Player-built worlds

 
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Yui Unifex
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Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Florida

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 11:46 pm    Post subject: Player-built worlds Reply with quote

This is a tangent from the player-built dungeon thread.

I had a similar idea when designing the original Deus codebase to let players build the entire world. This was partly born out of my laziness (in the classic geek sense) and lack of will to hire a staff of builders, but also from my desire to have a game whose locales can be drastically affected by player actions. You'll play World of Warcraft and go on quests to do very important things, but not a one of these accomplishments ever leave a lasting mark on the world. Some would say this is an inherent flaw of massively multiplayer games, but I disagree.

The theme for Deus was a post nanotech grey goo scenario, where only a few bastions of civilization were stabilized with nano-immune systems that prevented destruction. Outside the world was constantly shifting, creating monsters and altering terrain so much as to make trade nearly impossible. It would be the job of the players to challenge the world -- to first establish stabilized trade routes between the major cities, defend them from attack, to gradually grow stabilized areas, and to terraform the existing terrain to make it more friendly to civilized settlements.

If a player was given the resources necessary to perform the terraforming, those changes would be permanent if the region were stable. A form of player versus player combat would let players destabilize the regions of their competitors. Thus each player would have a lasting effect on their area, and there's always the threat of conflict to spur competition.

There is of course much more that could be done with a player-built world, but extensive modification of the planet is something I don't see very often in our medium.
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Jaruzel



Joined: 18 May 2005
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Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like this idea. In it's imaginary space, it certainly looks impressive.

What would concern me is, how to actually move all these changes about.

In a classic MMOG (such a new genre, and already the world 'classic' comes naturally), the maps and models are installed as part of the client; the only data that goes up and down the pipe is the location and actions of other players and yourself.

If players were to be able to cast a wand/terraformer/earthquake and change the terrain, how would you distribute these changes across the playerbase, in real time? Downloading a new map isn't practical for 'landscape battles' as the map would be constantly shifting and the megabytes a good map contains would exclude all but those with seriously fat pipes.

One way I could see it working is like this:

- Clients have texture tables, containing 1,000s of stock landscape textures.
- Clients have contour tables containing X/Y/Z co-ordinates and Texture IDs of the landscape.
- The landscape is generated on-the-fly by the client engine. It draws the landscape using the contour table, then paints it with the texture.

Another player terraforms an area on the map. Ie. removes a mountain and inserts lake, effectively inverting the contours. The server sends co-ordinates about the part of the map thats changed, plus the new texture IDs. As this is inherently numeric data, it would consume very little bandwidth. All clients receive the update (in almost real time) and the landscape on screen is redrawn.

I love to see this actually working in practice, with the terrain in front of my avatar shifting and changing as I walk around it.

-Jar.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe Unifex is talking about text-based muds. One of the advantages of (most) such games is that you don't need a special client, as all the work is handled server-side.
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Jaruzel



Joined: 18 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, sorry... I only scanned the other thread quickly. Yui Unifex referred to WoW and I took that to mean that he was talking about MMOGs _and_ MUDs.

As a newbie here, is Mudlab _just_ for text MUD discussions then ?

-Jar.
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Alayla



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jaruzel wrote:
As a newbie here, is Mudlab _just_ for text MUD discussions then ?


For the largest part - since that is what most of us do. Of course, if you're building a graphical mud or MMORPG, you're welcome to discuss design issues here as well. Preferably, the posts here should be about things people are working on and know something about.
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's fine to discuss graphical muds, but if the poster doesn't specify which then it's probably best to assume they mean text-based, because that's what the majority of us are involved in.
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kelson76



Joined: 27 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:31 am    Post subject: Balance... Reply with quote

The biggest issue that I can see with player created environments is that balance gets thrown out the window unless it is an integral part of the system.

I can't think of anything that has destroyed more fledgling muds than a total lack of balance in skills, equipment effects, and such.

A MUD is a system, everything has to integrate to create a functioning whole.

- Kelson
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The biggest issue that I can see with player created environments is that balance gets thrown out the window unless it is an integral part of the system.


Absolutely - so make it an integral part of the system :) Ensure that the environment has to be logically put together, that the monsters and loot must always be appropriated powered, and so on.

Quote:
I can't think of anything that has destroyed more fledgling muds than a total lack of balance in skills, equipment effects, and such.


However there are many muds which allow players to craft their own equipment, or create their own spells. Such systems still need to be balanced, but the emphasis shifts from balancing individual skills/items to balancing the system as a whole. There is no reason why the same logic can't be extended to the creation of an entire environment.
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kelson76



Joined: 27 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
Quote:
The biggest issue that I can see with player created environments is that balance gets thrown out the window unless it is an integral part of the system.


Absolutely - so make it an integral part of the system Smile Ensure that the environment has to be logically put together, that the monsters and loot must always be appropriated powered, and so on.

Quote:
I can't think of anything that has destroyed more fledgling muds than a total lack of balance in skills, equipment effects, and such.


However there are many muds which allow players to craft their own equipment, or create their own spells. Such systems still need to be balanced, but the emphasis shifts from balancing individual skills/items to balancing the system as a whole. There is no reason why the same logic can't be extended to the creation of an entire environment.


Yep, but it is one thing to balance a few skills, another to create a system where the framework enforces the level of balance across the entire system.

My main response was to the last point that we don't see much in the MUD world with player created persistant landscapes. I think I recall reading another post where someone had created a system that allowed players to clear cut forests, tunnel under fields, etc. The players just completely trashed the entire world.

So, the reason I think we don't see much of this is it is "hard", and often we want our MUD to conform to the mental picture we have for the MUD, allowing player created landscape to a significant extent does not allow this.

- Kelson
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clacker



Joined: 27 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kelson76 wrote:
My main response was to the last point that we don't see much in the MUD world with player created persistant landscapes. I think I recall reading another post where someone had created a system that allowed players to clear cut forests, tunnel under fields, etc. The players just completely trashed the entire world.

So, the reason I think we don't see much of this is it is "hard", and often we want our MUD to conform to the mental picture we have for the MUD, allowing player created landscape to a significant extent does not allow this.


The players (or certain evil ones) trashing the system when they have the opportunity isn't limited to the "changeable landscape" scenario. How do you make someone want to create when destruction is so much easier in general, and gives them the rush of bringing someone else down? Is it possible to have creation without destruction, or does that limit the possibilities too much? Do you only allow a certain percentage of destruction based on the amount of a player's creation? In other words, would it be OK for a player to destroy 3 areas once the player has created 10?
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Yep, but it is one thing to balance a few skills, another to create a system where the framework enforces the level of balance across the entire system.


Many muds already cover area balance in their building guidelines - eg maximum bonuses allowed for eq based on the mob strength, the valid level ranges for mobs, etc. It would really just be a cause of automating those guidelines, and I don't think that should be particularly hard.

Quote:
My main response was to the last point that we don't see much in the MUD world with player created persistant landscapes. I think I recall reading another post where someone had created a system that allowed players to clear cut forests, tunnel under fields, etc. The players just completely trashed the entire world.


That sounds like my old mud - however the problems weren't related to balance, having more to do with the toolset itself being inherently destructive. My current approach involves supernatural terraforming rather than chopping down trees, and each player is limited to manipulating their own world - so far the results look quite promising.
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