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

Sean Kelly sean at ffwd.cx
Sat Apr 27 09:08:29 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

From: "Paul Schwanz" <paul.schwanz at east.sun.com>
> From:  "Sean Kelly" <sean at ffwd.cx>

>> 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.

> I think this highlights one of the problems with the current
> model.  It is typical to talk about "farming" a spawn site, so
> this carries over quite naturally to "cultivating" monster
> "gardens."  Earlier, someone mentioned having to keep in mind
> travel time to sites with appropriately leveled monsters.  It
> seems to me that this whole idea of monster-as-resource ends up
> making monsters come off as something akin to corn.  (Actually,
> only a specific level of monster is corn, the rest are either
> irrelevant or death.  And as you progress, more and more become
> irrelevant.)  Very un-monster-like in my opinion.

> If we want to have corn in our games, let's have corn...and wheat
> and silver and trees and mythril and marble and all sorts of other
> resources.  Then we can have monsters that make more sense;
> they're the creatures that ruin our cornfields, attack our
> caravans, invade our silver mines, and threaten our villages.
> They may range from being a minor annoyance to a terrifying,
> change-your-shorts type of experience.  They are universally hated
> and there are plenty of reasons and opportunities to kill them,
> but only a fool would venture deep into a heavily monster
> populated area since we are free to create monsters that are
> extremely dangerous when they are completely avoidable.  Seeking
> these monsters out is simply a good way to get killed for no
> apparent reason.

This comes back to the hero problem, which I mentioned earlier in
the thread.  Most MMORPGs cast the players in the role of the hero
whose job it is to save the world from the rampant hordes.  Problem
being that nearly every non-monster in the game is such a character.
Woe unto any monsters in that world, where the averave human can
cast 20 die fireballs and teleport at will.

But what do you do to solve it?  As in the "Codename Blue" thread,
most players are achievement-oriented, and the most successful
achievement model so far centers around combat with monsters.

> So monsters can still breed and grow and spill out into the
> civilized areas where they cause all manner of havok.  And when
> monsters are not *the* resource in the game, we don't have to
> worry nearly as much about graduated monster levels, appropriately
> constructed killing fields, or camped spawn sites.  It could be
> entirely possible to let them grow, congregate, and migrate
> according to more natural and simple rules.

I agree.  The question is, in a world where the population density
consists mostly of players, how do you do it?

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