[MUD-Dev] Player Manipulation of Environment

Jasper McChesney jasperm at student.umass.edu
Tue Dec 4 11:05:44 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Paul Schwanz wrote:
> Jasper McChesney wrote:
>> Unless your MUD really needs rabits to survive better, I think
>> it's a lot of work for not much reward.  I guess you may indeed
>> want better rabbits just to keep the population alive but to what
>> end?
> Well, since the whole point of the post was to address the
> possibility of avoiding rabbit extinction, it is the case that we
> really need rabbits to survive better, especially at population
> extremes.  We'd like to keep the population alive, so that the
> content we've created (rabbits) is not completely removed from the
> game by player actions.

Okay.  That just sort of got put in the back of my mind somehow as I
got caught up in addressing the more specific ALife stuff.  I also
thought that by having three different traits you were, as a MUD
administrator, trying to determine the best way for rabbits to stay
alive.  So...nevermind all my objections based on that :)

> The system is not designed so that monsters get tougher and
> tougher as the game goes on.  Rather, it is designed to have a
> monster get "tougher and tougher" as that monster's population
> levels reach a lower extreme.  At least, that is the goal of the
> design.  If the former instead of the latter will be the practical
> outcome of the system as it stands currently, I'd be happy to have
> this illustrated so that I can work to tweak the design.

Well, I had a slightly incorrect idea of how your system was going
to work.  Still, I think some part of my argument is still valid.

As it stands, there's nothing in your system to specifically
prohibit creatures from becoming better even under relatively normal
circumstances, and some certainly will, especially in the case of
breeder rabbits -- even with no players attempting to kill them,
there's nothing to stop them from becoming better breeders and
plenty of motivation for it (evolutionarily speaking).  Unless
you're just having a cut-off for the pop. at some point.  You could
also introduce limited resources (food) as well.

[Snip portion about me not understanding the point]

>> Secondly, and more problematic, is the fact that your traits are
>> numeric in nature and not binary switches.  If I ran it now, I'd
>> soon enough have rabbits that became better and better: their
>> trait rating would continue to rise unchecked.  Eventually, you'd
>> have 100% invivisble rabbits -- or whatever other ceiling you
>> establish.  The problem is that there's no disadvantage to
>> becoming specialized here: no complex interaction between genes.

> You will only have 100% invisible rabbits (overlooking the fact
> that this conflates fittest with fit enough--in reality, the fit
> enough survive) until the next generation, where (with the
> specific numbers I used to explain the concept) you'd have only
> 80% invisible rabbits.

Yes.  My concern was just that this drift wouldn't take effect
because, depending on the situation, there would always be some
stress on the population.  But this may or may not be true.

> There is a disadvantage to becoming specialized.  The disadvantage
> is that you don't have the other specializations.  If the wolf and
> other natural rabbit predators avoid hunting/eating rabbits with
> higher hit points, then specializing in the sort of camouflage
> that works well agains human hunters would indeed leave them at a
> disadvantage where there are fewer human hunters but more natural
> predators.  As explained (perhaps poorly) below, the advantages
> and disadvantages of each specialization is dependant upon
> pressures in the environment.

I wasn't talking about having one trait over another, but about
having 10% camouflage versus 50%.  There's no real reason to have
the lower value (as far as the rabbits are concerned).  This isn't a
real problem except in the case of breeders, for which it would
still (unless I've missed something) be advantageous, even when the
outside pressure is gone, to breed at ever increasing rates.

> To explain further, what I meant by a particular gene being
> dominant is that, although the other genes can be passed along to
> offspring, they are not in any way active in the current rabbit.
> Only the "dominant" gene is active.  A rabbit that has the
> camouflage gene active has a set amount of hit points.  Its
> offspring's hit points will only be higher if the offspring takes
> the higher hitpoint trait/gene instead of the same or better
> camouflage trait/gene.  In this sense, it is a sort of "either-or"
> proposition.  I think this is what you meant by "binary" above.

Well yes, but I wasn't thinking about applying it to the posession
of such broad traits -- I was proposing that you have a system more
like real genes, where a myriad of switches combine to determine

> The case you describe, however, seems to go contrary to the whole
> point of my post.  I want breeder rabbits to be more survivable in
> certain circumstances than other types of rabbits, just like the
> other types of rabbits are more survivable in other environments.
> If we make it so that the pelts of breeder rabbits are also much
> more valuable, it tends to undermine the whole point of the
> excercise.

You misunderstand: I want breeder rabbits to have *less* valuable
pelts, so that there's a tradeoff (the farmer must choose quantity
versus quality).

I think my initial post might have seemed very negative, but in
reality, I was just focusing on what problems I percieved with it at
the time.  If you're (just) trying to keep *some* rabbits alive, it
should do just fine.  As for actually producing a real, evolving
population, that's another question -- you see, I thought you
actually wanted to have the populations permanently evolve, rather
than just respond briefly to player-created stress.  Apologies for
the confusion.

"'There are no atheists in foxholes' isn't an argument against atheism,
it's an argument against foxholes." - James Morrow

Jasper "Asmaul" McChesney 
jasperm at student.umass.edu / jasp at javanet.com
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