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

Koster Koster
Fri Apr 26 18:42:24 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: Damion Schubert

> Free idea for someone: I've always wanted to do a spawning system
> where the spawn was controlled by 'monster generators' a la
> Gauntlet.  For example, the game would randomly drop a 'spider
> tree' someplace, and that spider tree would generate spiders that
> would get bigger and badder the longer it was alive.  Players
> could go kill the tree (or better yet, 'enter' the tree, go into a
> randomly generated dungeon and kill the spider queen).  Doing so
> would temporarily get rid of the threat.
 
> I like it because it has very clear cause and effect, and it
> creates very quest-like behavior.  The problem, of course, is
> keeping excessive 'farming' of generators under control, but I
> think that's doable with the right sticks and carrots.

We are doing this in Star Wars Galaxies. There was recently a post
on our boards about how it works, written by listmember Jeff
Freeman:

start quote--->
There seems to be a little confusion over just what the differences
are between these four (distinct) things. So here they are, in no
particular order:

Spawning is the system determines when and where Lairs, POI's and
random monsters should appear. The Spawning System is the system
that looks at you and says:

Gee, he looks like he could use a little excitement. He's in the
forest on Endor and he seems pretty tough, so I'll look at this list
of *Tough Things, In The Forest, On Endor* and pick one of
them. I'll put it near him (but not too near... don't want it
dropping on his head!). Have fun!

There are no "fixed spawn points" or anything of the like. The
spawning system takes various things into consideration about you
(just how tough are you, anyway?), and your location (are you in or
near town? In the wilderness? In a "hard" part of the wilderness, or
an "easy" part of the wilderness?) and chooses an appropriate
encounter (so no Krayt Dragons popping out of the alleyways of
Theed).

Going back to the example above, we know there are tough things, in
the Forest, on Endor (forest moon of), and if you're in the forest,
then you're going to run into something sooner or later.

The simplest something that you might encounter would be, of course,
a creature. The Spawning System makes sure the creature is
appropriate to the location, and - rather like a Game Master in a
table-top RPG - ensures that it's something appropriate for you to
encounter. Maybe you're so tough, it's more appropriate for you to
encounter five creatures instead of just one...

Of course, you still have to be careful: There are regions of the
worlds that are more dangerous that other regions of the
worlds. Just because you have (say) no combat skills of any sort
whatsoever, doesn't mean that the Spawning System will never create
a creature that can kill you (it just means that it won't create ten
of them, since one will do the job).

Or you might find a Lair.

If so, then the Lair System takes over. This is the system that
creates a Lair Object (a cave, a nest, a Rebel Encampment,
whatever). Notice that because Lairs are created by the Spawning
System, there aren't any fixed locations for Lairs to spawns
either. The Spawning System puts them near the players, whenever the
players are somewhere appropriate for that type of Lair.

The Lair creates creatures, according to whatever type of Lair it
is. A Rebel encampment doesn't make gnorts, and a gnort-nest doesn't
spawn Rancors.

The Lair behaves very much like a fixed spawn point, except that it
is a temporary thing. Lairs can be destroyed (by you, that is), and
they can also just get very old and eventually die-out.

Instead of a Monster or Lair, you might find a Point of Interest.

The POI System is what creates all the individual elements of the
POI: The Stormtroopers, the Sandcrawler, the Jawa's, and the horde
of Sandpeople that are going to attack shortly after you
arrive. POI's are hand-crafted "scenes" that you can interact with,
and many of the components of POI's are variable from one instance
to the next: This exact same POI might consist of Rebel soldiers
instead of Stormtroopers, or the Stormtroopers might be attacked by
Rebel soldiers and no Sandpeople show up at all.

And again, as with Monsters and Lairs there aren't fixed spawn
points for POI's. Like Lairs, they'll persist for a while - possible
more or less depending on how you interact with them - but
eventually they go away, and new points of interest spawn wherever
players are looking for something fun to do.

Apart from the Spawning System, Lairs and POI's can also be created
by the Mission System, for certain types of missions: For example,
you might take a mission to go destroy a Rebel encampment. That
could be a Lair, which is created by the Mission System at the
location you were given. It would behave exactly like any other
Lair, in that it maintains a population of Rebels (in this case),
and "respawns" Rebels as they are killed. The difference is that you
have a mission to destroy *this* Rebel encampment.

Hope this answers more questions than it raises.
<---end quote

We have all these systems implemented and working already to one
degree or another. It's rather neat...

-Raph
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