As I worked on SimBlob 2 and learned more about 3D graphics, I started changing the game from hexagonal to triangular grids. I then got distracted and started writing an article about grids for my game programming site. While writing the article I realized that there are so many other topics I wanted to explore with SimBlob, and never got around to them. Why?

I spent most of my time in SimBlob 1 (1994-1998) exploring terrain generation, hexagonal maps, water flow, erosion, multithreaded programming, and GUI libraries. I spent most of my time in SimBlob 2 (2002-2005) exploring terrain generation, hexagonal maps, water flow, erosion, and 3D graphics libraries. There's a lot of overlap there. I ended up exploring a lot of the same ideas again. I love those topics, but they've become “tar pits” for me. I get stuck, tweaking and trying out new variants, trying to make it just right. In the end I've learned something and had a lot of fun but haven't gotten much done. Since I am writing games as a hobby, that's just fine, right?

The trouble is that when I get stuck doing one thing repeatedly, I am not spending my time trying out new things. I want to use games to explore environmental simulation, business simulation, city simulation, transportation systems, autonomous agents, machine learning and AI, control theory, and emergent behavior. Of these topics, I've spent most of my time focusing on environmental simulation. I think that was fine the first time, but after recognizing the tar pits in SimBlob 1, I created them again in SimBlob 2, and ended up getting stuck again on the very same topics.

I've decided to stop working on SimBlob 2 and start working on a new game. I'm avoiding the tar pits I've had in the past (terrain, water flow, erosion, hexagon/triangle grids) by having a completely flat grid with square tiles and no water. Sometimes doing something quite different is just what you need. I want to explore 3D graphics some more, but the main focus will be on economic simulation and transportation systems. I expect to find new tar pits to get stuck in. :-)

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1 comment:

tormodh wrote at February 20, 2006 7:24 AM

I'm kind of a hobby game-programmer myself, and looking forward to hear more from this new project of yours.

When I say kind of, I mean - I've never made anything good enough to share with anybody (I blame it on the time I have for developement). Although I think I am pretty proficient with staying knee deep in tar-pits. ;)

And my tar-pits are not as advanced, nor interesting, as yours ;)