Daily Archives: November 5, 2008

The Salesman of Waterdeep

Once in a while somebody puts up a post expressing the wish to a have more dynamic worlds in MMOs.  We want places that feel less static and more alive it is claimed.  We want places that behave more like a real world.

At least we think we do.  I have my own theories on that, but let’s assume for the moment that is what we truly want.

We have certainly moved in that direction as we have climbed out of the (Diku)MUD and into three dimensional worlds.

In 1999 the city of Freeport in EverQuest certainly felt like a real place when compared to the text based city of Waterdeep in TorilMUD on which it was based.

Sure, the guards walked around more like robots than humans and most of the other NPCs pretty much stayed put, but it was a step in the right direction.  The visual sense were satisfied.

And in 2004 the city of Freeport in EverQuest II moved us further still towards a world that felt real.  It is a virtual city with angles other than 90, 45, and 30 degrees.  The guards, while they still follow a predictable path, move more naturally about the city.  Even some NPCs wander from place to place.  The building look more realistic and the ones you cannot enter do not feel like they are part of a Potemkin village.  Wildlife even moves about.

But in some ways, Waterdeep in TorilMUD is more alive than than either of these Freeports.  Existing in mere text, the NPCs of Waterdeep are allowed more freedom.

For example, there are several salesmen in town.  They pick things up off the ground and then try to sell them to you, so you end up with encounters like this:

The salesman enters from the north.

The salesman starts following you.
The salesman saunters up to you and says, ‘Hey Zouve!  Have I got a deal for you! Take a look at this magnificent arrow. Isn’t it just a dream?  And it can be yours for just 504 coins!’

Of course, you cannot actually “see” the salesman, but you can look at him and get the visual image.

Following people around and selling the most impractical items possible, the salesman is at the top of his trade. He wears fine silks dyed in very stylish colors. He seems to be telling his newest victim about his latest and greatest product.
The salesman is in excellent condition.

He is persistent too.  You’ll note he started to follow me, so now as I move about the city, I have him in tow.  All the while he tries to interest me in his wares.  And, if I wanted, I could actually buy the item from him.  Today I did not want.

The salesman says ‘Only 504 coppers – a bargain!’

The salesman demonstrates the unique usefulness of arrow.

The salesman waves the a carven arrow in your face.

The salesman chuckles politely.
The salesman says ‘I tell you this arrow is of the finest quality.’

He even tries to ingratiate himself with you when you smile at other people.

The salesman smiles too, trying to join in on the fun.

Of course, even a text-based NPC has limited patience.

The salesman throws his hands up in disgust.
The salesman stops following you.

But not to worry, the salesman will spot another mark, even attempting to chat up his fellow NPCs.

The salesman now follows the salesman.
The salesman makes a sales pitch to the salesman.

The salesman says ‘Only 504 coppers – a bargain!’
The salesman tries to sell the arrow to the salesman.

So while we have moved towards worlds that look more realistic, I do not think I have ever had a random interaction like that in an MMO.

Have you?