14
Feb
09

Numbers are Superiorish

When is a zerg not a zerg?

Well what is a zerg to start off with. It seems that what we would in the real world call a mob, is a zerg in a game. Strangely a monster in a game is called a mob. So we have a situation where the Real People are called after a crowd of monsters from back in Starcraft and the artificially created crowds of monsters are named for an unruly crowd of people in the world. Funny how language distorts and changes.

So when is a zerg not a zerg?

When its a coordinated force. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has the best wannabe general in the world (real or virtual) at its head, but at least its operating in some kind of cohesive way.

Ok so its a slightly more brainy zerg?

In most games people do the ‘sheep’ thing out of laziness, “Hey, there’s a crowd of fellow players beating the snot out of something. Looks fun, I’m going there for my instant gratification!” …get enough people thinking that and you suddenly have a zerg.

Don’t Zergs get bored easily?

Zergs have the kind of attention span that makes gnats look positively tree-like and are generally fuelled by whatever the in-game reward is. The cells that make up the zerg need to be fed regularly. Imagine a nest filled with baby alligators, beady eye fixed on the rep/influence/xp/cash/itamz indicators in whatever is the current game. Because there is no thought beyond the instant reward as soon as the instant reward feed is interupted you have a problem. Interupt the feed and they will turn on themselves.

So zergs can be killed?

It would be more accurate to say they die from within as the cells get tired and wither. This happens faster if something blocks the reward. For example, an enemy that is actually awake.

Hmm, so zergs are no use?

Hell no. Zergs are very useful. Due to their inherant mindlessness they can be great cannon fodder for soaking up enemy attention while you get busy doing other things. A zerg will not embrace tactics except under extremely unusual circumstances.

But…but…zergs can’t be directed and you said if the reward is interrupted it will stop!

A zerg can be directed, but not like a coherent force. Rarely, a zerg will go where needed and once they get there its even rarer they’ll do what is needed.  Where a zerg is different from a genuine organism is that the individual cells are driven only by their own need and only band together for their own increased chance of gain. There is no selfless behaviour here – an individual cell won’t sacrifice itself for the greater good. If there is no instant reward feed for the individual in a place then it won’t go to that location. Sometimes you can work out where you don’t want the zerg by making the Not Want place unattractive. The zerg then will then go where you want it. Don’t try to force a zerg to behave in a certain way, watch it flow and learn how to predict the flow. Coax it if you can, don’t become upset if it does not respond. Incorporate the flow into your own plans. The zerg is chaos. Combine the chaos of the zerg with the order of a coherent force of your own making. Successful use of both halves leads to victory.

My head hurts.

Here, sit down, cap an empty Battlefield Objective, have some easy renown points. Happy thoughts.

You watch too many Hong Kong martial arts movies.

Actually, I don’t watch any.

Why are you talking to yourself?

<shuts up>

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2 Responses to “Numbers are Superiorish”


  1. 1 Gaenjin
    February 24, 2009 at 05:34

    The gaming term “mob” comes from circa 1990 M.U.D. coders, who referred to their scripted encounter functions as “mobile objects”. Not something I read, its something I used to do.

  2. 2 Roo Stercogburn
    February 24, 2009 at 13:34

    Now thats interesting. I’d always wondered idly about it but never followed through and checked up on it.


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