DGN: Emergent Behaviors spawned from - Re: [MUD-Dev] SOC: Willcompany sanctioned cheating hurt theMMOcommunity?

Paul McInnes paulmc at syd.microforte.com.au
Thu Jun 2 12:24:07 New Zealand Standard Time 2005


"Otis Viles" <otis.viles at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 5/28/05, Adam Spivey <adam.spivey at gmail.com> wrote:

>> So why not draw the player's focus to all of the cool stuff under
>> the hood? An in-game newspaper, some postings on your game's
>> website, almost any medium could be used -- and better still,
>> /these too could be automated/.

> Your idea is interesting but it doesn't require what I was arguing
> against -- actually having the mobs display grouping and pecking
> order behaviors. You could do the entire thing as a random roll on
> a table. In some respects, the random table entry would be better
> -- if the mobs are truly wandering about according to some
> algorithm, they might not be anywhere near where the paper the
> players just bought said they were. If the tip sheets become too
> unreliable, players will stop buying them and just go back to the
> "visit everywhere, kill everything that moves".

> So, I like the idea but it doesn't require an AI-style
> implementation.

The more complex implementation is interesting to players to the
extent that they can interact with the simulated system in a
meaningful way. I can imagine a variety of different ways that
players could "see" the simulated aspects of the band dynamic in
action, ranging from automatically generated news items when the
leadership changes hands to magic spells that allow the position of
leaders to be tracked. I had a very similar system in a game I wrote
many years ago, and it only became fun when I had debug mode on and
I could see all the background activity in response to my
character's actions.

The key question with any of these systems is "why should the player
care"? Any "cool" factor with the simulation will wear off in a
week. I might care if there is a rare reward attached with defeating
an Orc leader of a given stature (eg a price on their head), or if I
can raid the Orc camps while they are busy fighting their battles,
or if my clan can declare a given band an "enemy" and everyone in
the clan gets a special reward for defeating the members of the Orc
band or if the larger Orc band can close trade routes (or whatever).

However, these things could still be handled by random tables and
special spawns. The real appeal of such a system is that players
will feel that they can find novel ways of exploiting the
simulation. It is a bit of a "sand box" within the game. The danger
here is that the simulation is too vulnerable to this kind of
manipulation, and most of the richness is lost as players
systematically farm the simulation. Making a simulation that is both
robust enough to survive contact with the players, and interesting
enough for players to care, is a non-trivial challenge.

The beauty of a simulated Orc band is that it creates a set of
potentially interesting dynamics within the world, but it is a lot
of work for a very small result unless players have a regular and
satisfying interest in the events within the simulation, and a
meaningful way of influencing its outcome. The danger with such a
system is that the server CPU and not the player is having all the
fun.

Cheers,

Paul
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