Monday, October 3, 2016

Sea Trading Game- Adding new goods. modeling real-world agriculture.

This week has started something that I've been wanting to get to for a long time, adding new goods! I started to test my various systems, including the use of seeds, tools, and working on modeling livestock. I didn't actually change a lot this week, although what I did change allowed me to see what some of the problems I'm currently faced with, and work to tackling those issues.

I've thought for some time that I wanted to model something like the Columbian Exchange, which was the process that brought goods in from across the globe. Rubber was found in Brazil, tobacco in Mexico, potatoes in the Andes, horses, sheep, and cows in the Western Hemisphere. These, and many more, were moved across the globe, such that now these foods, and animals, are grown across the globe. This week, I started to make progress towards that goal.

I've been focusing on Agriculture for the beginning. Having procedurally generated seeds is proving to be interesting. I know that Civilization has different "Luxury" goods that are randomly placed throughout the globe in regions. I wanted to do something similar to this, and I've got a system that I think has at least started it.

In doing research for this, I've learned a lot of things. First of all, many of the plants that we have are combinations of plants from different locations. Some crops existed in both the Americas and Asia, like cotton. Others only existed in one region, like rubber. I've got a system in place that will set these up at least initially, I'm struggling to make sure it will work for a longer term game, but it's coming along slowly. What my preference would be at this point is to have many goods such that each area has it's own unique type, although how well that will work I'm still determining.

One of the most useful resources has been this data sheet on plant growing seasons and locations in the United States from Cornell University. Every one of these plants will be included. I expect I will also include other plants as well that aren't commonly grown in the United States. I'm still working on how to get this to model fruit growth, which will follow a different system. Seasons will matter in this game, it will dictate the availability and demand of goods!

I did a bit of revision to my biome table. The key difference is that desert is less common than it was before, which is replaced by grasslands. This has a small effect, here's a randomly generated map you can see below. Desert is much rarer than it was previously, although I will likely still do some tweaking to that. I'm using an Arizona State University provided Biome Map as a reference to my game database to determine what grows where.

So far I have several eatable plants, sheep, wool, and cotton that I've started to think in more detail about how they should work. I've also started to work with rubber, although I'm still trying to figure out the usage of that for the time period that I'm working with, it was only really made useful in the 1800s, although it was in some use prior to that time. I think before I move too much more forward I'm going to work on first manufactured goods (Clothing most likely), then think through mining and trees more, and resolve a few issues that have come up as I've started to increase my database of goods more. I'm hoping to have these resolved soon, so I can proceed.

One thing that I thought long and hard about over the week, and I'm starting to get a better idea, is how to make the ship loading and configuration easier to use. I've decided to drastically limit the options of cargo hold types, including some that can only be placed on the top deck of the ship. It's coming along slowly, although I'm probably not going to do a ton of work on that at the moment, I might rename a few of the hold types, and possibly change graphics, accordingly. The main purpose of this change is to allow for the transportation of livestock, which will primarily be done on the top deck of the ship, as was done historically. Large cargo will also only be carried on the top of the ship. Barrels will be the primary cargo contained below decks, which will replace crates.

The crew of the ship also gave me a lot of thought. Right now I have crew as a single person, with a few attributes. I'm thinking that I will actually allow for the entire ship to be staffed, by looking at bios for potential candidates in each port. These sailors will stay for some time, some might only be for a single port, others might stay for a few voyages, and still others might stay for life.

Lastly, I've been thinking of ship based needs. This will include food and water, both for cargo (Livestock and passengers), as well as the crew. There will also be items for use during the voyage, and how that will work I'm not quite sure yet, but likely tar, sails, weapons, etc will be of some use during the voyage. Fishing will be a rare occurrence, although it will be something that can be a task that the crew will attempt, they likely won't get huge hauls (Unless the ship is configured for fishing, which will be a huge set up upgrades I'll get to some day). I'm trying to think of how these will be monitored, and I'm starting to come up with a system, although it will still need some time to come to full fruition.

I do want to add that I'm not sure how much I'm going to follow reality, but I'm going to try to do it as much as I can, because I think modeling reality will in the end make things more interesting. World history is interesting, and I think making a game that mimics the aspect of bringing goods from one part of the world to others is interesting. 

Bottom line is, I didn't actually do a whole lot this week, but what I did was able to help change the direction a bit of the game towards a useful end. I think I found a lot of issues now that will save me a lot of time in the future, and make a more interesting game!

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