[MUD-Dev] Procedural content generation

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Sat Oct 13 17:24:58 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Brian Hook writes:
> At 01:26 AM 10/12/01 -0700, John Buehler wrote:

>> Perhaps you consider this a trivial case of your third option,
>> but how about procedurally creating the world and then putting in
>> exceptions?

> Hmmm, the best way I can describe the difference is: imagine the
> difference between splattering paint then hand dabbing some color
> vs. splattering paint, dabbing some color then smearing it all
> around.  I want areas that influence their surroundings instead of
> just standing out.  I want to affect the noise, not just stand out
> in it.

I suspect that we're after the same result, and simply look at it in
different ways.  Your analogy suggests that the exceptions are
isolated and transition poorly into the surrounding environment
(whether geometric, political, economic or whatever).  I see no
reason that I can't feather that dab of color into the surroundings.
I would do that because it produces a more reasonable result.

As an very trivial example, Asheron's Call recently primed the pump
of their new release by populating their worlds with player-rentable
houses.  That's a dab of paint.  But they didn't remove the spawn
locations that normally show up in those places, leaving the new
housing developments riddled with bad guys.  That's not the sort of
'exception' that I'm trying to introduce to the world.

The point of exceptions is to acknowledge that there are primary
forces and secondary forces.  The primary forces get first dibs and
then the secondary forces show up later and produce exceptions, or
deltas to the primary.  This is true of terrain, political
structures, economic systems or whatever system you care to shoot

>> I see no reason why procedural creation of entire worlds wouldn't
>> work just fine once we have enough experience with the technique.
>> I mean, before fractal terrain who would have thought that such a
>> thing was possible.  Now we have wave systems and other
>> techniques on top of that.

> You can convincingly procedurally create the _geometry_ of a world
> or star system.  That's easy.  But making it all fit together in a
> greater framework -- specifically, socially and politically and
> economically -- is the hard part.

No argument there.  But I see a game like Caesar III and think how
if that game were to be driving the NPCs of a town in Asheron's Call
or EverQuest how tremendously more entertaining the game would be.
Especially if I can help to supply goods and services for the town
every now and again.  I'd be happy to just get into the game for 20
minutes or so and wander around town, watching the activity of the
NPCs - because it hangs together in a coherent way.


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