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Old 10-07-2002, 02:23 AM   #1
Tanikaze Autumnwood
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Default dynamic mmorpg?


this is my meditation on the subject of dynamic mmorpg, as subject implies, the question is: what is the requisite of a dynamic mmorpg?

to clarify the question, i wanna say something on the matter first. for eg, some ppl think scripted events in ac1 is dynamic, or as verant like to say about their legend server as dynamic, i however disagree. first of all, scripted event is not dynamic: as an analogy, a shakespeare's play is not dynamic, there are no alternative endings waiting to be played out by the actors (analogical to the npcs). the audiences (the players) can cheer and clap whenever they desired to (the defined actions the players are allowed to do to the npcs), but the audiences do not by their fiat at all, changes the direction of the story being played out on the stage. the only player input for those situation is: if for some reason, the audiences have mistaken the length of the intermission, the play might be slightly delayed (server overload and crashed! event continues after server restored). -- this is hardly dynamic. however the question is, will it be dynamic if we are allowed to interact with the npcs with more actions? is that sufficient?

or for that matter, if we agree that scripted event as dynamic, then wouldn't each patch we have on the server be as an dynamic event? like the fall and raise of the bardic trade (notably after kunark expansion and the subsequent reconsideration on verant part to "fix" the class)? (obviously a rhetorical question, duh)

but of course, eq legend also has another types of event - the gm held events. i distinguish this type of event from the scripted since this type does not leave permanent effect. now, can they be considered dynamic? they are imo most certainly not. they are like circuits being set around the country sides. they are there to entertain. all events and effects are meant to be contained within that event and immediate area. what i mean is that they can be automated. the assumption is as long as it is a quest i haven't done before, it's a new one to me. gm made or automated makes absolutely no difference.

what then makes a dynamic mmorpg? in the first analogy, i mentioned the player's fiat. i think it has much to do with what ppl perceive as dynamic. but is this all? for after some thinking, it seems to me that as long as i do not know the story behind a particular quest, i should be sufficiently fooled to think that my action actually affects the environment. that is problematic though of course, as all off line games rely on that, evidently, and they are really only meant to be played once.

on a side note, can player content, like what you can do in nwn, make a game dynamic? i would say no, since it suffers from the same problem as scripted event. although it might provide an illusion of dynamics by exploiting ignorance of quests on the players part as mentioned just above, it certainly suffers the same problem, which makes it not dynamic in reality. that is to say numerious static stuff put together does not suddently make them dynamic, aka putting a bunch of stones together does not make them dance.

all the above, as far as i can tell, is what most gaming companies consider as mechanism that creates a dynamic environment, which i find embarrassingly insufficient. the remaining question is of course to ask what do i mean by "dynamic." (if achievable at all?) but before i do that, i'd like to get some opinion from ppl as to what they think about this subject. as in if scripted events, gm events, and player content can in some ways be considered as dynamic? and if not, what do ppl think dynamic means?
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Old 10-07-2002, 03:44 AM   #2
Kerryn Darkwater
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Default Dynamism


Dynamic is when you and your mates go around kelethin killing guards and the next day Crush and Dvinn are stood there and the elfs are all gone.

Dynamic is when you kill a dragon and - it doesnt come bak next week.

Dynamic is where you screw up on a quest and your home town isnt there next week because it was destroyed.

Dynamic is where someone gets the Magic Weapon of Kumbaya and the when the next person goes to do the quest the NPC says "Sorry mate, but I gave the magic weapon of Kumbaya to soandso yesterday"

Dynamism in an online roleplaying game is impossible because of the sheer amount of coding and other problems you'll face.

The closest you get is UO where you can build something which others can interact with.
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Old 10-07-2002, 07:01 AM   #3
Hoppkins
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Default Re: Dynamism


Cleric with epic says "Hail Zordak Ragefire"

Zordak Ragefire says "Oh bugger off...."
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Old 10-07-2002, 08:03 AM   #4
CeruleanRuneguard
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Default Re: Dynamism


For true dynamism you're essentially asking for AI.

To be able to respond logically and consistently in a "world" the size of Norrath with as many players would be near impossible. Just imagine the amount of change on a daily basis - it's mind boggling. Not just the high end raid areas (hell they'd change every half hour) but even areas like Greater Fay or the Commons'... what about Paw? BlackBurrow? LoIO?

