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How are these games designed?

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My inspiration for game design comes from historical city builders such as those by Sierra or games like Tropico. I've always been curious how these games are programmed. I am not a programmer, though. I do know a little C#, VB, and some scripting languages like VBScript, so I understand a tiny bit of the basics (using a MS platform). My biggest curiosity is how is the data stored and how are the events in the game triggered to write and read the stored data? Any examples? I would love to try to build a very basic simulation to learn how it works. At this point I am not interested in learning about integrating graphics beyond a simple gui. Is there anything that I can play with that will help me to learn how a game like this is created?

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I'd like to know this too. Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom is the only game that's constantly installed on my computer.

It would be cool if there was a simple walkthrough of how to make a basic one.

Too bad I have an art brain instead of a coding one...

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Most games use the canonical game loop:
1) read input
2) update world
3) draw
4) goto 1

In case of city simulations, world is basically a grid, an array. On each update, each cell in array is scanned and, depending on its type, does something.

For city simulations, there's several grids (happiness, food production, safety, and other attributes). Buildings increase or decrease such values.

For those where you have the characters moving, they work similarly. On each update, they scan their surroundings, then choose what they'll do on next update.

Of course, everything else is just a part of regular coding. How to draw, how to read input, how to represent data, all that is a matter of learning ot use that API.

Quote:
if there was a simple walkthrough of how to make a basic one


The old advice still holds, starting small with likes of tetris or pong, then advancing is likely the best way. From design perspective, there really isn't much difference.

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