It's been awhile. I decided to take some time away from screens and focus my time on camping, reading and getting outside. As a result I've come back to this project with fresh ideas, renewed energy, and summer/fall was fantastic.
Some big milestones for this project have been achieved:
- 10,000 AI can be simulated moving about a world without major performance issues in Chrome.
- Dynamic path-finding with decent performance, a few tweaks still need to be made.
With those two accomplishments under the hood I am now starting to think about how this game is going to be played. Thinking about how this game is going to be played has put this project into perspective for me. It's taken me 4 years to program everything up to this point, and I don't have a game, just a program that does stuff. There is no way this project could potentially supplement my income for a long long time and as such I've got to treat it like a hobby, but god it's an addictive one.
When I first began thinking about how people would actually play this game I realised I had no idea. I knew what I wanted to simulate, but when, where and how someone interacts with the game was beyond me. So I began playing games again, especially Civ, Galactic Civilisation, addictive cellphone games like Deep Town and Egg, Inc. Along with a few puzzlers and many more. I've been thinking a lot about what I like about these games, also why I no longer play many of the games I used to. I realised that a successful game engages the players imagination and makes them want to devote their imagination to it. Really it's the player that does all the heavy imaginary lifting, and you as the game creator just need to provide a few details to help them along their imaginary journey. This insight is probably a no brainer for a lot of people, but it's helped me realise what my objective is.
So I am going to literally rip-off elements of other games that capture my imagination and try to ram as many of them into this game as I can. If I succeed it'll capture the players imagination and be addictive.
The initial inspiration for this idea was cooked up years ago, and that was to play a game that better reflected the economic activity within any society. I was obsessed with the idea of how money works and why there is so much esoteric babbling surrounding its utility. What I learned isn't so esoteric but with some long thought experiments involving money I began to understand how and why we have inflation, deflation, market bubbles and so on. And I want to incorporate all those things into a game, albeit simplified, but reflected none the less. I want players to have to manage their own floating currencies, it might not be printed monies, but maybe sea shells, or maybe rare bird feathers. I want to give the player a scenario where they can see the simple machinations of their local trading economies and expand on them to encourage things like individual debt and inflation to see how these things can benefit their end goal (global domination). All the while engaging with other players in either alliances or rivalries, fighting elements and cultural expansion.
My first goal is to have the AI acquire the resources they need to better their conditions. When the game starts they will be hungry, thirsty, cold and in need of some social engagement. They'll slowly improve their conditions by visiting the rivers, gathering wood, and earth. They'll chat with each other about how to improve their respective abilities and reinforce traditions and tribal bonds. They'll build huts for themselves and create tools to help with each of their actions. They will also begin trading with one another, small at first. Leaders will rise up and begin exerting influence over others either because of circumstance or innate ability. The player will play as one of the AI.
Most of what I've described here has been dissected into small chunks that are programmable. A nagging question I have is will the interactive simulation I create translate clearly to the player? I'm excited to find out.
[ ::UPDATE:: ] Here is a youtube link to my first desktop video. It quickly showcases what the world running in Chrome looks and feels like, This world is host to 1000 Simulin. I also select a few of the Simulin to move. When you log into the website and sign in you'll be able to join a server that is hosting a world like the one in the video. Right now all you can do is click on Simulin and get them to move where you want them to. Over the next couple weeks I'll be implementing the first role your Simulin can take.
Thanks for reading.