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

Sean Kelly sean at ffwd.cx
Thu Apr 25 09:01:32 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: "shren" <shren at io.com>
> On Sun, 21 Apr 2002, Sean Kelly wrote:

>> 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.

> The difference is the difference between:

>   If you do X, Y happens.
>   If you don't do X, Z happens.

> and

>   If you do X, Q happens.
>   If you don't do X, Q happens.

With spawn-based MMORPGs, it always seemed to me that:

If you do X, the game will tell you Y happens, but it won't actually
happen because behind you there are 5 other people who want to do X
as well.

I grant that the cause-effect model is the same in both spawn and
non-spawn games, but the effect is less predictable when it isn't
pre-determined.

> But, with simple spawning, it's hard to come up with a Y because
> the players don't really want the spawning to stop.  Imagine
> telling the EQ players that they had defeated all of the evil,
> that no more monsters would spawn, and that Norrath (right world?
> right spelling?) was now free to enter an age of peace.

It would give the players something to work towards, and the feeling
that they were actually directly changing the course of things.

My objection to the spawn model is that it seems like someone took a
LAN game designed for 10 players and stuck 3,000 people in it, then
solved the "everyone will want to do every quest" issue by
respawning everything regularly.  What's the point in doing anything
if the quest will reset 30 minutes later?

Still, it would be an interesting situation.  What WOULD players do
if they knew monsters didn't respawn?  You might have guilds
hoarding dungeons and cultivating them like gardens.  Or maybe the
players would all just turn on each other, since the players will
always respawn.  It would be an interesting social experiment.

> One of my thoughts on this matter is to make micro-worlds that
> have shorter durations, fixed player bases, and fixed goals, and
> the micro-worlds close when the goals have been met.  So you get
> together a hundred people, enter a small world, and spend about a
> year saving it, making steady progress as you go.  When all of the
> goals have been met, the evils defeated, and peace achieved, the
> world respawns like a mud respawn, back at the beginning.
> Repetitive, but there's a feeling of progress, and I seldom stick
> to a game for longer than a year anyway.

This is what World War II Online is doing.  I think it's a viable
model, so long as the outcome isn't pre-determined, as players may
want to change sides, try different strategies, etc.  Or maybe they
would all agree to not kill one another so the world doesn't end so
they can continue leveling their characters.  Depends on how much
player actions affected the course of things.

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