Player-bred monsters

 
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 4:23 pm    Post subject: Player-bred monsters Reply with quote

In the Player-built dungeons thread, Ashon mentioned the idea of players being able to breed their own monsters.

I've already been toying with the idea of allowing mages to construct golems, which I guess would work in a similar way - the basic concept being that the mage would build an initially-mindless golem, equip it, give it some tactics, and then let it loose on the world (yes, this was inspired by C++ Robots, although I've never actually played it).

Ashon's idea would give rise to a lot more possibilities though, and in particular his suggestion of using a darwinism algorithm sounds like it could have great potential.

I'd be interested to hear more about peoples thoughts on this.
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Ashon



Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The idea came from a conglomoration of sources. Creatures of course is a big influence, and using some sort of DNA structure is a good start. But I've also drawn some inspiration from some AI research I've done about making smarter NPC's. We've been kicking around the idea of this so called Darwinism Algorithm for quite some time too. It requires of course that there be some randomness in the creation of NPC's, and can quickly devolve into trying to apply genetic algorithms to NPC's.

The biggest problem that I've got that if there isn't some sort of artifical cap to the progressions (evolution) of the NPC's, it will cause a problem with new players.
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Rendelven



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 6
Location: Arkansas

PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am reminded of a game I played a long time ago called 'Azure Dreams'.

Basically, you started out in this little town. This town had a large tower in it. Within this tower were all kinds of horrible monsters... and at the top was something lots of people wanted.

Well, what you did in this game was effectively go into the tower and try to progress upwards. You could find eggs in the tower. You would take these back to your hut in town and incubate them in a special room. Once you've done this, you could begin breeding certain monsters together. This lead way to new and stronger monsters which helped you climb the tower. ( Bring your familiar was an integral part as they often had special abilities etc that were a result of the breeding ). You start out with weak monsters, and with certain breeding, you end up with strong ones. These effectively help you in combat, etc.

This could be interesting if presented to a MUD world. This could give way to players breeding monsters with special attributes. Perhaps they have a great sense of smell, or sight. Strong against magic or they die if they are touched by water. Maybe there is a brute strength familiar.

It could introduce a whole new variable in combat. Going with Kavir, you could even set them loose and wreak havoc. Smart & Dumb ones?
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Molly O'Hara



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 99
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a bit of a tangent, so please forgive me if I stray too far off base. Smile

Our mud has something along those lines, but much more prosaic and down to earth. It is a feature to bread cattle and sheep, whixh you can drive to the market to sell, slaughter for meat and hides, or sheer for wool. (It's part of our crafting system that still isn't finished, because we keep getting diverted).

Basically the breeding cows are founded on a mob type, called herd_animals, which have about 90% tendency to stick together and follow the leader, but occasionally stray off on their own. They also have a life cycle; they get born, grow, mate, give birth, grow old and die. If a mature bull meets a mature cow, chances are big that they will mate, which eventually will result in a calf. The cows defend their offspring against wolves and other predators, but sometimes the predators are stronger.

Part of the system is the ability to fence in grazing land to keep the cattle protected from predators, and to herd them around using sheepdogs that obey a number of simple commands.

Our coder of course has a lot of ideas how to improve this system, for instance to attach a 'grazing value' to each type of terrain (field, forest, mountain etc), and to make the cattle dependant on eating and drinking at regular intervals. If the grazing value is low, the herds will move around more, in search of food. The better the grazing, the less they will need to roam. If a herd is fenced in, and gets so large that the corral cannot sustain them, the cattle will eventually die from starvation.

I am however not sure if the feature really needs to be that sophisticated. It would of course be cool, if it were to be implemented, but is it really worth the coding effort? The rather simple system we have now works pretty well as it is, driven partly by code and partly by scripts. The predators keep the herds in check so that the population is balanced, but we haven't yet released it to the players, so we don't really know what will happen if and when people start putting up fences and killing off the wolves to get bigger herds. Probably that will upset the balance as most things man meddles with.

Another idea that we have been toying with is trainable personal pets or even familiars, which would follow the players from the char generation throughout their mudding career. Basically those would work by the player relinquishing some of his exp and practicing points to the pet. So if the player kept most of the advancing points to himself, the pet would stay weak and useless, but if he gave them to the pet instead, he'd advance slower himself as a consequence.

We have a sort of 'tamagochi pet' already, which will thrive if fed, nursed, petted and played with, but otherwise die from neglect. Something similar could be attached to the pets, as another way of training them and making them more usable. A simple 'whip and carrot' system would probably be possible to apply to the training as well.

I love dogs and horses myself, so I am rather attracted by this idea, probably it's 'a female thing'. But I am not sure how the average player would react to the choice. Perhaps most of them would just dump their pets and carry on as usual.

