Moo Tang Clan: Actor Dynamic vs Event Dynamic

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Actor Dynamic vs Event Dynamic

Syncaine writes:

When I think of dynamic events I think of a developer setting up some random variables and letting them loose on a virtual world. Let’s say the event in question is an undead horde rising up to attack an empire. ...
He then goes on to describe that undead horde conquering vast swathes on the world, obeying their primitive programming, and how this can turn out to have unintended consequences (eg. the undead horde sacking and infesting the major cities). This reminds me of the Ultima Online resource system, and how that worked.

I think a distinction can be made here between actor-based dynamism and event-based dynamism. With the former the actors involved, being zombies, skeletons, cultists, etc are each programmed to behave in particular ways and set loose on the world, and thus it’s possible that they could expand and expand and expand.

In an event-based dynamic system the various zombies et al are pawns to the programmed events, and if the devs haven’t coded an event where the undead swarm march on the city then they never will, no matter how much they dominate surrounding areas.

An actor-based dynamism can have interesting emergent properties (eg. killer bunnies in UO) but it would lack the carefully crafted and constructed drama of an event-based system.

With event-based dynamism, you can tell stories. It requires effort to set them up, but they are then there for the taking. With actor-based dynamism we have to interpret the opaque motives of the npcs, assigning whatever story makes sense or is interesting. Like watching dogs in the park from a distance and voicing aloud what you think they are saying to each other, constructing a free flow improv.

It sounds like GW2 is going the event-based dynamic content route.

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