Extending Faction Reputation Systems into the Virtual Ecology

Most RPGs utilize the concept of faction reputation in some way or another. It makes sense, and it’s a valid element to include in its own right. Extending this concept into how creatures and spawn spots relate to their surroundings can introduce a good amount of dynamism in the virtual ecology of an MMO.

You need 2 main mechanics:
1. Every time a spawn spot has some sort of an impact on another spawn spot, you need to record the results of that interaction; or, possibly just have that interaction proportionally change the faction relationship between those two spawn spots’ respective factions (whether those “factions” are actual NPC factions or simply species).
2. You need to ensure that all members of a faction behave toward other factions according to their faction ratings. This includes spawn spots as well as instanced creatures. This part can get rather complex because you want to allow for dynamic, ad-hoc ally groups, both by instanced creatures as well as by spawn spots.

Just imagine a game world in which a player witnesses instanced members of a faction with which he has a higher rating actually join his side in a fight against members of an NPC faction which both he and they have low faction ratings. And then, a patrol of another group of creatures comes along and joins the opposing NPC faction because they have a higher faction rating with them than with both you and the first faction. And over time, the player is actually able to change all that. The thing is, that then you have a world in which all those NPC factions constantly, autonomously change their relative ratings amongst each other. Add in an independent “lust for wealth and resources” as well as a system of “survival is what ultimately counts”, and you just may have a fully-functional virtual ecology.