I've recently been playing the beta of a little known game called Wakfu
, developed by French developer Ankama and Square Enix. It is the spiritual sucessor to Dofus (another game you may or may not have heard of *applies hipster glasses*) and also has it's own animated series in France. What I find most interesting about the game, and what will be the main subject of this blogpost, is that it has it's own living virtual ecosystem that players can affect based on their actions. In Wakfu there are several resources you can collect in the wild to supply your various crafting professions, however gathering said resources can have an impact on the environment just like in real life. In the game resources do not grow back on their own, you will have to regrow them in order to maintain the environment, even enemy NPCs which are all wild animals can easily die out if players kill them off without promoting repopulation. So if players start chopping down trees and do not plant new ones an area can literally become completely desolate until someone starts growing them back. This provides an interesting level of player impact on the game: while most MMOs that require resource gathering for crafting have automatically spawning resources, games with an ecosystem such as this is dependent on players and their maintenance of these natural resources. I would really like to see a system like this in future MMOs, it would create a whole new economic layer if resources were player regulated like this instead of being inherently infinite, also it does feel good to unleash your inner environmentalist when you save an entire region from the brink of desolation by transplanting a few trees. I also wonder if such a system could be implemented in a BYOND game: It might be a good experiment to try for a worthy programmer out there *hint hint*, it could bring out the dynamics in a game's crafting economy if made correctly. This sort of system has a lot of potential and it's something that needs to see more action.