by Martin on April 22, 2011
Today is a public holiday in Germany and as such the “friendly” side of my split boss-personality granted me half a day off. So after getting all to-dos of the day ticked I was thinking about what to do with my free time. I spent the first one or two hours finishing Portal 2 (I absolutely recommend it to anyone…awesome game!) just to return to an annoying state of boredom immediately afterwards. Figuring that the closest thing to a hobby I got was coding I decided to work on one of the side-projects I got in the pipeline right now. Problem was: I realized – once again – that there are a crazy 3 (three!) of them right now and that I couldn’t decide on which to work on. So I figured: Good opportunity to breathe some life into this boring blog and let you know what else is cooking besides AirlineSim. Maybe you can decide on a favorite…
When we decided last year that we needed a second project to become less dependent on the aging AirlineSim, we started out with a survey in which we asked about 200 people what kind of game they’d like the most. Based on these results (and some personal preferences) we came to the conclusion that it had to be more accesible and less complex than AirlineSim to appeal to a broader audience. On the other hand we still wanted to stick to our favorite genre, so it had to be a business sim. The resulting concept was a game constructed around a space setting, featuring a graphical yet abstract hex-field interface and a strong production and trading component.
Current state: Never left prototyping. I did a few prototypes for the space and surface interface respectively. A basic framework for construction of buildings and manufacturing exists, but the overall thing just didn’t feel right. Maybe that’s because we lost focus on it too quickly due to more urgent things, maybe it’s because I have a hard time writing games I wouldn’t actually play myself in the first place. The basic idea just keeps on hibernating though, so who knows what comes off it sooner or later.
I’m not quite sure why I suddenly decided to actually pursue this idea. It has been lurking around my head ever since I laid hand on the oh-so-awful Airport Tycoon and I know a game like this would be a dream-come-true for many AirlineSim players and aviation geeks. It probably has to do with the fact that I wanted to do something beyond “web development” and 3D definitely is a whole different ballpark.
Current state: Right before the point of no return. My basic Java prototype proves that – if I can keep it simple – it’s feasible to actually develop and ship a game like this for a one-man show like me. Problem is: I’d have to commit a tremendous amount of always limited resources to it. I’d have to do this in a field I have zero experience in. And when I’d decide to do it, I’d have to actually stick to it to the end since everything else would be plain crazy. Therefore I’m still evaluating it both in terms of technology choices and feasibility.
Sometimes you need a change of scenery and “2WP” was just that: A short dip into something off the regular day-to-day work. You can find details on my motivation for this project here. The whole game is based on a concept I had been thinking about for many many years and in this project I tried to realize at least parts of it in a very much boiled down version. It’s a hardcore business sim. This means: No graphics, simplest web-interface, numbers and tables aplenty. It’s an attempt at a simulated closed economic cycle with all goods produced and transported by the players and the only AI being the population of the in-game cities who act as both the workforce and the consumers.
Current state: While the original goal – bringing the game “to market” within two weeks – hasn’t quite been met, there exists a more or less solid foundation for future extension. The game lacks a lot of polish of course, the master data and balancing are nowhere near finished and some conceptual issues still exist, but overall this is the side-project with the highest chances to evolve into an actual top-tier project of simulogics. It’s not mainstream, it’s definitely not a “social game”, but I believe there’s a market for it out there.