[MUD-Dev] Request for ideas

Adam Martin ya_hoo_com at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 9 12:06:23 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: "Christopher Allen" <ChristopherA at skotos.net>
> Ian Collyer wrote:

>>   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.

>>   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.

> I keep hearing variations of the above as the two choices, but why
> not between? The players are part of the ecosystem, however, the
> ecosystem is much larger then what is visible to the players,
> maybe on average 10x in size. Thus when you kill the UO bunny
> rabbit, there might actually be 9 more out there that you haven't
> seen that are breeding, etc. You affect the population slightly
> (there are 9 breeding instead of 10) but essentially it is
> difficult to eradicate the bunnies. Combined with as the
> population declines, they get better at hiding -- i.e. maybe the
> percentage of hidden bunnies to visible bunnies goes up as they
> population declines to 20x.  Eventually there might be so few
> bunnies that no one sees them, but they are out there, hidden and
> breeding and prepared to become visible again.  

The fundamental problem with that is that unless you fake it,
bunnies need to find each other in order to breed. This gives rise
to the overall problem with simulated interacting populations - they
tend to rapidly go extinct or become a plague upon the world. This
is supposedly a function of the inherently chaotic systems you get
in any predator/prey populations: the balance of one to the other
appears to be a self-healing consistent balance (as prey increases,
so do predators, as prey decreases, so do predators).

In actual fact, real life observation shows that it is a finely
balanced system, with the relationship between the two tottering
along on a knife edge, with a tendency even after many many years of
stability to suddenly and violently head in one direction or
another. I've seen parallels drawn between this and the three-colour
Newtonian (http://chaos.astria.com/theory/newton/fractal.html - look
at the three images half way down the page) fractals, which if
plotted in 3D space can be visualised as three basins with highly
bumpy/erratic ridges separating them.  If you put a ball on a ridge,
it will roll around, back and forth, for anything up to an awful
long time - appearing to be in a stable back-and-forth path - and
then get catapulted out into one of the basins because if was never
actually repeating its path of motion, just coming very close to
doing so.

Adam M
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