[MUD-Dev] Player Manipulation of Environment

Ling Lo ling at slimy.com
Wed Dec 5 04:15:44 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

On Tue, 4 Dec 2001, Hans-Henrik Staerfeldt wrote:
> On Mon, 3 Dec 2001, Paul Schwanz wrote:
>> Jasper McChesney wrote:
>>> Paul Schwanz wrote:

[gave up trying to arrange things and just snipped everything, it
was all about genes and using them to have variable critters]

<EdNote: Good choice>

> I think that you simply need more genes to make your point better.

>    A damage gene.
>    A extra attack gene (bite, etc).
>    A speed gene.
>    An agressive gene.
>    A flee gene.
>    A size gene.
>    A magic gene for spell XX.
>    A weaponuser gene.
>    A item gene (example; carries a sword).
>    A magic resistance gene.
>    A good hide gene (armor+price).

> I would say that for this to work, they should not be excluding
> eachother (at least not all).

There ought to be associated development and maintenance cost for
each of these.  Developing an extra head to bite costs time and
energy and more again to maintain that extra chunk of biomass.  Just
look at certain high maintenance crops.  In ALife simulations where
ants have some traits that can be increased without any costs, it's
hardly surprising to discover that the ants have optimal genes at
the end of the simulation run.  (I mean, if the ant could either see
2 squares, 3 square or 4 squares then at the end of it all the ants
can see 4 squares...  that's not precisely earthshattering.)

If the aim is to have a large population, less than "optimal" genes
for food foraging is actually better since the agents won't gorge
themselves needlessly.

>>>> If the area has no other natural rabbit predators, the rabbits
>>>> with higher birth rates will tend to be most prevalent in an
>>>> unhunted area.  On the other hand, if predators are predisposed
>>>> to eat rabbits with lower hit points, then rabbits with the
>>>> h-gene may predominate.

>>> This is the most intersting part of your (specific) scheme:
>>> seeing what rabbit-type becomes dominant in a given area.  I
>>> still don't know what game purpose this really serves though.
>>> >> The rabbits are responding to pressures that are in their >>
>>> environment with the goal that they remain fit enough for the >>
>>> rabbit population to survive.

>> Well, perhaps that is the next step in making things more
>> interesting.  (My fist concern, though, is the survivability of
>> content where players are given additional freedom to interact
>> with content.)  It might be possible to have multiple genes at
>> work simultaneously in the same rabbit.  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.

How about borrowing buffered solutions from chemistry?  Create two
species, rabbits (alkaline) and bigbadassmonsters (BBAMs, acidic).
Rabbits eat lettuce, of which there's a lot of.  BBAMs are rare and
pretty powerful but they prefer to eat rabbits because they taste
like ambrosia.  If the players deplete the rabbit population, the
BBAMs can't find the rabbits and go for the less tasty but more
numerous players, giving the rabbits a chance to recover.  When the
BBAMs are depleted, the rabbits undergo a population boom and flood
the area.  This in turn feeds the next generation of BBAMs (who
breed like rabbits when not hungry).

Fudge the above to a ridiculous extent and cheat because the
presence of players is a cheat anyway.  They're a foreign substance
that gets added, so why not boost the ecosystem by the same?  I
don't see why there is a need to maintain a precise simulation with
each and every entity in the game represented explicitly.  Do a
search for population containers.

For the players to appreciate the effect of ALife, there needs to be
a community mind on behalf of the players with easy access to
observations of past events and effects.  In plain English:

  [Radio] Bubba: I'm going into wyld bam country, anyone wanna come along?
  [Radio] Buffy: Didn't Bobbo just kill all the rabbits?
  [Radio] Bubba: So?
  [Radio] Buffy: Means there's going to be some hungry bams running
                 around, they're going to be in packs looking for meat,
                 be careful.
  [Radio] Bubba: Hrmm... I'll need help then.

>> My goal was to keep rabbits alive for the sake of maintaining an
>> ecosystem in which players can effect and experience changes.

> I would use it to develop the new races needed to support my
> hacknslash players. The hard part would be to make the experience
> evaluation function for a given set of genes. But potentially you
> could get the population to split off into other races, and fill
> in niches of the game. You should perhaps have a warning system,
> telling you that the 10 ft. tall, green scaled firebreathing thing
> living in a cave is a tad genetically different from what you
> originally called a 'rabbit'.

Isn't the environment the evaluation function?  I would think, in a
system like this, to use some magic system which keeps all the genes
created instead of discarding good work.  Give each agent a journal,
track the progress, create some scoring system and when the mating
season comes round, process the genes and dump the new critters into
the environment.  The score can be calibrated, so too many high
scoring agents, pick some of the weaker gene sets for the
transmorgifier in that season.  The better genes can be kept in
reserve to help in bringing around a faster response when there is a
danger of extinction.

Genes don't have to be physical traits, it can (and for games,
should) include behaviour as well.  For a game of minmaxxers, there
are fads of what is the best class/race/whatever combo, an evolving
combat agent could be more resilient to such flux.  It would be cool
if the players decide that rangers are the best class, a flood of
rangers appear and the critters adapt to cope.  Of course, a
sufficiently interesting combat system is required in order to
evolve anything interesting.

The neat thing about genes in nature is that the result pops out
because of the mess of interactions.  A set of genes determined by
the designer will only lead to a set of results that are limited by
the designer's thoughts at the time.  In any case, improvement of
genes with each generation follows a log curve, there's a definite
point of diminishing returns.

 Y|Y  Ling Lo
_O_O_ Fish!

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