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

Damion Schubert damion at ninjaneering.com
Fri Apr 26 11:05:56 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


>From Sean Kelly:

> Good point.  But if players can both compete directly as well as
> affect the world at large (some sort of content creation), I
> believe that the game is much more self-sustaining than worlds
> where this is not the case.  Asheron's Call case in point.
> Designers spend all their time working like crazy to get the next
> month's block of content out the door, and the more industrious
> players finish it in 48 hours.  Also, since only a limited amount
> of content can be created, the entire populace ends up being
> attracted to the same few places (though I grant that the team has
> done a good job trying to distribute things as much as possible).
> Compare this to, say, Ultima Online, and I think UO comes out on
> top in terms of designer effort vs.  replay value.

One of the problems I've seen frequently is that players rarely seem
compelled to fight over the McGuffins that we developers put in
front of them.  Make it all about prestige and people ignore it.
Make it a statistical bonus, and people will collude in order to
find a way that gives as many people as possible the bonus.

The three things I've seen reliably provoke players to attack other
players (at least in a 'pvp' and not a 'pk' sense):

  1) guild halls.  In Meridian, we noticed that each shard had 30
  guilds on it, so we put only 10 guild halls in.  If you wanted to
  take one of these extremely limited resources, you had to take it
  away from someone.  Guild halls had storage space (M59 didn't have
  banks for ever) along with prestige, and so there was a good
  incentive to not make your guild too big.

  2) events.  You get remarkable success when you have an IGM direct
  a player group to attack another player group.  Players are also
  fairly understanding of this on the defensive side.

  3) player reasons.  "You stole my cybergirlfriend, beeyotch!
  Prepare to die!"

What generally doesn't work?  Abstract flag twiddling.  Both
Meridian and UO had a lot of attempts to abstract out territory
control and factional politics into abstract flag twiddling, in
hopes of (as Sean hoped above) this being a source of renewable
activity once things got started.  However, it seems from
observation that passion for these metagames seemed to die fairly
quickly.

I'd love to hear examples of some metagames like that which _were_
played continually after implementation.

--d


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