If anyone else has toyed with the idea of trainable pets and has ideas to share, I'd be very interested.
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Errico



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 2
Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 9:47 pm    Post subject: Mendelian Breeding Reply with quote

For all its flaws, the mud Evarayn had a pretty neat system for the breeding of creatures. It actually created a mendelian system with recessive and dominant traits in creatures so that, with a ton of invested time, players could eventually breed creatures that could fly or not run out of stamina, etc. While it didn't have the ai feature you're putting forth, I'm sure some ideas from its system could be used in your own implementations.
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Spazmatic



Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 76
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2005 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Ashon



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 86
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2005 2:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the inspiration draws from Creatures, right? Well at least mine does. So I guess I should talk about the way that creatures work.

The have a genome of a set number of genes. Stealing pages right out of real biology. So, in case you aren't sure about what genes do, and control in a RL person, you know things like Sex (x/y chromosomes), Eye Color, Color Blindness, Hair Color, Height, Weight, Male Pattern Baldness. High School Biology stuff right?

The only way I see it working is using a seed, or a GUID for each NPC. One can even be built for players upon creation. Which is stored with the player, and none of this really comes into play until such time as a new creatures is made (whether you want to limit this to breeding situations, or spawning situations is left up to you). Then you parse this seed to generate the NPC. Easy enough.

The breeding mechanism itself, is just giving random chance for a mixing of the two genomes. A simple process. Of course, the fun and exciting stuff comes in when you start working with the Intelligence that Spazmatic mentioned in his post.

The system itself can be as easy or as complex as you want, or that your system supports.
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Spazmatic



Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 76
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2005 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The breeding mechanism itself, is just giving random chance for a mixing of the two genomes. A simple process.


Oh, oh. I wasn't quite right when I said I knew nothing about genetics, just very little. Very Happy

So, with my newly remembered wisdom, I thought I'd throw this in... GenScope, and its sucessor, BioLogica, are pieces of educational software for kids learning about genetics. Actually, everything I know about genetics, I learned from those programs. Anyways, the actual content may not be MUD-material (the dragons look extracted from Dragon Tales), but I think they're a great place to look for ideas as far as depth of simulation and presentation. They'd be especially useful for futuristic muds that might include genetic manipulation.

GenScope: http://genscope.concord.org/
BioLogica: http://biologica.concord.org/
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irbobo



Joined: 20 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my MUD I'm developing, I'm working on an algorithm for player->pet abuse. If the player doesn't keep the pet happy, the pet will try to turn against the player if it thinks it can win. If the pet can't win it will take off and become a wandering NPC that will hold a grudge vs the player that had control of it. Certain classes such as rangers may have a chance at recharming the creature to make it their pets. However the pet becomes more restless and has a greater chance of leaving the owner. Each time it leaves the owner it becomes harder to charm again and when charmed becomes harder to keep control. The pet on its own can level and gain experience/spells. If it encounters one of it's original abusive owners it will try and attack if it can win or it will run to gain more experience and power to try and fight it's owner in the future.
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shasarak



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
Posts: 134
Location: Emily's Shop

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seeing as someone else has already brought this thread back to life anyway....

I wonder if anyone has ever played the original "Black & White" by Lionhead Studios? The most interesting feature of that game (arguably) was the Creature. In B&W you are a god, and your creature is a sort of divine representative - but it has its own mind, it's not simply a puppet. Initially it can't do very much at all, but, over time, you can teach it perform more or less any action that you can perform yourself.

The teaching is done by a variety of methods. To a degree, the creature tends to try to copy you. You can greatly strengthen the urge to imitate you by putting it on a particular leash. Other leashes make your creature more calm and compassionate, or more angry and destructive. (This allows quite a lot of control: leash him to a tree with the compassionate leash and he will learn to like trees; leash him to a tree and pass him a rain miracle bubble, and he will cast the miracle on the tree; leash him to a tree with the aggressive leash and he will try to destroy the tree).

It also learns by watching - not just by watching you, but by watching other in-game entities; it can learn to fish or to dance by watching villagers, and learn how to cast miracles (spells) by watching other creatures or other gods.

And you can reward it for performing actions you approve of and punish it for things you don't approve of. Much care is needed with this: if, for example, you keep on rewarding it for being nice to villagers (healing them, casting food and wood spells, etc.) then eventually it will be so eager to do those things that it will no longer eat or sleep. But ultimately you can teach it quite complicated sequences of actions: teach it how to throw rocks at the enemy, then teach it how to catch things, and (eventually) if an enemy creature throws a rock at it, it will catch the rock and throw it back. And, with care, you can teach it to be quite discriminating - it's okay to eat villagers if they are female and over the age of 60 and they belong to an enemy village, but not if they're younger, or male, or a member of a firiendly village, etc.

I think some of these techniques could be usefully applied to an in-MUD pet creature. If you give it enough context information about what it's doing, then a player who was willing to take the time could teach it do quite sophisticated things: if you see a wounded human, cast a heal spell on him, but don't do it if he's wearing a black robe, etc.

Do you think this would be interesting to players, or would most MUD players prefer to simply be in direct control of their pet at all times? I'm sure there must be some useful things the creature could be doing while the player is otherwise-occupied: searching for a scent, foraging for food, keeping a look-out while the player is asleep, etc.
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