An army of GM's couldn't keep up let alone the meager AI's that are currently out there (and game AI's that exist don't count, you'd have to use something far more adaptive/responsive).

Ceru
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Old 10-07-2002, 08:07 AM   #5
Darue Ivywood
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To be truly dynamic in nature, your looking at a virutal reality where one small action can change the way things are done, the way the game world is percieved, the way interactions take place.

There would be many problems with this type of avenue. The sheer coding behind it would be the largest. The second being the communication to and from your PC(bandwidth would be a nightmare as everything in the world would be changing constantly and updating constantly, it would be like downloading patches constantly) Another would be player _1001 doing something purposely to upset the play of the rest of the community.( a good example would be what Hoppkins stated)

There are a few games out there that are trying to touch on it in there own way.. ShadowBane (if it ever comes out) and I believe World War II Online had a sense of this 'dynamism' where a groups efforts changed the map but of course could be reverted back once taken by the other side.

The variables alone in a truly dynamic world would take forever to code and compile, even with an adavanced AI. Algorithm's would be very lengthy, and in turn buggy with, really, an inability to test 'everything' that could happen. Which in turn leaves back doors open for those who may want to cheat.(ie manipulate flaws in the system not pertaining to the worlds dynamic engine to accomplish things otherwise unable to be done ..)


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Old 10-08-2002, 01:42 AM   #6
Tanikaze Autumnwood
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thx for the reply.

for kerryn:
i believe it is necessary for dynamism to have quests that ends once it was done, but having quests that be done only once, alone, is not sufficient for dynamism. gm quests are only done once, but they are not what i'd call dynamic. and user made objects are not alone what i'd call dynamic either: brewing skills in eq allows you to create wine, for example, and they can be given out to other players to "interact" with. it has less function than a house in uo of course, though the basics are there. yet, somehow i still feel it is lacking. (and of course this is a hunch, and i don't know why)

hoppkins basically said the same thing.

for ceru:
the game engine already in some degree allows changes. a mob that you aggro on an empty field should, theocratically have infinite possible route to choose from to get you, depending on your current position. it requires no real time gm assistance for it to find a route. the point i'm trying to make is of course, even though the number of possible path is in the order of infinity, it can be expressed in an algorithm of finite length. it's a bit too early to conclude that it is impossible when we don't even know what's involved in the so called "dynamism." also notice though, this is a straight-forward calculation problem, it's not considered as ai... and actually, the concept of ai alone is debatable.

for darue:
small things, big things, size doesn't actually matter. since we always have a set of defined actions that restricts what the player can do in the game. i think i can safely say that you'd agree with me on thinking that all actions should affect the game someway. it is not necessary to upload a huge amount to the clients in order to make a game dynamic... i think the magic word here is "all actions." as long as you restrict the possible actions, then the need of bandwidth would also decrease. it's hard to say how much is needed to transmit when we don't' know what's really involved - such as knowing if the number of available actions affect the perception of dynamism. but i'll say something that might sound very strange to you. in regards to it being hard to program and resulting in a buggy world that would allow ppl to cheat... no one can cheat in a dynamic world, it is impossible to cheat in it precisely because it is dynamic. as for shadow bane and ww2, i don't know much about them to really know if i'd call them dynamic.

in conclusion:
i don't believe ai is actually needed to create a dynamic world. we are not talking about how the computer must interpret our action in order to respond. it does not need to "interpret," it just need to take it in as is since the available actions for players are already pre-defined. however i'm not saying it then means it does not need a lot of resources. on the other hand, dialogues with npcs might need to be interpreted by an ai for the npcs to react in any meaningful manner, but i'm not even expecting that much yet.

just in case you don't follow why i say it is impossible to cheat in a dynamic world... i'd explain it: a dynamic world, as far as i expected, must be a close system. a close system cannot by its own operations create anything that is not already in the system. people can hack the world, but then that is a problem of network security, not world design, and it's not restricted to games with dynamic world. however, no one can ever cheat within the world itself... or rather, no action can be considered as unexpected inside a close system.

other than a close system though, i really have not yet a complete idea of what it is, so i guess after all i cannot offer a positive description of what i think a dynamic mmorpg would be.
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Old 10-08-2002, 02:20 AM   #7
Kalaks Fantasia
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Dynamism in an online roleplaying game is impossible because of the sheer amount of coding and other problems you'll face.
Incorrect. Depends of the design. Sheer amount of coding and random problems you would face simply means your design is not in par of your goals.


