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

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Wed Jun 8 02:35:20 New Zealand Standard Time 2005


Michael Sellers writes:
> Paul McInnes wrote:

>> 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.

> I think this is key, and the more meaningful the interactions the
> better.

> As an example, here's an idea from long ago that I've never
> implemented and which might work this way.  Suppose the landscape
> is dotted with randomly spawning fire sprites, little newbie- to
> mid-level creatures of flame that are easily killed and don't
> respawn when killed.  But the system keeps track of how many are
> killed.  When 666 (of course :) ) of them are killed, deep in a
> cavern an uber-boss balrog-like fire demon spawns.  He's fairly
> weak at first but gets stronger as more of the fire sprites are
> killed, but his loot and experience stay the same as when he was
> first spawned.  When the big boss is killed, the fire sprites
> rapidly re-spawn again.

> I'd bet that the players will eventually (and sooner than later)
> figure out the relationship between the lowly fire sprites and the
> uber-boss.  With luck, they might even organize fire sprite hunts
> amongst the lower-level players, and have parties standing ready
> to battle the big boss when he first spawns and is weakest.

> So is this worth it, as opposed to just having randomly spawning
> newbie and uber-monsters?  I think it might be: it would give the
> power players a new and meaningful pattern to detect, would give
> them a reason to interact with new players, and overall would
> reduce the typical impression that the world is a series pop-up
> encounters with no meaningful connection between them.

Such a thing was implemented in Dark Age of Camelot.  Lowbie
monsters in a field were killed until some point was reached.  Then
they all met in the middle of the field and turned into a single
highbie monster.

It was a clever thing to do.  The real problem with it was that it
happened in a game where people camp a site for experience.  Players
would spend days at a field of such monsters, killing them as
efficiently as possible.  The appearance of such a highbie monster
was simply an annoyance because nobody present could kill it.  And
until it was killed, the lowbie monsters didn't return.

The flaw, in my opinion, is in making achievement the overriding
focus of gameplay.  It means that a clever thing like creating a
huge monster is lost on the players who are present.  Their
characters, even the many lowbie player characters present, could
not kill the highbie.

If such a thing were done such that the one big monster were just
something that required everyone present to mass attack it, then it
would make more sense.  It would be a variation on the entertainment
of killing the monsters in the field instead of a suspension of that
entertainment.  Players would have to wait until a highbie could be
called in or a player was willing to swap out to an alternate
highbie character.

> There are many other examples like this that make a nod toward a
> type of monster ecology without trapping the game into full-blown
> ecologies where there's disaster if you kill off all the sheep (or
> wolves or dragons etc).  The key isn't in the ecology, but in
> creating meaningful but non-obvious connections for the players --
> as a whole -- to understand and use.

While true, the value of an ecology is that there is already
something to pattern after.  Duplicate the ecology of our world and
you've created many meaningful but non-obvious connections for the
players.  Proven connections, given our past.

JB
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