Subject: Re: [MUD-Dev] New laws. (was: Player Manipulation of Environment)

John Robert Arras johna at wam.umd.edu
Thu Nov 29 14:46:51 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


On Nov 28, 2001, Marian Griffith <gryphon at iaehv.nl> wrote:

> The key issue is, I think, that there is a difference between the
> mud *providing* the story and the mud *being* the story, ane even
> that does not exactly express what I mean.  I think that part of
> the problem is that we are talking about something new, so that
> our words do not accurately describe it. We try to explain it but
> we can only interpret it in terms of words that are meaning other
> things in more traditional contexts.

What I think it means is that we need to have a good enough, large
enough, complex enough simulation to generate the kinds of stories
that will be interesting. Stories in the real world are generated by
people doing things, and by random things happening, but many of the
best stories are generated by people doing things. You can't expect
players to always come up with interesting reasons for things to
happen, but a good enough simulation might be able to. And, you
can't expect a small group of people to make up enough good stories
to keep a huge number of people interested. There should still be
handcrafted stories, but other ones can be generated.

So, how do we do this? Imagine a world with many populations, each
of which could be neutral or allied along faction/kingdom/alignment
lines. They have their goals and activities and they go about doing
what they want to do, and these actions and desires generate quests
and stories.

  Players walk into a shop and ask: Need anything?

  And they get a quest:

    Grumpy the Dwarf Smith needs Kelzor crystals.

  Why? His goal is to build 100 Magic Swords within the next month. 
  Why? His kingdom paid him to do this. 
  Why? His kingdom needs Magical Swords.
  Why? His kingdom needs to make Elite Troops, and they require
    Magical Swords.

The mechanics of it could work like this. The kingdom AI is down to
400 Elite Troops, so it wants to create more to get the numbers back
up. (It "wants" to have 450 on hand at all times and gets antsy if
that number falls too low.) It tells the military AI to build 100
troops. The military AI checks the list of requirements for building
Elite Troops and finds it needs a Magical Sword for each. It checks
the list of smiths in the kingdom who can produce Magical Swords and
chooses Grumpy the Dwarf. Grumpy the Dwarf gets the order in and,
using his shop AI, makes a list of all of the supplies he will
need. He then "uses up" his own inventories, and checks the shops he
knows about. He "buys" (transfers) everything he can from those
shops and removes those amounts from his list of things to
buy. Then, the rest becomes quests that players can fulfill.  This
can leave open the possibility of just buying these crystals in
another city if Grumpy doesn't know how about those shops. (This is
a FedEx quest. :)) The players get rewarded for the crystals they
bring in, and after he has enough, he just tells them he doesn't
need anymore, so perhaps they should go sell them at the local shops
for the good of the kingdom.

In this entire process, items were never really made and creatures
didn't really go anywhere or do anything. It's all taken care of
within the AI, and the players just see the quest and the results at
the end of the month. Grumpy never even has to make the swords. At
the end of the month he tells the military AI the number of swords
he was able to build based on the numbers of items given to him as
supplies. (Which get destroyed as soon as he "collects" them.)  If
there were not enough supplies, fewer Elite Troops get built, and
the kingdom may lose some of its influence or land based on this, or
maybe a random city may turn neutral or turn to the other side
because the kingdom doesn't keep adequate troops on hand.


If you wanted a "go kill the bad monsters" quest, then you use
influence maps or something to determine where the kingdoms are, and
other maps to determine enemy troop strength. If enemy troop
strength is too big within areas controlled by the kingdom, then the
kingdom sends out a call to go to a certain location to fight back
the enemies. You get extra "points" for doing this since you're
helping out the kingdom. You might also raid other kingdoms and help
out your kingdom's AI armies in larger battles.  You might even be
on the defending side of an attack...all planned out by the opposing
kingdoms.

If you really wanted to transfer items as in the quest mentioned
above, the dwarf might know about shops in other cities and contact
them generating a caravan duty quest where the other city waits for
a sufficiently powerful group of players to walk with some cart that
will transfer supplies from one city to another. You go to the
"caravan" dispatch center and offer to follow along with a caravan
and you wait until enough people are there. If you succeed, you get
a reward. If you wimp out or the caravan dies, you might be
blacklisted and unable to join future caravans or raiding parties
for being unreliable.


So, I guess I am saying make MUDs more like giant RTS'es and you
will have the ability to generate enough different quests to keep
your players from getting bored.


John









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