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Old 10-08-2002, 02:37 AM   #8
Kalaks Fantasia
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To explain a bit further, yes totally dynamic world is very hard to make (and can be defined as impossible).

However to maintain enough dynamicality to players side, is enough to have certain level higher degree of staticality in the world.

For instance design NPCs as units who'se actions depend actively from the actions of other NPCs. Design NPCs to be able to act in groups of several NPCs as well as by themselves.

Define "goals" for these NPCs, so that they pursue to some income themselves too, they "know" the economical cycle in the game and can position themselves to a spot, which benefits them most with their skills.

If you just add enough variables, that depend from each other, you actually have a system that is dynamic within the boundaries it can be. Players' actions change the virtual world and change the way NPCs behave.

Then again if you want to define every item so unique that there are thousands of "unique" items in the game, then you are burying yourself to the work, unless you're going to use some ruleset (which might be very complex) to generate the items "on-the-fly".


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Old 10-08-2002, 06:54 AM   #9
Darue Ivywood
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I agree with you tanikaze..'cept for this.

since we always have a set of defined actions that restricts what the player can do in the game
With this statement, however, it wouldn't be a truly dynamic game. Any time there would be restrictions as to what you can do (not saying its the right thing to do **will explain in a bit**) you have essentially reverted back to static assignments. And the cheating I am refering to would be back door hacks into the world that has been created. Like say if you perform a certain set of actions, and the computer generates an error and bumps you out to a console prompt where then you could do things not intended in the virtual world. To be able to test ALL the actions that go along with a truely dynamic world would be hard. **example towards bottom**

and kalaks, I would disagree with
Incorrect. Depends of the design. Sheer amount of coding and random problems you would face simply means your design is not in par of your goals.
this as well. Unless your making an advanced static world.

A tr[/i] dynamic world would be a virtual reality. Where anything can happen. To code for all the possibilites would be an enourmous feat. (and I would be in line to buy if something ever hit the market...but technology isnt up to date with dreams..as of yet)

**the example** ok..think of it this way...the life you/we/ all of us/ live would be considered truely dynamic. To be able to code for all the randomness/probablitities, all the possibilities that could happen in your everyday life, would be next to impossible. *

Anything less could still be described as static, with an advanced AI.


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Old 10-08-2002, 08:27 AM   #10
CeruleanRuneguard
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I'm afraid someone lost me.

Is there now a 'limited dynamism'? Isn't that basically an oxymoron? A stone lying on the ground is limited (retarded, truly) dynamism.

It's either dynamic or not. What I presume we're talking about is limiting dynamism to context. But the context we're talking about is pretty huge. A MMORPG roughly the size of EQ? 3000 players online at a time, an absurd amount of NPC Quest givers, merchants, guildmasters... and we're not even to mobs or items yet... or trades... or advancement potential (dynamic NPCs would have to progress right?). Does the dynamism kick in only at high levels (ding! 60! Welcome to DynaEQ) or is it consistently and thoroughly dynamic the entire time....suddenly those orc belts have more bearing on the politics of Greater Fay than ever before, or hell the market is flooded, GAH!

To get true dynamism it will require AI the likes we haven't seen. To purposefully, logically and consistently react, transform and manipulate an entire playing world based on an infinite number of actions, situations, and encounters.

To simply give NPC's goals and have them fight for (pursue) those goals... is that dynamic? Isn't that what is in EQ. Mob_01 has a goal of getting from Point A to Point B. If Mob_01 for some reason cannot (due to the actions of Raid_Guild_Y) then Mob_2 & Mob_3 spawn to kick the snot out of Raid_Guild_Y.

I'm not sure I'd define that as dynamic. It has a pre-set and limited number of reactions. Dynamism (of the kind I believe people want) requires a bit of guessing... a bit of unpredictability.

