[MUD-Dev] Proposed Law

Mark Eaton marke at mac.com
Fri Oct 26 11:58:41 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


On Thursday, October 25, 2001, at 05:55 PM, Travis Nixon wrote:

> If the real world wasn't such a big place, we'd have driven a lot
> more species into extinction than we have.  That is just as
> certain.  :)

> People kill all the cows because you've told them they're supposed
> to.

> How much money, in real life, could I possibly hope to gain from
> killing a cow?  And how much work would it take to get said
> payoff?  Would it be worth it?  Highly doubtful.  And that's
> assuming that I don't get arrested for killing some farmer's cow.
> Note that I'm not saying games should be like real life, but it is
> rather silly to provide an ecology not even the size of a small
> town, throw a couple thousand players into it and say "Here you
> go!  Kill stuff.  Advance your character.  Make money." and not
> expect that they'd totally clean everything out in notime flat. :)

> Of course the ecosystem is going to fail.  It can't do anything
> BUT fail.  It's not possible for it to do anything but fail.  Put
> 100 wolves in a closed pen that has 200 rabbits.  How long do you
> figure the rabbits are going to live? :)

> Hell, how long do you think the wolves are going to live after
> they eat all the rabbits.  lol

Its the aquarium principle. Aquarium keepers are continually trying
to recreate as accurately as possible the natural environment of
their pets. This of course is impossible because even a 150 or 200
gallon tank is smaller than the habitat that even one fish would
occupy in the wild. And so its necessary to filter and heat the
water, adjust salinity (if you keep salt-water fish), adjust the pH,
and of course add non-renewable resources (in the form of fish
food). Even the grandest aquarium can't truthfully be called an
ecosystem because the aquarist acts as the external balancing force.

MMORPGs are like virtual fish tanks (but I'm not sure if the players
or the NPCs are the fish ;-) maybe both)

An interesting comparison that falls out of this is that aquarists
know that keeping a predatory fish in the same tank as it's natural
prey can be very difficult. The predator's appetite must be kept at
bay with decoys. Of course, nothing you do will provide the prey
fish with a stress free environment. I'm thinking here of
player-killers and their relationship to other types of players.

Another thing that falls out of this is the realization that it
isn't just the inputs that the aquarist must concern himself
with. Its also the outputs (waste generation) that must be filtered
to keep the tank reasonably clean. MMORPG designers should identify
the waste products of an MMORPG population and provide suitably
non-intrusive filtering. Here I'm thinking of 'mudflation' and the
downward spiral of player run economies.

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