[MUD-Dev] [MLP] The use of ecology models (was: NPC Complexity)

Sean Kelly sean at ffwd.cx
Sun Apr 21 13:22:22 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: "Sasha Hart" <Sasha.Hart at directory.reed.edu>
> [Sean Kelly]

>> Any ecology will fall apart if 70% of the entire world's
>> population (beasts included) are rampant consumers.

> ALL real organisms are rampant consumers. If this seems trivial
> (who cares about filter feeders, right) then realize how many
> predators make it their daily, constant business to eat other
> critters. In the case of insectivores, at a rate perhaps
> per-capita comparable to how fast players kill things in UO.

>   (That would make MUD players something like glorified virtual
>   anteaters, wouldn't it? It's more sensible than the hero notion,
>   anyway.)

Though players like to feel like they're being challenged, not
culling the insectile horde ;).  Still, you're right.  The issue
isn't that players are consumers so much as that there isn't a
sufficiently large ecology to support their consumption.

Personally, I like the idea, as in Horizons (and AO), of pitting
groups of players against one another.  Seems a good way to provide
a sustainable opposition with a minimum of effort.

> Yet real ecologies are enormously robust, and predation is totally
> ordinary business. Many differences have been suggested, but I
> think I can let this stand as a proof that in principle, an
> ecology can work even to supply constant killing to players. Now,
> whether or not the CPU and dev time might be better spent
> elsewhere is a different matter.

I think the CPU cost is justifiable, but then I'm as interested in
MUDs as experiment in evolutionary computing as much as a social
milieu.  I imagine there are ways to offload the CPU cost onto other
machines so the issue becomes purely monetary, however.

> In this case, simple spawns are a vastly more economic
> solution. In supplying us with something that looks alive, spawns
> are as terrible a solution as the UO model was for maintaining
> high and stable populations of prey. IMO :)

And ultimately, I don't think spawning is very entertaining.  The
feeling I always got in MMORPGs was that I was in a funhouse.  It's
not any fun if I as a player don't have any lasting impact on the
environment.

Sean

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