Ceru


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Old 10-08-2002, 11:40 AM   #11
Kalaks Fantasia
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Actually I was thinking a bit higher level of dynamicality. I think there is some "dynamicality" in between none and full virtual world dynamicality.

To have virtual artificial society among NPCs and goals in their society.

You'd have a smith, who would buy the ingredients of the stuff the rate he would be able to sell the final products. He would have supply chain in it.

Goblins like money. They could supply the smith some rocks from the mine, IF the giants werent using it...

Most of this @#%$ could be calculatable. Really. It isn't simple but it isn't too comples either.


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Old 10-09-2002, 05:08 PM   #12
Tanikaze Autumnwood
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for darue:
limited set of actions does not therefore produce static environment. eg. we are made from atoms, we don't have the ability to spilt ourselves apart in the atomic level (well, some will argue we can, so let's say we are limited by physics, but we cannot alter physics - we can't change time, not even though time dilation. that's time changing in our face, and not the other way around). and nothing beyond physics evidently... i mean changing something immaterial and non-exists.... it's not so much on how much you can interact with but if the interaction is limited to the user vs environment. if the environment is design purely for the user, then the environment is static - in a sense that it's only purpose is to maintain an illusionary environment without actually having integrity to its autonomy.

for ceru:
ai is not needed because the environment is dynamic only in that it changes... ok, i'll spill the beans on what, however incomplete, in my mind... an environment is dynamic, as far as i understand it, is a system that actually has a meaningful equilibrium. it responds to stress to form new equilibriums, either introduced by users, or by interactions between its own parts. the reason why ai is not needed is because this system is not by itself in any sense intelligent. it's like physics, it's not intelligent (and you guessed it, i don't believe in the design argument). the only intelligence we'll ever need would resides on the agents that lives in the environment. but then we don't even need them to create a dynamic environment. i mean what is intelligence? we call ourselves intelligent and try to have everything measured by our own stick, and that's why i said ai is a debatable subject. all ai can do in an environment is that it reproduce actions and responds that we, as humans, are familiar with. it is of course necessary for a game that's planned to be sold to humans (i say it as if i'm not or something... but i assure you i am :P). yet, it is not what makes an environment dynamic. to look at it from the other way, ai would be inconsequential without an environment that make consequences expressible.

To simply give NPC's goals and have them fight for (pursue) those goals... is that dynamic? Isn't that what is in EQ. Mob_01 has a goal of getting from Point A to Point B. If Mob_01 for some reason cannot (due to the actions of Raid_Guild_Y) then Mob_2 & Mob_3 spawn to kick the snot out of Raid_Guild_Y.
that's dynamism and not dynamism... well, consider this: mob_01 wants to go to point b from point a. he travel through walls to get there. that's not reacting to the environment. the world does not reach a new equilibrium because of its action. in fact, nothing in eq cause the world to shift in equilibrium, except patches. the mob on the other hand is dynamic, but they have a limited life time. in a sense, they react to you as a form of stress, and other npcs' aggro range. you can see how there are stragies on managing aggros. those little systems that runs around have the ability to change their equilibrium points in respond to stress introduced by players, however simple. and it's precisely because they are dynamic that make strategies meaningful (or you just get a method). and to reference to a point i made earlier - since the environment is not dynamic, that simple dynamism that the mobs exhibit must be _destroyed_ to preserve the static environment, and hence spawning. in the end, the playable character is the only dynamic system that doesn't go poof... i mean that actually presists.

in the end, i'm closest to kalaks' line of thought. basically, all objects must function more than just to the user, but must function to their environment and treat its elements as objects.

final thought:
an economy is an economy, a barter economy is an economy. everyone is trying too hard to make a economy to look like the economy that we are living in now a days. if there is a third world war, our economy will dissolve in a heart beat. but even if we were to devolve back to a barter economy, isn't that still an economy? and isn't that precisely, the allowance for all possible states of event, that makes a world dynamic? and imagine if the alchemist found success in making gold from lead... gold would be made valueless in a flash, but that doesn't mean we won't use another form of currency... i mean some culture used sea shells as currency at some point of time, no one "cheated" to make it an ineffective as a medium of trade.

and i also, because of this, think that pvp vs pve dichonomy is a false one.
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Old 10-09-2002, 09:44 PM   #13
Azraelwrath
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EQ wasn't made for me.
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