[MUD-Dev] Breaking down the walls

David Clifton demosthenes810 at hotmail.com
Wed Jun 12 10:37:26 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


I think one of the problems with this system is when, exactly, the
user is updated on the current description of where they are. And
how detailed such updates should be...Say we use a time-related
interval for updates...this way we find a good medium for updating
the user...obviously we don't update if they are in the same exact
spot as when the last update was made, and we do update when they
reach a specific location that they have indicated (i.e. the go to
house suggestion posted earlier...we update when they reach the
house, regardless, and don't keep telling them they are at the house
every five seconds). This way I can run through the forest, as
opposed to walking, and not be utterly bombarded with hoards of
information...information that the average human wouldn't take in
and process in the real world anyway...we notice less when we see
more at once. Problems of course would arise in the fact that every
single point could be called upon to have a description (and I am
assuming you have a great many points along any particular
area...otherwise, you might as well just be jumping room objects
with time-intervals between), and such a description would have to
be generated.  Actually describing so many points by hand is by
nature Not A Good Idea(tm) if only because human error would
undoubtedly mess it up somewhere and I'd find myself being told
contradictory statements (especially where areas different people
described meet). I'm not an expert on how to produce such responses
on the fly...but perhaps a general description that applies to a
certain set of points, with various elements modified depending on
phrases more easily produced by the code...i.e. distances to
objects, lighting which depends on distances to light-emitting
objects and the like...and of course the phrases describing various
objects could fairly easily be modified depending on the lighting
value...

Using a general description for a set of points defined by a
mathematically bound region with flags in the description to supply
various keywords, phrases, etc, depending on the properties of light
and distance as calculated in relation to the user, and updating the
user on how far things are away and the like based on a time
interval, should certainly produce the kind of effect you're looking
for...obviously one is going to have to filter out data as to object
detail based not only on direction the person is facing, but also
distance (modified by lighting of course) and perhaps an area
defined by the 'focus' of the player...give more direct, distinct
updates on objects that are being directly faced, fade out detail as
you move towards the periphery until 'object on the left' and then
not even noticed, with similar done for distance...should be rather
elementary to implement, especially since you don't even have to
update it every point like a graphical implementation would...only
when it is 'sensed' by something does it matter...and some
mathematical playing could even minimize the amount of trouble NPCs
cause in the system, as they don't need as much detail on things
since we don't need the world to look exactly real to them...just
make it appear to the player that the NPC sees things the same way.

In general the system should be rather easy to implement...have you
thought of what type of scale your gride would be on, in order to
accurately depict differences in distance? Even in the slowest speed
the person could move, information would have to appear to change if
I look every 3/4 of a second or so to really give a good
impression...and we couldn't jump points by going faster very easily
without things looking a bit off...or if we did, it would certainly
have to be contained...moving the same points, only spending less
time at each, would give a much better feel for people playing with
the 'look' button often...Or how often the user should be updated so
as not to drown in over-detailed text? Or, in general, what content
such updates should have in the first place...and if/when a person
should see a full description of the entire area as if they looked
around at everything ('region description') besides just when they
type 'look'...obviously this full description is inappropriate for
constant updates to the user...there would need to be a very
strongly defined understanding of how to parse out various qualities
so that descriptions of 'regions' could be handled
accurately. Putting objects at the end of a description just isn't
pretty, so to speak :)

I'd be very interested in hearing where all you're going with
this...

David Clifton
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