Alternatives under consideration

This document lists some of the ideas I had for games that would fit into the SimBlob project. I never got past the design phase on any game but Blob City.

Blob City

Blob City is a software “toy”, like SimCity. There are no set goals; instead, you set goals (such as “get to 350,000 population”) and conditions (such as “no diverting or damming of rivers”) for yourself, and you play as you like. The world is constantly changing: water flows and forms rivers and lakes, trees grow, erosion creates canyons, floods and droughts occur, fires burn forests, and seasons pass. As mayor of the city, you can build roads along which the blobs will build their houses and farms. You build lumber yards to cut down forests to supply wood for building your town. You can also build canals to bring water to your city; walls to protect your city from floods; dams to hold water for the dry season; and artificial waterways to redirect flowing water.

SimBlob

Like Blob City, your goal is to build a city for your blobs. However, this world is a dangerous place, with scenarios involving raids by barbarians, attacks from unfriendly armies, and competition from rival cities. (These are controlled by a “computer player”, but the computer player isn’t playing at the same level as you.) There still isn’t a major emphasis on “winning” or “losing” the game, but unlike Blob City, you have to build defenses and maintain an army to survive.

Blob Conquest

In Blob Conquest you and the computer players build towns (smaller versions of the cities built in Blob City). As you start running out of space, your goal shifts from building your town to taking over another town. You do this by attacking or buying territory in another town. You can also cause disasters such as fires and flooding to weaken your opponent. In addition to the roles played in Blob City, roads and walls can facilitate or block the movement of blob soldiers. Towns can be protected by walls, and barracks can be connected to defense towers by roads.

The Silver Kingdoms

You and the computer players are kings of small kingdoms. Starting with one city, you build up your kingdom by using the natural resources of the surrounding area to enlarge your city and start new ones. You also build mills, farms, mines, and markets and manage the transfer of resources and goods from one place to another. Your goal is to conquer the other kingdom (or perhaps become a trading partner) by attacking cities, blocking trade routes, and causing disasters (such as fires, floods, and deforestation). The scale of the map differs from Blob City and Blob Conquest in that an entire city occupies just a few hexes, instead of the entire map. Details of your city are available by clicking on the city, instead of by examining the map. The economy is built on supply and demand: each object (such as a factory or a city) demands goods (such as food or iron) and can supply other goods. For example, a farm demands labor and water and supplies food; a sheep ranch demands food and water and supplies wool; a textile factory demands wool and power and supplies clothing.

Blob & Co.

Like The Silver Kingdoms, Blob & Co. involves taking advantage of natural resources to build up products that are used in cities. Instead of playing the role of a king, in Blob & Co. you play the role of a merchant. You make money by charging for transportation and products rather than by taxing city residents. You also invest in new products, in marketing, and in bribing city officials. Your opponents are rival merchants instead of rival kings, so the focus is more on economics and less on warfare. Military conquest is still possible, to take over resources, factories, or transportation systems.

Comparison

Blob City, SimBlob, and Blob Conquest take place on a small scale: the entire map is the size of a city. Blob & Co. and The Silver Kingdoms take place on a large scale: the entire map is the size of a small country. With a small scale, it is possible to see the details of a city layout; with a large scale, those details disappear. On the other hand, with a large scale, it is possible to see and work with resources outside the city and with the trade between cities.

Blob City, SimBlob, and Blob Conquest have hundreds or thousands of objects, but there are just a few kinds available (currently five). Each object has very few details. Blob & Co. and The Silver Kingdoms have tens of objects, but there are many kinds available (approximately twenty). Since there aren’t as many objects, each object can have a lot of details, like a name, relationships to other objects, graphs of values (supply, demand, employment, profit, etc.). When there are a thousand small farms, you can’t really name each one, or store a lot of information about them, but when there are just a few farm hexes (representing large farms), you can give them names, choose crops, see profit graphs, choose which cities are supplied by the farm, assign soldiers to protect the farm, and so on.

Implementation

The current SimBlob can be divided into several modules, listed along with what percentage of SimBlob can be put into them:

  1. (4%) General purpose routines
  2. (30%) PM library (interface to OS/2)
  3. (19%) Game library (sprites, fonts, etc.)
  4. (27%) Display library (hexagonal map, scrolling, etc.)
  5. (16%) Environmental simulation (terrain, mountains, rivers, lakes, soil erosion, water erosion, walls, canals, fire, trees, gates, volcanos)
  6. (4%) Game simulation (farms, roads, houses, watchtowers, bridges, blobs)

(My time however hasn’t been spent in those proportions. I’ve probably spent about 60% of my time on the environmental simulation and 10% of it on the game simulation.)

If I decide to implement The Silver Kingdoms, I’d have to take out the Game simulation and insert a different (larger) simulation module. This would include the implementations of objects (cotton farms, cotton mills, water wheels, laborers, clothing shops, cities, farms, ranches, restaurants, canals, ore mines, silver mines, smithies, lumber mills, forests, armies, builders, roads, walls, etc.) and resources (water, cotton, cloth, clothing, food, ore, tools, logs, wood, weapons, silver, labor), algorithms for supply and demand, and so on.