Saturday, 26 July 2014

It's Alive!

I haven't posted in a little while because I've been waiting for the next natural breaking point in development, where I have something significant to say.

Making things like this always feels a bit like a long road trip to me, you've got your mountains, your valleys, your long stretches. Right now I feel a bit like I've finally reached the ridge after a long uphill stint. Suddenly a bunch of things have come together and started working and there's a great sense of possibilities.

The things in this simulated world have finally started to talk to each other. I wanted to start with something simple, so I decided to get the power grid working, starting with the power stations. The first official breath of life in my world started in the power station located in Jakarta (which happens to be positioned almost directly beneath the camera's initial position, so it gets a lot of attention). I zoomed in to it until I could see it's constituent parts. The "SuperHighVoltagePower" generator (I really should find out the technical terms for this stuff) sputtered into life after it's initial 5 second delay period. It's produced a signal of "1" on the SuperHighVoltagePower wire which slowly traveled down it's connected wires, leading it to the power station's external power connection. The connection, as defined by its relay function (described in my last post), transmitted this power signal over to the adjacent Large Power Substation, who's job it is to bring the voltage of the power down from SuperHighVoltagePower to HighVoltagePower (yeah... I'm a scientist me) and transmit it to the other power-needy sites in Jakarta.

What I quite like about what I've created so far is all these behaviors are pretty much all defined in these easily modifiable JSON files. The only behaviors that live in code so far are the functions' logic, and given how very atomic and simple they tend to be, I will likely pull that behavior out into a scripting language, probably LUA, to make sure they are moddable too.

The next interesting challenge is going to be getting a city to adopt the behaviors of all its children and its children's children, so looking at a freshly generated city, you would see it spitting out the network traffic and power output you would expect to see it's as-of-yet ungenerated children produce. I could brute force this using a recursive approach that scoops up any important functions of a city's children, and run those functions on the children's behalf until they have been generated and can take over. But I think I'd prefer to start work on a more scallable kinda "traffic profile" system.

I'd want the traffic, be it network and power, to be produced by a traffic profile that is defined by the the profiles of a node's children. Instead of running hundreds of individual functions on the children's behalf, it would lump all this behavior together into a single traffic profile. If changes were to happen to this profile, say the city receives a number of new virus infections, when the player zooms in on the city and its children become relevant again or are generated for the first time, these new infections would be distributed to the node's children, and when zooming out again, the profiles would be consolidated back into its parent's profile. This feels like the only way to simulate an approximation of the entire internet on a little tablet :S

So that will likely be taking up quite a few of my next lunch breaks. Will report back when I've made some progress there :]

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