Sunday, February 26, 2006

picture of example business

I wanted to start with something simple for my transportation game. I want to explore the transportation of goods between businesses. I created a simple model:

  • Business. Each business (labeled B in the diagram) can consume and produce items. For example, a steel mill consumes iron and produces steel. Some businesses only consume; some only produce. In my initial implementation, there is only one producer (a dock, where goods are imported from other areas) and one consumer (a retail store, where goods are bought).
  • Cargo. The goods and materials are put into containers (crates, boxes, pallets, etc.) and the containers (labeled C in the diagram) are moved around the game world. Each container represents some amount of material or goods. In my initial implementation, there is only one type of cargo (“goods”) and only one size of container.
  • Loading Areas. A business may not consume goods as soon as they arrive, and it may produce goods that are not immediately picked up. Loading areas (labeled A in the diagram) are a place for cargo to be stored.

I haven't yet chosen good terminology. Is it business or building? Is it cargo or container or goods? Consistent use of terminology will help in picking good names in the code. I want to choose names that are general enough to cover a wide variety of cases.

I think the model has some nice properties. It's very general, so it can apply to many different kinds of businesses. For example, a warehouse is a business that produces the same thing it consumes, and consists almost entirely of loading areas. The loading areas make it easy for the player to see when the transportation system is working too fast or too slow. However, there are a lot of unanswered questions at this point. Does each type of cargo require its own loading area? Does a business buy from just anyone or does it choose its suppliers? How are perishable goods represented? I will leave these questions for later and focus on the simple case: one producer, one supplier, one type of cargo.