of the predators). Actual animals would be
generated at the time of encounter based upon the current state of
the variables, with a positive variable indicating a greater
likelihood of encountering such an animal.

Now, the "evolution/natural selection" portion: as a variable gets
further from equilibrium, in either direction, it is applied as a
negative modifier to that creature's difficulty (as a combination of
hitpoints, damage resistance, skills, etc). Basically, as an area is
hunted down of predators (the predator value goes negative), the
ones that survive are tougher, smarter, and generally all around
nastier (using the negative variable as a negative modifier results
in an overall increase in difficulty). Conversely, when things are
all easy and everything is going well (the value is positive), the
resulting animals are fat and lazy.

The consequence that jumps right out at me (please feel free to
point out less obvious consequences) are that if the players go out
and hunt anything that moves, not only will there be less of things
that move, but the things that are left moving will be meaner,
tougher, and nastier. And will probably see and treat the players as

I am not sure this alone would change player behavior,
however. While I agree with the assessment that "gaining ph4t l3wt
and xp" is the main motivation behind the slaughtering of creatures
(which leads to ecosystem breakdown), I don't think that removing
that motivation will stop the slaughter. I tend to believe that the
precedent set by current and previous games will cause players to
continue slaughtering everything they can until rewards are given
(in terms of "ph4t l3wt and xp) for doing otherwise.

T.H. Cooke

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